Reviews of Duba Plains Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Wonderful Duba Plains
This was my favourite camp. We stayed in Tent 6 (the Honeymoon tent) which was the furthest from the main camp areas (a plus in my book as I like a walk) and had a great view over the plains. The camp is managed by Antoinette and her partner Pierre (the superb chef). Our guide was James 007 who has a long history of working with Dereck Joubert. Lovely tent, delicious food and expert guide!
During afternoon tea Pierre gave us details of the dinner choices; and recorded our starter, main course and dessert so that it could be individually prepared to our liking. Driving thru' water was a real experience here. On the call of 'deep water' we had to lift our legs up onto the seat in front to avoid the water coming into the Land Cruiser!
We were hoping to see some lion and buffalo interaction and we weren't disappointed. On our second day we watched as 4 siblings from the Skimmer pride chased and were pushed back by a large buffalo herd. As the buffalo herd moved on the lions followed. Eventually they reached the deep channel to Paradise Island, with strong currents and crocodile, which is sadly where our Land Cruiser had to turn back. However we got some great film of the buffalo and lions swimming thru' treacherous waters.
During our 3 days at Duba we saw 4 members of the Skimmer pride and 8 members of the Tsaro pride (which has now split into three). Sadly the mother of the Skimmer siblings had not been seen for well over a week and James believed she may have been killed by crocodiles. During our last dinner a leopard was spotted by the camp shop and we watched as it disappeared into the bush. The guides patrolled the camp to make sure we were safe to go back to our tents and tracks were spotted outside Tent 6!
Another special moment was watching a troop of baboons crossing a stretch of water; some swam, some walked on all fours, but the little ones weren't too sure what to do and ran on their back legs waving their arms (front legs) in the air!
buffalo and lions drama at Duba Plains Camp
Duba Plains was probably the best safari camp we stayed at during our two week vacation in Botswana. The dedication and passion of our guides, Kops and James, plus the standard of food and service back at camp, organised by Pierre and Antionette, were exceptional.
After two days tracking a pride of lions, we were fortunate enough to witness them attacking and killing a buffalo in the water followed by intensely dramatic interaction between the two species as the Buffalo herd attempted, without success, to drive the predators from their prey.
We also saw a huge variety of other wildlife on safari, ranging from elephants to Lilac Breasted Rollers, and have many great photos to prove it.
Overall, a memorable safari experience,
Breakfast around the fire was a special touch
A stunning setting, with beautiful rooms\tents offering indoor and outdoor showers, combined with fabulous comfortable lounges surrounded by Beverley's magnificent wildlife phographs in the main area, a wonderful welcome from OT, Adele, Obeletswe and Kops which in total provided an excellent start to our stay at Duba Plains. The breakfast by torchlight, using the fire to cook added a special feel on those cold mornings.
Our guide Obeletswe's knowledge and patience not only in following and waiting for the many animals, was all the more impressive when we chose to spend an 11 hour day in the Landcruiser following the lions and buffalo, as he also coped with the primate interactions of our family as well. We found watching the lions stalk and chase the buffalo absolutely incredible. On that long day, the lunch provided in the bush by Steve and the crew, with beautifully set tables and melt in your mouth steaks was also amazing. A truly special day to remember.
Great but marketed incorrectly
We were sold Duba Plains as a camp with "great lion and buffalo interaction" and "buffalo eat grass and lions eat buffalo". Evidently the buffalo are on an island and can't get off so a kill is almost guaranteed. This may have been true a few years ago but having built ourselves up and booked five nights, the buffalo had got off and we only saw a handful on our last afternoon boat trip. We realise that animal sightings aren't guaranteed but actually there hadn't been any buffalo for a couple of weeks or so. If it hadn't been for the marketing, we would have loved it anyway without the spiel.
We had the best lion sightings ever, looking at the movement of various groups within the prides, lovely jackals, elephants, tsetsebes, and not an impala in sight!
The food was good and we had one barbeque out in the bush even though I mentioned to the manager, Lizzy, that a bush breakfast or brunch would be appreciated.
The tents are ok, huge beds, twin hand basins with wardrobe space behind where we found ourselves bumping into each other somehow. Warm water came through eventually.
Duba Plains review
The camp itself was fine, however, due to the high water levels we were unable to reach the buffalo herd which was the main reason for going to the camp. As we booked late in April we feel that this situation could have been predicted as the water levels were already creating problems.
Two things could be done: The camp could find a way to get vehicles across to the island where the buffalo had fled along with the Skimmer lion pride. Secondly your organisation could highlight the risk that this exceptional bufflalo offering might not be available at this time of year due to high water levels. Please be advised that the owners plan to tear down the existing camp according to the general manager, Lizzie, and rebuild it as a luxury camp in November of this year.
Our guide Kenny's sundowners were exceptional if perhaps unplanned. The first evening we fell in among a young male lion group and shared our drinks from the 4x4. The next evening we found ourselves stuck in the mud with the sun going down and Kenny had to carry each of us on his back to high ground where he had prepared our sundowner table. This was beyond the call of duty as my husband outweighs him by about 15 kilos.
Lions Large & small
We were welcomed at Duba Plains by Ishmael who proved to be an excellent host with a ready sense of humour who seemed to relish contact with the guests. The whole atmosphere at the camp was relaxed & happy. The rooms & service were excellent & the food superb, especially the home made soups & bread. Tents are reached by a raised boardwalk & judging by the huge footprints & piles of elephant dung below, the after dark escorts are a necessary precaution.
Duba Plains has a reputation for conflict between the buffalo herds & the lion prides, but this is unfair. There is so much else to see & the landscape is much more scenic than some other areas, with wide open plains, interspersed with palm islands & tree bordered river channels.
Our guide Spike was excellent & seemed to know just where the lions & buffalo might be at any given time. He also found for us herds of red lechwe & elephant, jackal; & bush buck as well as the usual game. We had good views of a pair of Martial eagles mating in the top of a tree & an adult bateleur eagle perched in bright sunlight. We saw lions on every game drive either at a kill or relaxing as lions do. A special sighting was of four lionesses crossing a flooded channel while a solitary cub stood on the bank crying pitifully. Eventually he plucked up courage & half waded, half swam after the adults & arrived safely on the other side.
Our main a abiding memory was of the huge male lion that rules the area & commutes across the river between two prides of females & cubs. we found him shortly after sunrise, roaring. When he started to move, Spike guessed his intention & positioned the vehicle on the open partly flooded plain between him & the bridge that crosses the deep channel. We sat in awe as he approached, heading directly towards us, passing within feet - truly awesome. Later we watched him cross the bridge to join his second pride - lucky lion!
We were sorry to leave Duba as there is so much more than lion & buffalo & all in a beautiful scenic location.
Duba Plains review
My parents who went to this camp a day before us, were lucky enough to see lion kill a buffalo right in front of them - they said it's something they'd never forget. We also saw a single male lion take on a buffalo calf, but he was driven off by the main buffalo herd before he could kill it.
Our guide was Carlton, and he was incredibly knowledgeable and seemed to have a natural nose for great sightings. He took us to see a family of bat eared foxes as well as jackal pups playing together - lovely to see something different. We also had great bird sightings here including 2 young giant eagle owls.
The camp manager and his staff were quite simply outstanding as they were so friendly, helpful and welcoming. My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary here, and the staff had gone to so much trouble to make the occasion memorable. They had made a cake which they all brought in dancing, clapping and singing a special song they had composed for my parents - it was very touching and special.
One last point - the vehicles all have sun roofs on them now, which is different to what the information on your web-site says.
Duba Plains review
As a lover of big cats this was the place I hoped would be the highlight of the trip, and so it was. We had three nights here and during that time we watched lions mating as well as on another occaision hunting buffalo. On our second day we tracked lions all morning as the pride closed in on the buffalo.
By lunch time one lioness had taken down a calf and without much hesitation the other lionesses who were clearly not going to get much of the kill started another hunt all over again. Insetad of going back to the Lodge for lunch they brought it to us so that we did not miss a thing. The following day we spotted more lions from another pride with possibly the most beautfiul male I have ever seen.
The location of the lodge is great, very close to the airstrip so no long drive to get there. The staff here are, as at all the lodges, very friendly and welcoming, ready to do whatever makes you feel comfortable. It is a shame then that I have one big negative comment not about the Lodge but about Wildernes Safaris. The company allow (own?) the operation of a helicopter in the area both for conveying toursist and also for pleasure flights. We saw and heard it twice in our three night stay. My view is that in a wilderness area a noisy machine like this does not have a place in a Wilderness area. On the second occaision when giving a pleasure flight the helicopter circled the lion hunt and upset the buffalo until one of our guides waved it away.
All of the tourists on the three trucks that morning were very unhappy about what happened especially those that like me had their recordings ruined by the noise. Others like me will make a protest to Wilderness when I can find an email address to which I can send it. Whilst this incident should not in itself detract from what is a superb location and very good lodge, there is a real danger that the use of the helicopter will grow and that might destroy the very thing that tourists got here for peace and quiet as well as superb wildlife.
Duba Plains Review
Staff were very friendly and helpful, Camp had a nice feel, was spacacious and the rooms more than comfortable. Food great as was service. Layout of camp excellent. Thanks particulary to Dudley. All in all cosy,very comfortable and not needing in any aspect.
Would rate camp as a 4* (out of 5) that is not ultra luxurious, but certainly well above any standard rating. Only uncontrollable element was the anilmals and we never saw buffalo!
I also wouldn't necessarily recommend for general game viewing as it is quite restrictive compared to other locations.
A highlight camp for travellers with time
We absolutely loved Duba Plains but it would not be for the traveller only spending a short time in Botswana and staying at just two or three camps.
Having said that, and having been led to believe this was not a place for lots of game viewing, we saw many animals and birds we did not see elsewhere. And, of course, one of our trip highlights was the 2.5 day adventure on the trail of lions tracking buffalo - and seeing the kill literally just before we had to leave!
Our room here was one of our favourites on the whole trip. We had room 6 - a good walk from the main facilities - but in a lovely location. It was very well appointed and very light. The small deck in front of the room was also ideal for a post lunch read or snooze.
While we were there the guests were mainly American - the camp must be getting more publicity there. Hardly any travellers had heard of it apart from those following the Jouberts' books and films.
One disastrous woman but fortunately she and her husband left after only one night as this spot - with no walkways - was not to her liking! It made us realise that one difficult person in a small camp can have quite an impact. Fortunately this was the only time.