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Keeping up with Kwetsani: Botswana’s sensational wildlife camp which will leave you starry-eyed

For those looking to escape the trappings of everyday life and sink into a stunning location that feels both secluded but, as a result of its wildlife, full of [...]

For those looking to escape the trappings of everyday life and sink into a stunning location that feels both secluded but, as a result of its wildlife, full of energy and excitement, then Kwetsani, located in the centre of the Jao Concession, Botswana, is the idyllic, life-changing break you’ve been searching for.

Kwetsani is a remote camp, and its sensational bucket-list location sets it miles above the rest. The camp sits in Jao Reserve, and you have access to both land and water activities, with guests able to submerge themselves in the mesmerising levels of the Okavango Delta by getting close to resident wildlife, as well as boating and enjoying mokoro rides on the waterways. 

This exceptional place will see you whiling away the hours stargazing and learning about the southern night sky, to banking ‘me-time’ hours by relaxing in the privacy of one of the tents or areas by the pool. And, as you go about your day, wildlife will move freely through the camp, with each minute being one with the promise of taking your breath away. 

Here at House of Coco, we couldn’t resist the temptation to hear more about the spellbinding camp which boasts just ten guest beds, but an abundance of memories that’ll entertain the mind forever. So, we caught up with Jao Reserve’s Cathy Kays, to learn more about what makes Kwetsani the coveted location that it is. 

Kwetsani looks absolutely incredible –– when was it established?

We first built it in 1999 as a tree-house style camp with thatched guest rooms out of wood and canvas, and it is part of Wilderness Safaris’ portfolio of exclusive camps in the area. 

Sixteen years later the thatch needed replacing and we decided that we wanted to create more space in the guest rooms, so we rebuilt it with specially designed tents overlooking the vast floodplain. We retained the tree-house style with the rooms elevated about 4 metres off the ground. I believe the greatest luxury is space and limitless views and spacious interiors create just the right blend of luxury while retaining a sense of bush camp authenticity.

What are some of the main highlights guests can expect from their stay? 

Kwetsani’s location in a private concession in the Okavango Delta gives access to both land and water activities, presenting our guests with a wide array of activities.  We offer guided day and night game drives which allow guests to get closer to the resident wildlife, as well as boating and mokoro rides on the waterways.  

The area is well-known for exceptional birdlife, and in the evenings our guests can spend time stargazing with our guides and learning about the southern night sky.  It’s also part of the experience simply to spend time in camp, relaxing in the privacy of one’s tent or in the main area by the pool.  Wildlife moves freely through the camp, so sometimes exciting opportunities present themselves.

What advice would you give to someone heading out on their first safari?

Don’t rush the experience, be patient and let the natural wonder unfold around you while you let it all sink in. Take in the smells and the sounds and sit quietly to observe animal behaviour. Every creature has a role to play in the ecosystem, watch them and appreciate them too, they are often more interesting than lions which spend most of the day sleeping.

The décor found inside the camp is impeccable –– do the interiors match the landscape of the surrounding Okavango Delta would you say?

Thank you, I take that as a huge compliment since the interiors are my own design. To enhance the feeling of space and lightness the furnishings have a light colour palette of whites, creams and soft greys. I have used my own photographs in black and white, all taken around the camp, to highlight our wonderful wildlife and have sought out local artefacts to create authenticity whilst always making guest comfort a priority with comfortable furnishings.

What’s something you simply have to try when visiting?

A starry night bush dinner under the baobab tree.

The setting surrounding Kwetsani is incredibly romantic – is it somewhere a lot of people choose to propose? 

We have had a few proposals over the years and often this is done spontaneously with some help elicited from the managers, who have a wealth of experience in making an occasion a life-changing memory.

For those who don’t know too much about the cuisine in Botswana, what can they expect? 

We serve an international menu focusing on delicious light dishes, serving breakfast, brunch, tea and dinner with snacks in between. On our Monday cultural night, we prepare local specialities and on Friday nights we have an African barbeque floodplain dinner (weather permitting). We make use of seasonal fresh ingredients as far as possible such as locally-grown fresh vegetables and salads, free range Botswana beef, game farmed venison and Kariba tilapia. 

We serve an international menu focusing on delicious light dishes, serving breakfast, brunch, tea and dinner with snacks in between. On our Monday cultural night, we prepare local specialities and on Friday nights we have an African barbeque floodplain dinner (weather permitting). We make use of seasonal fresh ingredients as far as possible such as locally-grown fresh vegetables and salads, free range Botswana beef, game farmed venison and Kariba tilapia. 

Have you had any famous faces stay at your wonderful camp? 

While we’ve hosted many wonderful celebrities at Kwetsani over the years, we pride ourselves on the exclusivity of being in such a remote location …including keeping their anonymity as much as possible so they can truly reconnect to the wilderness.

What’s been one of the most special moments you’ve had at Kwetsani? 

Hosting guests who thought they would be roughing it sleeping in a tent, then watching their thrilled excitement as they discovered what their tented room was actually like.  Answering their many eager questions and telling them stories about camp building and life in the bush.

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Charlotte Hulme

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