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Canoe and Houseboat Safaris in Botswana

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Explore the Okavango or Linyanti regions by mokoro (dug out canoe), or on large rivers in houseboats. One of the most magical experiences is spending time on the water which is always peaceful and watching the wildlife throughout the day from dawn to dusk.

The Okavango lends itself to exploring the waters in a calm and peaceful way and in fact the traditional means of traversing the reed beds and waterways is by mokoro (pl. mekoro), brought into the Okavango from the Zambezi area in the mid 1700’s.

Today’s visitors are poled around the delta with a maximum of two in the ‘mokoro’ by your poler, who is not only skilled in moving you through the water but also extremely knowledgeable about the water plants and vegetation, as well as invertebrates, fish and birdlife that exists here.

Necklaces of islands lined with mangosteen, fig and jackalberry trees hide an interior of hillocks of grass-covered islands formed by fertile eroded termite hills which in turn are dotted with fig, palm and other trees. These provide shade and a lookout for predators to spot their prey on the floodplain.

Traditionally mokoro were carved from Sausage trees (Kigelia Africana), each taking up to five months to carve, but these days in order to preserve the enormous trees, they are now made from fibreglass and are just as good and environmentally friendly!

Taking your adventure a bit further why not spend a few nights on a mokoro safari? You would fly into the delta by light aircraft and meet you poler. Board your mokoro and be poled down narrow papyrus lined water ways and across shallow floodplains (accessible only by mokoro) to an island that has been chosen for you.


Your crew would have gone ahead and set up a simple rustic camp just for you on a secluded island. Friendly staff wait ready to welcome you with a refreshing cool drink and then spend two to three nights on the island, sleeping in a tent and spending the days walking and being poled by your guide across the floodplains.

Venture out onto the lily-covered waterways and begin to learn about this diverse environment, as your mokoro guides point out some of the inhabitants of this aquatic world including red lechwe, fish eagles, painted reed frogs, golden orb spiders and malachite kingfishers.

On return to your camp, a piping hot shower under the stars awaits. Iced drinks and a three-course dinner culminate around the blazing campfire listening to your hosts tell tall tales of their time in the wild.

Spending a few days on Houseboats is very popular too and visitors to Botswana can do this in the Okavango’s panhandle as well as on the Chobe River. Houseboats come in different sizes some with three to ten cabins. They can be comfortable and simple or very luxurious.

They generally have three stories with en suite cabins on the lower deck, lounge, galley and dining areas on the middle deck and are open topped – a perfect place to game view, bird watch and at night time perhaps lay your bedrolls and mosquito nets out and sleep under the stars. All houseboats have tender boats too, allowing one to travel into shallower areas, do some fishing and stop at small villages en route to meet local people.

Explore and journey by water – this is a magical and peerless wonder. Contact us to arrange your boat safari in Botswana!

With great thanks to our client Carmen Higgs for allowing us to use one of her own Botswana safari pictures – ‘Frog on reeds’


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