|Temperature and rainfall Rainfall has been exceptionally high and temperatures much warmer than average – October’s average daytime temperatures have been in the 40’s.
The Savute Channel
The most interesting and miraculous phenomenon of this year’s floods is the flowing of the Savute Channel in Northern Botswana’s Chobe National Park. (click here to read more)
Savute has always been known as the elephant capital of the world but the flowing of the Savute Channel into the Savute Marsh has attracted more elephants than we have ever seen before. Breeding herds of 500 elephants are currently in Savute. Magnificent to behold, but also somewhat devastating to the surrounding vegetation, with the candlepod acacia shrubland thinning away to just some trees dotted here and there.
The over flooded islands in the middle of the Okavango Delta have forced the animals to congregate onto the few dry islands, making game-spotting on walks and helicopter flights a shoe-in.
The abundance of water has resulted in plenty of delicious, fresh green food for the antelopes and they are looking fat and healthy as we approach the rainy season. This is the time of the year when they start having their babies and we are all looking forward to seeing the somewhat wobbly and fragile little “bokkies” springing around our place very soon.
The good rains and the exceptional floods have brought many birds to the Okavango Delta. An ornithologist’s paradise, the Delta is home to more than 450 species of terrestrial and aquatic birds. The endangered Wattled Crane and the rare endemic Slaty Egret enjoy their largest concentration in the world right here. 75-80% of the world’s 4000 slaty egrets are found in this area alone. Just a few of the many species found in the Delta are the exquisite malachite kingfisher, the goliath heron and the African Fish Eagle.
More and more aquatic birds have settled in the Savute Marsh. Fish Eagles, yellow billed stork and pied king fishers are now a common sight in the area.
The floods have affected the vegetation differently from one area to another. We have seen grasses, reeds and other water-loving flora fill up the Delta in areas that had been bare. On the other hand some trees, especially the acacia species, are slowly drowning as they are stand in water.
The Savute Channel has brought many changes to the surrounding vegetation. It is thick and green whereas in the past the trees, plants and grasses would turn brown as soon as the rains were gone. However with time, more trees will die as the water level increases and as the dramatic increase in elephants visiting the Marsh takes its toll on the vegetation.
While some things change, others remain constant, such as the passing of another year and happy festive seasons. On that note, we would like to share a message from our General Manager Warren Stone:
For me, Christmas time is a time of families coming together, of reflection over the year that has just past, and also a time of anticipation of the year ahead.
Orient-Express has made many impressive changes this year, including a journey of discovery, of getting to know the staff better and thus unlocking their true potential.
2010 has also been an encouraging year as the tourism industry in Botswana is showing signs of improving and so we are excited about the prospects for 2011. As General Manager of Orient-Express Botswana, I am looking forward to all the challenges that the year may hold, knowing that I have a much better understanding of my team, and with our on-going motivating training, we will exceed all expectations, both from ourselves and from our guests.
Below is a poem which sums up my wishes for everyone as we come to the end of another year:
Whatever be the colour of your eye,
Whatever be the colour of your hair,
Whatever position you occupy,
Whatever religion you might declare,
Whatever be the colour of your skin,
Whatever be your political thought,
Virtue be in your heart, or deadly sin,
Whether you have treasures, or possess nought,
In this Festive Season please turn your face
Towards a stranger and hold out your hand,
Offer him, or her friendly embrace
And try to make him, or her understand,
That we are all of the same family.
There is no place for violence, or hate,
There is no need for quarrel, or enmity,
That a just, peaceful world we must create
And we must learn to live in harmony,
Putting behind us all our bloody past,
Securing safety for our progeny,
For them to live on Earth in peace at last.
by P. J. Oszmann
Thanks to all the staff at Orient-Express Botswana for their hard work and enthusiasm in ensuring that each and every one of our guests has enjoyed an authentic journey of discovery at our camps. I also wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a prosperous 2011 and may all your dreams and aspirations be realised.
And from me, Onx Manga, I would like to extend my very best wishes to everyone who has taken their time to read all the wonderful news from the bush, to those who have been inspired by the stories to eventually find themselves in the African wilderness and to those who are still dreaming of coming to Africa one day; may your dreams come true.
“Masigo le Mathogonolo a Keresmose le ngwaga a moshu.”