Safari Supreme | Machaba Camp, Botswana

Sandwiched between Moremi and Chobe National Parks in northern Botswana, lies Khwai.

The Khwai concession boasts some of the densest concentrations of wildlife anywhere. Machaba stands out as a luxurious, understated tented camp among the smattering of lodges. Jonathan and Sophie investigate.

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The place for wildlife enthusiasts.

Mention the word Khwai to any wildlife enthusiast and their eyes will light up. Most likely a story will ensue involving a close encounter with a lion, leopard, wild dog or all three. Khwai is infamous for good reason, and we were especially excited about our visit here.

We certainly weren’t disappointed. Machaba’s tented camp is located on the river Khwai, looking directly into Moremi. Its ten tented suites are strung along with generous gaps in between and a modest swimming pool at the far end. The tents have all the comforts you need. Just don’t expect hair dryers. The camp is proud of its eco-credentials and hair dryers and solar power don’t mix.

Khwai is one of the best places in Africa to see Wild Dog.

“They’ve made another kill!” shouted Moreri as he threw the car into gear. We shot off through the bushes towards the sound of the frenzied dogs. Sure enough, the rest of the pack had brought down the second kudu. The dogs could hardly contain their excitement. Some leaving the first kill to feed on the second, which was devoured in minutes. It was a stark illustration of the reality of predator-prey interactions. One minute a perfectly formed kudu is grazing peacefully on the lush grass and not ten minutes later the only trace of its existence is a small patch of sticky-red flattened grass.

The potential game viewing at Khwai is second to none.

Our game viewing during our stay was fantastic. Our guide Moreri was an expert and recognised us from a stay in the Delta some years ago. We saw two wild dog packs, including one on a red lechwe kill. The next day we stumbled across another pack hunting. Adrenaline pumping, we sped alongside the frenzied dogs before watching with awe as half the pack of 16 tore into a kudu. Minutes later we heard the rest of the pack calling nearby, followed by the unmistakable groan of yet another victim.

Game viewing opportunities.

There are a number of lodges and campsites on the concession, with subsequent lack of control of vehicle numbers at sightings. Although we had no problems with this during our stay, depending on the time of year it can get quite crowded. A few things make Machaba special. Vehicles can drive off-road. Short, guided bush walks are available on request. Night drives with your guide are available, in addition to the usual morning and afternoon drives.

About the tented camp.

Machaba with a capacity of 24, is not a particularly small camp. However, the relaxed atmosphere and easy-going staff make it feel more intimate. The communal dining at dinner allows guests to interact and share stories. Breakfast and brunch are taken at individual tables, allowing guests some privacy and we found this model worked very well. Slow wi-fi is available under a tree within the camp ensuring that phones and tablets don’t intrude on the beauty of the bush.

Machaba is also one of the few lodges that allow children under six. Admittedly it’s rare that there will be any. Two of the ten tents are kitted out as family tents that can sleep up to 6 people each.

Overall, Machaba is a very efficiently run camp and camp managers Elcke and Shaun do a fantastic job in making guests feel at ease. We certainly recommend this camp.