Mokoro rides in the Okavango Delta
I didn’t see him at first. When our guide gently poled us backwards he pointed towards the long reeds we were floating next to. He was no bigger than the end of my thumb, but this was apparently the chap that, along with his friends, made all the noise last evening. He was a gorgeous little painted reed frog. It’s the little things like this which make a mokoro ride so unique and appealing.
You sit in a long thin dugout canoe (a mokoro of wood or fibreglass) on either a padded cushion or small stool of some kind, and a poler guide stands at the back poling you along the waterways. It’s the African version of an afternoon punting on the River Cam in Cambridge – but the scenery is a bit different. Instead of the hallowed halls of Cambridge colleges you pass a landscape of reeds, papyrus, waterlilies and jackalberry trees. Within this watery wilderness you might spot frogs, lots of birds (such as jacanas, herons, plovers, kingfishers, fish eagles), small crocodiles, hippos (don’t get close!) and even sometimes red lechwe, sitatunga and elephants.
It’s a gentle, relaxing way of enjoying the Delta – real slow travel. Mostly, a mokoro ride will be an hour or two long, but some lodges offer longer mokoro safaris, and you might stop on an island for a drink or picnic.
Given that a safari by mokoro is such a uniquely Botswanan experience, make sure that you get to a water-camp at some point in your safari to enjoy the laid-back Delta.
The Okavango Delta, Botswana
There are some places in the delta where you can take mokoro trips all year, but other places are confined to offering this activity in the dry season when the floodwater is high (May to October).
Where to stay to take mokoro rides in the Okavango Delta and Chobe:
Some camps can offer mokoro rides most of the year. These are the mainly water-based camps. In time of severe drought, even these camps cannot guarantee the activity, but otherwise they are a safe bet. Other camps offer mokoro rides seasonally.
Almost year-round availability
By Amanda Marks, director of Botswana Specialists.