We felt far away at Lebala , named for open spaces in the Setwana language. With a maximum of 16 guests and 19 staff members in a 232,000-hectare gaming concession, we felt near Africa and well settled for game viewing. Our camp, as most game viewing camps in Botswana , was set in the open, without fences or impediments so wild animals could walk by anytime. During our stay, the staff made sure all our housing, meals and laundry needs were cared for so we could focus on the purpose of our trip – viewing the wonderful wild animals.
We had spacious and comfortable accommodations within a short walk from the camp’s main area, freshly made and well prepared food including pre-breakfast hot beverages, sundowner drinks and snacks in the evening, and a cozy main area to spend time in between drives and meals. Most importantly, we were looked after by wonderfully capable and friendly staff, who made sure our game viewing experiences were optimal.
Our drives were as long (or short) as we wished them to be with as many stops for photos as we liked. We later found out the Kwando concession shared by Lebala and a second camp, Lagoon, had more elephants than all of South Africa . Meals were prepared around our game viewing times. This meant we sometimes chose to extend our game viewing drives to six hours. When we finally returned to camp we were breathless with excitement from all the incredible sightings and ready to eat.
Class Of Accommodation
Luxury tented camp
General Managers Gareth Flemix and Candice Collett
Handicapped Access No
Length Of Stay Two nights
Location Northern Botswana near the border with Angola and only 1.5 kms from the Caprivi Strip . 300 Kms north of Maun
Owned Kwando Safaris
Size Eight tents for a maximum of 16 guests. 19 staff members. Concession has 232,000 hectares
Year Opened-Renovated 1997; rebuilt 2002
Lobby And Common Areas : African themed common areas featuring local and other African wood carvings and furniture.
Room Set back among the trees a couple of minutes walk from the main area of the camp, our permanenttent was large, approximately 600 ft2, with solid Rhodesian teak wood floors. Though we were close enough to hear part of our neighbors’ conversations and be within calling distance from them, there was enough space for basic privacy. Once through the canvas “door” there was a small entrance area with a desk and chair adjacent to the en suite bathroom.
During lunch and dinner guests and senior camp staff sat together at a long table. Guests served themselves their choice of main course items; staff served drinks and picked up dirty plates and cutlery. Little time passed before someone checked on us during the meal. During breakfast, guests were offered hot made-to-order choices, including sausage, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and eggs. A biscuit and hot beverage was served before early morning drives. Sundowner beverages and snacks were served during the evening activities; a biscuit and hot beverage was served during early morning activities. We especially enjoyed the home made biscuits and breads.
Meals were well prepared, especially in light of the remote location, basic supply limitations and diversity of guests. Cold buffet breakfast options included: Fresh fruit such as apple, grapes, and bananas; two kinds of yogurt, five cereal options; cold meats; cheeses, toasts, and a lemon loaf. Lunch dishes included: Greek salad with home made dressing or oil and vinegar; delicious tomato sauce fish stew; cold curried rice; and a cheese tray with three kinds of cheese and crackers. No dessert was served with lunch.
A sample dinner included creamy onion soup, stewed chicken, cooked vegetables and rice. Bread pudding, coffee and tea followed the meal.
Kwando toiletries including bath and shower gel, shower caps, body lotion, and shampoo. Mosquito repellent coils and sprays were available in our room and on the game drive vehicles.
Facilities Curio shop, plunge pool, lounge/bar, fire place area, small library including board games and children’s toys, and lookout/game viewing area
Pool Plunge pool
Game Viewing Three guides, Spencer Thambo , Charles Sebaga and Steve Kgwatalala , and four trackers ensured guests optimum game viewing. In order to become a guide, the Botswana government required they complete a year of studies and pass an exam. Once they completed these requirements, they Kwando Safaris offered them their own training. Game viewing vehicles, Toyota Hilux , were open, with cushioned seats and limited to six guests per vehicle.
Activities Dawn and dusk game drives. Though the rides at Lebala were bumpy in part because of the sandy ground, we were fortunate to have a skilled and knowledgeable guide/driver. Jonah (truly a relief camp manager) could identify just about any bird and animal, sometimes from a profile in flight or by seeing their eyes only in the dark.Our tracker, “P.D,” was efficient and quick. On our first drive at Lebala , they spotted leopard tracks. With the assistance of a second camp vehicle they located an elusive and grumpy teenage leopard, which after a short sighting we left alone.
All meals, beverages and alcoholic drinks were included.
Each seat of our open top game viewing vehicle included a wool blanket we sat on and a canvas wool blanket we covered ourselves with during the cold morning and evening portions of the game drives. The canvas repelled the cold wind and provided some protection against runaway branches, especially when we drove off road.
Check-In-Check-Out Process Ease
Date Of Last Visit May 2004
ReviewersArticle by Elena del Valle
Photographs by Chester Godsy and Joni Johnson-Godsy
Service All the staff we interacted with including three chefs who made home style food, our guides and trackers, and the relief camp managers were service oriented, knowledgeable, and usually with a ready smile.
Would You Stay Again? Yes