10 January 2011
Botswana: Relaxing by the river
Kick back at Khwai River Lodge, where spectacular animals and birds are all around your private deck.
Khwai River Lodge gets you right in among the wildlife
Would you like to sit on your veranda, or lie on a lounger by the pool, and be able to watch elephants close up? Is the safari of your dreams simply to relax and let the animals come to you? Do you prefer to explore on foot with a trusty guide rather than setting forth aboard a game-drive vehicle?
Then Khwai River Lodge is the place to be.
Positioned beside the Okavango Delta, just eight kilometres from the north gate of the famous Moremi Wildlife Reserve, the camp is surrounded by plains land famous for its big mammals. These include the massive Cape buffalo, scarier than any lion when they're feeling grumpy, as well as the elusive leopard who prowls here more frequently than almost anywhere else in Africa.
Where Money is RainBotswana's national currency is the pula, which also means 'rain' and 'blessing' in the local Setswana language - a reflection of the region's dry climate.
Encircled by leadwood and fig trees, Khwai's 15 thatched-roof tents are set on decks with idyllic views over the Khwai River and its floodplain. Plunge into its big, heated swimming pool and you can float in the water while watching pods of hippo waggling their ears at each other as they enjoy a similarly languorous dip.
Being by the leafy banks of a river that is an exceptional magnet for wildlife during the dry season, with swampland nearby, Khwai is also a bird watcher's paradise. Several types of eagle gather here, not to mention other raptors, secretary birds and waders. Even guests inclined to look down their noses at 'twitchers' are invariably soon seen out on their deck gazing at the colourful creatures dipping and diving all around.
Khwai comes with a host of 'extras' beyond the regular safari experience. The camp's super-luxurious Maratons Suite has a double outdoor shower, Victorian copper bath and private heated plunge pool. Candle-lit dinners can be arranged on the outdoor terrace, so it's perfect for honeymooners. Those staying in this suite have a private guide and personal use of a game viewing vehicle.
All guests are able to enjoy the services of the resident beauty therapist offering relaxing massages and other treatments in the spa. One of Khwai's magic moments is to lie out in the open air, being gently pummeled with aromatic oils, as frogs call out to one another in voices resembling wind chimes from the reed beds all around.
By Wendy Gomersall, who writes on travel for a wide range of UK publications
What were your favourite safari activities at Khwai River Lodge?