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 an old favourite of ours – 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, and the game viewing in this area has historically been very good.
On arrival at Xakanaxa you will be greeted in the reception area where there is also a small but well-stocked curio shop. A short pathway leads across a well-maintained lawn to the thatched main area, which opens out along the river. Constructed of local timber, reed and thatch, this is raised on stilts to maximise the views over the lagoon.
The elegant 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 leads to an open-sided dining room. Here you'll dine at a long dining table made from reclaimed railway sleepers beneath an impressive lantern-lit chandelier. Set on the edge of the lagoon is a small, plunge pool, with a shaded sala and day bed. While this can't be beaten for location, the new, much larger swimming pool that was under construction in March 2011 won't share the same great views.
Jutting out over the lagoon shaded by a giant jackalberry tree is the focal point of the area: the 'star-deck'. With a central fireplace surrounded by chairs, this is a great place to relax during the afternoons or enjoy a couple of pre- or post-dinner drinks.
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, in March 2011, there was an iron sculpture of a sable antelope outside our tent as well as smaller, matching fittings in the bathroom and bedroom.
Zipped tent flaps lead inside, revealing wooden floors dotted with rugs for warmth, mesh windows with roll-down flaps, and twin or double beds 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. At night the tents are lit by candles and paraffin lanterns. Beside the bed there are battery-operated reading lights and a plug point for charging electrical equipment when the generator is on (usually 6.00am to 8.00pm).
At the back of each tent is a separate 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.
The whole tent, including the bathroom, is covered by a large canvas roof. On top of this is an innovative, and unobtrusive, sprinkler system which mists the roof of the tent with a very fine spray on hot summer days. This certainly cools the inside substantially, and so makes Xakanaxa a good camp to consider if you don't like the high temperatures in the summer months (October to March).
Activities at Xakanaxa include game drives during the day in open 4WD safari vehicles. These have three rows of seats, but usually no more than six guests – although they can take up to nine when the camp is busy. (The camp usually has four guides when full, so they try to keep numbers to a maximum of six per vehicle, depending on the various group sizes in camp.) Private vehicles and specialist guides can be arranged, subject to availability and for an additional charge.
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 30 minutes, are also often possible, although this depends on water levels. (Mekoro are generally useless on the lagoon, as the water levels are just too deep!)
Both game viewing and birding are very good in Moremi. On our last visit to Xakanaxa the game seen in camp was nearly as worthy of comment as the game outside. A bushbuck and her faun 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 from my veranda and one morning I woke to find the trail of a large snake near the path leading past my tent. Elephant were also constant visitors throughout the night.
Xakanaxa Camp stands in a public area within Moremi Game Reserve. This means that night drives and walking safaris are not allowed, and game vehicles are not permitted to drive off the tracks – even if interesting game is spotted further away. It also means that you will see other vehicles around while on a game drive, which can be frustrating.
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. Despite this, Xakanaxa is a lovely camp in an amazing game area and is very well run. Hence although we generally suggest that Botswana's private reserves offer a better experience than the public parks, we will often send travellers here as long as they understand the inherent limitations in the activities.
Directions: Fly by light aircraft from Maun (approximately 25 minutes) or Kasane (approximately 1 hour) to the Xakanaxa airstrip. Then transfer by game vehicle from the airstrip to camp (10 – 15 minutes.) Xakanaxa can also be reached by 4x4 self-drive vehicles. (approximately 140km north of Maun.)
Owner: Independent / Owner Run Xakanaxa is one of the few independently owned camps (ie: camps that aren't run by a large company as part of a group) in northern Botswana. Owner: Wolfgang Burre – German who lives in South Africa Company Name: Moremi Safaris
Staff: Xakanaxa has long been run by Lettie Letlakane (who has been with the company since 1982) and her competent team of long term staff – it's always a real pleasure to re-visit and talk to such experienced and knowledgeable managers. My guide – Ollie Other guides: Water, Metsie, Montso and Ngandi
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: I spent one night at Xakanaxa in October '07, and the two meals I had were all delicious!
Before dinner, the guests all met for drinks and snacks in the lounge. For dinner we were served a vegetable crepe for starters, and this was followed by a buffet of beef fillet, fluffy mash potatoes and fresh vegetables – all accompanied by a choice of either white or red South African wines. Dessert was again served … though having eaten so well, I declined this!
A light breakfast was served at dawn, just before we headed out on our morning boat trip. There was a choice of tea, coffee, fruit juice, cereal, rusks (a South Africa biscuit) muffins and fruit.
After the morning game activity, we returned to camp for brunch - which was a buffet of fresh fruit, yoghurt, quiche and the option of a full English breakfast with eggs cooked to order. On the table was something very interesting… a fruit bolognaise. This was a jar of very finely minced-up fruit. I didn't try any, but some of the other guests had some with their cereal and yoghurt and commented that it was very good.
After a few hours of siesta, high tea was served before the afternoon game activity – including hot and cold drinks and biscuits.
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.
Birdwatching: In front of Xakanaxa, the lagoon has a small bird colony, but if you're staying for 4 nights or more, then make a special request to visit Gudigwa Lagoon - a huge breeding colony of storks which is a long boat ride away.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Wildlife safaris: The Xakanaxa area of the Moremi is one of the best areas for wildlife in Botswana; it has 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 the sights with other vehicles.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Xakanaxa welcomes families and children of 5 years and older.
Property’s age restrictions: Infants and children aged 0 – 4 years are not accepted at Xakanaxa Camp.
Special activities & services: None. There are no babysitters available; parents need to be responsible for their own children!
Equipment: An extra bed for children between the ages 5 and 12 can be put in a double room for a child to share with two adults. A triple room for adults is not permitted.
Generally recommended for children: Although Xakanaxa does accept children, the parents must take full responsibility and must be aware that this camp is very open and is on the water's edge. It's in an area which has dangerous big game wandering through camp on a daily basis; children need constant supervision here.
Notes: Children of 5 years and above are allowed on game activities.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Radio Satellite phone
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The closet doctor is in Maun. The camp is in direct radio contact with medical rescue.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The tents have sirens for emergencies. There are no guards, but you are escorted to your tent after dark. There is a 3-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: Included.
Money: Xakanaxa accepts US$, Euros, travellers cheques and credit cards (5% surcharge with credit cards.)