Mokoro expeditions: getting very close to the Okavango Delta wildlife and environs

Jun 05 2014 | Written by: Fran

Exploring the Okavango on board a mokoro

If you’ve tried the conventional and traditional safaris from an army-green safari vehicle, and perhaps even from the safety of a luxury vehicle – with aircon that is – then it is time for a greater African experience. The Okavango Delta’s mokoro expedition will get you in close contact with Africa’s wildlife, yet you will be perfectly safe. Here’s why:

The mokoro

The mokoro is not an odd-looking water animal, is it name may sound like. There is, however, a relation to water: the mokoro is the traditional dug-out canoe that has been traversing the Okavango Delta for centuries. The sight of a local on board his mokoro has become synonymous with the Okavango Delta. Now, the locals have opened up their world of the mokoro. Lately, tourists have been offered the opportunity to experience the greatness of the Okavango from this very unique water transportation method.

The Delta wildlife

If the sound of an open canoe on the Okavango Delta with its many hippos and crocodiles - and even wading elephants sound a bit too adventurous to your liking, here is an interesting fact: the resident wildlife shows no fear or feelings of being threatened when a mokoro with its slight movement passes. With the mokoro being steered by a single oar - which is often nothing more than a bamboo rod, crocodiles hardly react to the canoe which appears to them as nothing else than a large log floating by.

Mokoro: the modern alternative

Although the mokoro may seem like a large log floating by, the modern mokoro has developed one step further. Where used for safaris and tourist expeditions, mokoros have been developed and made from a modern fibre glass. This ensures that the growing mokoro expedition industry is safe, sustainable, and not harmful to Botswana’s precious environment.

What to see on the Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders and one of Africa’s richest wildlife environments. On a mokoro expedition you will be surprised to see how relaxed the wildlife remains with the mokoro floating by. Come within close reach of elephants, buffalo, lion, zebra, and many magnificent bird species including the famous resident African fish eagle. Take time to observe as many of the Delta’s approximately 200,000 animals spending time at the water’s edge.

Mokoro safaris: getting away from it all

All of Botswana’s mokoro expeditions are guided operations, with safari guides and locals guiding the mokoro expedition. A few mokoros are often allowed on the local mokoro expedition, meaning a support mokoro for supplies and other necessities. This small group safari exploration trip usually takes one far away from luxury hotels, so expect to spend night time at the edge of the Delta in classic safari accommodation, with the sounds of the African wildlife offering after-dark entertainment.

Best time to go to the Okavango Delta

Peak wildlife season in the Okavango Delta is between June and October, and this is the best time of the year to go if you want to see as much wildlife as possible. However, mokoro expeditions are open throughout the year, weather permitting. Depending on the number of people per expedition as well as individual tour operators, mokoro expeditions average around $400.00 USD per person.

Experiencing the true spirit of the Okavango Delta means getting close to nature, and truly experiencing the sights and sounds of this iconic African range. A mokoro expedition is your opportunity to touch and feel the Okavango Delta, mingle with the local culture, and return home with Delta memories – until the day you find your way back here. 

Sources and credits

Some rights reserved by Philip Milne, via flickr [Creative Commons]

About the author

Has been on: 11 safaris

Seeing beyond the average tourist routes and experiencing local life is my type of travel! Living in South Africa I'm an environmentalist at heart, and I continue to marvel at the beauty of the African continent.

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