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Okavango Expedition 2012: Our First Unassisted Crossing of Okavango Delta…

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…

Giles Trevethick

The 2012 expedition in the northern Okavango Delta close to Jedibe village and their ancestral fishing grounds. A fishing ban in February and March has been instituted to support a sustainable fishery for local communities that depend on this source of protein. (Giles Trevethick)

Giles Trevethick

Dr Steve Boyes and his wife, Dr Kirsten Wimberger, on their way to Maun on the Boro Channel. This team works together on most of their projects. (Giles Trevethick)

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/

Neil Gelinas (Screenshot)

The “Bush Boyes”, Steve and Chris, poling past an animal crossing to the west of Vundumtiki Island as another big storm approaches… (Neil Gelinas (Screenshot))

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…

Steve poling past a large pod of hippos near Mombo Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Just look at this place! (Paul Steyn)

Steve poling past a large pod of hippos near Mombo Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Just look at this place! (Paul Steyn)

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.

A view from the live representation of the 2013 Okavango Expedition that was updated every 20 minutes and shared all research data every day. (Wild Bird Trust / Office for Creative Research)

A view from the live representation of the 2013 Okavango Expedition that was updated every 20 minutes and shared all research data every day. (Wild Bird Trust / Office for Creative Research)

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.

Steve Boyes

Migrating elephants spread across the fertile floodplains of Mombo where some of the world’s most pristine wilderness remains… (Steve Boyes)

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.

The crystal clear waters of the Okavango Delta. We were very happy to find this shallow, sandy channel just to the north of Chief's Island after 7 days of hardship in no-man's land... (Paul Steyn)

The crystal clear waters of the Okavango Delta. We were very happy to find this shallow, sandy channel just to the north of Chief’s Island after 7 days of hardship in no-man’s land… (Paul Steyn)

Please read these blogs from the same expedition as this video:

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/18/bush-boyes-on-expedition-escape-from-chiefs-island/

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/11/bush-boyes-on-expedition-madinari-mother-of-the-buffalo-island-to-the-mombo-wilderness/

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/03/bush-boyes-on-expedition-seronga-to-jedibe/

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/07/26/bush-boyes-on-expedition-okavango-wetland-bird-survey/

Comments

  1. Renee Gerber
    Pretoria, South Africa
    December 16, 2013, 6:23 am

    Was there once. Would love to go again. What an amazing place!