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Okavango Delta mokoro trips

A mokoro (plural mekoro) is a traditional dugout canoe, and is the most efficient way of getting around the narrow, reed-fringed channels of the seasonally inundated Okavango Delta. These hand-made wooden craft were traditionally rather rugged and leaky, and sitting on a pile of grass was the only way to avoid a wet seat. Now, though, more in order to preserve the dwindling tree reserves than anything else, mekoro are made from fibreglass, while painstakingly retaining the rugged wooden look. So – hey presto – no more cutting down huge trees to build them, and no more wet bums for the passengers.

The Okavango Delta was formed aeons ago when the Okavango River, which rises in the highlands of Angola, dammed up against a shallow rift valley which may be, it is surmised, a western extension of the Great East African Rift Valley.

The flood, as it is locally called, usually arrives about June or July when the water spreads out to form countless pools, channels and lagoons. Water lilies bloom on the surface and myriad aquatic beasties, ranging in size from frogs to hippos, frolic in the crystal-clear water.

The surrounding area is dry so many species of game congregate in this huge verdant oasis, spending most of their time on the many island of the sand tongues, which are long spits of higher land that do not flood. A leisurely float along the limpid channels between colourful water lilies, towering palms and bright green banks of papyrus, interspersed with short game-viewing walks on the islands, has to be experienced. The quiet is like nothing else, and you could imagine yourself part of the first community on Earth as you watch a bright orange Delta sunset. Mokoro trips are operated all year in the permanently flooded area near the top of the Delta, and in the flood season, which runs from about June to September, in the seasonally flooded areas.

Most Delta trips start off with a flight from Maun to a very comfortable, or even luxurious, camp deep in the Delta from where you will either go out on short trips returning to camp every night, or do a multi-day excursion, staying in fabulously atmospheric fly camps along the way. Although the Delta is a real wilderness area, guests do not rough it on these trips.


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