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Floodwaters Move Towards Bottom of Okavango Delta, Botswana

19S 23.0E

July 23rd, 2009 Category: Rivers

Botswana - June 20th, 2009

Botswana - June 20th, 2009

The Okavango River, flowing in from the left edge, spills onto the sands of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, creating the Okavango Delta (center). The triangular area in the upper right quadrant is swampland in Africa’s “Four Corners” region.

The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland water systems. It’s headwaters start in Angola’s western highlands, with numerous tributaries joining to form the Cubango river, which then flows through Namibia (called the Kavango) and finally enters Botswana, where it is then called the Okavango.

The delta’s floods are fed from the Angolan rains, which start in October and finish sometime in April. The floods only cross the border between Botswana and Namibia in December and will only reach the bottom end of the delta (Maun) sometime in July, taking almost nine months from the source to the bottom. This image was captured in late June, when the waters are nearing the bottom end.

This slow meandering pace of the flood is due to the lack of drop in elevation, which drops a little more than 60 metres over a distance of 450 kilometres. The delta’s water deadends in the Kalahari – via the Botetle river, with over 95 per cent of the water eventually evaporating.

During the peak of the flooding the delta’s area can expand to over 16,000 square kilometres, shrinking to less than 9,000 square kilometres in the low period. As the water travels through the delta, the wildlife starts to move back into the region.

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