OKA­VANGO PAN­HAN­DLE

Don’t worry, you don’t have to shimmy a mokoro past mon­ster crocs to get per­sonal with the Oka­vango. The Oka­vango Pan­han­dle is the name given to the sec­tion of the river be­fore it branches out into the Delta. This is Botswana’s value-for-money corner, wit

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ETSHA Nguma Is­land Lodge

Nguma Is­land Lodge is north of Etsha 13 (there are a few turn- offs to the elon­gated set­tle­ment called Etsha) on the banks of Guma La­goon. You’ll need a 4x4 for the last 12 km to the lodge, but you can ar­range for a trans­fer if you don’t have one.

Camp­ing costs P176 (R230) per per­son; self- cater­ing units from P1 398 (R1 828) per night for two peo­ple; lux­ury en suite sa­fari tents P1 644 (R2 150) per per­son shar­ing, in­clud­ing din­ner and break­fast.

Tiger­fish­ing P865 (R1 131) per hour; tackle hire P146 (R191) per day. GPS: S18.95396 E22.37329 Con­tact: 00 267 683 0159;

ngu­malodge.com

Guma La­goon Camp

This camp is just south of Nguma Is­land Lodge. Can­vas en suite “chalets” P1 036 (R1 355) per night for two peo­ple; camp­ing P135 (R177) per per­son. You can cater for your­self us­ing the com­mu­nal kitchen or eat at the camp restau­rant: Din­ner costs P182 (R238) per per­son.

Hire a mo­tor boat, mokoro or fish­ing rod and head for the wa­ter. They can also or­gan­ise an overnight mokoro trip where you camp on an is­land in the Pan­han­dle. GPS: S18.96272 E22.37328 Con­tact: 00 267 687 4626;

guma-la­goon.com

SEPUPA Se­popa Swamp Stop

This pop­u­lar lodge of­fers af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion. They’re un­der new man­age­ment and dif­fi­cult to reach on the phone. Still, you should be okay just drop­ping in.

The camp­site has been en­larged and there are stands at the wa­ter’s edge. Camp­ing P160 (R206) per per­son; en suite chalets from P920 (R1 271) per night for two peo­ple. They have a restau­rant and bar, and you can hire moko­ros and mo­tor boats to go ex­plor­ing or fish­ing. Boat hire P750 (R982) per hour. Ask about overnight trips to a pri­vate is­land. GPS: S18.74674 E22.19922 Con­tact: 00 267 726 0071;

se­popaswamp­stop@gmail.com

SERONGA Oka­vango House­boats

Seronga is on the less-ac­ces­si­ble eastern bank of the Pan­han­dle and can only be reached by car if you cross the river at Mo­hembo us­ing the free gov­ern­ment ferry.

It’s eas­ier to get to Seronga by boat: You can or­gan­ise a trans­fer from Se­popa Swamp Stop.

Oka­vango House­boats keeps four of their boats moored in a main chan­nel of the river near Seronga. A house­boat holiday is great for a big group of peo­ple. It’s a unique way to see the Delta and, best of all, some­one else does the driv­ing for you.

House­boat hire from P7 800 (R10 216) per day: af­ford­able if you share the boat with your 20 best friends. You can bring your own food, which will be pre­pared by the on-board staff, or you can pay ex­tra for food. Con­tact: 00 267 686 0802;

oka­van­go­house­boats.com

NCAMASERE Nxa­m­aseri Is­land Lodge

Con­tact this ex­clu­sive lodge di­rectly for prices and fur­ther de­tails. GPS: S18.63548 E22.04674 (turn-off from the A35) Con­tact: 00 267 71 326 619;

nxa­m­aseri.com

TSODILO HILLS Tsodilo camp­site

Ris­ing to 1 400 m, Tsodilo Hills are the high­est “moun­tains” in Botswana. Tsodilo is a World Her­itage Site thanks to its in­cred­i­ble rock art: more than 2 000 paint­ings have been dis­cov­ered. It’s a place of great spir­i­tual im­por­tance to the peo­ple liv­ing nearby. Sir Lau­rens van der Post, af­ter whom one of the rock art pan­els is named, wrote of Tsodilo: “I had a feel­ing that I was in a great and an­cient tem­ple.”

Tsodilo is about 35 km west of the A35 tar road and per­fectly po­si­tioned for a day trip from any of the places men­tioned here.

Day vis­i­tors: P50 (R65) per adult; P10 (R13) for kids un­der 15. There are walk­ing trails of var­i­ous dis­tances (the short­est takes about an hour) that lead to dif­fer­ent rock art sites. It’s com­pul­sory to go with a guide, who will tell you more about Tsodilo’s his­tory and Bush­man cul­ture. There’s also a small mu­seum on site.

If you want to do one of the longer trails, con­sider stay­ing over. The camp­site is ba­sic: P130 (R170) per adult; P70 (R92) for kids un­der 15. Bring your own drink­ing wa­ter. GPS: S18.76005 E21.73761 Con­tact: 00 267 68 00 419 ( Tset­sana)

SHAKAWE Shakawe River Lodge

There’s a won­der­ful camp­site here, si­t­u­ated on a bend in the river. You’ll camp un­der mas­sive trees close to nurk­ing hip­pos.

Camp­ing P200 (R262) per adult; P130 (R170) per child aged 4 – 12. Dome tent with a bed in­side P500 (R655) for two peo­ple. Chalet ac­com­mo­da­tion P1 530 (R2 004) per night for two peo­ple.

Eat at the restau­rant and do a sun­set cruise: P150 (R196) per per­son, plus ex­tra for boat hire and fuel used. You can also do fish­ing or bird­ing trips. The bird­ing around Shakawe is ex­cel­lent, es­pe­cially if you take a walk to the nearby for­est of wild fig trees. GPS: S18.43435 E21.90539 Con­tact: 00 267 684 0403;

shakawelodge.com

Drot­sky’s Cab­ins

This is one of the old­est lodges in Botswana, si­t­u­ated about 10 km south of Shakawe. The sur­round­ing area of­fers ex­cel­lent bird­ing – it’s one of the best places to see the elusive Pel’s fish­ing-owl.

Fam­ily chalet P1 685 (R2 259) per night for two adults and two kids. Camp­ing P150 (R196) per per­son. There’s a restau­rant on site and you can do fish­ing trips and boat cruises. One of their boats is called Lawrence of the Oka­vango – it has seat­ing for 12 peo­ple and costs P500 (R655) per hour to hire.

Drot­sky’s also op­er­ates the more ex­clu­sive Xaro Lodge, 9 km down­stream. En­quire for rates. GPS: S18.41397 E21.88577 Con­tact: 00 267 683 0226;

drot­skys.com

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