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“Duba Plains Disaster”

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Great Plains Conservation Duba Plains Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 9 July 2014

I stayed for 4 nights at this camp. Despite the first two nights being great, it was overshadowed by the last two nights. Our guide was totally self centred, focused on his photographs, not our best interests and one game drive, he totally stopped talking to us as he was pissed off with not getting his way the day earlier.

After that drive we asked the manager for another guide. A short time later, the manager assured us she'd sorted it out and that we'd have another guide. But 2 hours later the surly, petulant guide showed up on the deck to advise us he'd be taking us out that afternoon AND while we sere sitting with the very manager who'd told us she'd sorted the situation out!!

We made it clear to the manager we wanted a refund for the game drive on day 3 where we were treated like "lepers". We again reminded her of our claim for compensation later that day. She just nodded both times but when it came time to leave, she made herself scarce. So we asked her to come out and for 3rd time, asked her to offer compensation. It was only then that she wheeled out the "you'll have to speak to head office" line.

Well, Head Office didn't think it worthwhile responding to us, instead our agent advised "It's Great Plains policy that once a safari has started, no refunds are given".

So, get the message fellow safari-goer, "ONCE THEY GET YOUR MONEY IT"S THEIRS" no matter what type of C-grade service or product they throw at you. We've stayed at 20+ camps over the past 15 months and I've never written a review like this. BE WARNED!

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled on business
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13  Thank Tonyaillman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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80 - 86 of 156 reviews

Reviewed 6 July 2014

Our second trip to Duba was nothing like our first last year which was fantastic. This one was a shocker, although it should be said the food was fantastic. Our guide, Kabelo Carvello was the main cause of our discontent. He had an arrogance about him from the moment he greeted us but we gave him the benefit of the doubt. We lent him a $1,600 lens, shared our chocolate with him (coveted in bush camps) and tried to engage him on the first two days. I can’t recall Kabelo asking one single question about us, he was focused totally on him and the game (which was sparse). Early on in the stay he made it clear he was only there to further his photographic endeavours. He even found it amazing that guests wouldn’t help him pack up the breakfast stuff on game drives, a task I believe he was paid to do. One morning, Tonya and I jumped out to take low angle pics of a hippo 40m from us and I was amazed when Kabelo took up a position in front of us lying on the ground. I don’t know who he thought should be looking out for animals that might approach from behind while we were focused on the hippo? But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I offered him a free seat ($US$285 value) on a chopper I hired providing he took pics with a spare camera of mine. He jumped at the free seat. On the afternoon of the flight he went to board with his own camera. I reiterated that I wanted him to shoot with mine for which he was being paid. It was at this moment that everything changed! He dropped his lip and carried on like a child, refusing to go. That was fine by me, I offered the seat to the camp manager but he finally agreed to come and did photograph with my camera. It was abundantly clear though that he was unhappy about the entire arrangement and certainly never felt compelled to thank me for the free flight.
The next morning, still obviously dark about not being able to take his own pictures on a flight I paid for, we got the cold shoulder treatment big time. 6 hours and only 4 comments from him, all game drive related. A very uncomfortable experience. On our return I informed the manager about his petulance and belligerence and she said she’d speak to him. We asked for another guide.
I made it clear to the manager that we wanted reimbursement for that most uncomfortable of game drives. Again at dinner I reminded the manager of our reimbursement claim. Upon departure I spoke to Kabelo Carvello about his appalling attitude and he was “shocked” to here this. He thought it was all good, if anything we were rude. He denied spitting the dummy. I asked him if the manager had spoken to him about our comments. He said no. As we got into the vehicle to leave the camp I had to ask the manager (for the 3rd time) what reimbursement she thought was fair. “You’ll have to speak to Connie at head office” was the reply. I would have thought that Connie might have wanted to speak to me! If I had staff carrying on like this I’d want to sort it out.

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled on business
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11  Thank DreamHolidayHomes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GreatPlainsConserve, Owner at Great Plains Conservation Duba Plains Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 15 July 2014

Your review is shocking and surprising to us.

We have asked for an immediately recall of the guide for review and a full explanation. We love the fact that our guides are also accomplished photographers but NOT to the detriment of the guest experience. It's unacceptable and disappointing. If our review our the guide does not go well, the process in Botswana is as follows: we issue a first warning (in this case the guide has only had rave reviews, so this would be his first) and if there are two more incidents (not just involving guests) we are allowed to dismiss the man.

In that case he will struggle to find another position in the industry and your review will have set that process in motion. Dismissal is a complicated thing in Botswana but certainly from what we hear from you, this will not be a loss to the industry. We presume you want us to follow that course.

For now he will be suspended and taken off active duty until we can understand his side of the story.

No matter what that is, we live by a policy that an unhappy guest is one we have failed. Your time is extremely valuable, probably the most valuable commodity in life and certainly more valuable than a mere refund, so please accept our apology.

Are we to understand that you are working on a book? We wanted to extend some commercial value to you by offering to purchase books from you, but the Ministry of Environment (where one applies for permission to do books) did not know about your project so we won't legally be able to engage with you on that level.

However we do hope that there was enough from your safari with us to take home as satisfying, and please know that we are taking measures, as you have suggested, to delve into this, and that the company cares very deeply about failures by us and our staff when we hear of them.

Bringing those issues to our attention is very helpful and allows us to change the way we operate and the way we can perform in the future. Our guide training will only improve because of this and we are sure that by your next visit, you will be impressed.

When you want to return, please let us know and we can ensure that your next safari works like magic.

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Reviewed 1 July 2014

Duba was our second camp on our firs safari trip to Africa. We had been impressed by previous camp also in the delta but this one was pretty special. They have excellent staff and guides and the game viewing was outstanding. On our first afternoon drive we were part of a classic lion-buffalo encounter. something none of us could believe we were seeing and which we will never forget. Also we saw a Pells fishing owl twice while we were there for our 3 days---a very rare sighting apparently. The managers Pierre and Anoinette are young and hard-working. We were impressed by the attention to detail in cooking ( both are trained chefs but Pierre does the cooking ) and the decor of the camp ie tents and facilities. While we were there elephants took the water pump out of service but this crisis was handled with calm and expertise by the managers and the mechanical staff, Well done!

Room Tip: All tents excellent.
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Elizabeth T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GreatPlainsConserve, General Manager at Great Plains Conservation Duba Plains Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 16 September 2014

Thank you for your lovely review, Elizabeth.

It was great to meet you, Vaughan, Margot & Eve. We’ll have the milktart ready for your next visit!

Kind regards

The Duba Team
PS - Remember to support our rhino relocation efforts by visiting our Facebook page - Great Plains Conservation - or follow us on Twitter - ZerosForRhinos

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Reviewed 23 June 2014

My wife and I returned from Botswana yesterday having spent three nights at Duba Plains and 3 nights at Zarafa. We've traveled on safari quite extensively throughout Africa over the years and this was our third visit to Botswana and the Okavango Delta. The delta had good rains earlier in the year and the water table was already high when the flood waters from the Okavango started arriving recently ........and the plains were therefore very largely underwater. This meant that most of the game drives were through water ....sometimes up to a meter high! The game in the area have had to habituate to the water and by and large life goes on as usual; mating, chasing, fighting and eating, living on the small islands created by the ever changing water levels.
Duba Plains is a lovely camp which I'd classify as an 'old classic' safari camp. The tents are very comfortable and beautifully appointed but are on the small side (one couple were travelling with a 12 year old who shared their tent and I'd suggest that with her extra bed in place moving around the tent would have been awkward). The bathroom basins are directly behind the bed and the loo and shower are then set back from there separated by a curtain .........
The staff are all without exception warmly welcoming and friendly ..... and the food is without question the best we've ever been served in the bush!! Pierre, the chef, is a master and his cuisine would stand up with the best you'll find anywhere in the city.
All the people in camp while we were there were seasoned bush travelers (American, German, Australian).

Room Tip: The tents are well spaced apart with number 1 being closest the communal area and number 6 being a g...
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled with family
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2  Thank LesRuhrmund
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 June 2014

What a wonderful place to stay for an Okavango Safari! Comfortable accommodation, excellent food - Pierre, I have told everyone what a hero you were for bringing us a magnificent lunch out and setting it out on so beautifully just because we didn't want to break from watching the lions! - the safaris were so interesting with lots of wildlife of various kinds, thanks to our fab guide Kabbelo we saw Lions, hippos, elephants, giraffes, kudu, various antelopes, baboons, monitor lizards and so much more including a vast array of colourful birds. All staff most pleasant and helpful at all times. This resort also provides a full laundry service if required. Pierre and Antoinette are so welcoming and run a very 'smooth ship' so that your every need is catered for. I do hope that one day, we will be able to return.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank eunice h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GreatPlainsConserve, General Manager at Great Plains Conservation Duba Plains Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 16 September 2014

Dear Eunice,

Thank you for your lovely review.
It was a pleasure to have you and David stay with us. We too hope that one day you will return.

Warm regards
The Duba Team

PS - Remember to support our rhino relocation efforts by visiting our Facebook page - Great Plains Conservation - or follow us on Twitter - ZerosForRhinos

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Reviewed 9 June 2014

Duba is the bomb. It’s stunning. We absolutely loved it. The Camp is beautiful. Not far from the airstrip. Duba guests are the only ones out there. The view from camp is breathtaking. The Safari vehicles, Toyota Landcruisers off course, are elevated and look like monster trucks. The guides are for real too. The tented rooms or Canvas Cabins are not big but everything you want is there with a lot of small details added , like African embroidered pillows, Persian rugs on the floor and….bed lights for reading. A pair of Swarovski binoculars standard in the room. The food Pierre van Zijl had prepared was excellent. On the day of arrival we decided not to go on a game drive but went fishing with Vincent instead. This variety of activities is a true asset. I really, really didn’t want to leave.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled with friends
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2  Thank John P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GreatPlainsConserve, General Manager at Great Plains Conservation Duba Plains Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 16 September 2014

Thank you for your review, John.

We enjoyed having you and Martijn visit us and we hope to see you back again for a longer visit next time and some more fishing.

Remember to support our rhino relocation efforts by visiting our Facebook page - Great Plains Conservation - or follow us on Twitter - ZerosForRhinos

Kind regards
The Duba Team

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Reviewed 9 June 2014

Some of the best guides in all of Africa....wonderful staff...especially Antoinette and Pierre. Such a magical location....great tented camp.... don't know why this isn't a 5-star camp.... it has everything necessary... they don't know what to do for you....
Hope to come back one day !! Oh yes and we actually saw a PANGOLIN.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank dh24yaya
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GreatPlainsConserve, General Manager at Great Plains Conservation Duba Plains Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 16 September 2014

Thank you so much for your review.

We’re always happy when someone spots a Pangolin as it is such a rare and special sighting. We too hope you can come back one day.

Remember to support our rhino relocation efforts by visiting our Facebook page - Great Plains Conservation - or follow us on Twitter - ZerosForRhinos

Kind regards, The Duba Team.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Great Plains Conservation Duba Plains Camp

Address: Duba Plains Concession, Botswana (Formerly Duba Plains Camp)
Region: Botswana > North-West District > Okavango Delta
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #23 of 71 Speciality Lodging in Okavango Delta
Price Range: £1,896 - £9,026 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Great Plains Conservation Duba Plains Camp 5*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The renowned and totally brand new Duba Plains Camp, which opened in March 2017, sits in the heart the Okavango Delta. A recent guest said it all, “I am not a religious person but I now understand that the Garden of Eden can now in fact be found at Duba Plains.” A matrix of palm-dotted islands, flood plains and woodland, the 77,000 acre private concession typifies the region’s unique landscape. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Duba Plains Camp Hotel Okavango Delta
Great Plains Conservation Duba Plains Camp Botswana/Okavango Delta

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