October 6, 2009

Travelling on a mokoro in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, Africa

Location: Okavanga Delta, Botswana, Africa (19° 15′ 0″ S, 22° 45′ 0″ E)
Date: 23 April 2001; 11.25am
Camera: (analogue) Canon 500N with slides and scanned

Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta. The delta is irrigated by the Okavango River which originates from Angola, where it is known as the Cubango River. The river has no outlet to the sea but empties into the Kalahari Desert and irrigating the desert in the process. The delta is flooded for about 3 months every year between June and August, curiously during Botswana’s dry winter months. The reason is that the river water comes from summer rains in Angola that takes about 5 months to reach the Okavango Delta. When the delta is flooded, it swells to at least 3 times its permanent size. During this time, the delta is a magnet for animals, creating one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife. Islands, the majority of which began as termite mounds, can disappear completely, being consumed by the flood. However, the water would disappear relatively quickly through evaporation and transpiration from the leaves of plants as a result of the high temperature in the desert. A major means of transport during the flood is by poling a mokoro, a traditional dug-out canoe made from an ebony or sausage tree log, like that in the photo. Since both the ebony and sausage trees are now protected, mokoros are now made from fibreglass.

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