I am totally obsessed with maps... especially maps of the most remote places in Africa. Since childhood I have daydreamed about an area in northern Botswana. I followed a river system, starting in the Caprivi Region of Namibia (now known as the Zambezi Region), heading down into Botswana, and ending in the mighty Zambezi River... What made this river particularly interesting was the fact that it changes its name three times within a short stretch – and I still wonder why this is the case... starting as the Kwando River, then becoming the Linyanti River, after a rather short stretch it becomes the world-famous Chobe River!
Experience Botswana, the Wilderness way
What drew me to this area was its remoteness. I always struggled to find any decent public tracks or roads in the area on a map – amplifying my longing to explore this pristine wilderness. In the heart of this area lies the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. The concession, operated by Wilderness, stretches close to 125,000 hectares, hundreds of miles from so-called civilisation. Expansive grasslands, floodplains, riverine forest and mopane woodlands make this place, where the Linyanti River meets the mysterious Savuti Channel, one of Botswana’s most diverse habitats and a haven for wildlife.
In November 2023 I was fortunate to visit this incredible reserve, and experience it first-hand, the “Wilderness Way”. Wilderness operates five camps in the concession, and my family and I were extremely blessed to visit two of their stunning camps, Savuti and Little DumaTau.
Linyanti Wildlife Reserve
Wilderness Savuti - nature's own enchanting theatre
Our journey started at Savuti. After two incredible nights at this camp, we headed to our second camp, Little DumaTau. The name DumaTau means ‘roar of the lion’ in Setswana. Yes, you will probably enjoy numerous lion sightings, but there is so much more to experience… This is also the domain of elephants, with elephants crossing the Osprey Lagoon in front of camp daily.
Birders delight with nesting Carmine bee-eaters
We are keen birders, and our visit coincided with the breeding season of southern carmine bee-eaters. There is a breeding colony between Little DumaTau and King’s Pool, so without wasting any time we decided to head north to spend the afternoon enjoying the spectacle of hundreds of stunning southern carmine bee-eaters at their nesting site. For me this was a bucket-list experience; make sure to add this to your list as well...
DumaTau and Little DumaTau (essentially the same camp, Little DumaTau is a smaller, more intimate sister camp, which shares a central facility with DumaTau) are situated on the banks of the Linyanti River, with the source of the Savuti Channel just a stone’s throw to the south. On our first morning, I couldn’t wait to explore the western reaches of the Savuti Channel, after our explorations of the channel a bit further east on our stay at Wilderness Savuti.
Coalition of 6 male lions in Linyanti
The morning started with the DumaTau lion pride on the opposite side of the Savuti Channel. They were joined by the new force of male lions that is taking over the area south of DumaTau, a coalition of six males!
This particular game drive must surely rank as one of my Top 3 game drives, if not the best... ever. The scenery is nothing less than spectacular, and the amount of general game, birds, elephants and buffalo was astounding. We even had two quality leopard sightings on this morning drive, and a large herd of buffalo joined us on our morning coffee break.
Wild animal sightings
With smiles on our faces and hearts filled to the brim, we headed back to camp, only to be met with another surprise: ‘Your lunch will be served on a boat cruise!’
The cool breeze while cruising along the waters of Osprey Lagoon, enjoying a gourmet meal with crossing elephants, was just what was needed as a break from the sweltering summer heat.
The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing around the pool at the two camps’ centrally situated Osprey Retreat, enjoying a cocktail and reflecting on our wonderful few days.
Enjoying elephants swimming in the water
Nas, our expert guide, suggested a boat ride at sunset instead of a game drive, which was the perfect end to our incredible stay in the Linyanti Wilderness Reserve. Watching elephants crossing the Linyanti, trunks used as snorkels, with the sun setting behind palm trees on the edge of the lagoon as a backdrop, is a humbling experience. At DumaTau, the emphasis is on mindful relaxation and restoration, not just hopping from sighting to sighting. In this intimate family moment DumaTau surely delivered on its mission...
As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the vast wilderness of the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, my family and I found ourselves reflecting on the unforgettable moments we had experienced in this remote haven. The journey along the enigmatic river, with its ever-changing identity from Kwando to Linyanti and then to the renowned Chobe, unfolded a tapestry of pristine landscapes and untamed beauty. Little DumaTau, echoing the 'roar of the lion' in Setswana, revealed itself as a sanctuary where lions prowled, elephants strolled, and southern carmine bee-eaters painted the skies with their vibrant hues...
Let’s plan your next journey
When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.