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Baines' Camp
Baines' Camp
Baines' Camp
Baines' Camp
Baines' Camp
Baines' Camp

Baines' Camp: Our full report

Baines' Camp lies in a beautiful, private 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 is notable for its innovative construction and its ever-popular roll-out “star beds”.

Baines' Camp shares a 1,050km² private community-run concession (NG32) with the larger and slightly less costly, Stanley's Camp . On the opposite eastern side of the reserve are Qorokwe Camp and Gomoti Plains Camp – although it’s highly unlikely that you’ll come across their safari vehicles as the distance is vast and the camps are separated by rivers and seasonal floodplains.

Baines’ was first built in 2005 and was one of the leaders in Botswana’s luxury fly-in safari market. The camp closed for a couple of months in November 2018 to undergo renovations and refurbishments, and reopened in January 2019. When we visited in March 2019 we thought it was looking lovely.

Bright pops of colour in the rugs, curtains, bed throws and cushions enliven a stylish décor of whites and creams, a refreshing change from the neutral tones at most safari camps. And the view from Baines’ Camp really is beautiful, even by Botswana standards.

It’s an intimate camp with just six suites, all raised on high wooden decks overlooking the surrounding bush and tall reed-beds that flank the Boro River. With “solid” walls made from recycled drinks' cans and plaster containing elephant dung, the construction is certainly unusual, but the finished effect is novel and much smarter than the ingredients might suggest! Thatched roofs help to keep the suites airy and cool in the hot summer months, and warm and cosy in the winter.

At the heart of each bedroom, a large, wooden four-poster bed, draped with a mosquito net, can – on request – be rolled out through double doors onto your private deck so you can sleep beneath the stars. These decks overlook the Boro River and/or floodplain, with a couple of chairs and a table with umbrella so that you can enjoy the outdoors during the day.

Back inside, a couple of comfortable metal-frame chairs woven in bright-coloured rope add a slightly quirky feel, and paint, paper and a paintbrush are supplied, should you be inspired to emulate the artist Thomas Baines. A small desk with international plug points is useful for charging batteries.

Behind the bed is an open wardrobe with ample hanging space and shelving, a luggage rack, and a sideboard with a well-stocked minibar, and a tea and coffee station complete with small kettle, coffee plunger and jar of biscuits. Unusually for an Okavango camp, a hairdryer is also provided. Useful extras include both a ceiling fan and a standing fan, a torch, a radio for emergency contact, mosquito repellent, and a gym bag with two yoga mats and pair of dumbbells.

The en-suite bathrooms were all remodelled at the end of 2018, with his and hers washbasins on a grey marble countertop beneath two mirrors. To one side is a toilet in a separate cubicle, and to the other an ample-sized indoor shower with a view, while double doors lead outside on to a deck. The free-standing, outdoor bath is also new: ideal for a romantic and relaxing candlelit bath under the night sky. A range of Africology toiletries is provided, along with slippers and bathrobes.

Inter-leading walkways link the suites and the main area, which is relatively small but cosy – perfect for a camp of this size. Nestled amongst the papyrus reeds and with uninterrupted views of the Boro River, this too is built on raised wooden decking, around a central (unoccupied!) termite mound. In the lounge, three individual seating areas are decorated in bright colours with hand-woven baskets, colourful ceramics, and a fairly retro hanging chair. Both this and the open-sided dining room, where we watched three sitatunga grazing during breakfast, lead onto a deck, with a small boma area and firepit where pre- and post-dinner drinks are served.

A much-needed addition to Baines’ Camp is the spacious new bar, where guests can now help themselves to drinks in the main area. Built on a separate deck and under its own tall thatched roof, it too has fabulous views over the Boro River – and it comes with a pizza oven too!

A couple of glass cabinets at the entrance serve as a curio shop, where there is an interesting cross-section showing how the camp walls are constructed from thousands of used cans collected by a local community in Maun. A fee was paid for every can: quite innovative and very eco-friendly.

Away from the main area, between rooms 3 and 4, there is a lovely rim-flow pool with a sundeck and loungers, as well as two large, shady salas (day beds). Thoughtfully, the camp has also provided a fridge well-stocked with refreshments. You will often get elephant and hippo wandering through this area of the camp.

Activities from Baines' include both day and night 4WD safari drives, which can go off-road to track game within the private concession. Game drives may also traverse into the southern portion of the Moremi Game Reserve, onto Chief’s Island, but only when water levels are sufficiently low.

Boat excursions and mokoro trips depend on water levels too: in March 2019, after very little summer rain, neither were still running. During a previous visit, when water levels were high enough, we took part in the mokoro activity, spotting plenty of birdlife from the water as well as the tiny but twinkle-sounding painted reed frog – along with the more obvious elephant and hippopotamus.

Walking safaris at Baines’ are available on request; if these interest you, do let us know well in advance so the camp can try to ensure that suitably qualified guides are available during your stay.

Until mid-2020, it was possible to spend a morning with two semi-habituated African elephants on an amazing elephant activity However, at the end of August 2020, on one of his daily outings in the bush with elephants, Jabu and Morula, to forage, mudbathe etc., carer Doug Groves passed away. At some point in their outing, an encounter with a wild elephant resulted in Doug’s tragic death. Doug's partner, Sandi is formulating a plan to safeguard the long-term well-being of Jabu and Morula. However, The Living with Elephants Foundation will sadly no longer be able to offer the opportunity of joining Jabu and Morula during their walks at Stanley’s or Baines’ Camp.

Historically, we've not had the best wildlife sightings at Baines'. Game densities in this area tend to be lower than in other parts of the Okavango Delta. given the vast floodplains which are either covered in very tall grass during the rainy, summer season, or with shallow flood water during the dry, winter season. From our experience, game viewing here is at its best during the dry season, from around May until end October, when the grass is low. In March 2019 the grass was tall and it was difficult to spot animals, but we did find a pride of nine lions with cubs, and also saw giraffe, elephant, warthog, reedbuck, red lechwe and tsessebe, while another group saw a leopard and a pack of eight African wild dogs. Despite this, leopard and lion in this area can be difficult to spot.

Birdwatching, on the other hand, is consistently good here. Over the years our varied bird count has included coppery-tailed coucal, black-winged stilt, black-chested snake eagle, African harrier-hawk (gymnogene), Dickinson's kestrel, bateleur, African fish eagle, pelicans, lilac-breasted roller, Burchell's starling, and saddle-billed stork.


Our view

Baines' is smart, comfortable and well-equipped, with varied activities according to the Delta's flood levels. Although there is plenty of general wildlife, game densities are limited compared to the high standards of many other parts of the Okavango, and we wouldn't suggest this area if you are particularly keen on seeing predators. Instead, come for the luxury camp with beautiful scenery, delicious meals, outdoor bath and star bed. Your guide will work hard to find the animals, but let that be an added bonus.

Tom Morris

Tom Morris

Botswana expert

Geographics

Location
Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana
Ideal length of stay
We’d typically recommend two nights here. However, during the peak season (June–October), three nights would give more chance to explore and possibly see more wildlife.
Directions
Access is by light aircraft to the camp's airstrip (15 minutes from Maun and 1 hour 15 minutes from Kasane), which is shared with its sister camp, Stanley's. From there it's approximately 45–60 minutes by vehicle to the camp, depending on water levels. When water levels allow, the transfer may be by boat instead.
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board & Activities
Food quality
Over the years our meals at Baines' Camp, most recently on a visit in March 2019, have been creative, delicious and varied. Guests normally eat at individual tables, but should you prefer to dine with other guests this can easily be arranged. The boma evening is a group affair, with guests dining together close to the barbecue, under the stars.

Breakfast is offered before heading out on the morning activity. As well as the usual coffee and tea, toast, fresh muffins and cereal, we also had the choice of cold meats, fruit, yoghurt, cheeses, croissants and even a full cooked option breakfast made to order.

Lunch is plated, and usually three courses. We started with a delicious sweet potato soup, followed by a selection of salads and pizzas, with by rooibos crème brulée for dessert.

For afternoon tea, just before the afternoon activity, we enjoyed iced coffee, a slice of coffee cake and a vegetable spring roll. Tea, lemonade, and various fruits were also provided, in addition to other sweet treats.

Dinner at Baines' Camp is a plated three-course meal, usually with a choice of two starters, main dishes and desserts. We opted for crumbed camembert with redcurrant sauce followed by grilled pork with fondant potatoes and roasted vegetables and finished with poached pear in red wine jus – all delicious.
Dining style
Individual Tables
Dining locations
Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Further dining info, including room service
Group dining is on request, and for boma night.
Drinks included
Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra and may need to be requested in
advance.

There is borehole water for brushing teeth, but bottled drinking water is imported from Maun.

Special interests

Honeymoons
Baines' Camp is a lovely, romantic camp for a Botswana honeymoon. The star beds – double beds that can be rolled out on to your own private deck at night – offer something quite special, and an intimate private dinner table and candle-lit bath under the stars will be happily arranged on request.
See ideas for Honeymoons

Children

Attitude towards children
Children aged six and over are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions
Although children aged six years and older are welcome at Baines', there are age restrictions on activities. Children aged 15 and under are not allowed to take part in walking or mokoro activities.
Special activities & services
There are no children’s activities, but the camp does have a few board games like chess and chequers, and a swimming pool which children can enjoy during the day.
Equipment
No special equipment for children is provided. There are no family rooms, but an extra bed can be added to the rooms to make a, fairly squashed, triple room to share.
Generally recommended for children
Game drives, especially when water levels are high, can be hard going. Because of this, and the intimacy of the camp, we'd recommend Baines' for older or more mature children over the age of 12.
Notes
Wildlife wanders through Baines' Camp regularly. The pool is unfenced and there is open water in front of camp with very little to act as a barrier. Children must be under the constant supervision of their parents.

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Baines' Camp

Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Baines' Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.

Buffalo

100% success

Elephant

100% success

Giraffe

100% success

Hippo

100% success

Lion

100% success

Roan antelope

100% success

Spotted Hyena

100% success

Zebra

100% success

Aardvark

0% success

Black Rhino

0% success

Cheetah

0% success

Leopard

0% success

Pangolin

0% success

Sable antelope

0% success

Sitatunga

0% success

White Rhino

0% success

Wild dog

0% success

Wildebeest

0% success

Communications

Power supply notes
Solar with a back-up generator. Baines’ is gradually switching to running solely on solar power, with the generator to be used just as a back-up. Power is available in camp 24 hours.

Each suite has a multi-point plug adaptor.
Communications
The camp is in radio contact with the Maun office. WiFi is available in the suites, but there is no cellphone reception.
TV & radio
No
Water supply
Borehole
Water supply notes
There is bottled water for brushing teeth and bathing. All rooms have plumbed-in showers and flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
All the managers are first-aid trained and there are full trauma kits on site. Nurses are in direct contact with management to help stabilise patients if necessary. Medical evacuation is available from the camp, with a helicopter able to land three minutes' walk away. In an emergency, guests can be flown to Maun or Johannesburg.
Dangerous animals
High Risk
Security measures
There is a radio in each suite, so that guests can contact the managers in an emergency. Guests are escorted between the main area and their rooms after dark.
Fire safety
There are fire extinguishers at each of the suites and in the main area. The camp also has a water-trailer which can be utilised in the event of fire.

Activities

  • 4WD Safari

    4WD Safari

  • Birdwatching

    Birdwatching

  • Boat trip

    Boat trip

  • Elephant encounter

    Elephant encounter

  • Fishing

    Fishing

  • Guided walking safari

    Guided walking safari

  • Helicopter

    Helicopter

  • Mokoro

    Mokoro

  • Night drive

    Night drive

  • Sleeping under the stars

    Sleeping under the stars

Extras

Disabled access
Not Possible
Laundry facilities
Included (including smalls). Clothes are both line and tumble-dried.
Money
The camp does not offer currency exchange facilities. There is a small safe in each of the suites that is large enough to store a wallet and/or travel documents.
Accepted payment on location
Mastercard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. Cash payments may be made in the form of GB pounds, US dollars, South African rand, euros and Botswana pula, with change given in pula.

Room types at Baines' Camp

1 of

Safari Chalet

There are three twin rooms and two doubles Baines' Camp. All are connected by raised wooden walkways and constructed in a similar fashion – using an innovative mix of thatched roofs supported by walls made of solid aluminium cans, wire mesh and elephant dung. These are much nicer than they sound.

Inside they are stylishly decorated in white-washed colours, and comprise a main bedroom area with large french doors opening to your own private raised wooden deck. There is an in-built sofa in the corner of the room towards the deck, and the walls are decorated with pieces of individual artwork. The four-poster beds are on wheels so that if you wish, they may be pushed out onto your deck at night for a sleep under the stars… They are surrounded by mosquito netting so there is no need to worry about insects!

Behind the beds are large wardrobe cupboards, and a mini-fridge which can be stocked with your chosen beverages. Each suite is also equipped with a hairdryer, a ceiling fan and a standing fan, as well as a torch, intercom system and mosquito repellent. An easel and paints are provided so that guests can paint if they wish to.

The en-suite bathrooms are connected to the main bedroom areas by an enclosed walkway/corridor. They have flushing toilets, shower cubicles and double sinks with mirrors over, along with a full-length mirror. Hot and cold water is on tap, and Africology toiletries including shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are provided.

We really like the rooms at Baines' Camp; they are unusual for camp rooms in Botswana. They felt airy and cool, and have lovely views of the bush around.

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