Meno a Kwena Camp
Makgadikgadi Pans, Khumaga area
Family Friendly with a View
The safari never stops at Meno a Kwena, a hidden gem of a camp perched on a rocky clifftop above the Boteti River in Botswana. With a glittering roster of activities, including day trips to the Makgadikgadi Pans, guided walks with the San bushmen, and wildlife-watching boat trips, there’s plenty to get your teeth into. But sometimes, the best game viewing is where you least expect it, and at Meno, it’s right in front you. From their lofty position, the ten tents look down on a menagerie of animals at the water below, from herds of majestic elephant, to dazzles of nomadic zebra – all you need to do is sit back, and take it all in.
At just 90 minutes by road from Maun, Meno is a good option if you’re travelling as a group, or with little ones (or even big ones!). The camp was originally used by Southern Africa’s legendary explorers, and although we’ve added a few little touches here, and some little quirks there, it’s refreshingly and stylishly simple. And actually, the real treat at Meno is the connection with nature; when an elephant provides your alarm call in the morning, and you can game view straight from your private veranda, nothing else really matters.
Meno a Kwena isn’t a hyper-luxurious camp – and that’s why we love it. We don’t have private butlers and air conditioning, but what we do have are 10 classic tents perched on a 100-foot high clifftop overlooking the river and offering some of the best ‘armchair’ game viewing we’ve ever seen. Each is classically-styled, with a few eccentricities thrown in here and there; think locally-woven fabrics mixed with colonial-style furniture, and simple fittings brightened by snippets of colour. All have fully-equipped ensuite bathrooms, and there are two family units, both with inter-leading tents (one with three beds for children, one with 2 beds), perfect for the kids.
The canvas lounge and dining tents are piled high with books and trinkets, and decorated with old-world artefacts, and our piece de resistance – a sculpted crocodile! And it’s not there for no reason – Meno a Kwena literally translates as “teeth of the crocodile.” Keep an eye on the river below from just about comfy chair in the living area, or plunge into the Flintstone-esque rocky swimming pool, and watch the animals doing the same below you.
Meno a Kwena is open all year round, and almost every month heralds a different highlight. During the dry season, from April to October, the Boteti River is the only source of water for miles around, and hundreds of animals, predators and prey, assemble on the banks, making for truly remarkable game viewing – and you don’t even have to leave camp! April is the culmination of the Africa’s second largest mammal migration, and the wildebeest and zebra join the resident wildlife at the river in their masses. In the Makgadikgadi, the lunar-like salt flats glint in the sunlight and a haze shimmers above the ground. This is the desert in its most iconic state, and a jaw-droppingly magical sight.
As the clouds gather and the rains begin to fall in the wet season, the Makgadikgadi is transformed into a blanket of glittering, green grass. The beasties of the migration begin their journey back to the salt pans lured by the promise of nutrients, and to breed in the fertile environment. In fact, the entire area is transformed into a Garden of Eden that has to be seen to be believed.
Meno a Kwena is located on tribal land on the western boundary of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (MPNP), overlooking the exceptionally beautiful Boteti River. In the desert, water means life and the Boteti is the only permanent water source in the area, attracting a rich array of resident game and a procession of migratory wanderers. Meno sits almost exactly halfway between the unique Okavango Delta region and the drier southern regions, and it’s this excellent location that makes the camp truly special. Head into the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, where baobabs stand like sentinels above the shimmering expanses of crusted salt, or discover Nxai Pan National Park, its endless landscapes dotted with umbrella acacias and clumps of mopane woodland.
If you were to go on a game drive around the Makgadikgadi Pans and look for a picture-perfect picnic spot, then it would be Meno’s exact location, perched above the river bend, gazing down at the wildlife. But when you’re staying at Meno a Kwena, game viewing isn’t just a snatched hour over lunch; it’s all day, every day. Just sit back on the veranda and watch the zebra and antelope from your cliff-top position (G&T optional).
If you can drag your eyes away from the view, hop on a game drive to find desert-adapted animals that can’t be found elsewhere in Botswana. There’s antelope with comical twisted horns, and remarkable desert elephant. The rumble of hooves heralds the arrival of Africa’s second largest migration. A stonking spectacle of 30,000 zebra and wildebeest migrate across the Makgadikgadi Pans, alongside a scattering of other hooved beasties. As the pans dry from April onwards, the zebra complete their journey at the river in an explosion of black and white stripes, followed closely by the predators: lion with their impressive black manes, leopard and cheetah using the surrounding bushes as cover, packs of wild dog, and mischievous jackal. Wow.
Meno a Kwena is a place that’s steeped in history. This was the camp used by legendary explorers and crocodile hunters, back in the days when there were no vehicle trails across the Kalahari. Over the years, it’s been carefully refurbished, but the old-world charm and rustic quirkiness is as present as ever. You’ll find a roof fashioned from an old parachute, a lounge jam-packed with knick-knacks and trinkets from decades of travel, and an enormous crocodile skull to name but a few! This is a camp with heart, soul and a real flavour of Botswana.
In 2012, researchers discovered Botswana’s zebra migration. At Meno a Kwena, we’ve known about it for decades, and the arrival of the tens of thousands of zebra in a dazzle of black and white stripes is one of the (many) highlights of our year. The position of the camp, perched atop a cliff overlooking the Boteti, is quite simply the best spot in the area for migration viewing, and the sightings are astonishing. Spend your days lounging on the day bed or trailing a toe in the swimming pool whilst the action happens below. At night, retreat to the dining table for a feast of flavour, accompanied by flickering lanterns and stories of old…
Natural Selection Safaris
Semi-Permanent Tented Camp
Max. clients in vehicle
Game Drives, Bushmen Walks, Motorboat Cruises, Salt Pan Sleep outs