By Lyndon Duplessis, Fish Eagle Safaris
Tubu Tree Camp
Our stay at Tubu Tree Camp was the highlight of the trip. It’s a really beautiful camp in a fantastic location in the Okavango Delta. The tents are a bit nicer than at Kalahari Plains, quite spacious with an indoor and outdoor shower. The central meeting area is raised and has, among other things, a great bar area, a nice swimming pool in front of the bar, and a telescope useful for spotting game. If it is your cup of tea don’t hesitate to use the telescope for some star-gazing. We were able to spot 4 of Jupiter’s moons one night. The pool, along with some fans in all the rooms really helps combat the heat which can be a nuisance during the middle of the day. During the night it cools down and I had no trouble falling asleep. There is nothing like a long day full of game drives and good food to put you in the mood for sleep.
The variation between the open grassy plains of the Kalahari is really stunning. The Delta in the green season is the picture of life, and although it makes some animals more difficult to spot they are still found in great abundance. For instance, most everyone wants to see the predators and the tough to spot animals but sometimes it is great fun to just sit back and watch a troupe of baboons go about their business for a while. They are truly endlessly interesting. Luckily for those visiting Tubu, chances are they will have the opportunity to do both. We had been cruising up and down near the runway since there was evidence of recent leopard activity and it had in fact been the last place one was spotted. It took us a little while but we managed to track her down. It is always exciting to come across such a special animal and I must say this was one of if not the best leopard viewing ever for me personally. She was laying out right in the open taking a nap and was not in the least bit upset by the presence of our vehicles. As the evening closed in on us she shook off the sleep and made her way slowly into the bush to begin the nights stalk. Since there really aren’t any other predators around in this area of the Delta the concentration of leopards is really through the roof and if you want to see this cat, Tubu is absolutely the place to be.
As a bit of a side note, be advised that there are certain special customs you will likely encounter while in Botswana. One of these is that on a single day of the week whichever camp you are in will serve a traditional dinner with traditional songs and dances for the guests. We happened to be in Tubu when that day fell. In addition, during this day it is customary for the women (including guests) to serve the first portion to the men. This is a really fun tradition that makes for a lively evening and the food, which is always fantanstic, is especially delicious on these days. The food usually consists of local vegetables, a beef dish, and cooked cornmeal which is really the staple dish not only of Botswana but many southern African countries.
Of course no trip to the Okavango Delta is complete without a mokoro outing. We had a nice morning trip around a few islands close to camp and were lucky enough to see a large herd of elephant cross from one island to another. We also got a good look at a small pod of hippo and overall the experience is pretty special being out in that clear water sitting back while your guide does all the heavy lifting. For our evening activity we decided to go check out some of the giant Baobabs in the area. It was strange for me to see them during the green season since I have become accustomed to the iconic “upside-down” root look of the tree when it is leafless. We spent quite a bit of time at Harry’s Baobab, the largest and oldest in the area. On our return trip we got a decent glimpse of a large male leopard who is apparently notoriously shy. He must have known what was coming because he didn’t stick around too long and shortly after he disappeared into the bush we were hit with our first rains. It wasn’t a huge storm and it did not last very long so not an enormous inconvenience but that is the risk you take sometimes with the green season.
The highlight of our final game drive was seeing a third leopard actually in the process of stalking some impala as we drove it. Unfortunately for her the impala must have gotten her scent because shortly after we arrived they started their alarm calls and were frantically looking in her direction. Knowing that the gig was up she scurried away to find some more unassuming prey. We were able to follow her for a period but eventually when a leopard wants to disappear it disappears. Before we took off for our final camp we got a great little behind the scenes tour of Tubu. Included in this was a look in the kitchen and storage rooms, a trip to the generator, a look at the water supply and the staff village. We got to see some of the enormous trucks they use to haul supplies and heard stories about what a tough trip it can be, especially when the water levels are still high. Imagine being stranded in your vehicle in the middle of the Okavango for a couple of days! These experiences are just a fraction of our time at Tubu and it really is a must visit destination not only in the Okavango but Botswana in general.
Grabbing some snacks in the main area at Tubu before a game drive.
You can see how the Delta ecosystem is completely different to that of the Kalahari. Elephants have plenty of food sources to choose from as well as an abundance of water.
Our traditional meal being prepared and served.
The bar area at Tubu.
Before one activity we were given a small basket weaving tutorial from some kind members of the camp staff. These women spend a lot of their free time making these baskets and it helps supplement their income.
The first leopard we spotted near the airstrip. She was positioned very well out in the open for us and we got to spend quite a bit of time with her.
No shoes necessary. Hein and Eloise, the camp managers, really went out of their way throughout our entire stay to make sure we had a great time and having sundowners in front of the camp on the water was a great surprise.
Quick picture of our mokoro trip.
People in photograph may appear further than they are due to enormous baobab behind them. This one here is Harry’s Baobab and if you look closely on another side of the tree there are some carvings from some of the first explorers of the area. Of course as long ago as that was it’s a drop in the bucket when compared to the lifespan of this giant.
Our transport to Savuti Camp. As a side note, one of my traveling companions on this trip, Dan, is a pilot and he had a great time chatting up the bush pilots. They are really an interesting group of people and top notch aviators to boot.
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