Deepa Mohan Phooken


Deepa Mohan Phooken is a radiologist by profession and a traveller by passion.

Travelling through Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe with her husband and daughter, Deepa discovers a little of herself in the changing landscape from the windswept beaches of South Africa to the sands of Namibia, and the wealth of nature and culture in between.

Here is an excerpt from Crisscrossing Southern Africa, where Deepa writes about the expanse of the Okovango Delta from her tiny Mokoro.

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One of the least populated countries in Africa , second only to Namibia, Botswana is a rarity in an overdeveloped , overpopulated world. It has untamed, vast pockets of wilderness.

We’ve done these trips a couple of times making our hearts yearn for the Delta ever so more! 

The Okavango River system is made up of the main perennial river channel called the Panhandle and  numerous small seasonal rivulets which fan out southeastwards forming the massive Okavango Delta.







                                        Okovango Delta


The Trip To Maun 

We started one bright July morning from Molepolole down the straight smooth, traffic free roads of Botswana and drove north past the Khama Rhino Sanctuary near Serowe.

We then skirted the central Kalahari Salt Pans to reach Maun by late afternoon (a distance of more than 900 Kms). 

Early next morning we were picked up from our lodge by our friend and guide Sox, a river bushman.

He  drove us in  his 4 x 4  to the mooring point where he had a motorboat waiting for us. 

We then set sail on the rivulets of the Okavango River soaking in the clear blue water lush with papyrus reeds and water lilies.


                                                  Our friend and guide Sox

                                                                 Starting our journey in the motorboat

Leadwood and Mopane trees framed the banks of the rivulets. 

We saw a lot of wild life too. Red Lechwe, a small deer (exclusive to the Okavango), Sitatunga, Saddle Billed Storks, Wattled Cranes and Geese foraging in the shallows.

There was no dearth of  African Fish Eagles, Malachite Kingfishers, Rufous bellied Herons, Plovers, Pygmy Geese, African Swallows, Slaty Egrets or Pel’s Fishing Owls either.


                                         An African Fish Eagle on the lookout for its  next meal.
















                                                         A male Red Lechwe exclusive to the Okavango.

                                                    A Lilac-breasted Roller, the National bird of Botswana.









We changed our mode of transport at Boro village station, a community trust Mokoro station run by the Bayei tribe and got into mekoros with our poler guides.


                                   Navigating the clear waters of the Okavango in a Mokoro.


We drifted past grazing  elephants, crocodiles sunning on river banks & territorial hippopotamuses visible not far from the Mokoro.

Thumb sized painted reed frogs rode in the mokoro along with us.

We made stops on small  islands to have lunch and tea making sure not to wander  too far as swimming lions are a known entity in the Okavango! Not that cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs and hyaenas are unknown entities. 

We crossed a few South African families who were out for the weekend, some even  nonchalantly dipping their feet in the crocodile and hippopotamus infested water! They were so much at ease in the water.