Xakanaxa Camp has a beautiful setting on the banks of the Khwai River...
Xakanaxa: Our full report
In the north east of the public area of Moremi Game Reserve, Xakanaxa is a traditional-style camp located in one of the most beautiful areas of the Okavango Delta. The whole camp is shaded by Kigelia and leadwood trees overlooking the Xakanaxa Lagoon. The game viewing in this area has historically been very good.
From the reception area at the entrance to Xakanaxa, where there is a small curio shop, a short pathway leads around a well-maintained lawn to the camp’s main area. Constructed of local timber, reed and thatch, this is raised on stilts to maximise the views over the lagoon in front. The lounge area, decorated in deep reds, has a couple of seating areas with very comfortable chairs, a small library and a help-yourself bar. The front opens onto an expansive deck which in turn leads to an open-sided dining area. Here you'll dine at one of two long tables beneath an impressive lantern-lit chandelier.
Jutting out over the lagoon is a central fireplace, shaded by a giant jackalberry tree and surrounded by very comfortable deckchairs. This is a great place to relax during the afternoons or enjoy a couple of pre- or post-dinner drinks.
There are watery views from a small plunge pool, too, set on the edge of the lagoon with a shaded sala and a number of loungers. While this can't be beaten for location, those in search of exercise might be drawn instead to the much larger swimming pool at the side of the main reception area. Xakanaxa has 12 traditional Meru-style tents which all stand on raised wooden decks with verandas overlooking the lagoon. They're fairly close together, so it is sometimes possible to hear your neighbours, but a reed fence between each ensures that you won't be able to see them. Each tent is themed with an animal found in or around the Okavango Delta and has a colour scheme to match; on our last visit there was an iron sculpture of a crocodile outside our tent, and matching crocodile fittings in the bathroom. Zipped tent flaps lead inside, revealing wooden floors with a large oriental rug, mesh windows with roll-down flaps, and twin beds or a double with brown leather headboards. A couple of suede ottomans are at the foot of the beds. There's a writing desk (with a flask of fresh water and ice) and some lounge chairs. Every tent also has a free-standing fan and an electronic safe, and hot-water bottles are provided on cold nights between May and July. Beside the bed there are battery-operated reading lights and a plug point for charging electrical equipment.
At the back of each tent through a connecting door is a large en-suite bathroom with a hot shower, a stone bowl basin and a flushing loo – all partially open to the elements. Dressing gowns, soaps, shampoo and body lotion are provided, and there is a hairdryer in every tent. Activities at Xakanaxa include game drives during the day in open 4WD safari vehicles, boat cruises to the lagoons and – depending on water levels – short mokoro rides.
Motorboat trips are an ideal way to explore the large, adjacent Xakanaxa Lagoon and its surrounding channels – an area that is especially good for birding in the spring and summer months, when the migrants are breeding. Short mokoro trips, of approximately 20 minutes, may also be possible, although this depends on water levels. Mekoro are generally useless on the lagoon, as the water levels are just too deep! During our most recent stay, in May 2014, we had a short mokoro ride along one of the channels. While it was most enjoyable, and my poler was very good at pointing out the various small creatures and vegetation along the way, it was just a ‘taster’. If you are particularly interested in mokoro trips, talk to us; there are other camps in the Delta where the use of mokoros is much more extensive.
Both game viewing and birding are very good in the Moremi Game Reserve, though unlike in the private concessions of the Delta, night drives and walking safaris are not allowed, and game vehicles may not drive off the tracks – even if interesting game is spotted further away. This is particularly irksome in the green season, when the grass is still quite high. Do also be aware that you are likely to see other vehicles while on a game drive.
On our last visit to Xakanaxa the game seen in camp was nearly as worthy of comment as the game outside. A bushbuck had taken up semi-residence in camp, taking advantage of the juicy grass and relative safety from the many lion in the area. Hippo could be seen in the lagoon and were frequent visitors around the camp at night. Within the reserve, it was rutting season, and we watched some male impala who were fighting amongst themselves for control of the females. The birdlife around Xakanaxa both from the boat and on land was superb, and we managed to track down a female leopard, too.
Xakanaxa aims to have no more than six guests per game-drive vehicle, but when they camp is busy they can take up to nine. Private vehicles and specialist guides can be arranged, subject to availability and for an additional charge.
This makes Xakanaxa a very good option, particularly for those wanting a lovely friendly well established camp with a less restrictive price tag then many of the camps in Botswana during the ‘peak’ dry season.
Our viewAlthough we're always slightly hesitant about using camps within the national parks because of the number of self-drive vehicles around, and the restrictive park rules, Xakanaxa is an old favourite of ours and very well run. As long as you accept that there are likely to be more vehicles within the park than in one of the Okavango Delta’s private reserves, it is a great option for high densities of wildlife – particularly during the dry season.
Ideal length of stay: Two to three nights are ideal at Xakanaxa.
Directions: The flight by light aircraft to Xakanaxa airstrip takes around 25 minutes from Maun or an hour from Kasane, followed by a 10–15-minute transfer by game vehicle to camp.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Desert & Delta Safaris
Staff: In 2013 Xakanaxa was take over by Desert and Delta, but the day-to-day running of the camp remains in the hands of Lettie Letlakane (who has been with the company since 1982) and her competent team of long-term staff.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: During our last stay at Xakanaxa Camp in May 2014 the food overall was good. With advance notice, the camp can cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements.
Before heading out on the morning activities a light breakfast of cereal, yoghurt, french toast and fresh fruit is served, alongside tea, coffee and a selection of juice.
You’ll return from the morning activities to brunch. During our stay this consisted of delicious fish cakes, a vegetable casserole, broccoli and mixed walnut salad, red cabbage salad, and a hot cooked breakfast of bacon, sausages and cooked mushrooms with eggs done to order, plus freshly baked cinnamon bread, fresh fruit and a cheese platter.
For afternoon tea, just before the start of the afternoon activity, we were offered homemade lemonade and iced tea, together with mini tomato and cheese pizza slices and a chocolate and coffee cake. For a guest who was gluten intolerant the camp had made a savory gluten-free muffin and there was fresh cut fruit.
Dinner is served after the afternoon activity. We enjoyed an unusual but very tasty tuna triangle starter with freshly baked bread. For the main course, there was a choice of lamb shank or butter chicken, with cauliflower cheese, couscous, roast potatoes and stuffed peppers. To finish there was a chocolate mousse, which was a little disappointing, and a cheese platter.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Include soft drinks, local-brand spirits, house wines and beer. Premium brands are excluded.
Further dining info: No
Wildlife safaris: The Xakanaxa area of the Moremi is one of the best areas for wildlife safaris in Botswana, with excellent densities of game and birdlife. Xakanaxa Camp is right in the middle of this – the only drawback is that you will have to share game sightings with other vehicles.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Xakanaxa welcomes families with children of five years and older, who are allowed on game activities.
Equipment: Xakanaxa does not have a family tent, but for children aged 5–12, an extra bed can be put in a double room. A triple room for adults is not permitted. A triple room for adults is not permitted.
Generally recommended for children: While there are no special activities to keep children entertained. However the camp has a lovely friendly laid-back feel, so could be a great option for those travelling with teenagers, provided that they have a genuine interest in wildlife and nature.
Notes: Although Xakanaxa does accept children, the camp is on the water's edge and is very open, with dangerous big game wandering through regularly, so parents must take full responsibility for their supervision at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is no phone coverage or internet access at Xakanaxa. All communication by the camp is done by radio to Maun. The camp has a satellite phone for emergency use only.
TV & radio: There is no television or radio at Xakanaxa.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: The camp uses a reverse osmosis machine to filter the water from the Delta. 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 tents, to summon help in case of emergency. There is a three-strand electric fence around the back of the camp. This is designed purely to keep the elephants out of the camp – as they can be destructive to the trees as well as dangerous.
Fire safety: Each tent has a fire extinguisher.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full complimentary laundry service is included.
Money: No exchange facilities are offered at Xakanaxa. There are small safes in all the tents.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted (with a surcharge); Diners and Amex are not. Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted.