My first mokoro beer run

An island somewhere in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

It was still pitch black out when the wake-up call came at 5 a.m. By this point, I’ve grown accustomed to early mornings in Africa and these pre-dawn starts are fine by me — as long as an afternoon nap is involved.

We set out on another wildlife walk as the sun slowly started to break across the horizon. As I’ve mentioned before, early morning and early evening are the best times to view wildlife; the less heat, the more animals out and eating.

Walking through thick bush, we followed OT along a charred trail. Some of the grasses had been burned overnight; the locals hoped that the fresh grass would attract additional animals to the region. We passed a nearby water hole where herds of wildebeest and zebra had come.



But the highlight of the morning was the giraffes, which were everywhere. We spotted a herd of two-dozen galloping across the plains. A few minutes later, a family of 12, including several babies. All together, we pegged the number at over 60, more than our guide had ever seen.




Back at the camp, we rested up and assessed our rations. Food was good; drinks not so much. Last night had put a serious dent in our beer supplies and we needed to restock. (Perhaps it was due to the fact that it was Memorial Day weekend? At least we could tell ourselves that.)

But how does one buy beer while on a remote island in the Okavango Delta? Precious, one of the polers, offered to give me a lift to a village that was about 45 minutes away. He pushed me in the hot afternoon sun on the empty waters. It was my first beer run in a mokoro.



After landing on shore, we walked the final 10 minutes through a foot and mouth disease checkpoint and entered the village. It wasn’t the cleanest of places but the people waved and were friendly as Precious led me to the “liquor store.”


The shopkeeper had exactly 36 beers for sale — not wanting to completely buy her out, we took back 24. She was quite happy. I’m not sure the same could be said of the village residents, who had only 12 beers to split for the evening.

The ride back was quiet; not a single other boat was spotted. We arrived back just as the others were loading into their mokoros for a late afternoon viewing of the hippo pool. Hippos are dangerous animals so we had to keep out distance but we enjoyed watching them chomp down on grass and surface with their massive bodies.

Newly purchased beers in hands, we witnessed another fantastic Botswana sunset. The colors were just something spectacular.




Our guides and polers sang traditional songs as we sat around the campfire this evening drinking local beers — ones that had been fetched from a village. Forty-five minutes away. In a canoe.

You have got to love Africa.


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