Sadly, we were happy to be leaving Jack’s Camp behind. The staff was very friendly and helpful, although our guide Harold, didn’t seem to like talking too much. Not a good trait in a guide. But we were going to Vumbura, a much more luxurious camp at the edge of the Okavango Delta.
The delta is an inland swamp formed when several major rivers got trapped by seismic action. The flood plain originally extended southeast to the Kalahari Desert, where Jack’s is, forming a giant lake. When the plates shifted they formed a barrier that prevented the water from reaching the Kalahari, making it a desert. Since the water flow is highly seasonal, the resulting water dries significantly in the dry winter, leaving a huge fertile area with waterways and plains. That’s where Vumbura lies.
Traveling to all of these bush camps is interesting. First you drive from your camp to the airstrip, which is typically 30-40 minutes away, using the same vehicles as the game drives, on the same rutted, dusty roads. Then you climb into a small plane, which carries anywhere from four to ten people. The flights are under an hour, some as short as 25 minutes. And depending on what else the pilot needs to accomplish that day, you may make one or more stops along the way to pickup or drop off other passengers.
I think we made at least ten take-offs and landings to visit our four camps. We were the only passengers on about half of the hops. Every plane was very noisy and “a little rough” (1).
Vumbura in the delta, August 2017
Anyway, Vumbura Plains camp was a significant uptick from Jack’s. The tent was huge and light, with three sides being fully open (2) during the day. And electric lights at night! Normally, we would have been unhappy that the lights were so dim, but after packing by candlelight, this was heaven. The tent also had outlets to charges our batteries, a huge closet area, and a really cool shower. There was a huge deck, where I had a massage.
The only similarity to Jack’s was our long walk from the tent to the main area, and the lack of heat other than bush babies.
Is that an elephant in your backyard?, August 2017
Vumbura also had abundant wildlife. While we were unpacking, an elephant was grazing next to our tent.
(1) Every pilot, before each takeoff, gave a safety briefing (“there’s the door and fire extinguisher”) and apologized that the flight was going to be “a little rough”.
(2) Fully open but screened. There was plenty of natural light during the day.