A flood in a desert may sound like a mirage, but it is a very real annual occurrence that breathes life into Botswana – and you can experience it up close in this brand new programme
From Sunday 18 November, 6pm, Nat Geo WILD/HD (CH 264/265). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > National Geographic
Once a year the Okavango Delta, located in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, is transformed. When the land is at its driest, a distant trickle of water gains momentum on its vital journey to quench the arid ground’s thirst and provide animals with endless opportunities. This is the focus of Brad Bestelink’s new documentary The Flood, showing as part of Nat Geo WILD’s Wild Africa Month.
The two-part film tracks the fascinating spectacle of the flood, which begins in the Angola highlands north of Botswana. The Cubango River flows south through Namibia, gaining more waters, until it reaches Botswana and swells to fill the Okavango Delta, usually in June. It then peaks in August, after which the flood slowly evaporates, leaving the ground parched until it all happens again the following year.
Born and raised in Botswana, Bestelink – who created Savage Kingdom and worked on Planet Earth II and Africa’s Giant Killers – could not have been closer to home when filming The Flood. In the 1960s, when most visitors went to the bush to hunt, Brad’s parents offered tourists an alternative by building the first photographic tourism camp in the Okavango.
To this day, Bestelink lives with his wife Andy Crawford and their two children in the bush, so it’s safe to say he lives and breathes it. The couple founded the Natural History Film Unit, which has made films about lions, leopards, crocodiles, wild dogs and more, winning Royal Television Society awards and being nominated for BAFTAs and Emmys along the way.
Virgin TV Edit took a deep dive with Bestelink, who explained how and why The Flood has been his lifelong passion project…
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Image credits: The Flood © NHFU/William Steel