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 arranged in a circular fashion on raised 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. The central area was recently refurbished in October 2015 and is looking very smart.
To the rear of the central area, steps lead down to a sandy firepit with views out onto a grassy floodplain, where at the time of our last visit the ‘resident’ elephant was feeding. With the arrival of the flood this area fills with water and the water activities are conducted from the jetty here. The firepit is often a popular gathering spot to swap stories after dinner.
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 nine 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 look simple from the outside, the interiors are spacious, airy and 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 key lock safe and a luggage rack. On the opposite side of the room are a couple of armchairs and a floor-standing fan. Polished hardwood floorboards and colourful oriental rugs add warmth to the room. We particularly loved the thoughtful little touches like the tin of homemade biscuits and the whisky decanter that appeared in the evenings.
The spacious en-suite bathroom is at the back of the chalet, reached through a wooden door. The new glass-fronted walk in shower enclosures give the room a modern and light feel. There is also a flushing toilet and 'his and hers' washbasins, plus a good selection of organic and environmentally friendly complimentary toiletries.
Kanana also has a Sleep Out Deck, where guests can enjoy a night under the dazzling African sky. The deck is split level timber platform with extensive views over the surrounding floodplain. On the upper level are a bed and table and chairs, and on the lower level is a toilet and sink. Near the foot of the platform is an old termite mound where there are a couple of directors chairs and a cosy fire is lit so you can sit and enjoy the night sounds of the bush. For security, an armed guide is stationed nearby in a separate tent. The Sleep Out Deck is about a fifteen-minute drive from camp and guests wishing to take advantage of it are normally driven out after dinner, then woken up in the morning with tea and coffee and driven back to camp for breakfast.
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. On our last visit in November 2015 we did a mokoro trip that was truly memorable. Besides a host of fabulous water birds including pygmy geese, lesser jacana, squacco herons, and kingfishers, we had a lucky close-up sighting of the rare sitatunga antelope. The highlight however was watching a herd of elephants cross and drink from the channel in front of us - seventy in total! On a previous visit, we did a bush walk which also 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 mid-July and October. On our visit in November 2015, we were unfortunately unable to access the heronry, as water levels were too low.
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 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.
The 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 July and October, 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.
- Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana
- 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.
- The camp is accessed by light aircraft, followed by a ten to fifteen minute transfer from the airstrip.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- 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 is 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, pepperdew quiche, avocado and papaya salad, bean salad, 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 caprese tartlets 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.
- Family holidays
- Kanana has a more relaxed child policy than most of Botswana's camps, where it's unusual for families with children under 12 years not to have to book and pay for a private vehicle, although they may still choose to for great flexibility.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Kanana offers motorboat access to an enormous nearby heronry. From mid-July onwards, many migratory water birds come to nest, including yellow-billed, open-billed and marabou storks, reed cormorants, pink-backed pelicans, grey herons and sacred ibis.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- 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 ideas for Walking safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Kanana has a large family tent with two bedrooms and a shared en-suite bathroom. There is enough space to sleep a family of five.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Kanana has a minimum age of seven years and does not require families to book a private vehicle.
- Special activities & services
- The camp will prepare special meals for children on request.
- 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.
- 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.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Kanana
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Kanana 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
- There is a single charging point in each room.
The power supply supports the use of hairdryers but only those issued from the camp office.
- There is no cellphone reception or WiFi at the camp but there is a guest computer connected to the internet in the central area. 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
- 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
- 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. 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
- 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.
Guided walking safari
- 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.
- There is a small key lock 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.
Other lodges in Okavango Delta Safari Reserves
Alternative places to stay in this same area.