Reviews of Mapula Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Mapula Lodge review
We really enjoyed the rustic style of the lodge, although maintenance is very necessary and we understand this is due to commence next year. The wooden bridge that gives access to the lodge was grim to drive across, but is due to be replaced.
The lodge is situated overlooking a permanent lagoon, which is brilliant, with constant calling of fish eagles.
The mokoro trip introduced us to small reed frogs, water snails, spiders and fish. Hippos thankfully in the distance! Matt, the guide and K.T. the tracker were excellent in locating game: lion feeding on a recently killed buffalo, and vultures just hanging around expectantly.
Great start to our safari at Mapula Lodge
We had 3 nights at Mapula Lodge in November 2009 - our first camp of 3 on this trip - and from the moment that Josiah and John picked us up at the airstrip we had a fabulous time. The camp and guiding staff were all very friendly, the manager (Dudu) was charming and we very much liked the fact that it is very much a 'local' enterprise. There is no doubt that this is a very happy camp - we felt very much at home and thoroughly enjoyed a very relaxed atmosphere.
The camp facilities (lounge and dining areas, plunge pool, bush bar) were excellent and our 'cabin' (Number 4) was spacious, clean and well appointed. It came with king size bed with mosquito net, easy chairs/settee with coffee table, tin bath, two tin wash basins, WC and outdoor shower. On the deck outside were two large wooden chairs where we could relax and enjoy the lagoon and its resident hippos. One small issue with the chairs on the deck - you had to move them around to keep in the shade during siesta time and eventually you ran out of shade!
We have seen other comments about the 'variable' quality of the food at Mapula - we thought the food was absolutely fine. I wouldn't go so far as to say gourmet quality, but very, very nice, plenty of it and no problems whatsoever.
The guiding/tracking was excellent - Josiah and John were very knowledgable and good company. We enjoyed game drives, a guided walk and a mokoro trip with them and enjoyed every minute. Game viewing was excellent - including lion, elephant, impala, kudu, black backed jackal, giraffe, hippo, leopard, zebra, ostrich, buffalo, tsessebe, red lechwe, warthog, waterbuck, wildebeest, civet, steenbok, vervet monkey, water monitor and slender mongoose. Birds too were fabulous - far too may to list, but we were very happy to see such a variety.
Game drives at Mapula come with the added bonus (??) of the infamous bridge! The first time or two going over the bridge is a very interesting, enjoyable and quirky experience - then it becomes a sheer necessity and by the end of your stay it is a bit of a pain to be honest. Hopefully it won't be too long before it is improved?
Overall though, we very much enjoyed Mapula Lodge and we would not hesitate to return.
Beautiful place in the delta
Beautifully situated in the the Okavango delta…. Met by Dicks & Simon on the airstrip in the middle of nowhere! Quite an individual camp. The most rickety, bone-shaking bridge you are ever likely to cross in your trip to get to the camp and you will have cross it 4 more times each day!!
Rooms are large facing onto the lagoon with a good distance between each lodge. The beds are spacious and comfortable with both an outside and in door shower and a tin bath with a view over looking the lagoon. We noticed several of the fixtures and fittings didn't work as well as they should. The main door's latch never shut properly but just got stuck between the doorframes. When the wind blew it kept opening. When I mentioned this to Jane (the Manager) she said that she was aware of it but it wasn't fixed during our stay.
Expert Africa travelers, “Mr & Mrs Delta, commented on Aug 08, 'We had problems with the toilet flush, it kept running'. Well, I can confirm that it is still running well and good! We didn't mention this since it didn't make too much noise. I guess being in the delta one is not too short of water, which might be their attitude to it!!
There is also a communal toilet by the main area, with the most unbelievable view and no door to shut. Just put the rope across with an 'occupied sign' as you walk down ramp and you are good to go!
The meals were taken communally with the guides and manager. We read lots of comments that the food wasn't very good here. But considering its remoteness and logistical difficulties and that they were cooking for at least 16-18 guests the food was good.
Doctor is no longer here. Jane was the manager here when we stayed. A very pleasant friendly young Botswanan woman who worked extremely hard to ensure her guests were happy. We had some excellent game drives with our guides Simon and Dicks. A spacious Land Rover which was comfortable. The vehicles are configured for 3x3 seating arrangements but Dicks told us that they rarely take more than 6 people in them unless that was the total number of people from the same group. A very good seating policy in my opinion.
The tracking was excellent and just watching these two men track the animals we wanted to see was just as fascinating as coming face to face with the animals when they successfully found them!! We saw lions, sable and a vast number of antelopes. Unfortunately despite the recent denning of the wild dogs near the airstrip, by the time we arrived they had moved on after the tragic death of their puppies. They also offer a walk with an armed guide for a couple of hours, which we thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. The camp main area itself was not as large as it probably should be to accommodate the possible number of guests. The pool was small and didn't look invitingly clean. We also loved the little bar overlooking the lagoon. On the whole we thoroughly enjoyed our stay here.
Mapula Lodge review
We loved the three days we spent at Mapula. We found the accommodations comfortable, the staff extremely warm and helpful, the activities fun, and the guides excellent. We really enjoyed the variety of activities offered at Mapula, and were lucky enough to participate in all of the available activities while we were there.
The game drives were interesting, and our guide (Matt) and tracker (Mike) took time to discuss with us behaviors exhibited by the animals we saw, various uses of the plants we observed, and general uses of the environment by the people of Botswana. We also liked the walking safari we did one afternoon, which gave us a better perspective of a local environment (and our first bit of exercise during our trip). Our mokoro trip was very relaxing and included a number of unexpected elephant sightings.
The highlights at Mapula were seeing a pack of wild dogs, and following them long enough to watch them (unsuccessfully) hunt impala, and having a group of elephants decide to snack on the vegetation outside our chalet for about 30 minutes during "siesta" one afternoon. We were also treated to a surprise "bush dinner" on our last night at Mapula, which was a really wonderful experience. In addition to the extra effort for this surprise, we truly appreciate the efforts of Jane and Dudu to change our flight to Maun (originally scheduled for 8:00am, despite us having a mid-afternoon flight from Maun to Johannesburg). It took them significant time to achieve this, but it gave us the opportunity to go on one final morning game drive.
We would recommend Mapula Lodge to anyone looking for good guiding and a variety of interesting animals and activities.
Mapula Lodge review
As we flew to the Mapula Lodge landing strip we could see what we thought were roads submerged in water and we soon learned they were. Our time at Mapula Lodge and the Okavango Delta was FANTASTIC. DoDo was a very gracious, interesting, and accommodating host. Matt and Mike were a wonderful team guiding and tracking animals as we'd seen no others do on our game drives. The Mapula Lodge served family style dinners and we loved the opportunity to talk with Matt and DoDo after a wonderful day.
Matt was quick to take an inventory of everything we'd seen so far on our trip upon picking us up and was quick to mention he'd do his best to find new things for us. He was true to his word as he and Mike were able to locate new species of mammals and birds we had not seen yet every day we were there.
While at Mapula we went on several game drives, a mokora boat excursion in the lagoon, and a guided walk. The variety of activities offered at Mapula was not matched by any other lodge we stayed at and we appreciated the different ways it allowed us to see the animals and environment.
As for highlights, while it is difficult to narrow things down, the African Wild Dogs of the area are worth noting. We visited the den of a pack of wild dogs that live in the area a few times. The first time we were treated to seeing puppies that were just over a week old, and some of the adults for a brief amount of time. The adult dogs took off on a hunt and the puppies retreated to the safety of the den.
On our last morning we visited once again, the pack was still out on their hunt from the afternoon/evening before and we decided to leave the den area. As we continued our drive Mike gave one of his trademark hand signals, motioning Matt to stop and go to the right. We were treated to a sighting of the pack returning to the den after the hunt. After taking in the great views there we headed back to the den to see what we'd find. We were treated to a good 30 minutes of watching the puppies interact with the adult members of the pack. It was definitely the experience of a lifetime and memorable.
The facilities of Mapula Lodge were of the highest standard and very spacious. Our room over looked the lagoon that is home to a family of hippos, during our afternoon siesta we enjoyed viewing elephants from a far or birds up close on nearby trees as we relaxed on our porch. We also appreciated the variety and large quantity of handcrafted baskets made by staff members that were available for sale.
Of all the places we stayed at in Namibia and Botswana, the Mapula Lodge is the one place we hope to return to. While we were very satisfied with our 3 night stay, Mapula Lodge and the area, as well as the delightful and friendly staff, definitely touched us, we could've easily stayed there for a few more days.
Mapula - A Great Addition by Expert Africa
Mapula is new this year on Expert Africa's offering and, having spent four nights there at the start of a 12 night vacation in mid-September, we think it is a great addition which we highly recommend.
There is just one minor caveat to that recommendation and that is that the lodge is situated in an area which (based on our experience at that particular time of year) demands a certain amount of patience searching out the animals. That said, such patience does bring its rewards and we got our trip off to a flying start in terms of both birds and mammals.
Highlights included elephants, sable antelope, lions, serval and caracal cats (the former in daylight) and (the absolute highlight as far as we were concerned) over an hour-and-a-half with a pack of 18 very active painted dogs; among the bird life we particularly enjoyed, at one end of the size scale, giant eagle owls and, at the other, malachite kingfishers. This success is in significant part a testiment to our guide, Matt, and tracker, Johan, both of whom were excellent.
In addition to game drives, we enjoyed our makoro experience (though I personally mourn the demise of traditional materials in favour of plastic boats!) and our bush walks.
We also really liked the camp. The accommodation is very comfortable - the shower was the most pwerful I have found in many years of bush visits! - and the atmospherics/ambience are excellent. The staff are, without exception, relaxed but efficient and nothing was too much trouble.
We enjoyed the food and strongly approve of the brunch menu which breaks away from tradtional breakfast fare to include light lunch dishes (eg quiche, macaroni cheese).
Great for game-viewing fans
Mapula is a place for serious game viewers. Everything revolves around game viewing and they are very flexible with schedules, provided that everyone in your group agrees to the changes. Lunch time and dinner time are never excuses for cutting short a good sighting here. The “standard” drives are a little longer than at other places: 4.5 hours instead of the more usual 3-4 hrs, but you can do them even longer (we did a 6-hr one). You can also do mokoro rides and bush walks.
This was the only place -of 5 camps- where we had a tracker in addition to a guide/driver, and we found it really helps you see more things. Also, the car has no roof at all which is much better for seeing birds and animals on trees. Our guide and tracker made a great team, they are both very familiar with the area and have an incredible eye for game spotting. Josiah, the guide, also has a fine sense of humor that makes the long game drives even more enjoyable.
We had some very good sightings here: during the drive to camp we saw a pride of lions eating a warthog, and then on the morning of departure we saw 10 different lions at different sites, one of them eating the remains of a baby elephant carcass. But the main attraction here are the wild dogs, there is a pack that has denned close to camp for the second season in a row, so we spent most of our game drives with them. The pack has 7 adults and 13 pups.
What I liked the best about this lodge is the atmosphere: very relaxed, completely laid-back and nonchalant. Totally “Hakuna Matata” style. Doctor's (the manager) personality contributes to this for sure, he is such a character, always joking, and has a contagious laughter, we immensely enjoyed our conversations with him by the fire. Like in other camps, the manager and guides sit with the guests at dinner, but here it really seems they do it not just because they're following the rules but because they actually enjoy it. There's a strong feeling of community in this place. I also loved the “24hr self-service bar”, you just go behind the bar and fix yourself a drink anytime.
The food is probably the clearest area for improvement at Mapula. I think it wasn't bad at all (I really enjoyed the Ox tail the first night), but my wife didn't like it, and I agree the food here is one or two levels below the average at other camps in the area.
The chalets at Mapula are cool. Rustic and a bit basic, definitely no luxuries at this lodge, but comfortable. We liked the decoration, simple but looks very African, the whole chalet vaguely resembles a hut in an African village. Ours even had a tree branch going through it! The front part of the chalet, which overlooks the lagoon, is open (i.e., no wall), just has a mosquito net separating the room from the wild. The bed was big and comfortable, a tad short though. The bathroom is nice, it has an tin-like bathtub inside and an outdoor shower, has two wash basins, which look like tin buckets. We had problems with the toilet flush, it kept running, they had to come in and fix it several times. The hot water normally works well but we had to take a cold shower once because none was coming out, we told Doctor and when he came into the room to check, the hot water was back.
Another area for improvement is the cleanliness of the room. I mean, it's not really dirty or anything, but it is less tidy than in other places, and there are more bugs. This didn't bother me at all, though my wife found they have to put more effort into cleaning. Anyway, It's true that this lodge is a little rougher than the typical camp, not a place to expect lots of pampering and luxury.
The area around Mapula is beautiful –most places in the delta are-, feels very remote even though they told us there are a few villages not too far from the lodge. The terrain is very rugged and they frequently drive off-road, which is fun but very bumpy (specially in the back row) and you have to watch out for branches (no roof). The lodge itself has very nice views over a lagoon, you can see hippos and birds. One night we were awoken by an elephant eating right next to our chalet, they later told us that a herd of 8 visited the lodge that night.