Experience

A paddle-boarding and heli-safari through the Okavango Delta

Put simply, Botswana is home to some of the most thrilling safari experiences in the world. Home to the Okavango Delta, which overflows with masses of rainfall making it one of the best wildlife viewing spots in Africa. Here at Black Tomato we’re all about seeing a favourite destination with a twist, which is why we’re pretty excited about this new adrenaline-fueled safari adventure we’ve put together. For a new way to explore the Okavango Delta you’ll master the art of stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and embark on an exclusive and challenging five day paddle boarding expedition through a remote community concession deep in the Delta. Here you’ll get to see parts of the delta’s inaccessible ecosystem that few get to experience. You’ll fly camp on remote islands, learn to cook your own bush meals and get right up close to some incredible wildlife on this hair-raising one-off-a-kind adventure. Once you’ve explored the delta by paddle board we’ll send you to the paradisaical Belmond Eagle Island Lodge perched on a remote island on the middle of the delta. From here we’ll send you sky high over the Delta on an exciting heli-safari where you’ll spy herds of game from above and fully appreciate the majesty of the delta.

City slicking and penguin paddling in Cape Town

On arrival at Cape Town international Airport you’ll be met by your guide and transferred to your sleek waterfront hotel, The One and Only, which will be your base for the next three nights. Your first day will be spent about relaxing and settling into this majestic city and exploring a few of our favourite spots, or simply relaxing by the pool. For dinner we’ll show you a few local hot spots at Kloof Street on the slopes of Table Mountain for a lip-smacking Capetonian meal and a few night caps.

The next few days will be spent familiarising yourself with your SUP, getting the low down on techniques and safety measures needed whilst on Safari. You’ll start off gently with a paddle through the V&A Waterfront straight from the deck of the hotel, you’ll paddle past one of the prime residential areas in Cape Town with the impressive Table Mountain as your back-drop.

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The following day you’ll leave the City behind and head down to Cape Point, taking in a unique paddle with penguins en-route before paddling in the Cape Point reserve. For those keen to catch a wave or learn the basics in SUP wave riding Muizenberg Beach is a prime spot. With your guide you’ll explore the nooks and cranny of the Cape Peninsula ending at one of the few wine farms that has front row seats for the sunset overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Paddle boards at the ready

Today you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to Cape Town Airport for a flight to Maun, Botswana. On arrival in Maun you will be met by your safari guide for the next five days. In an open top 4×4 safari vehicle you’ll then take a three hour road transfer to base camp through Big Five safari country stopping along the way to view the incredible game. Leaving civilization behind, you’ll reach the water’s edge and the start of the Okavango Delta for a Mokoro transfer to base camp on Chak Chak Island. Your base camp overlooks a large lagoon in a remote sector of the Okavango called NG32, and at night you’ll bed down in walk-in Meru-style tents complete with stretcher beds with fine cotton linen, an en-suite safari shower and an eco toilet. After meeting the local team and expert trackers from a local community you’ll take a walking safari to explore your new surroundings, followed by dinner around the camp fire under the African night as you’re soothed by the calls of the wild around you.

For the next three days you’ll put your new paddle boarding skills to the test led by your guide expert guides, and support team in traditional Mokoro’s. You’ll spend your mornings searching for wildlife and learning the techniques of paddling through the channels of the Delta. Your guides will take you to some safe bathing spots for a quick dip before heading back camp for a well-earned siesta and lunch where you’ll be able to learn some essential bush cooking skills. During late afternoon you’ll be able to embark on walking safaris around the island where you can spot a huge array of animals on foot.

For a final intrepid experience you’ll set off for a full-day of paddle boarding, which will culminate with an overnight of fly-camping in a remote location where you’ll be treated to a traditional South Africa style Braai cooked straight over the coals of the camp fire.

The Eagle has landed

Heading deeper into the delta, you’ll spend the next few nights in the luxurious surroundings of Belmond Eagle Island lodge on Xaxaba Island (pronounced ‘KaKaaba’). Here you’ll have a real sense of remoteness as you’re surrounded by marshland, floodplains and waterways putting you directly in wildlife heaven. Technically, you don’t need to leave your room to see some safari action going on here. But we seriously suggest you do.

You’ll spend the next few days heading out onto the shallow waterfront on a Mokoro canoe, where you’ll silently part the reeds to see everything from elephant and rhino to egrets, owls and wild dogs.  For a final exclusive experience you’ll take to the skies on a helicopter ride over the delta to see the incredible game and wildlife from above. This special chopper has been designed to get right up close to the elements, and with no doors (yes, that’s right – buckle up) you’ll be in the perfect position to snap that shot worthy of a National Geographic front cover.

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