This year delivered what all reports were indicating – the biggest flood in 20 years. It is at times like these that being old-timers works to our advantage – our camps and our airstrip were built when floodwaters were characteristically much higher than they have been in the past couple of decades – decades which have also seen a massive increase in the numbers of camps and airstrips, many of which are now under water. Whilst sympathizing with our colleagues, we are rejoicing in the high water, which is providing a badly needed flush of the Okavango system, inundating old river-courses and floodplains long colonized by acacias, pushing water into ancient fish-breeding areas, raising the water table far inland, replenishing aquifers and constricting the reach of the annual fires that sweep the country during the dry winter months.
In particular, our activities in the central Okavango centre around the use of traditional mekoro, and high water opens vast areas to us for safe use, allowing us to utilize shallow floodplains where hippo can’t surprise us, and giving us ready access to areas we haven’t visited, but on foot, for many years. Our camping trails are getting into pristine areas, and we are looking forward to an explosion in the fish and water-fowl populations later in the year. As the waters recede from late-August onwards we expect wonderful game and bird sightings on the fringes of the floodplains and forests. With any luck we are entering a new cycle of high water, the very raison d’ etre of the Okavango swamps.