THIS IS WHAT THE CAMP FACILITIES LOOK LIKE
Magotho has 15 stands that are all a few hundred metres from each other. There is no electricity or any other facilities, but you can’t really get any closer to nature. Big, old camel thorn trees provide ample shade, and the adjoining Khwai River invites anything from noisy spotted hyenas to inquisitive elephant bulls. The resident group of vervet monkeys also won’t think twice before stealing your Corn Flakes while you’re taking an afternoon nap, so make sure your food is locked away when there’s no one around to keep an eye on things. Even though you get a stand number on your booking form, Magotho is a campsite where you choose your own spot. If someone has already made themselves at home on your stand, keep on looking until you find a space you like. That said, you do have to camp on a demarcated stand. Rogue campers who arrive without booking and who pitch a tent underneath a tree of their choice pay double. Someone from the Khwai Development Trust drives through Magotho every month to check bookings, so you don’t have to drive through to Khwai Village.
Sable Alley and Matswere
According to the Khwai Development Trust’s website, Sable Alley and Matswere are only available to registered Botswana safari operators and their clients, but with our visit one of their employees confirmed that anyone can book these two camps. Both lie in a leadwood forest that looks out over a marsh where hippos and osprey entertain you at sunrise and sunset. There are also no facilities and you’ll seldom encounter other self-drive tourists around the camp. There are, however, a few gamedrive vehicles from the surrounding lodges that come here in search of animals.
You only have to take drinking water. Shower and dishwashing water you take from the river or marsh. Just make sure you get a spot where the water is shallow and clear so Mr Crocodile doesn’t give you a nasty surprise. Take at least two empty 20 ℓ plastic bottles to fill up, as well as a 1 ℓ bucket to make the process easier.
There aren’t even pit toilets at the stands, so you have to bring along everything you need to heed the call of nature comfortably. We dug a deep hole, placed a steel sheet with a hole in it over it, and then put our toilet chair on top of it. For privacy and shade we spun shade cloth between posts. There is also no official rest stops in the bush, which means you’ll probably have to squat behind a tree at some point. Keep a small spade in your car and always burn or bury your toilet paper, otherwise the animals will scatter it everywhere. Gross.
Put your trash in heavy-duty black bags and hoist it into a tree with a rope at nights so hyenas can’t tear it open. Members of the Khwai Development Trust come to Magotho with a bakkie every now and again to collect rubbish.
If you run out of flour or toothpaste you can shoot through to Khwai Village. It’s less than an hour’s drive south-west from Magotho. There is a shop with a surprising variety of provisions, like baked beans, ice, Coke, and even ice-cold Black Label quarts.