Abu’s Camp – Okavango Delta, Botswana

Elephant-Back Safaris in the Bush

The beloved Abu was big, strong, sensitive, and intelligent. At 13 feet high and weighing 5 ½ tons, he was the most popular means of conveyance at this exclusive elephant-back safari camp in the magnificent Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world.

Abu, alas, passed on in 2004, but other elephants still pro­vide transportation. Transportation by elephant through the delta’s crystalline waterways pro­vides access to areas that are otherwise impossi­ble to reach. And because the elephants’ smell masks your own, you can get close to wildlife unthreatened by these gentle herbivores.

This is some of Africa’s best game-viewing territory, but your safari is also about being adopted ever so briefly by this ragtag family of five venerable elephants and seven younger ones – themselves adopted by your host, American conservationist Randall Moore. Like the hero of a Disney movie, he rescued this bunch of unrelated misfits and orphans who had spent their lifetimes in zoos abroad and reintroduced them to the land where they were born.

Moore’s rapport with his ele­phant “family” is something to witness, as is that of the mahout (trainer or driver) who straddles the wide-as-a-horse neck of his mount, his legs tucked behind the huge flapping ears, directing his charge with verbal commands.

Back at camp, there are five luxury-style tents and three-course gourmet meals, served with fine napery under a giant fig tree. Tomorrow you can leave your maharaja fantasies back at camp and walk alongside the herd, an incredible experience.

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