Photography and report by Jason Duplessis & Sara Frankovic
Wildernes Safaris’ Little Tubu, Hunda Island, Okavango Delta
Both Bert and Lyndon have already had great experiences staying at camps near Hunda Island like Little Tubu, Tubu Tree or Kwetsani and I was excited to see them for myself. Once again it was just a single night at a camp that we recommend a minimum of 3 nights. At this point we were in the middle of what would be 8 different camps in 10 nights, so a 2 night stay can really be a luxury for agents.
I must say, Little Tubu really was gorgeous. The ‘island’ was currently not surrounded by water so the bridges leading in seemed like overkill, but just a few weeks from when we were there the whole place will be flooded. We were the only guests at the time, but even when the camp is full there are really only a maximum of 6 people staying, so you really can feel like the center of attention.
That brings me to our favorite thing about Little Tubu, the manager. Phili is a young lady from South Africa and she really stepped things up a notch with how she kept us entertained. She even taught Sara how to bun up her hair in a head scarf. The room at Little Tubu was also the best so far. It had an amazing double balcony with a staggering view that I can only imagine gets better when the floods roll in, and indoor and outdoor showers with plenty of privacy.
Even though we were in just the third room from the main area, we had to walk quite a long distance on the catwalks. So be ready to walk a little bit if you get put in room #1!
I would recommend Little Tubu just for the atmosphere and the accommodations but under normal circumstances the wildlife is quite epic as well. We were not very lucky, though. Since we only had one evening and one morning drive there wasn’t much time to explore. We did manage a good number of zebra, wildebeest, impala and managed to see the first snake of our trip. A rock python slithered it’s way to the top of a bush and seemed to be sunning itself.
I believe we really should have seen more game than we did. I know the area has a large number of leopard and unluckily it took us until the final hour of our morning game drive to find one. We had been searching far away from the camp, but an older female leopard had been strolling around the camp. With only a few moments in the open, we were able to tick off another one of the big five for this trip.
Kwando Lebala Camp, Kwando Concession, Linyanti Area
Kwando is a safari company that has been around Botswana for a very long time and I had never visited one of their camps until now. Our first Kwando experience was at Kwando Lebala. We arrived off the light aircraft and were picked up by a guide and a tracker. We immediately noticed that there was no canopy on the Kwando vehicles and as I mentioned, we would have a tracker for the first time on our trip. Trackers are generally guides in training that are extremely helpful in searching for big game and we were happy to have one, but the lack of a canopy was not a welcomed change. While the sky was mostly cloudy, it was still a very hot day. Particularly when we were picked up at the airstrip, roughly 1:00 PM, we really missed that canopy for some shade.
Lebala camp is located in the south of the Kwando concession which covers a very large area just south of Namibia (The Caprivi Strip). Quite often we were close enough to the Kwando river to see into Namibia. The camp itself is on a small island, which is quite apparent when you see how close the chalets are to each other. Many times we could hear our neighbors talking during our siesta time which was slightly annoying while attempting to rest. There was no problem in the evening because everyone would head to bed at the same time, but it could be an issue with a group that decides to stay up a little late drinking by the fire!
One other small issue was the whole camp was an ant magnet. If you put anything on the floor it would be covered in ants in under an hour. Shoes, bags, shirts, ants! We were given plenty of warning about this and were also given lots of space to put bags or shoes up on shelves in the room.
The staff was very accommodating. We had a wonderful time joking with our guides and trackers. We had heard that the day before our arrival the guests had seen the local pack of wild dogs hunting. Then they were ambushed by a much larger pack of dogs who chased them off toward Kwando Lagoon camp. Our first game drive took us to those dogs. We got a very quick but wonderful sighting of elephant in the water while we were driving as well.
Once again the dogs were very lazy, apparently having eaten between running away from the larger pack and finding the trees where we found them sleeping.
At one point the dogs got up and actually came toward our vehicles, but almost immediately settled back down to sleep in the shade.
The Kwando concession was very open compared to some of the other areas we had visited. We were no longer in the Okavango Delta, so even with all of the recent rain there is just never enough water in the area for a huge amount of trees to grow. The Linyanti area is very well known for game viewing though, and over the next few days we would experience some wonderful sightings!
We were at Lebala for the traditional dinner night, which was absolutely excellent. Not only did they sing and dance for over 15 minutes before dinner, but they served some of the most delicious food of our entire trip. ‘Pap’ or mealie pap, is a traditional porridge/polenta made from ground maize. It was served with a tomato and onion stew and beef. It was very simple, but there was a huge amount of flavor.
The next morning after breakfast, we were off on our game drive which would also work out as a transfer to our next camp, Kwando Lagoon. This is definitely a plus if you’re staying at both camps, as you won’t have to pay for another light aircraft flight. It would be roughly 2 hours to drive directly from camp to camp, but as a game drive it took quite a bit longer, which was perfectly fine. We actually had our first cheetah sighting on the way. The cheetah were simply sleeping under a bush, but we would see them again on our evening drive. We were quite lucky to get them in such good light!
Once again at Kwando Lagoon there were no catwalks, just paths between the rooms. We were directly on the Kwando River, looking into Namibia. At one point we heard some lions calling, but our guide at dinner said they were in Namibia, so we were unlikely to see them. This was Kwando’s first camp, and the company took their name from the river that they built the camp on. For the second (but not the last) time, we were put in the ‘Honeymoon Suite’. In most cases it is identical to all of the other rooms. It just happens to be the farthest one away from camp, so you have a bit of extra privacy. At some times it was actually nice to get to walk a little ways, as we were mostly sedentary during the safari. (Although riding in the vehicles on bumpy roads really does tire you out!)
The rooms themselves were enormous! Possibly twice as much space as any of the other camps we had stayed in previously. They could have fit an extra tub in the bathroom. One small issue for us was we noticed our cold water was not flowing well. Sara and I should have immediately mentioned this to the staff but I am quite forgetful and I only managed to tell them during dinner. By then it really was too late to have anything fixed. I’ve mentioned this before, but if you ever have anything wrong in your room don’t hesitate to tell the manager the staff. They will do all they can to fix it for you but they need a little bit of time.
Kwando has been doing very well during the green season. At all of our other camps we were either the only couple there or there were at most two other people. At both of the Kwando camps, every room was full! Kwando runs some great specials during this season so be sure to keep them in mind for your future plans.
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