Friday, July 13, 2012

Rare Beauty: Civility and Wildness at Abu Camp

Hi all, happy Friday! Traveling anywhere exciting this weekend? We're sticking around home, but as promised, I'd love to take you with me back to Abu Camp, home of Cathy and the 10 other elephants who currently make up the resident herd of Africa's first Elephant-back Safari.

While the elephants are rightly stars of the show, the wild beauty of the camp itself makes a visit something rare and spectacular.

When we approached the Abu Camp airstrip in a low-flying helicopter, we couldn't see any sign of any human life. The camp's design, situated on the edge of the lagoon under a canopy of towering hardwood trees conceals it from view in every direction. 

No permanent structures are permitted in the Okavango, so technically you are camping -- but in no way are you roughing it. Designed with creative use of canvas and pole, tents are airy and comfortable, with dramatically high ceilings. Teak decks and floors have been sculpted around trees and shrubs, most notably a giant ebony tree at the center of camp near the main dining and lounge areas.

Interiors blend seamlessly with the wild surroundings yet exude a relaxed elegance. Hand-woven fabrics, sea grass chairs and handmade wood furnishings bring natural elements of the Okavango into a quietly opulent setting.

The six guest tents all boast panoramic views of the lagoon. We would fall asleep to the midnight munching, and wake at dawn to the noisy breakfast, of the lagoon's resident hippo family crunching away just beyond our deck.

 Home away from home: our tent

Breakfasting hippos

The largest inland Delta on the planet, the Okavango is home to an abundance of wildlife. Whether astride or walking with the elephants, bumping along in a Jeep or floating in a mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe), one amazing creature after another seemed to always be in our sights.

Admittedly, sipping a Pimm's Cup and devouring a gourmet picnic lunch after riding an elephant into the middle of nowhere seems the height of civility. But luxury at the edge of the world is humbling, too. Having your every need catered to while you are encroaching on the territory of the wild things lurking just outside a thin wall of canvas makes you acutely aware of your own fragility.

And as Abu Camp founder Randall Moore points out in his book Elephants for Africa, the elephants (and the rest of the animals) aren't at all discerning of anyone's status or position. From all walks of life, any guest--from Prince William to Oprah to little-old-me--would taste equally good to a lion or hyena, which kind of puts it all in perspective, don't you think?

Find more on Abu Camp and it's elephant family here and here. We loved all of the Wilderness Safari camps we visited during our two-and-a-half week stay in Africa. The Africa Adventure Company created a custom adventure for us that we will remember for a lifetime.

Images: 1-10 and 18 from Abu Camp, 11-17 from Mr. H.


  1. What a memorable experience and a wonderful, stylish place to stay! Your photos are stunning too.
    I have an award for you over at my blog……I’m spreading a little sunshine……

  2. OMG how FABULOUS!!!!!!! What a dream posh! I read about this not long ago in a new travel magazine that I had never seen before that got sent to us....looks just amazing!

  3. Wow Jeanne what a fabulous experiance! I have never once wanted to go to Africa but you have now made me a dreamer of the place. It's all so stunning. What a wonderful holiday! Those are the most amazing tents I have ever seen!


  4. Hi these photos are wonderful. What an exciting experience. I have now added an African safari on my places to go list. I love the idea of spending the day with nature and then having some luxury at night.

  5. unreal...that is a Safari I could do!

  6. This place looks amazing! We also went with Africa Adventure Company so it must have been a similar place but not the same if I remember right. What an incredible stay and how true about all of tasting the same to an animal - definitely puts it all in perspective! :)

  7. Hi Jeanne! I did it!

    My photos were glued in an album and so aren't so fabulous but I think that you will appreciate the story. ;)

    Bon weekend!

  8. Such a lovely place...
    Actually that is the kind of vacation that my husband looks forward to.

  9. Looks like it was an amazing trip. Thanks for sharing!

    Hannah from I am a lifestyle blog

  10. What a wonderful place to spend your vacation Jeanne. The best of two worlds. Camping in a tent, taken to another level!

  11. amaaaaaaaazing vacation, jeanne!

    i am saving this link for future reference!

    smiles and happy new week to you.


  12. I will pick up our son tomorrow who has been away in Africa for a month and I am so looking forward to hearing all about his adventures.



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