Little Machaba

Little Machaba: Our full report

Rooms
4 rooms
Traveller's rating
Good (80%) From 5 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

Overlooking the floodplains of the beautiful Khwai River, and within easy reach of Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve, Little Machaba is a small but classic safari camp in an area teeming with wildlife. It is independently run and – with a maximum of 8 guests (or 12 if exclusively booked) – both intimate and personal.

Built in a 1950s' style, Little Machaba was opened in 2016 and is located in the same game-rich area as its slightly larger sister camp, Machaba Camp, within the Khwai Community Concession.

The camp has just four tents: two standard en-suite tents and two with two bedrooms sharing a bathroom, making them ideal for families. All are built on wooden platforms and are connected to the main area by wooden walkways that meander between large trees. A good-sized veranda with a table and chairs is a great place to take in the views towards the river.

We consider that the tents at Little Machaba (and at its sister camps, Machaba Camp and Gomoti Plains Camp) in the Delta) feature one of the most well-thought-out designs of the many camps that we have visited over the years. From the natural light pouring through the large mesh sides in the bathroom to the use of a very light-coloured canvas and the position of lighting and mirrors, the tents were a joy to stay in.

In the bedrooms, muted safari tones of beige, grey and khaki form the backdrop for twin or double beds with bedside tables, two comfy chairs and a writing desk. The en-suite bathrooms each come with a shower, his and hers washbasins beneath large hanging mirrors, and a flushing toilet in a separate cubicle. Three of the tents also have an outside shower, and all have an outside bathtub.

The main area at Little Machaba consists of a tented lounge, bar and dining area, again built on raised wooden platforms with beautiful views across the river into Moremi Game Reserve. Breakfast and brunch are served at individual tables, with communal dining at one long table in the evening. There is also a library, an on-site spa therapist and a small swimming pool with sunloungers.

Activities at Little Machaba are varied, with day and night drives, walking safaris, mokoro excursions (water levels permitting) and community visits. The wildlife in the Khwai region is fantastic, with good populations of leopard, wild dog and lion. The camp is also close to the game-rich Moremi Game Reserve, so it's possible to explore both environments.

It's worth noting that the Khwai Community Concession, where many of your activities will take place, is shared by a number of camps and is also accessible to self drivers, so it tends to be busier than the private concessions in Botswana, especially between July and October. However, as in the private concessions (but unlike in the national parks and game reserves), you are allowed to take part in walking safaris and night drives, and the guides are allowed to drive off road to get a closer look at animals – so there are pluses as well as minuses.

We popped into Little Machaba only for a fleeting visit in November 2019, but last stayed in 2017. Although the camp staff were very friendly and attentive, our guide on that occasion was not particularly informative and we were decidedly underwhelmed – not least as we have generally experienced great guiding at the main Machaba Camp. When we mentioned this to one of the owners of Machaba, he followed it up directly, and we have been assured that standards are once more as we would expect.

Our view

Little Machaba is a lovely, intimate camp where the excellent hands-on management, thoughtfully designed tents and year-round good game (albeit in a fairly busy area) will make for a memorable stay. We think that it would suit small groups and families looking for something a little more exclusive than the norm.

Geographics

Location: Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: 3 nights

Directions: It's roughly 30 minutes by light aircraft from Maun to Khwai airstrip, followed by a 20-minute game drive to camp.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Machaba Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Although we didn’t stay during our most recent visit, in November 2019, the standard of food at Little Machaba was very good on our October 2017 visit. With advance notice, the camp will cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements. They will also prepare special meals for children, on request.

Before heading out on our morning activity, we tucked into a breakfast of cereal, yoghurt, muffins, toast and fresh fruit, with a cooked breakfast also available.

Brunch is served after your morning activity. We understand that there is usually a selection of hot and cold dishes with salads, rounded off by fruit and cheese.

After canapés of fried onion rings and homemade chutney, dinner was gazpacho with a freshly baked bread roll, followed by a delicious lamb curry with rice, sautéed vegetables and salad. Dessert was a light fruit salad on yoghurt with a shortbread biscuit.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers, spirits and a limited selection of generally South African wines are included. Champagne and premium or imported wines and spirits must be requested in advance, and will cost extra. Guests are given a water bottle on arrival, which they are encouraged to top up from the filtered supply in the camp's main area. Each tent is provided with glasses and bottled water. We don't recommend that travellers drink from the tap

Further dining info: Bush dinners, bush picnics, and private dining in your tent are available upon request.

Children

Attitude towards children: Little Machaba welcomes children of 12 years and above. Families with younger children have the option to book exclusive use of the camp.

Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age 12, unless the whole camp is booked for exclusive use.

Special activities & services: Little Machaba likes to meet both parents and children before arranging activities, so these are organised with the managers on arrival.

Equipment: There are two very spacious family tents, but no specific equipment for children.

Notes: Little Machaba is unfenced, and dangerous wildlife, including lion and leopard, can wander through the camp at any time. There is no fence around the pool. Children must be supervised by their parents at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There is a back-up generator, and the camp has 24-hour electricity, with a charging station in each tent.

Communications: An emergency telephone is available for guest use at additional cost. Some guests may pick up cellphone reception, as Khwai Village is close by, but this is not always possible. Very weak and intermittent WiFi is available in the main area, but do not rely on this being available.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: All the tents have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers, and flushing toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Management and guides are first-aid trained and and guides carry field kits in their vehicles. The nearest doctors are a short flight away in Maun or Francistown. In an emergency, guests would be flown to Johannesburg, but 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 tents after dark as dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. Fog horns' are provided in the tents to summon help in case of emergency.

Fire safety: Each tent has a fire extinguisher.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: There is a full laundry service, including underwear. Laundry is collected in the morning and usually returned the same day, weather permitting. Washing powder is provided in the bathrooms for guests who prefer to wash their smalls.

Money: There is a small safe in each tent that can fit travel documents, cash and wallets. No exchange facilities are offered.

Accepted payment on location: Mastercard and Visa credit cards are accepted (with a surcharge); Diners and Amex are not. Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted.

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