Starting out at the Kalahari Plains Camp, which is located in Central Kalahari Game Reserve, a 5 million hectare reserve which is the largest conservation area in the country and one of the largest in the world. This is mostly dry open plains with a little bit of woodland, but noticeably no major water source. The quickest access is from Maun and it’s about a 35 minute flight followed by half hour transfer from the airstrip. The rooms are 10 tented suites, with wooden frames and a deck area. There is also an outdoor sleep out area on the roof, which is highly recommended. The decor is quite simple and functional, with really comfortable beds with mozzie nets and Egyptian cotton sheets. You have access to power in your room to charge equipment and also a safe. The ensuite has permanent water for showers and sinks, but it is salt water, so not advisable to drink it! The view is out across an immense Plain with abundant wildlife roaming across. There is also a family room with 2 rooms each with their separate ensuite.
The resort has an open sided lounge area and dining area with great views across the Pan. There’s also a viewing deck on the roof with offers panoramic views. There’s a small pool area with loungers for chilling during the day. The boma area is in front of the main lodge and they have a traditional dinner with entertainment every Monday. The best time to visit is during the summer months (November to April). This is when the rain has really brought the desert to life and the vegetation is really lush and green. Short grasses sprout in the pan systems and riverbeds, attracting a huge amount of game. It’s also worth visiting in the winter (May to October), but the green areas dry up and it becomes a dry desert-type system, however there is still plenty of game around.
Activities include twice daily game drives in open side Land Rovers. Full-day excursions can be requested to visit Deception Valley, which is highly recommended. As the camp is within a National Park there are restrictions on off-road driving and also night drives though. Typical wildlife on offer is Oryx, springbok, wildebeest, the Kalahari black-maned
lion, cheetah, jackal, meerkat, Cape fox, honey badger, brown hyena and leopard. There is also a prolific amount of birdlife, so a great area for birding! They also offer a guided wildlife walk in the morning as it is cooler. They are done within a 3km radius of camp incorporating two large pans, the dune scarp and the plains. Didn’t actually do this, but it’s meant to be a great experience. The “Bushman Walk” is great and one of the camp staff dresses in the traditional outfit of the Bushman people, which is basically a leather thong! You then take a short walk in the immediate camp area and he shows you how they would survive in the bush by catching scorpions, lighting a fire traditionally and pointing out edible plants that they
would use. I would definitely try and include it in an itinerary as it’s very different from the other areas.
Next was Savuti Classic Camp, located in the Linyanti Concession (125 000-hectares) on the Savute Channel. The terrain here is a mixture of small plains areas, quiet dense woodland and the two major water sources of the Linyanti River and Savuti Channel. Easy access from either Maun or Kasane, depending where you are coming in from. It’s about a 40 minute flight from either one followed by half hour transfer from the airstrip.
The rooms are 7 Tented Suites also with wooden frames and also a deck area. Being a step up the rooms are a bit larger and the bathroom area and ensuite much bigger. There’s a really
big walk-in shower. Again, the décor is quite simple, but you have a bit more a nice thatched roof which is a nice feature inside. The same really comfortable beds with Mozzie nets and Egyptian cotton sheets, so very comfortable. You have access to power in your room to charge equipment and also a safe. The ensuite here is actually freshwater and is also safe to drink, although it’s not advised just in case. The view from the room is out across the Savute channel which has water in it for the first time since 2008. Hippo are often found in there during the day and Elephant quite often come down to drink, especially at night.
The lounge area and dining area have great views across the Savute, as does the small pool area. The boma area is also in front of the channel and a great spot for pre and post dinner drinks. Food is normally served buffet style for most meals with a choice to two main courses. The best time to visit is pretty much all year round as there is normally always water. The Linyanti may recede a bit and possibly the Savute will dry up, but it’s hard for them to gauge at the moment as they haven’t had water in there for so long. Similar to the Kalahari though
the summer months (November to April) is when the rain has really greened everything up and the bush is a bit thicker. During the winter (May to October), it may dry up a bit,
however there is still plenty of game around.
Activities include twice daily game drives in open side Land Rovers. As the camp is in a concession and not a National Park there are no restrictions on off-road driving and you are also able to go out and do night drives, which is definitely a must. Typical wildlife on offer here is wild dog, spotted hyena, roan, wildebeest, lion, cheetah, elephant, hippo, zebra, red lechwe, impala, common waterbuck, sable, eland, southern giraffe, baboon, vervet monkey, warthog, Cape buffalo and leopard. There is also a prolific amount of birdlife, so a great
area for birding too! They also have a couple of elevated hides that you can view from overlooking Savute Channel and one sunken hide at waterhole. They also use these for sleep-outs if guests are keen to experience this. Canoeing is also an option, but dependent on water levels… and the number of elephants and hippo around! Fishing is also an option with a limited supply of basic equipment and also seasonally – catch and release basis.
The location and the design of the rooms in this camp just really appealed to me. The area is also quite diverse so you can do a wide variety of activities over the course of a few days. The game viewing was probably even better and anywhere that you can see wild dog is a pretty special place. The staff here really made it and were extremely welcoming.
Come back next week for part 2! If you’re interested in either of these great camps, call 01494 678 400 or email [email protected] today.