Journey Into the Okavango with Nat Geo WILD’s no miss trip to Africa’s massive watershed

Step Into The Okavango with Nat Geo WILD tonight as the channel airs this must-see documentary film.

Water is the true common currency of the entire planet, without it, we all die.  No matter how much money, riches or influence one has, if water becomes scare-which it has in much of the world- the stakes for all life dramatically change.

This is the focus in National Geographic documentary directed by Neil Gelinas, as we see a little known or mapped out part of the globe, the Okavango River Basin, a vital source of water to over a million people.

The Okavango Delta is one of the last great wildernesses in the world and home to the largest populations of elephant, hippo, and buffalo. In 2014, it was declared UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site.

National Geographic Documentary Films’ festival entrant, Into the Okavango, follows a team of modern-day explorers looking to save the Okavango Delta and in doing so experience an exhilarating adventure of a lifetime.

The river and tributaries wend through three countries, but can it be saved? Pic credit: NGC
The river and tributaries wend through three countries, but can it be saved? Pic credit: NGC

Their achievement is profound. Director and National Geographic Fellow filmmaker Neil Gelinas, South African conservation biologist Dr. Steve Boyes and Marine Biologist Adjany Costas take us through the tributary system that runs across Angola, Namibia and Botswana.

This four-month, 1,500-mile expedition spans through the Okavango River Basin to explore and protect this river system that feeds the Okavango Delta.

This is the area inside the African continent filmmakers take us to. Pic credit: NGC
This is the area inside the African continent filmmakers takes us to. Pic credit: NGC

As the country of Angola develops and its thirst for water grows, so does the threat to the Okavango Delta… and the river that is the keystone to the Delta is the Cuito River.

It’s described by filmmakers as “the lifeline,” yet we know hardly anything about it.  Most of Africa has been extensively surveyed, but for these Angolan highlands, Gelinas notes in our clip: “We have nothing. They are a black hole.”

To save the Okavango Delta this team must understand how to protect its lifeblood, the water. Gelinas says: “So we’re setting out to do something no one has ever done before. Find the source of the Cuito River and follow the water all the way down to the Delta ending in the desert.”

Over half the continent's African elephant population is found in the Okavango delta. Pic credit: NGC
Over half the continent’s African elephant population is found in the Okavango delta. Pic credit: NGC

Gelinas spearheads the fact-finding mission, and it is not without eye-popping moments of real danger such as unexploded minefields, fast-moving fires, rogue hippos, aggressive and faster than you can imagine, and the ever-present Angolan civil war.

The objective is to conserve the Okavango delta much in the same way America has preserved the diverse Yellowstone parklands that touch three US states (Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana). This African wetland paradise is filled with endangered animal and unique plant life, and its preservation is the film’s true mission.

The doc aims to educate and enlighten those unfamiliar with Africa and its interior delta. You will marvel at the Okavango River Basin’s biodiversity and learn the intricate pathways of the water source for animals and humans in the region. Also the largest population of African elephants and huge numbers of endangered big cats like lions, cheetahs and hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and other wildlife are featured in this excellent film.

Tune in or record to marvel at one of Earth’s most uncharted and unspoiled regions to the little-known and vulnerable wilderness area in the Angolan highlands where so much is at stake.

Due to increasing stressors of human life, this once unspoiled oasis, described as one of our planet’s last wetland wildernesses, is the last bastion and home to so many species at risk of disappearing forever.

It doesn’t have to happen, tune in and learn more about how you can help here.

Nat Geo’s ‘Into the Okavango’ Premieres Friday, December 14 at 9 PM ET/P on Nat Geo WILD.

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