Travel & conservation company, since 1991
See how we earn 5 starsTrustpilot - 5 stars
×
SEARCH OUR STORIES
OR
SEARCH OUR SAFARIS
AND / OR
Africa Geographic Travel

A few months ago, I visited Zambia for the first time. Between scenic flights and thrilling game sightings, I noticed that the safari experience here revolves around rivers more than it does in the other African countries I’ve been to. Mighty rivers like the Luangwa and the Zambezi, which are packed with hippos and swell to imposing volumes in the wet season.

It was while my brother, who’s a filmmaker, and I were on the Zambezi that we discovered the makoro, the traditional dugout canoe that has been making river life easier for the area’s inhabitants since it was introduced several centuries ago.

These narrow-draft vessels are better known in Botswana, where they are the signature mode of transport, for tourists as much as locals it seems, in the Okavango Delta. But in Botswana, you don’t find them made of wood anymore. In Zambia, you do.

I know this because while I was staying at a beautiful lodge about an hour north of Livingstone, we saw staff using them to ferry goods and personnel across a channel and onto the shore. We also took a tippy sunset ride in one. And best of all, we met a man named Boniface who makes these simple but effective boats for a living.

He talked to us about he does it. The first step is picking a tree, preferably a magongo tree, that’s the right age, shape, and size. Then he chops the tree down, and using simple tools hacks and hollows it out over the course of a few weeks. If made well, he told us, a wooden makoro should last up to five or seven years.

Images Copyright: © Oliver Hartman

To comment on this story: To protect you against trolls & misinformation, we only permit comments in our app. See how to DOWNLOAD OUR APP below.


HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF AFRICA GEOGRAPHIC:

  • Download our APP (mobile phone & desktop) to receive travel discounts, comment on our stories, make safe donations and network with others like you Find out more here.
  • Subscribe to our newsletter to receive our best stories in your inbox weekly and for travel discounts. Subscribe here.
  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Search for your ideal safari here, or contact an Africa Geographic safari consultant to plan your dream vacation.

AG Logo

Darrell Hartman is a travel writer based in New York. His stories have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Travel + Leisure, and other international publications. He is co-founder of the website Jungles in Paris.

Africa Geographic Travel