The ultimate luxury is space, and Abu is located in a 180 000-hectare (445 000-acre) private concession in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, one of the world’s most important wetland ecosystems.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and wildlife stronghold of global significance (and home to huge herds of elephant), the Delta was the natural choice for this pioneering elephant conservation project.
The Okavango covers an area of in excess of 15 000km2 (5 800 square miles) and is made up of a mosaic of river channels, lagoons, islands and floodplains.
The area’s diverse habitats, abundant water and plentiful natural vegetation offer an ideal home for a great variety of wildlife but also for the Abu Herd – elephants that have been rescued from exploitative situations or saved from harm, and which we ultimately aim to introduce into the Okavango.
Their presence at Abu gives you the opportunity to witness experiences with elephants in their natural habitat and to see the Okavango through their eyes. This is truly a transformative experience – it will change how you think about elephants, wilderness and life itself.
At the same time, Abu aims to provide the very best in luxury safari accommodation, impeccable service and an extraordinary safari and wildlife experience in one of the largest and most diverse private concessions in the Okavango.
Abu is also a haven of peace and tranquillity where the rhythms of elephant life guide certain activities each day.
Other iconic Okavango species are regularly sighted, including buffalo, red lechwe, giraffe, zebra. The birding is superb, and predators including lion, leopard, wild dog, cheetah and even serval can also be spotted.
Each of the six luxury canvas guest rooms has its own distinctive style. Designed to blend in seamlessly with the surroundings, each room has a generous deck featuring a secluded outdoor copper bathtub and private plunge pool.
The lounge and writing desk offer spaces for relaxation and reflection, while the endless lagoon views invite your imagination to wander.
ABU CAMP FACILITIES
The welcoming, elevated lounge and dining areas make imaginative use of canvas and timber to create contemporary spaces that are in complete harmony with the surrounding wilderness and offer a wonderful vantage point.
Organic elements and traditional African artefacts reinforce the sense of place and lend Abu something of the natural flair and exuberance of the Okavango Delta.
A fascinating library acts as a repository of knowledge on elephant behaviour and conservation, with a swimming pool, gym and diverse array of in-room spa treatments completing the Abu offering.
Dining at Abu is a classic safari experience, from breakfast around the fire before the sun rises to candle- and starlit dinners on the raised deck.
Our menus reflect our location and the seasons, with local African ingredients used to create a sustainable and relevant dining experience. At Abu it’s all about simplicity: lovingly prepared dishes that combine classic techniques with local flair.
Abu brunches are light and healthy, featuring salads, mezze platters, handmade pasta with sun-ripened African tomatoes and our famous ostrich burger with blue cheese and onion marmalade. Our (extremely) fresh greens and herbs are grown on a hydroponic farm in Maun, the closest town to the Delta.
Dinner is a slightly more formal affair, with the choice of dishes for each course creating something of a dilemma. We round off the evening with a tea ceremony: a special rooibos blend served in a glass teapot to cleanse your palette and prepare you for another day of culinary gifts from the Abu chefs.
Abu was designed in such a way that there are many unique areas for guests to dine, from the intimate library for romantic safari date nights to the breezy pool deck for a family lunch of homemade pizza.
The Abu team delights in surprising and spoiling our guests with meals prepared and enjoyed in the bush, from grab-and-go breakfasts to a picnic by a waterhole while the Abu Herd enjoy a mud wallow. The quintessential Abu experience is of course high tea in the Delta with the elephant members of the Abu Herd foraging nearby.
ABU STAR BED
The Abu Star Bed Camp offers you the opportunity to sleep out under the stars, overlooking the boma to which the Abu Herd voluntarily returns each evening.
Lying beneath the incredible canopy of southern hemisphere stars, you’ll be lulled to sleep by the contented rumbling and low snores of the elephants below – the ultimate lullaby. This unique sleep-out experience blends the thrill of being close to elephants with all your creature comforts.
The Abu concession offers exceptional Okavango Delta game-viewing in a variety of pristine habitats.
Game drives in the enormous private concession traverse wonderfully varied landscapes and give you the best opportunities to view and photograph birds, predators, and herds of elephant and buffalo at close quarters.
Early mornings and late afternoons are generally the best times to see wildlife, as animals are generally more active when it’s cooler. Our experienced and qualified local guides conduct game drives in custom-designed open safari vehicles.
Abu guides are highly skilled interpreters of tracks, calls and behaviour, and use these signs to reveal the secrets of the African bush. There is no shortage of spectacular locations perfect for a morning tea break or honouring safari tradition with a sundowner drink towards the end of the day.
During the annual Okavango inundation, mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe) and boat excursions are the ideal way to explore lagoons, channels and waterways on the look-out for hippo, sitatunga antelope and myriad birds.
A mokoro trip is the quintessential Okavango experience, silently gliding along idyllic clear water channels and allowing the tranquillity of the Delta to seep into your soul.
Optional extra scenic flights (by helicopter or light aircraft) are encouraged and can be arranged to give you an enhanced perspective on the make-up of the Okavango, and opportunities to peer into secret islands and lagoons.
With the sheer diversity of habitats, wildlife and activities upon water and land, day and night – Abu is the ideal base for longer stays and immersive experiences within the Okavango Delta.
In the otherwise largely level landscape of northern Botswana, the Tsodilo Hills are a notable yet seldom- visited landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Geologically distinct from the Okavango, the Tsodilo Hills have long been held sacred by Botswana’s Bushmen communities, who have created a stunning gallery of rock art in the caves that dot the hillsides.
Some of these artworks date back over 1 500 years, and intriguingly, feature paintings of whales even though this landlocked site is more than 1 600km (1 000 miles) from any coastline.
For an insight into the rich storytelling culture of the Bushmen, and their sustainable approach to living off the land without taking away from it, optional extra helicopter excursions from Abu can add a vital cultural and historical dimension to your Okavango Delta experience.
The accessibility of this sacred site from Abu underlines the importance of the camp as a hub for exploring northern Botswana, and its natural and human history.
The whole premise on which Abu is based is that of elephant conservation. The largest of land mammals is a keystone species (in other words, one that has a large effect on the ecosystem in which it lives) and an integral part of Africa’s web of life.
The great paradox of elephant conservation is that while many African countries are experiencing rapidly declining elephant populations, others – such as Botswana – must cope with burgeoning numbers. Both declining and growing elephant populations present their own challenges.
The Abu Herd members are eloquent ambassadors for elephant conservation, and several elephants have been reintroduced to the wild, where they continue to provide valuable data to local researchers and conservationists.
Several of these elephants have remained in the Abu concession, and cause much delight all round when their wanderings bring them close to camp.