#Okavango Journal Day 5

Botswana’s official national sport is soccer, but its unofficial one is predicting the annual Delta floods. Sit at any bar in Maun, and where in another city you might hear talk about baseball scores, you’ll hear instead about water levels, and late and early floods, and rumours of channels drying up earlier than they have in decades.

The official sport of #Okavango16 is definitely predicting how many hours (or days) we’ll spend pulling boats. The arguments started on Day 1: The flood was low this year, says Steve. Ah, replies Götz, but there was a late flood from the Zambizi! Two days of pulling, ventures Adjany. Four! Six! One and a half!

Here’s how it works: at some point during the expedition we’ll run out of water in front of us. What was once a lagoon has become a flood plain, has become a channel, has become a hippo path, has become a three inch puddle, has become mud. At which point we get out of the boats, and put on our portage harnesses. Then we clip into a rope tied to the front of the mokoro, and in twos or threes or fours or sixes, we pull the boats.

It’s a bit early to say what the tally of pulling this year will be. We did four hours today and we’ll likely have another four tomorrow. Which will end up being a remarkably easy year.

I can’t believe I just typed that.

Tomorrow we’ll spend the day here on Madinari. A small crew of us is going out to try and find a rumored and heretofore unknown feature of the Okavango (hint: it’s a rock), while the rest of the team takes a rest day, cleaning clothing and assembling sensor stations. On Tuesday, we make the push to the central Delta, and our expedition changes character. We’ll be entering one of the densest (and most dangerous) wildlife areas in the world, and we’ll replace discussions about pulling boats with recommendations for safe camping areas and tips for safely making it back to our tents.

#Okavango16 is the 7th consecutive full transect of the Okavango Delta. We are assembling a completely open biodiversity dataset about one of the world’s most remarkable ecosystems. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and at IntoTheOkavango.org.

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