Belmond Khwai River Lodge
What We Love
- Jetsetter 2014 Best of the Best Winner: Best Hotel For Communing With Nature
- Rate includes all meals and drinks (including premium spirits and wines), two game drives a day, flight to/from Maun, national park fees and more
- Staying off the grid in the Okavango Delta, with the option to stay in touch with free WiFi access and satellite TVs and phones (on request)
- Post-safari sundowners by the fire pit
What To Know
- Minibars come stocked with preferred beverages (selected prior to arrival)
- Most journeys involve an overnight stay in Johannesburg, a flight to Maun and a short flight to Khwai River Lodge
- Children eight and over are welcome at the lodge
- The small plane to the camp allows only soft bags, and there’s a 44-pound weight limit per person
- Pair with a stay at one of Belmond’s neighboring safari camps, Savute Elephant Lodge or Eagle Island Lodge
- Free WiFi
At the Belmond Khwai River Lodge, on the flood plains of Botswana’s lush Moremi Wildlife Reserve, guests sleep outdoors. But the tents here are far from ordinary — they’re more like five-star suites with private terraces that overlook the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, which teems with elephants, wild dogs, zebras, hippos and more. Chaise longues and wooden furnishings give the 15 tents a colonial homestead feel, and the discreet raised observation decks and terraces hidden beneath the ebony trees allow you to watch animals graze and sleep near the 65-foot pool.
Bed & Bath
Rattan roofs, canvas walls, colonial-style furnishings and handsome dark wood floors create a rustic look in the 15 tents. Mosquito nets are draped over four-poster beds, hammocks sling low on private decks, and en suite wooden bathrooms (some have outdoor tubs) are sleek and spacious. Unlike at most bush camps, Khwai’s tents are equipped with air conditioners that are as quiet as a whisper, and minibars that come stocked with preferred beverages (which guests can select via a prearrival questionnaire).
Open-top Jeep drives depart daily at dawn and at dusk (when the animals are most active). Expect myriad giraffe, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, wildebeest, impala, wild dog, warthog, kudus zebra and leopard sightings. Encountering more than 20 elephants on a bush walk in the Moremi Reserve is as ordinary as learning how to get water from animal dung. Don’t want to lug your camera on the three-plane flight to the lodge? The property lends photo equipment, as long as you supply the memory card. In between game drives, dine alfresco on authentically prepared dishes such as grilled crocodile and seswa (goat stew), and sip post-safari sundowners by the firepit or pool. For pure indulgence, unwind at the spa with the Inkomfi Sloughing body treatment, which exfoliates with walnut and marula shell grains and nourishes with an antioxidant cocktail.
How to Get There
We lived in Tanzania for just short of a decade and have been on about 30 safaris. This was among the best. For those complaining about the facilities : THIS IS AFRICA. I understand they are going to refurb the place but you are missing the point - you are here to see the animals. If you want a luxurious resort go to some beach. We have stayed in some high end lodges in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania and never had WiFi, 24 hour electricity, or air conditioning. In four days we saw wild dog take down an impala. lion take down an elephant, and got within 30 feet of two leopards. Our previous leopard sightings were bumps on a tree limb at 200 meters. If you want to see game, come here. Otherwise it is a long trip tom complain that they did not stock your favorite sauvignon blanc. Ask for Obie as a guide - he is great
The location of Khwai River Lodge, between the Moremi and Chobe game preserves, is the primary reason to stay here. The lodge and cottages directly overlook the river, enabling incredible wildlife viewing without ever leaving the property -- though of course the game drives are not to be missed. With fifteen cottages, Khwai River is larger than the other two Belmond safari camps, which we also visited (see separate reviews), and consequently it can feel slightly busier. Our cottage was comfortable and had a nice porch; its dark wood furnishings gave it a cave-like feel, dim but cozy. We were told that this camp is due for refurbishment in the next two years, which will do it good; it generally feels as though it needs refreshing. Nevertheless, we liked many of the features, especially the large swimming pool adjacent the main lodge (very refreshing in the hot weather), the "treehouse" game-viewing lounge, and the generally strong internet. The menus at meals were also diverse and the food was very good. Staff in the dining room and at the bar were very friendly and accommodating. One note: as this is an unfenced camp, be alert at all times of day for animals passing through, particularly elephants. This is their home and we are the visitors. We look forward to returning.
Went here with a Tauck tour and it was nothing short of wonderful. Excellent local guides who knew their stuff and truly wanted to share. You truly live among the animals--and need to exercise some care! Once in a lifetime!
We recently stayed at the Khwai River Lodge for our honeymoon, and what a treat it was! After 4 flights we finally arrived at the Khwai airstrip, and were then greeted upon arrival by a choir of singers - a nice touch! The host staff were very welcoming and seemed to genuinely care about us, and impressively learned our names and never forgot them (same for all other guests too) - this was very meaningful and felt like we were appreciated.
The lodges are luxurious, and we were treated to the honeymoon suite which had an outdoor plunge pool, bath and shower, fronting right onto the Khwai river with its abundance of hippos, elephants and birdlife. Simply amazing walking out of our front door to that every morning, truly special.
Our guide Jimmy was a legend, always patient and calm, very knowledgable. He would make us set goals and try and fulfil them every time we went out in the 4x4. Sundowners (drinks and snacks) in the African bush as the sun sets are something you will never, ever forget. When we arrived home on the first evening the staff had prepared a special romantic dinner for my wife and I up in the private animal viewing hide. We were treated like celebrities and it was amazing.
Sue and Ruan were the managers on site, with help from Barcos, and all were very helpful, respectful and authentic. The lodge is a gold standard for safari and anyone who wants to see abundant, diverse wildlife, while at the same time being treated to African luxury, should consider staying here. My highlight was tracking down a female leopard with Jimmy, using just pawprints in the sand and the alarm sounds of nearby birds/squirrels. It made us feel primal and connected with nature.
One other thing worth mentioning is that there is air conditioning in every room - don't underestimate the importance of this! It was 38oC every day, and cool air was very much welcome. Thank you to Jimmy our guide and all the staff at Khwai River Lodge for welcoming my wife and I, treating us like stars, and making us feel special in your beautiful part of Botswana. 10/10, loved it.
Belmond is worldwide renowned for high luxury standards and perfect services. I must say that this lodge was the only one i wish we would not have been to. First, the camp ground is ok, but not the usual luxury standards. The Bungalows are like bulky Swiss chalets. i did not see the tents/canvas that some people mention.. maybe they are hidden in the other part of the camp?... Our chalets were "enjoying" the constant buzz from the power station. The main dining area is ok but nothing special. The food was okay but nothing special. The rides around the camp are ok and our driver was really trying hard to make a good experience and we saw some elephants, hippos, monkeys and impalas, zebras, and hyenas. But basically, it did not made up for the average standard of the camp. And most annoying is that the area is overcrowded with other camps so expect to be 15+ cars chasing one leopard.