“15 hippos next to us, an elephant on the island… this place is indescribable,” Gregg said during the Google Hangout this morning. “I was already in tears once today when we emerged [onto the river] from fighting through the bush for so many days… This is one of my ultimate adventures so far.”

If you missed the live hangout, you can stream it any time here:

Each of the four Explorers weighed in on their trip, on the importance of the Okavango, and on his place in the expedition.

Jer Thorp, a software artist and National Geographic Explorer, spoke about how in high school a teacher told him he had to make the decision between art and science.

“So, I ditched art and chose science, but it always left me uneasy,” Jer said. “About 10 years ago I switched course again and started to do art. one of my big fascinations is how can art really interact with science. Here we’re doing real science and taking measurements and doing wildlife sightings, but I also think that there’s a tremendous potential to tell stories here and a tremendous potential to make beautiful things.”

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango needs continued protection.

“The main threat for the Okavango right now – is what we’re doing next year and preparing this year for – which is development up in Angola, in the catchment, the rivers that flows into the delta,” said Steve Boyes, who’s been working in the delta more than a decade. “Angola is growing between 7 and 20 percent every year… agricultural development, dams, bridges that open access to new areas.

“We need to make sure there are conservation corridors for elephants, new protected areas up there,” he continued. “This delta is not safe, this World Heritage Site is not safe. We need to understand what is important and protect it.”

The Explorers encouraged people to get involved, with Gregg announcing ASC’s future involvement in the delta through a volunteer program, and Steve and Jer encouraging folks to follow along online, share and visit the delta.

-Emily Wolfe

Learn more about this expedition, and follow the team at intotheokavango.org, at our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, and via the hashtag #Okavango14.