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Duba Plains revealed and explored


Flying over the Okavango delta is simply breathtaking. When this unique and wonderful continent was created, with all its mysteries and wild places, the Okavango was not with us. Through the planets own shear will it was created. With her internal forces of molten magma, subterranean quakes and constantly changing crusts, this unique paradise was formed. In Northern Botswana mother earth’s crust twisted, shifted and subsided, and the rivers that flowed over this area were diverted and channeled in a different direction into the heart of a desert. Over centuries, the dry and desolate Kalahari desert was then transformed into a paradise of meandering crystal clear waterways and islands. This formed a watery garden of eden for the plethora of creatures that now call it home. Fortunately, this oasis in in the desert can now be explored. In the heart of this green and lush paradise, lies Duba Plains.

We had the pleasure of visiting the newly opened and re-modeled Duba Plains camp. This adventure was focused on enjoying the ample and beautifully created suites, the lodge in all it’s entirety with all the trimmings and immaculate finishings, and the vast concession that they traverse. We sampled the excellent and rather large wine collection, dined on delectable food, and relaxed in beautifully created suites. To be brief, Great Plains Conservation have done a superb job, and the Duba Plains of old has been merged seamlessly with this the new creation.

An interior view of the spacious suites (Image courtesy Great Plains).

The classic railway sleeper boards making up your deck surrounding your personal pool is just one of the small touches…

Your private Sala, where you choose to spend those relaxing breaks between game drives. Yoga, exercise, or read… whatever it takes to rejuvenate your soul. It has been said that a glass of wine or a G and T helps.

The main deck, where lunches and dinners are served. Under the shade of jackelberry trees or around the fire pit under the stars, you are immersed in the okavango delta that surrounds you.

The lounge area, with classic books and stories of safari pioneers and film makers.

Piers the chef, literally wowed us with a fresh take on bush cuisine. The passion he feels for his job really comes through in the flavors and delectable delights that he produces. We both agreed it had been one of our top culinary experiences we have had in awhile. If the images below could exude their subtle delicious flavors through your digital devices, they would leave your mouth watering and stomachs grumbling.

Hmmm, sumptuous cuisine.

Piers was definitely in tune with his culinary skills.

I’m a sucker for a cheese platter, especially with a chardonnay from their amply supplied cellar.

A fresh fruit platter.

The staff behind the scenes that make the magic happen. These people are often not seen, but they are as responsible as anyone for making your stay as magical as possible.

The concession that Duba Plains lies in is essentially an island. A long wooden bridge over the main water channel allows access to the waterways and floodplains that can be explored via motorboats, mekoros (dugout canoes) and game drive vehicles. The concession in general, has fantastic wildlife viewing. Renowned film makers Dereck and Beverly Joubert have created numerous documentaries in this area, specifically, on lions. As such the lions of this region are rather famous, specifically the Tsaro pride.  These lions have had to learn to negotiate the waterways, wade through mud and papyrus, and hunt in very tough conditions. As such, they have became astonishly stocky, with broad chests and extremely strong shoulders. They are also quite unique in that they like to hunt in daylight. We spent quite a lot of time tracking and following these lions, and were rewarded with some amazing viewing of them crossing channels, playing through waterways, and ultimately hunting in their natural habitat.

Red lechwe on a magnificent morning.

The Duba plains bridge, the longest in the okavango delta, allows access to all the floodplains and game drive areas to search for the wildlife that inhabit them.

A typical Tsaro lioness. Big shoulders and chest, with the bulk needed to chase prey through water and swim across channels.

The waterways and floodplains are home to these lions. They have had to learn to adapt, and swimming and clearing channels is part of their daily lives.

Playing and frolicking on these waters is what makes these lions become so strong. The sub-adults follow their mother and in turn learn where to cross and how to negotiate the channels and floodplains.

A tender moment between mother and son.

After following these famous lions for the early part of the morning and watching them play and frolicking about, it was time to hunt. Now, having watched lions for a large portion of my wildlife addicted life, their technique and approach to hunting is rather different. If you have had the chance to see african wild dog hunts, you will know that they cause panic and distress in a herd, using this to their advantage to separate individuals. Well, this pride has now learnt to do the same with warthogs and a variety of other species. They will spread out at a trot, and leave a few pride members flanking the thickets or floodplains. The rest of the pride will enter a thicket from all angles, charging in and flushing whatever they can. Then, whatever emerges, they will chase down through floodplains and thickets and ultimately kill there unlucky prey. The series of photos below show the results of this technique, where a few warthogs had an unfortunate end to there mortal existence.

A herd of red lechwe running through a floodplain, alerting us to the presence of a predator.

The cause of the disruption…The two Tsaro adult lionesses and their pride.

Hurtling after a warthog sounder…

Frustration after they disappear down a burrow. However, the piglets returned and weren’t so lucky.

The unfortunate warthog piglet.

The piglet however put a brave fight and even managed to challenge the sub adult male lion. He did unfortunately succumb to his injuries but here is a short clip of his bravery.

Wary but determined as they stalked a second warthog.

Success!!! A typical hunt finishing in a wet floodplain.

Fighting over the carcass, the young boys got a little intense.

One of the lionesses stares down at some approaching vultures.

Some bonding after feeding.

There are many elephants on the duba island, and we spent time with this very relaxed group, feeding and going about their day.

The main channel flowing past the camp is a permanent waterway all year round. This allows for boating excursions and some awesome day trips, or afternoon sundowner cruises can be enjoyed. I am fishing mad (of course on a catch and release basis) so what a fantastic idea to spend the afternoon trying our luck for the elusive tigerfish and bream that inhabit these waters. We had some success, and finished the afternoon with an amazing sunset, truly content in one of my favorite places on earth.

Brad’s serious face after an afternoon cursing the channels and fishing for the monsters that lurk beneath its waters.

In my element, on the water and loving every minute of a special afternoon culminating in a magical sunset and a couple of tiger fish caught and released.

A serene morning, with a sunrise over a misty floodplain, Tsessebe poking the head out like ghostly beasts.

The last morning of this magical safari trip we were greeted with a magnificent sunrise mixed with a ghostly layer of mist over the floodplains. I think the image above describes a fitting way to end off our stay in such a magical, yet intense and soulful piece of Africa.

Bags packed and ready to go, we left with fond memories of a fresh Duba Plains that we will most definitely return to.



Written and Photographed by Chris Renshaw.