Hyena Pan

Hyena Pan: Our full report

Rooms
8 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (95%) From 4 reviews
Children
Best for ages 12+
Open
All year

Nestled amongst ‘cathedral’ mopane trees overlooking a small pan, Hyena Pan was opened in June 2017. It’s a relatively simple camp (by Botswana’s standards), set on the east of the 2,000km2 Khwai Private Reserve, which borders Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve and Khwai River/Khwai Community Reserve to the south, and Chobe National Park to the east.

Hyena Pan is a classic safari camp, independently owned and located in the same extensive, private concession as its sister camps, Sable Alley and Skybeds. We popped in for a very brief visit in October 2017, while staying at Skybeds, and liked what we saw of this authentic bush camp.

The camp itself overlooks a natural, perennial mopane pan/waterhole, known as Hyena Pan, which attracts wildlife year round. During the rainy season (December to March) the pan floods, creating an enormous water feature that draws elephant, buffalo and hippo as well as water birds. From March to November, as the pan dries out and shrinks, water is pumped into it from a nearby borehole. As this water is slightly salty with a high mineral content, it is a big attraction to the resident animal and bird species. Hence the pan is used year round and has regular visits from giraffe, elephants, zebra, a variety of antelope including kudu, waterbuck, red lechwe, impala and roan, (sometimes wild dog and buffalo), plus hippo, and an array of birds. It is especially good during the May – October dry season when there is limited water available elsewhere nearby. So just spending time in camp around the waterhole is also a very relaxed way to do some game-viewing!

In the main area of Hyena Pan, two thatched, open-sided structures sit on a raised wooden platform, with beautiful views over the pan. In one you’ll find the bar (made from an old log), dining room, a lounge and a sundeck; the other has a second comfortable lounge with a small collection of interesting books. For a quick dip, head for the plunge pool that leads off this lounge, or bask on its single sunlounger. A small curio shop adds to the mix.

Small and rustically furnished, the main area felt homely, unpretentious and relaxed. An eclectic mix of furniture, with splashes of vibrant colour from scatter cushions and individual chairs, adorns the whole place, which is decorated with local artefacts, old suitcases and fun ornaments. Our only concern was that it might feel a bit crowded if the lodge was full. But then you could move down from the sundeck to a firepit, where you can also enjoy pre-dinner drinks while watching the wildlife come to drink at the waterhole beyond.

Hyena Pan has eight tents: two doubles and seven twins. Built on wooden platforms, they are linked by a sandy path that meanders from the main area through the mopane tees. They are not über-luxurious but they are comfortable and attractively furnished.

A screened door opens to the bed, adorned with vivid, ethnic-print cushions, set beneath a great set of funky light fittings. A brightly coloured sofa sits at the foot of the bed, and there’s also a writing table and chair, and a pedestal fan to keep you cool on hotter days.

At the back of the tent, there’s plenty of storage space in the dressing area, and an en-suite bathroom where a large mirror set into a colourful panel hangs above the hand basin. Flanking this area is a shower to one side and a toilet to the other; both in their own cubicles separated by natural stick walls.

Each tent also has a veranda with a sunlounger, screened at the sides to afford more privacy. All have views of the pan, though the best is from room 1.

Activities at Hyena Pan are flexible; your schedule can be planned with your guide according to your interests, though please note that water activities are not available here. Not far from camp is Hyena Pan’s camouflaged eye-level hide. This faces a small pumped waterhole that attracts a steady stream of wildlife, thus affording great photographic opportunities. We only stopped for five minutes and still saw elephant, zebra and spotted hyena, so just imagine what it may hold for those with more time.

Morning and afternoon 4WD game drives offer a chance to explore within the private concession, which allows for decent, yet private game viewing, though do note that the dry mopane forest areas immediately around camp afford relatively low wildlife sightings. You can also take night drives, giving the possibility of observing nocturnal wildlife. If you fancy the idea of walking in the reserve, however, you will need to book this in advance.

Alternatively it’s a short drive to the wildlife-rich Khwai Community Reserve, , where game drives along and around the Khwai River bring regular sightings of major predators such as leopard, lion and wild dog. Do note, however, that this area can feel pretty busy with vehicles from the handful of lodges and campsites in the vicinity, especially around individual sightings.

Hyena Pan also offers full-day trips with packed lunches into the slightly less busy Moremi Game Reserve (park entry fees must be paid locally, and the trip runs only for 4–6 guests). As this area is bound by national park rules, there is no driving off road, and no walking or night drives – but the wildlife is generally excellent.

One very special option during a stay at Hyena Pan is a visit to Skybeds, whose rustic 5m-high semi-thatched elevated platforms look down on a waterhole in front of ‘camp’. You’ll be driven here for a morning or afternoon visit with a packed lunch / tea , and can watch wildlife coming to the waterhole . Even more adventurous is to sleep atop the platform under the stars, either totally open or with a mosquito net over your twin beds (and your own enclosed ablution facilities). This is a wonderful experience!

Our view

Our first impression of Hyena Pan was very positive, The staff were welcoming and the whole camp felt comfortable and relaxed. It is not an opulent camp but this could be a good option for those seeking a more authentic safari experience at a more moderate price than many Moremi/Okavango safari camps. It’s refreshing to see ethnic prints and bright colours around camp too, a rare departure from the normally muted safari colours.

Game drives in Khwai and Moremi should ensure excellent (if rather busy) wildlife viewing, and those combined with more exclusive drives on the private reserve should make for a varied and enjoyable safari. Essentially you are getting the best of both worlds.

Based on our experience at its sister camps, the focus at Hyena Pan will be on good guiding, food and service, so we have high hopes for the camp. It's definitely one to watch in the coming years.

Geographics

Location: Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: We'd suggest a stay of two or three nights at Hyena Pan, perhaps including a night at Skybeds.

Directions: A 35-minute flight from Maun to the Khwai or Banoka airstrips is followed by a drive of approximately an hour to camp. A road transfer from Maun to Hyena Pan takes approximately 3–4 hours.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Natural Selection

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We have yet to stay overnight at Hyena Pan, having only popped in for a visit in October 2017, but we would expect a very good standard of food, much as at its sister camps, Sable Alley and Skybeds.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Soft drinks, local beers and spirits and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits cost extra and may need to be requested in advance. Tea- and coffee-making facilities are available in the main area during the day. Each guest is usually given a water bottle, which can be filled from the filtered supply in the camp's main area. Each tent has glasses with a flask of filtered drinking water, which is replenished daily. The tap water in the bathrooms is saline and not suitable for drinking.

Special interests

Wildlife safaris: Hyena Pan offers game drives in both the Khwai Community area and Moremi – both are fantastic game areas (though potentially rather busy in peak season). That combined with more exclusive drives on their private reserve (but with lower densities of wildlife) make for a varied and enjoyable safari experience where you get the best of both worlds.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Children aged 8 years and older are welcome at Hyena Pan, but those under the age of 12 must share a tent with an adult or older sibling.

Property’s age restrictions: Private vehicles must be booked by (at extra cost) by families with children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: The camp is unfenced and dangerous wildlife can wander through at any time. There is no fence around the pool. The tents and main buildings are all raised off the ground on decks, with open railings. Children need to be closely supervised by their parents/guardians at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply notes: The camp is mostly powered by solar energy, with the exception of gas geysers to heat water in the tents. Each tent has an international charging station for camera batteries etc.

Communications: There is no cellphone reception, no direct phone or fax, but there is WiFi in a corner of the main area. Communication is maintained with the head office in Maun via radio.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: There is hot and cold running water in the tents as well as a flush toilet. The tap water in the bathrooms is saline and heated by a gas geyser.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Maun. All management and guides are first-aid trained and medical evacuation is available in case of emergency. There is a nurse on call (via radio) 24 hours a day. 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 their rooms after dark as dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. A safety briefing is given on arrival. 'Fog horns' are provided in the rooms to attract attention in case of emergency.

Fire safety: There is a fire hose outside each room.

Extras

Disabled access: In Place

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included at Hyena Pan. 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, which will not be handled by the staff.

Money: There is a digital safe in each room. No exchange facilities are offered.

Accepted payment on location: Visa and MasterCard are accepted, as are cash payments in US dollars, euros, GB sterling, South African rand and Botswana pula.

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