The Lodge at Feline Fields: Our full report
Feline Fields is set in the seldom visited north-west of Botswana, with views across the Kalahari.It's also sometimes being called 'The Lodge' or, more fully, 'The Lodge at Feline Fields' and is located 100km from Xai Xai and 63km from the Gcwihaba Caves.
In this very isolated, remote location it offers some unusual and interesting Bushman cultural experiences.
However, this part of the Kalahari is a harsh place for animals to eke out an existence and the bush is thick, so game sightings are rare.
Feline Fields is in an unusual area, with perhaps more in common with Namibia’s Bushmanland than the rest of Botswana. More heavily vegetated than the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, it features a mix of mopane scrub and grassland and in many way feels even more remote than the CKGR.
Feline Fields has just six suites split into two categories: three tented suites and three pool suites.
- The three tented suites are built on raised platforms to give views over the surrounding Kalahari. Inside are twin beds that can be pushed together on request to create an extra-king-size bed. The sides of the bedroom can be opened up to allow the evening breeze through the shade netting, adding to the feeling of being in the bush.
At the back of the tent is an en-suite bathroom complete with double basins, a massage shower and toilet. Outside is a deck with a ‘Star Bath’ where guests can enjoy bathing under the stars surrounded by the sounds of the bush.
- The three pool suites are perhaps some of the largest and most opulent we have seen. In front of each is a private 4x6m pool, surrounded by a large deck complete with sunloungers.
The suites themselves are constructed of canvas, timber and brick, and set over two levels. On the lower level, the bedroom has a raised super king-size bed, with an additional day bed at its foot. Each has a mini fridge, air conditioning, writing desk, TV and radio.
To one side is an enormous en-suite bathroom. While the exact layout differs, each has double basins, a freestanding bath, a rain-effect shower and a separate toilet.
Above the bedroom is an upper deck with a further day bed. For the more adventurous this can be made up to sleep on with nothing but a mosquito net between you and the Kalahari. The upper deck is also where private dinners can be arranged.
The main area at Feline Fields is a large thatched building raised on stilts to make the most of the views. At its heart is the dining area and open kitchen where guest are encouraged to interact with the chef as he prepares meals. This dining area is open-fronted and looks out over a 25m pool to the bush beyond. To one side is a well-stocked bar and to the other a library. There are sofas, hanging chairs and campaign chairs aplenty, giving lots of options for travellers to relax as a group or to retreat in relative solitude.
Surrounding the pool is a large deck with sunloungers and the nearby firepit makes a superb place to relax and watch the sun go down.
Among the large range of activities at Feline Fields are interactions with the San Bushmen, which are run by the local community. Subject to pre-booking, guests may visit a Bushman village, arrange a trance dance or visit the Gcwihaba (Drotsky’s) Caves and/or the Aha Hills. Although we haven’t had a chance to experience these activities ourselves, we believe that these offer a genuine cultural experience, something that is becoming increasingly hard to find.
It is usually possible to arrange nature drives from the lodge, although there were no vehicles at the time of our visit as they were having mechanical problems. Other options include trail biking with a guide, bush walks, riding, bush dinners and fly camping. Many of these activities will require pre-booking too, so please ask us if you are interested.
Back at the lodge, you’ll find a bush gym and a tennis court, and the airstrip can be used as a golf driving range. Finally, for those looking for a different pace, spa treatments can also be arranged.
Feline Field was envisioned by the owners as the ‘perfect safari lodge’ and in design and luxury they have certainly come close to that aim. However, due to the location and lack of game we don’t think that it is a true safari destination but more a fantastic place to relax before or after your safari. Perhaps in recognition of this, Feline Fields offers a ‘Khwai–Kalahari experience’, combining a private mobile safari in the Khwai area with a stay at the lodge, which can be arranged on a bespoke basis.
Having visited the lodge, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Feline Fields. Building a lodge in this area is certainly a risk and we wish the team luck; what they have achieved is spectacular, and offers the opportunity to explore an area that is rarely visited.
However, this is not a big-game destination so a stay here would work best either using the Khwai–Kalahari experience, or combined with a bespoke safari arranged by us.
- North-west Kalahari & Panhandle, Botswana
- Ideal length of stay
- 3 nights
- Guests staying at Feline Fields can arrive by plane or helicopter, usually from Maun.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- On our stay in June 2017 we enjoyed some excellent food and service. The food was freshly prepared in the open kitchen by professional and friendly chefs. Where possible, the team is happy to try and cater to guest requests, even at short notice.
A buffet breakfast features a selection of continental-style cold meats and cheeses, freshly baked bread and muffins, cereals, fruit and yoghurt. A hot breakfast is then cooked to order.
Lunch is a set menu; we enjoyed a delicious chicken salad wrap with mixed roast vegetables.
Dinner was a three-course menu. We had tomato and basil soup to start, followed by lasagne and salad. Dessert was a superb pavlova served with fruit and cream.
- Dining style
- Mixture of group dining and individual tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- It is possible to arrange meals in your suite for a special occasion, with advanced notice.
- Drinks included
- Drinks at Feline Fields are included. The tap water is very salty and despite being treated isn’t pleasant to drink so bottled water is provided.
- Cultural experiences
- Feline Fields is usually situated in a remote part of the northwestern Kalahari, where many of Botswana’s Bushmen live. This gives the lodge unprecedented access to the culturally significant areas of Xai Xai, Aha Hills and Gcwihaba Caves.
- See ideas for Cultural experiences
- Attitude towards children
- Feline Fields accepts children of any age.
- Property’s age restrictions
- None. Families with children under 8 will need to book a private vehicle.
- Special activities & services
- There is a nanny service on request although the nannies are staff at the lodge and may not have official childcare qualifications.
- There is a cot available on request.
- Generally recommended for children
- Although Feline Fields has no age restriction, and they were doing an excellent job looking after the toddler who was there when we stayed, we think that the lodge has an adult feel and would be best suited for those over the age of 12.
- The lodge has a lot of steps and drop offs as well as an unfenced pool, so young children must be supervised at all times.
- Power supply notes
- There is a back-up generator in case the solar system fails.
- There is free WiFi in the library and the pool suites although the connection can be slow. There is also a computer in the library for guests to use.
- TV & radio
- There are satellite TVs and radios in the pool suites.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All the bathrooms have hot and cold running water and flush toilets. The water here is very salty.
Health & safety
- Medical care
- There is a first aid kit at the lodge. In an emergency travellers would be flown to Maun.
- Dangerous animals
- Moderate Risk
- Security measures
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers outside each suite and in the main areas.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A same-day laundry service is included.
- There is a small safe in each suite.
- Accepted payment on location
- A stay here is all-inclusive so there is little need for payment at the lodge. If needed the lodge will accept US dollars and Botswana pula.
Other lodges in North-west Kalahari & Panhandle
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
From its beautiful island setting, Nxamaseri Lodge offers superb fishing and birdwatching in a relatively affordable area of the Okavango.
Shakawe River Lodge
Shakawe River Lodge has a picturesque location on the banks of a channel of the Okavango River.