Leroo La Tau is situated on the western bank of the Boteti River...
Leroo La Tau: Our full report
Leroo La Tau is situated 140 kilometres southeast of Maun, on the western boundary of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. The lodge’s 12 rooms and game viewing hide are perched along a cliff, 10 metres above the Boteti, a once dry river which began flowing again in 2008 after nearly two decades of drought. From this vantage point, wildlife can be seen coming to drink at the opposite riverbank, which stretches away into the parks interior. Game concentrations are at their highest towards the end of the dry season (between July and October) when the Boteti provides a vital water source for migrating herds of zebra and wildebeest. Game viewing excursions are by motorboat and 4x4 safari vehicle, and guests can also join a cultural tour of the nearby Khumaga village.
The Boteti River derives its waters from the Okavango Delta. With good rains it flows deep into the Kalahari Desert, ending its course in the Makgadikgadi salt pans. During the dry season (June-November), when most of the Kalahari becomes parched, the Boteti is particularly important in providing wildlife an area to congregate. In comparison, the rainy season (December-April) provides plenty of ground water, and it's fair to say the game viewing at Leroo La Tau can be sparse – as the animals simply don't have to rely on the river as their main water source. With the Boteti River now flowing again since 2008, the renowned predator and prey interaction at the once few waterholes along the dry riverbed is no longer a feature, and in general the game viewing in this area is not as concentrated as it used to be.
Accommodation at Leroo La Tau consists of 12 large chalets well spaced along the 1.5km stretch of riverfront, with elevated views across to the national park. The chalets are of solid construction with thatched roof and glass frontage to emphasise the outlook. They’re raised on individual wooden platforms, with short spurs from the main pathway leading to wooden steps and an ornately carved side entrance door. Each chalet has wood flooring throughout and an extended wooden veranda accessed by glass sliding doors. The lodge's east-facing direction makes this a great place to watch the sun rise over the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park.
Internally there’s a spacious bedroom with a double and a three-quarter-sized bed, seating area, desk and wardrobe with plenty of shelving and hanging space. The use of sisal matting, calico curtains and a pale colour scheme gives a neutral, airy feel. A wooden door from the bedroom leads to an en-suite bathroom with a flush toilet, his and hers washbasins and a large shower – all with riverfront views. Furnishings and amenities include mosquito nets, ceiling fan, bedside tables and lamps, safe, tea and coffee station, drinking water, a 220 volt plug point (which only works when the generator is on), torch, insect repellent and spray, magazines, umbrella, laundry basket, bathrobes and toiletries such as conditioning shampoo, soap, shower gel, body lotion and a shower cap. Hairdryers are available from reception on request.
The central thatched main area at Leroo La Tau has one side largely made of wood and glass, overlooking a neatly clipped lawn (with a swimming pool surrounded by sun-loungers) which leads down to a sandy firepit and then lower still to the hide overlooking the Boteti River. The main building itself houses a dining room dominated by a long wooden table, with a bar at one end and curio shop at the other. Above the bar is a smaller, loft-style room with comfy lounge and views overlooking the river.
Activities at Leroo La Tau centre mainly around game drives in open 4WD safari vehicles, but also include boat trips along the Boteti River (water levels permitting) and an optional Khumaga Village tour. We found that the guides were very friendly, knowledgeable and eager to search out wildlife sightings. It’s worth noting that the actual Makgadikgadi Pans are not visited on daily scheduled activities from Leroo La Tau as they are too far away.
During the day, game drives are generally conducted within Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, where the emphasis is on combing the Boteti riverfront for game. Guests are first transferred across the river by boat to where the vehicles are parked. Within the national park the guides must abide by the park rules of no off-roading, no walking and no night drives. At night, drives are conducted in the lodge's own private concession - a relatively narrow neck of land surrounding the lodge. Towards the end of the dry season, when game concentrations are greatest, time spent in the hide at the lodge can be a highlight in itself. The lodge also offers full day trips to Nxai Pan and the famous Baines' Baobabs for guests staying three or more nights. If this is something that appeals to you then please speak to us as we'll need to request it in advance and be aware it involves a lengthy drive each way.
On our last visit to Leroo La Tau in June 2012 we saw mainly impala, zebra and wildebeest from the lodge hide and during the game drives and boat cruise we also saw hippo, kudu, giraffe, ostrich and black-backed jackal. Perhaps most notable was the large number of white-backed vultures we spotted along the riverside. The majority of the wildlife sightings were along the riverfront, hence this section was often busy with other vehicles. We did hear lion roaring during the night but weren’t lucky enough to spot them the next day. Elephant are seen here, though mainly the bulls as few matriarchal breeding herds roam the arid Kalahari. In conversation with the lodge guides we were advised that leopard are rarely seen and other big predators such as cheetah and spotted hyena hardly ever.
Our viewLeroo La Tau is currently the most upmarket accommodation option from which to explore the western section of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. It’s a good lodge with a lovely outlook and friendly service. The best time to visit is between July and October during the annual zebra and wildebeest migration and when wildlife concentrations are at their peak. For the rest of the year there isn’t any particular experience that would put it high on our list of Botswana’s top destinations.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a stay of 2–3 nights, particularly during the dry season (around July–October) when game densities are higher.
Directions: Leroo La Tau is a 2 hour drive or a 30 minute light aircraft flight from Maun. The road transfer from Khumaga airstrip to the lodge takes about 20 minutes.
Owner: Desert & Delta Safaris (Chobe Holdings)
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: We’ve found the standard of meals at Leroo La Tau to be very good overall and nicely presented.
During our most recent stay we began the morning with a light continental breakfast of cereal, yoghurt, fruit, toast, tea and coffee before setting off on the morning activity.
We returned to a buffet brunch which was a selection of continental breakfast options and hot savoury dishes as well as bacon and eggs cooked to order.
For afternoon tea we had tasty cheese pastries, sponge cake, tea, coffee, iced tea and home-made lemonade.
Nibbles of onion rings and toasted nuts were a nice touch before dinner. For dinner the plated starter was a delicious pear and onion filo parcel with orange chutney. The main was a buffet of lamb, crumbed bream (fish), mashed potatoes, brown rice, cauliflower cheese, snow peas and green salad. The plated dessert was fruit crumble with home-made banana ice cream and a cheese board was available on the buffet.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra.
Attitude towards children: Children aged six and over are welcome at Leroo La Tau.
Property’s age restrictions: Families with children aged 6-11 will be required to book private activities at an additional cost, the nature of which may be subject to the discretion of the managers or guides.
Special activities & services: There are no special activities or services for children. No babysitting service is offered.
Equipment: There is no special equipment provided for children.
Generally recommended for children: Leroo La Tau does not have a family room and there are restrictions on activities for children aged 6-11 so we’d recommend Leroo La Tau for children aged 12 and over.
Notes: With the possibility of potentially dangerous wildlife passing through the camp, and no fencing around the pool area, children must be under the constant supervision of their parents.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: The generator is on at set times during the day, usually around 5am-3pm and 6-11pm. Inverter and batteries provide limited power (i.e. for lights) outside these times.
Communications: There is no internet or landline at Leroo La Tau, and only intermittent cellphone reception. There is cellphone and satellite phone contact with Maun in the case of an emergency.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: A comprehensive first-aid kit is kept in camp and both managers and guides are first-aid trained. Medical advice can be sought from the company medical officer in Maun and, in an emergency, medical evacuation to Maun can be arranged.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Though there is an electric fence around the lodge to deter elephant, potentially dangerous wildlife can still roam through so guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. Alarms are provided in the rooms for use in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the common areas and outside each room.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included.
Money: There is a key-operated safe in each room. The lodge does not offer currency-exchange facilities.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. Cash payments may be made in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula.