Kwara Camp

Kwara Camp: Our full report

Rooms
8 tented rooms
Traveller's rating
Excellent (93%) From 129 reviews
Open
All year

Kwara Camp and its nearby sister camp, Little Kwara, lie within the private 1,750km² Kwara Reserve, adjacent to northern Moremi Game Reserve, in northern Botswana. Situated on a forested island, and shaded by large trees overlooking floodplains and a seasonal lagoon, it has the style of a fairly traditional safari camp. A combination of year-round land and water activities offers big-game-viewing opportunities as well as access to permanent channels of the Okavango Delta.The environments found near Kwara Camp are perhaps more varied than those around most Okavango camps. Seasonal floodplains and wooded islands surround the camp; papyrus-lined permanent waterways and lagoons cover the south of the reserve; and extensive dry land to the north supports mopane woodlands and open scrub savannah.

The heart of Kwara Camp is a tented central area where you'll find a curio shop, lounge and bar alongside a separate thatched dining area. These are raised slightly on wooden decks, with open sides to overlook the lagoon. The comfortable tented lounge is constructed around the trunks of growing leadwood and mangoosteen trees. The bar is simply a hewn tree trunk with a well-stocked fridge from which you are encouraged to help yourself. This is a place to relax in a comfortable seat and read one of the camps small stock of books, play a traditional game of morabaraba or look out over the lagoon to spot visiting wildlife. During our most recent stay in November 2011 there were plenty of hippo antics in the lagoon; a herd of red lechwe that leaped through the shallows; an entertaining troop of baboons; resident tree squirrels hoping for a share of the high tea; and plenty of great birdlife, including a crested barbet nesting in a nearby fallen tree.

Down some steps towards the lagoon is a sandy clearing with a firepit encircled by camp chairs. Here an early morning bite is served around a warming fire. It's also a magical spot to enjoy a drink or two after dinner, listening to the sounds of the African night.

Set amongst towering knobthorn and mangoosteen trees, Kwara's small plunge pool is framed by a low deck and a few sunloungers. Close by is an elevated viewing hide on stilts and a separate information centre with maps and impressions of animal tracks to aid identification in the field.

Spaced out along sandy walkways under the riparian forest canopy, Kwara Camp's eight tented rooms are raised on individual wooden platforms with balconies overlooking either the lagoon or floodplain. The traditional Meru safari tents are furnished with comfy beds, quality linen and sufficient storage space. Through a roll-down canvas partition there is an en-suite flush toilet and double washbasins plus a door leading to an outside shower (the honeymoon tent also has a claw-foot bath). (Read more about the tents here…)

Kwara offers a good variety of activities – 4WD safaris (day and night) plus water-based excursions. Game drives always have a tracker as well as a driver-guide, which helps to produce some excellent wildlife sightings, and the ability to off-road within the reserve is often an advantage. The team here is enthusiastic about tracking predators so if this is important to you, Kwara is a good choice. Note that Kwara's open game-viewing vehicles have no roof; this allows for unobscured photography but you'll need a hat, plenty of sunscreen and a waterproof bag for your camera gear during the rainy season (ponchos are provided).

We have generally been impressed with the guiding at Kwara and our last visit in November 2011 was no exception. In addition to ably tracking and seeking out wildlife, our guide was personable, enthusiastic, willingly communicated his knowledge in an interesting manner and was conscious of positioning the vehicle to allow everyone good light and angles for photography – without upsetting the animals. Sightings were regular and varied, including numerous impala, red lechwe, zebra, kudu, tsessebe, baboons and vervet monkeys as well as lion, leopard, giraffe, elephant, waterbuck and reedbuck. The birding was equally abundant with Verreaux's eagle-owl, saddle-billed stork, wattled crane and lappet-faced vulture as just some of the highlights.

Kwara Camp also offers mokoro trips and boat trips, the latter usually on a double-decker boat with great views over the papyrus. A visit to the heronry, a nesting site for a variety of birds such as sacred ibis, yellow-billed stork, marabou stork and egrets, is a must for keen birders and photographers between August and December, although the smell can initially be overpowering! Previously located at Gcodikwe Lagoon, this heronry shifted to the neighbouring Xobega Lagoon in 2011.

The mokoro trips navigate the shallow edges of the lagoon in front of the camp, under the watchful eye of resident hippos. This is often combined with a guided walk on the opposite island. Although not as scenic as some mokoro routes at inner Delta camps, gliding around the lagoon is peaceful and gives you a closer look at waterlilies and birdlife such as African jacana and pied kingfisher. Fishing excursions are also available, except in January and February when a fishing ban is enforced by the Botswanan authorities.

Our view

Kwara is a delightfully unelaborate camp which offers a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Its classic tented design will suit those seeking a closer connection with the natural surroundings and less emphasis on trimmings. The main attraction here is the area, which is currently amongst the best in Botswana for both game viewing and water-based activities. The use of a guide and a tracker means that sightings, especially of predators, are pretty regular. Boat trips to a busy heronry are an added attraction between August and December.

Geographics

Location: Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: 3 nights Kwara Camp works well in combination with its sister camps Lagoon Camp and Lebala Camp which are located in northern Botswana's Linyanti region within the extensive Kwando Reserve; and Nxai Pan and Tau Pan in the drier reaches of the Kalahari to the south. Note: If you combine Kwara with Lebala, Lagoon, Tau Pan or Nxai Pan for a total of 6+ nights, we can usually offer a long-stay discounted rate.

Directions: Kwara is roughly 30 minutes by light aircraft from Maun. Guests fly in to Kwara airstrip which is only a 10–15-minute drive from Kwara Camp, depending on the game spotted along the way.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Kwando Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food at Kwara during our most recent visit in November 2011 was adequate, with some very good dishes, but not consistently so. Meals are served buffet style and a good variety is provided including fresh vegetables and fruit. Care was obviously taken in decorating the dinner table using colourful table runners and beaded lantern covers.

Guests are seated together for all meals, but a private meal on your balcony can be arranged on request.

A light breakfast is served around the campfire before the morning activity, usually consisting of porridge or a choice of cereals, muffins or biscuits, a fruit bowl, tea, coffee and juice.

After your morning excursion, a wholesome brunch buffet is provided with a good choice of dishes. We were offered all the components of a full cooked breakfast, as well as a hot dish (cottage pie one day, spinach lasagne the next), a mix of salads, a cheeseboard, home-made bread (including a very tasty focaccia) and a sliced-fruit platter.

High tea sets you on your way for the afternoon activity. We were treated to yummy chocolate muffins and spicy vegetable samosas one day, and pizza slices, iced lemon cake and sliced watermelon the next, accompanied by tea, coffee and homemade juice or iced tea.

Dinner is served at around 8.00pm – usually a plated starter and dessert, and a choice of main-course dishes from the buffet. Traditional local dishes are included on some nights. We were served a very tasty chickpea and coriander soup with bread roll to start; seswa (pounded beef), pappa (maize meal), gravy, spinach, danawa (beans), and a potato bake from the buffet; followed by apple crumble and ice cream. The next night the vegetable terrine starter was bland, but the main of tarragon spiced chicken in coconut milk, crispy coated fish, rice, fresh peas and carrots was enjoyable. This was topped off by a nectarine and chocolate tart. A choice of white or red wine is served with dinner.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits, plus a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne, imported wines and spirits will cost extra and must be requested well in advance.

Special interests

Birdwatching: The spectacular heronry at Xobega Lagoon in Moremi Game Reserve (about an hour from camp along the Maunachira Channel) offers great birdwatching in Botswana. In August nests are constructed and chicks hatch from October onwards.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana

Photography holidays: Kwara uses unroofed open-sided vehicles for unobstructed wildlife photography. Hiring a private vehicle and guide here is relatively inexpensive and is highly recommended for keen photographers so you can dictate the focus of the game drives and the length of time spent at each sighting. In addition, the boat trip to the heronry at Xobega offers great opportunities for some close-up shots of storks, herons, egrets, ibis and other bird species.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana

Wildlife safaris: As Kwara Reserve is very large and covers a wide range of environments, game is consequently varied. Tsessebe and impala abound, along with healthy populations of zebra, red lechwe, wildebeest, reedbuck, kudu and giraffe. There are elephant and large herds of buffalo moving through the area, as well as all the big cats and occasionally wild dog. The ability to drive off road within the private reserve often enhances game sightings.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Generally children are welcome but please take into account the restrictions below.

Property’s age restrictions: Children from 6 to 12 years old are accepted – though families are required to book a private activity vehicle at extra cost. Children younger than 6 are accepted when reserving the entire camp for exclusive use.

Special activities & services: Earlier meal times and children's meals can be arranged on request. For a surcharge, a specialist family guide can be booked in advance to accompany a family group at Kwara and its sister camps (Lebala, Lagoon, Tau Pan and Nxai Pan); please ask us for more details.

Equipment: Kwara doesn't provide any cots, highchairs or special equipment for children.

Notes: Children must be supervised by parents at all times as the camp is unfenced and open to potentially dangerous wildlife, as well as a seasonal lagoon.

Infrastructure

Communications: For all intents and purposes you should consider yourself out of contact. There is no cellphone reception, no direct phone or fax and no email – this is the bush! Communication is maintained with the other camps in the reserve via CB radio. In an emergency, radio contact can be made with the main office in Maun.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: All camp managers and guides are first-aid trained and a comprehensive first-aid kit is kept at camp. Each guide also has a basic field first-aid kit to take on activities. In an emergency, the camp can arrange for clients to be flown out.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Because of the Okavango Delta's large population of potentially dangerous animals and the fact that Kwara Camp is unfenced, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. A safety talk is given on arrival. Air-horns are provided in the rooms in case of an emergency. Baboons and vervet monkeys do come through camp so it is important to keep tents closed whilst unoccupied, and not to have any food visible (or preferably none in the tents at all).

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the communal areas of the camp and on the balcony of each tent. In the event of fire, guests should gather at the open area behind the camp.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included. Laundry is washed by hand, so this service excludes underwear. Washing powder is provided so that guests can wash personal items.

Money: No currency-exchange facilities are offered. There are digital safes in each tent.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and American Express are not. For curio shop purchases there is a 3% credit card commission charged. South African rand, British pounds, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula are accepted for cash payments.