SABLE AL­LEY Kh­wai Pri­vate Re­serve, Botswana

Upscale Living Magazine - - Travel - | BY HELÉNE RA­MACK­ERS PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF SABLE AL­LEY, HELÉNE RA­MACK­ERS

Renowned for its un­bri­dled wildlife sight­ings, Kh­wai Pri­vate Re­serve is home to the most stag­ger­ing amount of an­i­mal view­ings. Add to that a stay at the lux­u­ri­ous fam­ily-friendly Sable Al­ley and you know you have landed in par­adise.

Ah, Botswana, the Eden of South­ern Africa, home to the fa­mously unique oa­sis that is the Oka­vango Delta. After a few solo trips, I think the time is ripe to bring my daugh­ter along to wit­ness the in­de­scrib­able beauty that Botswana has to of­fer. We depart from Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Air­port di­rectly to Maun In­ter­na­tional Air­port on the stylish Air­link Avro RJ85, fly­ing us there in a just 2 hours and 30 min­utes.

Mak­ing our way through cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion, we have our pass­ports stamped and are met by a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Mack Air, who en­sures that we are checked in for our char­ter flight from Maun to Kh­wai Pri­vate Re­serve in the Oka­vango Delta. The Cessna Grand Car­a­van takes to the skies with the ex­per­tise of Cap­tain Pi­eter Bezuiden­hout at the helm, get­ting us to Kh­wai ear­lier than ex­pected. The magic of the Delta is right on our doorstep.

Our ranger MD Mpdis­ane col­lects us at the airstrip, where our drive to Sable Al­ley takes us through part of Kh­wai Pri­vate Re­serve. We are warmly wel­comed by the staff and after be­ing shown around our lovely room, we set­tle in for lunch on the deck over­look­ing the hippo pool. Lunch is a tasty se­lec­tion of but­ter­nut, hake fish, beetroot and salad. Apart from din­ner, which is plated, all other meals are served buf­fet-style and you can help your­self un­til you can eat no more.

My daugh­ter and I take respite in our room from the heat out­side to freshen up be­fore our af­ter­noon game drive. I opt for a hasty al­fresco shower out­side with na­ture as my fore­ground. The Heal­ing Earth prod­ucts are won­der­fully fra­grant, and I emerge smelling wholly bet­ter than when we ar­rived.

Our tent is enor­mous in size and with 600 square feet of space, the in­te­rior is stylishly fur­nished. When I men­tion tent, this is not your run-of-the-mill-camp­ing-façade, this is ‘camp­ing’ with all the modern con­ve­niences you can imag­ine in the mid­dle of the Oka­vango Delta. The tents are el­e­vated off the ground to al­low the cool­ing breeze to waft through on those hot sum­mer days when the tem­per­a­ture gets close to 100 de­grees Fahren­heit.

I’m to­tally in awe of the ex­pan­sive bath­room, which houses an in­side and out­side shower, a flush toi­let, dou­ble van­i­ties, a dress­ing area and the best light­ing I have ever ex­pe­ri­enced in an off-the-grid camp. If you don’t want to leave the comforts of your tent, you can sit all day on the comfy couch on your veranda, watch­ing the wildlife com­ing for a drink.

It’s well worth not­ing that our stay at Sable Al­ley, or any of the Nat­u­ral Se­lec­tion prop­er­ties, ben­e­fits their var­i­ous con­ser­va­tion pro­jects. A per­cent­age of the rev­enue raised im­pacts the pro­tec­tion of en­dan­gered species and here at Kh­wai, Nat­u­ral Se­lec­tion is proud to part­ner with Botswana Preda­tor Con­ser­va­tion Trust and the Univer­sity of New South Wales to in­ves­ti­gate the leop­ard pop­u­la­tion in this vast area, a worth­while cause. They have also teamed up with Round River Con­ser­va­tion Stud­ies / Oka­vango Re­search In­sti­tute to col­lect base­line data on large her­bi­vores to mon­i­tor the game in the re­serve.

After don­ning our sun­screen, hats and sun­glasses, my daugh­ter and I set off to the din­ing area for high tea, after which we are met at the ve­hi­cle by MD to take us on our first game drive. The ve­hi­cles are spa­cious, with only seven guests per ve­hi­cle and an al­lowed three ve­hi­cles per sight­ing, we are sure to have the best seats in the house.

MD sees an­other ve­hi­cle parked next to an over­grown shrub, and ex­cite­ment abounds as I won­der if it might be a leop­ard. The other ve­hi­cle makes space for us and much to our ela­tion, a stun­ning leop­ard, af­fec­tion­ately known as the Delta Fe­male, is on the prowl, shield­ing her­self from be­ing spot­ted.

As she crouches down to start stalk­ing her prey, she uses our ve­hi­cle as cover, but the alarm call of the tree squir­rels gives her game away. She looks towards us, lets out a frus­trated snarl. We learn that she has two cubs, younger than one month in age, and she has to keep her strength up to be able to pro­vide milk for them. We leave her, hop­ing she will find a meal that will en­sure the liveli­hood of the cubs.

A few me­ters fur­ther, vul­tures are cir­cling, feed­ing on a buf­falo car­cass

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