In June 2012, my brother, marine biologist Chris Boyes, and I embarked on our first-unassisted crossing of the Okavango Delta as part of the 2012 Okavango Wetland Bird Survey. To support our ongoing research my wife, Dr Kirsten Wimberger, joined the expedition in the front dug-out canoe (“mokoro”) with me to lead up all research. We going to be very tired and needed her unmatched support. This was a dream come true for me and her participation ended up being keystone to the successful completion of the over 300km research transect across the world’s largest, wildest inland delta…
The 2012 Okavango Expedition was the first of three unassisted crossings (2012/13/14) in preparation for the 2015 expedition over 1,000 miles down the length of the Okavango River from the source in Angola down the Cuito Subcatchment through the Caprivi Strip in Namibia past the “panhandle” and into the Okavango Delta itself: http://okavangofilm.com/ and http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/11/18/saving-botswanas-okavango-delta-for-future-generations/
In 2013, we managed to get across the Okavango Delta in 15 days and still feel like we could do 5x more down the length of the river over 2 months. We managed to complete a 51 kilometre “trek” across much of the Moremi Game Reserve to finish the 2013 expedition. Over eight hours poling in the deep, slowly meandering Boro Channel gave us a feel for an average day on the open river. I ended the 2013 Okavango Expedition excited to get the 2014 done and jump on the world’s wildest, undeveloped river…
In 2014, we will be taking key expedition team members for the 2015 expedition across the Okavango Delta to test new bespoke Android applications, power cells, data uploading to research partners, camping equipment, filming rigs, aerial surveillance gear, as well as new functionality on intotheokavango.org. July 2014 will be our last chance to field test equipment for the 6-8 week journey down the unexplored and unstudied catchment.
In 2015, we aim to be able to upload our research data, tracks, biometrics, brain waves, photographs, short text messages, and sound to research and project partners everyday. We will share the raw expedition experience LIVE with millions of people around the world – in school classrooms, university halls, offices, research stations, homes, dorms, adventure shops and, of course, online. Intotheokavango.org will enable enthusiasts around across the globe to follow our actual footsteps every 20 minutes, listen in on live sound, monitor biometrics like heartbeats and brainwaves, and go through our research data as we gather it via a Public API. We believe in open access, partnership and collaboration towards stimulating positive change for the Okavango Delta.
Bottomline is that we need to inspire professionals, politicians, researchers, guides, villagers, farmers and the general public that saving an untouched wilderness like the Okavango Delta is a priority. We need to inspire the people’s of Angola, Namibia and Botswana, as well as the global community. This is why we are producing a groundbreaking feature film based on the 2015 Okavango Expedition. Another aim is to be able to submit a scientific manuscript to an international peer-reviewed open access journal within seven days of completing the expedition by uploading data live to researchers in the lab. In 2015, we are going to complete the most comprehensive collaborative biodiversity and ecological survey ever undertaken on the Okavango River or any other river for that matter. This has been six years in the making and to establish one of the largest systems of protected areas in the largest undeveloped river catchment in the world.
Please read these blogs from the same expedition as this video: