“A river rises in mountains and dies in sand and in its dying gives birth to a jewel at the edge of the Kalahari: the Okavango Delta.” So described this African landscape by famed nature photographer Frans Lanting in a 1990 photographic essay for National Geographic magazine.
Located in the heart of Botswana, the Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta that forms each year by seasonal flooding. Rains in the Angola Highlands flow down the Okavango River, but rather than be deposited in a lake or ocean, they simply spread out across the plains, covering an area of about 8500 square miles (22,014 sq. km) for several months of the year. This results in a large ecosystem where a variety of plant life grows, attracting large numbers of animals to the otherwise dry and desolate region.
This amazing place is the largest intact watershed in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But, it has also come increasingly under threat from a variety of sources, including poaching, ongoing conflicts across the region, industrialization, irrigation, and climate change. But a dedicated group of conservationists is looking to protect the Delta and have undertaken an impressively massive expedition to explore its vast expanse.
Dubbed the Okavango Wilderness Project, the team is supported by National Geographic and have spent years charting the Delta from “source to sand.”