Travel: Vumburu Plains

Marlon duToit All Authors, Marlon 1 Comment

Tucked away in the Northern reaches of the Okavango Delta lies a charming and well designed camp called Vumbura Plains.

Spread out across a beautiful open floodplain it creates a feeling of freedom and space, exactly what one needs when arriving in the “bush”, your escape from every day city life.


vumbura_plains

From the moment you land at the narrow gravel airtsrip and are met by your guide and host, you feel welcomed and appreciated. This is such an important part of any safari and sets the tone for what is to come. The 45 minute drive from the airstrip to camp is filled with excitement as the 4×4 track winds its way through water-filled channels and wooded savanna.

You really feel like you have set foot in African paradise.

An ice-cold drink accompanied by several big smiles greet you as you arrive at camp.

The true vastness of the surrounding scenery becomes evident as you step through the beautifully decorated lounge and onto the viewing deck, a near endless vista of open floodplain surrounded by large woodland. Waterbirds of every kind are spread out infront of you, and vervet monkeys occupy some of the surrounding Leadwood Trees.

This is what Africa should look like!

The Lodge & Rooms

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

The main lounge area & bar gives a feeling of space and texture. I love the contemporary design and layout. There’s something in here for everyone to enjoy. Enjoy the vista laid out infront of you with a drink in-hand, or sit back and grab a book filled with adventures in Africa.

A neat little touch is the “home-made” swinging chair. It’s attention to detail like this that makes this one of my favourite camps to visit.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

The viewing deck and fireplace is placed out on a little walkway which hovers above the floodplain. During the African winter water fills the channels of the Okavango Delta giving Vumbura a great “wetland” feel. Not only birds are plentiful then infront of the lodge, but also antelope like lechwe and even hippo.

Lunch, breakfast & dinners are enjoyed out on the open deck or in the spacious dining room.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

The rooms at Vumbura are some of the most beautiful I have seen. It obviously is something that boils down to personal taste, but I was seriously impressed by the creative thinking and detail that went into each of the rooms.

As we approached my room I was met by a high wooden wall. This ensures ultimate privacy for you and your partner as you laze about your massive deck. The deck is attached to the room and once inside you will be blown away.

The little lounge area in the corner of the room enjoys a great view of the floodplain, and has a fridge in just the right place avoiding a walk every time you need a refreshing drink. Three of the walls are made entirely of mesh allowing for a cool breeze to keep you at the right temperature.

What I loved most was the massive shower with a great view! There was space in there for an elephant or two as well!

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

The camp at night

I absolutely love the dark hours at any camp. Vumbura Plains comes alive at night with a myriad of creatures filling the air with their calls.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

My absolute favourite place was the deck overlooking the floodplain. This is the perfect place to enjoy a warm cup of coffee after a delicious dinner. The large African sky above was lit by countless stars, and the sounds drifting across the floodplain was music to my ears.
Every single night the lions would roar, and this would pick up again in the early morning before game drive.

Every morning long before my guests wake up I love heading over the the fireplace and starting it up again. Often the coals from the night before are still ablaze and it only needs a blow or two and a few fresh logs.
There’s nothing that compares to sitting next to a warm fire in the early morning hours, and listening to the sounds as Africa wakes up.

Absolute bliss.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

On safari at Vumbura

So, you did not come all the way to the Okavango Delta to sit in your room all day long! (Although at Vumbura that is totally possible)

The scenic beauty of Vumbura Plains needs special mention.

The diversity of habitat here is so striking. One moment you are carving through the water-filled channels surrounded by nothing but green grass and an open blue sky, and the next you are on dry land within a mopane thicket. It easily changes from that into sandy rather bumpy road and then right into a stunning woodland with massive Ebony, Leadwood and Sausage Trees.

It really is beautiful and striking.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

The large amount of water makes for a safari of a different kind.

Many of the local animals have had to adapt to more of an “aquatic” lifestyle. We would often come across tracks of lion in the early morning, only to lose them again as soon as we get to one of the many channels.

Not only the lions are adept to these wet conditions, but everything from leopard to giraffe have grown accustomed to it, species that would more regularly be associated with drier conditions.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

There’s plenty to see here that’s forsure. Thanks to the ethical guides and the high standards of Wilderness guide’s you get an amazing safari experience here.

I clearly remember one morning as we rounded a corner and “stumbled” upon a hyena den. There were atleast 6 young hyena cubs at the entrance of the den, with one of the adults not too far off in the taller grasses.
They kept us thoroughly entertained with all their antics. They are an absolute pleasure to watch despite their reputation of being lowly no-good scavengers.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

There are two species of animal here that stood out for me. They are not often seen and are frequently encountered here at Vumbura Plains.

The first is the incredible Sable. With its bold black & white markings they stand out amongst all the other African antelope. The males are dark with long swooping horns whereas the females tend to be more brown in colour and posses shorter less menacing horns. The have a royal attitude about them and are bold by nature.

At Vumbura the resident herds have acclimatized to the presence of the game-viewers and didn’t mind our presence at all. They are usually very skittish and tend to run at the first sight of anything human-like.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

The second animal found here in large number are African Wild Dog. They are undoubtedly one of my favourite animals in Africa!

One of the great aspects of Vumbura is that it is not completely surrounded by water. The Northern and Eastern sides are attached to the mainland creating a habitat for plenty of impala, kudu, zebra and wildebeest. It also created the perfect hunting grounds for Africa’s most successful large carnivore, the African Wild Dog.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

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Best time of year

This is a tough one. The Okavango Delta goes through two distinct periods throughout the year.

It rains from November through to March, but the channels are still dry. It takes several months for the water to filter into the floodplain, and water level is usually at a high during the winter months, from June to August.

The rainy season also marks the summer time and temperatures can rise rather high. During the winter it is cold with temperatures often dropping close to zero. Game viewing is great all year round in my opinion, although it is easier to spot game when there’s less vegetation during the dry season month, from May to October.

Marlon du Toit, Vumbura Plains, Wild Eye, Safari

It does get cold during the winter months so be sure to brings lots of warm clothes! 

My 3 favourite things about Vumbura Plains

  1. The unique scenery and wildlife. It is such a unique combination of woodland, wetland and open grassland. It creates habitat for a myriad of different species and special like Sable & wild dog are found frequently on safari.
  2. The fireplace. It overlooks an amazing floodplain and the stars at night viewed from here are simply sensational.
  3. The shower! Put it this way, next time I visit here I plan to do so with my wife!

 

So there you have it.

Vumbura Plains is an absolute gem of a destination and stands amongst the best in the Jewel of Botswana, the Okavango Delta.
I would certainly take any of my guests there again, no doubt!

Feel free to take a look at my trip report from a recent safari to Botswana by clicking HERE.

Till next time,

Marlon du Toit

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