Reviews of Baines' Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Baines' Camp review
Baines was unique in many ways. We were greeted at tea with irresistible pastries and a quick tour before we were encouraged to move out in search of three young lions...
Our guide was like a Motswana Crocodile Dundee- he even wore a croc rimmed hat! The lions were spotted and we watched them curiously, waiting, still and silent as the sun sank and we realized that a huge heard of Wildebeest were being rounded up for the kill. A few hundred stunned looking eyes were staring out at us and suddenly the entire herd took off, full speed past us in unison. Two of the three young lions chased all but three wildebeest, who stood motionless, dumfounded, as though processing their imminent future as the lions' supper. But the lions didn't partake. They plopped down to relax in the grass- apparently it was just a practice run...
The dinners were superb, under the stars by the the water's edge. Steve, the chef was charming and let me believe that they forgot that I didn't eat meat until he presented me with the most delicious vegetarian meal I can ever remember. I would go all the way back just to have that dinner again!
Tiny, the manager has a giant personality, and by the end of only two days there, I felt that we were friends. I did not get the chance to say goodbye or exchange contact information, but if I knew of a way I would...
Baines was the only camp that had bungalows instead of tents, but they still felt like part of the wild. and the presence of wild animals precluded walking unescorted on the boardwalks after dark. The rooms are lovely and the decks outside are spectacular. If offered the chance to sleep out under the stars, do not hesitate- these were the most amazing nights surrounded by infinite stars, feeling like floating in the heavens but with the bushbabies scurrying nearby, while falling asleep to the lions' call and the leopard's saw like sounds not far off in the night... Steps were slushing by in the water surrounding the deck, but whose? These were the two most wonderful night's sleep I shall never forget...
The elephant excursion, an add on option at Baines, left a permanent impression. I always knew that elephants are intelligent, with long memories and that they are known to mourn their young. I did had not previously experienced the depth of their understanding and elephantality- this was not anthropomorphic. They were unique beings in their own right. Three elephants had been orphaned and were taken care of by an American couple who were knowledgeable and had a connection with the elephants that was like family. I was concerned that the interactions would be like circus tricks, and the elephants did perfectly respond to verbal commands, but they were clearly there voluntarily mostly it seemed for the oranges, treats and affection. They could wander off at will. They were free, but appeared to enjoy the attentions and, of course, showing off.
We were encouraged to walk with an elephant, trunk in hand. I walked with Jabu, the greatest of the three, and when I though that t I should let someone else have a turn and let go of his trunk, he held on to my hand and we kept walking. He liked me- and the feeling was mutual. It was clear when they were amused. They even smiled, and when one wanted the lime light you'd know it. They are able to speak at a wavelength that we are unable to perceive, but they understand us. They are magical, intelligent, magnificent animals, original, with a depth of emotion that was unmistakable and endearing.
Baines' Camp review
Baines Camp is beautiful with post card perfect setting and the tents connected by a raised walkway with lots of water all around. The staff was excellent and friendly and the guide, Fred, was outstanding and he made the game drives worthwhile with has narratives. The game drives needed Fred because there were almost no animals.
There were memorable touches at this camp. Returning to our tent the first night after dark following the evening game drive we discovered two tubs were on our deck filled with water and bubbles 4 feet high. My first ever bubble bath. The second night we slept out on the deck in our beds and under the stars. These were wonderful touches.
On the other hand the tents are good but not great--better than Kwara but not as large or as nice as Labala. There is no comfortable place to sit inside the tent. Baines clearly tries to provide a high level of service with touches of luxury.
A Lovely Camp and great Elephant Experience
Baines Camp was absolutely lovely. It felt really luxurious with a beautiful, calm over-water setting. Great staff. Very comfortable rooms, and the woman who took care of our room Galesita (I think I've spelled it right) was amazing. My friend had a bubble bath under the stars on our front porch. Again, the food was delicious, the atmosphere very relaxing. The staff rather than singing as we arrived (which I always find a little embarrassing) put on a show on barbecue night. It was a very good show. Great singing, and then wonderful dancing and clowns. Really excellent dancing and clowns!
Their gift shop items were on display in the 'hall' which was great, and very tempting.
The only thing I found scary was driving through so much water, we always made it through unscathed, but I was a nervous passenger. When asked, they also provided tea for the non-drinkers at sundowners. We really enjoyed Baines Camp.
We really came for the elephant experience, and that was absolutely incredible. To be that close to three lovely elephants, to see how rough their skin was, how long their eyelashes, and to walk hand in trunk down the road with an elephant was an experience never to be forgotten. Doug and Sandy were great, kind, knowledgeable, great teachers and dedicated to their elephants.
Baines Camp, real elephant experience
On landing at the airstrip we were met by several landcruisers as there were several groups arriving together. The drive to camp took almost an hour but only because we were effectively enjoying our first game drive. It was great.
At camp we were greeted enthusiastically by the managers and staff, provided with a nice refreshing drink, introduced to our guide, July by name and then shown to our room by our housekeeper. The camp itself was just about everything we expected, a very comfortable room with private deck looking out over the delta and all mod cons.
That afternoon , after tea and snacks we were taken by July on our first drive. Just him and we two, it was fantastic. We stayed out until after dark and saw a leopard walking along the road in the light from July's searchlamp, two giant eagle owls and lots of other animals. Magical Back at camp we were given a very good dinner and as much to drink as we wished, and enjoyed the communal dining with our fellow guests.
And so it went on for 3 days. We went out on a motor boat (not a mokoro) for one afternoon and the remainder of the activities were by landcruiser. July always asked us what WE wanted to do or see and was extremely knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of his native country and the delta in particular.
The highlight of the whole trip was definitely on our first morning when we went on the Walking with Elephants experience. To get so close to such huge but gentle elephants was a humbling experience. It was very easy to believe that they are very intelligent and gentle. Looking up close into the eye of any of them you can "see their intelligence". Doug, their american "carer" was brilliant, a good mix of scientific knowledge and twenty plus years of anecdotes. Definitely among the top few experiences of my whole 60 years. Having an elephant put its trunk around you is really something very special.
Overall the camp was excellent. All of the staff were genuinely friendly and could not do enough to make our stay enjoyable. I would recommend Baines for anyone visiting the delta, and definitely to book the optional elephant experience which is definitely a one-off.
Baines' Camp review
There should be a super excellent category for Baines Camp. It was superb.
The staff were very friendly and helpful, the accommodation was excellent, we slept out under the stars each night and on our return from the afternoon drive on the last day bubble baths with bubbly wine had been set up for us. We could not fault it.
On top of which the guide was the best. Marvellous sense of humour, very knowledgeable, and giving us a talk on termite hills while the plane waiting to take us away was sitting on the runway will remain with me for a long time.
This was also the camp with the largest selection of activities - mokoro, speed boat ride, walking with elephants, bush walk plus usual game drives. This was by far the best camp on the trip.
Baines' Camp review
After being at Kalahari Plains camp then Little Vumbura, Baines camp had a lot to live up to. We were not disappointed and although we found the place slightly more staid and traditional than the others it was no less comfortable. the staff once again were impeccable, caring and personable and greatly contributed to our enjoyment.
The highlight was the "walking with Elephants" experience which We would recommend as unmissable if visiting Baines. It is an emotive experience being up so close with such interesting and beautiful animals and one that we will never forget.
Baines' Camp review
Arrived by water as airstrip being renovated. Very good introduction. Elephant experience worth doing. Wifi at this camp. Very comfortable rooms - slept outside on balcony one night. Good food and great guides. Saw leopard with kill up a tree 10 minutes after arrival.
Slight hiccough on departure as airline hadn't informed camp that our departure time had been delayed so we waited 1.5 hours on airstrip with no information (being about an hour from Baines due to other airstrip being repaired, we had no chance to go back). This was remedied next time we flew with a little gift from airline by way of apology.
Baines was the only camp which gave advice about tipping in their in-room brochure but even this wasn't clear as to whether this was per person or in total.
Luxury at Baines' Camp
We had the vehicle to ourselves at Baines', which was great. Our guide was very good and knowledgeable, though it did seem that our tracker was just there for the ride. Good sightings of lions and wild dogs. Nice pool, away from the main camp.
Star beds are great - sleeping under the stars with hippos grunting all around you is quite an experience!
Food was exceptional, with lots of choice. Staff were very friendly. We also loved the nice touches of drinks on arrival back to camp and the watercolour painting set in the room!
Expert Africa comments
We were delighted to read that these guests had a great time at Baines Camp. With regards the comment on the tracker we thought it important to mention that whilst a few camps in Botswana do indeed employ professional trackers to spot and track game, others take with them on drives what are known as escort guides.
We went back to Sanctuary regarding this point made by these guests and they came back to us with the following explanation:
Thank you for the positive feedback and the observation re the tracker. In NG32 the "tracker" is not a "tracker" as we normally understand it, but what is called an "escort guide" who represents the communities, to ensure Sanctuary (Baines parent company) are adhering to their rules etc.
Part of our standard guest briefing includes an explanation of the role of the escort guides, that is they are not employed by Sanctuary but are community trust employees. We will advise the managers to underpin this to guests, in the briefings
We are happy to hear that Sanctuary have reiterated the importance of correctly and adequately explaining the role of escort guides to guests and are satisfied that this will be better communicated to guests in the future.
1 min by jeep from the airstrip (with hyenas and warthogs around) then 30-40 mins by speedboat through narrow channels of reeds to the camp. A delightful location, very comfortable cabin which stayed cool during the day and not too cold overnight, spacious shower room.
Food was good though on the whole the main courses could have been better, and we particularly enjoyed the hot croissants at breakfast.
Justin and Jackie are enthusiastic and sociable managers, we felt very well looked after. Excellent game drives.
Baines' Camp review
Just fabulous! We were tired and dirty when we arrived and it truly was an uplifting moment to be back to a really good shower, a super room to be in and a fabulous soft, duvet! It was certianly more formal than Lebala and Kwara but I think we were ready for that having lived for 8 days in the heat and dust!
Staff, service, food, facilities were all first rate.