Duba Plains sits in one of the most remote locations within a private concession in the Okavango Delta – the long and short of it is there are no people here but abundant wildlife to rival any of the most famous safari locations in the world. The area is so diverse that you’re mind will be assaulted from the moment you arrive with the different sights, sounds and smells. A small river floods directly in front of camp and plays host to elephants, buffalo and hippo throughout the day – the shrill whistles of reed buck can be heard in the long grasses and reeds, and the bird life is second to none. And all of that seen from the comfort of your private plunge pool or shady verandah.
The new Duba Plains camp is a marvel – five huge suites and one two bedroom family suite sit overlooking the floodplain, with heavy wooden floors, Swahili doors imported from Zanzibar and sumptuous furniture that just invites you to sink into it and relax. Many guests who have done safaris before choose to stay in their suite, where one can also have private meals, and simply watch what comes, and come it will. We had elephants in camp every day and as mentioned the bird life seen just from your deck is prolific.
There is a magic and soul to the area which gets under your skin, whether it be the fact there are no people, or the amazing conservation success story – whatever the x factor may be, Duba has it in buckets. Driving out of this spectacular camp through the water is a highlight as it comes in smooth glassy waves over the bonnet – you then reach an enormous island which the camp was named after. The Duba Plains are vast and dotted with rhino, buffalo, lechwe and tsessabe to name but a few species seen here. Cattle egrets flank the rhino and buffalo as they wander happily through the short grass plains and pools of water.
The cat sightings were phenomenal – we saw both prides of lion, with one early morning sighting including a playful exchange between sub adults. We had leopard eating a cleverly won reedbuck in a tree and to top it off we had a fantastic daylight civet sighting – this shy beautiful spotted creature (related to the mongoose) creeping delicately through the grass around us.
The camp itself is run and hosted by some of the best ‘industry people’ we have met, warm, friendly, efficient. Herman the chef is very involved and produces fare which would not look out of place in any smart London restaurant. The food highlight was certainly a bush breakfast out on a hill next to a pod of hippo – Herman prepared freshly made bread, cooked on a camp fire with bacon, avocado and fried eggs – we had three each and could have eaten more. The boat back from breakfast was peaceful and tranquil, with bird life every where one looked, including a goliath heron, giant eagle owl, bee-eaters and much more.
This lodge is a contender for one of the best in Africa – each room has a professional level camera available for use throughout your stay, with your images being downloaded for you before you leave, as well as Swarovski binoculars in each room. It’s just proper, the whole thing. The best thing about staying here or their more rustic but equally magical Duba Expeditions Camp is that you are contributing hugely to conservation, research and progress – especially when it comes to rhinos and the cats.
On our last evening the milky way, Southern Cross and many other stars shone brighter than we’ve seen in any African sky, only going on to cement in our minds why this has to be on every body’s bucket list as one of the world’s most unique areas of wilderness to visit.