Sable Alley, Tuludi, Skybeds, and Khwai Private Reserve
Why photographers love Sable Alley
- Sable Alley is in the outstanding Okavango Delta — there is no better wildernss area
- You could spend a week or more in the reserve and enjoy diverse habitats and experiences without flying to other camps
- Very good year round game viewing and diverse habitats
- Good combination of wet and dry activities including mekoro and motorboats and helicopter flights (extra)
- Excellent predators especially lions and wild dogs, leopards and cheetah
- Night drives, walks, off-road driving are permitted as its in a private reserve.
- The elephant hides are amazingly good — you will want to stay all day.
- Very high standard of guiding can be expected.
- Vehicles are extremely comfortable with bucket seats and rows in between. Adjustable arm rests make great camera supports.
How we rate Sable Alley
Khwai Private Reserve
Previously called NG18 and run as a hunting area, Khwai Private Reserve is now 100% photographic and the game is flourishing. Sable Alley area has diverse habitats within support giraffe, buffalo, red lechwe, tsessebe, impala and elephant, which in turn support the larger predators: lion, leopard, spotted hyena, cheetah and wild dog. This is not to be confused with Khwai Community Reserve which has several camps and is also visited by self-drive guests.
The dry season from late May to November is best for game viewing as the grass starts to thin and animals are attracted to the riverine areas. The flood tends to arrive at the same time that the pools in the mopane dry up.
The central and western areas have mixed acacia woodland and riverine areas with more and more grassland towards the west. Generally great elephants, zebra, kudu, impala and excellent lion. leopards and cheetah are most commonly seen in the central western areas near Tuludi and around Sable Alley. The eastern areas are mostly mopane with some interesting sandveld. Waterholes here are active for elephants, buffalo and there are different dry land bird species
There are several accommodation options in the reserve creating a wonderful itinerary for guests wishing to visit just one area. There is an option of land activities, game drives, walking, hides as well as boat trips and mekoro depending upon water levels. Helicopter trips can also be arranged.
This is the flagship camp in the western part of the reserve which has wide open spaces and mixed habitats and we enjoyed very good sightings of lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog. It with just 6 ultra large canvas suites (one is a family tent) all of which have private pools, expansive rooms with indoor and outdoor showers and deck areas. You will want to stay a week. I loved the elevated wi-fi deck, which is far from the normal living areas and the slide to help you zoom back into real life. Despite being luxurious the camp has a down to earth feel with a fire-pit where you can sit after dark and watch the stars wheel overhead.
Situated centrally in the reserve the accommodation at Sable Alley is just what you would expect from a great Botswana safari lodge. Light, bright interiors and extremely spacious tents all on stilts. The camp has 12 tents including 9 twins, one honeymoon and 2 family tents with a total of 28 people in camp. Lions seem to love this area and they roars mixed with hippo grunts was our evening lullaby. There is a swimming pool and spacious dining and boma areas. Wifi is in the main reception. There is charging in the rooms.
Little Sable Alley
This camp was under construction during our visit. It lies on the floodplain close to Sable Alley close to an island where lions are frequently sighted. This was previously called Pangolin Camp and then Jekyl and Hyde. When completed it promises to be outstanding.
This is an old-school and really authentic camp — with just 8 tents and a chilled out atmosphere that makes you really relax. Deep in the dryland mopane the camp is literally a hide for the elephants and they arrive in large numbers during the dry season. It lies just 20 minutes from the elephant hide and 30 minute drive to the Mohotlo on the Khwai River. This area has great game but can get busy as its in the Khwai public reserve
This unique camp which was built by the owners for their own family holidays (lucky kids !) and has just 3 triple-decker platforms with double beds on top and bathrooms below looking onto a waterhole. Falling asleep beneath the stars was memorable and so were the staff who serenaded us with songs and wonderful meals. The experience was hosted by a wonderful guide and was just outstanding. You could stay one night or two.
There are two elephant hides which are so close to the water and so low you can photograph elephant’s toenails. The hides are roughly 20 minutes away from Hyena Pan and Skybeds and a full 90 minutes from Sable Alley. Guests can enjoy the experience for a day or as a sundowner experience.
- Game viewing season is from May to October and November. I have visited in May and November and both provided excellent game viewing. May can be a bit slow for game on some years depending upon rainfall.
- The floodwaters usually arrive towards July.
- Out of season the game viewing is still great and you can enjoy better rates. The rainy season from November to March can produce amazing game and the very best birding.
Photographers need to know
You will always be spoiled for choice with sightings in the immediate area. Close proximity to good game means that you do not need to travel too far. Flights over the Delta are available with Helicopter Horizons. You will need an hour to get to the best areas and the activity is recommended for sunrise or sunset.
The good news
The camp is part of Natural Selections Collection and is part owned by the community that benefit when there are guests — and even when there are none.. Even during COVID times Natural Selections supported the local community with food hampers and concession payments and employ many guides and staff from the local community. The community are allowed to harvest fish and also thatching at certain times of the year.
How to get there
Its a 30-minute flight from Maun and can also be reached by road if you have a 4×4 and four hours to spare.