Visit the lovely Little Kwara - a new and intimate camp, built only last year.
Little Kwara: Our full report
North of Moremi, Little Kwara lies within the 1,750km² private Kwara Reserve, where the diversity of the environments is reflected in both the wide range of activities possible – both land and water year-round – and the big game found here. It’s a small, fairly smart lodge, Botswanan owned and run.
The lodge shares the reserve with Kwara Camp. Although Little Kwara is much newer and smarter than its bigger sister, and is completely separate, they’re situated only about five minutes’ drive apart.
Set amongst the trees, and elevated onto individual wooden platforms, Little Kwara has only five tented chalets and therefore feels very intimate. Each is spacious and simply, but tastefully furnished. From the good-sized, shaded veranda with chairs, sliding doors lead into the bedroom area, where twin beds – which can be made into a double – face out towards the deck and are made up with crisp, white linen and colourful throws. There is a small sitting area with a couple of wooden chairs, and a luggage rack.
To the back of the room, separated from the bedroom by a headboard divider, is the en-suite bathroom, where a claw-footed bath takes pride of place. Individual doors lead to a flushing toilet and to a partly covered outside shower. There are also a couple of hand washbasins, plenty of storage in an open wardrobe on the back of the divider (which is also where you’ll find the small safe); and the usual complimentary essentials such as mosquito repellent, bug spray, shampoo, soap and shower gel. Although the water appears off-colour, as it is pumped from the river, it has been filtered over and over again … with no nasty chemicals added!
Little Kwara’s canvas-covered central area is slightly raised up and houses a small lounge and bar, where enormous rattan chairs add a chic touch to the range of comfortable chairs and sofas. With pleasant views over the surrounding scenery, you can relax here and keep an eye out for animals that wander past. Guests are encouraged to help themselves to drinks from the fridge whenever they like, although there is usually someone about to help.
The adjacent dining room is large and open-sided, with good views, although the dining table looked a little lost in the space and we though it lacked atmosphere. After dinner, guests might gather around the firepit, where in the morning, breakfast is sometimes served beneath shady trees. There is also a plunge pool, and a small but well-stocked curio shop.
If we were trying to be critical, then we’d observe that the service here can be a little less refined than that found in some of the Delta’s more expensive, stylish camps. That said, the managers and staff are friendly, flexible and often go out of their way to be helpful; and the real focus of the camp is not its service. Here it’s all about Little Kwara’s variety of land- and water-based activities.
Day and night 4WD game drives are complemented by short guided walks with armed guides. On one recent visit, during May, we went for a mokoro trip combined with a walk on one of the smaller islands. We had a thorough safety briefing and felt at all times like we were in good hands – especially when on our walk we came across a lone bull elephant and, crouched behind a termite mound, watched as he fed and went about his business seemingly oblivious to our presence.
The game drives always have a tracker as well as a driver-guide, a combination which has helped to produce some excellent game sightings on our visits – the team at Little Kwara are very enthusiastic about tracking predators and we’ve consistently seen some impressive lion, leopard and cheetah over the years. It’s worth noting that Little Kwara don’t generally have roofs on their game-viewing vehicles (although their newer Landcruisers do have the option if all the guests in one vehicle request it). This allows for unobscured photography and better views, particularly when looking at birds or leopards in trees, but bear in mind that you’ll need a good hat and plenty of sunscreen, and that you might get wet – poncho's are provided.
We’ve usually experienced, and admired, the great enthusiasm of the guides at Little Kwara – and this is usually combined with a penchant for tracking the predators. The flip side of this, which does annoy some, is that they can often lose sight of the smaller things during extensive tracks to find the big predators. That’s why we’d suggest that whilst here, you try at least one of the other activities, which – by their nature – are usually less focused on the big game.
On the water, in addition to mokoro trips, and (seasonal) fishing excursions, Little Kwara Camp also offers boat trips, some on an unusual double-decker boat giving great views over the tall papyrus. For years – between around September and December – guests at Kwara and Little Kwara have been visiting the renowned heronry at Gcodikwe Lagoon. The heronry has now shifted to the neighbouring Xobega Lagoon, where we went on our most recent visit during November. With its innumerable sacred ibis, yellow-billed storks, marabou storks and egrets nesting, the heronry is often a highlight for visitors. Approaching by boat allows superb opportunities for photography, too, as you can get very close up, and at eye-level, without scaring the birds away. But be warned, the smell is likely to stay with you for some time.
Our viewLittle Kwara is comfortable has very friendly service, even if it is sometimes less refined or opulent than some of its neighbours. The mix of environments here means varied activities, and the camp works well for busy visitors who only have time for only one camp in the Okavango. We love that it’s is owned, run and staffed by Botswanans – and above all, we’re impressed by the high game densities which combines with enthusiastic guiding and a focus on the big predators to consistently deliver first-rate sightings of the big cats and dogs.
Ideal length of stay: Three nights. Note that if you combine Little Kwara with Lebala, Lagoon, Tau Pan,or Nxai Pan for a total of 6 or more nights, we can usually offer a long-stay discounted rate. Please check with us to see if this applies to your trip.
Directions: Access is by light aircraft to Kwara airstrip, and it’s only about a 15 minute drive to the camp.
Owner: Kwando Safaris.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: A simple breakfast is served around the fire before your morning activity, usually consisting of porridge, freshly baked muffins, homemade muesli, fresh fruit, tea, coffee and juice.
A brunch buffet is served on returning from the morning excursion. We had a choice of salads and hearty lasagna, as well as eggs cooked to order, cheeses and freshly baked bread. .
The biscuits served for afternoon tea were lovely and very more-ish - they’re a favourite with the guides and guests alike, very rarely are there any left! To complement the sweet dish, the camp will serve a savoury snack and on this occasion it was a cold chicken pasta salad – a bit of a departure from the more usual pizza slices and spring rolls! Tea, coffee, homemade lemonade and iced tea are all offered.
Dinner is a three-course affair, usually served around 8pm when guests have returned from the activities. We had a plated starter of fish parfait, which we found a bit unusual – opinions around the table were mixed as to who liked it and who didn’t. The main course however, was much more traditional and we had a very good roast chicken with all the trimmings. The dessert of crème brulee stood out as being particularly good.
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.
Birdwatching: The spectacular heronry at Xobega Lagoon (formerly at the neighbouring Gcodikwe lagoon up to 2011) deserves special mention here and is best visited in Little Kwara Camp's double-decker boat from around September (or sometimes as early as August) to December. Expect vast numbers os sacred ibis, yellow-billed storks, marabou storks and egrets nesting There is also a good variety of general birdlife in the Kwara reserve, due to the wide-ranging habitats.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Photographic: The safari vehicles at Little Kwara are open-topped and open-sided offering a 180 degree view, ideal for photography. In addition the excursion to the fantastic heronry at Xobega offers great opportunities for some close-up, eye-level shots of all kinds of storks, herons and other bird species from the top deck of the double decker boat.See more ideas for Photographic in Botswana
Wildlife safaris: Game is as varied as the habitats on the Kwara Reserve. Predators are regularly seen with decent sightings of leopard, cheetah and lion. Antelope abound, along with healthy populations of zebra, wildebeest and giraffe. Large herds of elephant and buffalo often frequent the area and wild dog are regular visitors.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children of 6–12 years old are accepted, but the family is required to take a private vehicle on game drives. Depending on the size of the family group, there may be an additional charge for this vehicle. Children younger than six are accepted only if the entire camp is reserved for exclusive use.
Equipment: No special equipment is available, but the rooms are large enough to fit an extra bed and make up a triple room.
Generally recommended for children: The guides are enthusiastic and the staff friendly and helpful, but Little Kwara tends to be popular with couples and particularly honeymoon couples looking for a smaller camp in a more intimate setting. So families with younger children might not always feel all especially comfortable. Therefore we’d usually recommend this camp for more mature children. Having said that, guests travelling with children have the option of booking a specialist ‘family safari’ (at extra cost). The family will travel with a specialist guide who is trained and passionate, inspiring children to learn and love the wilderness. They will also benefit from a private vehicle with their own guide and tracker who will look after them both on game drives and in camp.
Notes: Little Kwara is unfenced and dangerous wildlife, including lion and elephant, can wander through the camp at any time. The rooms are all raised on decks with only a basic wooden railing and a drop to the ground. There is no fence around the pool.
Communications: There is no mobile reception, no direct phone or fax and no email. Communication is maintained with head office in Maun via radio.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Camp managers are first aid trained and a first-aid kit is kept at camp. In an emergency, the camp can arrange for clients to be flown out.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The camp is unfenced and dangerous wildlife is known to move through camp, so guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. A safety talk is given on arrival. ‘Fog horns’ are provided in the rooms in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the common areas of the camp and in each room.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included (excluding underwear). Laundry is collected in the morning and usually returned the same day, weather permitting. Washing powder is provided in the room for guests to wash their smalls.
Money: No exchange facilities are offered. There is a small electronic safe in the room.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted. Diners and Amex are not. No commission is charged on credit card transactions, but there is a 3% surcharge on curios if a card is used in payment. Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted.