Camp Reviews: Linyanti Reserve, Botswana

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Accomodations, Advice, Africa, Review, Safaris in Botswana

Linyanti Concession

The Linyanti ecosystem and the Chobe ecosystem are interconnected, and provide a pathway for large numbers of wildlife between the Okavango and Chobe. It is renowned for the number of elephants which pass through the area in the winter months and world’s second largest zebra migration. The Savute Channel and the Linyanti River dominate the region. The Savute Channel is interesting as it may dry up for over 20 years at a time.

Dumatau

IMG_5357Originally opened in 2000, Botswana’s tented DumaTau Camp was rebuilt and reopened in August 2012 beside the Linyanti River, not far from the original camp. It overlooks the Zibadianja Lagoon (the source of the Savuti Channel), where wildlife safaris are possible year round.

The décor at DumaTau is contemporary and light, almost Scandinavian in feel. The raised main area is split across two wooden-framed tents, divided by a central walkway. Their canvas walls are usually rolled up, but can easily be closed for wet or windy weather.

Dominated by a central table, the large dining area is both decorative and functional. Often meals are taken outside at Duma Tau, where a number of tables that look out across the river, while private meals can be organised in a boma area overlooking the river. 

The light wood and natural coloured furnishings of the lounge at Duma Tau Camp make a nice change from the more traditional safari décor. To the front is a cleverly designed bar which allows uninterrupted views over the river.

Steps lead down to a wooden floating jetty, which opens up to a circular area with a boma and deckchairs, while moored alongside is a very comfortable floating barge, set out with sofas.

Raised wooden walkways lead through the bush to DumaTau’s ten tented rooms, which are spread out along the river on each side of the main area. To the front, overlooking the water’s edge, each has a large raised veranda with comfortable rattan chairs. The tents are substantial, constructed on wooden decks beneath a canvas roof, with mesh walls that allow guests to enjoy the surrounding landscape. At night, the room attendants roll down the canvas tent flaps.

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Two of the rooms are designed for families, but as they consist of two separate tents joined by an open deck, children under 12 must share a room with an adult.

Each tented room at Duma Tau is entered through a wooden door secured with a latch, to reveal large double or twin beds surrounded by a mosquito net, and with a fan overhead. The rooms follow a similar color palette to the main area, with whitewashed wooden floors, brown striped floor rugs, and natural-colored furnishings. In one corner is a desk and a floor-standing fan; in another, an ottoman chair beside a small table. Behind the bed is a luggage rack, a long mirror and a wardrobe

A curtain divider separates the bedroom from the en-suite bathroom, where his-and-hers copper basins are set on a wooden washstand overlooking the river. Both the flush toilet and rain-head shower are enclosed in separate paneled cubicles.

Dumatau was definitely our favorite among the WS camps. The atmosphere was just the right balance of comfort, excellent service and wildlife experience. You pay a reasonable amount while getting close to premiere details. The accommodations are slightly a notch classier than the classic camps. The food was a simple array of continental cuisine but delicious.

Ideally, the best season for wildlife viewing at game drives, motorboats or even by your doorstep would be the winter months but we were lucky to get an ample amount of entertainment. Roger, our guide had a calm and easygoing demeanor but he was very street smart when it came to tracking wildlife. It was our pleasure to track the movements of the wild dogs hunting within the area. As we drove to witness their attempts to capture, they would jot in and out of the bush playfully. As gruesome as the bone crunching sound of crushing an infant impala’s skull and gnawing their way through flesh, we applauded their efficiency.

And it seemed like they were following us because on our second morning, I heard a splash outside our room only to find the pack chasing a kudu to the water. They almost attacked Roger who was outside my door to wake me up. We also came across a pregnant hyena, a pack of lions and leopards apart from the usual zebras, elephants and giraffe we came across. Birdlife was excellent also.

King’s Pool

Kings Pool Camp overlooks a picturesque oxbow lagoon on the Linyanti River. Classified as a ‘premier’ camp, attributed to its more grandeur and luxurious accommodation, high levels of personal service and that the quality of its food being well above average.

The main building at Kings Pool is an open-sided, sprawling structure of minimalist design. To the centre of this space is the bar. However, it’s the water beyond – and the reasonably frequent spectacle of elephants crossing the Linyanti River – that tendd to draw visitors straight through to the large viewing deck. Although there is a more formal covered lounge area, the two sunken seating areas overlooking the lagoon are always the popular and well-utilized space. There is a covered dining area too, but if the weather is fine meals are usually served al freso. There is a desktop computer available for downloading photos and burning them to disk (the camp can usually provide disks on request), but note that there is no internet access.

Connected by raised wooden walkways to either side of the main area are nine large thatched tented suites at Kings Pool, built on wooden decks along the edge of the water. The walls are largely canvas, although the overall feel of the suite is much more substantial than that. 

Ornate wooden doors open into large rooms with high thatched roofs. Each suite has a large deck with a small plunge pool, sunloungers and sala (shaded area with a double mattress and cushions where you can also arrange a sleep out), as well as an outside shower.

Back inside, four-poster-style beds are set in the centre of the main bedroom area, with views out over the water. Each suite is also furnished with a sofa and coffee table and armchairs, as well as a writing desk, dressing table and large wardrobe. 
The main bathroom is on one side of the tent, leading out onto the deck, and a flushing toilet is in a separate room to the other side. The bathroom is tiled and feels more suited to a modern hotel than a safari camp. Although there is a curtain across the entrance, there are still big gaps so it doesn’t afford much privacy. That said, the amenities in the bathroom are very good: double handbasins, double showers with large ‘rain-shower’ shower heads.

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Activities at Kings Pool game drives and, when water levels permit, boat trips through the nearby waterways. Sundowners in their double deck barge called the “Queen Sylvia” would be quite an experience. Nearby is a sunken hide where you can spend time observing the wildlife that comes down to drink, which is usually most interesting during the dry season. There is also a bird hide next to suite one. The birding in the area is really varied and, in fact, the Linyanti Reserve is designated an Important Bird Area (or IBA; these are areas recognized as being globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations).

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Kings Pool is a very good camp. It’s luxurious, the food is prepared with higher quality and standards, and when it’s dry, the game viewing can be superb. However, it comes at a high price and we’re not sure that it measures up against its sister camps in northern Botswana.

The rooms at Vumbura Plains are larger, brighter and more luxurious; Jao’s environment is in many ways more special, and Mombo’s game viewing is much better year round.

That said, if you want to visit the riverine environment that’s typical of the Chobe and Linyanti riverfronts, considering the dry season, and you want a luxurious safari camp of very high quality – then it’s certainly the best option.

Savuti

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Rebuilt in 2007, the camp overlooks the Savuti Channel. Bone dry for decades, water started flowing into it again in 2008.

The main lodge building is a large, open-sided, wooden structure crowned by a beautiful high thatched ceiling, and decorated with traditional Botswana basketwork and other local artifacts. A large lounge area features comfortable chairs and sofas, and a good library. The dining area, with a bar, has been turned around so that each guest has a view of the channel while they eat and a decked swimming pool, elevated above the water, offers great views.

All seven tented chalets (including one family tent) face the Savuti Channel, and provide a very private setting from where to enjoy some great views. Each room has a sliding door leading to wooden deck with armchairs and a table.  An enormous bed is in the middle area with a desk and chairs and towards the back you find a bathroom with two sinks and a shower.

Even before the rejuvenation of the Savuti Channel the game in the area was considered good, but the landscape was arid and dry.  Savuti now boasts as being one of the best game areas with a combination of dry and swamp land areas for varied explorations, with large concentrations of predators, especially good for cheetah and wild dog.

From the camp you can canoe, walk, night drive and game drive. Fishing is also available via boat or even from the main deck. Guests spending three nights at either Savuti or its sister-camp, DumaTau or King’s Pool, have the option of pre-arranging a night sleeping out in one of the game-hides – An elevated wooden structure with a tin roof overlooking a water-hole or part of the channel. Guests are driven to the hide where a bed, complete with mosquito net, is set up and dinner can be served. A guide sleeps nearby for added security.

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This charming little camp is not flashy and not over the top. Travelers looking for a casual space with substantial viewing will be more than content here. Its ambiance is a perfect African scene coupled with comfort and warm service. It is a good location for families or group get togethers.

The cozy set up gives a more relaxed pace for guests to really enjoy their retreat and the staff can give fuller attention to every individual’s needs. According to Anele, there is no favorite room in camp. Each room serves a specific objective. Room 1 is for families, Rooms 2 and 3 are close to the main lounge – accessible, Rooms 4, 5 and 6 gives the best views of the Savuti Channel and Room 7 though being the furthest, has a drinking spot where an abundance of elephants hangs out. Given its modest size, there is more attention to detail and everyone seems to be treated more like family instead of guests here.

One thought on “Camp Reviews: Linyanti Reserve, Botswana”

  1. Reserve a large area for you or a DJ to establish the equipment, with seating facing where the singer will be carrying out.

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