Glen Stephen, Director of Liquid Giraffe, shares his unforgettable experience after his recent stay at Ker & Downey’s new camp- Dinaka.
Ker & Downey’s new lavishly splendid camp in Botswana, Dinaka, is set on an exclusive private reserve hugging the northern edge of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Glen Stephen, Director of Liquid Giraffe, recently stayed at this spectacular camp and shares his experience…
“Flurries of scaly feathered finches flew up from the silky bushman grass as we made our way on our first afternoon drive around the impressive 20,000 hectares Ker & Downey Dinaka private concession. It is a lovely area with varied topography (and yes there are tiny hills in the otherwise flat Kalahari landscape) – from acacia thorn thickets to open grasslands. And Kalahari sand. Lots of it.
The wild lions
It was not long before we came across 4 young lions (3 females and one male) who, all siblings, were born the year before. The lions are wild here. And when I mean wild, I refer to the way they glare at us intensely with hard, orange eyes. One lioness edged up towards us, arched back and menacing, to see what or who we were. A far cry from the more docile lions in the Delta which are so used to people and vehicles, they loll and flop without a care in the world. The wild lion behavior was all the more apparent for us when on Sunday morning, the traditional ‘koko’ knock on the tent sliding door with a welcome coffee wake up, did not materialize. Opening the curtains, the reason was plain to see: a courting pair of lions was wandering around the camp, between the tents and past the dining/lounge area and staking out the waterhole just in front of the main area. I asked the manager (later, of course, when the coast was clear, over a scrumptious cooked breakfast), if this intrusion was common. He affirmed that is was.
There are other delights at Dinaka
There is a hide, some distance from the camp, that overlooks a waterhole where guests are often treated to brunch in the bush, facing west (so great too for sundowners). There is also a high viewing platform where sunset drinks and snacks happen and where the endless view shows us that the Earth is in fact round, judging by the curved horizon.
To top it all, there is a sleep out deck for two (complete with plumbed loo and wash basin) – a delight for star gazers where the canopy of stars is so vivid due to zero light pollution.
We were also treated to astounding close up views of elegant eland and black backed jackal drinking at a sunken bunker an arm’s length from a waterhole. The birdlife thrives in this area. We spotted a myriad of bird species: the ‘helicopter birds’ (northern black korhaan) amused us the most. They fly up into the sky when alarmed with a clamoring kind of throaty bark before ‘helicoptering’ down to the ground again.
Game drives were varied and rewarding: herds of zebra, wildebeest, red hartebeest and gemsbok; impala (not in big numbers) with some springbok; a leopard walking along the sandy road at nightfall after sundowners was a special treat. Even in camp there were some exciting sightings: a pair of honey badgers scuttling between the decks in search of scraps showed no fear of us (small creatures with big personalities). At lunch, a pale chanting goshawk (plentiful in the area) swooped down to take a cape turtle dove, pinned it to an acacia tree and dined on it at leisure. And there is a ‘must see’ species at Dinaka which makes the concession even more special!
The Bushman Walk (best done in the mornings) was a real treat for us. We watched fire being made from rubbing sticks and witnessed the bushmen digging up large tubers for water. But what really intrigued us was the bushmen’s source of poison for their arrows. This comes from cocoons of the poison grub beetles of the genus Diamphidia which lay their eggs on the stems of shrubs from the Commiphora bush (here they call it the poison grub commiphora).
Ker and Downey’s new Dinaka Camp (opened in March 2018) is a delightful new addition to the portfolio. The camp has 8 twin or double tents and a family tent and the camp is reached by air (it has its own airstrip only 15 minutes from camp) or as a self-drive – a comfortable 2.5-hour drive from Maun.
Do you want to experience this unforgettable safari at Dinaka? Get in touch with us and let us help you plan your safari.