find out a about this useful mode of Botswanan transport
mokoro: a type of dug-out canoe commonly used in the Okavango Delta.
mekoro: plural of mokoro
Well-watered tropical rainforests and woodland regions, especially of Botswana, provide the waterways and the trees needed for the construction of a mokoro. It begins with tree selection and specific types of woods are used, based on strength, durability and weight. They have to be large and straight, such as an ebony, kigelia (sausage tree), or a variety of African teaks.
The bark is removed before the trunks are dug-out, (hence the nick-name) and before the manufacture of metal tools, they were hollowed-out using controlled fires. The burnt wood was removed by using an stone adze; a tool with an arched blade at right angles to the handle. Chopping out parallel notches across the interior was a later method, and once it was split and removed, the interior was levelled out with a knife or metal adze. When a sufficient amount of wood has been removed to make the vessel relatively light and buoyant, the shape of the boat was smoothed and moulded to reduce drag; hence the pointed bow and stern.
The mokoro would now be ready for its first journey and the proud poler would launch it gently from the river bank. Propelling it through the shallow waters of the Delta by standing in the stern and punting it along, he would be sure not to hang onto the pole for too long!
But it will still have to be strong enough to support a crew, (the cool dude totally at ease with the surroundings) and cargo (a couple of white-knuckled tourists wearing a floppy hat and carrying an empty water-bottle, ready to change their underwear at the first sight of a grunting hippo!).
Mokoro's can be paddled across deep lakes and rivers as well as the scenic papyrus and reed filled channels and waterways of the Okavango Delta. They are used for transport, fishing and hunting and in days gone by for hunting hippo. It goes without saying that such a small craft is vulnerable to attack, but contrary to common belief, hippo attacks on mokoro's are rare. Your poler is more than aware that hippo's are a very territorial creature, guarding and defending their domain and young against intruders.
A mokoro trip is an exciting, modern-day adventure, extremely popular with tourists who visit the Okavango Delta. Viewing parades of elephant, buffalo and crocs sharing the water's edge is a truly magical and memorable experience. The photographic opportunities are immeasurable by this ancient, but still practical means of transport.
A poler is a local man who learnt his craft as a child, catching fish for his family or as he travelled along the waterways between villages.
Due to the shortage of some hard woods, modern mekoros are increasingly made of fibre-glass.
An adventure filled three day safari in the Okavango Delta