Tag Archives: Botswana

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

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

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Border crossings and Chobe National Park

In early January, we finally had our first overland border crossing in Africa on our way to Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park. We stayed at Jollyboys Backpacker in Livingstone where we also booked our safari tour to Botswana. Chobe National Park is home to between 60,000 and 100,000 elephants as well as many other species. I consider it to be the best game viewing of any park we have visited so far.

taxi with flat tire

On our way to Livingstone, we encountered a bit of a delay. We were about midway between the Zambia/Namibia border and Livingstone when our taxi got a flat tire. With very little traffic on that section of road, we were a little worried about how long this minor repair would take (of course there was not a spare tire in the vehicle!), but we were rolling again in less than two hours. The new tire was a little too big for the car, but it worked until we switched vehicles at the next major town.

Zambezi water taxi

Getting from Livingstone, Zambia to Chobe National Park in Botswana was exciting and involved a water taxi across the Zambezi River which was about a half mile wide in this section. Four countries are visible from the river here: Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Our friends Mona and Chris got the last two seats in this boat, and we got to know a curio salesman as we waited for the taxi to return to shuttle us across the Zambezi.

Chobe River scene

A large group of hippos are halfway submerged in the Chobe River. The river widens here as it forms an island and provides prime habitat for a variety of animals and birds.

yoga bird

This bird’s strange pose is to dry its wings. Or it might be doing yoga. It stayed in this pose for several minutes. More on this bird and others in the next post.

Chobe landscape

The view from our safari vehicle in Chobe National Park. There are impala and baboons visible and the Chobe River is in the distance.

crocodile with young

A large female crocodile staying close to her young to protect them. You can see two of the little ones on the tree trunk on the right.

impala

Male impala. Part of a bachelor herd we spotted our first day in the park. Impala are very plentiful and their herd numbers grow quickly. They are frequently prey for lions and leopards.

elephants and buffalo

Chobe is home to an amazing amount of wildlife as evidenced here by a large group of elephants and cape buffalo.

leopard

This is actually from the last day of our trip to Chobe and one of the big highlights: A leopard sleeping in a dead tree. It had just rained and our guide told us that leopards don’t like to get their paws wet.

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Filed under Peace Corps Namibia Blog