Duba Plains Camp, Okavango Delta, and Zarafa Camp, Selinda Reserve
After being homebound for numerous months I set off on a trip to the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Having organised the trip a year in advance, the time crept up very quickly and before I could blink it was time to embark on this adventure.
It was such a wonderful escape into the vast open space of Duba Plains, Okavango Delta and then on to Zarafa in the Selinda Reserve a couple of days later. I had mixed feelings about the two camps to start with as I felt that I had started with the flagship, but they complimented each other magnificently lending itself to the most amazing wildlife sightings coupled with plenty of “fine” dining mixed with many, many laughs and of course the awesome presence of the most beautiful creatures on earth!
Being the beginning of the green season the risk of bucket loads of rain was there and with that the game dispersing and not needing to come out to the dams for a drink and sighting. We were most fortunate, to start with in Duba Plains we spent quality time with the Tsaro Pride with their cubs, four five month old cubs and two eight month olds, giving us plenty of action watching these bundles of energy and mischief. The two male lions had left the family and were travelling together…..
The advantages of these concession areas is that there are very few vehicles and the ability to see wildlife in their most natural habitat is made possible. True food for the soul….
Duba Plains camp must be one of the most beautiful camps I have ever had the privilege of visiting. The decor was magnificent, staff unbelievably friendly and they couldn’t do enough for us. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, an astute driver and wildlife spotter, not to mention an outstanding photographer and particularly understanding of our photographic needs …..
We followed elephants in the swamps….and got bitten by “miggies” :), Looked for lions, lionesses, hyenas and cubs, the elusive leopard and generally had the most wonderful experience.
Just before it was time to say goodbye and move on to Zarafa Camp, I was privileged to be introduced to Beverley and Derick Joubert of Great Plains Conservation whilst they were covering the same lionesses and cubs that we were following. They are conservationists and well renown filmmakers, known for documentaries such as Relentless Enemies, Eternal Enemies, Savage Kingdom amongst others and the latest one The Stolen River. Do yourself a favour and watch these magnificent documentaries. It was quite surreal sitting “land cruiser to land cruiser” sharing the wonders of the day with these very talented and special people. Zarafa camp is also under their fold and off we set later that morning to experience another part of Botswana.
When we arrived midday after a short hop in a light aircraft, it was hot, dry and did not have the same wide open plains that I had become accustomed to…..but, someone must have known the person I am and the experiences got even better and better….
Firstly, I was placed in a “tent” furtherest away from the main lodge…this seems to happen a lot on wildlife trips, makes me wonder 😉 No complaints as its good exercise walking off all the delicious meals and numerous snacks we were offered throughout the day….
I was then given the safety brief and run down ….. it transpired that there was an Albida tree outside my tent and that some of the elephants loved to come by for a snack…..after all its their area so respect at all times! I didn’t really believe it until I saw it for myself…..on my first afternoon whilst downloading images in my tent during the heat of the day…..I heard the stealthy walk of an elephant pulling at leaves, breaking branches and having a field day. If I might add, if you can imagine him doing it very quietly in elephant speak….The shores of the dam were also quite close to my tent so after a sumptuous meal this lone elephant went off for a drink and splash around. I was overjoyed with my visitor, and this repeated daily.
I was in heaven, the elephants are my favourite animal. Thereafter as soon as the coast was clear and I could venture out we set out in the vehicle to see who we could share sundowners with. It was blisteringly hot and as we approached one of the dams we noticed the elephants “pulling in” we stayed with them till sunset watching them splash around and play with the young ones and of course make images. The silhouettes and reflections were a photographers dream and we ended the day with sundowners basking in our luck of experiencing about 200 elephants at the dam and then slowly setting off for the night. We never saw those numbers again as the next day the first of the summer rains arrived and the animals retreated for a while…..
This is so informative and adds so much to your outstanding photography. I so enjoyed it. What an experience!