News from the CEO
We hosted a trip a few weeks ago at Duba Plains and one of the guests said; ‘What a magnificent camp, great spot, food, service, guides….could not be better.’
I said. ‘I’m delighted! We’re about to tear it all down!’
The plan of action at Duba has been to build a small but very elegant camp we are calling Duba Expedition Camp on the same island as the present camp but about 3km away. I stumbled on this location once while getting terribly stuck in a river crossing while filming and out of sheer frustration I left Beverly sitting on the roof, in the flowing river and waded out to the nearest shade to get some logs to dig in under the wheels. A small (ish) crocodile skidded away as I got near the bank. And I sat for a moment on a large termite hill under a great ebony tree to catch my breath and compose myself. As I looked at I was able to take in the view. It is what can only be described as typical of those scenes you might see in a National Geographic double page spread of the pristine Okavango Delta. Hippos grunted nearby (and I made a note to wade back on the right hand side of the deep water) and a Malachite Kingfisher darted off to catch an impossibly small fish and returned to her perch just an arms length from me. Water lilies brightened the dark water (that I noted I still needed to navigate) and a herd of elephants moved in a feeding trance on the opposite bank. For a moment I considered this as a place to have my ashes scattered (later rather that sooner.) Last month we started building Duba Expedition camp around that termite mound and ebony tree.
In designing it I took references from two of my favorite camps, Mara Toto and Selinda Explorers because we have started to understand that we want to develop in a direction of our strengths. By that I mean we enjoy creating and running only the finest of the fine-styled camps like Zarafa and the Dhow Suite, Mara Plains and ol Donyo Lodge, all either Relais & Chateaux accredited lodges, or member lodges of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World portfolio. But we also enjoy the ‘on the ground’ expedition styled adventures we all like to have in the bush. Both tell the stories, romantic stories of ‘Safari.’ What we don’t really enjoy if anything is the middle, where larger mass tourism kicks in, where warm wine and mediocre food is standard and the guides are largely just drivers. So we will be developing ‘Our Story’ in two directions, beyond five star, and adventure styled camps. Our adventure styled camps will always have an element of added activity as standard. So horses, or canoe trails, walking, sleeping out, and in this case at Duba Expedition camp, mostly water activities like dugout canoe expeditions. I love it.
After a great deal of work, Duba Expedition is now about to open, and then we close down the present Duba camp for a total rebuild. This will be exciting in itself because Duba is a camp we bought from another operator and it as been in place for 15 years. All camps start to accumulate junk, old wiring, old tanks, pipes and that sort of thing so this is our chance to completely rehabilitate the site. Every nail, piece of wood, wire, pipe and piece of cement is being cut out, lifted and carted out on each incoming truck bring new materials in. The old decks are being cut and made into campaign boxes so that some of the spirit of this old camp stays but in a new incarnation. We will share images of our fantastic new camp as soon as it is absolutely perfect.
All the best