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Mapula pays tribute to the world-uniquely wondrous Okavango Delta with its imaginative design and its location on a foresty island beside a lyrically beautiful, hippo-thronged lagoon in the midst of a private concession in Botswana 15 times the size of Manhattan. Created by the founders of the legendary Jack’s Camp in the neighbouring Kalahari, Mapula is a stylish, delightfully small, Afro-chic lodge that offers Micato safariers generous doses of natural magnificence, the luxury of modern comforts, and cheery Botswanan hospitality.
Mapula’s nine canvas and thatch tents are full of luxury and African character—as we’d expect from the Bousfield family of Jack’s Camp fame. Their combination of the full range of modern conveniences with old-fashioned brass lanterns, bright kilim rugs, and Malwai chairs in the lounge area, is delightful. En suite bathrooms feature both indoor and outdoor showers, and the king-sized four-poster beds, replete with feather-filled pillows, are, as the Bousfields say, ideal “for falling face first into after a day’s game viewing.”
The lodge’s aquamarine swimming pool, also a fine place to fall into, looks out at the lagoon (there’s nothing quite like like watching hippos splash and massively yawn in the lagoon while one lolls in a pristine pool only yards away). Watching wildlife from the lounge area from a comfortable armchair while sipping a cold drink is similarly enchanting. And in the evenings, a homey fire in the lodge’s chill pit is a fine place to chat about the day’s game-viewing and nature-immersing activities.
There is no place on earth like the Okavango Delta, as we point out many times on this website. And once again, we’ll quote the great naturalist photographer Frans Lanting, who wrote in his enraptured book Okavango: Africa’s Last Eden, that “the [Delta’s] very existence in the middle of the Kalahari is nothing short of miraculous…like a dream.”
So our focus in Mapula is game and nature viewing in some of their most wonderfully unique forms. We float out from Mapula in dugout canoes, wending lush waterways, on the look-out for the Delta’s full African cast of characters: hippos by the podful; soaring fish eagles—just one of the Delta’s more than 400 bird species; rare sitatunga water antelopes and many red lewche antelopes; and, “one of the Okavango’s delights,” Frans Lanting writes, “the sheer surprise of seeing an elephant emerge from underwater.”
We take walks on the Delta’s mini-savannah islands and venture further on safari vehicles into the surrounding dry land, whose forests and golden plains are home to healthy lion populations (“The sight of a lion goes straight to the heart,” as Isak Dinesen wrote), herds of thundering Cape buffalo, intriguing wild dogs, and giraffes floating across the grassland.