Kwara Camp

Kwara Camp: Our full report

Rooms
8 tented rooms
Traveller's rating
Excellent (92%) From 157 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

Situated on a forested island, and shaded by large trees overlooking floodplains and a seasonal lagoon in the Okavango Delta, Kwara Camp has the style of a fairly traditional safari camp. It offers its guests year-round land and water activities: big-game-viewing plus access to permanent channels of the Okavango Delta.

Kwara is simpler than most camps in the Delta, with rooms suited to people who are here to enjoy the environment rather than to spoil themselves with decadent luxury. It also has a price tag to reflect this – so is one of the more affordable options in the area.

Along with its nearby sister camp, Little Kwara, Kwara lies within the private 1,750km² Kwara Reserve, which borders the north side of Moremi Game Reserve. The environment here is perhaps more varied than around most Okavango camps. Seasonal floodplains and wooded islands surround the camp; papyrus-lined permanent waterways and lagoons cover the south of the reserve; and extensive dry land to the north supports mopane woodlands and open scrub savannah.

At the heart of Kwara Camp is a tented central area where you'll find a lounge, bar and curio shop alongside an adjoining thatched dining area – where colourful table runners and beaded lantern covers adorn the dinner table. Both are raised slightly on wooden decks, with open sides to overlook the lagoon. The comfortable lounge is constructed around the trunks of growing leadwood and mangosteen trees, while the bar is simply a hewn tree trunk with a well-stocked fridge from which you are encouraged to help yourself. This is a place to relax in a comfortable seat and read one of the camp's small stock of books, play a traditional game of morabaraba, or look out over the lagoon to spot visiting wildlife.

Watching from the camp on various stays at Kwara, we have seen plenty of hippo antics in the lagoon; a herd of red lechwe that leaped through the shallows; an entertaining troop of baboons; and plenty of great birdlife, including a crested barbet nesting in a nearby fallen tree.

Down some steps towards the lagoon is a sandy clearing with a firepit encircled by camp chairs. Here an early morning bite is served around a warming fire. It's also a magical spot to enjoy a drink or two after dinner, listening to the sounds of the African night.

Set amongst towering knobthorn and mangosteen trees, Kwara's small plunge pool is framed by a low deck and a few sunloungers. Close by is an elevated viewing hide on stilts and a separate information centre, with maps and impressions of animal tracks to aid identification in the field.

Spaced out along sandy walkways under the riparian forest canopy, Kwara Camp's eight tents are raised on individual wooden platforms. East of the main area, three tents sit on high stilts roughly five feet above the ground. These are a little way from the lagoon, but benefit from elevated views of the floodplain towards the lagoon. The other five tents, west of the main area, are also on platforms but are much closer to ground level and have views of the lagoon itself. In front of each tent, steps lead up to a veranda where two deckchairs overlook either the lagoon or the floodplain.

Inside, the tents are reasonably spacious and simply decorated, with large gauzed windows and sliding doors that give an open, airy feel. A wood- framed double bed (or twins) with a luggage rack at its foot dominates the room and faces the view. Good-quality bedding in warm creams and browns complements the natural décor, while patterned cushions add a touch of colour. By way of storage, there is a small wardrobe with hanging space, while behind the bed, also acting as the bedhead, are two large wooden shelving units topped with electric storm lanterns. You'll also find a digital safe, a flask of drinking water, wildlife magazines, tissues, mosquito repellent, bug spray and mosquito coils. There are no plug sockets, but batteries can be charged in the main lounge area where there is a central charging point with numerous adaptors.

The en-suite bathroom is divided from the main room only by a canvas wall (with a Velcro flap that can be rolled down for a little more privacy). Here there's a flush toilet and double basins with a large overhanging mirror. A door leads to a lovely open-air shower, enclosed by lattice walls and lit at night by a paraffin storm lantern – although showering late evening or early morning during the winter months can be chilly. Conditioning shampoo, shower gel, soap and body lotion are provided. The honeymoon tent, which overlooks the lagoon, also has a claw-foot bath, but all other facilities are the same.

Kwara Camp offers a good variety of activities, including both 4WD safaris (day and night) and water-based excursions. Game drives always have a tracker as well as a driver-guide, which helps to produce some excellent wildlife sightings.

Historically, vehicles at Kwara have operated without roofs, but currently all vehicles operate with a roof as standard – although this may be detached upon request. Driving without a roof allows unobstructed views for photography and game viewing, but it does leave guests completely open to the elements. Should you wish to drive without a roof, we recommend bringing a good hat, plenty of sunscreen, a rain jacket (ponchos are provided by the camp), and waterproof covering for your camera gear.

The team at Kwara is enthusiastic (and sometimes quite single-minded) about tracking predators and the ability to drive off road within the reserve is often an advantage for this. For some visitors, this highly focused approach to guiding is exactly what's wanted. The various guides often work together, reading the bush to find lions, cheetah or wild dogs, and they are often successful. On our most recent trip to the area, in April 2016, we just dropped in to Kwara for a short visit, but on a previous occasion we were lucky enough to see a pack of 20 wild dogs on a kill after a painstaking afternoon of tracking them. It was extremely rewarding!

For travellers who prefer a more relaxed approach, however – taking in a variety of animals and birds as they arise – Kwara is probably not the right choice.

Boat trips at Kwara are usually on a double-decker boat with an engine, with great views over the papyrus. In the past, a visit to a nearby heronry has often been a highlight, particularly between September and December. On our last stay in March 2015 we didn’t see any birds nesting, though we did see African darters, yellow-billed stork and marabou storks sitting on their nests in Gcodikwe and the neighbouring Xobega Lagoon. We were also impressed with the variety of birds to be seen in the waterways.

Kwara's mokoro trips navigate the shallow edges of the lagoon in front of camp, under the watchful eye of resident hippos, and are often combined with a guided walk on the opposite island. Although not as scenic as some mokoro routes at inner Delta camps, the lagoon is still peaceful, and gliding along gives you a close look at waterlilies and birds such as the African jacana and pied kingfisher. Fishing excursions are also available, except in January and February when a fishing ban is enforced by the Botswana authorities.

Our view

Kwara is a relatively simple safari camp with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. It'll suit those who are keen on seeing the big predators to the exclusion of smaller wildlife, and are happy to forgive the fairly traditional tents that prioritise the necessities over fancy trimmings. Given that, it's a very good-value camp for the Delta, in a great area with excellent game densities that often delivers really good predator sightings.

Geographics

Location: Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: We would usually recommend three nights at Kwara. Kwara Camp works well in combination with its sister camps, Lagoon Camp and Lebala Camp, which are located in northern Botswana's Linyanti region within the extensive Kwando Reserve; and Nxai Pan and Tau Pan, in the drier reaches of the Kalahari to the south. Note: If you combine Kwara with Lebala, Lagoon, Tau Pan or Nxai Pan for a total of six or more nights, then we can usually offer a long-stay discounted rate.

Directions: Kwara is roughly 30 minutes by light aircraft from Maun. Guests fly in to Kwara airstrip, which is only a 10–15-minute drive from Kwara Camp, depending on the game spotted along the way.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Kwando Safaris

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food at Kwara during our most recent stay was adequate, with some very good dishes, but not consistently so. Meals are served buffet style and a good variety is provided including fresh vegetables and fruit. Guests are normally seated together for meals.

Before the morning activity, a light breakfast is served around the campfire, usually consisting of porridge or a choice of cereals, muffins or biscuits, a fruit bowl, tea, coffee and juice.

After your morning excursion, a wholesome brunch buffet is provided, with a good choice of dishes. We were offered all the components of a full cooked breakfast, as well as a hot dish (cottage pie one day, spinach lasagne the next), a mix of salads, a cheeseboard, home-made bread (including a very tasty focaccia) and a sliced-fruit platter.

High tea sets you up for the afternoon activity. We were treated to yummy chocolate muffins and spicy vegetable samosas one day, and pizza slices, iced lemon cake and sliced watermelon the next, accompanied by tea, coffee and homemade juice or iced tea.

Dinner is served at around 8.00pm – usually a plated starter and dessert, and a choice of main-course dishes from the buffet. Traditional local dishes are included on some nights. We were served a very tasty chickpea and coriander soup with bread roll to start; seswa (pounded beef), pappa (maize meal), gravy, spinach, danawa (beans), and a potato bake from the buffet; followed by apple crumble and ice cream. The next night the vegetable terrine starter was bland, but the main of tarragon-spiced chicken in coconut milk, crispy-coated fish, rice, fresh peas and carrots was enjoyable. This was finished off with a nectarine and chocolate tart. A choice of white or red wine is served with dinner.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Filtered and purified water as well as bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and classic spirit brands plus a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne, imported wines and premium branded spirits will cost extra and must be requested well in advance. Guests are usually given a water bottle on arrival, which they are encouraged to top up with filtered water from the camp's main area. Each room is provided with glasses and a flask of drinking water, which is replenished daily. We don't recommend that travellers drink from the tap.

Special interests

Photography holidays: The safari vehicles at Kwara have a roof-removal option, offering almost unobscured views, and are thus ideal for a photographic safari in Botswana. Avid photographers can take a private vehicle and guide, which is relatively inexpensive, and can then dictate the focus and pace of game drives.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana

Wildlife safaris: If you’re looking for a wildlife safari in Botswana that focuses on predators, look no further. Kwara’s game and environments are varied, with plenty of tsessebe, impala, zebra, red lechwe, reedbuck, kudu, giraffe, buffalo and elephant – as well as the big cats and wild dogs.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Generally children aged six or over are welcome, but families with children aged 6–12 are required to book a private activity vehicle at extra cost. Groups with children younger than six may be accepted only if reserving the entire camp for exclusive use.

Property’s age restrictions: No children under six

Equipment: Early mealtimes and children's meals can be arranged on request. For a surcharge, a specialist family guide can be booked in advance to accompany a family group at Kwara and its sister camps (Little Kwara, Lebala, Lagoon, Tau Pan and Nxai Pan); please ask us for more details.

Notes: Children must be supervised by parents at all times as the camp is unfenced and open to potentially dangerous wildlife, as well as a seasonal lagoon.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Combination of power

Power supply notes: Combination generator and bottled gas. Kwara uses 100% gas power to heat the water but the main source of power is a generator and inverter system. Wherever possible the generators run while guests are out on game drives. There are no power points in the tents but there is a charging station beside the bar, for which you should bring your own adaptor to fit a UK-style square three-pin plug, or a round three-pin).

Communications: For all intents and purposes you should consider yourself out of contact. There is no cellphone reception, no direct phone or fax and no email – this is the bush! Communication is maintained with the other camps in the reserve via CB radio. In an emergency, radio contact can be made with the main office in Maun.

TV & radio: None

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: All the tents have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush loos. 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 provided with glasses and a flask of drinking water, which is replenished daily. We don’t recommend that travellers drink from the tap.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: All camp managers and guides are first-aid trained and a comprehensive first-aid kit is kept at camp. Each guide also has a basic field first-aid kit to take on activities. In an emergency, the camp can arrange for clients to be flown out. 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 of the Okavango Delta's large population of potentially dangerous animals and the fact that Kwara Camp is unfenced, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. A safety talk is given on arrival. Air-horns are provided in the rooms to attract attention in case of an emergency. Baboons and vervet monkeys do come through camp so it is important to keep tents closed whilst unoccupied, and not to have any food visible (or preferably none in the tents at all).

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the communal areas of the camp and on the veranda of each tent.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included, but as laundry is washed by hand, the service excludes underwear. Washing powder is provided so that guests can wash personal items.

Money: No currency-exchange facilities are offered. There are digital safes in each tent.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and American Express are not. For curio shop purchases there is a 3% credit-card commission. South African rand, British pounds, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula are accepted for cash payments.