There’s an area on the northern fringes of the famed Okavango Delta, an enormous, 220,000 acre concession that’s a matrix of floodplains, woodlands and channels. Waterways snake across the landscape, spilling into glassy lagoons and encircling islands of stately palms and trumpeting elephant. It’s an iconic Delta landscape, and a magical environment in which to enjoy the abundance of wildlife. In the middle of it all, on a large tree island surrounded by seasonal floodplains, is the laid back Mapula Lodge.
Designed by the creators of the Kalahari legend, Jack’s Camp, this is a stylish safari outpost with serious panache. Even better, it’s one of only a handful of camps in the concession making for exhilarating game viewing in a blissfully uncrowded area. And if you don’t believe us, you’ll just have to pay us a visit.
Why You’ll Love Mapula Lodge:
It’s not a Bousfield family camp if it’s not a little bit quirky and jam-packed with character, and Mapula is no exception. The team have given the original lodge a facelift, and the nine thatched cottages are replete with king size metal four-posters and feather-filled pillows to fall face first into after a day’s game viewing. Ensuite bathrooms have both indoor and outdoor showers, and there’s two natty Malawi chairs in the mini lounge area, ideal for siesta snoozes. Safari-chic finishing touches include rich Kilims on the floors, polished butler trays and brass lanterns.
At the main area, an aquamarine swimming pool is the perfect antidote to hot Delta afternoons – and if the cool waters don’t tempt you in, the views over the hippo-filled lagoon below might. If you’d rather stay dry, pick a perch in the lounge to keep watch over the wildlife action; there’s a variety of comfy sofas and slouchy armchairs to choose from. Then there’s our ‘chill pit’, a sunken lounge area overlooking the lagoon, which does exactly what it says on the tin.
Mapula Lodge is open all year round. We’re always asked which is the ‘best’ time of year to visit, and our answer? There isn’t one. It all depends on your preferences, what you would like to see and do, and how you like to safari.
April to October in the Delta are the dry, winter months. Confusingly, this means the water levels are at their highest and it’s the best time of year for water and mokoro safaris when you’ll be able to access remote areas and go where no elephant has gone before. Game viewing at this time of year is exceptional (it always is) and this combined with the pleasant, mid-20s temperatures and sunshine-filled skies, makes it a great time to experience the Delta.
October to March are the green season months. Rain comes in the form of short, sharp thunderstorms and the dramatic skies make for even more dramatic sunsets. Water levels are slightly lower at this time of year, but there is always permanent water around Mapula Lodge and mokoro and boat safaris are still possible. It’s also the best time of year to spot breeding animals and the migrant birds.
We’ve already established that this incredible concession in the Okavango Delta is a true wildlife stronghold and whether this is your first time on safari or you’ve traversed the continent with your binos, you won’t be disappointed by what’s on offer. In fact, those in the know (and who’ve been around the safari block more than a few times!) say that the area has the highest concentration of lion anywhere in the Okavango Delta. But the allure isn’t simply in the number of animals you’ll see, but in the diversity of species in the reserve. Yes, there’s lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog, but you’ll also spot elusive and lesser-known predators like caracal, serval and mongoose. On the edge of the water, buffalo congregate en masse and trunk-swinging elephant bathe, watched beadily from the channels by sun-basking crocs and hippo. Antelope dot the floodplains in every direction, and zebra and giraffe appear at the flash of a camera. The birdlife here is especially noteworthy, with the endangered wattled crane, carmine bee-eaters, and the African paradise flycatcher all regularly spotted to the delight of many a twitcher.