Machaba Camp was opened in 2013 ...
Machaba Camp: Our full report
Opened in 2013, Machaba Camp is one of the newest offerings along the Khwai riverfront, looking across to the Moremi Game Reserve. The camp lies to the east of the concession, on the site of the old Machaba Camp: a tranquil, open spot along the river, backed by a sparse forest of sycamore figs, and with plenty of wildlife. Botswana owned and run, it is spacious yet traditional in feel, and very comfortable.
The main area at Machaba has a classic safari camp feel. A spacious, two-winged tented structure, it has high ceilings and open sides to maximise the views across the Khwai River and into Moremi Game Reserve. The polished concrete floors are dotted with Persian rugs and it’s beautifully decorated in tones of grey, blue and beige.
As you enter, the left ‘wing’ houses a large and comfortable lounge with a couple of intimate seating areas, detailed maps of the local region on the walls, and plenty of tables and bookshelves; we were very impressed by the range of books and magazines on local geography, geology, flora and fauna. Guests are welcome to help themselves from the drinks cabinet and fridge, although there's usually someone around to help.
The opposite wing is reserved for meals, with individual tables draped in white tablecloths for breakfast and lunch, and one longer table for communal dining in the evening. Meals are laid out on another long wooden table with beautifully carved legs, and you can help yourself throughout the day to tea and coffee.
Accommodation at Machaba re-defines the meaning of the word 'tent', with en-suite, spacious and very sturdy structures classically decorated to a very high standard. These ten tents are all set back a little from the water's edge. Each has polished concrete floors beneath a canvas roof, covered by a taut flysheet and supported by a timber frame. Inside, wall-to-wall mats topped by rugs add warmth and a softer feel under foot. Eight of the tents are standard, while the remaining two, designed for families, feature two linked tents with a shared bathroom at the rear.
From the veranda at the front of each tent, zipped canvas doors open to reveal a double or twin beds, a large teak writing desk complete with brass light fixtures, and a free-standing fan. A couple of comfortable chairs invite relaxation during the heat of the afternoons, or you can seek refuge on the concrete veranda where a pair of camping chairs face the river. There's even a masseuse's bed out there, with massages available by arrangement throughout your stay.
At the back of each tent, the en-suite bathroom comes with indoor and outdoor showers, his and hers washbasins beneath large hanging mirrors, and a flushing toilet in a separate 'cubicle'. Complimentary toiletries are provided, and a shelving unit houses a washing basket, a small safe for valuables and both room and body sprays to keep the bugs away.
At the very east of the camp, past tent number one, is a particularly attractive circular swimming pool near the river, where chairs and loungers are spread out on a wooden deck. Honeymoon couples or those celebrating a special occasion can arrange for a private dinner here – though for safety reasons, due to the distance from the main area, a guide will stay nearby throughout the meal.
Machaba is situated in the Khwai Community Concession, which is shared by a number of camps and caters to self drivers, so it tends to be a little busier than some of the private concessions in Botswana. However it does have the same advantages as the private concessions, including walking and night drives, and your guide is allowed to drive off road to get a closer look at animals. The wildlife in the Khwai region is fantastic, with thriving lion, leopard and wild dog populations, and with Machaba's proximity to the game-rich Moremi Game Reserve, it's possible for guests here to explore both.
We have stayed at Machaba three times since it opened and each time have been really impressed by the guiding; the guides here really know their stuff and clearly enjoy their job. Activities revolve largely around 4WD game drives, although – subject to certain conditions – both mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe) excursions and walks can be arranged when a suitably qualified guide is in camp. Mokoro trips, of course, depend on suitable water levels and walking can take place only when the grass is short enough to make it safe.
The Khwai Reserve offers good game year round, even in Botswana's quieter 'shoulder' season. During our last stay in November 2015 we had some brilliant sightings of wild dog, lion, zebra, giraffe and plenty of new impala babies that had been born at the start of the summer rain. We just missed seeing a leopard with her cub, too!
Unlike many camps in the Okavango, Machaba is keen to continue activities after dinner. On a previous visit we had been tracking leopard earlier in the day and we were really impressed with the camp's attitude and willingness to get back out there and try for more sightings after dinner. Although we were unsuccessful on that score, we did see two smaller felines: African wildcat and genet.
In addition to being very comfortable and well-run, Machaba is an excellent example of the new generation of sustainable safari operators springing up in the Okavango Delta. The managers are more than happy to take interested guests on a back-of-house tour, which we found really interesting, to show how the camp is designed to limit any negative impact on the environment. This includes a sophisticated system of solar panels, and low-energy appliances (including fridge-freezers that require little more energy than a couple of light bulbs), both of which keep the need for the generator to a minimum. In addition, organic waste is neutralised before returning it into the environment in a harmless form, while all non-organic waste is taken to Maun for recycling.
Our viewSince our first visited to Machaba in 2013 we have been thoroughly impressed with what we found. A combination of excellent, hands-on management, very good guiding, a secluded location and fantastic game viewing all combine to make this superb value. Although the Khwai area can sometimes feel busy by the standards of Botswana's private concessions, Machaba is located in a relatively quiet region, and offers game drives in both the Khwai Community Concession and the Moremi Game Reserve opposite.
Ideal length of stay: A stay of three nights would be ideal at Machaba Camp.
Directions: It's roughly 30 minutes by light aircraft from Maun to Khwai airstrip, followed by a 20-minute game drive to camp.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our most recent visit to Machaba, in November 2015, the food was fabulous. With advance notice, the camp can cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements. They can also prepare special meals for children on request.
Before heading out on the morning activities, there's a light breakfast of cereal, porridge prepared on the campfire, yoghurt, muffins and fresh fruit.
Brunch is served after returning from the morning activity. We enjoyed a choice of chicken curry (a few too many bones but incredibly tasty), a pasta salad, vegetable ratatouille, coleslaw, green salad and freshly baked bread. A full English breakfast with eggs to order was also offered.
Afternoon tea, just before the start of the afternoon activity, included an enormous vegetable quiche, chocolate cake and jam scones with piped cream. All delicious! There was a very tasty ginger drink, homemade lemonade and iced tea and coffee.
Dinner is served after the afternoon activity. During our stay we were lucky to enjoy a bush dinner, with white table clothes and silver cutlery, under the stars. We had creamy vegetable soup and fresh bread to start, followed by a barbecue of chicken sosaties, kudu seswaa (the local name for shredded meat) and farmers’ sausage accompanied by mini sweetcorn, broccoli and pap (a local maize mash). For pudding we had a very yummy apple pie and custard.
Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All beverages stocked in camp are included (bottled water, soft drinks, local beers, spirits and a limited selection of generally South African wines). Champagne and premium or imported wines and spirits cost extra and must be requested in advance.
Family holidays: Machaba has two very spacious family tents and is a good option for a family safari in Botswana with older children who are enthusiastic about wildlife.See more ideas for Family holidays in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Machaba Camp. However families with children younger then six years must book a private vehicle at additional cost.
Equipment: There are two very spacious family rooms at Machaba and the camp is very welcoming of families.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Machaba for more mature children, who are genuinely interested in wildlife.
Notes: Machaba is unfenced, and dangerous wildlife, including lion and leopard, can wander through the camp at any time. There is no fence around the pool. Children must be supervised by an adult at all times.
Communications: There is no direct phone or fax from Machaba, but WiFi is now available from a little hotspot with a table and benches at the back of camp. Communication is maintained with head office in Maun via radio, but there is also a telephone at the wildlife gate in Khwai Village. Some guests may pick up cellphone reception, as Khwai Village is close by, but this is not always possible.
TV & radio: There is no television or radio at Machaba.
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: All the tented chalets have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers, and flushing toilets. Guests are usually given a water bottle on arrival, 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 drinking water that is replenished daily. We don’t recommend that travellers drink from the tap.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Maun. Management and guides are first aid trained and medical evacuation is available in case of emergencies.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to their tents after dark as dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. 'Fog horns' are provided in the tents to summon help in case of emergency.
Fire safety: Each tent has a fire extinguisher.
Disabled access: On Request
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 at Machaba. There is a small safe in each tent.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted (with a surcharge); Diners and Amex are not. Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted.