After the Kubu Island, our trip continued to Maun from where we planned to take part to an excursion on the Okavango aboard a mokoro.
The Okavango Delta is the point where Okavango, the third longest river in Africa, flows after covering 16.000 km. The peculiarity of this river is that it does not flow into the sea, its waters are absorbed by the salt pans of central Botswana.
Maun is a city, you will find traffic, traffic lights, shops, ….. In order to make the excursion we stayed two nights in Maun where we camped at the Old Bridge Backpackers, a nice campsite where you will find a restaurant, clean services and light attack. The peculiarity of this campsite is the “view”, overlooking a pool of water where a family of hippos and a family of crocodiles live.
Maun is the main entrance to the Okavango delta, there are various types of excursions, from the most expensive ones in super luxurious lodges that you will reach by plane or the cheaper ones aboard a mokoro. We tested the economy mode for which we can give you all the tips and advices.
The mokoro is a traditional low canoe made from an ebony or kigelia trunk. Currently, encouraged by groups that fight for the protection of the environment, they have started to build mokoro using fiberglass, an ebony or kigelia tree takes over a century to grow, a mokoro lasts about five years.
These boats seem very precarious, in reality they are stable and excellent for sailing within the delta among the vegetation, they have room for two passengers and for a driver who stands and pushes the boat with a long pole.
We left hte campsite around 8:00 am,, at the beginning the road is asphalted after the road is dirt, not terrible. Look to the sides, it is not difficult to see elephants, especially early in the morning.
After about an hour, we arrived at the river where the mokoro drivers were waiting for us. After the introductions and a short briefing we set off for the boats. We have been told that sometimes it happens the small fishes or small frogs jump inside the mokoro, it is important to stay fixed to not lose your balance and fall into the river, the river is full of hippos and crocodiles.
The navigation proceeds slowly between hippos, papyrus, buffaloes, ….. Despite the not very inviting color, the river water is very clean, it is not common to see the drivers drink directly from the river. Don’t try it, you could risk ending your holiday in the bathroom.
Reached a clearing, we parked the mokoro and went by foot into the savannah with the driver as a guide. He showed us footprints, explained all the secrets of animal excrement, accompained alongside giraffes and zebras, showed healing plants, …… We then returned to our mokoro where we had lunch.
After lunch we returned to the starting point by sailing slowly on the river.
Don’t expect to see lot of animals, but you can try peace and quiet by sliding on the waters of the Delta.
It is possible to spend the night in the savannah, we did not do it but it must be an incredible emotion.
How to organize the excursion by yourself: once you arrive in Maun, go to the OKMCT (Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust) headquarters where you can book the excursion. The next day you will have to go to the pier, the station where all the mokoro depart. It is about one hour from Maun, the road after a first asphalted stretch becomes off road with sand, but with a car 4×4 it is ok. During the trip, look around, it is easy to make intersting encounters, especially with elephants. On the river bank you will find your “poler” who will wait for you with his boat.
If the “yourself” trip is not for you, you can ask the campsite, they will organize the excursion at a higher price, but you will not have to disseamble and reassemble the tent and drive, you will have a driver who will take you to the river and will pick you at the end, the meal and the water are included in the cost of the excursion.
Remember to bring:
- a good trekking shoes,
- long pants for the walk,
- sun glasses
- very high sun protection
- lip stick
- insect repellent, we always uses Autan Tropical.