Part #3 of Notebook from Botswana. Here is Alison's insider look at this unique Wilderness Safaris camp:
Meeting the elephants at Abu Camp was one of the most incredible wildlife encounters I’ve had in the bush. Although I’ve ridden elephants many years ago at Amalinda Camp near Matobo Hills, nothing prepared me for the complete immersion of walking with elephants in their natural habitat deep in the bush of Botswana.
Two of the elephants had guests on their back including Cathy the matriach of the herd. When you ride an elephant, your view is of the bush and elephant ears, but walking at ground level is very exciting and an even more intimate experience, since I could truly see details like their long eyelashes and their large feet right up close. I had the most fun – a huge smile across my face for the entire 45-minute walk. Being beside and behind Shirheni, Gikka, Kitimetse, Lerato, Naya and Paseka does transform your perception of elephants.
And then we took to the water the next morning! This is when it’s important to know your safari seasons; since I arrived in May, the late autumn (spring back at home), the Okavango Delta water levels were happily nice and high. We were able to go on a mokoro boat excursion while the elephants were in the water moving gallons of water in their wakes. All of my time spent with the elephants at Abu was total joy and bliss, but the mokoro trip was an even a bigger highlight; it was so pretty on the water and a really special way to see the ellies with early morning mist rising off the crystal clear water.
During the remainder of the day the elephants have freedom to roam in the 450,000 acre (180,000 hectare) private concession. A few of the youngsters born in the herd have been successfully released back into the wild.
As at all the Wilderness Safaris camps I’ve visited, the staff was exceptional: Wellington is a wise old elephant handler who takes care of the elephants in their boma. He was tending to Naledi while I was there, the youngest in the herd who had a health issue. Charles, a Wilderness Manager, was with me as well during the elephant introductions. And of course, Brooks, a personal favorite guide of Mark and mine, and one of our AAC recommended Wilderness Safaris guides.
Another highlight of Abu: some of the best food I’ve ever had on safari. And if you know me, you know I’m a foodie and trained at Cordon Bleu, so that’s especially high praise. Jaimie Rose and Aaron do a fabulous job as Managers of running the camp.
Nearby, I was able to visit Seba, a Wilderness Classic Camp also in the Okavango Delta, which was a hidden gem. I’m looking forward to recommending it to clients in the future.
Here are more of my 2015 Botswana adventures: http://www.africa-adventure.com/southern-africa-bush-tails/alison-s-safari-notebook-mombo-vumbura-plains-chitabe-lidabe
And my 2015 visit to Linkwasha Camp in Zimbabwe: http://www.africa-adventure.com/southern-africa-bush-tails/alison-s-safari-notebook-linkwasha-camp-hwange