Reviews of Khwai Tented Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Khwai was nice but not all that different
We had a nice time at Khwai after four days in Chobe and Savute. We had set our expectations on a few things: it's in the delta (meaning: water activities), outside Moremi Reserve (meaning: walking safaris, night drives, off-roading). While the staff really tried hard, we found that this experience wasn't as different from Chobe and Savute as we thought and the operation wasn't as top notch.
Activities: We couldn't do walking safaris because the grass levels were too high and the guides felt it was too dangerous. Understandable. Night drives were merely a continuation of the afternoon drive, which was a nice add-on but not an activity in and of itself. Off-roading allowed for some closeups that we couldn't get in the reserves, but was also an add-on rather than the bulk of an activity. As for water stuff, it was awesome being in a tent that's just a few meters from water where hippos are doing their thing around the clock. But otherwise, there wasn't much of a water element to the activities. We did a 1-hour mokoro cruise but it was more of a novelty than an actual activity.
While we were right outside Moremi, we never actually entered the park. Our guide is a local Khwai resident and suggested that we stick to the Khwai concession. He knows that terrain extremely well, but we couldn't help but wonder what if anything we might have missed in Moremi.
We really had expected some elements that didn't exist at the Chobe camps (e.g. walking, water activities) but those didn't materialize. We did have a chance to visit the Khwai village and meet our guide's family which was a nice change from non-stop game drives.
As for the staff, they were very friendly. Terry runs a great kitchen and the team did a great job prepping our gluten-free meals. Our room and laundry was great. But compared to &Beyond, we felt that there was a bit of finesse missing. The operation was well run, but not clockwork like we had been spoiled with at &Beyond. It lacked the military precision. We noted a lot of staff turnover while we were there (many staff work for 3 months at a time, then get 3 weeks off) so the teams were in a state of flux. We also noticed that the two game vehicles they had were sharing one spare tire. Each car should have two spare tires all the time. We also noticed that our guide's vehicle had radio trouble intermittently with no backup handset. It's the little things like this that stuck out.
Overall we felt there was some polish missing that we had expected at this price point! We brought this up to the camp management and they tried their hardest to make our remaining time memorable. The highlight was a bush dinner where it was just us in the wilderness. It almost felt like a scene from The Bachelor complete with song, dance, and candlelit dinner surrounded by rhinos and elephants!
I'm glad we had this experience at Khwai. Looking back, if we were to do this again, we'd probably combine Khwai with only one other land-based camp (rather than two), or we'd combine the other land-based camps with a true water-based camp deeper in the delta. Khwai offers a little bit of everything but we didn't feel that it excelled at one thing in particular.
Friendly Khwai Tented Camp
Wonderful welcome by staff singing a Setswana song. Small, intimate, natural camp which allows you to experience bucket showers and campfire chats (meeting people from all over Europe and USA). Beauty is a lovely manager and Esse is an excellent guide.
At this camp, we probably had our best experience of close encounters with mainly sightings of individual animals: elephant, giraffe, kudu, lion, waterbuck, warthog, fish eagle and crocodile (on other side of water!). We had a very enjoyable 1/2 hour with a mother hyena and her cubs; literally 2m away. Good groups of red lechwe, impala and zebra; also dwarf mongoose, plus various large wading birds like Marabou, saddle-billed and gap-billed stork.
In June, the camp has enough water bordering it to support views of Hippos from your lodge veranda. We had an excellent sundowner, again with Hippos, allowing numerous photos to be taken at leisure, in stunning lighting.
The greeting when we arrived at Khwai was unforgettable, but I mustn't spoil the surprises!
Our guide, Essie, was determined to thrill and amaze us. When we first met, I mentioned all of the incredible animals that I had seen- lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, sable, and more, but told Essie that I had not seen a leopard or a bush baby... By the end of the first day, I saw a magnificent leopard with eyes like fire. By the next night, the bush babies were hopping in the treetops! The following day we saw another leopard, unperturbed by us as she devoured an impala. There were more surprises as well- wild dogs and hyenas to name a few, and one night the hippos took over the entrance to our camp so we had to go in by the back route!
The tents were more basic than some of the over the top luxury camps, but we were always perfectly comfortable, with a deck overlooking the water with majestic birds of all shapes and sizes flying to and fro.
The staff were so warm, friendly and good natured, making us feel at home and bringing us into their world with song, dance and laughter. The highlight was the African dinner, with my favorite- pap and morogo! It was a warm, wonderful place and I am so happy that we had the good fortune to visit!
Khwai Tented Camp review
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Khwai. The staff were wonderful and the accommodation was fun (though not for those who can't do without their creature comforts!).
The game sightings vastly exceeded our expectations - although supposedly a sub-optimal time of year (late April), in our 3 days we saw lion, leopard, elephant, hyena + pups, giraffe, hippo, zebra, monitor lizards, wart hog, several different species of antelope and many wonderful birds.
The only criticism (which only became apparent to us after visiting another camp) is that Khwai is a relatively small concession with several operators in the vicinity. Hence good sightings (e.g. hyena pups or a lion kill) rapidly attracted 5 or 6 vehicles. In addition, the area is not as visually attractive as that at, say, Kwara.
small more basic camp but very enjoyable
A small basic camp with small tents but again a really enjoyable stay.
The staff did everything to make our stay excellent.
Best safari of our entire trip
What makes this place special are the people. It is a small camp--just six tents--so you really get to know the wonderful staff intimately. They join the guests for meals, so it feels like you are eating with family. Special kudos to Mercy, the camp manager, Kwest, the big boss, and Mwamo, our incredible guide. He has only been doing it for six months, but he is a complete natural at it.
Mention a type of animal you would like to see, and he seems to magically find one--in the pitch black dark, just by waving a flashlight into the bush. The entire camp sings a welcoming song upon your arrival, and wishes you off on departure with yet another song and dance.
We loved every minute of our stay.
Khwai Tented Camp
The tents, while small, were quite comfortable and contained all the necessary facilities. The bucket shower was a novelty and okay for a short stay.
The food was good and the staff was very friendly. Canaan and Abali (sorry if I misspelled that) helped my husband with his quest to learn some phrases in Setswana which he very much enjoyed.
The game viewing was good but our guide seemed to feel that he needed to get us to where the game was as quickly as possible and drove very fast over some bumpy tracks. I don't think the pressure came from us, we were quite happy to see any and all animals. A slower pace would have suited us just fine.
Great place to begin
Khwai is a permanent tented camp with basic accommodations and great service. The tents had
modest beds with down comforters, flush toilet, bucket shower that they filled with water heated
over the fire, separate dining tent where they served surprisingly good meals. The staff met our
After landing at the Khwai airstrip, Pilot and MP took us on a great game drive on the way to the
camp. Since there were only five tents, my husband stayed with one of our daughters in one
tent and I stayed with our other daughter in another tent. We were zipped in at night and heard
lion growls, hyena laughs, and elephants strolling through camp to munch on the acacia pods.
A night game drive on our second night at Khwai we experienced many first sightings. Pilot would
stop the 4x4 vehicle at almost every sighting or when we asked to spend a bit more time.
We thought this was the perfect place to start our adventure in Botswana.
Great Safari at Kwhai Tented Camp
While the traditional East Africa tented camp is not for everyone, it was for us. We enjoyed the small size and personal attention of every staff member. For wild life viewing it was excellent and our guide, Pilot, was truly outstanding. You could tell he loved his job, the country and its wildlife, and worked hard to see that you got to see everything it offered--from watching leapord devour its kill in the tree on the night drive, to tracking that same leopard the next day, to tracking mama lion and her cubs--both day and night.
We saw a wide variety of mamals and birds too numerous to mention--but I photographed them all.
Food was excellent--prepared by the very capable Temptation, who had been trained in the culinary arts by Orient Express. She had to prepare her meals on a small four top gas stove stove and every meal was presented beautifully and hot. By the end of our three days we felt like part of their family.
Tent life was what we had expected from a previous trip on the Serengetti, and we always had hot water for showers and morning game drives--cold temperatures at night were made more comfortable by hot water bottles in bed. This was the first of 3 camps visited in Botswana, and for personal attention and devotion/skill of the guide/tracker, it was not exceeded.
Great time at Khwai Tented Camp
We had 3 nights at Khwai Tented Camp in November 2009 - our second camp of 3 on this trip. We were picked up from the airstrip by our guide Pilot and driven 10 minutes to the camp, where we were greeted in song by the camp staff - a lovely welcome!
The camp is quite small (only 4 tents) and is quite different to the more typical permanent cabin type structures in other camps. It is, however, exactly what we were hoping for in that it is more basic and you feel closer to the animals and your surroundings. The tents are perfectly large enough for two substantial beds, bedside tables, storage chests etc. with a wash basin and flush WC in the adjoining 'room'. The outdoor bucket shower was perfectly adequate and provided plenty of water for the two of us to shower comfortably and the very willing staff would fill it up with hot water on request. A shaded area with chairs at the front of the tent was much appreciated during siesta.
The communal dining tent had 24 hour bar and tea and coffee areas, together with comfortable settee/chairs with coffee table and supply of books and magazines. Outside the dining tent was a fire area with seating and a hammock. The camp overlooked the River Khwai with a wooded area on the far side.
The camp staff were very efficient and friendly and could not have looked after us better. Nothing was too much trouble and we couldn't have asked for more. The food was absolutely magnificent - cooked by Thaelo and served by Joe. Without doubt the best food of our stay in Botswana - and the other camps were pretty good! Salvation and the other staff were pleasant, cheerful and very efficient. We wrote some very favourable comments in the guest book but were surprised to be told that the staff were discouraged from reading the book! I can't help thinking this is a bit short sighted.
The guiding was excellent - Pilot was very knowledgable and good company. We enjoyed game drives and a guided walk with him - game viewing was excellent - including lion, elephant, impala, kudu, leopard tortoise, giraffe, cheetah, hippo, leopard, zebra, side striped jackal, wildcat, baboon, buffalo, tsessebe, red lechwe, warthog, waterbuck, dwarf mongoose, spring hare, honey badger, vervet monkey, crocodile. Birds too were fabulous - far too may to list, but we were very happy to see such a variety.
We very much enjoyed Khwai Tented Camp and we would not hesitate to return.