A unique and relaxing way to explore the Okavango Delta is by mokoro – a dug-out canoe traditionally made from a straight trunk of a sausage or ebony tree. These days, they’re more often made from fibreglass. Mokoros move quietly through shallow waterways and tranquil water lily-lagoons, making them ideal transport through the delta. The canoes are pushed by the mokoro polers using a long pole. They have expert insights on how to interpret wildlife behaviour and find animals. Paddling silently past a slumbering hippo, a peacefully grazing herd of antelope or a flock of fluttering birds is a great way to experience the almost undisturbed wilderness. You will need to ensure that your lodge offers water based activities during your season of travel to experience a mokoro ride.
The most exciting way of exploring Botswana is by walking out into the wild on foot, led by a qualified guide. Walking safaris usually start and finish at your camp, or after a mokoro ride away from camp. These are generally not too strenuous hikes, but more informative strolls, while looking out for wildlife. The guides will show you footprints, and other spoor of all animals, while also educating you about the smaller forms of life that are hard to see while on a game drive. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions about both fauna and flora as you explore nature from up close. Generally, game move away from walkers very quickly, so although you may see a wide variety of animals, you will not get as close, or see the numbers of animals that you will on game drives. The thrill is in keeping as quiet as possible and trying to immerse yourself into the surrounding bush, while never knowing what might pop up around the next bush.
No journey to the Okavango Delta is complete without a scenic flight, in either a light aircraft, or a helicopter. The landscape is so flat that in order to get a true appreciation of the Delta, you need to see it from the skies. Look out for crocodiles and hippos in the water, or elephants, buffalo, giraffe and all types of antelope while flying overhead in awe of the remarkable land below you. If on an overland tour only, a scenic flight is a must (however the access to most private lodges in the Okavango Delta is by light aircraft, which will afford you this opportunity en route to/from your lodge).
On offer from certain camps in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, including some longer trails, these allow you to speed across the vast white surface of the pans, with no obstacles in sight, and no stop signs or speed traps to worry about. Offering a window into the past, the Bushmen in the Makgadikgadi teach you how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using ancient knowledge of plants, animal behaviour and survival skills. This is an excellent cultural interaction at the camps that offer it.