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Thamo Telele
Thamo Telele
Thamo Telele
Thamo Telele
Thamo Telele
Thamo Telele
Thamo Telele

Thamo Telele: Our full report

Situated on a private game reserve, Thamo Telele is a small lodge about 20 minutes from the centre of Maun.

Although it’s conveniently close to Maun Airport, the tall trees, thick bush and presence of wildlife help the lodge – formerly known as Royal Tree Lodge, and Motsentsela Tree Lodge before that – feel more remote than it is. This is an ideal spot for a night either at the beginning or end of a Botswana safari.

Guests at Thamo Telele stay in either Meru-style tents or individual chalets. The nine spacious tents are raised on wooden platforms surrounded by mature trees and the African bush. A private deck with a couple of chairs leads into an airy bedroom with wooden floors. Twin or double beds sit beneath a mosquito net and an air-conditioning unit. A bold canvas of geometric shapes in bright colours livens the room. To one side is a small luggage rack and to the other a couple of brightly coloured comfy chairs.

To the back of each tent is an en-suite bathroom with a white “slipper” bath. A large mirror hangs over twin basins on a feature wall of bold colourful wallpaper. There’s luggage storage and a hanging area, where additional blankets, a hairdryer and umbrellas are also squirrelled away. Two doors lead to a private outdoor shower and separate toilet cubicle respectively.

In the lodge’s two thatched chalets, both single storey, the décor is similar to the rooms, although solid walls and tiled floors give a more substantial feel. There is also more space, the bath is larger, and the outdoor shower is a little more open to the surrounding bush, giving a slightly more intimate feel – these chalets are often used for honeymooners. These are also the only rooms with WiFi.

It is worth noting that despite the relatively thick bush around camp and the remote feel this gives, it is often possible to hear noise and sometimes music from Maun, especially on Fridays, Saturdays and around public holidays. During our latest stay in December 2023, we could hear parties in the distance, although they were not so loud as to disturb our sleep.

The main area at Thamo Telele is a large, semi-circular, open-plan building, with solid walls and a tall thatched roof supported by bare gum poles. At one end is a dining area; at the other a large lounge with a glass cabinet housing a few souvenirs and a help-yourself honesty bar. The tiled floor is softened with oriental-style rugs and an eclectic mix of furniture, from teal-blue sofa chairs to a brown leather sofa. Giraffe murals and statues add a further splash of colour, a nod to the lodge’s connection with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation or GCF.

Large glass bi-folding doors lead from the main area to an extensive teak deck, which has been built around an enormous leadwood tree. Weather permitting, most meals are enjoyed outdoors.

A short walk from the main area is a lap pool, set in another teak deck. At one end a pergola provides shade for sunloungers overlooking the pool. A spa is also planned for the near future and will be a welcome addition for those looking to relax during their stay.

While a lodge in Maun is not an obvious choice for engaging in activities, there are several options for those wanting to do more than relax by the pool or recover from their flights/safari.

The most popular is the “giraffe experience”. Head out with a guide and naturalist to the reserve’s largest waterhole to spot members of the reserve’s giraffe herd as they enjoy a drink and food as part of their supplemented diet. Your guide will explain how to identify individuals, give information about their habits, the threats facing them and ongoing work to protect some of Africa’s most iconic and surprisingly threatened species. We enjoyed our sundowner at the waterhole with the giraffe, especially seeing the animals so relaxed in our presence, but we did feel that the information presented could have been a little more structured. We consider that the more travellers engage and the more questions they ask, the more they will get out of this experience.

Well-marked, self-guided walking trails around the reserve range from 30 minutes to 1½ hours in duration. As there are no large predators here, this is a relatively safe way to stretch your legs after a long flight or hours in a safari vehicle. These trails also provide a great opportunity to spot the reserve’s plains game and birdlife at your leisure.

Thamo Telele also has a few fat-bikes (with helmets) available for pre-booking. Trails can be guided or self-guided and allow guests to cover more of the reserve, although we suspect that spotting wildlife and birdlife from a bike might be more challenging than on foot.

Horseback safaris allow guests of all abilities to get up close and personal with the reserve’s giraffe, zebra and other plains game. Again, these riding trips are best booked in advance.

The giraffe experience and a one-hour horse safari are included for travellers staying here on a full board and activities basis.


Our view

Thamo Telele is set in a beautiful location conveniently located on the outskirts of Maun. This small comfortable lodge is one of the best of a limited number of options in the area and makes a comfortable stop at the beginning or end of your Botswana safari.

Tom Morris

Tom Morris

Botswana expert

Geographics

Location
Maun, Botswana
Ideal length of stay
One night, usually as a stop before or after a Botswana safari.
Directions
15–20 minute road transfer from Maun. The lodge will usually collect travellers from Maun Airport.
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Half Board
Food quality
With advanced notice we understand that the team at Thamo Telele can cater for most dietary requirements.

Although the lodge is based in Maun, during our stay in December 2023 we found the menu here follows a similar pattern to more remote safari camps, although timings are more flexible.

Timings for breakfast are the most flexible and depend on what guests are doing on the day. A continental buffet of cereals, fresh fruit, muffins, yoghurt, juice, tea and coffee is complemented by items such as bacon, sausage, tomato and eggs cooked to order.

On our last visit, lunch was a very simple buffet of ham, coleslaw, bean salad and fresh bread. Fruit salad was offered as dessert.

At around 3.30 pm, before the giraffe activity, we enjoyed an afternoon tea of pizza slices and biscuits with fresh lemonade, iced tea, tea and coffee.

After returning from the activity, dinner was served at around 7.30pm. We particularly enjoyed the individual aubergine (eggplant) parmigiana to start. This was followed by grilled fillet steak served with mashed sweet potato, carrots, and sautéed red cabbage. Dessert was homemade vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.
Dining style
Mixture of group dining and individual tables
Dining locations
Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Further dining info, including room service
Private dining at pool, boma, or rooms on request.
Drinks included
There is a full bar provided on an honesty basis. When staying on half board, drinks will need to be settled at the end of your stay. If staying on full board and activities, drinks are included.

Complimentary fresh water is provided in the rooms.

Special interests

Riding holidays
Thamo Telele provides a relatively safe environment for horseriders of all abilities to enjoy a short horseback safari. This is a great opportunity to get up close and personal to the reserve’s giraffe, zebra and other plains game without the risk of encountering predators.
See ideas for Riding holidays
Walking
Thamo Telele is a great lodge for some gentle walking in Botswana. The trails are well marked and perfectly safe to explore alone, with waterholes for game viewing and a hide if you'd like to sit and take things easy.
See ideas for Walking

Children

Attitude towards children
All children are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions
Horseback safaris are available for guests aged nine and above.
The giraffe experience is generally best for travellers ages six and over, although younger children may be able to join at the guide’s discretion.
Special activities & services
It is possible to arrange for camp staff, often one of the housekeepers, to child sit during meals and siesta. While these staff usually have children of their own, they don’t tend to be qualified childcare professionals.
Equipment
Extra beds and cots are available for young children staying at Thamo Telele. Only one extra bed can be included in each room.
Generally recommended for children
Thamo Telele has a fairly relaxed atmosphere and would suit families travelling with children of all ages, although there are age restrictions on some activities.
Notes
The swimming pool at Thamo Telele is unfenced, and while there are no large predators in the area it is possible to encounter smaller animals such as snakes and monkeys, as well as spiders and scorpions. As such children should be supervised at all times when staying here.

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Thamo Telele

Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Thamo Telele have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.

Giraffe

100% success

Zebra

100% success

Eland

67% success

Wildebeest

25% success

Brown Hyena

0% success

Leopard

0% success

Communications

Power supply notes
Back-up generator.
Communications
The camp has a landline. Wifi is available in the main area and the two chalets but not in the tents.
TV & radio
None
Water supply
Borehole
Water supply notes
All rooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
There are medical facilities in Maun approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the lodge. In the event of a medical emergency, travellers would be airlifted to Johannesburg.
Dangerous animals
Moderate Risk
Security measures
The reserve and lodge are both surrounded by fences to keep their animals in or out. You need a security code to get through the entrance gate if on a self-drive trip.
Fire safety
Fire extinguishers are located in the tents and chalets, and around the main area.

Activities

  • Helicopter

    Helicopter

  • Horse-riding

    Horse-riding

Extras

Disabled access
On Request
Laundry facilities
Laundry is included for travellers staying on a full board and activities basis. Clothing is machine washed and air dried; it will usually be returned same day, depending on the weather. Please note that most travellers stay for a single night, which typically does not allow enough time for clothes to be washed and dried.
Money
There are no safes in the rooms and currency exchange is not offered.
Accepted payment on location
Mastercard and Visa cards can be used for purchases (with a surcharge). Cash payments are accepted in US dollars and Botswana pula.

Other lodges in Maun

Alternative places to stay in this same area.


Thamalakane River Lodge

Thamalakane River Lodge

With its tranquil riverside location, Thamalakane makes an excellent buffer between a tiring long-haul flight and the magic of a safari.


82% (59 reviews)
Riley's Hotel

Riley's Hotel

In the heart of Maun, about 3km from the airport, Riley’s makes a relatively reliable stopover for one night.


74% (10 reviews)

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