One of the best and most interesting ways of seeing the Okavango Delta in Botswana is by taking a trip in a mokoro, a type of canoe. The mokoro is propelled like a punt by a poler standing in the stern as you lie back glide through the shallow waters of the delta and enjoy the scenery. You won’t see as much wildlife as on a conventional safari, though hippos and crocodiles are likely, and rather exciting as the boats are somewhat vulnerable to attack by hippopotamus, which are said to be able to overturn them with ease. They are reputed to have developed this behaviour after the use of makoros and other boats for hunting. I spent several exciting but tense hours on the return leg of a trip in a makoro some years ago, as we approached a pond where we had angered a male hippo on the way out. When we got there, it had thankfully gone.
Makoros are traditionally made by digging out the trunk of a large straight tree, such as an ebony tree or Kigelia tree. As these trees take many years to grow and only last for five years, these days makoros are often made of fibre-glass. Note, although Makoro safaris are a popular way for tourists to visit the delta, they are still a practical means of transport for the local BaYei people to move around the swamp.
These people (above photo) organise trips:
A mokoro poler will be introduced to you and will be your boatman and guide throughout the trip. Depending on the length of the trip, you can expect to spend a few hours poling on the mokoro, having lunch along the way, and doing game walks into the bush.
If you are over-nighting, the poler will find a nice campsite and help you collect some firewood for cooking. Hey, and remember, this is the bush and there are no facilities – back to basics, no showers, no toilets. While you are on the trip, remember to listen to your guide – he has grown up and lived in this area most of his life. He will not only show you many fascinating things, he will also keep you out of trouble and safe while you’re in the bush. At the end of your tour, an Audi Camp vehicle will pick you up at a prearranged time and bring you back to the camp.