Mokoro

Serenity of silence

Kind of the “must do” trip in Botswana is to take some time out and gently drift down the Delta channels, or across floodplains in a mokoro.

This is less of a tourist activity than people think. Local motswana use them as a real mode of transport to this day, as they have done so traditionally for many years. Hollowing out a large straight tree, often a Sausage Tree or “kigelia”, these craft are used for transportation and fishing.

The Okavango region of Botswana is a maze of waterways which are added to with the floodplains that occur seasonally. The mokoro is actually quite a technical craft which has to be able to navigate the open and deep waterways of the channels, and the floodplains which are only inches deep, therefore it has a very flat bottom so it doesn’t ground itself.

Your guide stands at the rear of the mokoro and will pole you through the water with the use of a very long “Ngashi”, traditionally made from a “terminalia” branch. It is the variation of depth which makes the necessity of the poles being so long.

Times have changed a little in that although the traditional mokoro will still be made out of wood, most new ones are made out of fiberglass in order to protect the trees.

Below are some of our favourite camps which have very good reputations for mokoro excursions… they are by no means the only ones, so contact us for a better perspective…  All Images were taken in the region and the camps as described.

Our choices for mokoro trips

When is the best time to be on a mokoro?

The real answer is all year, but it does depend on where you go… In some areas, water is permanent and in  others it is seasonal. Some lodges which offer mokoro trips will only offer them if the floods are in, allowing them access to water.

Is it safe?  …. Yes, it is safe. Your guide will generally not have been to a “mokoro training school”, they will most likely have been born in the bush and grew up as a child poling themselves along the water… Steering a mokoro is an incredibly difficult thing to do and takes years of experience. Growing up learning this skill naturally means that you have often had decades of negotiating the wildlife were you live.

Your excursion will not put you in a dangerous situation, and if you are lucky enough to see an elephant then your poler has been in that situation a million times.

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