Lagoon Camp

Lagoon Camp: Our full report

Rooms
8 tented chalets, 1 family unit
Traveller's rating
Excellent (94%) From 154 reviews
Open
All year

The Kwando Concession is currently the largest private wildlife reserve in Botswana, covering 2,320km² of unfenced wilderness in the far north of the country. Only two camps share this vast reserve, Lagoon Camp to the north and its sister camp, Lebala, to the south. Most of its western side consists of dense mopane and silver terminalia woodland, but Lagoon Camp sits shaded by trees on the banks of the Kwando River, where a band of lush riverine forest is interspersed with open plains.The river forms the boundary between the Kwando Reserve and Mudumu National Park in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, a region that attracts superb big game, especially during Botswana's dry winter months (May to October), when elephants and buffalo seem to be everywhere. Lagoon Camp is famous for the wild dogs that have habitually denned within the reserve since 1997, providing one of the best chances of seeing these gregarious predators, particularly during the denning season (June–July).

Lagoon Camp was completely renovated at the beginning of 2011. Spacious thatched chalets enclosed by stretched canvas walls have replaced the traditional Meru safari tents. These are elevated on wooden platforms to enhance the riverfront view, where elephant often come down to drink. Large mesh windows overlook the water, so you can feel in touch with your surroundings whilst relaxing in bed or in the claw-foot bath.

The chalets are entered through sliding wood and mesh doors. Other than patterned floor rugs the décor is simplistic, neutral and fresh. You’ll find leather seats, a coffee table and writing desk with camp information, wildlife magazines and a flask of drinking water. Up a step are double or twin beds with bedside tables and reading lamps. There’s no mosquito net over the bed, but the mesh windows and doors keep the bugs out whilst allowing the breeze through, and a ceiling fan above the bed helps to keep the room cool. Canvas flaps on the windows can be closed against stormy weather.

A wall partition behind the bed separates a luggage rack, open hanging space, shelving and an enormous mirror. A digital safe, umbrella, spare blankets, bug spray, insect repellent and mosquito coils are provided. There are no power points in the room so electrical equipment must be charged either by the bar or in the camp office.

The en-suite bathroom is equally spacious and elegant with two hand basins, plenty of mirrors, a deep bath and indoor shower, as well as a flushing toilet separated by a wood and mesh door. Another wooden door leads to the outdoor shower. Various toiletries are supplied including conditioning shampoo, shower gel, soap, body lotion and cotton wool.

One of the chalets is a family unit, which consists of a double bedroom with an en-suite bedroom, and a second bedroom accessed through a wooden door off the main bedroom. The family unit is situated alone on one side of the camp’s main area and its walkway is reached via the pool deck.

The thatched communal areas at Lagoon Camp have been spaced out and expanded, creating a number of inviting spaces to relax. A circular structure acts as a central meeting point, with an exterior staircase that leads up to a cosy lounge and library with elevated views over the river. The bookcase offers a small selection of well-thumbed natural history books. To one side is an open-sided dining room and to the other an attractive bar, lounge and swimming pool deck with pool-side furniture and towels. The open outlook and use of both textured and polished wood, neutral tones and a scattering of richly coloured cushions gives a natural, bright and airy feel. Wild dogs feature as the stars of the photographic artwork on the walls.

The main areas at Lagoon Camp, including a curio shop, are linked by wooden walkways. Steps down towards the riverfront lead to camp chairs around a sandy clearing where a campfire is lit in the mornings and evenings. Early morning breakfast is served here and it makes an equally nice spot for swapping the day's stories over a few drinks after dinner. A wooden deck with yet more seating and a swing bench juts out over the river. Here you can also try your hand at fishing off the deck, though on our most recent visit in November 2011 only two of the four rods were in working order. Moored to the side is Lagoon’s double-decker boat.

The camp has retained its pleasant laid-back atmosphere and is run by an enthusiastic team of locals. You are encouraged to make yourself at home and help yourself to drinks from the bar fridge and tea/coffee station. Overall we’ve found the service at Lagoon to be genuinely warm and professional. The guiding here has consistently been good though, as with most camps, the amount of information communicated to guests can vary between guides.

Activities at Lagoon Camp focus on day and night game drives. They also offer short guided walks, fishing, and double-decker boat cruises ideal for exploring the tranquil waterways and birdwatching. We have particularly enjoyed the boat trips on our visits to this camp – especially when the light was good and from the top deck we were able to watch hippo walking along under the crystal- clear water. Note that there are government restrictions on boat cruises after sunset as well as fishing during January and February. Note, too, that guided walks are at the discretion of the camp guides who will first assess the presence and movements of potentially dangerous animals.

An able tracker, as well as a driver/guide, accompanies all 4WD excursions at Lagoon Camp, thus providing an extra pair of experienced eyes to search for predators and more elusive game. Game sightings appear to be more prolific during Botswana’s dry season (May–Oct). However, rewarding sightings do occur year round and the rainy season often reveals more unusual sights as well as a greater variety of birdlife. The vehicles at Lagoon are open-topped Uris. They allow unobstructed views of wildlife, but there is no shade so do take a sun hat, sunscreen and a waterproof for your camera gear during the rainy season (ponchos are provided). Guided walks and game drives can take a maximum of six guests.

Our view

Lagoon Camp’s attractive riverside setting, lovely accommodation and generally excellent game viewing have made it a popular choice for many of our travellers. Unforgettable wild dog sightings are often the highlight and the experienced guides who do well keeping up when a pack is hunting. Be prepared for an exhilarating and bumpy ride when in pursuit! This is a great camp for those with a sense of adventure who love being in the wilderness, without having to give up most creature comforts.

Geographics

Location: Kwando-Linyanti area, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: 3 nights Lagoon and Lebala combine particularly well with one of their sister camps in the Okavango, Kwara or Little Kwara; as well as with Nxai Pan and Tau Pan in the drier reaches of the Kalahari to the south. Note: If you combine Lagoon with Lebala, Kwara/Little Kwara, Tau Pan or Nxai Pan for a total of 6+ nights we can usually offer a long-stay discounted rate.

Directions: Lagoon Camp is reached by light aircraft – approximately one hour from Maun or Kasane. From Kwando airstrip, it usually takes 20 to 30 minutes to reach the camp, depending on time spent game viewing on the way.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Kwando Safaris.

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Overall, the food served during our latest stay at Lagoon Camp, in November 2011, was of a very good standard.

An early light breakfast is provided by the campfire before your morning activity and usually includes freshly baked cookies or muffins, porridge or cereals and a bowl of fruit. To drink there’s tea, coffee and juice.

Brunch is served buffet style at around 11.00am and includes a varied selection of cooked breakfast and lunch dishes. When we were last at Lagoon we were offered toast, fried mushrooms, sausage, bacon, baked beans, and eggs cooked to order on a hot plate. On the buffet there was also a cheese and vegetable bake, green salad, pasta salad, fresh home-made bread, a cheese board and a platter of fresh fruit. You won’t go hungry!

High tea is served before the afternoon activity. This generally consists of both a sweet and a savoury snack such as mini beef and vegetable wraps, pineapple cake and a fresh fruit platter on our last visit. This was washed down with iced tea and very tasty lemonade.

Dinner is a three-course meal, often a plated entrée and dessert with various main dish choices from the buffet. We enjoyed a spinach roulade as a starter; Thai chicken curry or chickpea curry with fragrant rice, butternut and broccoli for the main; and a golden bread-and-raisin pudding for dessert. Vegetarians and any particular dietary requirements can be catered for on request. A choice of red and white wine is also served with the meal.

All guests dine together at meal times and occasionally the camp will surprise everyone with an outdoor bush dinner or picnic lunch. Private meals can be arranged on request and are served on the pool deck or room verandas.

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 plus a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra and must be requested in advance.

Special interests

Birdwatching: Swamp boubou, wattled crane, African darter, grey lourie, slaty egret and Meyer’s parrot are some of the spectacular species noteworthy for birdwatchers in Botswana. Between Oct – Nov there is often a colony of carmine bee-eaters nesting nearby.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana

Photography holidays: The 4WD vehicles used by Lagoon Camp are completely open, which allows for unobscured wildlife photography. However, be aware that when full (six people) not everyone will have an outside seat. We recommend avid photographers take a private vehicle and guide, which is relatively inexpensive here, as they can then dictate the focus and pace of game drives.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana

Wildlife safaris: Lagoon Camp is renowned for regular wild dog sightings, and the best time for these is during the denning season (June/July), and a month or two thereafter when the pups are too young to move far. There is a wide variety of other game around, including lion, leopard, large herds of buffalo and elephant (particularly from May to October), red lechwe, kudu, warthog, tsessebe, waterbuck, reedbuck, giraffe, spotted hyena and occasionally cheetah.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Generally children are welcome at Lagoon Camp, whilst noting the restrictions mentioned here.

Property’s age restrictions: Children from 6 to 12 years old are accepted – though families are required to book a private vehicle at extra cost. Children younger than 6 are accepted only when the entire camp is reserved for exclusive use.

Special activities & services: Earlier meal times and kids’ meals can be arranged in advance with the camp manager. Child-minding is also available on request, though note that children are looked after by staff members who are not professionally qualified or trained in childcare. For a surcharge, a specialist family guide can be booked in advance to accompany a family group at Lagoon and its sister camps (Lebala, Kwara, Tau Pan and Nxai Pan) – please speak to us for more details.

Equipment: Lagoon doesn’t provide any highchairs, cots, or special equipment for children.

Notes: Lagoon Camp is unfenced with potentially dangerous wildlife in the area. It also abuts a deep water channel. Children must be under their parents’ supervision at all times. Parents should also note that the walkway to the family unit is reached via the pool deck – and that the pool is not fenced.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Communications: For all intents and purposes consider yourself out of contact. There is no direct phone, fax or internet. Contact in an emergency is made via radio. Some cellphones with roaming may pick up reception here, as Lagoon is very near the Namibian border and cellphone network.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The camp managers and guides are trained in first aid and a comprehensive first-aid kit is kept in camp. Each guide also has their own basic field kit when out on activities. In an emergency, Lagoon Camp can arrange for clients to be flown out.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Because Lagoon Camp is unfenced and the Kwando Reserve is home to a large population of potentially dangerous wildlife, guests are escorted to their chalets after dark. An air-horn is provided in each chalet in case of an emergency.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are kept in the common areas of the camp and on the veranda outside each of the chalets.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included, save for the washing of underwear. Washing powder is provided in the chalets for this purpose.

Money: No currency exchange facilities are offered. There are digital safes provided in each chalet.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and American Express are not. For curio shop purchases a 3% credit card commission is charged. Cash payments may be made in South African rand, British pounds, US dollars, euros and Botswanan pula. Some travellers’ cheques may also be accepted but not American Express travellers’ cheques.