The camp Okuti nestles in the shade of large, old tree and overlooks the Xakanaxa lagoon.
Okuti: Our full report
Okuti Camp lies beside Xakanaxa Lagoon, in a prime area for wildlife in the heart of the Moremi Game Reserve. Although it’s on a relatively small site, set between Xakanaxa Camp and a public campsite, Okuti is smart and highly innovative in design, very different from the more traditional camps found across the Delta.
A raised wooden walkway runs from Okuti’s entrance arch to the main area and on across the camp to all the chalets: a useful safety feature given the high game densities in this location. The main reception, lounge and dining area sit under the beehive-style thatched roofs of five huge rondavels. Inside, these are furnished in a contemporary style, with smooth wooden floors, comfortable woven seating and various ethnic carvings. Adobe walls beneath a high, tunnel-like roof define the large lounge, which culminates in a partly open area with great views across the lagoon and floodplain. There are plenty of chairs and tables, and guests are welcome to help themselves to drinks from the bar. Similar in construction is the long dining room, where brunch and dinner are usually served.
On the large deck in front of the main area is a fireplace, a popular spot for pre- and post-dinner drinks. Slightly lower down, the decked veranda extends towards Xakanaxa Lagoon and incorporates a plunge pool, with sunloungers overlooking the waterway running past camp.
Okuti Camp's seven chalets are certainly innovative, designed to make the most of the camp's frontage on the Xakanaxa Lagoon. From the outside, the brown, semi-circular tunnels covered in plastic aren't particularly attractive, though they're not unsightly. Inside, though, they feel spacious and quite lovely, their walls lined with natural reeds and a superb view of the lagoon from each private balcony. It must have taken some bravery for the owners to agree to this concept, and we give the designers top marks for innovation!
All the chalets have wooden floors and are similar in style to Okuti’s main areas. Five of them have either twin beds, or a large double. The other two, each with two bedrooms sharing a bathroom, are ideal for families.
In each chalet, low rendered 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 an outdoor shower, reached from the bathroom at the side of each chalet – and one, often used as the honeymoon suite, also has a large egg-shaped bath. Shampoo, conditioner and soaps come as standard.
Safari activities at Okuti revolve around open-topped 4WD game drives and motorboat trips on the stunning Xakanaxa Lagoon – all escorted by the camp's experienced safari guides. However, because all the activities at Okuti Camp take place within the Moremi Game Reserve, night drives, walks and off-road driving are not permitted. In addition, the camp’s location means that you're likely to see quite a few other vehicles while out on safari.
During the dry season (July–October), we have found game viewing to be really good in this area. In September 2012, for example, 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 elephant and good concentrations of antelope and giraffe. The cats are also regularly spotted. By contrast, sightings earlier in the season tend to be less consistent. On our most recent trip, in May 2014, the grasses were high and spotting animals was more difficult. While we found fresh lion prints and could hear two males roaring nearby, we were unable to find them from the road, though we did track down a rather skittish leopard, and wild dog had been spotted hunting on the morning of our arrival.
Boat trips on Xakanaxa Lagoon are a major highlight at Okuti and we were rewarded with fantastic birdlife, including what our guide called the 'mini heronry', a spectacle usually at its best around September to December. It was fascinating to watch 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.
Our viewOkuti’s unique design makes the most of its limited lagoon frontage, and its friendly team made us feel very at home. Although safari activities are conducted in a fairly busy area, and are limited by park regulations, there are compensations: Xakanaxa is in a stunningly beautiful part of the Moremi Game Reserve, which is home to some of Botswana’s densest wildlife populations, particularly in the dry season. With a less restrictive price tag at this time of year than many other camps in the Delta, Okuti can be a very good option.
Directions: Access to Okuti is by light aircraft into Xakanaxa airstrip, then it's a short 20-minute drive to camp.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Ker & Downey
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our most recent visit to Okuti, in May 2014, the food was simple but very good. With advance notice, they can cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements. They can also prepare special meals for children, on request.
Before heading out on the morning activities, a light breakfast of cereal, yoghurt, pancakes and fresh fruit is served. There is also the option of a cooked breakfast.
On return to camp, our brunch included a very tasty beef boteti, and a spinach casserole for those preferring a vegetarian option. These were accompanied by a tasty red cabbage and apple salad, a green salad and a green bean salad with a sesame dressing. There was also freshly baked bread and a cheese platter to finish.
For afternoon tea, just before the afternoon activity, we had beef samosas with relish and a very tasty orange and poppyseed cake. A fruit bowl, homemade lemonade and a delicious homemade ginger drink were also on offer.
For dinner we enjoyed a lovely tomato and onion soup with fresh bread, followed by a choice of beef stew or stuffed peppers, with mashed potato, broccoli and roast sweet potato. This was finished off with a rather sweet apple crumble, and a cheese platter.
Occasionally, the team will prepare a traditional dinner of pap (maize meal – a staple food of Botswana), seswa (shredded beef) and morogo (a green, leafy vegetable similar to spinach).
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.
Further dining info: No, although private meals can be arranged for special occasions.
Attitude towards children: Okuti welcomes children aged 7 years and over.
Equipment: There are no specific activities for children at Okuti, although there are some board games in the main area. Children’s meals can be prepared on request. The camp does have two family rooms.
Generally recommended for children: Because there’s a fence around the camp, and high walkways linking the main areas to the chalets, Okuti can feel deceptively safe, but wildlife – including predators – is known to move through the camp. In addition, the chalets are relatively close together so it’s important to be mindful of others with regard to noise levels. We’d recommend it for children over about 12 years old who are enthusiastic about wildlife.
Notes: The pool is unfenced and there is no barrier between the camp and the water, so 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.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: All the tents have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush loos. Each room is provided with glasses and a flask of drinking water, which is replenished daily. We don’t recommend that travellers drink from the tap.
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.