Duke’s Camp

LOCATION:

Okavango Delta

NUMBER OF ROOMS:

8-12

PRICE RANGE:

$695 — $1,350

DATES OPEN:

Year Round

LOCATION:

Okavango Delta

NUMBER OF ROOMS:

8-12

PRICE RANGE:

$695 — $1,350

DATES OPEN:

Year Round

Serious safari panache in an unfiltered African wilderness

For more than 30 years, Jack’s Camp has been an icon of African safaris, pioneering under-canvas luxury on the fringes of Botswana’s ethereal Makgadikgadi Pans. This year the adventurous spirit of Jack Bousfield ventures into new territory, with the early June opening of Duke’s Camp in the magical wilderness of the northern Okavango Delta.

While Jack’s has long taken its cue from the desert, Duke’s Camp draws its inspiration from the crystal-clear channels of the Okavango Delta, which wind sinuously around this permanent camp.

This landmark new camp is named in honour of Sarefo ‘Duke’ Sarefo, the custodian of this bountiful piece of wilderness. Duke was born 80 years ago on the very island that the camp now occupies, and his ancestral roots run deep into these sandy soils.

Pitched on raised wooden decks beneath a canopy of ebony and leadwood trees, the luxurious safari tents offer an unforgettable under-canvas adventure in the midst of this remarkable World Heritage Site. With expert guides honed in the bushcraft and lore of the Delta, there are few better ways to discover this wild landscape.

Duke’s Camp is a striking new safari destination set on a vast concession rich in game and natural beauty, and it lies waiting to be discovered.

Why You’ll Love Duke’s Camp:

  • Pitched in a remote wilderness area set on a channel of the northern Okavango Delta, this is unfiltered African wilderness combined with an inimitable safari style.
  • Dreamed up, and brought to life, by Ralph Bousfield and the creators of Jack’s Camp, an icon of the Kalahari. Enjoy the same yesteryear charm and understated luxury in the wilderness.
  • Wilderness on the doorstep. This unfenced camp offers front-row seats to the Okavango Delta. With glorious views over a flood plain and seasonal lagoon, enjoy game viewing from the comfort of your under-canvas suite.
  • Located in one of Africa’s most game-rich and beautiful concessions, you’ll enjoy one-of-a-kind wildlife encounters that will be etched in your memory for years to come.
  • Immerse yourself in the wilderness with game drives, mokoro (dugout canoe) excursions, fishing, and sunset boat trips. Hot-air ballooning, scenic helicopter flights and rock art visits are also available, at additional cost.
  • It boasts some of the best safari guides in the business; trained by the safari legend Ralph Bousfield.

We recommend booking Duke’s Camp as part of a complete Natural Selection safari, but if you want to book it separately or just check availability, click here to select dates and book.

Interested in learning more about the prices? View Rates

Duke’s Camp Accommodations

Duke’s Camp offers twelve canvas safari suites, each one carefully positioned to offer unforgettable views of the Okavango Delta. The tents are on raised wooden decks and sit elegantly amongst leadwood and ebony trees.

Taking their cue from the style and panache of the original Jack’s Camp, the guest tents at Duke’s Camp revel in the much-loved vintage safari aesthetic of plush fabrics, Persian rugs and hand-carved four-poster beds. Think mahogany sideboards filled with African memorabilia; richly-patterned kilims atop wooden floors and a butler tray decked with a steaming pot of filter coffee come morning. It’s a seamless blend of yesteryear charm, safari savoir-faire and deep respect for the surrounding natural ecosystems.

Each tent offers a spacious en-suite bathroom, bedecked with brass fittings and bespoke amenities, as well as a private viewing deck. Here leather campaign chairs offer a space for quiet reflection on your time in the wilderness, and the opportunity for spontaneous game sightings. Herds of elephant and red lechwe are common here, and moments spent in quiet observation rarely go unrewarded.

The main mess area at Duke’s Camp is a delight with its old world glamour and elegant Persian tea-tent. Grab a drink from the well-stocked drinks cabinet and settle into the small lounge furnished with intricately carved tables, antique oriental rugs and campaign furniture.

Meals are enjoyed under the shade of the giant ebony trees or in the communal dining tent, where the long vintage dining table dominates the space. Guests gather to trade tales of their days in the wilderness or admire the cabinets of curiosities filled with Africana and collectables gathered by the Bousfield family through generations of African travel.

Meals are a lavish affair of crystal glasses and antique silverware, with three-course dinners that celebrate the rich Jack’s Camp tradition of honouring guests with fine food and wine in the African bush. Beside the flickering lanterns you’ll find, of course, pots of the Bousfield’s legendary hot chilli relish. At day’s end, gather by the firepit to watch the mopane wood smoke curl up into the southern skies, hinting at tomorrow’s promise of yet more African adventure.

Accommodation & Amenities

  • The camp will open in June with 8 tents: 6 twins, 2 doubles.   All on raised wooden platforms
  • An additional 4 tents will be available from March 2023
  • En-suite bathrooms with indoor showers
  • Swimming pool
  • Dining ‘mess’ tent and adjoining library/lounge
  • Power: 24-hour electricity in all guest tents (100% solar-powered)
  • Wi-Fi available: No
  • Hairdryers: No
  • Complimentary laundry service (please note: due to local custom undergarments cannot be laundered. Washing powder is provided in each suite)
  • Child Policy: Children from 6 years are welcome
  • Disabled access: Please enquire with reservations

When to Visit Duke’s Camp

Duke’s Camp is open year-round, with each season offering its own unique character and opportunities for adventure in the Okavango Delta.

Arguably the best time to visit is between April and October, and these dry winter months are peak season in the Okavango Delta. Though they are the ‘dry’ months – because rainfall is almost unheard of – there is water everywhere!

At this time most of the Delta is in full flood from the constant pulses of waters arriving from the moist Angolan highlands around 1000km away. Channels fill with crystalline waters, marking this to be the best time for mokoro and boat activities. Game viewing is exceptional, with photo opportunities of elephants and antelope navigating flooded channels. Daytime temperatures during our winter are mild, with clear blue skies, while mornings and evenings are cool enough to call for a light jacket. This is, undoubtedly, the best time to visit the Delta.

With the change of weather in October we welcome the ‘Green’ season, when the landscape erupts in a riot of bright green foliage fed by the summer rains. Temperatures begin to climb, and rain falls in intense afternoon thunderstorms that lend an undeniable drama to the Okavango.

Though water levels in the channels begin to recede from October, the unique location of Duke’s Camp up north ensures that it receives the first pulses of new floodwaters often as early as February ensuring near year-round access to perennial channels for mokoros and boat safaris.  It’s very rarely in a deep drought year that boating can’t be enjoyed at Dukes year round.

These warmer summer months are also best for bird watching, with the arrival of summer migrants from central Africa and Europe that set the bush alive with birdsong.

Seasonality

  •   Green season: 10 January – 31 March
  •   Shoulder season: 01 April – 31 May | 01 November – 19 December
  •   High season: 01 June – 30 June | 01 September – 31 October | 20 December – 09 January 2023
  •   Peak season: 01 July – 31 August

Duke’s Camp Activities

For decades the quality of guiding has been a defining feature of Jack’s Camp, and this unique Okavango Delta experience is no different. At Duke’s Camp guides combine their in-depth naturalist expertise and years of experience in the bush with the trademark knack for storytelling passed on by founder Ralph Bousfield.

And with all game activities taking place on a vast concession away from public access, guests can look forward to utterly unique wilderness experiences.

  • Morning, afternoon and night game drives explore the pristine private concession, home to a rich array of wildlife including healthy populations of lion, leopard, cheetah, and elephant. A highlight of any visit to the Delta is sighting the semi-aquatic red lechwe and rare sitatunga antelope.
  • Glide through crystal-clear channels on a traditional mokoro (dugout canoe) safari, as expert guides introduce you to the remarkable fauna and flora of the Delta. Note that mokoro activities are subject to the annual floodwaters, and in dry years may be restricted or curtailed from October to January.
  • Spend a night fly-camping on a remote, lantern-lit island, sleep under the stars armed with a mozzie net and a bedroll.
  • Cast a line for the myriad fish species of the Okavango Delta, including African pike, nembwe and tilapia. Note that fishing is catch and release and is not permitted during the breeding season, from 1 January – 31 March.
  • Escape the African sun in the camp pool, with the chance to spot wildlife from your lounger.
  • The Okavango Delta is a haven for birders, with more than 350 species spotted in the region. While the arrival of northern hemisphere migrants makes summer the best time for birding, twitchers will be mesmerized year-round.
  • The Tsodilo Hills is a fascinating World heritage Site that is located  just 30 minutes flight away by helicopter. The Tsodilo Hills have a special significance to the Bushmen who have been living here for thousands of years.   With over 4,500 individual paintings, Tsodilo is a treasure trove of ancient rock art with some of the highest concentrations in the world dating back between 800 to 1300 AD.  A half day helicopter trip should be booked in advance to spend a morning exploring these Hills and their paintings.
  • Enjoy unforgettable sunset from both land and water.
  • Scenic helicopter flights and hot-air balloon adventures offer an entirely new perspective of the Okavango Delta. (Additional cost)

Duke’s Camp Landscape & Wildlife

Landscape

Duke’s Camp is situated on a 220 000-acre (89 000-hectare) concession in the northern sector of the Okavango Delta, located just north of the iconic Vumbura and Duba Plains, and adjoining the renowned Moremi Game Reserve. The unusually large size of the concession, coupled with limited human impact and a vast abundance of wildlife, ensures a stay at Duke’s Camp is a rare opportunity to enjoy a truly wild and untouched corner of the Delta.

The camp itself is pitched on an island along the shores of a permanent lagoon, all but hidden amid the boughs of indigenous leadwood and ebony trees. This is a landscape of tawny grasslands interwoven with shimmering channels, where ancient woodland and ilala palm-islands speak to the passage of time in this utterly timeless landscape.

This is one of the most unique wetland areas in the world, unchanged for centuries, and, regarding by those in the know as one of the best safari destinations there is.

Wildlife

Where the prey goes, the predators will follow. And with the high carrying capacity of this concession guests can look forward to impressive wildlife sightings throughout the year. Lush grasslands sustain large herds of herbivores – including African buffalo – while the Okavango’s iconic elephants are here in abundance, with guests often enjoying thrilling sightings on vehicle, mokoro, and boating excursions.

This diverse habitat is also exceptional in its ability to sustain a diversity of wildlife, from healthy populations of herbivores to leopard, lion, African wild dog and smaller carnivores including serval and caracal. In fact, this corner of the Okavango Delta is said to have some of the highest concentrations of lions in the Delta.

The birdlife in this region is equally remarkable, with more than 350 species recorded in the region. The trademark cry of the African fish eagle is the soundtrack to many a game drive, as twitchers tick dozens of new species off their life list.

Duke’s Camp Story

This landmark new camp is named in honour of Sarefo ‘Duke’ Sarefo, the custodian of this remarkable island wilderness amid the Okavango Delta. Duke was born 80 years ago on the very island that the camp now occupies, and his roots run deep into these sandy soils.

Duke’s forefathers are of the Wayeyi tribe, who have long worked the waters of the Okavango Delta as traditional fishermen. For three generations Sarefo’s family have called the bountiful Kgao Island home, and today his father and grandfather lie buried on the island, cementing Duke’s deep ancestral links to these ancient lands.

In 2002 Duke applied to take ownership of the island to acknowledge his family’s heritage in the area. A master fisherman, Duke has amassed an encyclopaedic, and intuitive, knowledge of this landscape, and it is with great pride that we have named the new camp in his honour.

Duke remains dedicated to protecting and preserving this wilderness and, working in partnership with Uncharted Africa, has embraced environmentally conscious tourism as a means to safeguard this landscape for future generations of the Sarefo family. A lease agreement on the concession allows travellers the unique privilege of exploring this unexplored corner of the Okavango Delta.