Duma Tau, which means 'roar of the lion', is situated in Botswana's Linyanti Reserve...
DumaTau Camp: Our full report
Originally 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 a lagoon and expansive swamps within the extensive, private Linyanti Reserve, where wildlife safaris are possible year round.
In topography, this area of northern Botswana is similar to the northern riverfront of Chobe National Park. The permanent waterways are fringed by riparian forest, and dense woodland (mostly mopane) stretches away to the south. DumaTau itself lies close to the Zibadianja Lagoon (the source of the Savuti Channel), under towering jackalberry (African ebony), sausage and mangosteen trees.
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, with a self-service coffee and tea station. Glass jars are filled with biscotti, flapjacks and sweets; silver platters hold water glasses and mugs; and during mealtimes food platters sit atop wooden logs on the table. 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. Along with an array of sofas and armchairs, a large desk, old tin and wooden cabinets, old trunks and vintage lamps, are glass jars, turquoise pots, and a good selection of photography books. 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. There is also a well-stocked curio shop to one side of the main area.
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 for privacy and to keep out any chilly breezes. 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. On either side are reading lights set on square leather-trimmed luggage trunks. The rooms follow a similar colour palette to the main area, with whitewashed wooden floors, brown striped floor rugs, and natural-coloured furnishings. In one corner is a desk with an assortment of stationery, power plugs and reference books, as well as a floor-standing fan; in another, an ottoman chair takes pride of place beside a small table. Tea- and coffee-making facilities and filtered drinking water are also provided.
Behind the bed is a luggage rack, a long mirror and a wardrobe that houses a digital safe, emergency horn, blankets, bug spray and two cotton dressing gowns. 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 wood-panelled cubicles.
DumaTau Camp is spread out along an extensive stretch of the river, with a swimming pool at one end, just beyond tent number 10. If you are in tent 1, as we were on our last visit in November 2013, it is a decent ten-minute walk to the pool. For some this will be a welcome walk after sitting sedentary in a vehicle, although in the hot November sun it was a relief to make it to the pool. Luckily it’s an inviting spot, surrounded by decking, and dotted with very comfortable sunloungers and umbrellas. And hidden in the reeds on the other side of the pool, a small jetty with a floating hide and a comfortable sofa is a secluded place to watch birds or just read a book.
The focus of activities at DumaTau is on 4WD day and night game drives. This safari camp also offers boat trips (often taken as a sunset cruise in the afternoon), occasional short walks, and fishing (except in the closed season, in January and February). The camp is backed by forest, with open floodplains to the west and the Savuti Channel to the south – allowing guests to explore a variety of habitats. DumaTau means 'roar of the lion' in Setswana, and there are good opportunities to see these magnificent cats here.
Although DumaTau is one of Botswana’s better areas for seeing wildlife year round, safaris here are traditionally best in the dry season – from June to October – as wildlife movements in the Linyanti region are quite seasonal. When the rain stops and the standing pools dry up, animals increasingly migrate to permanent waters like this. This is especially true for elephants and buffalo, but also for many species of antelope and plains game. Leopard sightings are also regular and wild dog often roam through. On our last visit in November 2013 we were lucky enough to see both.
It’s worth noting that DumaTau is one of four safari camps that operate within the Linyanti Concession, and often share sightings. In order to minimise the stress on the animals, and to maintain a good clear view for guests, Wilderness Safaris operate a strict policy of a maximum of three vehicles per sighting. Guides keep in close contact with each other via radio and operate a standby system whereby vehicles take turns at any given sighting. This can be frustrating, particularly when you have to pull away to let another vehicle in, but it does mean that sightings retain a degree of exclusivity.
Our viewWe recommend a safari at Botswana’s DumaTau for great game viewing between about June and October. It's a stylish camp and there's a good population of predators here, plus plenty of elephants, buffalo and other game. If you visit towards the end of this peak season or outside of it, then expect a stunning environment, but you'll have to work harder for good game sightings, as the density of animals in the camp’s immediate vicinity will be lower.
Ideal length of stay: You'll need a minimum of two nights at DumaTau, but three nights would be better to experience the area properly – and four would be fine if you’re aiming for a fairly leisurely safari.
Directions: DumaTau is 50 minutes by light aircraft from Maun (or 45 minutes from Kasane) followed by roughly 30 minutes drive from the airstrip, depending on game spotted along the way.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The meals on our last visit in November 2013 were delicious and well presented.
Before setting off on our morning activity, a light breakfast included cereals, fruits, yoghurts, juice, toast, muffins, cold meats, cheese platter, pancakes and porridge, served with tea and coffee.
Brunch, included a selection of cooked meats, falafel, poached fish, orange and cashew nut salad and a aubergine salad with freshly made bread.
For afternoon tea we were offered a savoury snack of homemade samosa’s and relish and a very yummy poppy seed cake. To drink there was iced tea and coffee and juice.
A three-course dinner was taken in the dining area. For starters we a tomato and mozzarella salad with balsamic glaze. Our main course was a choice of either beef or butter chicken with cous cous, honeyed carrots and zucchini and some delicious polenta chips and for dessert a very yummy tiramisu!
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Soft drinks, bottled water, local beers and spirits, plus a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne, imported wines and spirits will cost extra and must be requested well in advance.
Family holidays: Duma Tau has two family units; each consisting of two en-suite rooms separated by an open deck. It would best suit families on safari in Botswana with children aged over 12; those with younger children have to book a private vehicle.See more ideas for Family holidays in Botswana
Birdwatching: DumaTau is beside the Linyanti River, so many water birds can be seen from camp. Our most recent sightings here included wattled crane, goliath heron, bateleur, paradise flycatcher, several hornbills, harrier hawk, Martial eagle, sacred and hadeda ibis, malachite kingfisher and pygmy geese.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Photography holidays: The safari vehicles used by DumaTau are open-sided, which is handy for wildlife photography. With a maximum of six guests per vehicle, all guests have a 'window' seat for a clearer view and the guides are usually adept at positioning the vehicle.See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children aged six and over are welcome at DumaTau, but families with children aged 6–12 must book a private vehicle (at significant extra cost). The exceptions to this are families of six people who will fill a vehicle anyway, or where the whole camp has been booked for exclusive use by one party!
Special activities & services: Child-friendly activities such as bush arts and craft can be arranged.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend DumaTau for children aged 12 or older, with an interest in the natural world.
Notes: It is worth noting that because the family rooms are separated by an unenclosed deck, children under 12 must share a room with an adult. DumaTau is not fenced and potentially dangerous animals wander through the camp. Parents must keep their children under constant, close supervision.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: DumaTau uses solar power as the main source of power but has a generator for back up. Each room has a number of plug sockets for charging batteries with a variety of the more common adaptors.
Communications: For most purposes, consider yourself out of contact here. There is no cellphone reception, no direct fax or phone and no email. In an emergency, there is radio contact with Maun.
Water supply notes: All the tented rooms have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush toilets. Guests are usually given a water bottle on arrival with filtered water, which they are encouraged to top up from the filtered supply in the camp’s main area. Each room is also provided with glasses and a flask of filtered drinking water. We don’t recommend that travellers drink from the tap.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Camp managers and safari guides are first-aid trained and a comprehensive first-aid kit is kept at camp. A nurse is on call, in Maun, to give advice if a guest falls ill. In an emergency the camp will arrange for guests to be flown out for medical treatment. Please note that it is only possible to fly out of camp during daylight hours as the bush airstrips do not have any lighting at night.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Due to the presence of potentially dangerous wildlife around this unfenced camp, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. Each room has an air horn to attract attention in case of emergency.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located in main areas and on the room balconies.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included.
Money: No foreign exchange facilities are offered. There are digital safes in the rooms. The office also has a central safe where you can put larger valuables in a coded bag.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. No commission is charged on credit-card transactions. Cash payments may be made in South African rand, British pounds, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula.