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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Newsflash: 2010 Okavango Floods, Botswana

Twenty villages in Botswana have been evacuated after the Okavango River burst its banks. Officials in Botswana have called for a joint intervention to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases and more than 200 families have been moved to higher ground.

The Okavango Delta receives it's water from rains which falls months earlier mostly in the highlands of Angola. Part of the beauty of this ecosystem is that the waters finally arrive in the delta as the dry season begins, thereby supporting an amazing array of fauna and flora.

This year's flood waters have been particularly high. When we were in the Okavango Delta two weeks ago the water levels were already above the peak of 2009, and that's with a month or two to go before the expected peak. As you can see in the chart below, on April 20th the flow of water at the entrance to the Delta was almost at the rate of the very high 1984 levels. All that water is still pushing out into the Delta.
click to enlarge...
cubic meters per second on the Okavango River just as it enters Botswana. Source:

Some safari camps in the Delta are going to face challenges with transportation of guests and supplies. In fact some may close this year. Many bush roads we traveled on already had water coming up to the the Land Rover doors. That's not unusual and it was all part of the fun but at a certain point it will become a logistical nightmare. All the more incentive to enjoy the wonderful water-based safaris by motor boat and makoro.

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