Mokoro trip and birding in the Okavango Delta

okavango delta landscape

As Peace Corps Volunteers based in Rundu, Namibia, we lived for two years along the Kavango River which forms the border between Angola and Namibia for several hundred kilometers in the north of the country. We also had the chance to visit tourist lodges in the Divundu/Bagani area, a gorgeous stretch along the semi-tropical banks of the Kavango River. In this area about two hours east of Rundu, the river begins to curve south through a narrow strip of Namibia and then into Botswana before emptying out into the Kalahari Desert to form one of the largest inland deltas in the world. Before we left the U.S. to begin our service in July 2013, we watched a great documentary on the Okavango Delta and had it high on our list to visit.

Great egret

A great egret taking flight in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

After we finished our travels in Namibia, we flew from Windhoek, Namibia to Maun, Botswana. The delta supports agriculture mostly in the form of livestock and, like most rivers and lakes in Africa, thousands of people use the water the delta provides for drinking and washing. We stayed at Old Bridge Backpackers (a campsite costs about $7USD per person per night) along the southern end of the delta and about 10km from the town of Maun. They have resident pied kingfishers in the delta area just in front of the lodge, a very helpful staff and a decent self-catering kitchen area.

If we had to do it again, we probably would have done a multi-day kayak trip through the delta since we enjoy active tours. We still had a great time, basing ourselves at Old Bridge and enjoying a couple of day trips including a ride in a traditional canoe called a mokoro.

The video really sums up the three hour experience of gliding through the reeds in a beautiful channel of water. In the southern part of the delta, you find more domestic animals than wild ones, but it was still interesting to see donkeys up to their necks grazing in the water as we were poled along. We also saw many new species of birds including the elusive malachite kingfisher.

malachite kingfisher in the okavango delta

Malachite kingfisher. These small and colorful kingfishers are much easier to spot with the slow pace of a mokoro than with a motorboat.

malachite kingfisher in the okavango delta

Another photo of the malachite kingfisher. It is my favorite of the 155 species of birds that I have seen in southern Africa.

African fish eagle

African fish eagle. These impressive birds were very common in the delta. It seemed like we saw one every kilometer or so.

reed cormorant

Reed cormorant. Another very common bird in the delta.

saddle-billed stork

Saddle-billed stork. This bird has a very colorful long bill and legs.

spotted frog

This tiny spotted frog jumped into our mokoro at one point.

Okavango Delta lillypads

The water of the delta is very clear and the colors can be amazing.


Hamerkop. This bird was much better at posing for pictures than the one I saw previously in Chobe National Park.


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