Tubu Tree Camp: Our full report
Set on a large dry island on the west of Botswana’s renowned Okavango Delta, the small, traditional Tubu ...... Tree Camp lies within the private Jao Reserve. This 600km2 reserve is dominated by permanent wetlands with deep-water channels, seasonal floodplains and islands. Thus when the floods arrive, game drives from Tubu Tree offer the best game sightings in the area, though conversely, water activities may not be possible year round.
The Jao Reserve is shared by Tubu's sister camps, including Kwetsani, Jacana, Jao and Pelo, which are set on much smaller islands within the seasonal floodplains. The reserve receives a lot of water during the annual floods (around May to September), when it is for the most part best suited to a water-based Delta experience; thus these camps put much more emphasis on water-based activities than Tubu Tree and its smaller sibling on Hunda Island, Little Tubu.
The raised main area at Tubu Tree feels like an enormous tree house, with fantastic views over the seasonal floodplains in front of camp. Although the plains were dry when we last visited, in October 2017, the view changes completely during the flood season when the land fills with water.
In the open-sided lounge, chill out on comfy sofas and chairs, perhaps with one of the handy reference books, or wander out on deck to take in the view. A viewing scope here is useful to help identify animals a little way off, and the well-positioned loo with a view really should be checked out!
The dining area, while large and simply decorated, rather lacks the atmosphere of the rest of the building. One of our favourite features, though, is the quirky bar, hand carved from a large sausage tree and built around trees to the front of the camp. From here a wooden walkway leads down to a small plunge pool and sundeck, and – just beyond – a firepit, where a fire is lit most evenings. The camp also has a small curio shop.
Tubu Tree Camp has eight tented chalets, built on individual decks and – continuing the tree-house theme – accessed from the main area along raised wooden walkways. The tents are large and bright, with large sliding doors with mesh panels at the front, and an outdoor shower that helps to bring the outside in. Comfortable chairs on the deck provide a perfect spot to sit and contemplate the surrounding plains. A family chalet consists of two interconnecting rooms sharing a lounge and a large deck.
Inside, we were very impressed by the design of the open-plan rooms: elegant but not overly fussy, and full of thoughtful touches. Along with a large bed enclosed in a mosquito net, you’ll find a free-standing fan, two leather chairs and a desk set with books and magazines, as well as tea and coffee. At the back are his and hers basins, an indoor shower and a separate toilet, as well as shelves and hanging space and an electronic safe. There’s even a yoga mat and some light dumbbells.
Activities at Tubu Tree vary with the water levels in the Jao Reserve. For a good portion of the year, the emphasis is on day and night game drives, but when water levels permit – usually between May and end of September – then motorboat trips and fishing are possible. Mokoro trips are available all year round, from the front of camp when water levels are at their highest, but a short drive away once the waters recede.
We had some memorable game viewing on our last visit to Tubu, especially a small pack of wild dog that we managed to spot on each of our game drives. Most memorable was following the dogs just as the sun was setting as they trotted off in search of a meal. Kudu, elephants, zebra, giraffe and a small pride of lions were also in evidence, but leopard – once a regular feature around the camp – are no longer so much in evidence. We understand that this is because lions have moved into the area, as well as a particularly aggressive but elusive male leopard.
If you're staying in the Jao Reserve for more than a few days, you might consider a night sleeping out at the hide – a simple raised platform in the bush about 20 minutes’ drive from Tubu Tree. Suitable for groups of up to four people, these sleep-outs don't cost any extra, but they are obviously weather dependent and need to be requested in advance.
Tubu Tree has become very popular, and sometimes gets booked up even a year or more in advance. So if you'd like to stay here then we suggest that you book early!
Tubu Tree Camp is a comfortable, stylish camp in picturesque surroundings. In the dry season, the game viewing on this western side of the Delta tends to be quieter than in other parts of the Okavango – a trend that's often reversed during the rainy season. However, with its location on the permanently dry Hunda Island, Tubu Tree offers the reserve's best year round game viewing.
- Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana
- Ideal length of stay
- 3 nights
- Access to camp is usually via a light-aircraft transfer to Hunda airstrip, followed by a drive to camp of approximately ten minutes. Tubu Tree can sometimes be accessed by boat from Jao, Kwetsani or Jacana, depending on the water levels.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Food at Tubu Tree is served buffet style and was good during our most recent stay in October 2017.
A light breakfast of yoghurt, cereal, fruit, muffins, pastries, tea and coffee is served before heading out on the morning activity.
A more substantial buffet brunch is offered at around 12.00am, after returning from your morning activity. We had a choice of lamb skewers, Coca-Cola chicken, Greek salad,, chickpea salad, coleslaw with raisins, a mixed salad, freshly baked bread, a cheeseboard and a selection of fresh fruit.
At tea time we were treated to salmon blinis, apple tarts and individual chocolate mousses, along with fresh fruit, iced tea and homemade ginger lemonade.
Dinner is a three-course meal with offerings such as cauliflower soup and freshly baked bread rolls to start, followed by tandoori chicken, roast potatoes and vegetables, or crumbed fillet steak, basmati rice, spinach and garlic and an aubergine gratin and ending with apple crumble and cream. Once a week they put a cultural twist on the evening meal and prepare traditional fare, normally set up around the firepit
Vegetarians and most other special dietary requirements can be catered for if notice is given.
- Wildlife safaris
- Tubu Tree Camp has access to both land- and water-based activities, so offers the biggest diversity of game viewing within the Jao concession. There are good numbers of elephant and other plains game on the island, plus hippo in the deeper channels nearby.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Children over the age of 12 years are welcome at Tubu Tree.
- Property’s age restrictions
- The camp may accept children aged 6–12 years old, but private activities must be booked and these will be at an extra cost.
Children younger than six may be accepted by special arrangement, and then only if the entire camp is reserved for exclusive use.
Note that minimum age requirements also mean that children are allowed on boat trips from the age of six years, but on mokoro trips only from the age of 13 years.
- Special activities & services
- There are no special activities or services for children.
- No special equipment is available.
- Generally recommended for children
- We think that Tubu Tree is suitable for more mature children over the age of 13 years. There are other camps better suited to younger children.
- Tubu Tree is unfenced, and dangerous wildlife, including leopard, is known to move regularly through camp. The buildings are raised high on stilts with only basic railings, which are mostly open except for the handrail. The pool is unfenced. Children must be under the constant supervision of their parents.
- Power supply notes
- The generator is supplemented by solar power.
- There is no cellphone reception, direct phone or email at Tubu Tree. Communication is maintained with the head office in Maun via radio.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV or radio.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The water is pumped out of the Delta and is then purified through reverse osmosis for guests consumption. Bottled water is also available.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The nearest doctor is in Maun. All management and guides are first-aid trained and medical evacuation is available in case of emergency. There is a nurse on call (via radio) 24 hours a day. 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
- Guests are escorted to their chalets after dark as dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. A thorough safety briefing is given on arrival. ‘Fog horns' are provided in the rooms, to summon help in case of emergency.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers outside all the rooms and in the main area.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A laundry service is included. Laundry is collected in the morning and usually returned the same day, weather permitting. .
- No exchange facilities are offered at Tubu Tree. There are small safes in all the chalets, and a larger one in the office.
- 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 South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula.
Other lodges in Okavango Delta Safari Reserves
Alternative places to stay in this same area.