The camp Okuti nestles in the shade of large, old tree and overlooks the Xakanaxa lagoon.
Okuti: Our full report
Camp Okuti, which is also often known as “Okuti Camp", or simply Okuti, lies beside Xakanaxa Lagoon, between Xakanaxa Camp and a public campsite, and on the tip of Moremi's Mopane Tongue. This is a prime, public area for wildlife in the heart of the Moremi Game Reserve.
Arriving at Okuti, you enter along a raised wooden walkway which extends to link all of the chalets to the main area, a useful safety feature given the high game densities in this location. The main reception, lounge and dining area sit under the rounded beehive-style thatched roofs of five huge rondavels. Inside, these are furnished in contemporary style, with smooth wooden floors, comfortable woven seating and various ethnic carvings. There is a decent selection of coffee-table books and some board games too.
The large lounge stretches to one side of Camp Okuti's entrance rondavel, with adobe walls under a high, tunnel-like roof, and plenty of chairs and tables. At one end, a huge area with partly open sides provides great views across the lagoon and floodplain.
On the opposite side is the long dining room, of similar construction, where brunch and dinner are usually served. Nearby, where the decked veranda extends towards Xakanaxa Lagoon, is a plunge pool with some sunloungers overlooking the waterway running past camp. On the deck in front of the camp is a fireplace where a viewing scope is on hand to scan the wetland for game. It's a popular spot for pre- and post-dinner drinks, too, and a good spot for stargazing if the night sky is clear.
Okuti Camp’s seven chalets are certainly innovative: they’re quite unlike any other camp in Africa, and have clearly been designed to make the most of the camp’s frontage on the Xakanaxa Lagoon. In essence they are brown tunnels of semi-circular cross-section, covered in plastic. They aren’t attractive from the outside (although they’re not unsightly, as this description might imply) but inside they feel spacious and quite lovely, with walls lined with a natural reed covering. It would have taken some bravery for the owners to agree to this design, and we give its designers get top marks for innovation!
Inside Okuti’s chalets are similar in style to the main areas, with smooth wooden floors, and a superb view of the lagoon from the private balcony at the end of your own personal 'tunnel'. Five of chalets have either twin beds, or a large double; two others – each with two bedrooms sharing a bathroom – are ideal for families. Indeed, Okuti promotes itself as a child-friendly lodge, though families with very young children should note that this area has particularly dense concentrations of dangerous big game.
Low, matt-brown walls separate the bedroom from the en-suite bathroom, which has a shower and washbasin, and a flush toilet in a separate cubicle. There is also an outdoor shower connected to the side of each chalet. Shampoo, conditioner and soaps come as standard.
Safari activities at Okuti revolve around open-topped 4WD game drives and motorboat trips on the particular lovely Xakanaxa Lagoon – all escorted by the camp's experienced safari guides. On our most recent visit, in September 2012, we saw enormous herds of buffalo – at times we were right in the middle of the herd – as well as wild dog, large numbers of elephants and good concentrations of antelope and giraffe. A boat trip on Xakanaxa Lagoon rewarded us with fantastic birdlife, including what our guide called a 'mini heronry', a spectacle usually seen here between about September and December each year. It was fascinating watching beautiful white egrets, grey herons, ugly marabou storks and even reed cormorants roosting and vying for a perch on the little 'islands' in the lagoon.
Because all the activities at Okuti Camp take place inside Moremi Game Reserve, it's not possible to have night drives or walks, or to drive off-road – and you will probably see quite a few other vehicles whilst you're out on safari from the camp. However, there are compensations: the area around Xakanaxa is stunningly beautiful and it's one of the best game areas in Botswana.
Our viewOkuti is an old, established camp which has used innovative design to make best use of its limited lagoon frontage. Even if you don't like the camp’s exterior structures (as we do!), you’ll appreciate its interior comfort where Okuti’s friendly team here made us feel very at home. Although the safari activities are limited by the rules of the game reserve, and conducted in a fairly busy area, you are compensated by it being one of Botswana's beautiful areas which is home to some of its most dense wildlife populations.
Directions: Access to Okuti is by light aircraft into Xakanaxa airstrip, then it's a short 20-minute drive to camp.
Owner: Ker & Downey
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our most recent visit to Okuti, in September 2012, the food was generally excellent with a good variety of choice.
Before heading out on the morning activities, a light breakfast of cereal, yoghurt, muffins and fresh fruit is served. There is also the option of a cooked breakfast.
Of particular note was a great brunch served at around 11.30am when we returned from our morning activity. Offerings included fishcakes with homemade tartare sauce, spinach quiche (very tasty despite an overbaked crust), two different salads and a fresh fruit platter. For those with room to spare, there was also freshly baked bread and a cheese platter.
Fresh cheese muffins were an absolute hit at afternoon tea, accompanied by chocolate and banana cake, a fruit bowl, homemade lemonade and a delicious homemade ginger drink.
Dinner is served to the table at around 8.00pm, after drinks around the fireplace. We loved the spicy melon and feta starter. The main course was a choice between kudu steaks, which were unfortunately overdone and quite tough, but this was made up for by the mild butter chicken curry, served with basmati rice and seasonal vegetables. Dessert was a rich chocolate mousse. However, our request earlier in the day for something a little less decadent was not a problem for the team, and a fresh fruit salad rounded off the meal nicely.
Occasionally, the team will prepare a more traditional dinner with a local flavour: pap (maize meal – a staple food of Botswana), seswa (shredded beef) and morogo (a green, leafy vegetable similar to spinach).
With advance notice, the camp can cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements. They can also prepare special meals for children, on request.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All local and South African soft and alcoholic beverages such as beer, cider, house wines and spirits are included at Okuti. Fine wines, imported spirits and liqueurs all come at an extra cost.
Attitude towards children: Okuti welcomes children aged 7 years and over.
Equipment: There is no special equipment for children, but the camp does have two family rooms. There are no specific activities for children at Okuti, although there are some board games in the main area for general use.
Generally recommended for children: We'd recommend Okuti for children – and adults! – who are enthusiastic about wildlife. Just be aware that the rooms are relatively close together so all guests are asked to be mindful of others with regards to noise levels.
Notes: Because of the fence around the camp – on the land side - it can feel deceptively safe from wildlife. However, wildlife – including predators – is known to move through the camp, and that’s why we’d be hesitant about recommending it for children younger than about 12 years old. The pool is unfenced and there is no barrier or fence in front of the camp, overlooking the water channel. Parents must keep their children under constant, close supervision.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is no direct phone or fax and no email at Okuti. Communication is maintained with the head office in Maun via radio. There is occasional cellphone service at certain points in the reserve, but this is not reliable and is intermittent.
TV & radio: There is no television or radio at Okuti.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Maun. Management and guides are first aid trained and medical evacuation is available in case of emergencies.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to their chalets after dark as dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. ‘Fog horns’ are provided in the chalets, to summon help in case of emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers at all the chalets and in the main area.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full complimentary laundry service is included.
Money: No exchange facilities are offered at Okuti. There are small safes in all the chalets.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted.