Okavango Delta Educational

Organisers:       Ker & Downey

Attended by:     Iris Himmel, SW Africa Business Solutions

Camp Kakana

Accommodation: Camp Kanana 

Location:  On the Xudum River, Kanana is located in the southwest of the Okavango Delta. The area encompasses a necklace of islands dotted with palms, figs, ebony and knobthorn, and is home to a myriad of birds, plants and animals. The nature of the habitat means it is the perfect place to experience the diversity of species found within the Okavango Delta.

Capacity: Guests are accommodated in eight spacious, twin-bedded safari tents, each with en-suite bathrooms with shower, hot and cold running water and flush toilet. The tents are well spaced, affording privacy whilst remaining within comfortable distance from the main camp area.

  • A 9th tented family chalet has just been added. I personally stayed in this brand new unit, which consists of main tent/bathroom with a separate bedroom only with 2 x single beds in there i.e. the unit is ideal for a Family with 2 children or 4 adults, who do not mind sharing a bathroom or staff accommodation if you have a small incentive travelling with 2 staff. The large deck area has stunning views over the Delta. The Delta is furthest from the main public area.

Key facts:

  • Kanana is in a private concession offering both land and water activities
  • Awarded five star status by Botswana Tourism Board
  • Game drives
  • Night Drives with spot light
  • Explore the delta by motor boat
  • Glass-bottomed Mokoro’s (canoes) enable you to view the underwater world of the delta
  • Explore the delta on foot accompanied by expertly trained and armed guides
  • Fishing (March through to December and basic equipment supplied)
  • Spend more time in the bush with half and full day safari adventures with picnic lunches.
  • Swimming Pool
  • Sleep out under the stars
  • Exclusive motorboat access to Southern Africa’s largest heronries
  • Excellent area for birding with regular sightings of Pel’s Fishing Owl
  • Please note: The glass bottomed Mokoro’s are actually no better than any other Mokoro. The ‘perspecs’ glass is so scratched from stepping on it, that one can’t really see well and also, Makoro trails are done mainly in rather shallow water, so really, you either see sand only or deep brown depths of water below you when drifting over deeper spots.
  • Having said all this about the glass bottom Mokoros, a Mokoro trip is a ‘must do’ for anyone visiting the Delta, it is very, very special.
  • The sleep-out deck is really nice but really open e. one can only do this ‘activity’ if the weather is good – there is NO ROOF –it is truly ‘Under the African Skies’ – it is a small distance away from the main camp but guests are not left alone of course, there will be a tent pitched close by for the accompanying ranger, who will also guard all night – ablution facilities right under the deck and reachable by staircase, protected with a little gate, so one can get there without having to stumble through the bush and meeting ‘cuddlies’ underway. Guests are taken to the sleep-out after dinner. They can then still enjoy sitting by a camp-fire enjoying a red wine or what-ever before tucking in. In the morning, the ranger will wake the guests and they will be able to enjoy some tea or coffee at the fire before being taken back to the lodge.

Personal impressions: From a personal point of view, I enjoyed this camp most, as it has so many options on what to do. I think in a camp such as this, the focus should be on exploring the Delta, getting a real feel of the Okavango! Boating (incl Mokoro) and also exploring the islands on foot, should be the main focus and game drives secondary. Think this is how camp management sees it as well. Hence the Mokoro Trails offered from here. The main public areas are really nice, traditional, under thatch (my personal preference) and gives a real “out of Africa” feel.

The food was good and they cater for all special diets except religious diets. Milk and Gluten allergies were cared for and vegetarians enjoy outstanding chick pea stews, etc, so all balanced and good.

There is also a staff choir, which I personally eventually, 30 minutes later, could have drowned in the Delta! Far too long, too boring, too much dust with the stamping of the feet. 15 minutes would have been more than enough and a wider variety of songs would have been appreciated.

The water activities we experienced in this camp were outstanding! And the lion sighting whilst on a game drive was simply awesome!!

Camp Okuti

Accommodation: Camp Okuti 

Location:

This camp lies alongside the Maunachira River which flows through the Xakanaxa Lagoon within the world renowned Moremi Game Reserve.  Okuti is built amidst the wilderness of one of Botswana’s prime game viewing regions. Due to its location, it also reachable by car (4×4 is a ‘must’ in this region) i.e. also suitable for self-drive travellers.

It is the location of this camp, which I find, may be a challenge to selling this camp. When visitors book the Okavango Delta they expect remoteness, no sign of civilization, no cars, exclusivity. Okuti, lie’s right next to the Moremi public camping site to the one side and a few other private camps to the other side. The other camps and lodges are fine you only really see them tucked in among the trees from the water. When water levels are high in the area, however, the actual access road to the camp cannot be used and one subsequently has to drive past the public boat hire site, the camping site, the Okuti Staff Village and into camp. It almost gives the feeling of entering the camp through the ‘servant’s entrance’. Having said this, we made Ker & Downey staff aware of our concerns and they did mention, that camp management was looking into building a little wooden bridge structure at crucial spots on the main access road to Okuti, in order to avoid having to drive through the public area.

Capacity:

Okuti comprises of five twin-bedded mosasa (ancient tribal word for house of reeds), each with en-suite bathrooms, indoor and outdoor shower, hot and cold running water and flush toilet. The honeymoon unit features a double bed, bathtub, indoor and outdoor shower. An additional two family units consist of two bedrooms which share spacious bathroom facilities – ideal for families. This is a child-friendly camp.

Okuti’s spacious curved mosasas are located on raised teak decks with Delta river views.

Key facts:

  • Excellent game viewing in the world famous Moremi Game Reserve
  • Awarded five star status by Botswana Tourism Board
  • Ideal for families with two family units – Okuti accepts children from 7-years-old all year round (younger children may be accepted in low season on request)
  • Game Drives
  • Explore the delta by motor boat
  • Seasonal motorboat access to the Gadikwe Heronry
  • Self drive clients (4WD only) are welcome. Self drive is a real adventure as well as an alternative to flying
  • Swimming Pool

Personal impression:

The accommodation at Camp Okuti is far superior to any other camp I have seen in the Delta but then the modern style with a strong Indonesian style influence may not be what people expect when people travel to the Delta – is a matter of taste but stunning indeed and certainly may set new accommodation standards. The masasa’s are original and absolutely lovely!

Food has always been a challenge at Camp Okuti, through the many, many years, that this camp has been around. Although the food was ok and nobody seemed to complain, by comparison to Kanana and Shinde, this camp certainly had challenges cooking/baking gluten free, for example.

The camp also boasts a very good and enthusiastic choir to entertain guests at night! Outstanding voices, good selection of songs, short and brief and to the point and NO DUST! I believe that guests can always ask for more if they enjoy staff entertainment.

Game viewing this time in the Moremi was not too good but then, nature cannot be told when to be there and where. I have been to the Moremi many, many times and always had a very good experience. I did feel, that the boats on the river though were a bit much, due to the camping site people also having access to guided boat tours (no ‘self-drive’ on the river 🙂).  Please note: NO MOKORO activities at Okuti, as the water here is too deep to conduct this activity safely for guests.

Please note: The airstrip is situated just outside the park entrance gates, so access also to game drive areas on the concession of the airfield, will always be through the main park entrance gate, as the Moremi is a public park, and therefore, operating similar to Kruger. I have to say, that the access procedure is absolutely ‘painless’ and pre-arranged by Okuti camp management!

 Camp Shinde

Accommodation: Camp Shinde & Shinde Enclave

Location:

This camp/lodge is found on a lush palm island in the heart of the northern Okavango Delta, Shinde is an intimate, classic camp located on the edge of Shinde Lagoon, which simply teems with animal and birdlife. I can confirm the birdlife being the dream of any birder!! Bearing in mind, that the Okavango Delta is one for the top birding locations in the world!!

Shinde Enclave is an exclusive ‘camp within a camp’, offering the ultimate in personal service and an indelible wilderness experience. With a private dining and lounge area, it is the perfect retreat after a day’s activities. This intimate hideaway also offers guests the services of a private chef, waiter and housekeeper as well as their own professional guide and game drive vehicle.  Shinde Enclave is ideal for families, VIP’s who appreciate total privacy and of course it also provides additional accommodation, which makes it ideal for small groups and could also act as staff accommodation in the case of a small exclusive incentive with high staff requirements.

Capacity:

Shinde comprises eight twin-bedded classic safari tents, each with en-suite bathrooms, hot and cold running water and flush toilet.

Shinde Enclave has three luxurious tents built on raised teak decks and overlooking windswept papyrus beds and accommodates accommodates a maximum of 6 guests. Each classic safari tent features an en-suite bathroom, hot and cold running water and flush toilet – with a view!

Key facts:

  • Shinde is in a private concession offering both land and water activities
  • Awarded five star status by Botswana Tourism Board
  • Game drives
  • Night Drives with spot light
  • Explore the delta by motor boat
  • Explore the delta on foot accompanied by expertly trained and armed guides
  • Fishing (March through to December basic equipment supplied)
  • Spend more time in the bush with half and full day safari adventures with picnic lunches
  • Swimming Pool

Personal impressions:

The camps unique main area comprises a multi-tiered dining room and lounge, which is set under canvas under the shade of ebony and mangosteen trees. This makes Shinde & Shinde Enclave ideal for a small incentive, for example – a different venue for a different function every day!

We spoke to guests who had been at Shinde for 4 nights and felt it too long. I think the biggest challenge for them was, that the water levels were quite high due to the rain and this does reduce the game drive area. After all, Shinde is an island in the Delta. But for anyone wanting to spend a few nights in the Delta, it is simply a ‘no-no’ to put guests in one camp for longer than 2 nights. Don’t forget to always try and combine a more water based camp, such as Kanana with a more land-based camp such as Okuti, for example. In the event of a small group, which cannot be moved around the Delta just like that due to capacity challenges, I would recommend not more than 3 nights.

Mode of transport

All Ker & Downey Camps are within a 10 – 15 minute light aircraft flight of each other. The camps are a 20 – 30 minute flight from Maun, where the regional flight would be landing.

The light aircraft flights are punctual and a super efficient way to get from point A to point B. The aircraft are clean, in good condition and the pilots are friendly, helpful and well qualified.

The regional flights were all delayed on arrival and departure!! The flights from Johannesburg and from Cape Town were delayed to Maun. Equally, on our return, a few days later, again, both flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town were delayed into Maun and therefore, our departure back to SA was also delayed. This would indicate to me, that delays seem to be more the rule than an exception. Spoke to Jason Wermueller of SA Airlink now at Indaba and he could not really give a satisfactory response and will look into this.

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About SW Africa Destination Management

SW Africa is a tour-operator and Destination Management Company for Southern and Eastern Africa, based in Johannesburg since 1997. No matter what the brief is from you or your client, our professional consultants will tailor something unique to suit your needs. At SW Africa our mission is to provide every client with prompt, accurate, creative and relevant travel advice in a personalised and unique manner. In so doing, we strive to ensure that our clients return home having had the ultimate, unforgettable journey in spectacular surroundings, and all this at a price that they felt comfortable with. If you are looking for a local expert for Southern Africa and Eastern Africa, who provides a personalised and flexible service, we dare claim that SW Africa is the perfect choice! Equipping us in our efforts, we are able to draw on many years of experience in the travel industry, longstanding relationships with all suppliers, extensive destination knowledge and a burning passion for Africa, its people, animals and landscapes. SW Africa is a proud member of Travel Smart Crew, IAGTO, SAGTA, and SITE, as well as an affiliate of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa. SW Africa are proud donors to the Love Trust Foundation and invite you to become a donor too! www.lovetrust.co.za.
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