Baines' Camp: Our full report
Baines' Camp was built in 2005 in a beautiful area of Botswana's Okavango Delta, neighbouring the Moremi Game Reserve and facing the Boro River, one of the Delta's main arteries. Named after the famed Victorian explorer and artist, Thomas Baines, the camp stands in a 1,050km² private concession (NG32) – and is notable for its innovative construction and roll-out 'star beds'.
Baines' is a lovely relaxed camp where accommodation consists of just five substantial suites (three twins and two doubles) with thatched roofs and 'solid' walls made from recycled drinks' cans and plaster containing elephant dung – unusual, but the finished effect is novel and much smarter than the ingredients might suggest.
The bedrooms feature four-poster 'star beds', draped with mosquito nets, which can be rolled out onto your private deck beneath the stars. Overlooking the river at the front of each suite is a large veranda where a couple of chairs and a table provide great views. Just inside each suite is a seating area with a very comfortable lounge chair and, further back, a corridor leading to the bathroom. Here, his and hers washbasins stand next to an ample- sized shower, and a toilet within a separate cubicle.
On the wall of each suite hangs a copy of one of Baines' famous paintings. Should you be inspired, the complimentary paint and paintbrush supplied in each room will come in very handy.
Raised wooden walkways connect Baines’ suites to the central lodge area. Built on raised wooden decking around a large termite mound, it incorporates a comfortable lounge and small library area, overlooking a perennial lagoon, where hippos can often be seen wallowing (and heard snorting!). At the far end is the open-sided dining area, although when the weather is suitable meals can also be taken outside. Here, there is a lovely small infinity pool, with comfortable sunloungers under umbrella shade and two shady ‘salas’ (day beds).
WiFi is available in the main area and a laptop is provided for guests travelling without their own devices. There is also a well-stocked curio shop.
Activities from Baines' include both day and night 4WD safari drives which can go off-road to track game. Walking safaris are available on request; if these interest you, let us know as the camp will need to make sure that the correctly qualified staff and guides are available during your stay. The camp also runs mokoro and motorboat trips to explore the particularly beautiful waterways around camp. The riverine forest and a network of papyrus- and sedge-lined channels play host to many smaller mammals and amphibians, and a great variety of bird species too.
When we last visited Baines' and its sister Stanley's Camp in early 2011 the Okavango Delta was experiencing one of the wettest periods it had encountered in many years. As a result, game-drive vehicles spent a lot of time in water, periodically at or above bonnet height. Thus during the peak flood season (March–June), the emphasis at Baines' moves towards water-based activities. During our stay we spent a great late afternoon on the motorboat photographing the abundant birdlife found in the area as well as navigating around the healthy hippo population.
Also on offer from Baines' (and its sister camp) is the option of spending a morning with three semi-habituated African elephants on an amazing Elephant Experience. This is an incredible, memorable experience! Under the guidance of the expert, Doug Groves, you can walk with the elephants, learn about them, and spend time interacting with them in their natural environment as they forage in the bush. We spent a magical morning with Jabulani (the bull), Thembigela and Marula, and agreed that this was probably one of the best African experiences we had ever had. The elephants are gentle and clearly love human interaction, sometimes coming up to nestle the tip of their trunks into your hand. Doug, who the elephants clearly regard as their 'matriarch', explains the story of each elephant, and invites guests to come close and touch (under his supervision). The walk is a gentle stroll with the elephants, stopping every now and then for them to forage for food. It ends with lunch under the shade of trees, with the elephants eating in the background, and occasionally joining the guests at the table!
Our viewBaines' chalets are large, airy and comfortable, and the option to roll the 'star bed' outside is great fun for at least one night here. The main area is small and comfortable and has internet access (convenient for some; intrusive for others). The camp's activities are varied and adapt well to the changing flood levels of the Delta. The game isn't always remarkable in this concession, but the biggest attraction is probably the optional extra elephant experience, which is excellent.
Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights (two when very wet, three when 4WD game drives have freer movement)
Directions: Following a 15-minute flight from Maun, there's a roaod transfer of 45–60 minutes to the camp, depending on water levels.
Owner: Sanctuary Retreats
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our last visit to Baines' the food was of a very good quality and the chances of going hungry were zero! Coffee and tea as well as toast, fresh muffins and cereal are on offer before the morning activity, and on your return a full brunch is ready.
Afternoon tea is taken just before the afternoon activity and follows the traditional format of tea or coffee, iced tea or coffee and a savory or sweet snack.
At dinner, we were served a starter of pumpkin soup with fresh bread rolls, followed by a main course of beef fillet and vegetables. This, along with a dessert of banana in Amarula, was all washed down with red or white wine.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Included, save for premium brands and champagne.
Honeymoons: Baines' is a lovely romantic camp, perfect for honeymooners. The star beds, which can be rolled out on to your own private deck at night, are a relatively exclusive experience not offered at many camps in the Okavango, and private dinners can be arranged on request.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children over 12 years of age are welcome at Baines'.
Equipment: No special equipment for children is provided.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Radio contact can be made with the Maun office in an emergency. Although email is available, Baines' does a good job of keeping this discreet, and with no cellphone reception you should effectively consider yourself out of contact. There is no mobile reception or email so you should consider yourself out of contact.
TV & radio: No - this is the bush!
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The closest doctor is in Maun. The manager's partner is a qualified nurse and there is always someone first aid trained in camp. Medi-rescue is on call.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are intercom systems in all the rooms, so that guests can contact the managers in an emergency. Guests are escorted back to their rooms after dark.
Fire safety: There are smoke detectors in the rooms, along with fire extinguishers. The camp also has a water-trailer which can be utilized in the event of fire.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Included.
Money: There are safes in all the rooms.