Machaba Camp: Our full report
Machaba Camp is one of the newest offerings along the Khwai Riverfront, having only opened in 2013. That said, visitors familiar with the area might well remember the old Machaba Camp on whose foundations this latest iteration is built. A member of the Expert Africa team first visited at the end of 2013 and we were thoroughly impressed with what we found. A combination of excellent, hands-on management, very good guiding, a secluded location and fantastic game viewing all combine to make this an excellent value camp.
Machaba consists of 10 large classic tents all situated along the riverfront but set back a little from the water’s edge. A sparse forest of sycamore figs shades the entire camp and game frequently passes through on its way to drink from the river.
Each tent has polished concrete floors throughout with a canvas ceiling covered by a taught flysheet, supported by timber frames. Inside there are wall-to-wall mats covered by separate rugs, adding warmth and a softer feel under foot. Each tent is entered through a zip down canvas flysheet at its front, on entry guests will find double or twin beds forming the centrepiece of each tent.
The whole camp is decorated in a very classic fashion and the tents are no different. A large, stained teak writing desk is found in the front corner of every tent, complete with brass light fixtures and a freestanding fan next to it. On the other side of the room there are a couple of comfortable chairs, perfect for relaxing in during the afternoons, when both human and animal alike tend to seek respite from the midday heat.
At the back of each tent is the en-suite bathroom, complete with indoor and outdoor showers, his-and-hers washbasins and a flushing toilet in a separate ‘cubicle’. There are two large mirrors over each sink and complimentary toiletries come as standard. There’s a shelving unit to the side of the bathroom which houses the washing basket, a small safe for valuables and some room and body spray to keep the bugs away.
At the front of each tent a bare concrete verandah is where a couple of camping chairs and a table provide a place to relax and watch the water’s edge to see what might come down to drink. There’s also a masseuse’s bed located here and massages can be arranged with management throughout your stay.
In addition to the standard tents there are also a couple of larger family units, each effectively made up of two tents conjoined to one another but with a shared bathroom at the rear, these are similar in style to the other 8 tents.
The main area at Machaba consists of a two-winged tented structure with views across the river and into Moremi Game Reserve on the opposite side of the water. One wing is where meals are served and here there are a number of tables for individual dining at breakfast, converted into one longer table for communal dining in the evening. Most meals are served from a buffet located on a long table at the rear of this wing. Across the main area, the opposite wing houses a couple of seating areas, walls with detailed maps of the local region and tables and bookshelves hosting reference material on the local geography, geology, flora and fauna – we were very impressed by just how well stocked this was on our last visit. The drink’s cabinet and fridge is also found here, there should always be someone around to help you find exactly what you’re looking for but if not then it’s self-service and all drinks and meals are included in your stay at Machaba.
Carry on past the main area on the sandy paths which link Machaba and right at the very east of the camp one arrives at the circular swimming pool, surrounded with a few deck chairs spread out on a wooden deck. The swimming pool is also the location for private dining which can be arranged for honeymoon couples or those celebrating a special occasion (due to the distance from the main area a guide will stay nearby throughout the meal).
The game in the Khwai region is fantastic, with thriving lion, leopard and wild dog populations in particular. When we last visited Machaba our guide who was experienced and knowledgeable but clearly still keen to continue his own personal development while educating his guests, really impressed us.
Activities at Machaba revolve almost exclusively around 4WD game drives although walks can be arranged when a suitably qualified guide is in camp. Given this and the fact that there are no mekoro or boating activities at Machaba, it is fair to say that the activities here may not be quite as varied as at many other Delta camps.
On our last visit to Machaba we finished dinner one-evening and unlike at many camps in the Okavango, management were still keen to head out on a further night drive to try and find a leopard we had been tracking earlier in the day. Although we weren’t successful in finding any big cats we did manage to see African wildcat and genet, which was fantastic. We were really impressed with the camps attitude and willingness to get back out there and try for more sightings after dinner.
In addition to being a very comfortable and well-run camp Machaba is also an excellent example of the new generation of sustainable safari operators springing up in the Okavango Delta. Some guests may be interested to see how the camp is designed to limit any negative impacts it has on the local area, and management are more than happy to show guests how this is achieved with a back-of-house tour.
The camp’s energy requirements are met using 48 solar panels wherever and whenever possible. Using low energy appliances (including specially designed fridge / freezers requiring little more energy than a couple of light bulbs) helps keep the need for the generator to a minimum (it usually comes on for about four hours a day). Of particular interest is the camp’s ‘Solar System’, which monitors and runs the camp’s electricity supply. On days when overcast conditions cause the batteries to not fully charge through solar power this complex computer system will tell the generator to come on and top up the charge.
In addition, all non-organic waste at Machaba is sorted on site and then taken back into Maun for recycling. Each tent has a septic tank and organic waste is dealt with using enzymatic and anaerobic breakdown methods to neutralise it before distributing it back into the local environment in a harmless form.
Our viewMachaba is very well run, with a relaxed but efficient feel to operations and guides who really know their stuff and clearly enjoy their job. Activities here revolve around 4WD game drives and although the Khwai area can sometimes feel busy by Botswana's standards, Machaba is located in a much quieter and less visited region further east along the boundary with Moremi Game Reserve. Accommodation at Machaba re-defines the meaning of the word ‘tent’ with en-suite, spacious and very sturdy structures classically decorated to a very high standard.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Power supply: Generator
Water supply: Borehole
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Disabled access: On Request