A highlight of the annual Okavango calendar is the arrival of the flood. Between November and April, huge amounts of rain falls in the highlands of Angola over 1,200km away and, incredibly, 11,000 billion litres of this precious water travel on a slow and arduous journey south to reach the Okavango Delta in the middle of its dry season.
Noah Falklind and Tristen Woodward film the flood.
Starting at the papyrus and palm-fringed shores of the panhandle, the flood waters spread out into the iconic fan-shape of the Delta. Here it is trapped between two ancient tectonic ridges that damn the waters. The flood is what keeps the Okavango alive and makes it home to some of the greatest abundances of endangered wild animals left on our planet. Without it, this bountiful desert would soon turn to dust, and its inhabitants be lost forever.
The flood attracts a plethora of wild and human spectators, from dragonflies to water birds and NHFU interns.
‘The Flood’ sounds like a dramatic event, but the reality is quite different. The water moves at a snail’s pace, spreading out like treacle and slowly filling vast flood plains, hippos pools, and river channels. You can race ahead of it, park your car, watch as it oozes out towards you and, in a matter of hours, your local surroundings will be completely transformed into a wetland oasis.
A trickle of water oozes so slowly south that there's even enough time to do exercise as you wait!
For 60,000 years, the Okavango's inhabitants have evolved to cope with the flood's precarious annual cycles. But today, climate change is a very real and present threat. Whatever the complicated models suggest, there is one thing that’s for sure: it will make weather patterns, both here and abroad, more unpredictable.
The flood is the lifeblood of the Delta, without which the Okavango would become just another large tract of desert.
You might ask what you can do to help, sitting at home and reading this blog from the comfort of your sofa? First things first, think about what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.
Without the annual rains, the life-blood of the Okavango, the flood, will disappear entirely.
Nobody is asking you to give up anything, rather think about it in baby steps: one less taxi to work, one more vegetarian meal a week, one less international flight a year. With the collaborative effort of people around the world, just like you and me, there’s still reason to hope.
Aron and Tristen take a traditional Mokoro across the floodplain. Why not try taking public transport to work today?
Blog and photography by Hannah Gormley