Khwai River Lodge

Khwai River Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
15 tented chalets
Open
All year

Chris, from Expert Africa, first visited Khwai River Lodge around 1992, and he still has very fond memories of the original Khwai River Lodge, which once stood here, with understated little bungalows dotted around amongst the leadwood trees on the edge of the river's floodplain. It was one of the Okavango's oldest lodges, and full of character. This venerable old lodge was all demolished around 1997, apart from the basic structure of its old office, that has been preserved as a small museum and curio shop. From the rubble of this old camp, a new more opulent lodge arose, built and run by Gametrackers.This was built between about December 1998 and May 1999 and modelled on the same design as that used for Savute Elephant Camp.

The central area at Khwai River Lodge is slightly raised on a timber platform and topped by an enormous thatched roof. It includes a lounge with a fireplace and a bar. You will also find chess sets, a TV with a library of wildlife videos, comfy couches and a small library. Next to this is a dining area with wooden tables for stylish dinners – adjacent to a wide area of decking overlooking the narrow, shallow river valley.

There's a huge swimming pool built into the decking where you can overlook the plains. Next to the main complex, an adjoining raised observation deck with thatched roof shelters a small telescope; it's a good spot for game viewing or perhaps the occasional intimate private dinner.

Khwai River Lodge also has a small gym and spa facility, and a private library with internet access – available for any guest to use.

The 14 canvas rooms at Khwai River Lodge are really far too opulent to be called tents. All are built on high timber platforms, facing the river valley. Because these are spread out in a line, each a distance from the next, the camp stretches for over a kilometre in length and the furthest tents are a significant walk from the central lounge. Each large platform has a wide veranda at the front, with safari chairs overlooking the river, and a huge canvas structure measuring about 18m x 6m.

Inside, each 'tent' is fully furnished with polished wooden floors, rugs and plenty of proper, comfy furniture – not just the usual safari chair or two. Twin three-quarter-sized beds, which are usually pushed together, have high-quality cotton bedding, bedside tables, a fully-stocked mini bar, twin (battery-powered) lamps and electronic safes. The beds are surrounded by mosquito netting, and surmounted by two air-conditioning units which, when we visited Khwai one October, fought a valiant but losing battle to keep the room cool. There are also overhead fans in the tents and electric heaters, which we can imagine being very useful indeed during the colder Kalahari nights!

At the back of the tent are a toilet and a large (two-person) shower, each behind a wooden door. The lodge's build-quality is very high, and clearly no expense has been spared – though there seems to have been little attempt to blend the lodge into the surrounding area.

In 2006 the Khwai River lodge also completed an exclusive private suite, set away from the other tents. This suite shows an extended viewing deck and a heated splash pool. It also has an open air double showers and a beautiful deep copper-framed Victorian bath, with only the tree canopy as a roof.

Activities at Khwai Lodge focus on two game drives per day. The morning drive usually commences after a light breakfast, and returns in the late morning for a substantial brunch. The afternoon drive commences after afternoon tea, and aims to leave the park as it closes, at sunset. Driving at night in the park is not allowed, though a spotlight will sometimes be put on when the vehicles have passed over the bridge and are heading for home.

Khwai River Lodge is now the only permanent camp in this area, overlooking the northern edge of Moremi Game Reserve, although North Gate (Khwai) campsite is only a few kilometers west of here, over the river. This does result in visitors seeing other vehicles when game-driving so it's not a totally exclusive experience ... but then it's a very beautiful area.

Most of the camp's activities are conducted within Moremi National Park – where park rules forbid night drives, off-road driving and walking. However, a few are done north of the river, in a private area around the lodge, and so it's often possible to do short, spotlit game drives here on your way back to camp at night. It's also sometime possible to do short walking safaris in the concession north of the river, outside the park.

Our view

Khwai River Lodge is a well-run and very substantial luxury safari lodge in a picturesque area. The game densities here are usually high, especially toward the latter parts of the dry season, although the range of its activities are inevitably constrained as most of them take place within to the national park - where walking, off-road driving and night drives ar banned.

Geographics

Location: Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: 2-3 nights is often the ideal length of time at Khwai River Lodge.

Directions: Khwai River Lodge is about 30mins flight from Maun airport – or a little longer from Kasane.

Key personnel

Owner: Orient-Express Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: There's plenty of high-quaity food on offer at Khwai River Lodge, including the option of early morning tea/coffee that can be delivered to your tent.

Khwai usually serves a very light breakfast prior to the morning game drive/safari walk – and then during the morning game drive, the guide will usually stop for tea, coffee and biscuits at some point. A full buffet brunch is then served when you get back to camp – which is extensive and good.

Afternoon tea is always offered before the afternoon game drive – and whilst you're out the guide will usually stop around 'sundown'' time for a drink from the bar and a snack.

A 3-course dinner is served in the main dining area in the evening – and it's a fairly stylish affair.

Children

Attitude towards children: Children of 8 years and older are welcome

Notes: Children aged between 8-12 years share accommodation with an adult and the family must have private game activities organized for them.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Communications: Each tent is equipped with an internal telephone to reception and other tents.

TV & radio: Satellite TV is available in the camp's main lounge.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: You will always be escorted to and from your tent after dark.

Extras

Laundry facilities: A daily laundry service is included at Khwai River Lodge.