Okavango Skies

The Okavango is fabulous from the ground- but even more beautiful from above. This itinerary features a few extra special activities alongside a traditional Okavango safari – a scenic helicopter ride whizzing along the waterways, a peaceful balloon trip over the wetlands and a night below the stars on a private starbed. A perfect blend of adventure and luxury without compromising on your safari experience. A complete range of land and water activities combine to ensure a fantastic all round Okavango safari – ideal for romantic holidays and intrepid travellers who are looking for something different.

This six night itinerary is split equally between the north and east Okavango, staying in beautiful luxury camps set on private reserves with excellent game viewing year round. Mapula Lodge in the north and Sable Alley in the east are beautiful camps which find the perfect blend between authenticity and luxury. With lovely settings, plenty of character and good guiding they provide a great all round Okavango experience.

The itinerary begins in the north of the Okavango, at Mapula Lodge which lies on the private and game rich Mapula reserve. This is an especially beautiful area of the Okavango with glittering waterways and floodplains. Animals are abundant and varied. Elephant, buffalo, plains game and predators are all present in good numbers. The lodge has a beautiful setting overlooking a permanent lily peppered lagoon and offered a full range of activities – game drives, night drives, walking, mokoro and boating.

Mapula Lodge is one of the few camps able to access the hot air balloon launch site – and it is while you are staying here that you will enjoy a morning flight over the Okavango. To reach the site you take a short but incredibly scenic helicopter ride, this really is a day for a birds eye view of the Okavango.

Moving to the eastern Okavango, to the Khwai Private Reserve where you will stay at Sable Alley, and its sister camp, Skybeds. This is a huge private reserve, over 200k hectares of pristine wilderness bordering the famous and game lively Moremi Game Reserve. The area around the camp is beautiful, with pretty floodplains which lead to lush waterways and shady riverine forests. The game is good- lion and leopard are spotted regularly as well as elephant and a variety of antelope, including the beautiful sable after which the camp is named. Game drives, walking and mokoro (water levels permitting) are offered here.

The last night of the itinerary ends at Skybeds – where you will sleep beneath the stars on your in private treehouse overlooking a waterhole frequented by elephants.

A wonderful itinerary for couples looking to experience a traditional safari with a touch of adventure!

Please to note the hot air ballooning only takes place between April and August. Prices are therefore based on mid-season rates.

Day 1 - Mapula Lodge

On arrival in Maun, Botswana you will be met by a representative to assist you with your connection on to a light charter flight to Mapula, a flight of about 25 minutes. The Okavango is spectacular from above- keep a look out for the larger animals which you can view from the aircraft. Your guide will be waiting on arrival and will transfer your to camp, a game drive of about 30 minutes, depending on sightings along the way.

A warm Botswana welcome awaits. After some refreshments and having been introduced to the camp and team your guide will give you an introduction to the area and activities available at Mapula. You will have the chance to set off on your first activity or relax in camp after your long journey.

Mapula lies on a vast 220,000 acre private reserve and offers an amazing array of safari activities- morning, afternoon and evening game drives (off roading is permitted) walking, boating and mokoro rides. Fishing is also available. Water activities are seasonal. You will discuss all your interests and preferences with your guide who will plan your days to ensure you make the most of your time here.

Setting out in the late afternoon for your first activity you will stop for sundowners as the sun sinks below the horizon and the nocturnal animals begin to stir.

The fire will be roaring as you return and dinner soon follows before your first night sleep in the Okavango.

Day 2 -Mapula Lodge

The next morning starts with an early morning wake-up call followed by a light breakfast before setting off on your morning activity, usually a game drive. As soon as the sun is up you are off to discover the wilderness of the north Okavango – you will explore the grass plains dotted with pretty islands, venture through forests and splash through water crossings. This diverse terrain is home to a diverse range of animals – herds of antelope graze the plains while cats stalk from the edges. Lion and wild dog are frequently seen. Leopard too.

Your morning drive will last around 4 hours, stopping for a coffee break along the way. Returning to camp around mid-morning for a wonderful brunch you will then have a few hours to yourself before your afternoon activity. The animals rest in the heat of the day in the shade and you will too! Enjoy the beautiful surroundings, relax in your room, on your deck or by the pool.

Mid-afternoon you meet you guide again, enjoy some more refreshments and then set off for your chosen afternoon activity with your guide.

Game drives allow you to drive further into the concession while walks offer deeper insight into this wonderful eco-system. Water levels permitting you may also enjoy a mokoro excursion or boat along the lagoon.

Day 3 - Mapula Lodge

This morning you rise early, excited for your morning balloon ride. After a light breakfast you swiftly depart with your guide to the helicopter landing site which is close to camp. Jumping aboard your pilot takes you on a short but exhilarating flight across the waterways to the balloon launch site. Following a safety briefing and demonstration and without further ado you climb onboard the basket and take off for your balloon safari.

Using the winds to navigate your pilot will drive guide the balloon across the Okavango, gliding just above tree tops and rising up to 1,000 ft offering spectacular views of the delta. The light is beautiful at this time of day and the views quite breath taking. Animals can be seen below- this truly is a balloon safari.

As you descend the vehicles which have been tracking the balloon will arrive to meet you – celebrating your arrival with the traditional champagne welcome. (Non-alcoholic drinks will also be available.)

Your balloon safari is over but not your aerial safari – you will return to camp by helicopter, another scenic flight which will keep your adrenaline pumping. This is a very different experience to the balloon – the speed and heights are so different – together they are the ultimate aerial safari.

Returning to camp for lunch and some time to relax in camp. The rest of the day will follow the same daily schedule, with an afternoon activity departing around 3.30pm – a game drive, bush walk, mokoro ride, boating, fishing – depending on your preference and the seasonal conditions.

This evening over dinner in camp your guide will advise you of your flight time to Sable Alley the next day, and plan your morning activity accordingly.

Day 4 - Sable Alley

This morning you will enjoy one last activity at Mapula before setting off at the time agreed the day before with your guide for your 35 minutes flight to the Khwai Reserve. Your guide will be waiting on arrival to transfer you to camp, a 30 game drive.

Having met the team you will have a chance to settle into your room and relax a little, perhaps by the beautiful swimming pool before high tea in the late afternoon. Your guide will discuss the area and activities on offer and you will chat about your particular interests and plan your activities for the following days.

The Khwai Private reserve is vast, and home to abundant game. Morning, afternoon and night drives are the main activity here as well as guided bush walks-mokoro excursions are offered when water levels permit, and this area has a good track record for running these year round.

Setting off for your first activity that afternoon you will begin to explore the stunning riverfront area and the beautiful open plains. Impala, kudu, sable, zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe, giraffe and others wander these plains. And the predators follow!

Enjoying a drink as the sun sets. Returning to camp with a spot light you will look for cats as they begin their hunting and those smaller nocturnal animals which we rarely see without the spotlight like genet, bush babies and caracals.

Day 5 - Sable Alley

Another an early morning wake up call and breakfast starts the day and then you’re off on your morning game drive. Tracking any interesting movements from the cats overnight or perhaps investigating areas where you may have heard sounds in the night!

Returning for brunch you will then have a few hours to yourself to enjoy this beautiful camp. Either relaxing on your private deck, by the pool, in the lounge or horizontal on your bed recharging from the early morning wake up calls! There is always something happening in the lagoon opposite the camp so if you can keep your eyes open why not set up for a sofa safari on your deck and enjoy the comings and goings from camp?

Around 4pm you set off for your afternoon activity, following up on sightings from earlier in the day or perhaps enjoying one last water safari with a mokoro ride. Stopping for a sundowner drink and snack to enjoy the beautiful sunset you then return to camp with the spot light- keeping an eye out for the nocturnal animals as they begin to stir.

Day 6- Skybeds

By now you will be familiar with the early morning wake up call, though perhaps it may not be getting any easier! After a light breakfast you set off on your morning activity returning for brunch around mid-morning. You guide will discuss your departure time the day before, so you are packed and ready at the appropriate time to transfer to Skybeds for your final night in the Okavango, below the stars!

At an agreed time you will be transferred to Skybeds, a 2 hour game drive into the northern section of the reserve. The mopane forests around here are a favourite spot for elephants so keep your eyes out! Passing by a photo hide you will have an opportunity to watch animals up close and personal as they come to drink at the waterhole, it is impossible to take a bad photo from this angle!

Arriving at Skybeds in the late afternoon you will have a chance to settle into your treehouse home before gathering onto the raised viewing deck overlooking the waterhole to enjoy the sunset. Dinner is served on a simple raised platform to the sounds of the bush.

Finally, you return to your sleepout deck for your final night in the Okavango. Snuggle into your comfortable bed, complete with duvet, hot water bottle and mosquito net and enjoy the fabulous stars. A private en-suite bathroom with a shot shower, sink and toilet are below deck.

The waterhole often has elephant visiting throughout the night and the sound of them drinking and purring to each other is the perfect way to fall asleep – and a great end to your safari.

Day 7 - End of Safari

The dawn chorus and gentle light will most likely wake you before your guide does. You will enjoy sunrise from your deck and then make your way over for breakfast.

The time for your flight to Maun will be finalised the day before and your guide will advise you what time you will be leaving camp. The flight will always be schedule to connect with any onward travel arrangements. Depending on the time of departure, as discussed with your guide, you will enjoy on final morning activity and brunch before bidding farewell to the Okavango.

The flight to Maun will take approximately 30 minutes, depending on stops along the way. On arrival a representative will meet you to ensure you connect to your onward travel arrangements.

Map View

Mapula Lodge

Mapula Lodge

Mapula Lodge

Sable Alley Camp

Sable Alley Camp

Khwai Skybeds

Khwai Skybeds

Water Level

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