Kwetsani Camp is a water-based camp...
Kwetsani Camp: Our full report
Kwetsani is a small and fairly luxurious safari camp set on a long narrow island in the beautiful Jao Concession (NG25) of Botswana's Okavango Delta. Elevated in the treeline, overlooking a floodplain, it blends almost seamlessly into its surroundings and its activities are primarily water-based.
Kwetsani’s thatched main area has a spacious lounge with comfy leather sofas and various wood, cane and leather armchairs, all with soft cushions. A selection of natural history books and magazines is provided for guests to browse. The dining area features one long wooden table for sociable gatherings at mealtimes, while the well-stocked bar, which encompasses a jackalberry tree, also has a 'help-yourself' fridge – ideal when there isn't a staff member around. There's also a curio shop – and don't forget to try out the quirky 'loo with a view'!
Steps from the back of the main area lead down to a boma with a firepit, where evening drinks are often taken and where a weekly traditional evening meal takes place.
Views from the large open deck to the front stretch east across the Delta floodplains, so you can watch the sunrise while enjoying an early breakfast. There is a viewing scope for spying the animals, including large herds of red lechwe, which often wander in front of camp. Several large trees have been incorporated into the design of this area, and a walkway leads down to a plunge pool with sunloungers and umbrellas.
Kwetsani Camp has five ‘tree-house’ chalets nestled amongst palm, mangosteen and fig trees, all linked by wooden walkways. Spacious, stylish, and built high up on stilts for lovely views of the surrounding area, each has a thatched roof and is of pole-and-canvas construction. All the chalets have a couple of chairs and a table on their verandas, most of which incorporate trees into their design.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that the chalets are open-sided to the front and sides, courtesy of very fine mesh in the large windows and glass double doors which ensures a bright and airy feel. Entering via french doors you’ll find twin/king-sized beds with bedside tables under a single mosquito net, a couple of comfortable armchairs, and a coffee table with wildlife magazines and information on the camp. There's also a tea and coffee station, a writing table with a lamp, a standing fan and a selection of International adaptors.
A wooden headboard acts as a divider between the bedroom and the bathroom behind. Here, a large mirror spans his and hers washbasins set on a long wooden tabletop, lit by ostrich-eggshell lamps. A linen curtain conceals shelves where you can find the electronic safe, with space for clothes and luggage. A door leads to an indoor shower, and another to the toilet, while to the side of the wooden veranda there's an outdoor shower. There is hot and cold water, and various toiletries are supplied including shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and liquid soap.
The terrain in this area of the Okavango Delta changes dramatically from season to season due to the flood levels, which in turn determine what safari activities are available at Kwetsani Camp. These usually include day and night game drives on nearby Hunda Island (the concession's main permanently 'dry' area, and the focus for game viewing), and trips by mokoro and motorboat. In an environment like this, the availability of either activity can occasionally be limited by water levels; Kwetsani used to offer guided walks also, but they stopped these in 2010, citing high water levels.
In an area with a good diversity of habitats, Kwetsani Camp gives you the chance to spot a broad range of animals and birds; much like a number of camps in the Delta. The Jao flats support large herds of red lechwe, buffalo, wildebeest and zebra – and where you find these, you’ll also find lions! Nearby Hunda Island supports elephant, kudu, giraffe, and other plains game, but the highlight for many is the leopard: the island has a growing reputation for regular sighting of these beautiful cats. Note though that as Hunda island is now considered the best place for game drives on this reserve, it is likely that you will see vehicles from the other camps.
On our last visit to Kwetsani in April 2013, we spent a fantastic hour on Hunda Island watching a young male leopard stalk a herd of red lechwe. After painstakingly inching forward through the tall grass towards them, he was given away by the alarm call of a blacksmith plover and his game over! On a previous trip we also experienced one of the most relaxed and varied mokoro trips we had ever been on.
The birdwatching at Kwetsani is also pretty good with slaty egrets, saddle-billed storks, malachite, pied and woodland kingfishers, bee-eaters, Swainson’s francolin, black-winged stilt, red-shouldered widow and, of course, the magnificent African fish eagle.
Despite this, don’t come here expecting the best game viewing in the Delta, but with the diversity of flora and fauna and variety of activities on offer, you can get a really good feel for the essence of the Delta.
Our viewKwetsani Camp stands out for its lovely location and design, and its very relaxed atmosphere. The wide range of activities is slightly more dependent on the floodwaters here than it is in most drier concessions, and the levels of game are not as good as elsewhere in the Delta, but this is a great place to spend a couple of nights at the beginning or end of any trip.
Ideal length of stay: 3 - 4 nights, depending on time of year. When flood levels are low (generally October to April), day and night game drives should be possible in the area close to camp.
Directions: Guests fly in to Jao airstrip, then are usually transferred to camp by boat, although this could be by road if the floodwaters have receded sufficiently.
Owner: Marketed by Wilderness (owned by Ngamiland Adventure Safaris).
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Kwetsani is served buffet-style and is generally of a good standard.
A light pre-activity breakfast is served and consists of a selection of cereals, toast, muffins, fruit, yoghurts and tea and coffee.
Brunch at Kwetsani is served upon returning from the morning activity. Unfortunately we missed this on our last visit, but this usually consists of a cooked breakfast, another hot dish, a selection of salads, fresh bread, fruit and salad.
High tea is served prior to your afternoon activity. We enjoyed really tasty breaded chicken strips, accompanied by a sweet chilli sauce, and mini caramel tarts (we have to admit to having more than one of these!). This was one of the best teas we had all trip.
Dinner is mostly served buffet-style but on our last visit in April 2013 we were there on a Monday, which is the camp’s ‘traditional’ night. One of the guides spoke about their traditions and culture, and the staff choir sang beautifully. This was then followed by a traditional dinner of shredded beef, mielie pap (basically ground corn, similar to mashed potato, but thicker in consistency), tomato and onion sauce, butternut, cabbage and corn on the cob. For pudding we had a ‘Botswana doughnut’ with honey
Children and vegetarians are catered for on request.
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 and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra and may need to be requested in advance.
Attitude towards children: Children aged 12 years and over are welcome at Kwetsani Camp and we felt that the managers were particularly positive about receiving children. They may accept children aged 8–12 if the whole camp is booked out exclusively.
Special activities & services: Craft activities (e.g candle-making) and fishing trips can be arranged. Kwetsani can also organise special meals for children.
Generally recommended for children: We don’t think that Kwetsani is suitable for young children. The chalets are on high stilts, connected by raised walkways, with plenty of open drops through which a child could fall. Also, rooms cannot easily accommodate a third bed.
Notes: Kwetsani is a very open camp with dangerous wildlife in the area and it is open to the water in the flood season, so parents must supervise their children at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: The camp uses a generator and inverter system. It’s generally an efficient system but note that hairdryers draw too much power and cannot be used.
Communications: For all intents and purposes you should consider yourself out of contact. There is no mobile reception, no direct phone or fax and no email. Contact in case of an emergency is via radio to Maun.
TV & radio: No television or radio
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: All camp managers are first-aid and trauma trained and various medications are kept at camp. In more serious cases of illness, Wilderness have an affiliated nurse who is based in Maun and can always be contacted for further medical advice. In an emergency, camps can arrange for clients to be flown out, if necessary.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Because of the Okavango's large population of dangerous game, and the fact that Kwetsani is unfenced, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. ‘Horns’ are provided in the rooms to be sounded in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: There are extinguishers on the verandas of all chalets.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included at Kwetsani and is collected in the morning and usually returned the same day, weather permitting. For cultural reasons, the staff do not wash underwear – washing powder is provided in the rooms for this purpose.
Money: No exchange facilities are offered. There are safe deposit boxes in the rooms.
Accepted payment on location: Mastercard and Visa credit cards are accepted. Diners and Amex are not. Credit-card transactions are limited to a minimum of P200 (Botswanan pula), but no commission is charged. Cash payments may be made in South African rand, pounds sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswanan pula.