Hyena Pan: Our full report
Nestled amongst “cathedral” mopane trees overlooking an active waterhole, Hyena Pan is a classic safari camp ...... that feels relatively simple by comparison with Botswana's current standards. It lies 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 independently owned, but since 2016 it has been managed by a marketing company that has raised the standards to be more in line with its sister camps in the same extensive concession, Sable Alley, Tuludi and The Jackal and Hide.
The camp overlooks a waterhole, known as Hyena Pan, which attracts wildlife year round. During the summer rainy season (December to March) the pan floods, creating an enormous water feature. From April to November, as the pan naturally dries out and shrinks, water is pumped into it from a nearby borehole whose slightly salty water with a high mineral content proves an ongoing attraction for resident elephants. Other regular visitors to the pan include giraffe, zebra, a variety of antelope including kudu, waterbuck, red lechwe, impala and roan, plus hippo, and sometimes wild dog and buffalo.
For guests at the camp, the pan is especially rewarding during the May–October dry season when there is limited water around, so just spending time around the waterhole is a very relaxed way to do some game viewing. Base yourself in the main area of Hyena Pan, where two thatched, open-sided structures sit on a raised wooden platform, with beautiful views over the pan. The feel here is homely, unpretentious and relaxed, with an eclectic mix of rustic furniture enlivened by splashes of vibrant colour from scatter cushions and individual chairs, and enhanced by local artefacts, old suitcases and fun ornaments.
On one side you'll find the bar, hewn from an old log, along with the dining room, lounge and a large deck with more seating areas. To the other is a second comfortable lounge with a small selection of interesting books. This in turn leads outside to a plunge pool with a couple of sunloungers and a couch, while a sandy firepit area at ground level is a great spot to watch wildlife at the waterhole while you enjoy a pre-dinner drink.
Hyena Pan's nine tents are linked to the main area by a sandy path that meanders through the mopane tees. Built on wooden platforms in a semicircle facing the waterhole, they are not über-luxurious but they are comfortable and attractively furnished.
All the tents overlook the pan, though the best view is from room 1. They are fairly close together, too, so you can hear your neighbours' conversation if they're talking loudly, and the outside veranda isn't entirely private – although wooden screens have been erected to afford more privacy.
A screened door opens into the bedroom, where vivid, ethnic-print cushions are scattered on the bed beneath a great set of funky lights. 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 handbasin. Flanking this are cubicles for the shower and toilet, separated by natural stick walls.
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. Top of the list for many is the camp's camouflaged eye-level hide: a former ship's container half buried nearby, and perfectly adapted with windows and chairs for hidden game viewing. It faces a small pumped waterhole that attracts a steady stream of wildlife, thus affording great photographic opportunities. When we visited in November 2019, we stayed for about an hour and saw elephant and various species of birds, while on a previous visit we saw zebra and spotted hyena too.
Morning and afternoon 4WD game drives offer a chance to explore within the private concession. Although the thick mopane forests close to camp currently limit game viewing, there are plans to put in tracks through the dense trees to access natural waterholes, thus improving potential sightings. Night drives with a spotlight give the possibility of observing nocturnal wildlife,
Game drives also take place in the wildlife-rich Khwai Community Reserve (NG18), which is about a 30-minute drive away, mostly hurrying through the tall mopane trees to get there. Game viewing in this reserve is generally far more productive and drives along and around the Khwai River bring regular sightings of major predators such as leopard, lion and wild dog. It's important to be aware, though, 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 (for which park entry fees must be paid locally). 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.
Back in the Khwai Private Reserve, walking with an armed guide is on offer too, usually in a more open area, close to the hide. Ideally you should arrange this in advance, to make sure they have a qualified walking guide available.
Guests with a prior reservation (which is essential) can also combine a walk from the hide with an overnight stay in the Skybeds for a truly wonderful experience. Here, just three rustic, 5m-high elevated decks look down on a waterhole where you can watch wildlife come to drink from your bed. Whether you are walking here, or choose to combine it with a game drive, you will arrive in time for sundowners and then dinner. Sleep atop the platform under the stars, either totally open or with a mosquito net over your twin beds. Each platform has its own enclosed bathroom on a lower deck, with a shower and plumbed toilet. Do note that as there are only three Skybeds, which are shared with sister camp Sable Alley, this must be booked well in advance.
Our first impression of Hyena Pan was very positive, and that has been borne out over subsequent visits. The star of the show is undoubtably the perennial waterhole in front of camp, which serves as a magnet to wildlife, especially in the dry season (May–Oct). The staff are welcoming and the whole camp feels comfortable and relaxed. While the style and design remind us of a tented camp from 10–15 years ago, we feel this would be a good option for those seeking an authentic safari experience, at a more moderate price than many other Delta camps.
- 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.
- A 35-minute flight from Maun to Khwai Private airstrip is followed by a game drive of approximately an hour to camp.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- When we last stayed at Hyena Pan, in November 2019, the standard of food was good, with buffets, and tasty, wholesome, home-cooked meals rather than fine dining and haute cuisine.
Within enough notice most dietary requirements can be catered for.
Breakfast, served before our early-morning drive, consisted of a selection of cereals, freshly baked muffins and fruit. There was also a choice of eggs (fried, scrambled, poached or boiled), with bacon and sausages.
For lunch we were offered fish cakes, courgette fritters, a green salad, freshly baked bread and a cheeseboard.
For dinner we started with mixed vegetables wrapped in filo pastry. The main course was roast pork with basmati rice, gem squash and cauliflower, and we finished with a decadent lemon meringue.
- 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 (at extra cost) by families with children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.
- Special activities & services
- None. Hyena Pan’s doesn’t have a family room but can add an extra bed for one child to share with two parents.
- Generally recommended for children
- With its informal atmosphere, we think this would be a good camp for older children.
- 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.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Hyena Pan
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Hyena Pan 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.
- Power supply notes
- The camp is mostly powered by solar energy backed up by a generator.
Each tent has an international charging station for camera batteries etc.
- There is no cellphone reception and no direct phone, but there is WiFi in a corner of the main area. Communication is maintained with the head office in Maun via radio.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- There is hot and cold running water in each bathroom as well as a flush toilet. The tap water is saline and heated by a gas geyser.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- 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 and from their tents 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 tents to attract attention in case of emergency.
- Fire safety
- There is a fire extinguisher outside each tent.
Guided walking safari
- 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.
- There is a digital safe in each tent. 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.
Other lodges in Moremi Game Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.