Duba Plains Camp, where hearts and spirits find inspiration in a history.
The camp that stands today overlooking a beautiful lagoon, deep in the extreme northern reaches of the Okavango Delta, has its origins as a research camp. This is particularly fitting because the modern Duba Plains Camp embodies the essence of understanding and wonder, of unpacking animal behavior and immersing yourself in the magic of African wildlife. Located on a private 77,000-acre concession run by the Okavango Community Trust and leased to us, the word “remote” could not be more relevant than here, a place only accessible by plane for most of the year, thanks to Botswana’s Okavango Delta seasonal floods. Six beautifully appointed tents overlook vast floodplains and create an authentic atmosphere of discovery for 12 guests. Wild animals often wander through camp – a truly magical experience to be celebrated rather than feared! This is “home” for Great Plains Conservation co-founders, and National Geographic Explorers in Residence, Dereck and Beverly Joubert and the remarkable, ever-present lions whose story they have so wonderfully documented over the years.
Renowned for their pursuits of the huge buffalo herds which roam the plains, Duba Plains Camp’s indomitable lions have become legends, hunting primarily in broad daylight, at home in water as well as on land as they swim the permanent channels which separate the jigsaw of islands which dot the landscape. But they are not the only inhabitants here… Wildlife diversity is guaranteed at Duba Plains, which offers large concentrations of iconic game such as red lechwe, impala, kudu and tsessebe viewed all year round. Birdlife is abundant, as are the elephant herds which traverse this magnificent wilderness. Culturally, this region of the Okavango has always been relatively sparsely populated by local tribes but is nonetheless a homeland of the Hambukshu, Bayei and Bukakwe people. The cattle-herding Hambukshu came from the rich floodplains of the Zambezi, whilst the Bayei are fishermen and indigenous to the area. They are known for the development of the mekoro, a traditional dugout canoe, used for traversing the shallow waterways of the delta. The Bukakwe bushmen, descendants of the original people who inhabited this land, still live in the village of Gudigwa, not far from the concession.
Tucked under the cool shade of large mangosteen and fig trees and looking across the reserve’s vast floodplains, the six traditional “Meru-Style” sturdy canvas en-suite tents are raised off the ground on wooden decks. This enables stunning views across the floodplain as well as capturing fresh, cool breezes. Each of the tents has a private verandah leading to large double doors, which enter the canvas-constructed tents. High ceilings with fans and large windows bring the outside in, while still affording ample privacy. A writing desk, comfortable lounge furniture and large beds with the finest linen draped in mosquito nets make for a romantic yet authentic space. The en-suite dressing area with a double basin vanity, indoor and outdoor showers and a flush toilet provide all the home comforts, with appropriate style and luxury. All hot water is available 24 hours a day and is solar heated.
The main lounge, bar and dining room are intimate and open-air, built under vaulted thatch roofs. An outdoor dining area for brunches and a large plunge pool are tucked away from the main area, offering a refreshing afternoon retreat. And of course, the evening open-air fireplace hosts stories of each day’s adventures. For those eager to pick up some local wares, a small curio shop, which was completely rebuilt in February 2012, meets the need.
An extra indulgence at Duba Plains Camp is the new masseuse area which was completed in February 2012. This area, which is by the water’s edge, is a perfect location for having the tension of travel removed whilst staring out across the Okavango Delta.
Situated under a canopy of African ebony trees and raised on wooden decks, the six elegant Meru-style tents are all en suite with double basin vanities and indoor solar-powered showers. The king-sized beds are draped in soft mosquito nets while an adjoining lounge with comfortable furniture provides a place to take in the fantastic Delta views. High ceilings and windows bring nature into the tent while still affording guests adequate privacy. On the quaint private deck outside a plunge pool and alfresco shower allow guests to keep immersed in their beautiful natural surroundings while still enjoying the comforts of home.
Duba Plains Camp also provides guests with writing desks, good-quality binoculars and in-room yoga mats.
A high thatched roof covers the central lounge at Duba Plains Camp with its sink-into leather sofas, bar and dining area that overlooks the communal fire pit and the never-ending floodplains beyond. Separate and on a deck, there is another alfresco dining area ideal for romantic starlit dinners or lazy lunches. The masseuse area is situated on the water’s edge providing glorious water views while being pampered by the in-house beauty therapist. Flexible game viewing schedules allow guests to choose their time out in the wilderness whether game viewing by 4×4, boat or on foot. The sparkling swimming pool is separate from the main communal area tucked away in the tranquil bush for reflective relaxation.
Ideal for family safaris, Duba Plains Camp has a Young Explorers Club that offers unique activities for children relating to the African wilderness and peace of mind for parents. Duba Plains Camp is continuously working to lighten their eco-footprint and have instituted composting, above-ground grey water management systems, solar-powered heating for geysers and the use of bio-diesel where possible.
At Duba Plains Camp there is no required routine. Traditionally, early morning and afternoon to evening are the prime times to be out in the bush; the colors are vibrant and the wildlife is at its most active. However, we take our cue from the whims of nature and we pride ourselves on our flexibility.
Often we set out at dawn, a time when predators are typically active, the guides are as keen as the guests to discover the events of the previous night and what might lie ahead. But nothing is regimented because we never know what lies ahead, especially if the lions are on the hunt. We’ve often had breakfast delivered to guests right out in the bush in their vehicles so they do not miss any sighting. As the sun rises, raising the daytime temperatures, we retreat like the herds to our shady post back in camp. But as the afternoon sun begins to soften again, we return to the open floodplains in preparation for the action that arrives with sunset. We are prepared to continue past nightfall in search of nocturnal wildlife too. While Duba Plains Camp is famous for its large elephant herds and lion and buffalo interactions, the plains game, bird, leopard and other sightings complete the experience.
Some days we will spend hours with a single pride of lions watching the tiny cubs playing with their mother, aunts and siblings; other days we may roam the plains absorbing the splendor of a large herd of Red lechwe running through the channels, or the area’s birding including some Okavango highlights such as the rare Slaty egret and Wattled crane. Other common species include: wildebeest, hippo, hyena, waterbuck, kudu, steenbuck, tsessebe and impala. Nocturnal species include civet, serval, African wildcat, honey badger, springhares, aardvark and aardwolf.
- Game drives.
- Guided walks.
- Mokoro trails.
- Night drives.
Duba Plains Camp Reviews
“The camp was lovely, Spike our guide was tremendous…..tracked the lion pride off the beaten track, wonderful spotting of animals…. Very informative of animals and their behaviour……. Super teas, before the afternoon outings…..and GREAT sundowners.” – debbiekeffer
“It is hard to put into words what an amazing experience we have had at this camp. It is well managed and the guest is the #1 priority. Our guide Kops was so professional and engaged. We asked him to do the impossible and he did. This guide found the elusive pangolin for us two years in a row. There are many guides in the bush who have never even seen the little ant eater. The tents were comfortable and the food was 5 star and that is hard to imagine in the bush. A perfect safari camp!” – debra s
“Impeccable service, delicious food, luxurious “tents” and very knowledgable guides. Duba Plains is a unique once in a lifetime experience. Most known for being surrounded by water, Duba is picturesque landscape like no others. Guides are careful to position vehicles to allow you to capture the perfect photo – and even can help set up your camera (if you don’t have it mastered!)” – Colby B