Wednesday, August 19, 2020

While You're Away ... an update on the Okavango Delta, Boteti River and Chobe River

By now you're probably aware that the "Victoria Falls is dry" drama of late 2019 faded and mother nature responded, almost showing off, filling the Zambezi River, and other magical water bodies in the region. Like most places around the world, certainly in Africa, rivers and lakes are seasonal going with anything between dry or low water periods and spectacular full floods. The Okavango Delta is no exception.

After a year long dry spell, the Okavango Delta started receiving flood waters in April 2020, which slowly trickled through the 15,000 km2 World Heritage Site, peaking in July. At the moment, the water levels have already started to recede.

From the images below, you can see the difference from July 2019, which was a drought year, and the delta after the good rains received in the Angola region in the 2019-2020 rainy season.

Okavango Delta in July 2019
July 2019 (image source Desert and Delta Safaris)

Okavango Delta in June 2020
June 2020 (image source Desert and Delta Safaris)

Okavango Delta in July 2020
July 2020 (image source Desert and Delta Safaris)

The Boteti River starts near Maun and is the main outflow of the Okavango Delta. The Boteti carries water that flows past Maun and a 250km stretch south-east to Lake Xau. This river has an interesting history of drying up for decades before resurrecting in 2009.

Below is an update from Desert and Delta Safaris on the Boteti River:

We had the privilege of following the water all the way from the Okavango Delta, down the Thamalakane River past Maun, and into the Boteti River where it pushed down the dry riverbed past Leroo La Tau. As we speak the Boteti is still pushing its way to its final resting place, Lake Xau, in the very southern tip of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.

In 2009 this riverbed saw the water return for the first time in nearly thirty years. Transforming a dusty ancient riverbed into an extraordinarily lush river paradise, providing life-giving water to thousands and thousands of zebras and other animals. When it dried up again last year we had no idea when the river would return again, but here it is! The return of the river makes for a wonderful setting for the lodge and while the river is high we can enjoy the added bonus of a relaxing boat cruise where you can observe thousands of zebra rushing down to the river.

See the transformation of the Boteti River at their Leroo La Tau Safari Camp:

Boteti River in October 2019
October 2019 (image source Desert and Delta Safaris)

Boteti River in July 2020 - Botswana
July 2020 (image source Desert and Delta Safaris)

The Chobe River, which forms the northern boundary of Chobe National Park, is one of the more permanent water sources, although it also changes dramatically each season. The river reached its 2020 peak in May this year after the heavy rains of last season. The water levels of the Chobe River have started to subside, but check this video from Chobe Safari Lodge of a very full Chobe River taken May 2020.

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