Kanana Lodge stands in a lush near permanent watery environment.
Kanana: Our full report
Situated in the heart of Botswana's Okavango Delta, adjacent to Moremi Game Reserve, Kanana Camp nestles among towering jackalberry (ebony) trees, knobthorn acacias and sausage trees on the edge of a permanent stretch of channel. Kanana's environment is a mix of forests and open seasonal floodplains, combined with permanent channels and lush flood meadows – and it's this mix which leads to it being able to offer a very full range of activities.
Kanana's main lounge and dining area is an interesting and very open design, raised on decks around an impressive ancient strangler fig tree which grows up through the middle of the main area. This open-sided structure is essentially split into three sections, including two comfortable seating areas with sofas and a selection of coffee-table books. One of these incorporates the bar area, where guests are invited to help themselves from a sideboard containing a selection of spirits and wines, and a wooden cupboard housing a large fridge. In the middle of these two lounge areas is the dining area with a long dining table – where everybody normally eats together – as well as a tea- and coffee-making station.
On one side of this area with views out onto the water, steps lead down to a jetty and a sandy firepit. This is often a popular gathering spot to swap stories after dinner. A Swarovski scope for guests’ use (great for birdwatching and star gazing), is usually found at the top of the steps. Although there is no curio shop per se, a small selection of curios for sale is displayed in two glass-fronted cabinets. Just a short walk from the main area, there is a really nice pool deck with a larger-than-average-size pool for a camp in the Okavango.
The eight tented chalets at Kanana Camp are large, structured tents raised on wooden decks. Spread out along wooden walkways and elephant dung pathways (which are much nicer than they sound!), all overlook the channel or seasonal floodplains in front of camp. Each chalet is constructed around a solid frame of thick wooden beams, around which thick canvas is stretched, giving the feel of a much more substantial wall. We found that although the chalets are not much to look at from the outside, the interiors are spacious, airy and quite attractive.
At the front of each chalet is a shaded deck with two comfortable wooden chairs. The front 'wall' is almost fully meshed, with sliding doors. This, together with the high roof and mesh windows running along either side, lends an open and airy feel to the rooms.
Taking centre stage in each chalet are three-quarter-size twin beds – which can be made into a double on request – beneath a large walk-in mosquito net. On the writing/vanity table is information about the camp and area, and a canvas wardrobe incorporates a small electronic safe and a luggage rack. On the opposite side of the room are a couple of armchairs and a floor-standing fan. We particularly loved the colourful cushions, rugs and throws, which add brightness and warmth, and the added touch of a tin of homemade biscuits.
The en-suite bathroom is at the back of the chalet, reached through a wooden door. Note that the wooden divider provides a degree of privacy, but it doesn't reach all the way to the ceiling and sounds still carry. The white walk-in shower cubicle feels a little out of place in a safari camp, but on our last visit in November 2013 there were plans for these to be replaced with large glass-fronted enclosures. There is also a flushing toilet and 'his and hers' washbasins, plus a good selection of complimentary toiletries.
Activities at Kanana are as varied as the landscape around the camp. They include day and night 4WD game drives, mokoro trips and motorboat excursions, as well as bush walks with an armed guide. We did one walk on our last visit, which proved excellent and a really interesting way to learn more about the surrounding environment. You can also take a rod out on a boat trip, and try your hand at fishing.
Kanana also has exclusive access to what is one of the Okavango's largest heronries, about 35–40 minutes by boat from the camp. The boats weave and wind their way through a series of papyrus- and reed-lined channels before reaching the breeding site for pink-backed pelicans, yellow-billed and marabou storks, grey herons, ibises and assorted egrets. This remarkable birding spectacle is usually best between around September and December, and was the highlight of our stay in November 2013. The waterways surrounding Kanana are very pretty, and even those without an enthusiastic appreciation for bird life are likely to be entranced by such a display. We were even lucky enough to catch a glance of the very elusive sitatunga antelope. When the water levels in the Delta rise each year, the seasonal floodplains and channels around Kanana are usually filled – affecting the concentrations of big game in the area. Although we thought the area very beautiful on our game drive, game (even plains game) was very thin on the ground. This matches our observations of the game densities seen from other camps in this private reserve (Nxabega and PomPom) where, between around May and November – the focus is firmly on water-based activities rather than game-viewing.
That said, during the greener months of the year, around December to April, when game is generally harder to see wherever you are in the Okavango region, this reserve is probably one of the Delta's better areas for spotting game.
Our viewThe environment around Kanana is particularly beautiful, the camp's guides are generally very good and the water activities are excellent. If you visit between around September and December, we'd be surprised if even those with only a passing interest in birds failed to be impressed by the sheer magnitude and variety of birds at the heronry. However, this isn't a camp for a first-rate game safari between around May and November, when water levels are high, and even during the greener months, it doesn't tend to have the game concentrations found in other areas.
Ideal length of stay: Two to three nights is usually perfect here. Most visitors will use Kanana for water activities, particularly during the dry season, and combine it with a good camp for big-game and land-based safaris. When Kanana is combined in the same itinerary with one of its other sister camps – Shinde, Footsteps Across the Delta or Okuti – there may be a slightly reduced rate. Please ask us for more details and whether this might apply to your trip.
Directions: The camp is accessed by light aircraft, followed by a five-minute transfer from the airstrip.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Ker and Downey
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Meals at Kanana are usually sociable affairs around a communal table – although special requests can usually be catered for.
On our most recent stay the food was really delicious! The camp is able to cater for most dietary needs– vegetarian, vegan, coeliacs etc – but they must be informed well in advance.
The day starts with a wake-up call, when tea, coffee, juice or hot chocolate served to your tent.
Breakfast is served before the morning activity. We had a choice of cereals, fresh and stewed fruit, and toast, as well as a full cooked option.
For brunch, after the morning activity, we were served yummy spare ribs, chickpea fritters, avocado and papaya salad, roast aubergine, green salad, homemade bread and a cheese platter.
Afternoon tea before departing on the afternoon activity includes a choice of sweet and savoury treats served with iced tea, homemade lemonade, tea and coffee. We loved the homemade chicken sausage rolls and the chocolate banana cake.
Dinner is generally three courses and once again did not disappoint. For starters we had a very tasty vegetable soup and homemade bread. This was followed by a mouth-watering roast beef, alongside a mixture of roast vegetables, and finished off with lemon tart.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Soft drinks, bottled water, spirits, local beers and a selection of (generally) South African wines are included. Imported wines and spirits and champagne cost extra – and may need to be requested in advance.
Further dining info: There is no room service.
Birdwatching: Kanana offers motorboat access to an enormous nearby heronry. Between September and December many migratory water birds come to nest, including yellow-billed, open-billed and marabou storks, plus reed cormorants and pink-backed pelicans.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Walking safaris: Guests at Kanana Camp can do bush walks with an experienced, armed guide. These are usually slow walks, often following old hippo paths through the bush. The guide will explain tracks and signs with a view to giving visitors a deeper understanding of the environment.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Between July and October, Kanana will accept children only over the age of ten years. For the rest of the year, the age limit is lowered to seven years.
Equipment: There is no special equipment for children at Kanana. However, it is usually possible to fit one or two extra beds in the tented chalets – although note that the additional beds won't have mosquito nets.
Generally recommended for children: Kanana has a more relaxed child policy than most other camps in the Okavango Delta, where it's unusual for families with children under 12 years not to have to book and pay for a private vehicle. They also allow triple rooms, which can make Kanana comparatively economical for a small family. However, because children will generally accompany adults on all activities, we suggest that families with younger children may want to consider booking a private vehicle, which will allow for much greater flexibility.
Notes: Both the camp and the pool are unfenced. The camp is also in close proximity to water. Children must be under the constant supervision of their parents at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is no cellphone reception, no internet and no telephone. Kanana uses radios to communicate with both its head office in Maun and its sister camps.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: All the tented rooms have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush toilets. Guests are usually given a water bottle on arrival with filtered water, which they are encouraged to top up from the filtered supply in the camp’s main area. Each room is also provided with glasses and a flask of filtered drinking water.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: All the managers are first-aid trained and there are first-aid kits on site. The closest doctor is in Maun, which is a 25-minute flight. Medical evacuation is available from the camp in case of a serious emergency.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Because Kanana is unfenced and wild animals are known to move through, guests are escorted to their rooms when it is dark. There are foghorns in the rooms for use as alarms in an emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms and common areas, as well as in boats and vehicles.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included, including undergarments, although washing powder is provided for those who wish to do their own. If weather permits, laundry collected in the morning will be returned on the same day.
Money: There is a small electronic safe in each room. There are no exchange facilities at the camp.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. Cash payments may be made in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula.