Something Extra Special
One of my favorite safari camps is Abu Camp by Wilderness Safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
This area in Botswana promises one of the purest safari experiences you can have anywhere. And there are several grand safari camps to stay at.
Abu Camp is a luxurious and eco-minded camp running on solar power, with fabulous food, drink and service as you can see from my pictures. Spacious “tents” offer every creature comfort such as double vanity bathrooms, an indoor and outdoor shower and outdoor tub, and a private deck and plunge pool. Each tent also offers one of the most unique room amenities I have seen anywhere-an art easel and set of watercolors, to capture the brilliance all around you.
The staff really go the extra mile at Abu Camp for sundowners as well, laying out carpets and lanterns and a full bar and canape spread overlooking a watering hole, and we had the great fortune to then be visited by a pack of wild dogs as we sipped our gin and tonics. It’s truly magic hour out in the bush at sunset.
But ABU CAMP has something extra special that truly sets it apart, and that is The ABU HERD, a group of 8 orphaned elephants. Each elephant has an incredible story.
The elephants are free to roam daily, but do receive care from the camp staff. As a guest here, you can have afternoon tea while the elephants roam free and you can walk alongside them as they ramble about in the grass. Most camps cannot offer this level of closeness and observation, at it comes at no extra charge!
The matriarch of the Abu Herd is 60 year old Cathy, and she has a special relationship with Paseka, the now 10 year old “Easter Elephant”. After walking with these elephants one afternoon at the camp, we watched the documentary about Paseka (screened outside on the deck with lanterns around us) _and her story blew me away. And yes, I cried.
In short–Paseka was somehow separated from her own mother and herd when she was about 1 years old and still nursing. She was attacked by hyenas, and ran for cover to one of Abu Camp’s vehicles that was out for a game drive. It was decided that they would not intervene but let nature take its course. The actual footage of the bleeding baby elephant running to catch up to the jeep that’s pulling away is heartbreaking! Get out your tissues!
The next day, camp staff found Paseka in the generator room! It was Easter Sunday. She had somehow escaped the hyenas and found her way back to the camp. But she was very young and needed milk, or she would not survive. Cathy the matriarch intervened and signaled the OK, so that one of the other nursing mother elephants actually adopted Paseka the little Easter Elephant and let her nurse. HIGHLY unusual elephant behavior. And so Paseka survived, and is now the mother to her own rambunctious little male calf.
The ABU HERD is out every day at ABU CAMP, and it is a rare privilege and pleasure to spend time in their presence. It is an unforgettable and moving experience, and one I cannot recommend enough.
And with two elephants in the herd pregnant with calves due in late Spring, 2020 promises to be a fine time to visit ABU CAMP!