Islands of the Okavango

Lion Wading Thru Water Crossing Moremi

The Okavango Delta is dotted with countless islands ranging in size from small termite mounds to vast tracts of land, and all provide drama through the seasons.

The islands of the Okavango

The islands of the Okavango Delta vary in size from the smallest single termite mound to the large body of land that dissects the delta known as Chief's Island. The extent of the islands is only really appreciated in the dry season when the delta is in full flood and the land parts above the high water mark stand out, barren against the lush waterlogged plains.

Many of the islands are encircled by lush riverine vegetation of tall trees and 'thick' bushes, and have a center of desolate white soil. This happens when the trees encircling the island transpire, leaving large amounts of trace minerals in the soil which then becomes too 'acidic' for any plants to grow.

The physical nature of the Okavango Delta is constantly changing as termites and hippos reshape the landscape as the seasons' progress - new islands are formed whilst others are swallowed up by the trampling of animals and the arrival of the floodwaters.

Hidden dramas of the wilderness

Many of the islands in the Okavango Delta are never visited by humans due to their inaccessibility and some are only visited in times when the flood level has dropped and there is access for vehicular traffic. With the receding waters the islands become accessible again and one of the most poignant wilderness experiences is to walk on an island for the first time after a flood season and read the story of the preceding few months when the island was inaccessible.

There may be a carcass, there may be dried skin or merely the horns of an animal, tracks will be imprinted in the earth and there may even be a healthy population of wildlife on the island, indicating that the wilderness still moves on without our interference.

It is of some comfort listening to the night and hearing sounds of dramas playing out on the inaccessible islands, knowing that there are still places where the wilderness can keep secrets from us in this era of modern technology.
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