Hyena Pan Camp
Okavango Delta, Khwai Private Concession
Water for Elephants
We’re all about the wildlife at Hyena Pan. First up is its phenomenal location in Khwai Private Reserve. Positioned between Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park and the Khwai River, our exclusive concession is a meeting point for more animals than you can shake a stick at. Think nomadic herds of elephant and buffalo, lion, leopard and wild dog fiercely defending their territories, as well as kudu, red lechwe and herds of dainty antelope dotted across the plains.
And then there’s the camp itself. From its lofty position amongst a grove of cathedral mopane trees, the eight tents at Hyena Pan look over a watery lagoon of the same name. In the morning, you’ll open your tent flaps straight on to the trumpeting elephant in the lily-filled waters below, spend your siesta watching herds splash and snort, and fall asleep to antelope grazing just outside your canvas walls. This isn’t a place for those looking for opulence and extravagance; it’s a private piece of big-game Africa, where the wildlife encounters are authentic, intimate and always wild.
Hyena Pan has eight tents, and inside, we’ve plumped for a theme of stylish simplicity, and a whole lot of character. You’ll find everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Each tent has twin beds, which can easily be made into doubles – and there’s no gap to fall through in the middle of the night, we promise! Mesh nets keep the mozzies out, and there’s an electronic safe to store valuables, along with a luggage rack and wardrobe. Our eco-conscious minds were also at play when we designed Hyena Pan, and each tent is solar powered, with international plug points. A gas geyser pumps constant hot water to the ensuite bathroom and shower.
Amble down to the heart of the camp, and you’ll find the dining deck and lounge areas. Keep an eye on the comings and goings at the waterhole from a slouchy sofa, or float in the mini-splash pool and watch the wildlife doing the same below. Meals are wholesome and tasty, and after you’ve finished munching, the night is best spent in the open-air boma with a nightcap (or two or three). When darkness falls, we illuminate the waterhole and all its David Attenborough-esque action, sadly without the voiceover.
Both the green and dry seasons in Khwai have their own charms, and we rather like both. When the rains fall from December to March, the area floods and you’ll find astonishing numbers of hippo, elephant and buffalo, accompanied by a rainbow-coloured array of water birds. The rains do however scatter the wildlife far and wide, and you may need to travel a little further on game drives during these months to spot the wildlife. As the grass grows, it’s slightly harder to spot predators, but fear not! This cover of grass means that the wildlife doesn’t see you coming, and the intimacy of the encounters is not to be sniffed at.
In Botswana, winter brings a scorching desert sun (lucky for some) and the seasonal waterholes evaporate, whilst smaller ones dry up completely. At Hyena Pan, the water remains, and animals flock to the last droplets of water, and there’s drama aplenty between predator and the unlucky prey. June, July and August are traditionally the best times for game viewing in Botswana, but don’t rule out September and October either. And regardless of when you go, we’d recommend at least three nights and two full days, to discover everything you need to.
One of the perks of being well-established in the safari industry is that we get trusted with things, which is exactly what happened with Khwai Private Reserve. Previously, the reserve was rather unimaginatively called NG18, so we’ve assigned it the catchier moniker of Khwai Private Reserve, after the Khwai River that runs through it. The reserve borders the lush Moremi Game Reserve to the south, and the wilderness of Chobe National Park to the east, both of which are part of the larger Okavango Delta World Heritage Site. It’s also something of a hidden gem and visitor access is restricted to a small handful of guests at Natural Selection’s camps. Hyena Pan itself overlooks a natural water pan from a forest of cathedral mopane, a mere 12 kilometres north of the Khwai River.
The flight to Khwai Private Reserve from Maun is approximately 35 minutes, and then it’s an hour-long drive to Hyena Pan from the airstrip. It’s also possible to drive here from Maun, and it takes between three and four hours.
We’re not exaggerating when we say that Khwai is one of Botswana’s densest, big-game areas. Chobe National Park is just to the north of our reserve, where dense mopane woodland attracts the world’s largest population of elephant. We’ve heard mutterings of 7,000, but many scientists believe there are nearer 10,000 trunk-swinging pachyderms in the area. And the best bit? There are no barriers and certainly no fences interrupting their movement into Khwai. Lucky us!
Your binos will be buzzing on game drives from Hyena Pan. Giraffe and elephant come from the north, whilst herds of buffalo and zebra migrate from the south, joining the resident hippo who fight fiercely for their space. Out on game drives, you’ll learn the difference between kudu and tsessebe, and distinguish rare roan antelope from the even rarer sable antelope. And don’t get us started on the birdlife; it’s as diverse and multi-coloured as the resident big game.
Then come the big cats. On some Botswana safaris, you enjoy brief glimpses of these predators. But in Khwai, we go one step further. Our guides know exactly where the territorial lines are drawn, and what to find, where. There’s a good chance you’ll see lion on the prowl, leopard slinking through the trees, as well as cheetah and even wild dog.
Khwai Private Reserve is possibly one of Africa’s greatest conservation triumphs. We are extremely proud of what we have achieved in the region, and helping us make the area such a success are our outstanding partners: the Khwai Development Trust, the communities surrounding Khwai itself, and local safari veterans Kelly and Greg Butler. Greg and Kelly in particular have always coexisted with some of Africa’s greatest wildlife and understand the importance of leaving the land untouched; after all, it’s the locals that know the area better than anyone, and it’s their passion that enhances your safari…
During the construction of Hyena Pan, we always had one question in mind: how can we maximize the game viewing experience from camp, without interrupting the flow of life? Well, we think we came up with some pretty good solutions! The camp overlooks a waterhole that comes alive with wildlife; harrumphing hippo splash below your private deck, and elephant are never far from the pool, making for exhilarating siesta swims! Sofas and armchairs are all perfectly positioned for the best views across the landscape, and not far from camp is a sunken photography hide, offering a rather different perspective of the surroundings. As a guest once told us, a stay at Hyena Pan feels like spending time in a friend’s home; it’s intimate, homely, perfectly comfortable – and we wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted to stay forever.
Natural Selection Safaris
Semi-Permanent Tented Camp
Max. clients in vehicle
Day & Night Game Drives, Mokoro, Walking