We arrive in Maun, Botswana, on Saturday, 18 February on our South African Airways Flight from Cape Town, in good time to catch our small plane that will take us to the 10 “Tents” (these are complete with private bathrooms and pretty great!) Duma Tau Camp in the Private Linyanti reserve, adjacent to the Chobe National Park. Maun airport is the hub for most of the Safari flight activity in Botswana. Duma Tau is situated close to the source of the Savute Channel on Osprey Lagoon, one of the many lagoons within the Linyanti Swamp system, and between two elephant ‘corridors’ – all of which results in a plethora of wildlife on game drives along the Savute. This is the first of three two-night sojourns in Botswana Camps, and we will be out in the “bush” in no time seeking out the pachyderms. We might even take a barge down the river in search of animals coming down to the river to drink. There is usually just enough time for a shower or bath, or dip in the pool before dinner.
The rhythm of the safari days are early rises (usually 5-5.30am), a needed coffee or tea, followed by the morning “drive”, be it on land or water, returning around 10.00 for a hearty breakfast. Between breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and the “tea” prelude to the late afternoon “drive”, guests are free to relax, or to participate in unscheduled activities with your Ranger, such as guided, and guarded, walks.
The main attraction here is of course the elephant herds, but wild dogs are another species more common here than elsewhere. Duma Tau Camp is raised off the ground to take advantage of the fantastic river views. Each en-suite tent is spacious, spreading out under a canvas roof, with clear-storey sliding doors and windows that allow for wide-angled views of the riverfront. There is an airy, expansive dining and lounge area and a pool, all overlooking the lagoon and its denizens. Duma Tau has a very light carbon footprint and runs on solar energy.
On Monday 20 February, we will be back at the Duma Tau landing strip to fly the half hour to the Okavango Delta where our destination will be Xigera Camp. Xigera Camp (pronounced Keejera) lies on the aptly named Paradise Island, surrounded by deep channels and lush vegetation within a remote area of the productive Moremi Game Reserve. For much of the year this magnificent area epitomises the permanently flooded section of the Okavango Delta, with palm-filled islands, riverine forests, a multitude of clear water channels and expansive floodplains. While here we might be able to wander through the channels on a Moroko, a dug-out canoe used by the locals to get around on the water, and a remarkably peaceful way of traveling.
There are nine raised luxury tents with en-suite facilities, an outdoor shower – and superb views of the classic Okavango Delta floodplains that surround the camp. Meals and evening drinks are enjoyed in the lounge, bar and dining area overlooking a permanently flowing channel or under the stars in a traditional African boma. For those hot days there is a small plunge pool in which to cool off.
We will spend our final two days at a sophisticated Okavango Delta retreat – Jao Camp – the epitome of luxury in the most remote, scenically splendid setting. Sparkling waters, swaying reeds, leaping lechwe and dancing cranes – there is perpetual poetry in motion here.
Providing the ultimate Delta water experience in the heart of the Okavango, luxurious Jao Camp is set in an area where islands fringed with riverine forests meet vast productive floodplains. Shaded by a canopy of trees, the nine spacious and beautifully-designed tents offer en-suite facilities with indoor and outdoor showers. Expansive views from the private sala at each tent make for a sumptuous setting for afternoon siestas, for those so inclined. In addition to the main lounge and dining area, there are two plunge pools and a boma for dining under the stars, complemented by wines from an excellent wine cellar. Jao Camp also has a spa where a wide range of massage therapies are offered and a gym for the more active. The camp itself perfectly mirrors the beauty of the Delta and allows maximum enjoyment of the wonders of this pristine wetland paradise.
All three of these camps are operated by Wilderness Safaris. Those who have travelled with Commendable Travel before will remember the excellence of their lodges and services. We use a limited number of operators in Africa, using only those who provide first class lodges and services, ensure safe operations on land and in the air, and most importantly, run sustainable operations. This involves a rigorous attitude to wildlife management, partnerships with local people, and a commitment to the environment.
On the 24 February, our Botswana Safari comes to an end. You will have a long list of the extraordinary wildlife and birdlife that you will have seen, from lions and Elephants to mongooses and the smallest frogs you will ever see ! You will have seen nature in the raw. We will fly out from the Jao Camp landing strip to the Maun airport, where we will catch our South African Airways flight to Johannesburg airport, arriving in good time for the early evening international departures.