The Okavango Delta in Botswana is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places on the planet and an incredible safari destination. Fuelled by our love for all things Africa and wildlife the Okavango Delta, a wetland of meandering waterways fed by a river born in the mountains of Angola, was firmly at the top of our bucket list.
After an awesome week of adventures in the desolate Sossusvlei desert and the treacherous Skeleton Coast of Namibia we were en route to Little Vumbura, a Wilderness Safaris camp located deep in the Delta in the midst of the totally unspoiled African wilderness. We couldn’t wait to explore one of the greatest wildlife areas of the world!
Flying into the Okavango Delta
Our Okavango adventure began in Maun airport, the gateway to the Okavango and the destination from where most flights into the Delta depart. Our Wilderness Safaris reps met us at the airport and, after a quick security check, we were zipping along the tarmac in a golf cart to our plane!
After a safety briefing from the pilot we jumped aboard the tiny propeller aircraft and got ready for one of the most beautiful flights of our lives. Getting into the Delta was as beautiful as our time in it: the views were incredible as we soared over the crystal clear waters and swampy grasslands, passing over the meandering Okavango River and spotting huge herds of elephants that wandered through the plains below.
Arriving at Camp
After landing on the tiny Vumbura airstrip we were met by our guide, the legendary ‘Madala K’, and embarked on the 45 minute transfer to the Little Vumbura Camp. The transfer was a game drive in itself and iconic Okavango scenes unfolded before our eyes: red leche splashed through the wetlands, storks soared through the air and wild dog footprints teased us along the airfield.
Little Vumbura is located on a private island on the Vumbura Plains deep in the Okavango Delta. After a short boat transfer from the truck we were greeted at the jetty by the camp staff singing to us in Tswana, the Botswana language, and extending us a warm welcome to the camp. Little Vumbura is surrounded by lush forest, deep waters, shallow floodplains and endless views of the Delta while the sounds of wildlife and birds fill the silence of the open plains. Hot towels, our reusable Wilderness Safaris water bottles, iced tea and easy chatter about our journey into the Delta filled our first moments in camp and we instantly felt at home in Little Vumbura.
Raised wooden walkways lead the way through the camp and we followed the path to our tented chalet eager to check it out. While a ‘tented room’ might conjure up images of a two person tent and sleeping bags this is far removed from the luxury of Little Vumbura:where every guest need is catered for. Our room, a mix of canvas and wood, was spacious and beautifully decorated and the outdoor shower, huge king size bed and the cosy private deck were our highlights. The floor to ceiling mesh windows across one side of the room result in a bright, airy and inviting space.
The true pièce de résistance is the incredible view of the plain from the room and its deck and it was on the deck that we spent most of our afternoon hours relaxing after a safari filled morning and gazing at the picture perfect vista before us. At night, hippo splashed beneath our sundeck as we slept and lions roared across the plain: it was truly surreal and we felt like we were in another world.
Sunrise from the deck: we could stay here forever!
The Little Vumbura Camp
With just six rooms Little Vumbura is an intimate camp in the heart of the Okavango. The camp is laid out with beautiful open air communal areas decorated in natural khaki and wood tones that are perfect for some rest and relaxation.
The dining area and the adjacent bar are the hub of the camp activity. We loved hanging out with the other guests and we met some really great people at Little Vumbura. Our favourite spots were the secluded reading area where we, rather predictably, indulged in safari books and the gorgeous little plunge pool for a cooling afternoon swim!
Food and Drinks
The constant supply of food and drinks in Little Vumbura meant that we ate like Kings and Queens during our stay! Food and drinks, including alcohol, are included in the rate and everything was excellent.
Our days started at dawn with a pre safari breakfast of cereals, breads, fruits and eggs and our morning game drives included a coffee break and a sweet treat on the Vumbura Plains. A beautiful brunch spread awaited us when we returned to camp and, after an afternoon rest, we were treated to hot snacks and cakes before our evening activities.
Sundowners in the bush are the highlight of any safari day: sipping a gin and tonic as the sun set over the Okavango Delta and lions roared across the plains is an experience that we will never ever forget. We finished the day with a communal dinner and easy chatter about our safari exploits with staff and fellow guests. On one of the evenings the Little Vumbura staff treated us to an African song and dance extravaganza and it was so much fun that the entire camp danced and sang their way to dinner!
Little Vumbura is surrounded by a mix of land and water and safari activities include game drives, traditional mokoro excursions, boat rides, fishing and birding. Our awesome guide, ‘Madala K’, introduced us to 4 of the Big 5 game animals with multiple sightings of elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard and cheetah as well as abundance of other beautiful wildlife and birds. Our first sighting of the leopard at dawn is one we’ll never forget! The diverse habitat of the Vumbura Plains make for fantastic sightings and they are home to almost every species of the Okavango Delta.
Spending 10 hours a day together in the bush with K, who can only be described as a fountain of endless knowledge, was a real treat: his tracking skills were the source of constant amazement, he taught us a million things about Botswana wildlife and the Okavango Delta and, best of all, he made us laugh on every journey. K was one of the true stars of our Okavango adventures.
Our favourite sightings at Little Vumbura
Our memories from the Vumbura Plains are of adventures, the excitement of the chase and the constant giggles as Madala K entertained us on our game drives.
Every moment on the plains brought unexpected adventures: a three day old baby elephant taking one of its first journeys under the protective guard of its mother stumbled alongside our safari truck and a majestic cheetah stalked for pray and sunbathing lions lolled in the grasses as we drove in the evening sun. We listened to lions roaring across the plains as we sipped sundowners in the bush and were met with a grumpy hippo blocking our path home as he took the opportunity to cool down in a puddle in the path rather than the deeper waters surrounding them.
What we loved about Little Vumbura
Little Vumbura is undoubtedly a beautiful camp with amazing staff but, after spending time in Africa and developing a huge passion for the continent, we had a few extra requests from our time in the Okavango Delta. We’re huge advocates for responsible tourism and protecting the environment and Little Vumbura exceeded our expectations in every respect. As soon as we landed in the Vumbura airstrip we were given reusable water bottles; our game drives were accompanied by a escort, Dish, from a local village and the camp did everything it could to have a minimal impact on the surrounding wildlife and environment.
The commitment to this is outstanding: some enterprising swallows seeking a safe and warm spot to build their nest opted for the ceiling of the Little Vumbura safari bar and the staff work around their special guests as they fly in and out of the nest above their heads. As we watched the antics of the swallows with our fellow guests some inquired as to the possibility of relocating the nest: ‘Definitely not’ was the resounding answer, ‘we’re the guests in the Delta not the swallows’ and that was the unfaltering attitude we loved from our Okavango hosts.
Our favourite nugget of information was the fact that Wilderness Safaris, the company who own Little Vumbura, have saved over 300,000 plastic bottles from landfills with their reuseable bottles. We reckon that is commendable!
We loved every second of our time in Little Vumbura and truly felt at home from the second we touched down in the Vumbura airstrip and the Little Vumbura crew embraced us into camp life. With its mix of surrounding land and water and the incredible wildlife which resides in the Vumbura Plains, Little Vumbura is the perfect spot for an adventure in the Okavango Delta and it is the ultimate escape into the African wilderness.
It’s no surprise that the most difficult part of our time at Little Vumbura was leaving. After all, it’s impossible not to be impacted by the wildlife theater that is the Okavango: its vast wilderness, its endless plains, the constant struggle for survival of its inhabitants and the unbelievable beauty of the untouched Delta. We can’t wait to return.
Booking Little Vumbura
Trips into the Okavango Delta are organised by the safari companies who operate the concessions in each part of the Delta and the Vumbura Plains are operated by Wilderness Safaris. We opted to travel into the Okavango with Wilderness for a number of reasons: they have access to some of the most incredible parts of the Okavango and offer fantastic accommodation options. Most of all, their commitment to the environment, the local community and sustainability are characteristics we wholeheartedly agree with. The Okavango is one of the most special places on Earth and the world needs to do everything it can to protect it.