Reviews of Tau Pan Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Tau Pan Camp - a good introduction to safari
Three nights here were fine for us as we had come straight from the UK. Otherwise two nights would be enough as the drives were a bit limited by national park rules.
Good animals and birds several of which we did not see elsewhere. Staff were very welcoming and helpful.
Tau Pan Camp review
Although a beautiful camp, there was no hot water in the rooms and the food was very disappointing. For example, not enough food for all the guests, lasagna half-cooked. The team are uncoordinated in general they were nice. The assistant manager was the only one who was on the border of being rude.
Our guide, Eddie, was excellent and really tried hard for us but the trekker, Scupa, was absolutely useless and never looked nor found anything.
On our day out, again the food, the way it was set out was not to level of other safaris we have done and also not at the same level of as a sister camp, Kwara.
We understand that they have to stick to the regulations of the National park but the difference between Kalahari and Moremi National park is that there are more roads in Moremi that allow you come closer to the animals and see more. They definetely need more roads in the Kalari as the space between pans and roads is far to wide.
Tau Pan was a late inclusion in our itinerary and a venture into a part of Africa which neither of us had previously visited. We knew that this would be a different experience – not least because of National Park restrictions on driving off-road and during hours of darkness. Add to this tricky terrain and vegetation for animal spotting and we were prepared to have to work hard for limited animal sightings. In fact, we did remarkably well – indeed for both mammals and birds on a par with our other two Botswana destinations.
The birdlife was particularly impressive, a strong resident population augmented at this time by some very interesting seasonal migrants. But we also did very well for mammals, including cheetahs (five separate sightings), the black-maned lions, bat-eared foxes closer than we have ever previously experienced, cape foxes (in daylight), meerkats and honeybadgers. Furthermore we found clear evidence of elephants close to the camp no more than three weeks previously (where there were thought to be none around).
The trip to Deception Valley was well worth the effort. But it would not be for the faint-hearted in the heat – ours was much eased by rain having fallen the previous night.
For all that, this is a very different environment to the private concessions around the Delta and in Chobe/Linyanti/Moremi. We enjoyed it enormously and strongly recommend it for experienced safari-ers, especially those with a keen interest in birds. We left Tau Pan in no doubt that it is situated in a very special environment indeed and one which we hope to visit again in the not too distant future.
Our guide Hector was outstanding (as he had been guiding us at Lebala last year) and it was a real pleasure to spend time with him again. We cannot speak too highly of him.
In the camp itself, we were extraordinarily well looked after by Janet, Sa'adia (both relief managers) and the team.
Tau Pan--a very special place
Tau Pan is in a beautiful location--pictures really don't do it justice, and it was very interesting to experience a different part of Botswana. We loved this camp, but it is definitely for people who want to experience the Kalahari and see some different game, birds and vegetation. It is not for people who need to see vast quantities of large mammals at very close range.
The staff were outstanding--Lebo did a great job as manager, and all the behind the scenes staff were terrific. Our guide, Hector, is a treasure--a truly wonderful person and the best guide imaginable. If I can return to Botswana, I will try to search out Hector and go to wherever he is working. We also loved our tracker KG--he has so much to offer, not only with his tracking skills, but his general knowledge of the bush.
I wish I had made the effort to find out more about his upbringing and culture; unfortunately it was not until the last morning that I spoke to him about these things. The food was tasty; I don't know how they make such great meals in the middle of nowhere. It is great that they are using solar power, however, the rooms are very dark in the evenings--especially the bathroom area. People might want to bring a good torch. We had a wonderful time there and would definitely go back.
Lovely Tau Pan
Visiting this new camp was a great experience, better than we anticipated. I have graded all areas as excellent apart from Rooms which I have shown as good. The reason for this is the washbasins were awful they were too small and the shape meant you could easily splash water. (I understand from the manager that they are being replaced).
It would also be helpful if there could be a light nearer to the washbasins as there is no natural light in this area.
I would like to mention our guide - Hector, he was excellant. The guides were good at all the camps we stayed but Hector beat then all.
Spectacular scenery at Tau Pan Camp
The new camp at Tau Pan is very beautifully constructed as you would expect from a Kwando camp. There is a lovely large decked commununal area. The rooms are very comfortable and smart. There are both indoor and outdoor showers, which is very useful given that it probably gets very cold at night in the winter, and the thatched, detached suites have a large deck that provides welcome shade and excellent views during the heat of the afternoon.
The view from the rooms and the communal area is really spectacular, looking out onto a waterhole and the wide open space of Tau Pan and the desert beyond. It is set on a ridge, making the most of the one of the key selling points of the destination.
The game here was not as abundant as in the delta or other areas such as Chobe or the Kwando concession. The animals are also still quite shy, as they are not yet very habituated. Having said that, there were some interesting sightings of animals it is rare to encounter in other areas of Botswana - Oryx and Springbok are abundant, and the Jackal are unusually happy to sit beside a vehicle and pose for pictures. We saw Kalahari Black Maned lions, bat-eared foxes and lots of ground squirrels, as well as some close encounters with birds of prey and other interesting birds.
The national park is pretty much deserted - we saw hardly any other vehicles so we felt very much in the middle of nowhere and enjoyed sightings undisturbed by others.
The staff here, as at other Kwando camps, provide an outstanding level of personalised service. The electricity (solar powered) and water (from a pump 100m below ground) were still unfortunately suffering from teething problems at the time of our visit, although the problems seemed to get sorted whilst we were there. The staff dealt with the situation valiantly though, and in fact candle-lit dinner, given the setting, was not a terrible chore. Alvin, the camp manager, was great and really made our stay special. He was very attentive and did everything he could think of to ensure our stay was enjoyable, relaxing and interesting.
Tau Pan provides a very different experience compared to the other Kwando camps in the Kwando concession and the Delta. There is no after dark or off-road driving because of the national park rules (which is why we have rated the activites as good rather than excellent). This is obviously a source of frustration for the drivers and spotters as well as potentially any guest who didn't realise the situation before making the booking. Having said that, it is well worth a visit.
The setting is beautiful and very peaceful, and it is a completely different side of Botswana that it's very interesting to see, particularly if you are going on another area as the contrast between the desert and the delta is very striking and well worth seeing. I would recommend Tau Pan camp to people who want to enjoy the wide open spaces of the Kalahari, see some interesting and unusual game, and enjoy the incredible night skies with uninterrupted views to the horizon in every direction.
Brand new camp with wonderful character
What a wonderful place. We were so fortunate - only one family of four and us in camp and we all got on so well.
We effectively had private guiding with Balipi and KG to ourselves. It took a little time to get to know them but we learned so much from them. The bush walk they took us on was fantastic because they have so much knowledge. We really enjoyed talking to them about their lives - still in touch with their San roots and also moving on in the modern world of guiding. They were lovely people to spend time with. KG is very quiet - he just needs to grow in confidence. His demonstration of bush craft was wonderfully done. Balipi's experience shines through.
I know the family with us also had a fantastic time with Hector and Timothy.
We had gone to the Kalahari for the sense of space, remoteness and wide ranging views. Someone who measures their exprience on how much large game they see might not have been quite as happy as us. On the whole day trip we covered 150km between 6.30am and 6pm and saw a cheetah towards the end of the day. Otherwise, mostly antelope, giraffe, birds and smaller animals like ground squirrels and a honey badger, all of which we really enjoyed seeing.
The other group saw more large game - lions and several cheetahs so it is very much down to chance who sees what. We were perfectly happy with this. The game is there - it's just harder to spot at this time of year with the high grass - we were fully aware of this so no problem. There is a small female leopard coming into camp regulary. A guide had seen her a couple of days before we arrived and her prints were there each morning but we didn't see her.
The camp location is exactly as depicted - on an elevated area with stunning views of the Pan below. The buildings are fabulous and we loved the ambience. The activities were half day game drives, a full day's drive around the Pans and a nature walk near the camp.
The food was outstanding. Geoffery the cook was a genius - each meal was beautiful and then there was all sorts of other little touches like home baked biscuits with coffee on the morning drive and delicious canapes with sundowners.
The staff were all wonderful - so open and friendly - Hilda, Obi and Kenny are great at front of house, but we must acknowledge the back stage folk who kept everything running smoothly.
Alvin was managing in the absence of the regular managers - really nice guy and very reassuring presence with his experience. He really cared that we had a nice time and seemed to have a good relationship with the staff. One evening when we declined sundowners out in the bush after the long day drive, Alvin placed our usual drinks, chilled in an ice bucket on our deck so we could relax there. Really nice.
The camp is trying to run entirely on solar power which is great to see. There are one or two teething issues but nothing major and we were not inconvenienced. The hot water was coming through a bit slowly on the inside shower the first day but was receiving attention.
We spent one afternoon just chilling out on the observation deck in the shade - it was lovely. There were great books to look at, the water hole to keep an eye on, the pool if you wanted to use it and the shop (which is really nicely stocked).
The stink bugs were there in great number in the evenings - you doid need to keep your drink covered. This just adds to the sense of being out in the bush unless you're really fussy. I gather their numbers are very high at present and this isn't usual. The children staying in camp were thrilled with them and all the other insects.
The transfer to the airstrip is just a few minutes so very convenient.
We had the best of times at this camp and I'll always remember the beauty of the land and wildlife, the wonderful remoteness, the colours at sundown and the wonderful people who looked after us there.
A new camp is born in the Kalahari
Location-situated on the top of a sand bank giving wonderful views over the desert ,pan and the distant horizon in all directions, confirming the real sense of isolation. A wonderful place for star gazing.
Rooms - we had the family room which was spacious and well equipped but we found it poorly lit and the hand basin were far too small and more water went on the floor than in the basin. the beds were also too high unless you were over 5" 10" tall !
Service- was always with a smile and nothing was too much trouble.
Food- good quality nicely presented.
Activities- Alberto our guide and Scoupa our tracker were both excellent, informative ,friendly and happy to answer all our many questions. Being inside the CKGR limits opportunities to track wildlife "off road " so a guides good eyes and binoculars are essential.
This is a brand new camp and will improve when the waterhole is filled and animals start to use it in the dry season.
Expert Africa comments
In addition to the feedback, above, this traveller expressed misgivings about and issue concerning the order in which guests and staff were served during meal times. We have followed these comments up in considerable detail.
We’re very grateful to her for the further details that she gave us, as it has enabled the MD of the camps to investigate what happened in this case, and also to re-affirm Kwando’s clear guidelines on the issue for all of their camps.