Traditionally made by carving out the trunk of ebony or kigelia trees, the mokoro is the most popular mode of transport for navigating Botswana’s Okavango Delta. It’s no wonder that traversing these wonderful waterways in a dugout canoe, or modern fibreglass version, is such a trip highlight, but as Fay Whitelaw discovered, hippos still have right of way in the Delta…
“We had a wonderful, relaxing ride at sunset in a mokoro in the Okavango Delta. It was an amazing experience, lazing back while our guide poled us through the reeds. We even saw an elephant taking his arvo drink from the Delta after a hot day. It was great having a new perspective – looking back at this huge mammal from the water. We enjoyed a lovely evening and had plenty of pics to prove it. An experience that could have only been improved if we had a bottle of wine!
Then all of a sudden there was a lot of chatter from the guides. We were on our way back to camp, leading our group, when we started rushing forward twice as fast as before. Then the grunting started. There was one unhappy hippo nearby. We went from lazy and calm to sitting upright and awfully nervous. Once the guide slowed down we asked what was going on. He said that we had accidentally come between a mother and her baby!
By this time the rest of the group had caught up and we were floating around the edge of a happy hippo pod. Our close call was a bit scary and all I could hear was my mum’s voice in my head saying “Stay safe – make sure you stay away from those hippos!”
Our relaxing lovely evening wasn’t as laid back as it started, but what an incredible experience and I still wanted a drink by the end of our sunset cruise!”
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* photo by David Williams – Intrepid Photography Competition