Here’s How to Make a Canoe Out of a Tree Trunk

The boats are fashioned entirely by hand using simple tools, and traditionally are carved from magongo tree wood

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Locals in Botswana’s Okavengo Delta and Zambezi River have been making makoro—shallow-draft canoes—since the 18th century, and in some communities they’re still made by hand. Jungles in Paris, a travel site dedicated to exhibiting cultures and crafts from around the world, highlights this centuries-old tradition in a how-to video narrated by a local boat builder named Boniface.

“I make the boat the way my father was making,” Boniface explains in the video. “Even my son is going to make the boat the way I’m making – just the same. So when I’m dead, I’ve got my son.”

Carving a makoro entirely by hand, using simple tools, has been a rite of passage for young men in the region. Traditionally, the boats are carved from magongo tree wood, and today, they’re a popular means for fishermen to traverse the canals and for tourists to explore the swamp. However, hippo attacks are a real threat: over the years, those aggressive animals have learned that the boats can easily be flipped over, and sometimes, they’ll take advantage.

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