Meno A Kwena

Meno A Kwena: Our full report

Rooms
9 Safari tents
Traveller's rating
Good (85%) From 13 reviews
Open
All year

Meno A Kwena is an old-style safari camp; the owners we know well. It is situated on tribal land on a cliff edge overlooking the Boteti River, which began to flow again in late 2008, having been dry for over 15 years. The name Meno A Kwena is the local name for the area, which translates as 'teeth of the crocodile'.

The transformation since the river began to flow again is remarkable. On our last visit, in May 2017, the late afternoon was a great time to see elephant and zebra coming down to drink on the opposite side of the river. Indeed, many visitors, especially in the dry season, choose to stay around the camp – enjoying the friendly atmosphere, the views and the wildlife. That said, the return of the river has changed the dynamic of the game in the area somewhat. Meno is no longer the hive of lion activity it once was and, whilst they can still be heard at night, lions now visit the camp only occasionally.

The tents at Meno A Kwena don't aim to be palatial – although royalty have been known to stay. The nine newly renovated meru tents are enclosed in individual kraals, all tents now have en suites connecting through the back of the tent

Sand paths through the bush link the tents to Meno A Kwena's main area. A large L-shaped marquee makes up the kitchen, bar, dining area and lounge, complete with well-stocked reference library and comfortable sofas scattered with cushions. The whole area – even the toilet – is filled with interesting skulls, bones, artefacts and photographs.

In front, a campfire and plunge pool built of rock overlook the Boteti River and onward into the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. There are a couple of chill-out areas here, too, with comfortable sala beds and the odd hammock. During our last visit we were able to use the floating pontoon hide, this ideal for photography and game-viewing on the river (see the slideshow to the right of this page).

Two bird baths near the main area are frequented by pied babblers, crimson breasted shrikes, buffalo weavers, red-billed francolins and the occasional goshawk.

Activities from Meno A Kwena include walking trips and cultural activities with the local community. Overnight trips into the Makgadikgai Salt Pans are available on request so please ask us if you're interested. T

4WD safaris are also available, varying from short sorties in the local Khumaga area to full-day safaris with a picnic further afield in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park or Nxai Pan National Park. Visitors should be aware that although Meno A Kwena lies on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, the pans themselves are actually a two–four-hour drive away, so those arriving and expecting the saltpans on the doorstep will be disappointed. With the river now flowing again, access to the national park is via a one-vehicle 'ferry'.

Our view

Meno A Kwena's relaxed atmosphere, warm welcome and the team's keen interest in the surrounding area and its wildlife shine through – as does the hands-on approach of the camp's committed owner and managers. It won't be to everyone's liking – it's fairly rustic, and if you are travelling to Botswana for a pure big-game experience then it's tempting to say Meno A Kwena will not be for you. The return of water to the Boteti has started to change the dynamic here however and often game-viewing from the camp is as good as it is from the vehicle.

Looking at the bigger picture, Meno exists right on the transition zone between the unique Okavango Delta region of the Kalahari and the more typical, dryer regions further south - it's this location which makes it special. So, if you are keen to experience something slightly different from the norm with a rather quirky feel and an emphasis on the human side of life in Botswana as well as the wildlife, Meno is certainly worth a visit for at least a couple of nights.

Geographics

Location: Kalahari's Salt Pans, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: We'd recommend Meno A Kwena for a couple of nights for first time visitor's to Botswana, perhaps longer if you are a regular to Botswana and want something more than just the big game experience. We think it works particularly well at the beginning of a trip, when it offers a chance to relax after a long flight.

Directions: Road transfers from Maun to Meno A Kwena take about 1½ hours and are included in the camp's accommodation rate. Alternatively, there is an airstrip 17km from camp at Motopi, with a 20-minute transfer to camp available.

Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Hennie Rawlinson/Natural Selection

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We have visited Meno A Kwena many times and have always found the food delicious and of a high standard; this is particularly impressive as it is all cooked over an open fire. Plenty of fresh ingredients are used together with well-made sauces and flavours.

Breakfast usually consists of cereals, fresh fire-baked bread, yoghurts, juice and your choice of eggs. The timing is very flexible, depending on the morning activities you have planned.

Lunch is usually served at 1pm and includes a main dish such as quiche, pie or lasagne with a choice of salads, finished off with bread and a selection of cheeses.

Dinners are three-course affairs that often begin with soup and end with a light and delicious dessert.

Just in case you get peckish between meals there is often a freshly baked cake for afternoon tea, and snacks to accompany your sundowner drinks.

Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: If booked on a full board basis then yes, except premium brands. Most spirits are available including vodka, whisky and gin. Beers, wine, water (bottled or filtered borehole water), soft drinks, tea, coffee, hot chocolate are readily available throughout the day.

Further dining info: No – food and drink not recommended in tents as the camp feels that they don't want to encourage any of the wildlife to enter the tents.

Special interests

Photography holidays: Standing high above the Boteti River, Meno A Kwena has a cool and well-situated hide which makes a good spot for keen photographers to take unobtrusive pictures of busy wildlife scenes.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome.

Property’s age restrictions: Children of all ages years are accepted but private vehicles must be booked for families with children under 12 years old.

Special activities & services: The guiding technique at Meno A Kwena involves touching, tasting, looking and discussing, which works well for children who are keen to learn about the environment. Children's meals can be requested.

Notes: Meno A Kwena is not ideal for those who are looking solely for game drives to spot animals, but older children who are interested in taking part and learning about nature and the environment will love it.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: Solar and charging socket’s available

Communications: The camp has a VSat landline for their own use and in case of emergencies. Slight mobile reception is available as well as Wifi.

TV & radio: No.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Water is not suitable for drinking.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The camp has a full first aid kit available and the guides have had first aid training. Vehicle transfers to Maun hospital for relatively serious incidents. The Medivac helicopter in Maun is always on standby for emergencies. Please note that it is only possible to fly out of camp during daylight hours as the bush airstrips do not have any lighting at night.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guests are escorted to and from their tents after dark. To one side of the camp is the Boteti River overlooking the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. The rest of the camp is surrounded by an electric fence. There are no safes, so guests are advised to keep valuables on them. Staff are always around during the day time but there are no security guards.

Fire safety: The camp is fitted with fire extinguishers which are checked every 12 months.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Included – collected in morning and returned the same day. A laundry bag is available in tents.

Money: There is no currency exchange at Meno A Kwena.

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