Botswana lodges and safari camps ~ In recent blogs we looked at our favourite regions of Botswana as well as the best times of year to visit them. Of course, choosing which of Botswana’s many wonderful national parks and game reserves to visit is just the first stage of your planning your safari; choosing which camps and lodges to stay at is the next step, and arguably the most important. Thankfully, Botswana is home to some of Africa’s very best accommodation, whether you’re looking for a small, rustic bush camp, a luxury lodge, or something inbetween. In this blog, our Botswana specialist Sarah Williams lists some of her favourite Botswana lodges and camps.
Personally, I love to get as far off the beaten track as possible when on safari in order to really immerse myself in the bush! Botswana, with its many private reserves and its small, intimate camps is simply perfect in this respect. If you too appreciate the feeling of being in the remote wilderness then you will love Kanana Mokoro Trail, a small camp located in a private concession of the Okavango, reachable only by mokoro (dugout canoe). Very much a water-based camp, guests at Kanana spend their days being poled silently through the thick golden papyrus in search of the rare Sitatunga and other mammals and birdlife. The camp itself offers the utmost in privacy, accommodating a maximum of only four people in light, twin-bedded dome tents. At night gather around a fire under a canopy of stars knowing you are miles from another human being.
The Okavango is home to many private retreats. Another camp I particularly like is Pom Pom Camp, where I always feel instantly at home. Accommodation at Pom Pom is under canvas with wonderful views of the lagoon and a small verandah (where I once found a large water monitor soaking up the sun!) The main building is a delightful open area with a comfortable lounge and bar; meals are served at long communal tables, which provide an opportunity to talk to fellow guests. Pom Pom Camp offers both water and land based activities on their private concession, though the emphasis is definitely on water activities. What sets Pom Pom apart though is its atmosphere—small but homely, this is a warm, comfortable camp that is just a category below the highest rated camps in the Delta.
Chobe National Park is a great place to stopover, especially if you are travelling to or from Victoria Falls. It’s the busiest Park in Botswana, and doesn’t share the Okavango’s reputation for exclusivity, but you can find a number of remote and private retreats in Chobe if you know where to look. For instance, while the game-rich area of Kasane is known for being packed with lodges, if you head just 45 minutes up the river you’ll find Muchenje Lodge, isolated on an escarpment with a stunning 180 degree view of the Chobe River and its flood plains. This is a great alternative to some of Chobe’s busier lodges, giving you access to some of best game areas in the park but also the privacy that many expect from a safari to Botswana. Recently upgraded, Muchenje also has the advantage of being a well-run lodge that is independently-owned and managed (not being part of a large organisation makes for a more welcoming and personal service in my opinion).
If you prefer your safari camps to be more traditional in style then consider Machaba Camp. Recently built in a classic 1950s style, Machaba is located just outside Moremi in the eastern Okavango, facing the Khwai River. This is another independently owned and managed property and is one of my favourite places for a number of reasons: the team here is so welcoming and friendly, the food delicious, the atmosphere relaxed, and the decor tasteful, with thoughtful touches everywhere you look. Of course the game viewing is fantastic too with the possibility of seeing wild dog and elephant while you relax in camp!
It’s almost an impossible task to nominate my favourite places. Each property offers something unique, whether it’s the location, the view from your room, a particularly excellent guide or a superb sighting. The combination of all these elements can provide a favourite place… where’s yours?