Into the Okavango (2018)
A passionate conservation biologist brings together a river bushman fearful of losing his past and a young scientist uncertain of her future on an epic, four-month expedition across three countries, through unexplored and dangerous landscapes, in order to save the Okavango Delta, one of our planet's last pristine wildernesses.
- Africa's Okavango River Basin, which covers 125,000 square miles across Angola,
Botswana and Namibia, is home to the largest remaining population of African elephants
as well as significant populations of lions, cheetahs, wild dogs and hundreds of species
of birds. It's also a vital source of water for more than 1 million people and feeds
Botswana's majestic Okavango Delta, a World Heritage Site that is now threatened by
human activity along the rivers that feed it.
In 2015 National Geographic Fellow Dr. Steve Boyes assembled a remarkable
team to embark on a four-year project to study this vast and diverse ecosystem to
determine how best to protect the delta and its headwaters for generations to come. The
first 1,500-mile river expedition of the project brought together local guides and
international explorers, storytellers and scientists. The team included 27-year- old marine
biologist Adjany Costa, who grew up in the sprawling Angolan capital of Luanda during
the country's brutal civil war, as well as an Okavango native, Tumeletso Setlabosha,
nicknamed "Water," an expert boatsman who spent his entire life on the delta.
Starting in Angola at the source of the Cuito River, one of the three arteries
feeding the basin, the explorers traveled by traditional canoe (mokoro), but they soon
ran aground when the stream narrowed to a trickle, forcing them to drag their boats
across marshland for eight grueling days. As the river again became navigable, the
team's hopes of documenting a thriving ecosystem were further deterred when they
encountered vast tracts of woodland burned by local hunters.
Despite these initial disappointments and setbacks, Boyes and his team
continued their journey through the highlands of Angola and soon encountered a
dizzying array of wildlife. By journey's end, the scientists collected data from 50,000
locations along the way, chronicling dozens of new scientific discoveries and shedding
fresh light on the delicate interconnections that bind humankind with nature.
Directed by National Geographic Society filmmaker Neil Gelinas and featuring stunning wildlife photography and aerial views of rarely seen vistas, National Geographic
Documentary Films' Into the Okavango is a deeply moving chronicle of modern-day explorers forever transformed by the adventure of a lifetime. It is also an attempt to draw the world's attention not only to the Okavango River Basin, one of the most important areas for biodiversity conservation, but to the little-known and vulnerable wilderness area in the Angolan highlands on which it depends.