Visit the lovely Little Kwara
Little Kwara: Our full report
North of Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve, 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 lodge with an intimate feel and is Batswana owned and run.
Stop press 27 March 2015 - News from the camp regarding mokoro excursions at Little Kwara.
"Due to exceptionally low rain fall during the last few months, Botswana is threatened by drought. Although the water in the Okavango Delta actually comes from rainfall in the Angolan highlands, it is normally replenished during the summer season by localised rain. Without this additional rain, the lagoons and waterways reduce in size. This particularly affects the prime mokoro areas – open areas of shallow water, including floodplains. Naturally, this also affects the animals that live in the water, such as hippos: as their habitat decreases in size, their comfort zone also decreases.
In order not to place any unnecessary pressure on the hippos, and to ensure the safety of our staff and guests, we have decided to suspend mokoro activities at Kwara and Little Kwara camps until water levels increase. Hopefully this will be resumed within a few weeks, as the Angola flood waters arrive. Boat activities, which are in the in the permanent deep water channel are not affected by this."
The lodge shares the reserve with Kwara Camp. Little Kwara is considerably newer and smarter than its bigger sister, and is completely separate as far as guests are concerned, even if it is only about five minutes' drive away.
Little Kwara's canvas-covered main area is slightly raised and houses a small lounge and bar. 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, which on our last visit in November 2013 included a spotted hyena. 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 thought it lacked atmosphere. After dinner, guests might gather around the firepit, where in the morning, breakfast is often served beneath shady trees. To one side of the main area there is also a plunge pool with a few sunloungers, as well as a small but well-stocked curio shop.
Set amongst the trees, and elevated onto individual wooden platforms, Little Kwara has just five tented chalets, so feels very intimate. Each is spacious and simple, but tastefully furnished. The chalet is entered from the back, opening into the bedroom area, where twin beds, or a double, are made up with crisp, white linen and colourful orange throws. There is a small sitting area with a couple of wooden chairs, while in front of the bed, sliding doors open onto a large shaded veranda with chairs.
Separated from the bedroom by a headboard divider is the en-suite bathroom, with a claw-footed bath and twin-basin washstand. Individual doors lead to a flushing toilet on one side and an outside shower on the other. There is also plenty of storage in an open wardrobe, 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!
If we were trying to be critical, then we'd observe that the service at Little Kwara can be a little less refined than at some of the Delta's more expensive, stylish camps. That said, the managers and staff are friendly and often go out of their way to be helpful – and the real focus of the camp is its variety of land- and water-based activities.
Day and night game drives always have a tracker as well as a driver-guide: a combination that has helped to produce some excellent game sightings on our visits. The team at Little Kwara is very enthusiastic about tracking predators and we've consistently seen some impressive lion, leopard and cheetah over the years. It's worth noting that the game-viewing vehicles don’t generally have roofs (although Little Kwara’s newer Land Cruisers do have that 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. However, bear in mind that you'll need a good hat and plenty of sunscreen, and that you might get wet – ponchos are provided but it’s sensible to take waterproof covering for camera gear.
We've experienced, and admired, the great enthusiasm of the guides at Little Kwara – which 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 tracking 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.
These include short guided walks with armed guides. Often these walks will be in conjunction with a mokoro excursion, which skirts around the lagoon in front of camp, stopping at one of the islands along the way for the walk. Although not as scenic as at some inner Delta camps, a mokoro trip at Little Kwara still gives you the opportunity to get fairly close to water birds and to see some of the Delta’s smaller inhabitants.
Other water-based activities include seasonal fishing excursions, (although fishing is banned in Botswana in January and February), and boat trips, usually in the afternoon to incorporate sunset over the water. Little Kwara has an unusual double-decker boat that affords 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. For a time the heronry shifted to the neighbouring Xobega Lagoon,. Disappointingly, however – and for reasons unknown – very few birds had arrived to nest at either lagoon on our November 2013 visit, and the heronry was largely empty. We still managed to see African darters, yellow-billed heron, and marabou storks sitting on their nests, just in much smaller numbers than in previous years.
More generally, we have found that Little Kwara is not always flexible in the variety of activities available. Should you wish specifically to do a particular activity, such as a walk or a mokoro trip, it is a good idea to speak to us and we can request in advance that the option be made available to you.
Our viewLittle Kwara is very comfortable and its service very friendly, and among the favorite’s of us here at Expert Africa, even if it is sometimes less refined than at some of its equally smart neighbours. The mix of environments here means varied activities are possible, and the camp works well for busy visitors who only have time for one camp in the Okavango. Above all, we are very impressed by the high game densities in this concession, which combines well with the enthusiastic guiding and its focus on sightings of the big predators.
Ideal length of stay: Three nights is ideal. Note that if you combine Little Kwara with Lebala, Lagoon, Tau Pan,or Nxai Pan for a total of six 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, then it's about a 15-minute drive to the camp depending on what wildlife you see along the way.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
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 a hearty lasagne, as well as eggs cooked to order, mushrooms, bacon, sausages, cheeses and freshly baked bread.
Afternoon tea is taken just before heading out on the late afternoon activity, usually in the lounge area. On our most recent visit we enjoyed miniature chicken pastries and apple cake along with homemade lemonade and iced tea. This was accompanied by jars of marinated feta and mushrooms and a very popular chilli jam.
Dinner is a three-course affair, usually served around 8.00pm when guests have returned from their activities. We had a plated starter of Mexican soup with guacamole. For the main course there was a choice of a very tasty lemon chicken or a vegetable curry, both served with couscous, roasted butternut squash and steamed broccoli. The dessert of apple strudel was, however, a little disappointing.
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.
Further dining info: Room service is not available – this is a safari camp!
Honeymoons: Little Kwara offers a good value camp for your honeymoon in Botswana. With only five tented chalets, the camp is intimate and romantic. Little Kwara has a wide range of activities, and friendly staff who’ll make a great effort to make your time special, perfect for a honeymoon!See more ideas for Honeymoons in Botswana
Photography holidays: The safari vehicles at Little Kwara are open-topped (no canopy), offering almost unobscured views, ideal for photography. Avid photographers can take a private vehicle and guide, which is relatively inexpensive here, as they can then dictate the focus and pace of game drives.See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana
Wildlife safaris: Game is as varied as the habitats on the Kwara Reserve. Predators are regularly seen with good sightings of leopard, lion and cheetah. Large herds of elephant and buffalo often frequent the area and wild dog are regular visitors making it a great concession for big game sightings!See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children over six are accepted, but families with children aged 6–12 years are 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 may be accepted only if the entire camp is reserved for exclusive use.
Equipment: Little Kwara offers a 'family safari' (at extra cost) with a specialist guide and a private vehicle. However there is not a family tent at Little Kwara. However for children the chalets 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. Thus families with younger children might not always feel comfortable, and we'd usually recommend this camp for more mature children.
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. Children must be under constant parental supervision.
Communications: There is no cellphone 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.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: All the tented chalets have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers, and flushing toilets. Guests are usually given a water bottle on arrival, which they are encouraged to top up from the filtered supply in the camp’s main area. Each room is also provided with glasses and a flask of drinking water that is replenished daily. We don’t recommend that travellers drink from the tap.
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, so guests are escorted to their chalets after dark. A safety talk is given on arrival. 'Fog horns' are provided in the chalets to attract attention 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 each chalet.
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.