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
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.