National Geographic
Menu

A River Runs Through It

Selinda Spillway_Botswana_BJoubert1459_1.jpg

Yesterday afternoon at around 2:30, the headwaters of the Okavango met up with the river flow down the Selinda, joining up the Selinda Spillway for the first time in 30 years!

It is, in our small part of the world and for our concession, a momentous occasion. The spillway runs right through our concession from the southwest to the north, and if we can claim anything at all in this carved up landscape, it is that the spillway is 100 percent on our land. It is the first time in three decades that the Okavango has joined the Kwando Linyanti river system in the north. Beverly and I saw it connect once, when we first came to Botswana, and only briefly, but it is a river of legends that very few in the world have ever seen in its full colors.

English explorer Sir Frederick Selous came through and noted that it was dry.

Scottish explorer David Livingstone missed it altogether, although on one of his trips it was probably flowing.

In 1910, a surveyor, Captain Cooke, walked the whole area pushing a bicycle for accurate measurements and noted this as a flowing river—one of only two that flowed south to north in the region. The other, ironically, was the Savuti, which flowed from Kwai then, not from the Linyanti.

I am sure the spillway will dissolve again later in the season and probably reconnect this time next year, but today is an important day.

All the best, Dereck

Photograph by Beverly Joubert

Learn more about National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert, and support their efforts to protect Maasailand lions in and around Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.