We land on an island where literally no humans have ever been before, and shut the helicopter down so it’s pure silence…
People talk about Botswana as the last true wilderness – of course there are other places in the world that are equally remote, but there aren’t many other safari destinations that feel this wild and cut off. So that’s really what we want visitors to see when we fly them over the Okavango Delta in our helicopters – the sheer remoteness of it all.
We have a helicopter based at Xugana Island Lodge, so we offer flights from there and also Camp Okavango, which is close by. That’s a stunning place to do a flight from. You’ve got three or four different ecosystems all within a 30-minute flight, so you see lots of different wildlife – crocodile and hippo in the wet areas, zebra, giraffe and herds of buffalo in the dry floodplain areas, and then the rare black sable antelope in the woodlands.
I’d say probably up to 60% or 70% of the delta is totally unreachable, so what we try and do is get guests into those unreachable areas. We land on an island where literally no humans have ever been before, and shut the helicopter down so it’s pure silence, apart from the odd fish eagle in the background. We spend about half an hour on the island, open up the champagne, and then start up the helicopter to come back. That always blows guests away.
To make it a little more adventurous, we give them the option of taking the doors off! I’d say nine out of 10 guests do it – you get unrestricted views, so it’s amazing for photography. It’s also a lot of fun, and it beats an air-conditioned cabin! You’re very much strapped in and we fly quite low, so you feel safe, but you get all the smells and sights of the bush, which is a real highlight.
What’s really special about flying here is that every day is different. I’ve seen some incredible things – we’ve seen lion kills from the air, and with Botswana’s elephant population being the biggest on the planet, we’ve seen herds of over a thousand elephants traversing the delta. That aerial perspective is just phenomenal – it puts tears in guests’ eyes, and just seeing their excitement is one of my favourite parts of the day.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like James, who's travelled extensively in Botswana. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the rangers who'll ensure you'll spot the best wildlife in Chobe, the village chiefs who'll give you an insight into local life and the helicopter pilots who can land you on an island in the Delta never visited by humans before.
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