Stanley's Camp

Stanley's Camp: Our full report

Rooms
8, all identical
Traveller's rating
Excellent (91%) From 14 reviews
Open
All year

Stanley’s Camp is situated in a private concession, south of both Moremi Game Reserve and the Chitabe Concession. Although this concession is one of the furthest from the the Okavango’s Panhandle, the source of the Delta’s waters, there is no lack of beautiful riverine forests and floodplains here. The camp is known for its superb elephant activity.

The enormous main area at Stanley's Camp has a very high tented ceiling (rather like a circus big top!), which is secured by large poles and guy ropes. With the apex of the ceiling rising to about 30 feet, it's a spectacular design.

The main deck is slightly raised off the ground underneath the canopy of tent, and there are stairs up to the large dining area, then a couple more steps to the smaller main sitting area. This is decorated with artefacts, including some fascinating black-and-white photos of the area. There is also a small library, and a shop with local arts and crafts, trinkets and books, plus useful items such as clothes, camera film and batteries – all displayed in glass-fronted cabinets. In front of the tent, steps lead down to a grassy area with a campfire and directors' chairs, where drinks can be taken before dinner.

The eight rooms at Stanley's are reached by sandy, shady pathways and each room overlooks the plain in front of camp, while being set in the tree-line to maximise the shade. The rooms are structured tents with poles, raised on wooden decking. There is a large deck at the front of each room with a hammock, comfortable chairs and a table, and tree squirrels scamper across the decks and play in the hammocks.

The front of each tent features four large canvas panels separated by wooden frames. Each panel has a large screen window, and the middle two panels function as a door leading into the tent. Inside the room there are two wooden bedsteads with bedside tables and built-in electric reading lamps. The beds are very comfortable, with white cotton bedding and cheesecloth blankets. On the left of the tent there is a tray table with ice bucket, water and glasses. On the opposite side of the room is a chair and desk, on which we found a lamp, a leatherbound folder, some stationery, and an emergency radio – complete with a laminated note of detailed procedures and signals for fire drills and first aid. It noted clearly that walking alone outside after dark is strictly forbidden.

In the corner of the room is a sturdy luggage rack that features a key-coded safe (large enough to store wallets and travel documents), insect repellent, insecticide, and emergency horn. There are no rugs in the rooms, which makes the floor slightly cold in the mornings!

The bathrooms are en suite with a flush toilet and an indoor shower with a glass and silver metal cubicle. ‘Africology’ shampoo, conditioner and body wash are provided in the showers. The toilet is separated off by a canvas door which affords some privacy. There is a single sink set into a wooden cabinet with a framed mirror over the top that also features a shelf where hand wash is provided. Surrounding the sink are two glass bottles of filtered water and a shower cap. The lights in the bathroom are electric and there is a roll-down canvas door. Insect repellent and insecticide are also provided for guest use and there is a towel rail with two towels for each guest.

Activities at Stanley's Camp include day and night game drives in open 4WDs which even traverse into the Moremi Game Reserve during the day. Between June and September, when the water levels are high, they also offer excursions in mokoro canoes along the channels of the Delta. During a game drive on our recent April 2016 visit, we saw three reedbuck, eight elephant, and a giraffe in terms of mammals. The area we traversed, both in the private concession and the Moremi Game Reserve, did not live up to the Okavango Delta’s high standards of game viewing.

Also on offer from Stanley's Camp (and its sister camp, Baines), is the option of spending a morning with three semi-habituated African elephants on an amazing Elephant Experience. This is an incredible, memorable experience as under the the guidance of the experts, Doug and Cathy Groves, you can walk with the elephants, learn about them, and spend time interacting with them in their natural environment as they forage in the bush. We spent a magical morning with Jabulani (the bull), Thembigela and Marula and agreed that this was probably one of the best African experiences we had ever had.

The elephants are gentle and clearly love human interaction, sometimes coming up to nestle the tip of their trunks into your hand. Doug, who the elephants clearly regard as their ‘patriarch’, explains the story of each elephant, and invites guests to come close and touch (under his supervision). The walk is a gentle stroll with the elephants, stopping every now and then for them to forage for food. It ends with lunch under the shade of trees, with the elephants eating in the background, and occasionally joining the guests at the table!

Our view

Stanley’s Camp is a lovely, unpretentious tented camp with excellent management and a well-trained, friendly staff. The elephant activity is exceptional and one of the most moving African experiences on the continent. That said, predators in the reserve are scarce as is general game. For guests passionate about elephants, we highly recommend this camp.

Geographics

Location: Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights to take advantage of the elephant experience

Directions: The camp is accessed by a light aircraft from Maun which takes about ten minutes, then a 20-minute drive from the airstrip (45 minutes during the floods).

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Abercrombie & Kent

Staff: Henry Viljoen and Martin Matumo (co-managers)

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: When we visited Stanley's Camp in April 2016 we found the food to be of an exceptional quality – fresh, well presented and delicious.

Early morning breakfast before the activities was muffins, cereal, fruit and toast with also a cooked option.

For guests not doing the elephant activity, lunch is prepared after a morning safari activity. On our most recent visit, we enjoyed a buffet lunch featuring a salad with iceberg lettuce, couscous, fresh tomatoes, and very tasty homemade salad dressing. Chicken was available for a protein option.

For guests participating in the elephant activity, lunch is served under the coverage of large feverberry tree. The food is served buffet style by the staff of Stanley’s Camp. We enjoyed light grilled chicken breasts and cooked vegetable medley with grilled tomatoes, onions, and red bell peppers.

Tea times, before the afternoon activity, were again excellent and varied – home-made scones with cream and jam, coconut cake, mini-quiches and spring rolls with tasty dipping sauce were offered to us while we were there.

Dinners served in the main area were excellent. We enjoyed traditional Setswana food, including beef seswaa, pap (similar to polenta) with a tasty tomato-based sauce, and cooked spinach. The meal was served in a group setting that included singing and dancing by the staff choir – it was quite the festive atmosphere, as all of the camp guides were dancing and singing very enthusiastically as well!

There is a very good selection of wine with the meals, and house spirits are offered.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are included except champagne, fine wines and imported spirits.

Further dining info: Not available

Special interests

Wildlife safaris: We highly recommend Stanley’s Camp for the elephant activity, especially for guests passionate about elephants. Please do note, however, that the elephants always have a break from 15 January to 15 February, annually.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Children are welcome.

Property’s age restrictions: Children of all ages are accepted.

Special activities & services: Guides and staff members teach weaving, and they lead exciting bush walks focusing on identifying mammal tracks. Board games are also available for children in the main areas.

Equipment: A highchair and baby bath are available for very young children. One cot is also available at any time for guests. Children receive a welcome pack with books and crayons as well.

Notes: We recommend that guests with children book a private vehicle – and, of course, supervise them very closely as dangerous game will often wander through camp.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: Stanley’s Camp is moving to 100% solar in August 2016. Generator will be kept as a back up after the conversion. Rooms have heat pumps. All electrical equipment can be charged 24 hours daily.

Communications: Each room has wifi with its own password (provided in the rooms) and signal strength. Every room has an emergency radio. There is e-mail contact between camp and the Maun office – but no cellphones.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Stanley’s Camp uses a biodegradable plumbing system, and all rooms feature the same plumbing. All cleaning materials are biodegradable.

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 stabilize any situation. If necessary, guests can be flown to Mall Park Hospital in Johannesburg.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guests are walked to their rooms after dark by a night escort or guide. There are radios in the rooms for emergencies and alarm horns.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers (just recently serviced in January 2016) outside each room and in the common areas.

Extras

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.

Money: A lockable bag is provided for valuables and this is kept in a central safe. There is no foreign exchange at the lodge, but cash is accepted in denominations of South African rand, US dollars, euros, and GB pounds, and change is provided in Botswana pula.

Accepted payment on location: GB pounds, US dollars, South African rand, euros, and Botswana pula are accepted. MasterCard and Visa are accepted but not Amex, Diners or travellers’ cheques. There is no fee charged for credit-card payments.

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