Who will be crowned the Delta's fastest poler?

Poler using nkashi along Thamalakane River PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
The Botswana Wild Bird Trust, in partnership with Botswana Tourism, will host the inaugural mokoro (canoe) race dubbed Nkashi Classic on October 6, 2018 at Okavango River Lodge in Maun.

Nkashi refers to a pole used by the poler to steer mokoro.

According to the event’s website, the main event will take place at Okavango River Lodge, with spectator spots along the Thamalakane River. 

The Nkashi Classic is being launched as a celebration of the mokoro and the nkashi which is used to propel it, said the organisers.

“This is a non-profit event and aims at creating a fun filled day, celebrating Botswana traditional customs, food and entertainment.”

The competition will take the form of an individual time trail; each poler will race along a set course on the Thamalakane River, carrying two passengers who will be randomly assigned on the day of the race.

Timing will be kept, and at the end of the day the Delta’s fastest mokoro poler will be crowned. The first race will set off at 10:00am and festivities will continue throughout the day.

Registration to participate is conducted via the website ( or SMS by sending full names, age and

if you are ‘poler’ or ‘passenger’ to 72396507. 

Ogranisers said that passengers will be asked to pay for their seats prior to the event via EFT or cash at the Maun office. 

“We will provide the mekoro and nkashis, but polers are welcome to bring their own nkashi.” 

Top 10 polers will be awarded prizes.

In addition to the races, there will be traditional music, food and entertainment, a day out for the whole family and a celebration of traditional Botswana customs. 

The Wild Bird Trust is part of the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP) that has been conducting annual biodiversity surveys in the Okavango Delta using mekoro.

The NGOWP team of researchers has crossed the delta for eight years conducting scientific surveys.  They have also travelled the entire stretch of Cutio River, still using mekoro, from its source in the Angolan highlands through to Namibia to where the water ends at Lake Xau on the mouth of the Boteti River near Mopipi.




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