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“Absolute Heaven in Botswana”

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Wilderness Safaris DumaTau Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Denver, CO
Level Contributor
126 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 236 helpful votes
“Absolute Heaven in Botswana”
Reviewed August 23, 2011

My husband and I stayed with a large group at Duma Tau Camp back on Nov '08. Where should I begin....

DumaTau (meaning 'roar of the lion') is a luxury tented camp, in the private Linyanti Wildlife Reserve which borders the western boundary of Chobe National Park in northern Botswana. The camp is built on raised boardwalks under a shady grove of mangosteen trees, overlooking a large hippo-filled lagoon on the Linyanti waterways.
The source of the Savuti Channel is close to the camp and game drives along the Savuti are one of the highlights of the camp. The rooms are spacious, raised off the ground and under thatch with canvas walls - with king size beds that were comfortable and kept ME warm during the night. Yes, all the beds come with mosquito nets. The bathroom facilities are en-suite, with hot and cold running water, flush toilet, and shower. Each room has an additional outside shower. Each tent comes equipped with its own patio with chairs and table right outside the tent--not too mention the view of the Savuti Channel. There is a dining room, pub, lounge, plunge pool and a special guest toilet with a fantastic view. There is a small souvenir shop with lots of great yunk make by the staff themselves! The lounge overlooks a hippo lagoon and we often saw hippos walk next to the camp. Activities are diverse and include time on the water, on land and occasionally on foot. Day and night game drives are conducted in open 4x4 vehicles along the Savuti Channel and the banks of the Linyanti River-- they wake you up around 0530 -literally- one of the camp staff walks up to each tent bringing hot tea and gently wakes you up from outside the tent, of course!- now that's service! Game drives are typically at 0630 and around 1600--there are late night drives as well.

One of the best hides is right at the source of the Savuti and many species of game and birdlife can usually be seen from this hide. The area is famous for great game viewing all year. During each game drive, you will join other vehicles at designated areas to stop and have cookies and tea- sunset tea stops were the best!

The dining experience is typically what you encounter when you lodge at smaller camps--typically all dine together at one large table. The talented staff often performs for the guests prior to dinner. It is buffet style - for all meals- breakfast, lunch, dinner. Food is to die for! You will not go hungry in Africa! It was my bday during one of the nights here and the staff not only sang but made me a gorgeous bday cake! If anyone of the staff is reading this, and you were working here in early November 2008, "Kea leboga"! I was part of the large group from Colorado.

The service and the staff here at the camp are probably the best I've encountered during my two trips to Africa. We were lucky to have Ron as our driver the ENTIRE TIME--they're all great but our vehicular group got particularly attached to Ron. He had the eyes/vision of an owl--during one of our late-night drives, he actually spotted a rare owl sitting on a tree branch....in the dark! He is extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and skilled. Because this is a private reserve, the drivers have the freedom to drive anywhere and anyHOW!

Animals that we've been lucky to see include African wild dogs, herd of lions, leopard, elephants--lots!, list goes on. We did witness a wild chase between a wild dog and an impala including a disembowelment!

What to bring - what you would expect to bring...but remember to bring a binocular, rain gear, HAT, mosquito repellent, and neutral colored clothing-- you'll be easily noticed by predators in bright colored clothing!

I can't recommend this place enough--the ENTIRE experience at Duma Tau was superb. You will not be disappointed.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled with friends
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2 Thank maven5645
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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nyc
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed July 18, 2011

The camp itself is fine, the staff lovely and very accomadating, the food was plentiful and quite good. The issues we had .. the elephants over the years have destroyed the land .. it is not lush, not green all you see is dead trees.
Our guide Bobby while he was nice enoughl.. he seemd as though he did not care, he put very little effort into looking for game. To me it seemd as though he drove us around in circles everyday on the same route over the sme bridge he was very uninspired.
Abby one of the amnagers was lovely and arranged a champagne lunch for me and my daughter which was lovely and very appreciated. We saw very little game maybe we were during a bad week not sure or mayeb it was just Bobby did not try very hard.

It does get very cold in the morning and evening dress in layers need gloves, and fleece regardless of the time of year. Rooms were warm beds were warmed by hot water bottles.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank nytravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WildernessSafaris, Manager at Wilderness Safaris DumaTau Camp, responded to this review, July 31, 2011
Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback after your recent trip to Botswana. It’s great to see that overall you had a good time, but we would like to respond to the concerns that you raised. Winter in the Linyanti is a quite a different scene compared to that of the delta. The delta remains lush due to the fact that the annual flood arrives when the climate is actually at its driest, while in the Linyanti the opposite occurs. Without the life giving water the flood brings elsewhere, the inland areas of the Linyanti become extremely dry and barren. Along certain riverine fringes of forest, one can get the impression that elephants have destroyed everything in sight as there is not a leaf or blade of grass to be seen, and the large dead trees from a wetter era stand hauntingly as reminders of a greener day!! These groves of dead trees are not only due to elephant destruction, which is a common misconception, but also due to a drop in the water table. Initially, when the Savute Channel dried up, the elephants did indeed infiltrate the Linyanti River system more than before, having an impact on the short term environment. This, coupled with less water in the system as a whole, resulted in some of the species of trees in the area dying. The advantage of this is, of course, that animals are really easy to see without foliage hiding them away.

The Linyanti is a mosaic of different habitats, a large component of which is the mopane belt - it is the mopane tree that so attracts the elephants to the region, as well as numerous other browsers. During winter, the mopane loses its leaves and also give the impression that they are dead - when in fact they are not. The advantage of the mopane belt , and why the Linyanti presents such great game viewing opportunities, is that the soil type in which mopane grows holds water extremely well - the many pans that contain water well into the dry winter months attracts animals from far and wide for a drink.

The comments about Bobby will be addressed with him by management- guiding is such an integral part of the guest's journey in our camps that we appreciate any feedback that assists us to monitor their performance. We pride ourselves that our guides are enthusiastic and passionate representatives of Wilderness, and are disappointed that you did not find this to be the case on this occasion. We do hope however, to have the opportunity to host you again – perhaps at a different time of year. The summer months are quite special: rains result in a lush, green landscape; there is beautiful light for photography and young animals abound, often followed by predators
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, France
Level Contributor
109 reviews
57 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
Reviewed June 14, 2011

Duma Tau got everything right. Staff is warm and friendly, food is good, site is fantastic and rooms are comfortable. Game drives are done seriously and game is everywhere. Our guide was professional and interested in educating us. Details are well thought out - blankets at dinner if the night is cold, great lookout-sunning deck for midday, common area is well designed. A very well-run camp and we were very satisfied.

  • Stayed June 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
2 Thank EricfromParis02
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Level Contributor
90 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed October 3, 2010

This was our last of 3 Wilderness Safari camps we stayed at. We had a wonderful time here!

The Managers we worked closely with (Gideon and Gabby) were amazingly professional when we encountered issues with a few of the other guests who were rude and difficult to be around but the staff handled the situation with style and grace. The issue was in no way their fault and the situation showed the excellent training they receive. I should note that other than these four we had amazing experiences with all the other guests we met throughout our trip and exchanged email address and have already been in touch with many. Including the 12 Swiss guests who were at our camp at the same time!!!

This camp had the best food of the three we visited, the food was very good at the others, but Duma Tau won the award for best food. The food at all the camps were simple, well spiced and delicious - but there was something special at Duma Tau!

Our guide, Ron, was wonderful and also did a great job with our "special" situation. He was knowledgeable and fun to be with, always finding great animals for us to see!! Watching a herd of elephant decide to cross the river to Namibia and then do it was a sight to see!

I would highly recommend this camp and Wilderness Safaris!

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank JodiDH503
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Australia
Level Contributor
9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed August 30, 2010

We stayed in 7 Wilderness camps on our trip and this one was the most disappointing, not on the game side of things, but because of the attitude of one of the camp managers and the holes that were in our tent. During our orientation of this camp, the camp manager who was called "Abby" was condisending and curt. He really treated us like silly school kids, not as highly paying guests. His behaviour was compounded the next day by a similar attitude as he chided me for not having my meal at the correct time (I was unwell and not on a game drive that day). Given I had been invited to dine when I wanted by another manager, I was particularly peeved at Abby.

Also, our tent was invaded by 3 of the camp squirrels who ran riot in the room. Another manager responded to my asking for help and found 2 large holes in the tent - ample room for the squirrels to enter. The matter was fixed however within the hour.

The game is fantastic and the guides great. Watch our for sunburn however, Duma Tau has game vehicles that have no canopy at all. 10 hours in the hot sun will defeat most types of sunblock and a hat.

The other peeve with this camp was that no-one was expecting us at the airstrip. If not for the camp dropping people off, we would have been left there at the airstrip with no way to contact anyone.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank marleemia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston
Level Contributor
66 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 141 helpful votes
Reviewed August 18, 2010

This camp was selected as part of a 2 week Africa trip with help from Craig Beal at Travel Beyond. He knew we wanted to experience several different ecosystems during our brief stay and he suggested this larger camp (10 tents) for our large group (7 people in 3 tents), as an opportunity to experience mopane and Kalahari apple leaf woodlands and huge herds of elephants on the floodplains of the Linyanti and Savute Channel. Because this is a large camp, it was quite lively, with lots of other guests to interact with and a large enthusiastic staff that sang, danced, and drummed for us one night. Despite the camp’s size, we never saw another Rover out on drives except when another guide radioed our guide to let us know the location of two young lionesses.

Location: Located in the Linyanti Concession, this camp is near the Chobe National Park. The concession is located in northern Botswana, and at one point we were gazing across the water to the wilderness of the Caprivi strip in Namibia on the other bank during one of our sundowner breaks!

Service:
Everyone here worked to make us feel comfortable and pampered. The managers immediately identified that we wanted to enjoy the serenity of the bush and set us up in tents at the edge of camp. They checked in to assure we had that peace and quiet we were seeking. My daughter was ill one evening, and a manager, Lizzie, came bearing juice and easy to eat foods assembled by the cook staff for her, then checked her vital signs, phoned them into the Wilderness nurse, and followed up that night and the next day to see if she had improved.
The cook staff, having read I was vegetarian in my pre trip questionnaire, provided an additional entrée for me on nights when red meat was on the buffet, despite the fact that I could find more than enough to eat from the large selection of vegetable, bean, and aubergine (eggplant) side dishes available. The managers and staff here just seemed like there was nothing they wouldn’t do for you!
Our guide, Lazarus, was terrific, full of youthful enthusiasm for the area. Easy-going despite one drive when not once, not twice, but 3 times things went flying off the Rover and he had to retrieve them for us. And he did an excellent job describing the habitat and behavior of the animals we saw. It must be harder for the guides near the end of a trip to get a “thrill” out the guests than the first guide…but our guide was able to share something new and exciting about the game we were seeing, even when we weren’t seeing something new.

Dining:
<Disclaimer: I am probably not the best person to review food, as I am a food for fuel person, but we had a diverse group; a vegetarian, 2 “foodie” adults-one a Brit, and 3 teens-one not so adventurous, and the food was positively reviewed by everyone in our group, and everyone found plenty to enjoy at every meal!>
This camp is rated by WS as “Classic” so meals are buffet style, with eggs cooked to order at brunch. There were lots of options here because of the relatively larger number of guests. Everything was delicious, and one night we enjoyed a traditional African dinner, which was lots of fun as well as excellent food.

Rooms/tents:
There were 10 tents; 5 each arrayed in opposite directions from the main public areas, on a raised (pretty high up in places, it was fun!) walkway. The tents were on platforms overlooking the hippo lagoon. We could hear the hippo, but saw red lechewee in the water. Baboons were often high up in the trees around the tents, and fun to watch, but we had to “lock” our doors to prevent them from making a visit while we were out! Our room had a large netted bed in half the room. The room was divided by a large storage divider. The other half of the room was the bathroom, with a shower, toilet and sink in the open area. Lots of storage, safe, and benches at the end of the bed for luggage. A nice private deck with lounge chairs and an outdoor shower. Our teens family tent had all the same amenities as in the main tent, but had a small hallway just past the bathroom half with another tent attached with twins. There was no way for the girls to leave the twin room without passing through the bathroom, which caused some traffic and privacy issues for them, which they solved by draping a bed spread near the toilet area, so they could pass through when it was in use.

Activities and Game:
This camp like most WS Camps operates a schedule whereby guests are up very early (how early depends on the season, how light it is) your guide wakes you and brings coffee and a while later escorts you to the dining area for breakfast before heading out on a game activity. During the activity, you will stop for coffee and some light refreshments. Usually, you will return around 11:30 for brunch, which will include hot food and eggs cooked to order. After brunch there is time to relax in your tent or around camp till about 2:30 or 3 when tea is served. This is usually snacks and drinks before you head out on an afternoon activity at 4. During the afternoon game activity, there will be a stop at sunset (in winter) to enjoy drinks and refreshments and then return to camp for dinner outside between 8:00 or 9 PM. After that, many guests head for bed, but some may stay up at the bar for a little bit.
Only at Duma Tau for 2 nights, we spent our time by the Linyanti and Savute watching game such as hippos and elephants and water birds and in the mopane woodlands looking for predators and other game. The highlight of our drives were watching the enormous elephant herds that live in the area and seeing hippos out of the water. In the woodlands, we enjoyed tracking two shy lioness and seeing how the impala reacted to their presence. We loved seeing a huge dazzle of zebra emerge from the trees and surround our Rover and we spotted a mother and young hyena one night. The beauty of the landscape was captivating, as well as the huge diversity of birds here, with both water and woodland habitats.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank familygoBoston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Altos, CA
Level Contributor
15 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed August 8, 2010

We spent three nights at Duma Tau in July and can't say enough good things about it.

The game viewing was incredible. We saw wild dogs hunting impala, a lion stalking zebra and large herds of elephants crossing the Linyanti River using their trunks for snorkels. We also saw leopard, hippos, hyenas and giraffe. Our guide, Moses, was fantastic. His enthusiasm for the animals was contagious, and he was just great with our teenage kids.

The service at Duma Tau was better than at the other Wilderness Safari camp we visited. From the hot water for tea every morning at 5:30am to the group welcome back to camp every evening to the nightly escort to our door, we were completely pampered the whole time. I don't know how they manage to have everyone on staff be so friendly and attentive - kudos to managers Lizzie and Anton.

The cabins were basic but comfortable. The food was excellent, and we sorely miss our afternoon tea buffet!

We couldn't have had a better experience on our first safari.

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
1 Thank AndyLosAltos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Wilderness Safaris DumaTau Camp

Property: Wilderness Safaris DumaTau Camp
Address: Botswana, Linyanti Reserve, Botswana
Location: Botswana > North-West District > Linyanti Reserve
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Specialty Lodging in Linyanti Reserve
Hotel Class:4 star — Wilderness Safaris DumaTau Camp 4*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Perhaps the best game viewing in far northern Botswana - from its newest and most stylish camp. DumaTau means "roar of the lion," but the elephant reigns here. The camp is set on a lagoon on the Linyanti River between two "elephant highways," affording unparalleled viewing of these iconic mammals, along with other wildlife. Together with sweeping, dramatic views of the river, the architecture of the camp expresses the explorer aesthetic, as well as the idea of space. There is an airy dining and lounge area, and a pool, all taking advantage of the superb view of the lagoon. Highlights DumaTau is located close to the source of the Savute Channel, with access to the Linyanti Swamps, floodplains and extensive mopane woodlands, thus offering an excellent combination of land and river. During winter, large elephant herds traverse the area. Chances of viewing leopard, lion and wild dog are excellent, along with other large mammals like hippo, red lechwe, giraffe, waterbuck, kudu, impala and occasional buffalo. 10 Tents (including 2 Family Tents): Rebuilt 2012; en-suite; spacious; raised off the ground; clear-storey window; 100% solar powered Experiences: Day and night game drives • Nature walks (on request) • Boating and barge (seasonal) • Game viewing hides • Catch-and-release fishing (seasonal) ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Duma Tau Camp, Linyanti Reserve Hotel Linyanti Reserve
Wilderness Safaris DumaTau Camp Botswana/Linyanti Reserve

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