Abu Camp Elephant Safaris in the Okavango Delta
"you are invited to immerse yourself in the majestic world of the African elephant"
Address: Abu Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Children: Children 6 years and older can be accommodated
Bed capacity: 6 tented rooms for 12 guests (or 14 with 2 children aged 6 to 16 years)
Abu Camp is set in the vast, private, Abu Concession within the unspoilt Okavango Delta - the largest inland delta on earth.
The Okavango and surrounding areas of northern Botswana hold more elephants than any other area in Africa. Abu Camp is named after a very special bull elephant.
Abu Camp was originally opened as a haven for elephants who were held in captivity at places such as zoos or circuses around the world. The vision of the founder is to release as many as possible into the wild. On reaching adulthood, all young bulls from the herd have left to wander the Okavango, and a matriarchal unit of two adult cows and their respective calves has also chosen to leave.
Despite the sustained success of elephant safaris, the vision "to return previously captive elephants to the wild" remains. With the help of NGO Elephants Without Borders, Abu Camp is able to achieve this - a unique aspect of the Abu elephant programme which not only sees elephants returned to their natural habitat, but also provides invaluable research data which furthers the understanding of the conservation needs and challenges of one of Africa's most iconic species. The reintroduced elephants, along with the Abu herd, act as ambassadors for elephant conservation, adding their voices to a compelling narrative that the world cannot afford to ignore.
Over and above the Abu Camp elephant safaris, the area hosts other wildlife. Plains game that occurs in the area includes general game species such as impala, red lechwe, tsessebe, zebra, wildebeest warthog, buffalo, giraffe, the rare roan antelope as well as herds of wild elephant. The main carnivores seen are lion, spotted hyaena and leopard all of which are often sigthed on game drives.
Abu Camp is set in an ancient riverine forest, looking out over a large lagoon. It blends in seamlessly with the magnificent surrounding trees. The imaginative use of canvas has created a rustic, yet luxurious style of camp.
Abu Camp aims to provide the very best in luxury accommodation and impeccable service, whilst remaining mindful of the impact of human activities on the natural environment. The camp is a haven of peace and tranquillity inspired by the natural rhythms of the bush.
The multi-decked lounge and dining area and a well-stocked library and study, gym and pool will keep guests entertained, informed and energised while at camp. Well-lit pathways link the camp's main area to the guest rooms.
- Situated in an ancient riverine forest overlooking a large lagoon.
- Luxury tented camp with pool.
- Large canvas dining, and lounge area connectto an Elephant Library (which has internet connectivity for guest use) on a tiered wooden deck.
- The open, airy gym is positioned back from the lagoon and drops down onto a wooden deck which joins the pool area. Equipment includes a treadmill, rowing machine, yoga mats and free weights.
- Traditional campfire on the ground under the stars.
- Star-Bed platform that sleeps 2 guests situated at the elephant enclosure
- Internet is available in the library
Electricity & water
- Electricity is provided by solar energy with a back-up generator if required.
- Video and camera batteries as well as laptops can be charged in the guest tents.
- Water is solar heated.
Abu camp offers six stylish en-suite "tented rooms" located under a shady canopy in an ancient riverine forest. Five of the tents are twin bedded (but can be converted to double beds on request) and one tent is double bedded. A child aged 6 to 16 can be accommodated, on special request, in two of the six tents (meaning a maximum of 14 beds can be provided).
The amazing tents have a wonderful design - stylish and comfortable - blending in with the natural surroundings. The high, wide and airy canvas styling lends to the distinctive elegance of the rooms created by sophisticated architecture in an idyllic environment.
Each of tents has its own distinctive furnishings and fittings. Each tent features an indoor and outdoor shower, an outdoor copper bath and a spacious elevated wooden deck private viewing deck overlooking the lagoon. Decks are appointed with sun loungers and a dining table with two chairs.
The outdoor bathroom, while private and secure, has a large copper-skirted bath set under the open African skies, where guests can absorb the sounds of nature whilst relaxing in luxury.
There is a separate comfortable seating area in each tent with a writing desk and a private elevated wooden deck sculpted around the lofty fig and jackal-berry trees shading the tents. Panoramic views of the Okavango Delta can be appreciated from all perspectives of the room.
For guests seeking an over-night experience in the serene, sensory world of the African elephant, Abu Camp offers the opportunity to sleep out under the stars in the Elephant Star Bed overlooking the elephant boma.
On request, guests are escorted to the "star-bed" after dinner on one night of their stay at Abu Camp. To ensure complete comfort, a double-storey platform offers a bathroom with shower, toilet and basin on the lower deck and a double bed upstairs under a large mosquito net. Spend an evening curled up near the elephants in this unique "star-bed" while the herd slumbers below - an opportunity to "sleep with the elephants" to be found nowhere else in Africa.
- luxury architect-designed 'tents', each individually furnished
- each tent has a viewing deck overlooking the lagoon
- en-suite bathroom with indoor shower plus an outdoor copper bath
- ultimate comfort
- fine combed-cotton percale bed sheets and duvets
- with embroidered linen throws used in every unit
- artwork, artistic floor-rugs and lighting
- hairdryers and bathrobes
- ceiling fans, tea and coffee stations and a small bar fridge
- electronic safe in each tent
- multi-plugs available for charging camera and video equipment and laptops in the tent
Activities at Abu Camp
The elephant experience
The focus at Abu Camp is on the Elephant Experience. During your stay you will have the opportunity to interact with the elephant herd and get to know the personalities of each family member. The Abu camp herd offers an incomparable opportunity to engage and physically interact with the elephants through varied activities. By the time you leave Abu, you will feel a special connection to the herd which is both humbling and rewarding.
The Abu Camp herd currently (2016) comprises six elephants: Cathy, Shireni, Lorato, Paseka, Warona and Naledi. Guests ride two at a time on Cathy and Shireni, allowing for four guests to ride simultaneously whilst the remaining guests (maximum six) walk alongside the elephants or enjoy one of the other activities on offer.
CATHY - The matriarch of the herd - was born in Uganda in 1960. After capture in the Murchison Falls National Park as a baby, she was taken to a safari park in Canada. She was then 'recruited' to return to Africa for the filming of Circles in a Forest, a movie set in the Knysna Forest in South Africa. With her co-stars, Abu and Benny, she was moved to the Okavango Delta in 1990 where the first elephant-back luxury safaris in Africa was started. Her stable temperament and gentleness made her the natural matriarch and she has a steadying influence on the herd, particularly on the youngsters.
SHIRENI - one of the original 'brat pack' of six young elephant orphans saved from a cull in the Kruger Park. Her name means 'where the old cows meet'. She is a doting and natural mother in the Abu Camp Herd; indeed she has all the necessary maternal attributes of calmness, patience and a loving nature and is a great favourite among the handlers. She gave birth to Raditlou Wantha, the first baby to be born within Abu Camp. Poor little Raditlou was two months premature and sadly died after just 13 days. Shireni quickly mated with a wild bull in the area and delivered two lively young bulls who have since been released into the wild.
LORATO - firstborn of the late Kitimetse, was born just a few days short of Valentine's Day, giving rise to her name which is a derivation of the word "love" in Setswana. Brimming with personality and a fast learner, she quickly made friends in the herd, particularly with Naya (since released into the wild), Paseka and Warona. She enjoys being the 'big sister' to all the youngsters at Abu Camp.
PASEKA - her name means "Easter" in Setswana and refers to the time of year she joined the Abu Camp Herd. She was found in April 2009 abandoned by a wild herd in the Okavango after being attacked by hyaenas. She took refuge in the generator room of Seba Camp, at which point it was too late to "let nature take its course", so she was taken to Abu where her wounds were treated and Shireni, who was lactating at the time, duly adopted her.
WARONA - Shireni's fourth calf was born on 17 December 2011 and named Warona by the elephant handlers, which is a Setswana name meaning 'for us'. Originally she spent a lot of time with Cathy, walking at the front of the herd, but as she grew older she began to mingle more with the rest of the herd and the guests. Her "sisters", Lorato and Paseka, play with her and generally try to keep her out of trouble
NALEDI - Born 27 November 2013 to Kitimetse, on a starry night. Her name means "star" in Setswana. Sadly, Kitimetse passed away in January 2014. Initially, it was thought that the very young Naledi could be nursed by either Shireni or Cathy at Abu Camp, who were both lactating. However, in the end, the decision was made to move Naledi away from the herd where her elephant handlers could provide love, care and attention around the clock as well as feeding her by bottle. Naledi's older sister is Lorato.
For those wanting to explore further afield, morning or afternoon game drive activities in open safari vehicles are offered. Part of the enjoyment of these drives with a qualified, interpretive guide is experiencing the expanse and diversity of the area, as well as stopping at spectacular locations for morning tea or coffee or a sunset drink while taking in the splendour of the Delta and its inhabitants.
Float down the quiet channels of the Delta on a motorboat or mokoro - a traditional dugout canoe (season dependent), navigated through the waters by a skilled poler. A tranquil way of viewing the Delta, the mokoro will give you a completely different perspective of the area and your luxury safari. Colourful water birds, such as kingfishers seeking their next mealand many others may be seen.
Flying is a wonderful way to appreciate the diversity of the Abu Camp Concession and the Okavango Delta as a whole. Scenic light aircraft or helicopter flights, which can be arranged at Abu camp, offer a bird's-eye view of the ecosystem and an insight into its formation. The densely matted papyrus waterways, palm islands and the role of termites all take on an entirely new perspective when seen from above. Finding the Abu herd from the air is part of the journey, along with looking for wild elephant herds and other wildlife.
Abu Camp Rates
- Rates are quoted in US$ (USD) and are subject to change without prior notice
- Rates are quoted per person sharing per night - a single supplement applies
- No minimum or maximum number of nights are required although for a full experience, a minimum stay of 3 nights is recommended.
- Elephant safari activities are offered daily.
- At Abu Camp a maximum of 10 guests can be accommodated on an elephant safari activity at any one given time. This number is comprised of a maximum of 4 'riders' and 6 'walkers' or less, depending on the number of guests. If one of the elephants is pregnant or nursing a young one, this experience will be managed on the ground by Abu Camp.
- All meals
- All local drinks (excludes premium imported brands and champagne)
- Camp activities including the elephant safari interaction
- Park fees
- Wireless internet connection
- Tips/ Gratuities
- Curios and personal items
- Champagne and premium brand alcoholic beverages
- Any in-room treatments
- International air travel
- Visas - where required
- Departure tax
- Road transfers
- Internal flights
- Abu Camp does not have a family room. Children between the ages of 6 and 16 years can be accommodated as a triple share in a standard twin room on an extra bed (maximum 2 extra beds available for this purpose at any one time). This may impact on space and comfort.
- Child rates will apply when the child is sharing with adults in the triple room, however the range of activities is limited as a result of the minimum age requirement of 13 years for the following: canoeing, mokoro excursions, walking (game walks or walking with the elephants) and solo elephant rides.
- Children between the ages of 6 and 16 years may participate in a sleep out on the outdoor star-deck as well as on an elephant ride, provided they are accompanied by an adult, on the star-deck or on the same elephant respectively.
- Elephant safari excursions cannot be booked on a private basis and as such all parties, including those where children between 6 and 16 years, share in these activities at the same time. Where possible the camp will allocate and roster activities in such a way that families with children between 6 and 16 years are accommodated sole use on game drive and boating activities.
- When booking sole use of Abu Camp the minimum camp age restriction falls away, however activity minimum requirements remain in place for safety reasons.