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  • Writer's pictureWarrick Davey

Great Plains Conservation's latest Delta sanctum: We chat to CMO Hilton Walker after his first visit


Great Plains Conservation has recently opened their latest water-based Réserve-Collection Safari Camp in Botswana, Sitatunga Private Island, and we couldn't wait to hear more about this Delta paradise. Cue Hilton, the suave and sophisticated chief of marketing for Great Plains, who has been with the company for the past 15 years. Hilton visited the new camp a few weeks ago and was happy to answer a few questions and share his thoughts on his first experience.


Where exactly is Sitatunga Private Island (SPI) located, and how does one get there?

This exciting, new safari experience is tucked away on a private island as the panhandle waters enter the upper Okavango Delta. Guests can only arrive and depart via helicopter, which is included in our nightly rates. This fantastic experience ensures you get to understand and see the terrain of what you will be exploring whilst with us.



On your recent visit to SPI, what stood out for you on seeing the lodge for the first time?

The sense of space. I genuinely believe that we have moved into a new era in terms of “luxury” ( a word we don’t actually refer to here at Great Plains), and that is ‘Time and Space’. Time for one to spend with your loved one/s and Space in which to relax and allow your mind to be still, not under each other’s feet, near each other, but in space to be. Sitatunga has encapsulated this spirit perfectly.


Great Plains already has the Duba Plains collection of camps in the Okavango; what makes SPI special and unique?

Sitatunga is the perfect complement to the Duba and, by extension, a Selinda experience. Where these camps focus on game drives with walks, Sitatunga focuses on guests going out and viewing wild- and birdlife from a boat and the water. The juxtaposition is fantastic and gives you a totally different perspective when viewing the natural world around you.


Exclusivity is highly sought after in today’s world – how does SPI offer this to its guests?

Sitatunga Private Island only has 2 expansive Suites, sleeping a maximum of 4 adults. Each Suite has its own private lounge, deck, and pool, too. Staff attention and personalisation are finely honed to guest’s needs and desires. For those seeking an even further refined experience, there is the Sitatunga Private Island Suite, which is a private 2-bedroomed Suite, complete with the services of a private boat, guide, veranda, 2 lounge areas, and pool. Perfect for those wanting to have total exclusivity or when travelling with children, as this unit can accommodate 3 children in their own Suite along with the parents in their Suite. Again – Time and Space define the experience.



In your opinion, which type of traveller do you feel SPI suites best?

The traveller who seeks to enjoy a safari that encompasses all aspects of the natural world and what is available to be experienced. To miss going out on the water and drifting along in a mokoro with your guide or spending time walking around the island would leave you with only having enjoyed a portion of what the Okavango Delta is all about.


We believe SPI has been built with Great Plains Conservation sustainability ethos strongly in mind. Can you tell us more?

It has in that the raised decking and flooring of the entire property has been built with reclaimed sleepers. Canvas and thatch are also used for roofing and walling. No single-use plastic is used in terms of water bottles or the kitchen. No concrete either during construction. All wastewater is treated on-site before being returned to the Delta as pristine water. Our menus are also considered as to what would be healthy, nutritious and not having to come from halfway around the world for a meal. It is the same for our wines, where every estate on offer must have a tangible environmental or social positive impact story attached to its production. The camp is powered by solar panels, predominantly including heat pumps for hot water. But sustainability doesn’t just stop once a camp is opened; we are constantly looking and refining processes to ensure we are minimising the impact we have on the immediate environment and further afield in our supply chain.


What is one experience or thing that is a must-do for someone visiting SPI?

Take a moment and just ‘be’ – safaris, by nature, can be busy experiences with early morning

wake-ups and going to be late into the evening after stories and laughter paired with delicious food and healthy meals. Not to mention the consistent visual experiences one sees. Sitatunga allows one to take a moment to breathe, slow down a tad, enjoy the relaxation that comes from being close to water, see the world from a different angle and reconnect with yourself and your loved ones. Whether that is whilst you are out on the boat, drifting along in a mokoro, or simply watching elephants or sitatunga from the privacy of your private pool – soak up the sounds and sights of nature up at a slower pace.


Thanks very much Hilton for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing your thoughts; before we say goodbye, tell us a little about yourself and what makes your journey with Great Plains impactful:

Finally, me? I have been with Great Plains almost since inception, for the last 15 years, and have loved every single second of this journey we have taken as a company. I love the fact that we constantly ask ourselves how we can better look after our guests, expand on their safari experiences, and better understand their needs whilst simultaneously applying the same culture of care and support to our trade partners with whom we work closely with when planning guest’s safaris to Africa. Ultimately, though, and this is the most important, all this would be for nought if it didn’t serve a higher purpose. That is where all our efforts flow into how we better the habitats in which we find ourselves, with wildlife and communities being our partners in that journey. Why are we doing it if we are not making their lives better every day? With your support and our guest’s stays, this does become a tangible reality and has a lasting impact.

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