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Exploring Africa – Okavango Delta

Exploring Africa – Okavango Delta

The amazing Okavango Delta in Botswana has just been named as the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site, as an area of Outstanding Universal Value.  Apart from being a uniquely beautiful place, it is one of the few deltas in the world that do not flow into the sea.  Instead the water flowing into the Delta, eventually soaks into the land over which it runs, including 600,000 hectares of swampland.  It’s an amazing place to visit and makes a fantastic contrast to a traditional land-based safari.  Bobbing along in a mokoro (wooden canoe traditionally hewn from a tree trunk) you get to see the world from a different perspective.  Watch the elephants loom above you as they come and drink, and the impossibly delicate jacana hop across the water lily pads as though they’re walking on water.  It is home to an impressive array of wildlife; 1061 plants, 89 fish, 64 reptiles, 482 species of birds and 130 species of mammals. For help to identify birds and animals, take a look at our travel guide page for field guides and travel literature.

It’s so peaceful and relaxing with the only sound being the gentle splash of the pole as your guide skillfully moves you through the reeds and the huge tray-like water lily leaves….

So what is a World Heritage Site?  I had no idea, so I thought I’d share with you some information that I found.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.  This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.  Every year the Committee that makes the decision meets to discuss nominations from member states for new additions to the List of World Heritage Sites.  This is deliberated and a decision made.

The inscription of the Delta as a World Heritage Site helps to preserve its fragile beauty in many ways, including protecting the vital upstream water sources in Namibia and Angola from interference such as damning or diversion.

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