Botswana : Okavango Delta and Moremi
The Okavango Delta is one of the world's unique natural wonders: 15,000 square kilometres of lush wetland sourced by Southern Africa's third largest river, the Okavango, and the largest inland delta in the world. Famous for its mokoro (dug-out canoe) safaris and amazing birdlife, it has a flourishing eco-system and is one of Africa's best safari destinations. The game-rich Moremi National Park protects the main area of the delta, and around it are a number of private concessions with just a couple of small, private safari camps which offer the opportunity to go on night drives, off-road safaris and on walking safaris. There are 'wet' and 'dry' areas in the delta, offering slightly different experiences. The northern section of the delta is permanently flooded, and activities are water-based, while the southern section of the park is only seasonally flooded. In these drier areas you go out on foot or in 4WD vehicles, and have more chance of seeing big game including the cats, elephants, buffaloes and zebra. In flood (May-September), these activities are supplemented by water activities. Below you will find the camps divided into the different types of activities they offer.
The Mombo Camps are the Delta’s flagship camps when it comes to exclusivity and style. Situated on the northern tip of Chief's Island in the centre of the Moremi Game Reserve, they are also probably one of the most exclusive year-round wildlife destinations in Africa. Large concentrations of wildlife often surround the camp, including a large pack of wild dogs, and elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah and all the major predators are common in the region. There is also the possibility of seeing both black and white rhino since their recent reintroduction to the area. The National Geographic and the BBC visit frequently to make documentaries on the amazing wildlife. The two camps here offer a classic dry-land safari experience with 4WD game drives by both day and night.
Mombo Camp has nine amazingly comfortable rooms. They are enormous, with half the room a bathroom and then there is also an outside shower area. They all have large decks with an outside bed for your afternoon siesta but sadly you cannot sleep on it at night! The guest rooms and the walkways that connect the rooms to the living area are up to two metres off the ground, allowing game to wander freely through and under the camp. Walking to breakfast, if you are quiet, you can look down on various game, and we were woken in the night by a buffalo using our walkway as a scratching pole! The camp’s living area overlooks the open plain in front of the camp and there is a plunge pool for relaxing in the heat of the day.
Little Mombo, although nearby, is a totally distinct camp. It is a gem of a luxury bush camp as there are only three luxury tented en-suite rooms, similar in style to the tents at the main Mombo Camp. The rooms are connected to the main thatched living and dining area by elevated wooden walkways. Each room has an open air day bed for your siesta and you can cool down in the heat of the day by the pool. Hugely luxurious, it is perhaps slightly over the top, but fantastic and the game viewing is exceptional all year round. Little Mombo is great for families or small groups. Both these camps fill up very quickly so you need to book early!
Chitabe Camp and Chitabe Lediba are set on an island in a 28,000-hectare private conservancy bordering, and pretty much surrounded by, the Moremi Game Reserve. It is a heavily forested area with lovely wooded glades of dry acacia and mopane, as well as riverine areas, waterways, marshland and some open plain. Leopards thrive on the healthy population of impala here, while other wildlife highlights include buffalo, elephant, lion and wild dog. As ever in the delta, there is excellent birding and there are a couple of hides, one of which you can sleep in overnight. Chitabe offers a classic dry-land safari experience with day and night 4WD game drives and walking safaris. After the rains, there are water activities available nearby but it is more of a land-based camp.
Chitabe Camp is set up on decks with raised walkways interconnecting the eight raised tents with the main dining area. All the tents have views across the grasslands, are extremely comfortable and well appointed with both indoor and outdoor showers. There is also a small plunge pool to cool down in during the heat of the day. The staff here are excellent, extremely friendly and welcoming, and the camp has excellent food and professional guiding. With plenty of nice surprises nothing is too much trouble.
Chitabe Lediba is situated on the same island as Chitabe Camp but is run completely separately with its own camp manager and guides. This camp is ideal for small parties who are looking for their own private camp, as well as those individuals who prefer an even smaller camp. Surrounded by ancient ebony, leadwood and sausage trees, Chitabe Lediba has five lovely East African-style tents, on raised decks and luxuriously appointed with en-suite facilities and an outdoor shower which overlook the floodplain. The lounge and dining area has comfortable sofas and a library, and there is a small plunge pool. The staff are great and really make the experience here.
From both camps you can go out on a short walking safari and overnight stay in the hide. This gives a brief taster of the ‘real’ bush, and is a fun way of experiencing the delta from a different, and more authentic, angle.
This camp is set in a private area within the Moremi Game Reserve. Situated on Paradise Island, it is surrounded by water and lush vegetation, and the emphasis is on mekoro and boating trips, though you can also go on game drives and walks year-round. The birdlife is exceptional and stalking the sitatunga antelope by mokoro is an experience to be remembered. The camp has10 tented chalets spread around the edge of the island, all with en-suite bathrooms as well as an outdoor showers, and they are lovely and romantic. The tents are linked by raised walkways to the main sitting are and bar. The Xigera swimming pool is the clean flowing river next to the camp. A very friendly camp, it is ideal for groups, couples or solo travellers.
Jacana Camp is a simple yet comfortable camp set on an island surrounded by permanent water on the eastern side of the Moremi Game Reserve. The camp has five small meru-style tents on raised decks overlooking the floodplains, each with an en-suite bathroom with a flush toilet and shower open to the skies. It is an intimate camp with a relaxed bush feel and has fantastic food. Being a true water wilderness (from April/May to October the camp becomes a small island and the activities are purely water-based), you spend much of your time exploring the surrounding waterways, fishing or walking. This is a prime area for wetland bird species, including wattled cranes, Pels fishing owls and greater and lesser Jacanas. In the dry season (October-April), activities also include night and day game drives, as well as walking safaris.
Abu Camp is one of Botswana’s most exclusive and expensive camps, and offers the unique opportunity to enjoy game-viewing from elephant-back. Being part of the elephant family allows you to approach and to interact with a wide variety of game, by blending in with nature. With a minimum stay of three nights and guests arriving and leaving at the same time, the atmosphere at Abu's is that of an exclusive house party, and indeed it entertains the world’s glitterati. The camp has six very luxurious raised tents, with stylish interiors featuring antique mahogany sleigh-style and four-poster beds, polished floors dotted with rugs, and an array of pictures, ornaments and carvings of elephants. As well as the elephant-back adventures, you can go on day and night game drives, nature walks and mokoro safaris.
Stanley’s Camp is in a private concession south of the Chitabe Reserve. It offers some of the best game viewing in the Okavango, including sightings of the rare and elusive wild dog. Set in riverine forest, it is a lovely, unpretentious camp, despite its creature comforts. There are eight classically-styled safari tents with handcrafted beds made up with the fine linen, antique furniture, oriental carpets, and a large deck out front with a hammock and chairs. The bathrooms are en-suite with an indoor shower and flush loo. Activities include day and night game drives in open 4x4s, and during the months of June-September, when the water levels are high, you can go out in mekoro as well.
Jao Camp is set on a remote wooded island on a private reserve bordering Moremi Game Reserve. At one end of the island there is a permanent water supply which brings wildlife close to camp, and surrounded by wide open floodplains and savannah it feels totally secluded. No expense has been spared on the interiors. The nine stunning luxury rooms are raised on wooden decks above the lush palms below and have en-suite facilities including an indoor and outdoor shower. There is also a small swimming pool. Game viewing is at its best during the dry season between October and March. In April, when the savannah floods, mokoro trips, fishing and boating are also available in addition to walking, game drives and night drives.
Tubu Tree Camp is a traditional tented safari camp in the 60,000-hectare private Jao Reserve, an area of the Okavango Delta that is much drier and the landscape very different to that of other primarily water-based camps. There are five large, comfortable tents with a private deck and an en-suite bathroom with flush loo and an indoor and an outdoor shower. It is in a lovely spot and has a great, down-to-earth atmosphere. Activities here are mostly land-based night and day game drives, but when the floodwaters are high (June-October), these are supplemented by mokoro trips and boating. There is also a small and welcome plunge pool.
Pom Pom Camp is a lovely traditional safari camp in a private concession on the western boundary of the Moremi Game Reserve. Set on an island it has nine large walk-in safari tents, with en-suite showers and flush loos. The camp surrounds a beautiful hippo-filled lagoon and you can watch the wildlife from your tent. A mix of water and land activities are available year-round including game drives, night drives, walks, (affordable) fishing and mokoro safaris. The camp also has a plunge pool next to the main lodge and the bar. It is a great, authentic camp offering a wonderful wilderness experience.
Footsteps Camp is the only true walking camp in Moremi Game Reserve and with only three tents, it makes you feel even more like you have your own small part of Africa. The guides here are excellent and very experienced, and if you are looking to do a walking safari in the Delta, this is the one. You walk for 3-4 hours every day, learning fascinating facts about the small things, but you may also see lion and wild dog as well as lots of plains game. Each of the three tents is insect-proof with sewn-in floors and has a private bucket shower and long drop loo. It is a camp for people who want a true bush experience, and to be in the wilds. It is a great camp to take over as a family and you can employ the services of the brilliant Young Explorers Club (at extra cost) with a dedicated children’s guide. Ask us for more details.
Set in a magical forest of wild palms and twisting trees in the southern Okavango Delta, Sandibe Safari Lodge is a rustic, relaxed camp despite its obvious comforts. There are eight airy thatched terracotta cottages, all with raised decks overlooking the river, and en-suite bathrooms with open-air showers. The main sitting and dining area has hammocked decks and a reed-enclosed plunge pool nearby. Simple food is beautifully prepared and served under the stars next to the open fire. Activities at Sandibe include day and night game drives in open 4x4s, bush walks, river cruises in a specially-designed 'silent' electric boat along the permanent waterways, fishing, mokoro excursions in the Delta and bird watching.
Shinde Camp is a traditional tented camp in a stunning private concession in the northern Delta. The large floodplain in front of the camp is scattered with antelope grazing, and giraffe and elephants browsing in the background. Often you will be met at the airstrip by just a mokoro and taken into camp through the silent waterways of the Delta. There are eight comfortable tents and a honeymoon suite, which is raised on stilts and at the end of camp to give more privacy. The tree-top dining room is shaded by ebony and mangosteen and is a very special experience, and there is a small plunge pool made private by the surrounding reeds. For small groups (max. six people) looking for a more exclusive stay there is Shinde Enclave which has three tents and a private eating area separate from the main camp. The Enclave has good views out over the marshy delta and you will have your own private guide. Water and land activities are available throughout the season and include walking, game drives, mokoro trips, boat trips as well as legendary tiger fish, bream, and pike fishing.
Okavango Horse Safaris operates in a 2,500 sq kilometre private concession in the southern area of the Delta. On horseback you venture further into the Delta and can get closer to the wildlife than you can by any other means. There are 5, 7 or 10 day safaris (leaving on set dates) staying in three different camps, each of which offer a different experience of the diverse landscape, birds and wildlife, There are more than 60 horses, mainly thoroughbreds, TB crosses, Arabians and American Saddle bred crosses and boerperds. The owners, Barney and PJ Bestelink, have been in the business a long time and ensure that each riding safari is tailored to the group (non-riders welcome) and the horse matched to the rider. It is a truly magical experience cantering alongside giraffe or coming silently across a family of elephant. The main emphasis is on riding but there are other activities, which make a welcome rest from the saddle, including guided walks, game drives, night drives and mokoro trips.
Kwara is a colourful patchwork of habitats, ranging from the clear Delta waters with reed-lined lagoons and channels, to open grasslands, mopane woodlands and palm-fringed islands. There is a huge amount of birdlife here and you can visit the renowned heronry at Gcodikwe Lagoon between September and March, which will impress even the least interested twitcher (though it is a bit smelly!). The area is also home to hippos, crocodiles, elephant and plains game, and lion, hyena, wild dog, leopard and cheetah are also common in this part of the Delta.
Kwara Camp is a very relaxed camp with a rustic feel and great atmosphere. Its eight comfortable en-suite tents are on raised platforms in a grove of huge and ancient African Ebony trees, and they have huge decks where you’ll hear the resident hippos grunting from the floodplain in front of the camp. They all have en-suite bathrooms with outdoor showers and flush toilets. The honeymoon tent has a claw-footed bath. More so than other Delta camps, Kwara has access to deep water and is strongly orientated towards water-based activities, though it offers a year-round mix of water and land safari activities. Children can have their own specialist guide here (at extra cost - but well worth it).
"The camp, meals and game viewing was all very good. Our highlight was seeing five cheetahs hunting."
Edward and Jane, Lochearnhead
Little Kwara is the smaller, more intimate camp of the main Kwara Camp. Just five minutes away, it is completely independent. It has four large and stylishly furnished en-suite tents with an indoor bath, and partially-covered outdoor shower. The tents are raised among the trees, and each has a large private deck. It is an ideal camp for exclusive use by small groups and families. Activities include year-round game and night drives, walking, mokoro trips, motor boat trips and fishing.