DumaTau: Elephants & Luxury Accommodations on the Okavango Delta’s Linyanti River

It is primarily the animals and the landscape that draw us to a photo safari location, not the luxurious accommodations. I always question whether fancy accommodations will separate us from the views and the sounds of the African night. Happily the view and the chorus of nighttime voices were thoroughly enjoyable from our tented suite at DumaTau.

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DumaTau is located along the Linyanti River between ancient elephant crossings. The camp’s eight tented suites are well spaced from one another and spread out on either side of the spacious outdoor dining area, bar, reading room and fire pits. One fire pit is located at end of a long walkway and floats on the edge of the Linyanti River in Osprey Lagoon. A lap pool, spa facilities and gift shop are located at one end of the walkways.

Our days fell into a familiar rhythm: 5 am wakeup call, breakfast at 5:30 and in the safari vehicle by 6. We returned to camp for lunch by mid-day, followed by time to relax, swim, get a massage or take a siesta. At 4 pm we enjoyed tea time with snacks. We were ready to depart by 4:30 for an afternoon game drive and sundowners out in the bush. By 8 pm we were ready for dinner.

We enjoyed lunch on the patio boat one day and on another day we enjoyed an afternoon boat safari and sundowners on the Linyanti River.

Lunch on the patio boat photo
Lunch on the patio boat

The days were comfortably warm and the evenings were pleasant making outdoor dining ideal. Time spent around the campfire is a must. In the early morning and evenings we were escorted to and from our suite by our guide, because there are lions and leopards in the area. During the daytime we were free to walk on our own, but were instructed to keep an eye out for elephants that wander through camp.

During our stay in late October single and groups of elephants crossed the river almost constantly. One afternoon we cut teatime short when our guide, Peter, observed a large group of elephants in the distance approaching the river. We quickly boarded a boat and had the most amazing experience watching groups of elephants cross the river. 

Elephants swimming across the Linyanti River photo
Elephants swimming across the Linyanti River

When on land elephants generally move in a very deliberate, unhurried manner. They graze constantly and do so right up to the river’s edge. Once in the water, juvenile males often spar with each other along the riverbank – they obviously love the water. 

Groups with young elephants take a more deliberate approach to crossing to safely guide the youngsters across (crocodiles inhabit the river). The smaller elephants often piggy-back on the larger elephants who support them in crossing. 

Some larger elephants bounce off the bottom of the river breaking the surface of the water like a porpoise. Others walk along the river’s bottom or swim with their trunks extended like snorkels. For others it’s tail and trunk raised. It is fascinating watching these magnificent animals in the water. Then the first thing each does when it reaches the other side of the river is grab a bite of something to eat.

Morning and afternoon game drives took us along the river and into very different landscapes away from the water. A combination of brush, large trees and grasslands give way to mopani trees just leafing out (it was springtime in the Okavango). Away from the river the landscape becomes sandy in places, and very dry and dusty.

We almost always came across elephants on their ceaseless march, grazing and occasionally we found them resting. We even saw one bull elephant leaning against a tree taking a nap!

We saw quite a few lions and several leopards. One evening we even spotted a leopard drinking along the Linyanti River and a leopard tortoise nearby – one of the big five and one of the little five, together in the Okavango Delta enjoying a spectacular sunset. 

Leopard in the grass
Leopard in the grass

One of the highlights of our time in DumaTau was a walking safari. We were accompanied by Peter, our guide, who carried a rifle just in case. It was interesting to view the landscape from ground level and observe the small details not noticeable from a vehicle.

When in doubt, stand behind your guide photo
When in doubt, stand behind your guide

And the animals’ reactions to our being on foot were very different from when we are in a vehicle. They watch us without much concern when we pass in the vehicle. When we are on foot, however, they view us as predators. It was extraordinary to hear the distress call of impala, which usually announces the presence of a lion or leopard, in response to seeing us on foot. They watched us attentively, but didn’t immediately bolt.

A group of lions had the opposite reaction to our presence. Two females and several young lions were sleeping under a tree quite a distance away when one of the females spotted our movement. She bolted and one of the cubs swiftly followed. We crouched down behind some brush, but soon the second female saw us and the rest of the group followed. I have to say, it was heart-stopping to see lions when on foot. I couldn’t help but look behind us as we walked back to the safari vehicle.

Peter is an expert photographer and birder, in addition to all of his other skills as a guide. Thanks to him we saw many birds as we drove around the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve.

Peter made our stay at DumaTau fun and informative. I was so impressed when, on the first evening driving back to camp after dark, he spotted a chameleon on a tree some 30 yards off the road. I have long wanted to see one of these beautiful creatures in the wild and Peter made it happen. That’s what Wilderness Safaris guides do for their guests. They love what they do and have the greatest respect for the animals that make the Okavango Delta such a special place. Follow Peter on Instagram (@petermoutloatse) to see what’s happening in the Delta. His photos will give you an excellent idea of landscape and the animals that live there. 

This chameleon perfectly matches the leaves
This chameleon perfectly matches the leaves

I felt very emotional leaving DumaTau. If you read our post about Little Vumbura, you know we had an extraordinary elephant experience there. Once again, elephants provided the most moving experiences at DumaTau, but the big cats were thrilling and seeing the first Impala babies of the season balancing on their spindly legs was heartwarming. And then there was that beautiful chameleon.


One Comment

  1. WOW!