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I will try to put into words how amazing our experience here was, but it will be hard. From our beautiful singing welcome to our rooms to just everything there, we had such an incredible time at Khwai River Lodge. We were picked up at the airstrip by our wonderful guide, Watch, who immediately made sure we had a good flight and we’re ready to see some amazing animals. We were then welcomed by the beautiful warm singing and more delicious welcome drinks. We were then greeted by the manager, who debriefed us on the property and our rooms weren’t ready so we had a delicious lunch and enjoyed the property. Our rooms were nothing short of beautiful and had every amenity you could need to be comfortable. There was air conditioning as well as heat when it got chilly at night to ensure being as comfortable as possible. Our guide, Watch, has been a guide for over 15 years and had so much knowledge of the animals and the area. He was always asking if there was anything we wanted to see and making sure we were engaged and excited. On all the game drives they had a beautiful drink and snack set up as well as blankets if it got cold. It was so comfortable and just a fun experience. Aside from the incredible food and lodge, we saw such amazing animals and were just lucky to be there. The wifi only worked in the main reception area but you’re too busy to be on wifi so it was not an issue for us whatsoever ever.
Amazing staff, delicious food, VIP treatment
One of my long-time girlfriends treated me to a trip-of-a-lifetime – a safari trip to Zambia and Botswana. She booked the trip in July 2021 as the Covid Pandemic continued. We were determined that we could make the trip in April 2022, that governments and travel would open up, and we succeeded! We were two of the first international travelers into several camps, and our trip exceeded our expectations. We spent three days each in four different safari camps. This review is of the Khwai River Lodge. We flew from another camp via Cessna and were picked up by our guide LG who took us into the camp. The aerial views of the vastness of Botswana were amazing and beautiful during our flight. This time of year (April; between wet season and dry season), the landscape was still very green. We arrived at Khwai River Lodge, located in the Khwai River floodplains near the Moremi Game Reserve, to a warm welcome by the staff singing their local songs. We enjoyed cocktails and snacks, a briefing of the camp policies, schedules, etc., and a tour of the property. Our luggage was taken to our cabin, while we relaxed with a cocktail. The openness of the property and the location near the water was beautiful. Lots of mongoose were scampering around. As part of our orientation, we were told to grab our morning coffee and tea and biscuits that would be delivered to our cabin quickly before the monkeys got it! They know the routine. A typical schedule at this camp: You wake up at 5:30am, and enjoy a full breakfast at 6am. You go out on safari from 6:30am until 11:30am, then back around noon for lunch at the camp. After lunch you can relax, swim, go to the spa, shop, etc. during the heat of the day. High tea was served at 4pm – and included more food and drinks, before you head out for the afternoon/sunset safari. Around 7pm, you head back to camp for dinner. Over the course of the three days, the staff at Khwai River Lodge were very friendly, helpful, courteous, professional, and knowledgeable. Some of those who assisted us most during our stay were Oriel, Baker, Grace, Tebby, Catherine, Tower, Ma Brenda, Miseck, Ketsabe, and Rachel – and of course our fabulous guide LG. We enjoyed delicious fresh and local food each day – including local fish and meats, vegetables, fruits, pastries, etc. – and we had plenty to eat throughout the day (full breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner). In fact, we had to ask for smaller portions so we wouldn’t waste any food. Due to Covid, there weren’t many other guests while we were there. Our Hemingway-style tent cabin was spacious, clean, secure, with all of the amenities you need. An elevated walkway to the cabins from the central area allows you to stay safe from any animals below. And the guides drop you off and pick you up from your cabin in the mornings and evenings to keep you safe while it’s still dark outside. The cabins and property were nice but a bit dated; the owners are planning a complete renovation in the coming years. But they make up for this with VIP treatment of the guests. The beds were super comfortable (we had twin beds), and had mosquito netting surrounding them. The shower pressure in the shower was great with very hot water. The bathroom had twin sinks which is very nice, and a separate room for the potty with separate door. Our cabin had air conditioning, which was needed in April. There was an outlet on the floor near a desk where I could plug in my converter/adapter to charge our phones and other items nightly. No available outlets near the beds that I could see. Our cabin also had a porch on the front with a hammock to swing and admire the beauty. Amenities included daily laundry service, water bottles as gifts, insect repellent, shampoo/soap, slippers & bathrobes, a package of sanitizer/wipes/masks, a small room safe, a hair dryer, and all the liquor/soft drinks/water/snacks you could possibly need. The WiFi was strong and was available in the cabins and central area. The staff was very safety conscious; many wore face masks, and sanitizer was found throughout the property. On our first afternoon, we headed out into the Khwai Private Concession for safari. The water was still high from recent rains, but our Jeep didn’t have any problem going through it. We saw many birds including the Woodland King Fisher, Yellow Billed storks, Fish Eagles, and African Parrot. We saw a very large pride of lions with a mating pair, and a large parade of elephants crossed the road in front of us. The next morning we were up early for breakfast, then out on safari. Our guide LG educated us on the various animal tracks and habits, and Acacia trees. She is so incredibly knowledgeable about the area. We saw more lions napping in the shade. On our way driving back towards the camp for lunch, we spotted a lovely dining setup in the woods. We thought how lucky these guests must be – until we realized this was a surprise luncheon for us! We enjoyed a full lunch with white tablecloth seating and service, and cocktails nestled in the woods. We returned to the camp for afternoon siesta and a nap, before another tea at 4pm with more delicious food and drink. Our afternoon safari found the pair of mating lions, and some hippos. We returned to camp for cocktails and a delicious salmon and tomato bisque dinner by the river. The next morning, we started out tracking lions by their tracks but couldn’t find them. We saw warthogs, more elephants, and new birds (coppery tailed kuku). We continued on towards the road to Maun to find giraffes, zebra, and a large breeding herd of elephants playing in the river. What a joy it was to watch them splashing around. On our way back, we saw giraffes munching on a bluebush tree. We enjoyed our lunch, then went to the spa to have Rachel for hand and foot massages. She was amazing. That afternoon, we had another 30-minute helicopter flight, which was great. We flew with the eagles, saw giraffe, hippos, crocs, red lechwe, water bucks, and more. I HIGHLY recommend you splurge for this adventure. That evening we were treated to a surprise dinner in the “Hide” (their “treehouse” structure), with special linens, personal service and the best meal ever! After dinner, we enjoyed cocktails and wine by the fire while listening to the river frogs (which sound like bamboo chimes). Beautiful ending to the day. Note that there were more Jeeps (and people) in this area then we had seen in the other camps, due to more camps and the population being built up in the area. The Jeeps are very comfortable with elevated seating for the best viewing, open sides for fresh air, and canvas tops to keep the sun off you. The nightly “sundowner” (cocktail hours) on the reserve were a real treat. The front of the Jeep folds down as a tray for cocktails and sweets. The Botswana sunsets are truly amazing!! At home in the States, we enjoy beautiful sunsets that may last 15-20 minutes. In Botswana, we enjoyed the most spectacular sunsets that lasted an hour or more. And the colors kept getting better and better. We highly recommend a stay at Khwai River Lodge if you wish to be treated like a VIP. I gave the property 4 stars instead of 5 due to the lower animal sightings.
Comfortable Safari camp
The camp is lovely. The staff was absolutely fabulous. And the food was fresh and delicious. Our tent was very nice, with a deck. We could watch the resident elephants in the wetlands outside out tent. The public areas are starting to show their age, but were still very comfortable and welcoming. We were there at the end of the wet season, not the best time for animal viewing, but our guide managed to find wonderful animals for us to watch. I would definitely stay here again, but I would visit during the dry season!
After two dreadful years of this Covid pandemic we were desperate to get back to beautiful Botswana and once again Khwai River Lodge did not disappoint us. Everything was just perfect! Kaye and Kan organised the full camp just for the two of us, mind you, I think we had the whole of Botswana just for the two of us as the Omicron variant was still causing chaos in most parts of the world. Our excellent guide, Beshin soon helped us forget all our worries with fabulous game and bird viewing including two wild dogs trotting down the road in front of our vehicle one evening. Thank you everyone for a fabulous time in your beautiful camp. As usual everything was blissfully top notch in the usual Belmond style.
Safari at your doorstep
Wonderful location directly by Khwai river, all tents and decks overlooking riverside and wildlife galore. Wake up call by grunting hippos birds and monkeys. The airstrip is only 4 min drive from the camp, I was wecomed by Keya and the entire team and shown around. There is a good size pool with hippo view, a spa and large terrace/lounge area. The tents have A/C although I question its location directly above the bed. The tent was equipped with all anenities but can improve in lighting and location of electrical sockets. I loved my veranda with wicker furniture, the whole place feels a bit colonial and sets you into a past area of travel. Food was good especially lunch and dinner, breskfast basic and adequate for early game drives. Daily sundowners en route, by the river or in the game reserved. This was the richest area I visited for animals, we saw lions galore and all other wildlife in action in both the private reserve and Moremi reserve, the river is the attraction and a lot of animals can be observed from the camp. I can highly recommend this luxury camp for adventure seeking safari travellers!
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