The best way to get to Tubu Tree Camp in the Okavango Delta’s labyrinth of watercourses is by small plane. Once the plane sets down on the bush landing strip, there it is: just eight tents on elevated platforms that twine around a few trees with the ensemble adventurously connected by a raised wooden walkway. It’s life in mid-air in these ethno look “tents”.
By air into the Okavango Delta
Tubu Tree Camp sits on Hunda Island, the largest island in the Jao Concession, a private nature reserve located in the northwest Okavango Delta (see our photo safari reportage here). Alone the airborne approach over the Delta is enough to take your breath away… an adventure in its own right! We’ll have more to say about the flight with bush pilot Michaela and the hyenas that were after her in a separate article (click here).
This nature reserve’s unspoiled remoteness attracts many animals, typically elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest and more. The variety of bird life is also overwhelming; devoted birders with their giant telescope lenses will get their fill here of land and aquatic birds! Walter, however, stalks the big game equipped only with a small telescope lens. As for me, I even make do at times with just my smartphone, that’s how close we get to the game!
“Tenting” in Tubu Tree Camp
Ok, to reiterate: Tubu Tree Camp consists of just eight tents on raised platforms connected by a mid-air boardwalk.
Now, “tenting” among wild animals far from civilization and bereft of cellphone service may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But rest assured, these tents owned by Wilderness Safaris are nothing like the pup tents for two that we pitch when camping back home. Far from it…
The guestroom tent structures at Tubu Tree Camp may also be intended for just two people, but that is where the similarity ends… each unit comes not only with a spacious, private veranda, canopy bed, and all kinds of room to roam, but even an extra shower outdoors!
With early morning temperatures hovering around the zero mark, it was too chilly (and also still too dark) to shower in the bush. How much more pleasant, then, to duck under the alfresco shower in the warm African afternoon sun among the tree tops and sounds of the wilderness.
The (even) bigger tents in the central camp
The common area of the Tubu Tree Camp has a spacious dining tent, a lounge, and an outside deck with pool. And then there is the outdoor bar that seems to be rooted under a gigantic Marula tree where every evening we contentedly savor our pre-dinner apéritifs.
And last but not least: never ever have we experienced a loo with such a view! What about you?
The day starts in more or less similar fashion in all the Botswana safari lodges: Our guide wakes us up at the crack of dawn around 6 a.m. and six degrees centigrade. The challenge now is to quickly roll out from under the covers and sleepily grope for the fleece jacket, followed by rapidly pulling on as many additional warming layers as possible.
This is followed, around 6:30 a.m. by an ample breakfast buffet before we head out on safari around 7 a.m. as the sun comes up. It’s surprisingly rigorous. And surprisingly cold!
We wore down jackets and wrapped ourselves in wool blankets in the open safari jeeps. Even resorted to gloves one time… and this in June; but then it is, of course, winter in the southern hemisphere. Then comes the end of the rains and with that the start of peak season hereabouts. During the day, the temperature now reaches a pleasant 20-24 degrees centigrade. Hence, we lived by the tried and true “peeling the onion” principle…
In line with how many animals have been sighted, it’s back to the camp around 11 a.m. Waiting will be a copious brunch or a fine lunch repast. Then it’s siesta time, until around 3:30 p.m., when tea or coffee with cake sweeten the afternoon. Fortified and rested, we then settle into the jeep once more and head out on the second part of our safari. Naturally, in addition to observing the animals, we end it with the traditional “sundowner”!
Evenings, we mostly dine with other guests at the long table and so have a chance to let the day pass in review in company. Naturally, everyone will have seen an even bigger lion…
Sustainability in the Wilderness Camps
Tubu Tree Camp, a classic camp operated by Wilderness Safaris – the largest purveyor of luxury camps and lodges in southern Africa – like their other Wilderness Camps is grounded in the principle of the “4C’s”: (Commerce, Conservation, Community, and Culture) and built with holistic and ecological perspectives in mind.
We were simply blown away by it all!
But a word of warning nevertheless: Anyone who plans to go on safari in Botswana and checks the price tags on the Internet or in the travel brochures is likely in for a shock. Be prepared to dig deep in the REALLY big wallet! For one thing, this is because the really impressive areas inside the Okavango Delta can only be reached by plane. For another thing, you will be far from any semblance of mass tourism whatsoever. But what you get in return is an exclusive safari adventure of the highest quality! By heading for the most beautiful, in part private, nature reserves, you will experience in Botswana what are probably the best safaris in Africa.
A great big thank you…
…to all the camp staff, especially the resourceful Mapula, who looked after us at all times and made our stay at Tubu Tree Camp a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Kambango, our guide, contributed greatly to making it a rewarding stay. More on this in our separate report on our Okavango Delta experience.
Many thanks also to Monika and Miriam with The Safari Source for planning and booking our trip!