Located in southern
Africa, with Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia as
neighbours, the Republic of Botswana has an area of approximately
582,000 square kilometers. Botswana is relatively flat with the Otse
Mountains being the highest feature in the country. Most of the
hills and rocky outcrops are in the eastern part of the country.
Botswana is arid to
semi-arid. The Kalahari Dessert is an area of low and erratic
rainfall. Rainfall ranges from 250mm per year in the south-west to
over 650mm per year in the north-east. Over 90% of rainfall occurs
during the summer months between November and April of each year.
Botswana is subject to recurring drought periods and overall is
experiencing a decrease in rainfall. Apart from the Okavango Delta
and the perennial Chobe and Linyati river systems, the only other
surface water occurs in rivers and pans during the rainy season.
The Okavango Delta is
fed by rains that fall in Angola collecting in the Cubango River
which becomes the Okavango River as it enters Botswana. Floodwaters
arrive at the top of the Delta at Mohembo in May and follow
well-defined channels in a south-easterly direction in the panhandle
and permanent swamps. Floodwaters tend to reach the southern
extremities of the Delta around August. The delay in flooding is
mainly due to luxuriant vegetation and peat deposits in the upstream
permanent swamps that impede the rate of flood flow.
The distance from the
river source to the Delta results in the flood period occurring
during Botswana's dry period, creating a vast oasis in a harsh
desert environment. It is this contrast in environments that makes a
visit to the Okavango Delta such a unique and exciting African