We look forward to visiting again when the waters are high for a different Kwetsani experience.

Overall Impression It required a day of travel and three flights, the last one on a small bush plane, from Cape Town to reach Kwetsani Camp. We left the comfort of our waterfront hotel at 7 a.m and reached our new honeymoon suite at Kwetsani at 7 p.m. Although we were tired and hungry, we were also thrilled from a close viewing with a female leopard on our way from the airstrip to the Camp. Kwetsani could house up to 10 guests on its one kilometre site which was raised on stilts beneath a shady canopy overlooking the plains. It was one of several properties on the Jao Reserve, a 15-year 60,000 hectare concession with maximum guest occupancy of 48. The large elongated island was heavily wooded with palm mangosteen and fig trees and was one of the most remote camps in the expansive Okavango Delta. That night we enjoyed a fireside buffet dinner on the sandy boma enclosure. Prior to dinner, we watched with pleasure as local staff members sang and danced around the roaring fire with enthusiasm and laughter.

Days at Kwetsani were spent game viewing in the early morning and late afternoon. Time in between was spent at meals, chatting with fellow guests, sending off departing guests, reading or pool side. We did our best to remain away from the blistering 40 C (100 F) midday heat. During our stay we went for a half an hour mokoro ride on the river where we appreciated the pristine environment while watching birds, plants and flowers close up. Mekoros were dug out canoes used by the locals for hundreds of years as a means of transportation. The ones we were on were made of fiberglass to preserve the environment and steered by a poler. We enjoyed Kwetsani’s small size, quiet ambiance, welcoming staff, spacious tent with a bush plain view and magnificent bird watching. We look forward to visiting again when the waters are high for a different Kwetsani experience.

Class Of Accommodation Luxury tented camp

General Managers Kerrie Smith and Conrad Enslin, who had years of experience as guides in South Africa.

Handicapped Access It was possible for guests with limited mobility to stay at the camp although there was no wheelchair access.

Length Of Stay Two nights

Location Kwetsiani wasin the Jao private reserve to the west of Mombo and the Moremi Game Reserve. It was in the Ngamiland NG25 concession.

Managed Wilderness Safaris

Owned David and Cathy Kays, Ngamailand Adveture Safaris

Size There were five tent rooms on stilts, allowing the camp to accommodate up to 10 guests. There was also a pilot or tour leader tent. A staff of 24 (17 on duty permanently) manned the camp, which occupied one kilometer of land.

Year Opened Established in 1999 with the latest renovations (new honeymoon suite, curio shop and roof) taking place in 2005

Lobby And Common Areas The style was reminiscent of a tree house with classic safari elements and constructed integrating existing trees into the design. The lobby/lounge area was populated by South Africa leather couches and wood furniture hand made on the premises by a New Zealand carpenter. It had Southern Africa thatching. The design was made to have a minimum impact on the area and to able to remove without damage to the concession environment. Nature conservation was a top consideration in the design elements and construction features of the Camp. All refuse was transported out.

Bathroom There were en-suite facilities including a shower, separate flush toilet water closet, twin sinks and an outdoor shower. The door to the water closet had openings in the shape of carved animals.

Room Our 35 square meter honeymoon suite (room No. 6) had an en suite bathroom and a wonderful view of the plain bush. It was built on stilts under a thatched roof at the end of one of the walkways. Since it was completed shortly before our arrival, we were among the first guests to stay there. In front of the tent there was a 100 square foot open terrace facing the plains with an armchair and a small wood table allowing a guest to plain or stargaze. We took advantage of the outdoor shower, with a privacy wall to one side, on more than one occasion. We noticed attractive Seligna wood floors and glass doors, an unusual feature in a tented room and one we first encountered at Kwetsani. The rest of the room’s windows were covered with screens, allowing the light to pass through and permeate the tent with sunshine.

In the center of the suite there was a king bed with a night table and lamp on each side. Above the bed there was a wood frame from which a large mosquito net hung, tied during the day and open in the evening. Behind the bed, there was a long wood and metal headboard and table. In front of the bed and to each side there was a wicker chair with thick khaki striped cushions and a wood table. There was a coffee service on a side table. Two doorless built-on closets, one on each side of the sinks, provided storage space. The closet to left had hanging space and another closet on the right had shelves.

Food All drinks were included in the nightly tariff, with the exception of premium wines and champagne, and premium liqueurs and spirits. On our first night at Kwetsani there was a buffet dinner by the fire. In the early morning (around 5:30 a.m.), before the game drive, we had coffee and tea, yogurt, wheat porridge and a fruit bowl. Brunch was around 10:30 a.m. when we returned from the game drive. It consisted of a hot sautéed vegetable dish in a light cream sauce, cottage pie, garden, carrot salad, eggs made to order and cheese and fruit platter options. There was a buffet dinner that night with chicken cordon bleu, steamed vegetables, salads and cheeses to choose from. The staff served the calamari appetizer and cheesecake desserts individually. Other meals were similar in quantity and quality to these.

Amenities There were complimentary toiletries including soap, shampoo, insect repellent, body lotion, and sunscreen lotion. All local beverages and meals were included in the nightly rate.

Facilities The following area were available for guest use: lounge, bar, dining area, curio shop and a plunge pool.

Pool The pool was 4.9 meters by 2.5 meters large about 4-foot deep. Two large umbrellas provided shade to three cushioned and adjustable wood lounge chairs.

Game Viewing The Camp vehicles were especially comfortable with cushy individual seats instead of the standard one seat for three arrangement. They were open on the sides and had a canvas roof, which we were thankful for under the stifling sun. Vundi, our guide, drove the 4 x 4 game viewing vehicle; pointed out game and birds and shared interesting information with our group of six travelers during the drives. Plains game was plentiful. We saw lots of them including zebra, blue wildebeest, red lechwe, tsessebe, and impala. We also saw chacma baboon, elephant, Nile monitor and leopard. Birds were abundant and diverse: reed cormorant, coppery tailed coucal, wattled crane, African darter, African fish eagle, great white and slaty egrets, spur winged goose, quacco heron, African jacana, pied kingfisher, pink throughted longclaw, giant eagle owl, blacksmith plover, Burchell’s starling, and open billed and saddle billed storks. During our mokoro ride we noted common water reeds, papyrus reeds and water lilies.

Activities There were mekoro rides, walks, and game drives available for guests.

Curio Shop There were various souvenir options including branded Kwetsani clothing, Central African masks, baskets, beaded jewelry from South Africa and shell jewelry from Kenya, a broad selection of Africa flora and fauna titles.

Other The only access to the area was by plane. The airfield was about 45 minutes from camp. During the height of the Okavango’s floods (from May to September approximately) access was usually only by boat from the Jao airstrip. During the remainder of the year it was possible to drive to camp. Complimentary daily laundry service was available although underwear was not washed due to local customs. Flying time to and from Maun was 35 minutes; to and from Kasane it was one hour and 25 minutes and from Kasane to Victoria Falls 20 minutes. The Jao airstrip was about 35 minutes from Kwetsani by drive or boat trip. Airstrip co-ordinates were S19.18.59, E022.35.20 and 1100 meters. The airstrip was licensed for aircraft up to 5700kg MAUW (maximum al up weight), and could take King Airs (all types).

There were mandatory evening escorts to get around from the main building through the elevated walkway to the rooms. Tap water was potable although they recommended bottled water for guests. There were electric outlets in our room and in the lobby. This made it possible for us to recharge our batteries and use electrical equipment. High energy items like blow dryers were disallowed.

Check-In-Check-Out Excellent. After signing an indemnity form we were shown to our room.

Cleanliness Excellent

Date Of Last Visit November 2005

Reviewers Article by Elena del Valle

Photographs by Gary Cox

Service There was twice daily service, cleaning in the morning and turn down service at night. We mistakenly left a 20 rand note in a pair of pants we sent to the laundry and during lunch Kerrie brought it to the table. We turned in our laundry before heading off on the morning game drive; when we returned from dinner, it was awaiting us clean and neatly folded.

Would You Stay Again? Yes

Contact Information

  • Address:
    • In the United States
    • Eyes on Africa
    • Nicky Glover
    • 1743 West Fletcher St
    • Chicago, IL 60657
  • Phone:
    • 1-800-457-9575
    • +1 773-549-0169
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