Little Kwara

Little Kwara: Our full report

Rooms
5
Traveller's rating
Excellent (93%) From 148 reviews
Children
Best for aged 12+
Open
All year

North of Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve, Little Kwara lies within the 1,750km2 private Kwara Reserve, where the diversity of the environments is reflected in both the wide range of activities possible – both land and water year-round – and the big game found here. It's a small lodge with an intimate feel and is Batswana owned and run.


Little Kwara shares the reserve with Kwara Camp. It is a quite a bit newer and smarter, with larger rooms than its bigger sister, and although it is only about five minutes' drive away, it is completely separate as far as guests are concerned.

The camp’s canvas-covered main area is slightly raised and houses a small lounge and bar. Enormous rattan chairs add a chic touch to the range of comfortable chairs and sofas. With pleasant views over the surrounding scenery, you can relax here and keep an eye out for animals that wander past, which on one of our visits included a spotted hyena. Guests at Little Kwara are encouraged to help themselves to drinks from the fridge whenever they like, although there is usually someone about to help.

The adjacent dining room is large and open-sided, with good views and a large table for communal meals. After dinner, guests might gather around the firepit, where in the morning, breakfast is often served beneath shady trees. To one side of the main area there is also a plunge pool with a few sunloungers, as well as a small but well-stocked curio shop.

Set amongst the trees, and elevated on individual wooden platforms, Little Kwara has just five tented chalets, so feels very intimate. Each is spacious and simple, but tastefully furnished. The chalet is entered from the back, opening into the bedroom area, where twin beds, or a double, are made up with crisp, white linen and colourful orange throws. There is a small sitting area with a couple of wooden chairs, while in front of the bed, sliding doors open onto a large shaded veranda with chairs.

Separated from the bedroom by a headboard divider is the en-suite bathroom, with a claw-footed bath and twin-basin washstand. Individual doors lead to a flushing toilet on one side and an outside shower on the other. There is plenty of storage in an open wardrobe, where you'll also find a small safe and the usual complimentary essentials such as mosquito repellent, bug spray, shampoo, soap and shower gel. Although the water appears off colour, as it is pumped from the river, it has been filtered over and over again … with no nasty chemicals added!

On the activities front, day and night game drives always have a tracker as well as a driver-guide: a combination that has helped to produce some excellent game sightings on our visits. We've experienced, and admired, the great enthusiasm of the guides at Little Kwara – which is usually combined with a penchant for tracking predators, and we've consistently seen some impressive lion, leopard and cheetah over the years. On our latest visit in April 2016, we were treated to multiple lion sightings, including a mother and two sub-adult cubs feeding on a kudu carcass, eight adult females with three sub-adult cubs patrolling their territory, and three separate solo males. We also spotted a male leopard stalking a female kudu, side-striped jackal, baboon, spotted hyena, elephant, hippo, banded mongoose, reedbuck, wildebeest, tsessebe, impala, giraffe and zebra.

Historically, vehicles at Little Kwara have operated without roofs, but a roof is now standard – though this may be detached upon request. Driving without a roof allows unobstructed views for photography and game viewing, but the downside is that it’s 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 (although ponchos are provided by the camp), and waterproof covering for your camera gear.

The flip side of the focus on predators, which does annoy some, is that the guides can often lose sight of the smaller things. That's why we'd suggest that you try at least one of the other activities, which – by their nature – are usually less focused on big game.

These include short guided walks with armed guides. Often these walks will be in conjunction with a mokoro excursion, which skirts around the lagoon in front of camp, stopping at one of the islands along the way for the walk. Although not as scenic as at some inner Delta camps, a mokoro trip at Little Kwara still gives you the opportunity to get fairly close to water birds and to see some of the Delta's smaller inhabitants.

Other water-based activities include seasonal fishing excursions, (although fishing is banned in Botswana in January and February), and boat trips, usually in the afternoon to incorporate sunset over the water. Little Kwara has an unusual double-decker boat that affords great views over the tall papyrus.

Birding in the Kwara Reserve is excellent all year, with an abundance of African darters, yellow-billed storks, and marabou storks often sitting on their nests. On our recent visit we saw little bee-eater, Cape turtle dove, red-billed spurfowl, Cape glossy starling, common ostrich (nesting!), African stonechat, African fish eagle, African darter, hooded vulture, hammerkop, and Egyptian geese. For years – between around September and December – guests at Kwara and Little Kwara have been visiting a renowned heronry.

More generally, we have found that Little Kwara is not always flexible in the variety of activities available. Should you wish to do a particular activity, such as a walk or a mokoro trip, it is a good idea to speak to us and we can request in advance that the option be made available to you.

Our view

Little Kwara is comfortable and its service very friendly, and among the favorite's of us here at Expert Africa, even if it is sometimes less refined than at some of its equally smart neighbours. The mix of environments here means varied activities are possible, and the camp works well for busy visitors who only have time for one camp in the Okavango. Above all, we are very impressed by the high game densities in this concession, which combines well with the enthusiastic guiding and its focus on sightings of the big predators.

Geographics

Location: Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: Three nights is ideal. Note that if you combine Little Kwara with Lebala, Lagoon, Tau Pan,or Nxai Pan for a total of six or more nights, we can usually offer a long-stay discounted rate. Please check with us to see if this applies to your trip.

Directions: Access is by light aircraft to Kwara airstrip, which is a 30-minute flight from Maun. From Maun, the drive to camp is approximately 15 minutes, depending on what you see along the way.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Kwando Safaris.

Staff: Charles & Hilda (co-managers)

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Typically your day starts with a simple breakfast served around the fire before your morning activity, usually consisting of porridge, freshly baked muffins, homemade muesli, fresh fruit, tea, coffee and juice.

A brunch buffet is served on returning from the morning excursion. On our recent April 2016 visit we had a choice of salads, and chicken and beef, as well as eggs cooked to order, cheeses and freshly baked bread.

Afternoon tea is taken just before heading out on the late afternoon activity, usually in the lounge area. On one of our visits we enjoyed samosas stuffed with vegetables and chocolate cake along with homemade lemonade and iced tea. This was accompanied by jars of marinated feta and mushrooms and a very popular chilli jam.

A three-course dinner is served at around 8.00pm when guests have returned from their activities. We recently enjoyed a traditional Setswana meal of seswaa (pounded beef) served with pap (similar to polenta) and a tomato-based sauce. Side dishes included sautéed spinach and vegetable medley.

Dining style: Group Meals

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Filtered and also bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and standard spirits, 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 fill from the filtered supply in the camp's main area. Each chalet is provided with glasses and a flask of drinking water that is replenished daily. We don't recommend that travellers drink from the tap.

Further dining info: Room service is not available

Special interests

Honeymoons: Little Kwara offers a good value camp for your honeymoon in Botswana. With only five tented chalets, the camp is intimate and romantic. Little Kwara has a wide range of activities, and friendly staff who’ll make a great effort to make your time special, perfect for a honeymoon!

See more ideas for Honeymoons in Botswana

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

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana

Wildlife safaris: Game is as varied as the habitats on the Kwara Reserve. Predators are regularly seen with good sightings of leopard, lion and cheetah. Large herds of elephant and buffalo often frequent the area and wild dog are regular visitors making it a great concession for big game sightings!

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Generally children ages six and over are welcome at Little Kwara, but families with children aged 6–11 are required to book a private activity vehicle at extra cost. Discounted child rates are not offered at Little Kwara. Children younger than six may be accepted only if the entire camp is reserved for exclusive use.

Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age of six years

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

Equipment: Little Kwara offers a 'family safari' (at extra cost) with a specialist guide and a private vehicle. However there is not a family tent at Little Kwara. However for children the chalets are large enough to fit an extra bed and make up a triple room.

Notes: Little Kwara is unfenced, and dangerous wildlife, including lion and elephant, can wander through the camp at any time. The rooms are all raised on decks with only a basic wooden railing and a drop to the ground. There is no fence around the pool. Children must be under constant parental supervision.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: The generator runs whilst guests are out on morning and afternoon activities. This then charges any batteries required to power the camp at other times.

Communications: There is no cellphone reception, no direct phone or fax and no email. Communication is maintained with head office in Maun via radio.

TV & radio: There is no TV or radio.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: All the tented chalets have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers, and flushing toilets. Water pumping is done by the generator.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Camp managers are first-aid trained and a first-aid kit is kept at camp. 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: The camp is unfenced and dangerous wildlife is known to move through, so guests are escorted to their chalets after dark. A safety talk is given on arrival. 'Fog horns' are provided in the chalets to attract attention in case of an emergency.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the common areas of the camp and in each room.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included (excluding underwear). Laundry is collected in the morning and usually returned the same day, weather permitting. Washing powder is provided in the room for guests to wash their smalls.

Money: No exchange facilities are offered. There is a small electronic safe in each chalet.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. No commission is charged on credit-card transactions, but there is a 3% surcharge on curios if a card is used in payment. Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted.