Camp Reviews: Moremi Game Reserve At The Okavango Delta, Botswana

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Africa, Review, Safaris in Botswana, Story

The Okavango Delta, one of the most incredible wilderness sanctuaries in Africa, is 15,000 square km. of water channels, lagoons and islands. Each year, floodwaters flow from the central African highlands over 1 000 km away into the Delta to create this wondrous wetland within a desert. It is home to large numbers of wildlife from common mammals and birdlife to those that are not often seen elsewhere, such as sitatunga, wild dog, and wattled crane.

Moremi Game Reserve

Moremi’s finest area is probably Chief’s Island, where you’ll find several of Botswana’s top safari camps. However, there are several prime areas on the edge of the Mopane Tongue, where the land meets the Okavango’s permanent waters, which can also be reached with a mobile safari, including the Khwai River (or North Gate) area, Xakanaxa Lagoon and Third Bridge.

Camp Moremi

Camp Moremi is a four-star camp managed by Desert & Delta Safaris. It has 12 comfortable, Meru-style tents each with  twin beds, solid furniture and en-suite facilities. There’s a small plunge pool, a viewing deck and a raised lounge/dining area. It has a great location overlooking Xakanaxa Lagoon and also it offers game drives and boat trips.

Tented-accommodation-in-the-forestThis camp is very well maintained, even though it is one of the oldest in the delta. The camp is right on the Xakanaxa lagoon inside the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. The layout of the camp and its gardens made it feel expansive and pleasant to roam and explore around in.

The tents felt “spartan” compared to classic WS camps that I have promoted but comfortable. We appreciated the fact that despite having all the essential furniture conveniently laid out in our simple room, we still felt like we were camping out as only the thin canvass walls separated us from the wildlife, ideal for those who like to enjoy a real camp out experience with comfort.

There was a proper door to lock out the baboons or squirrels from getting in (there are many around camp). The tent is also underneath a higher canvass roof that gives permanent shade to the tent, making the temperature inside pleasant all day, but there’s also a fan inside if it gets warm.

The bathroom is in a separate smaller tent. It’s on the same elevated platform, about two or three meters away. It is a bit of a hassle to access it in the middle of the night but, there is a flashlight and a 12volt DC lighting you can leave on the whole time when the generator is switched off for the evening. The bathroom itself is big. However, the tents are a bit too close to each other, so our neighbors could probably see us in the bathroom from their deck.

IMG_4852The food here was very good, and the dining room nicely decorated with exotic African interiors. The waiters & kitchen staff sing a welcome song every night before dinner, quite entertaining.

Our guide, Banda, was excellent. He was extremely knowledgeable, had great guiding skills, good sense of humor and talked just the right amount. I recommend you ask for him if you come here. His knowledge of Moremi’s roads became invaluable, as he took shortcuts and detours when mini-traffic jams formed at key sightings, which allowed us to have a good view of the animals in spite of the congestion. 

That is the main downside of this area: Moremi Game Reserve is accessible by road from Maun, so there are many private cars in addition to the ones from the 3 camps here. Also, no nightdriving, no walking and no off-roading.

The upside is that this area is clearly the one with the large concentration of animals of the ones we visited, here you are almost constantly seeing something, good sightings are never too far apart. Also animals are very relaxed around vehicles so you can get close. We saw 4 lions fighting over territorial dispute, giraffes, baboons, a cheetah killing an impala, vultures, a herd of cape buffalos, zebras, many elephants, impala aka the Mc Donalds of Safari, hippos, crocs, kudu, etc in just a morning and afternoon game drive.

You can also do boat rides around the Xakanaxa lagoon and adjacent channels. In addition to great views of the channels and islands around the lagoon, we enjoyed the vibrant bird action. There was a lot of noise and activity with birds coming and going, bringing small branches for their nests.

Camp Xakanaxa

IMG_4420This four-star camp accommodates 24 guests in 12 Meru Style Tents with en-suite bathrooms. All tents have private viewing decks with comfortable lounges overlooking the fringe of the lagoon.

The stylish main areas extend over the Khwai River and are set on raised platforms to maximize the views overlooking the lagoons and surrounding islands.   Located in the common reception area are the lounge, dining rooms, a small library and a self-serve bar where you can just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere in. There is also an accessible small plunge pool and sala with day bed to sulk in the views during siesta time.

From the outside, the tent, similar to its sister camp Moremi, looked smaller. But realizing it was because the en-suite bathroom was directly behind the bed frame made the layout smarter and more convenient. The bathroom is also decorated with a more consistent African Motif vs. camp moremi’s basic bathroom with tiles in the shower area.

Walking around the campgrounds though felt like the life here was busier, maybe because the camp had many pocket gardens in between the rooms and the main area was situated close to everyone.

Camp Okuti

IMG_4439Okuti camp lies alongside the Maunachira River which flows through Xakanaxa Lagoon within the Moremi Game Reserve. It comprises of five twin-bedded mosasa (ancient tribal word for house of reeds), each with en-suite bathrooms.  In addition, there is honeymoon unit which features a double bed, bathtub, indoor and outdoor shower. The two family units consisting of two bedrooms which share spacious bathroom facilities – ideal for families in this more child-friendly camp.

Arriving at Okuti, you enter along a raised wooden walkway which extends to link all of the chalets to the main area, a useful safety feature given the high game densities in this location. The main reception, lounge and dining area sit under the rounded beehive-style thatched roofs of five huge rondavels.

Inside, these are furnished in contemporary style, with smooth wooden floors, comfortable woven seating and various ethnic carvings. The lounge stretches to one side of Camp Okuti’s entrance rondavel, with adobe walls under a high, tunnel-like roof, and plenty of chairs and tables. On the deck in front of the camp is a fireplace where a viewing scope is on hand to scan the wetland for game. It’s a popular spot for pre- and post-dinner drinks, too, and a good spot for stargazing if the night sky is clear.

IMG_4448

Okuti Camp’s seven chalets are certainly “out of this world”. They actually remind me of caterpillars, as they are brown tunnels of semi-circular cross-section, covered in plastic. They aren’t attractive from the outside but inside they feel spacious and quite lovely, with walls lined with a natural reed covering. It was a big risk taken by the owners to agree to this design, but we give it a thumbs-up for innovation.

Inside Okuti’s chalets are similar in style to the main areas, with smooth wooden floors, and a superb view of the lagoon from the private balcony at the end of your own personal ‘tunnel’. Five of chalets have either twin beds, or a large double; two others – each with two bedrooms sharing a bathroom – are ideal for families.

Low, matt-white walls separate the bedroom from the en-suite bathroom, which has a shower and washbasin, and a flush toilet in a separate cubicle. There is also an outdoor shower connected to the side of each chalet.

Indeed, Okuti promotes itself as a child-friendly lodge, though families with very young children should note that this area has particularly dense concentrations of dangerous big game. The camp also offers morning and afternoon game drives as well as boat trips around the area.

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