This was a journey that changed my life. I left O.R. Tambo International Airport at 12:30, landed in Maun by 14:00 and was in the air again by 15:00. Arriving in the Linyanti is an experience in and of itself; from the air one clearly sees the Linyanti Fault and the remarkable landscape that it has carved out, the highways created by the hippo and elephant are evident all around. There is nothing but wilderness for as far as the eye can see. As you descend towards the little dirt airstrip you become increasingly aware that you are in a very special place indeed.
Shortly after landing I was unwittingly whisked away to an unexpected rendezvous with my fiancé. I joined her on a game drive! My bag was then escorted to camp and I switched vehicles. Delighted by the surprise, thus began a most memorable three days at DumaTau.
We drove down to the Linyanti to witness the day transition into night, our host, guide and soon to be friend, BK, had everything on hand. We enjoyed a gin and tonic and delicious snacks as the sun set over the river. With the sounds of the wild all around and the darkness creeping in, the enormity of it rendered me vulnerable and in awe. This must be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
We arrived at our camp, Little DumaTau to be precise, sometime after dark, to be welcomed to the most exquisite camp I could have never imagined. Every detail so thoughtfully constructed, it took me by surprise and was somewhat overwhelmed and emotional at just how lovely it was. After introductions to our host, chef and server we were treated to a magnificent meal. By the time we were escorted through the night along raised walkways, amidst the trees, we had witnessed great beauty, made new friends and been made to feel part of a most wonderful family.
We were bid good night and reminded of the 5am wakeup call before we entered our room, this was a day that just kept giving, and once again I was overwhelmed. Over the next few days I came to admire the carpentry and design more and more. It is absolute luxury and indulgence, yet tasteful, elegant and unassuming. You are immersed in the wildness, totally exposed in your own private paradise simply beyond imagining.
5am came fast and we were escorted to a breakfast fit for a King. Sitting by candlelight we sipped fresh coffee as our meal was prepared on an open fire before heading out into the bush just in time to watch the sun turn the sky red above a silhouetted horizon. Vultures watched from a tall tree catching the first rays of light. The grasses still wet from the night turned golden, and shimmered as the morning came.
Over the next few days we were treated to spectacular sightings – from chameleons to lions, lechwe to hornbills, everywhere. We shared intimate moments with elephants and bore witness to some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. As I sit here and write the futility of words is almost unbearable. This is a place that cannot be described, it has to be experienced.
The experiences we had at Little DumaTau were indeed indescribable. Looking back now, having had the time to reflect on it, to go through the pictures and to remember it, what stands out most was not the beauty of landscape, nor the proliferation of wildlife, nor was it the wonder that was Little DumaTau Camp, not the beauty of design and construction, neither the comfort and splendour of the rooms. Without doubt it was the people. In the few days we were there the service and treatment we received was noteworthy and remarkable. When we left it was like leaving family and I felt bonded to them and part of their journey. The genuine kindness we received and pride with which the camp was run was as indescribable as the wilderness in which it is set, and I feel privileged to be part of this journey, albeit but a sentence.