by Pru Allison
The lush channels and bountiful wildlife of the Okavango Delta have quite rightly earned it a place at the top of many a tourist’s ‘must visit’ list, and as such, this fascinating segment of Botswana boasts numerous lodges and, in many cases, sky high prices.
The notoriety and commercial appeal of the animal-heavy Okavango sits in stark contrast to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park to its south east. It’s to this bewitchingly silent Kalahari landscape that the Bousfield family’s Uncharted Africa have welcomed generations of visitors.
Without the headline name that the Delta boasts, the Uncharted family instead drew on a deep-rooted love of the area, which was discovered by the founder’s explorer father, Jack, back in the 1960s. This passion for the extraordinarily beautiful area, the San bushmen who live in it, the mesmerising salt pans found within it, and the desert adapted species it hosts, have brought countless travellers to the area.
Each one leaving with a new-found love and appreciation for this seemingly barren part of the world. It’s for their style that the Uncharted camps have really become known though, and it’s this 1940s campaign style, time capsule concept that has made the brand’s foray into the Delta – Mapula Lodge stand out.
Uncharted Africa’s Mapula Lodge is a complete reinvention of the camp that once held the Mapula name. The eye for aesthetic detail that has made Makgadikgadi camps Jack’s and San household names is now evident in this 220,000 acre concession at the north of the Okavango Delta. The safari outpost occupies a prime position on a large tree island, with seasonal floodplains rippling around it.
The nine tented bedrooms feature that distinctive Kalahari style, with king size metal four poster beds, Malawi chairs, brass lanterns, polished butler trays and rich Kilims on the floors. The main area meanwhile, boasts a swimming pool and relaxation spaces, replete with slouchy sofas and armchairs and jewel hued textiles.
The Uncharted brand has long been known for its guiding prowess as much as its interiors, and with legendary guide Ralph Bousfield at the helm, the guides are trained to exacting standards. Ralph of course, is used to training guides to bring out the soul of the Kalahari, so when teamed with the riches of the Okavango, the guides are in their element as they guide guests through waterways and floodplains, explaining every design choice of the great outdoors, before retiring back to the camp in all its finery. A camp which incidentally, will leave your wallet looking pretty perky as well.