Among our most treasured spots for safari-ing – always certain to produce a lightening of the heart – are the crystalline channels of World-Heritage-anointed Okavango Delta. Here, cocooned beneath a canopy of ebony trees and pitched on raised wooden decks, the gracious Duke’s Camp is a sanctuary of safari savoir-vivre. This landmark camp is quite new (doors opened in 2022) yet magically there’s an air of been-here-forever elegance, undoubtedly a reflection of the passion and style of our Bousfield Family friends. Old Botswana hands themselves, personal touches reflect storied generations in the region. (Among is the family’s legendary hot chilli relish, gin-soaked for months with love.) Our days spent exploring the shifting waters that originate from moist Angolan highlands to the north are always well-spent. Among the highlights: being treated to lingering looks from herds of long-legged semi-aquatic red lechwe, and the rare sitatunga antelope.
Eight canvas safari suites, including one large family suite, open grandly onto striking, timeless views of the sprawling Okavango Delta. Inside the luxurious tents, the vintage safari aesthetic conjures a dreamy world of African adventure — Persian rugs and hand-carved four-poster beds, mahogany sideboards and spacious brass-fitted en-suite bathrooms, and, look there!, a dozen antelope bounding swiftly by. (A private deck with leather campaign chairs provides a perfect perch for these serendipitous game sightings.) Meals are served under shade of heaving ebony trees and amidst the old-world glamour of the main mess area — a long vintage dining table is set with sparkling crystal glasses and antique silverware ready for another lavish three-course dinner accompanied by some bang-up wines. For afters, we settle into a comfy chair in the intimate library or around the crackling fire beneath starry African skies. The swimming pool, as is all electricity here, is 100 percent solar-powered. And a note for those who relish the notion of unplugging, as well as to the unplugging-curious: Wi-Fi available is available by the pool area.
Duke’s Camp warmly welcomes children aged six years and older, and their dedicated Family Suite provides a precious experience of the Okavango wilderness in spacious comfort.
In addition to the main events – those only-on-safari frissons that come with meeting a lion mid-yawn or a leopard in full stretch on our twice-a-day guided game drives – there is much to explore in the Delta. High on the agenda, a gentle glide through shifting waterways in a quiet motorboat or by mokoro, the traditional dugout canoe that brings the remarkable fauna and flora into intimate relief. (Elephants, buffalo and antelope positively adore hanging out in these channels and the lush grasslands attract bird species in their hundreds.) Perhaps you’d like to cast a line for fish that include African pike and speckled-green nembwe. Or consider a romantic night of fly-camping under the stars on a remote, lantern-lit island. It’s always the right time to soak up the African sun by the swimming pool, with a cool drink and the chance to spot wildlife from the solace of your lounge chair. Should the mood strike, just 30 minutes by helicopter, is Tsodilo Hills World Heritage Site – a treasure trove of ancient rock art – where some 4,500 individual paintings date from 800 to 1300 AD and give us pause to consider our tiny place in the miraculous, mysterious world that surrounds us.