Botswana Okavango Delta Safari and Sanctuary Baines’ Camp

Botswana Okavango Delta Safari | Sanctuary Baines' Camp | Travel | Africa | Safari | Bubbly Moments

Our previous halts in Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, and Botswana’s Chobe National Park were delightful. The stops rejuvenated us to no end. It left us with pleasant memories that remain etched in our minds.

We enjoyed a once in a lifetime opportunity on our Botswana Okavango delta safari. We got to explore Africa’s largest elephant concentration and its thriving wildlife. Chobe National Park contains endangered and endemic animal species and beautiful, colorful birds. We also got an up close and personal view of its unique ecosystem. There were panoramic stretches of its floodplains, wetlands, grasslands and savannas.

We completed a marvelous 2-night stay at the verdant park. The next memorable stopover of our Botswana Okavango Delta safari was a small, private camp. It is called Sanctuary Baines’ Camp. It’s set against the picturesque backdrop of the stunning Okavango Delta.

Botswana – An Adventurer’s Paradise

The Southern African country of Botswana is one of the least populated nations in the world. However, its gifts lie in many other aspects. It enjoys the distinction of being one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It’s also one of Africa’s most stable countries.

Although Botswana is a landlocked country, it’s also gifted with raw nature all around it. It’s home to sprawling and isolated landscapes. These vistas never fail to astonish travelers with their uncanny aura of otherworldliness.

Botswana has a diverse and prolific wildlife habitat. That’s what makes it one of the most amazing safari destinations in Botswana and in the whole of Africa. The flat topography is dominated by the arid Kalahari Desert. There’s an added presence of deltas, rivers and river basins. They help make postcard-pretty Botswana a delight for wildlife enthusiasts and avid birders.

There are spectacular game reserves and national parks, along with top-class camping options. Remote safari camps and camping grounds give adventure-seekers an experience of a lifetime.

Exhilarating leisure activities include road and boat safaris, river cruises and quad biking. You can also take part in Mokoro excursions (a type of canoe), elephant riding, bird watching or fishing. Tourists come from faraway places to enjoy a Botswana Okavango delta safari in this breathtaking destination in Africa.

Botswana Okavango Delta Safari | Sanctuary Baines Camp | Travel | Africa | Safari | Bubbly Moments

Okavango Delta – A Natural Wonder and a Surreal Wildlife Spectacle

No Botswana Okavango delta safari is complete without a tour of its legendary Okavango Delta. This is a famous UNESCO World Heritage Centre and one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders.

Okavango Delta is in the northwest of Botswana. It’s enclosed by the Moremi Game Reserve in the east. It’s one of the world’s largest inland river deltas, spread across a massive area of 15,000 square kilometers.

The delta owes its formation to the 1700 km-long Okavango River. The river empties into the flat and parched Kalahari Desert. This is a unique trait of the Okavango delta. It’s one of the rare interior delta systems that does not have an outlet to a sea or ocean.

This year-round marshland is a top-notch tourist attraction. It’s one of Botswana’s major semi-forested wetlands. It’s vast and unique ecosystem is crucial to the survival of many animals that call it their home. The swampy Okavango Delta is flat with a variation in height of less than 2 meters. When water from the Okavango River overflows, annual flooding occurs. It flows into the delta’s expansive area, resulting in seasonal floodplains.

The sanctuary serves as a permanent and seasonal abode of over 500 recorded species of birds. Some of the more common ones include:
  • African fish eagle
  • Pel’s fishing owl
  • South African ostrich
  • Rufous-bellied heron
  • Crested crane
  • Lilac-breasted roller
  • Sacred ibis
  • Hamerkop
  • Cormorant
  • Kingfisher
  • Stork
  • Warbler
  • Cuckoo
  • Cisticola
  • Coucal
It’s also home to several endangered mammals, such as:

  • White Rhinoceros
  • African wild dog
  • Cape wild dog
  • Cheetah
  • Lion
Botswana Okavango Delta Safari | Sanctuary Baines' Camp | Travel | Africa | Safari | Bubbly Moments

The sanctuary attracts large hordes of animals and birds in the breeding season. It also acts as a safe haven for the native wildlife during the seasonal flooding. About 200,000 large mammals make up the terrestrial biota here. The aquatic biota contains 71 species of fish in this isolated natural wonder.

It’s also the dwelling of five ethnic groups who comprise its human populace.

One thing that lured us to take the Botswana Okavango delta safari was the area’s incomparable beauty. We were also drawn by its fabled spotting of diverse species of birds and animals such as:
  • African bush elephant
  • African buffalo
  • South African giraffe
  • South African cheetah
  • Southwest African lion
  • African leopard
  • Nile crocodile
  • Red Lechwe
  • Zebra
  • Sitatunga
  • Impala
  • Sable antelope
  • Greater Kudu
  • Common tsessebe
  • Blue wildebeest
  • Hippopotamus
  • Common warthog
  • Chacma baboon
  • Vervet monkey
  • Hyena
  • Rhinoceros

Some of these are in other parts of the world. There were a few we had only heard or read about all these years. Then there were several species that were completely unheard of until now.

After our Botswana Okavango delta safari, we knew the delta was one of Africa’s last great wildlife habitats. Its impressive wildlife and untainted wilderness amazes even the most discerning tourist.

Botswana Okavango Delta Safari | Sanctuary Baines' Camp | Travel | Africa | Safari | Bubbly Moments

Wildlife Concessions Surrounding the Okavango Delta

Many wildlife concessions segregate the area around the Moremi Game Reserve. They serve as protection for the Okavango Delta. The Moremi is a popular game reserve in Botswana. It shares a common border with the Chobe National Park to its northeast.

The wildlife concessions are available for lease and are private in nature. They offer tourists a rare opportunity to explore the African wilderness. These can be a memorable part of a Botswana Okavango delta safari.

Walking safaris allow adventure seekers to undertake guided walks with the elephants. They can also take night game drives. These drives are a privilege and flexibility reserved for the private concessions.

Other key attractions of these concessions include mokoro rides, motorized boating, riding safaris, and elephant back safaris.

Our Journey to Sanctuary Baines’ Camp

We took a short 90-min plane ride from the town of Kasane in Botswana to reach Sanctuary Baines’ Camp. The air journey itself was nothing short of eventful.

Our plane had to turn around once and attempt a second landing. An impala somehow appeared on the runway and was oblivious to the fact we needed to land the plane in a safe manner!

We landed on Sanctuary Baines’ Camp’s very own registered private airstrip. That’s a 45 – 60 min drive from the camp, depending on water levels. If you make a landing during low water levels, it will take you around 45 minutes to drive from the airstrip to the camp.

The travel time increases during high water levels. First, you are driven to a boating station five minutes from the landing strip. Then, you are transported to the camp via a 50 minute boat ride.

Botswana Okavango Delta Safari | Sanctuary Baines' Camp | Travel | Africa | Safari | Bubbly Moments

A Close Encounter with Africa’s Fabled Wildlife

Sanctuary Baines’ Camp, hidden in a private concession, borders the Moremi Game Reserve. It enthralled us with a dynamic Botswana Okavango delta safari experience we will cherish for years to come.

The offbeat location of the camp makes it an excellent game viewing site. There were both early morning and late afternoon game drives. The drives allow adventurers to explore Okavango Delta’s thriving wildlife and birdlife.

During our 2-day stay at the camp we enjoyed game drives at sunrise. This enabled us to catch the animals at the start of their day when they are hungry and most active.

While at the camp, we also spent an entire day with Jabu and Morula. They are a pair of semi-habituated orphaned elephants. At some point, an American couple, Doug and Sandi Groves, adopted them and created the Living with Elephants Foundation

We walked in the bush with the adorable Jabu and Morula, observing their cute antics. We also indulged in a lip-smacking picnic lunch in their company. Those were precious moments we cherished and hope to repeat sometime soon!

During conversations with Doug and Sandi, we came to know about their philanthropy. The kind-hearted couple launched a non-profit charity in 1999. They called it the Living With Elephants Foundation

The foundation is exclusive to Sanctuary Baines’ Camp and Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp. Located in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, it protects the future of its elephant ambassadors. It also works towards promoting various humane activities. One of the main goals is to foster a more positive relationship between elephants and humans. Thembi, the third orphaned elephant, Doug and Sandi were taking care of, had unfortunately passed away a few weeks prior to our trip. We were really saddened to hear the news upon our arrival!

This entire experience of interacting with the elephants was humbling and uplifting.

Botswana Okavango Delta Safari | Sanctuary Baines Camp | Travel | Africa | Safari | Bubbly Moments

Sanctuary Baines’ Camp – A Luxurious Haven in the Lap of Nature

Sanctuary Baines’ Camp is the ideal getaway for weary travelers. The camp nestles amidst the tranquil settings of shady trees and papyrus beds. The scenic surroundings provide a secluded hideout for visitors looking to find peace.

Thomas Baines was a renowned English artist and explorer. He made several expeditions to Southern Africa and Australia in the 19th century. Sanctuary Baines’ Camp carries his name. The camp is the smallest of all the camps run by Sanctuary Retreats. They represent an illustrious chain of luxury safari lodges and expedition cruise ships. They have a presence in some of the most jaw-dropping locales around the world.

Sanctuary Baines’ Camp is on platforms high above the Boro River. This is the river that drains the Okavango Delta. The camp is eco-friendly, with structures made out of over 150,000 recycled cans. These became our private den for the next two nights at the delta.

What made us choose this romantic oasis over the rest is its uncompromising privacy. It is located in a private concession and has a limited number of suites. There are only five luxurious suites in the camp. Each suite has its own four-poster bed that you can shift outdoors for a good night’s sleep under the starry sky.

The camp pampered us with modern amenities that are hard to envision in this remote area. It was an experience that upped the charm of our memorable Botswana Okavango delta safari trip even more. We dined outdoors and enjoyed scrumptious gourmet food. There were also gorgeous views of the surrounding greenery and a nearby lagoon. It was an extraordinary experience you have to feel. Words cannot describe it!

The camp has an outdoor swimming pool for the ultimate in relaxation. It serves as the perfect antidote to the sultry afternoons. The times when we were not out in the wild, we spent cooling ourselves in the comforting waters of the pool.

The two thatched salas on either side of the pool created the perfect ambiance. We lapped up the spectacular views of the Boro River over a drink or two.

There were public spaces with open-air lounges, camp fire zones and oversized verandas. They all rounded up the magic of this one of a kind lavish retreat in the middle of nowhere! The romantic and peaceful vibe of Sanctuary Baines’ Camp tugged at our hearts. Its wondrous atmosphere lived up to the catchphrase of “Luxury, naturally”.

That motto is the guiding philosophy of the Sanctuary Retreats. It was also the underlying ethos of our enchanting trip on the Botswana Okavango delta safari.

Up next is the recount of my trip to Sanctuary Chief’s Camp – a heavenly gateway in the heart of the Okavango Delta.

Botswana Okavango Delta Safari | Sanctuary Baines Camp | Travel | Africa | Safari | Bubbly Moments

Have you been on a Botswana Okavango Delta Safari? Have you visited the Sanctuary Baines’ Camp?
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