An “unparalleled aquatic adventure” on the Khwai River
With a size of 16 000 square kilometres, the fan-shaped waterways, swamps and grasslands of the Okavango Delta in the northwest of Botswana are a sight to behold from above. But there is another vantage point from where to explore the world’s largest inland delta and the region’s incredible and diverse wildlife – just a few centimetres on top of the water’s surface, in a traditional mokoro.
Mokoro trips hold significant cultural and historical importance in Botswana, as they have been used by local communities for centuries. These trips not only serve as a means of transportation but also play a crucial role in preserving traditional knowledge and practices. They offer an opportunity for locals to connect with their ancestral roots, learn about the ecosystem, and pass down indigenous wisdom to future generations.
Mokoro trips also contribute to the sustainable tourism industry in Botswana, allowing safari-goers to learn more about the region’s rich cultural heritage. By supporting local guides and operators, tourists help create economic opportunities for the community while also promoting the conservation of natural resources.
A mokoro is a traditional canoe made from a hollowed-out tree trunk. It is propelled forward by poling, where a guide stands at the back of the mokoro and pushes it through the shallow waters using a long pole. It allows the poller to navigate through the narrow channels and waterways of the Delta, exploring the diverse wildlife and vegetation that thrive in this unique ecosystem.
Bordered by the Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve, the prime position of Mogotlho Safari Lodge on the Khwai River makes it the ideal choice for the conscious safari enthusiast looking for the quintessential mokoro excursion. Mogotlho offers guests the opportunity to embark on these guided water-based safaris, where they can witness the beauty of the Okavango Delta up close and personal.
Departing from Mogotlho and with experienced polers leading the way, safari-goers glide silently through the waterways on the Khwai River, immersing themselves in the tranquillity of nature. The gentle swaying of the mokoro and the rhythmic sound of poles dipping into the water creates a soothing melody that harmonises with nature’s symphony. From graceful elephants and majestic hippos to colourful bird species like the African fish eagle and vibrant kingfishers, there is an abundance of wildlife to spot along the way. Each sighting offers a glimpse into the intricate ecosystem that thrives in this untouched wilderness.
A mokoro experience on the Khwai River with Mogotlho’s experienced polers leading the way has been described as an “unparalleled aquatic adventure”.
“The river was like glass, inviting in its still tranquillity. It was hard to imagine there was a world of wildlife thriving beneath … We climbed into our wooden mokoros to the iconic African sound of the hippopotamus, immersing ourselves in the elements yet again … Floating along the Khwai River you literally feel part of your surroundings, a true immersion in the natural world. We paddled past an array of aquatic birdlife as well as the smaller plains game drinking at the river’s edge …
” … a herd of elephants awaited our arrival. Quenching their thirst from the midday heat, they drank deeply while allowing us to observe, looking up from water level … Hearts in throats we sat, mesmerised. We were completely engulfed in the smells and sounds of these magnificent creatures, their rumblings vibrating through the mokoros, into our feet, settling into our memories … Our guide quietly explained the dynamics of an elephant family – intelligent, aware and gentle within their fold. What an honour to share such an up close and personal encounter with these giants, wise and intentional in their ways.”
(As relayed by Kassandra E’Silva)