Stanley's Camp: Our full report
Stanley's Camp is situated in a private concession of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, south of both Moremi Game ...... Reserve and the Chitabe Concession. Although this concession is one of the furthest from the Okavango's Panhandle, the source of the Delta's waters, there is no lack of beautiful riverine forests and floodplains here.
The tented main area at Stanley's Camp is set on a raised wooden deck, its very high ceiling (rather like a circus big top) secured by large poles and guy ropes. With the apex of the ceiling rising to about 10m, it's an interesting design and pretty unusual for a Delta camp. The walls are decorated with large black-and-white animal prints and there are great views across the floodplains in front of camp, which had an almost constant parade of elephants when we were last there, in October 2017.
The lounge area is nicely furnished with a couple of seating areas. The first has a couple of wicker chairs with comfy cushions, and a library with some interesting hardbacks on flora and fauna, a few novels and board games such as Scrabble. The second has two large cream sofas and leather armchairs, next to a smart bar with high stools and a water cooler. Note that while most drinks are included here, top-shelf drinks displayed are imported/premium brand and come at an extra cost. With a full camp, we felt that there would not be enough relaxed seating to cater for the numbers at tea time and many would have to use the dining area – though some may prefer this anyway.
The dining area itself is large. Breakfast and lunch are usually taken at individual tables with high-backed wicker chairs, while in the evening the staff will set up the tables individually or for groups, depending on how many are in camp and everyone’s preferences. The staff are very friendly and entirely flexible.
Open-fronted cabinets serve as a curio shop, well-stocked with local arts and crafts, trinkets and books, plus useful items such as clothes and batteries.
Steps from the front of the tent lead down to a grassy area with a campfire and directors' chairs, where drinks can be taken before and after dinner. Then heading out beyond the dining room a walkway takes you to a small deck with an infinity pool and a handful of loungers.
Sandy pathways lead to the ten tented rooms at Stanley's, which are set in the treeline for maximum shade while overlooking the floodplain in front of camp. The rooms are structured tents with poles, raised on wooden decking. At the front of each is a large deck with a table, a comfortable daybed and a hammock – the latter a playground for the tree squirrels that scamper across the decks.
The front of each tented room has fully meshed double doors, in need of a bit of TLC as they were looking rather weathered when we visited, but with ten new canvas tents planned to replace the current ones in April 2018 this will no longer be an issue. Inside the rooms are lovely. There are two comfortable wooden beds or one large king-size bed, with white cotton bedding, light beige throw covers, bedside tables and built-in electric reading lamps. The lack of rugs makes the floor slightly cold on winter mornings – though delightfully cool in the hot summer months. There is both a ceiling fan and a more powerful standing fan too. A tray table is set with an ice bucket, water and glasses, while at the other end of the room is a chair, and a desk topped with stationery, hairdryer and an emergency radio – complete with details of procedures for fire drills and first aid. There's also a luggage rack, and an open wardrobe with hanging space, shelves, a safe, torch and umbrella.
The en-suite bathroom, reached through a roll-down canvas door at the back of the tent, has a fully tiled and glass-sided indoor shower kitted out with Africology shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, with insect repellent and insecticide also provided. The washbasin is set into a wooden cabinet with a framed mirror, while the toilet is separated from the rest of the bathroom by a door, affording some privacy.
Wildlife can and does walk through camp on a regular basis. On our last visit a few very relaxed bushbuck were happily munching on the vegetation between the rooms, and we had a visit from a couple of elephants. Thus caution is need when walking between your tented room and the main area, though at night – as at most Botswana camps – you will always be accompanied by a member of staff.
Activities at Stanley's Camp include day and night game drives in open 4WDs that may cross into the Moremi Game Reserve during the day. Between June and September, when water levels are high, Stanley’s also offers mokoro (canoe) excursions along the channels of the Delta as well as walking with armed guides.
On our most recent visit, although we saw many small herds of elephant during our game drive, as well as lion, the general plains game was rather sparse and the driving tracks a bit limited, due to the abundance of water. The birdlife however was very good, and we did spend a wonderful half hour watching a group of banded mongooses playing around an old termite mound. On our night drive we also saw lion, a small spotted genet and a nightjar. On a previous visit, in November 2016, we were lucky enough to see leopard, lion with one-week-old cubs, plenty of hyena and a herd of two thousand or more buffalo, not to mention plenty of general game. This contrasted with another stay in April the same year, when game-viewing did not live up to expectations in either the concession or the Moremi Game Reserve. Hence we conclude that the general wildlife viewing around Stanley’s can be a bit variable.
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.
Stanley's Camp is a lovely, unpretentious tented camp with excellent management and well-trained, friendly staff. While game viewing can be excellent at times, at others it can be a bit hit or miss - particularly in the Green Season when the grass is tall.
- Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana
- Ideal length of stay
- 2 nights is likely to be plenty to immerse yourself in this particularly pretty part of the Okavango Delta.
- The camp is accessed by light aircraft, taking about 10–15 minutes from Maun, or 1 hour 15 minutes from Kasane. It is then a 20-minute drive from the airstrip, or 45 minutes during the floods, including a boat.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- As on previous visits, when we stayed at Stanley's Camp in October 2017, the food was of a high standard – fresh, well-presented and delicious. For both lunch and dinner there is a choice of two starters, three main dishes and two puddings. It’s quite unusual for Botswana camps to offer a menu, and we liked this.
Our early-morning breakfast before the activities incorporated a wide selection of muffins, croissants, cereal, fruit, cold meats, cheeses, yoghurts and toast, as well as a variety of cooked dishes.
Lunch is available after the morning safari activity between 11.00am and 2.00pm; you just come when it suits you. On our most recent visit, we opted for the pea fritters with grilled capsicum and pineapple salad (the alternative was garden vegetable soup with salmoriglio dressing). The main course was a choice between prawn curry with vegetable pilau rice, beef burger with oven-roasted chips, and grilled vegetable flatbread – courgette, pepper and aubergine – with hummus. We opted for the latter, which was delicious. A green salad with tomatoes, olives, cucumber and feta was also on the table for us to help ourselves. To finish we had a refreshing melon sorbet, though there was also a fruit platter on offer.
Tea time, before the afternoon activity, was good and varied. We were offered pesto pastry, carrot cake, vegetable sticks and dip as well as fresh lemonade, an interesting concoction of banana and peanut butter smoothies, and the usual tea and coffee.
In the evening we were offered incredibly tasty pre-dinner snacks of sweet potato and beetroot crisps – both vanished rather speedily!
The dinner menu did not disappoint either. To start there was a very tasty sweet potato soup with parmesan crisp, as well as crumbled halloumi with coriander salad and sweet chilli jam. For the main course we had falafel with roasted butternut and ratatouille – the other two choices being herb-butter hake, potato mash and ratatouille, or beef lasagne with steamed vegetables. For pudding we indulged in a very sweet coffee mousse and there was also a cheese platter on offer.
A very good selection of wine is served with meals, and house spirits are offered.
- Attitude towards children
- Children are welcome.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Children of all ages are accepted. Children aged 15 and under are not allowed to take part in general walking activities. Families with children aged 5 and under must book a private vehicle for game drives at an additional cost. Mokoro rides are only available to those aged over 13.
- Special activities & services
- Guides and other staff members teach weaving (to adults as well), and they lead exciting bush walks in the vicinity of the camp, focusing on identifying mammal tracks. Board games are available in the main area.
- A highchair and baby bath are available for very young children, along with one cot. Children also receive a welcome pack with books and crayons.
- Generally recommended for children
- The game drives, especially when water levels are high, can be hard going. Because of this we'd recommend Stanley’s for more mature children or those over the age of 12.
- We recommend that guests with children book a private vehicle – and, of course, supervise them very closely at all times, as dangerous game will often wander through camp.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Stanley's Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Stanley's 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.
- Power supply notes
- Stanley's Camp moved to 100% solar power in August 2016, with a generator as back up. The tented rooms have heat pumps for the water. Electrical equipment can be charged 24 hours daily, with multi-pin adaptors in the rooms.
- Each room has WiFi with its own password and signal strength. Every room has an emergency radio. There is email contact between camp and the Maun office, but no cellphone reception.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All rooms feature the same plumbing, based on a system of biodegradable waste.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- All the managers are first-aid trained and there are full trauma kits on site. Nurses/doctors in Maun are in direct contact with management to help stabilise any situation. If necessary, guests can be flown to Maun or Mall Park Hospital in Johannesburg.
Childcare: Stanley’s Camp offers child minding on request. Please note that the minders are members of the housekeeping staff, and are not qualified babysitters.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Guests are escorted to their rooms after dark by a night escort or guide. There are radios and alarm horns in the rooms to attract attention in case of emergency.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers outside each tented room and in the common areas, and details of procedures in the event of a fire in each room.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included and is a speedy service; clothes are collected during the morning activity and returned during the afternoon activity.
- There is a digital safe in each tent. There is no foreign exchange at the camp.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cash payments may be made in GB pounds, US dollars, South African rand, euros, and Botswana pula, with change provided in Botswana pula. Mastercard and Visa are accepted but not Amex, Diners or travellers' cheques. No fee is charged for credit-card payments.
Other lodges in Okavango Delta Safari Reserves
Alternative places to stay in this same area.