While not as well-known as nearby safari regions like the Chobe and the Okavango Delta, the Linyanti Wilderness Reserve in the northwestern part of Botswana, not far from the Namibian border, is a hidden gem for wildlife lovers—particularly those passionate about elephants and wild dogs, both of which regularly congregate in this area. One of the main thoroughfares for these species sits at the confluence of the Kwando and Linyanti rivers, near the Zibadianja and Osprey Lagoons. Migrating elephant mega-herds in particular love swimming through the lagoons—and when they do, they paddle right in front of DumaTau, the luxury camp from Wilderness Safaris. Just reopened following a complete rebuild and expansion, this upscale lodge now offers not just a prime, secluded position from which to take in wildlife, but also a modern vision that incorporates wellness, mindfulness and holistic cuisine into its “restorative safari” experience.
With the rebuild, the eight-suite DumaTau and the nearby Little DumaTau—a four-suite camp-within-a-camp that can be booked separately—are now part of Wilderness Safaris’ Premier portfolio of lodges. “Since the camps are built of natural materials, their lifespans are roughly between five and 10 years, so the previous camp [that was on this site] was ready for an upgrade,” Grant Woodrow, the company’s business development chief operations officer, tells Robb Report. “We felt this was an opportune moment to make all the enhancements to the camp to bring it in line with the spectacular setting.”
As seen in these exclusive first look photos, the new style is sophisticated and inviting, and takes cues from the lagoon-side location. A collaboration between Luxury Frontiers and Artichoke Interiors, in association with artist Gina Waldman and Wilderness’s in-house design team, the redo—which was done with sustainability and conservation in mind—began with reorienting the guest suites and main dining room to offer better water views, as well as lowering the fire pit and adding a floating deck for the same reasons. Each expanded suite features a separate living area, an outdoor lounge, a plunge pool, an outdoor shower and “curiosity boxes” that showcase informative tidbits about elephants and wild dogs. Décor details, meanwhile, include bar tiles hand-painted with maps of the Linyanti, hand-dyed cushions featuring imprints from recycled jeep tires and a color palette of berry, blush, terracotta and green inspired by the lagoon’s flora.
Also new—and somewhat novel for safari camps in general—is the addition of the Osprey Retreat, a wellness center with a spa, a gym, a boutique, a covered deck with daybeds and a deli area serving healthy snacks. There’s also a pool with in-water loungers. The center is a key part of a new direction for the brand, as is the introduction of more mindfulness activities and a reimagined culinary program that celebrates plant-based options and locally grown superfoods (think baobab and Kalahari truffle), supporting local communities and reducing the overall “food-print” and food waste. “The new DumaTau represents the next stage in the evolution of Wilderness Safaris’ focus on guests’ holistic wellness,” says Woodrow, explaining that this approach includes helping guests “embark on a self-led journey to recharge their physical and psychological wellbeing, whether through the safari experiences themselves, the reimagined menu, mindful relaxation in the spa, or a contemplative yoga session.” And, of course, he adds, the secluded location of the camp itself—and the fact that guests are able to take in wildlife by barge, boat, walking safari and traditional game drives—offers “complete immersion into nature as a retreat, in the truest sense of the word.”
The camp’s remoteness, intimate size and private sanctuary access are also pluses given the current need for safety and social-distancing, and Wilderness has implemented a host of other measures to address those issues, from the vaccinating and regular testing of staff and the upgrading of cleaning protocols to accommodating requests for private game drive vehicles. Because the company operates its own Wilderness Air inter-safari airline, transfer flights can be privatized, too (for an additional fee), and to help meet the US requirement for a negative PCR test to re-enter the country, Wilderness is able to fly in a nurse to administer a test right at the camp, in between your game drives; results are then delivered before your international departure. Rates start at $1,762 per person, per night, double occupancy, including all meals. Botswana is currently open to US travelers with proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.