One can hardly blame the birds for sneaking into the Duba Plains Suite. The exclusive-use residence at Botswana’s Duba Plains Reserve is an epic amalgam of early-20th-century-style furnishings, formal dining and sitting areas, intimate nooks, palatial bedrooms, and a 150-foot-long deck with plunge pools, exercise bikes, and a fire pit overlooking the floodplain. The only thing missing from the suite is a wall—which is why you might find a curious lapwing or lark flitting about your living room.
The suite’s design—with acres of canvas covers and flaps that open to the elements during the day—ensures an intimate connection to one of the continent’s most exciting ecosystems. Set in the heart of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana, Duba Plains is a 190,000-acre private reserve managed by Dereck and Beverly Joubert’s Great Plains Conservation. In March, the reserve entered the upper echelon of luxury-safari destinations with the debut of the Duba Plains Suite, the equally elegant five-room Duba Plains Camp, and a main lodge that includes a wine cellar, a library, and a media room for reviewing the day’s photographs. (Duba Plains lends guests high-powered Canon 5D cameras with 400 mm lenses to use on their safaris.)
Thanks largely to the photographs and films of the Jouberts—who shot their Relentless Enemies and other documentaries at the reserve—Duba Plains is known for its lion-versus-buffalo battles. Safaris are appropriately adrenaline-inducing, with walks, helicopter flights, boat trips, and drives exploring the watery expanse. In addition to being an ideal habitat for elephants, hippopotamuses, and other large species, the delta delivers amusement-park-like adventures, where custom Land Cruisers helmed by expert guides navigate deep channel crossings to reach islands teeming with wildlife.
Duba Plains’ guides are equally deft at navigating the needs and boundaries of their guests. Whether pursuing a lion on the hunt or shooing away an avian invader in your suite, they gradually expand your comfort zone while immersing you in the wildness of the Okavango.
Where: Elevated just above the floodplain in a 190,000-acre private reserve in Botswana’s Okavango Delta
What: Five lavishly appointed suites and the two-bedroom Duba Plains Suite, a private safari palace all its own
Why: Africa’s most luxurious new lodge in a prime safari destination, plus the pure fun of delta crossings in a custom Land Cruiser
Wildlife: Elephants, lions, Cape buffalos, hippopotamuses, and a wide range of waterfowl