Wildlife Watch While you Swim with Great Plains
December 2022…// Great Plains, the tourism conservation organisation founded by National Geographic filmmaker-explorers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, is delighted to present its most sensational new swimming pools across its Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe camps.
From private plunge pools where leopards and lions lap at the water come nightfall and a pool that doubles as the best spot in Kenya to watch the wildebeest migration, to a pool that floats atop a vintage military truck, these brand-new bathing spots offer the ultimate bucket list in the bush experience.
“At Great Plains we like to do things a little differently, and our new pools are certainly no exception” explains Great Plains CEO and founder Dereck Joubert. “Our guests relish the opportunity to take a cooling dip after a long morning of exploring and we considered how we might offer two experiences instead of one? That’s where our unique designs stem from, with each pool location inspired by its respective camp’s theme and atmosphere. Currently in the works is a pool set within the Okavango river, not to be shared with crocodiles and hippos of course (!), but giving you the feeling of ‘being there.’ Our guests are active and enjoy a dip, or some exercise between adventures. We’re very careful to only offer pools where they are environmentally appropriate.”
“At Ol Donyo Lodge in a dry part of Kenya where swimming pools may seem out of place we have fitted out pools as reservoirs for storing water to quickly be deployed in case of bushfires. While storing water here is crucial in such an isolated and unpredictable environment, we may as well swim there too! Each pool is designed with an eye to the environment. In our tented camps there is a sense of impermanence out of respect both to the landscape, the animals and the local people who are sometimes struggling to find enough water themselves. In the hills we see the lava rock, in some camps there is a container pool or we simply use the back of vintage military truck! Largely, we are just having fun in designing these pools, something I hope our guests get a sense of and enjoy with us.”
The new pools include:
Duba Explorers Camp, Botswana
Duba Explorers Camp, a Great Plains Explorer-Collection safari camp, is tucked away on an island in the northeast corner of Botswana’s Duba Plains Concession, a 33,000-hectare private reserve. Due to its location in the Okavango Delta’s northern reaches, the permanent floodplain dominates the surrounding landscapes, with camp guests enjoying unobstructed views across the surrounding water channels.
The camp was built as an expedition camp, with campaign furniture and a sense of impermanence, always ready to be packed up and moved to the next adventure. This atmosphere extends to the one-of-a-kind pool, which has been constructed on the back of an overland 6-wheel-drive campaign military truck. The perfect spot to cool down after a day spent exploring like the adventurers of yesteryear, guests can expect to spot hippos, elephants, zebra, wildebeest and much more.
Nightly rates at Great Plains Duba Explorers Camp start from $802/£662 per person per night based on 2 guests sharing.
Mara Expedition Camp, Kenya
Also newly home to an iconic pool truck that is the sipping spot of choice for the local zebra population, the recently opened Mara Expedition Camp allows guests to experience the original African explorers’ designs from East Africa’s romantic safari era. Here, guests will experience the best of both worlds: the intense action of the Maasai Mara ecosystem, as well as the more private 70,000-acre Mara North Conservancy.
Designed by Beverly Joubert, the new Mara Expedition Camp is safari chic with six light and airy, spacious canvas tents, each with en-suite bathrooms where guests can enjoy piping hot water from huge brass safari showers. To further enhance the expedition theme, guests also have the option to enjoy guided walking safaris.
Nightly rates at Great Plains Mara Expedition Camp start from $690/£495* per person per night based on 2 guests sharing.
Mara Plains Jahazi Suite, Kenya
A very special new private 2-bedroomed villa, the Mara Plains Jahazi Suite, is located at Mara Plains Camp, fast becoming the best spot in Kenya to observe the wildebeest migration. Now featuring a private plunge pool, the Jahazi Suite provides a true home-away-from-home feel. Refusing to use plastic, Great Plains constructed the pool from a recycled container, set beneath the shade of a giant fig tree. Blending seamlessly into the local environment, the design was created with a temporary feel that underlines the fact that one is a mere guest of the wildlife that calls this part of the world home.
This is an exclusive-use villa residence consisting of a two-bedroom suite, a shared lounge and dining area including the services of a private game drive vehicle, guide and chef. Activities include day drives, night drives within the Maasai Mara and private Olare Motorogi Conservancy and cultural visits. Hot air ballooning can be arranged at an additional expense. The new villa is ideal for group travelers and multi-generational travel. The Mara Jahazi Suite accommodates children aged 8 and up.
Nightly rates at Great Plains Mara Plains Camp start at $1,450/£1,042* per person per night based on 2 guests sharing.
Mpala Jena Camp, Zimbabwe
Offering the perfect Victoria Falls accommodation, Mpala Jena Camp is an intimate safari camp positioned along the beautiful tree-lined banks of the mighty Zambezi River. A haven that epitomises barefoot luxury in its most refined form, the architecture team of Craig Hayman and Hannah Charlton, with the assistance of interior designer Tracy Kelly, combined the elements of the pristine location by using thatched roofs in the main areas and flowing canvas luxury tents for the bedrooms.
The true showpiece of Mpala Jena Camp is the sand-floored bar and decked pool area, which provides a sumptuous setting in which for guests to kick their shoes off and relax after their morning game drive or river cruise. The sun loungers are positioned in such a way that one feels they are floating right on the river, a truly majestic sight to behold.
Nightly rates at Mpala Jena Camp start from $780 per person per night based on 2 persons sharing.
Tembo Plains Camp, Zimbabwe
Tembo Plains Camp is tucked away into a thick riverine forest on the edge of the Zambezi River, in the private 128,000-hectare Sapi Private Reserve, east of Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park. The camp has four double suites, each with its own indoor lounge area and private plunge pool, the perfect spot in which to enjoy a sundowner or two and which have been known to attract the local wildlife come nightfall!
Painted dogs (wild dogs), lions and leopards are common around Tembo Plains, whilst buffalo are regularly seen up and down and sometimes swimming the Zambezi River itself, as are the elephants (or Tembo) from whom the camp takes its name.
The most luxurious accommodation within Tembo Plains Camp is the beautiful two-bedroomed Tembo Plains Suite, comprising two suites flanking a shared lounge, dining area and pool.
Nightly rates at Tembo Plains Camp start from $895 per person per night based on 2 persons sharing during low season/ the Tembo Suite starts from $2,685 per night.
For more information on any of the Great Plains camps and experiences, please visit www.greatplainsconservation.com