If you are travelling to the Okavango Delta, a mokoro excursion is a must! Often seen as the quintessential experience in Botswana, this is a unique way of exploring the lush waterways and local wildlife in the area on a traditional mokoro canoe.
The Delta is nearly 5 million acres of swampy marsh and grassland in northern Botswana, and an Okavango Delta canoe safari is the perfect means to navigate the area’s challenging terrain.
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What can I expect on a canoe safari?
A mokoro is a simple dugout canoe that is propelled by pushing a pole from the stern of the boat, much like punting.
It has been the primary mode of transport for generations for the people who call the Okavango Delta their home, and the delta is the only place in Africa to offer mokoro safaris.
Mokoros were traditionally built from the trunk of a large tree; however, with conservation efforts in mind, they are increasingly being made from fibreglass.
A little like the gondolas of Venice, your boat poler will propel your vessel around the channels and waterways of the Delta, giving you the freedom to absorb the diversity of its wildlife species from the comfort of your seat.
Why go on an Okavango Delta canoe safari?
Visitors will be in awe at the beauty of the Delta waterways, grasses and wildlife from a completely different viewpoint and accessing unique areas of the Okavango that vehicles cannot enter, a popular activity with those on Botswana eco safaris.
A mokoro ride is also every photographer’s dream due to the silence of the journey, allowing for the perfect snaps to be taken under the steady hand of a skilled “poler’ guide manoeuvring you through the waters.
You’ll also get an up close and personal view of herds of elephants and hippos knee-deep in water as well as micro colourful frogs and birds in a relaxed environment. From plants to birds, to insects and large animals, the mokoro is the perfect place from which to view it all.
How to prepare for an Okavango Delta canoe safari?
Travellers should ensure they have the following items:
- Sleeping bag
- Warm clothes
- Bug repellent
- Malaria medication
- Basic toiletries.
Who can go on a Delta canoe safari?
Mokoro canoe safaris are suitable for solo travellers and are also family friendly. Private tours with groups of various sizes can also be arranged for this relaxed, unique panoramic view of the Okavango Delta with its amazing wildlife experience
Children policy: Under 18 years old are allowed to participate with adult’s supervision.
Where can I start my Delta canoe safari from?
Most lodges in the Delta, luxurious safari camps and otherwise, organise mokoro trips although some land-based camps on larger islands do not.
The lodge-based trips tend to be late afternoon affairs, ending with sundowner drinks at a suitably scenic location, either in the mokoro itself or on one of the islands. These trips are almost always included in the accommodation fee.
It’s also possible to organise independent mokoro trips – without the huge lodge bill – from the safari hub town of Maun. There, the Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust act as an umbrella association for all polers.
How much is a Botswana canoe safari?
Mokoro canoe safaris organised independently typically cost USD $150 for a 1-day full excursion departing at 7.30am.
Packages typically include:
- Hotel return transfers to/from your Maun hotel
- Bottled water
- Soft drink
- All fees and taxes
Best month for canoe safaris in the Okavango Delta?
The best time to travel to Botswana for a canoe safari is July to October, when water levels are high and the skies are almost permanently blue. Yes, in a quirk of the natural world, the delta is at its wettest during the height of its dry weather season.
This is due to the floodwaters originating not from Botswana, but rather from the highlands in Angola more than a thousand kilometres away (the water then takes several months to arrive).
How long does a canoe safari last for?
Canoe safari can last for a full day or longer 3-day excursions (including a two to three-hour return drive in a 4WD to the point of embarkation), or last as long as several days with camping done on the islands (you’ll need to organise your own tent, cooking equipment and other kit).
Most trips also involve some nature walks in the Delta, where wildlife can also be seen. Overnight trips can be catered or self-catered, depending on your budget.
How much does a canoe safari in the Okavango Delta cost?
Most canoe safaris are almost always included in your accommodation fee. Canoe safaris organised independently typically cost USD $150 for a 1-day full excursion and more for a 3-day excursion.
When to go on a canoe safari in Botswana?
The best time to travel to Botswana for a canoe safari is July to October, when water levels are high and the skies are almost permanently blue.
How long does a mokoro canoe safari last?
Canoe safaris can last for a full day or longer 3-day excursions (including a two to three-hour return drive in a 4WD to the point of embarkation).