Monday, July 11, 2014
Okavango Delta Receives UNESCO World Heritage Listing
Goway invites Globetrotters to experience Botswana's natural treasure.
The Okavango Delta has become the 1,000th site on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The Delta is one of 26 new sites recognised by the organisation. It is the second site in Botswana to make the list, and the first to receive a listing under UNESCO’s ‘natural’ classification. The new sites were added by the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Doha, Qatar in late June.
The country’s other UNESCO World Heritage Site is Tsodilo, a collection of over 4,500 rock paintings in the Kalahari Desert. It was added in 2001 as a ‘cultural’ site.
Stretching over 6,000 to 15,000 square kilometres depending on the season, the Okavango spreads over the Kalahari basin and supports up to 200,000 large mammals during its peak season. Hippos, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, Nile Crocodiles, big cats, antelopes, hyenas and the endangered African Wild Dog all thrive across the delta, alongside over 400 bird species.
Despite not being recognized by UNESCO until this year, the Okavango was last year named one of the ‘Seven Natural Wonders of Africa,’ and is one of Botswana’s most popular safari draws. Another is Chobe National Park, home to Africa’s highest concentration of elephants. Independent since 1966, Botswana has a well-established tourism industry centred on these two areas, both of which are located in the northern part of the country. It is a popular destination to visit on its own, or as part of a longer Africa tour, which may include neighbouring Namibia, South Africa, or Victoria Falls.
Botswana is also regarded as one of Africa’s safest destinations, enjoying an unusually high level of economic and political stability for the region. Politics has in the past played a role in UNESCO’s World Heritage rulings. This year’s expansion notably includes the first Burmese site to be listed – the ancient city-states of Pyu. Suspected government interference had previously kept Myanmar’s candidate sites off the World Heritage list.
Goway Travel’s Africa Experts division offers a range of Botswana safari options, from a 4-day Chobe river cruise, to rail journeys, to its Botswana Wildlife Breakaway, the most comprehensive of its Botswana tours. New to Goway’s product range, this 15-day round-trip from Victoria Falls takes in both Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta, along with Hwange National Park, one of Zimbabwe’s most spectacular wildlife areas. Prices start at just US$3342 or CA$3542, and departures are available throughout the remainder of 2014.
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