We are in northern Botswana -our feet in Kalahari sand under a wide arcing sky. Rain is all around us. This morning the crump of thunder reverberates and the bull frogs are going crazy in the channel with their rhythmic calls.
We are staying in a wooden house perched on an anthill overlooking a grassy floodplain. Elephants buffalo giraffe and others walk past here on their way to drink at Lake Zibidianja at the head of the Savuti channel. This area is known as Selinda and we are in the Selinda Reserve. On Google earth we are just off the southern most point of Caprivi Strip on the Botswana side.
As Botswana is primarily a desert country, these northern waterways are critical to the survival of many wildlife species that migrate here as inland waterholes dry up during the winter. An ancient channel bed known as the Spillway links the Selinda area with the Okavango Delta. In years of good flood waters an arm of water reaches out from either side, and locals speculate on whether the Spillway will ‘flow’ again should the two arms connect.
Lake Zibidianja is fed by the Kwando River which flows in from Angola – as the waters leave the lake the river becomes known as the Linyanti. This river with two names forms part of the border between Botswana and Namibia. At the southern point of the Lake is the Savuti Channel – another ancient river bed that has a history of drying up for fifty years, then flowing again, then drying up. Apparently this is due to the slightest shift in the tectonic plates that underpin this country. Recently water has been pushing into the channel again bringing the kiss of life to forgotten hippo pools and water bird habitats.
We left the drought stricken lowveld ten days ago and drove up to Maun, the safari capital of Botswana. Here we spent a few days reconnecting with old pals and catching up on news and safari anecdotes before driving up the west side of the Delta to an island near Ikoga where we keep our houseboat, the Catfish Running. With daytime temperatures in the middle 40’s being on the river was probably the best place to be! We had arranged to meet with Dan there who was coming to fit the steering and hydraulics; and later with Denis who was to help us fix wonky planks on the decks, and install decking to the front and rear (fore and aft?); Before they arrived however we had the river to ourselves and found, as luck would have it, that we were in the epicentre of a barbel run. But that’s another story for the next posting …