Sable Alley Camp
Okavango Delta, Khwai Private Concession
Not only is Khwai Private Reserve one of Botswana’s best kept secrets, it’s also home to the lovely Sable Alley. Opened in 2017, Sable is a piece of light, bright and beautiful luxury amid the game-rich floodplains of Khwai, and the best news is that it’s as sustainable as it is sophisticated. We’ve partnered with the local communities in Khwai, and proceeds from staying at Sable Alley go straight back into the Khwai Village community projects.
And what about the wildlife? Located right on the banks of a lily-covered lagoon, home to harrumphing hippo and a favourite drinking spot for elephant and buffalo, the big game quite literally comes to you at Sable. But as tempting as it is to stay in camp, venture out you should, for Khwai offers one of Africa’s greatest and most exclusive safari experiences. Have your binos at the ready for lion, leopard, wild dog, buffalo, elephant and hundreds of dainty antelope as you drive through the diverse landscapes.
There’s no denying that Sable is spacious, sophisticated and really quite stylish. Each canvas-walled suite is huge 55 square metres, and comes complete with mini-indoor seating area, writing desk, double bed, and some seriously Afro-chic décor. Slide open the screen doors at the front for uninterrupted views of the lagoon, or take a seat on the veranda for a closer inspection. At the back, you’ll find two basins, and indoor shower and a flush loo. And if you fancy washing off the dust from the day in the great outdoors, no problem – there’s an outdoor shower with a view too.
Just like the bedrooms, the communal areas are designed around the spectacular vistas. Watch the happenings at the lagoon from the bar, G&T in hand, from the outdoor fire pit, or from a squashy sofa in the lounge. At night, dinner is served either in the indoor dining area, or alfresco on the deck, accompanied by twinkling stars and the rumblings and grumblings of the wildlife. We’ve also added a swimming pool and sun deck, both unique spots from which to watch the hippo pods emerge from the lagoon, or simply for some chill-out time in the heat of the day.
There’s never a bad time to visit Sable Alley (really). There’s something different in every season but, most importantly, the wildlife is out-of-this-world excellent all year round. Resident hippo splash in the inland pools, elephant and buffalo herds are hard to miss, and you’re never more than a few whiskers away from a lion pride.
From May onwards the Okavango Delta floods. Seasonal channels emerge, perfect for paddling around on a mokoro canoe safari – you might just have to share them with a few antelope. In June to September, the Delta floods really get going, and the heightened water levels mean mokoro and motorboat safaris are possible all day, every day.
December to March brings the summer rains. The grasses grow, and on a single game drive you might not see as many animals; but every rain cloud has a silver lining, and there’s a good chance of encountering big cats stalking their prey, the thick bushes allowing them to hunt undetected. And don’t let the thought of rain put you off – downpours are short and sporadic, and a good, waterproof jacket will see you through pretty much anything the weather throws at you.
Formerly known as NG18, Khwai Private Reserve is 200,000 hectares of pristine wilderness. That’s three times the size of South Africa’s Sabi Sands – and 300 times more private! The reserve itself is within Botswana’s most talked about region, the Okavango Delta. It actually sits just to the north east of the Delta, adjacent to Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park, and the landscape is one of the most diverse we’ve come across. Think mopane clusters jostling for space with riverine forest, acacia woodland, seasonal waterholes and winding channels leading from the mighty Khwai River. We think you might quite like it.
We’ve chosen a rather lovely spot for Sable Alley, right on the banks of a wildlife-spotted lagoon. The water is home to up to 35 harrumphing hippo, and is a favourite drinking spot for elephant and buffalo. How’s that for game viewing without even leaving your room?
It’s no secret that Khwai was formerly a hunting concession. At Natural Selection, we’ve been working hard to transform the area into a safari destination of note, spending a full year tracking wildlife in the area and habituating the animals to our vehicles. Like other concessions in the Okavango region, we’ve witnessed how wildlife sightings swiftly turn around within two or three years of hunting stopping, and today you could go on a single game drive and see more than 50 different species. That’s how we know we’ve done a good job.
First up, the predators – and there are plenty of them in Khwai. Keep a lookout for leopard, lion, cheetah and wild dog, concealed from unsuspecting antelope in the grassy bushes. Then you’ll see hundred-strong herds of buffalo barrelling across the landscape, and enormous herds of elephants, trunks swinging and ears flapping. Lastly, keep a lookout for the smaller animals: impala drinking tentatively from pools, baboons shouting from trees, and sable and roan antelope, seemingly posing for your camera.
Kelly and Greg Butler have always believed that a safari should revolve around freedom and privacy; everyone should feel like they’re truly experiencing the bush, not just following other people around in search of a leopard. When the opportunity arose to develop photographic safaris in Khwai Private Reserve, we knew they would be our perfect partners on the ground. Alongside the local communities living on the edges of the reserve and the
Khwai Development Trust, they have been instrumental in making our dream of Khwai come alive.
And part of that dream is Sable Alley. In our crazy, modern world, space is one of the greatest luxuries – and that’s exactly what Sable is all about. Spacious, beautifully designed, and impeccably decorated, you’ll feel instantly at one with your surroundings. Stand on your (enormous!) deck and gaze over the antelope scattered across the plain; hop into the open-air shower and watch as the ellies do the same in the nearby waterhole; or settle down at the gin bar for a tasting or two, and listen as leopard bark into the night. It seems like it’s not only our guests that have been secretly impressed with the opening of Sable Alley either. Today, we’ve got big game coming from as far as the Chobe Woodland to the east, and the Okavango to the south, and big cat sightings are beautiful and plentiful.
Natural Selection Safaris
Semi-Permanent Tented Camp
Max. clients in vehicle
Day & Night Game Drives, Mokoro, Walking