The source of the Okavango Delta
Spurred by huge
subtropical storms, the Cubango River rises in central Angola, flows through
Namibia as the Kuvango River and finally enters Botswana as the Okavango
River at Mohembo in the north. With it comes some 11 billion cubic metres
of water each year which drains away through a maze of lagoons, channels
and islands before disappearing into the Kalahari wastes of the south.
This is the Okavango
Delta, some 15000 square kilometres of wetland with a special diversity of
fauna and flora.
River is funnelled through parallel faults of the Panhandle as a deep and
fast-flowing river before being confronted by another perpendicular fault
with a sudden increase in gradient. This slows the flow of water considerably
as it spreads into relatively shallow sediment with a fall of only 62 metres
over approximately 250 kilometres.
The Okavango's seasonal floods
feature of the Okavango is the seasonal flooding which commences in mid-summer
in the north and ends about six months later in the south. This results in
a cyclical motion of water rising in the north as it recedes in the south
during summer, and a rising in the south as it drops in the north during
winter. The nature of the annual floods is gentle with floodplains and islands
disappearing under water and then reappearing in an ever-changing landscape
at the end of each season - this is particularly pronounced in the central
The flood zones
The Delta can
be reasonably well divided between a permanently flooded zone in the north
and a seasonally flooded zone in the south.
zone includes the panhandle with its riverine forest fringes immediately
adjacent to arid Kalahari woodlands and depending upon the inflow from Angola
a vast wetland of up to 12000 square kilometres of islands, reed beds, channels,
forest banks and permanent water ways.
flooded zone has large Kalahari sandveld islands with dry and deciduous woodlands
fringed by wide grassy floodplains that are heavily influenced by the seasonal
The Moremi Game
Reserve and its surrounds is the focal point for safaris in the Okavango
and includes habitats from both the permanently and seasonally flooded zones.
With the exception of the eastern "tongue" of Moremi, access into the Okavango
Delta is by aircraft.