African queen

The Oka­vango Delta has be­come the 1000th re­cip­i­ent of the cov­eted World Her­itage Site award. We take a closer look

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

B OTSWANA’S OKA­VANGO Delta is prob­a­bly the world’s largest in­land delta and cer­tainly one of the wettest, wildest and most in­ac­ces­si­ble places left on the planet.

Its awe­some size and sea­sonal me­ta­mor­pho­sis from a size­able seg­ment of Kala­hari desert — the largest stretch of sand in the world — to an oa­sis that sup­ports the di­ver­sity of wildlife, is enough to make any­one feel small.

It all be­gins with a most ex­tra­or­di­nary river of the same name, which starts its jour­ney in the An­gola high­lands and me­an­ders 10,000 miles un­til it reaches north­ern Botswana.

The wa­ter may be head­ing for the sea but it never ac­tu­ally reaches the In­dian Ocean.

In­stead, it fans out through pa­pyrus swamps and palm groves which ef­fec­tively fil­ters it, leav­ing it crys­tal-clear be­fore it makes its way down old hippo trails, fill­ing the la­goons and cre­at­ing Africa’s big­gest oa­sis that floods the plains.

The magic of na­ture is that this hap­pens in the dry sea­son — July and Au­gust — of­fer­ing an amaz­ing lifesource for wildlife that may oth­er­wise per­ish. As a re­sult, it’s also one of the most nat­u­ral op­por­tu­ni­ties for un­touched sa­fari game-spot­ting left in the world.

It’s at this time that the plants and an­i­mals such as ele­phants and hip­pos, big cats, buf­faloes and all the other her­bi­vores thrive in this unique cli­matic process and it’s here you will find some of the world’s most en­dan­gered species of large mam­mal, such as the chee­tah, white rhi­noc­eros, black rhi­noc­eros, African wild dog and lion.

The area, called the Pan­han­dle, was in the spot­light when Prince Harry sailed the nar­row stretch be­tween Shakawe to­ward Maun on board the Kubu Queen, a dou­ble-decker house­boat. But there are other ways to see it.

For in­stance, by he­li­copter and boat, but the best ex­pe­ri­ence is had by ex­plor­ing on a mokoro — a tra­di­tional ca­noe.

The mokoro is made from the 100-year-old sausage tree and it’s a chance to sit back while a gon­do­lier guides the mokoro through the reeds and wa­ter lil­lies and you will get to view frogs, bee-eaters, king­fish­ers and dragon­flies up close.

From Au­gust to Oc­to­ber the re­gion is per­fect for fish­ing.

At this time shoals of bar­bel and tiger fish pop­u­late the river mak­ing this a sen­sa­tional place to en­joy the sport.

If ever there was a fine ex­am­ple of how na­ture’s del­i­cate yet awe­some equi­lib­rium sup­ports the cy­cle of life, this is it

Explore the Delta in a mokoro (Right) Hy­pos and lions cool down in the flood wa­ters

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