Photographer's Note

The flight from Kasane took 90 minutes and next stop was the Okavango Delta. After meeting our guides and a brief induction by the leading guide on how to behave in the wild we went out exploring the vast waters and islands of the delta. Of course, the mokoro was the only way to go around the shallow waters covered by water lilies and long papyrus grass which grow along the side of the deeper channels were the unpredictable hippopotamus stay all day eating and bathing.

The mokoro (mekoros in the plural) is the type of canoe commonly used in the Okavando Delta, in Botswana. The BaYei people came to the Okavango Delta hundreds of years ago, bringing with them, their traditional mode of transport, the mokoro, a dug-out canoe made from a large straight tree such as a sausage tree or an ebony tree. It is ideally suited as transport in the delta as in can move quietly through shallow water, being pushed by the locals using a “ngashi”, name for the long pole made from the mogonono tree, moving along the narrow channels or cutting through the long grasses or papyrus.

The mokoros are very vulnerable to attack by hippopotamus and crocodiles, which can overturn them with ease. Hippopotamus are reputed to have developed this behaviour after the use of mokoros and other boats for hunting.

Modern mokoros, however, are increasingly made of fiberglass. Mokoro safaris are the most popular way for tourists to visit the delta, much of which is in national parks. You and a guide go out from a central safari camp into the narrow waterways. When you reach an island, you get out and walk. Some days you may see few animals. Other days, you will end up so close to an elephant or a lion that you may have to climb a tree for safety. During our three day stay in the Delta we saw lots of wildlife but never came close to any “exciting” situation.

In WS1 you can see one of our guides standing and moving the mokoro with the help of the long pole.

WS2 is a picture of one traditional mokoro and three of the new fiberglass mekoros. As demand for mekoros rose with the increase of tourism, the precious hardwood sausage trees became rare and under threat and conservationists came up with a new mokoro made entirely from fiberglass, which is as good and has all the qualities of the original wooden mokoro.

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Additional Photos by Antonio Ribeiro (ribeiroantonio) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4806 W: 470 N: 6473] (22730)
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