Camp Reviews: Vumbura Concession At The Okavango Delta, Botswana

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Accomodations, Advice, Africa, Review, Safaris in Botswana, Story

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Vumbura Concession

This private concebotswana-mapssion of over 130,000 acres incorporates some of the most diverse habitat in the Delta, and is probably the only concession in Botswana where one will find an abundance of both the aquatic Red Lechwe antelope as well as the savanna-dwelling Sable antelope.

The great strength of Vumbura Plains is its diversity – of habitats, species, and activities. Encompassing, as it does, strong elements of both the dry savanna habitats and the Delta’s filigree of waterways, Vumbura Plains is an ideal ‘combination’ camp, offering the full range of land and water experiences.

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Day and night game drives in specially adapted 4×4 vehicles, accompanied by professional guides, provide the most efficient and effective way of seeing and photographing Africa’s big game. Guided walks provide a more intimate and interactive exploration of the concession’s terrestrial habitats. To explore the waterways and channels of the Okavango Delta, the camps also offer excursions by motorized pontoon as well as the uniquely Okavango experience of “mokoro” – gliding calmly across the floodplains, being poled along by a local guide, absorbing the wonders of one of Africa’s most exquisitely interesting ecosystems.

Vumbura Plains Camp

The camp comprises of two separate satellite camps linked together by a 1.5km boardwalk. North has 8 luxury-tented suites including 2 family suites while the South has 6 suites.

Each camp has its own raised dining, lounge and bar area tucked beneath a canopy of cool, shady, indigenous trees. A well-stocked curio shop is located right in the middle of both camps. Magnificent vistas across the Okavango Delta floodplains are a feature. A star-gazing deck with comfortable cushions protrudes into the floodplain, a place to gaze upwards, or a convivial camp fire setting.

All of the luxury rooms are raised off the ground on wooden platforms with walkways connecting them to the main living areas. Each room has a large, very comfortable bedroom, a lounge, its own plunge pool, a “sala” and en-suite facilities with a shower, a flush toilet and an outdoor shower.

Vumbura Plains is not a typical bush lodge by any stretch of the imagination. Dubbed a premier camp, it is unlikely to appeal to someone who enjoys a more traditional safari camp. Take for example its interiors which are more contemporary Scandinavian rather than traditional African. Its rooms as well can also feel excessive in space, despite many innovative and creative décor ideas guests can appreciate.

It should appeal to someone who wants a chic safari experience: good game with exceptionally high standards of service, attention to individual details like excellent food served plated, and higher quality beverages paired with more luxurious surroundings. All of this comes at a supplement over the cost of most other Okavango camps. The nightly rate is approximately USD800 – 1,200 per person, depending on the season. While it isn’t cheap, this is a camp that will definitely Wow anyone.

IMG_3161One critical difference I noticed among WS Camps during check in was the discussion managers would conduct with new guests – documented by a signed acceptance letter. Reiterating safety precautions and disclaimers was key before delivering clients to their respective rooms. D&D did not conduct such an effort. Furthermore, our guide Lucas gave us a lecture before heading out on game drive to just remind us of proper behavior during adventures. They could never stop stressing the importance of safety, as this would always be their priority. We appreciated this, as the reminders would help us be on guard despite our excited reactions when facing wildlife in close proximity.

When booking a room in Vumbura Plains, it would be best to always locate them in Vumbura Plains North Camp. Although both camps’ interiors have been updated with the same Scandinavian design, the common areas of North Camp are newer due to a reconstruction in recent years in reaction to a fire. The space and feel in North also felt lighter and livelier vs. South Camp that felt sad when we visited.

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I was able to join an afternoon game drive during our visit. Lucas seemed more professional than our previous guide as he would give us a rundown of what we expect to find that time based on wildlife intel from other rangers. He specified that we were to search for the two lions they found the previous day and just our luck, we found them in the same spot waking up after their whole day of napping.

We then proceeded to the Mokoru drop off point to meet with our respective guides as we cruised along the lagoon. However, I was getting anxious for more activity rather than admiring insects and small frogs. The rewarding experience from this Mokoru though was creeping through the swamp as we approached a herd of elephants crossing. That erased all the boredom and made everything worthwhile.

Little Vumbura Camp

IMG_5060This is a more intimate camp of just six tents (5 regular and 1 family tent) located on a forested island amid the waterways in the northern reaches of the Okavango Delta.

The focus of this exclusive camp is water-based activities, with ample opportunities for guests to explore open woodlands and floodplains on 4×4 game drives. Transfers to and from the camp will always be via boat. The length of the transfer will depend on the water levels in the area, varying anywhere between five to 25 minutes.

Little Vumbura is surrounded by water, reached from the jetty by a rubber walkway which leads to a shaded open-sided lounge. We particularly liked the use of the blue sofas and ikat cushions to complement the water setting and we thought an attractive departure from the traditional safari khaki! 

In a spot that is a little more secluded, is the library area built around a termite mound with a good selection of books and wildlife magazines. Off to one side, the bar and the dining area, which is large and open-sided with a long dining table at its center where the small group of guests would dine together. Down a short walkway is the star deck and fire pit. It really is a great spot to retire to after dinner.

Wooden walkways, slightly raised to allow for a rise in water levels of the delta, lead from the central area to the tented chalets. The tents are not especially large, but they are quite smart and we found them very comfortable. The pale wooden timber of the floorboards, floor-to-ceiling mesh windows and the circus-top-style canvas roofs lend an air of space and light. The tents are furnished with the usual double or twin beds – with mosquito net – as well as comfortable chairs both inside the room and out on the deck. There is an en-suite shower room, and a separate toilet. We particularly liked the beautiful blue ceramic ‘his and hers’ basins on the washstand.

Little Vumbura makes it to the list of favorite camps considered when visiting the Delta. It provides better value compared tp its more opulent sister camps in the same area. Its prime location makes it ideal for excellent game viewing for wildlife and extensive birdlife through both water and land based activities. Its intimate set up makes it more conducive for family and group get-togethers with guests enjoying a more casual ambiance.

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