During November/December 2009 myself and a companion spent five weeks travelling through Botswana staying at various 4-5 star lodges. Having made use of the excellent camping facilities at this lodge a few years ago, I had no qualms in recommending staying at the lodge for a couple of days. Through the booking office in Maun, who assured us that this was a luxury tented lodge, we made a booking for two nights at the lodge, two nights on an island in the Delta returning for one night at the lodge.
On arriving at the lodge, tired after a day of driving, we had to put up with the manager's wife filling us in on her family's divorces, trials and tribulations before we were even shown to our accommodation. The shower did not produce any hot water, and when we complained to her about it before dinner her reply was that we just had to learn how to work it. The shower problems were only sorted out by the last night of our stay. The dinners, and the breakfasts we were served were equivalent to the fare in the cheapest B&B that I have stayed in. In no way can one consider this to be equivalent to 4 star fare (which the lodge claims to be). The packed lunch and breakfast for our day trips around the lodge and to the Delta also left much to be desired. A few boiled eggs, some slices of toast and if I recall correctly, a very bland pasta salad, with a few fruit juices, carbonated sodas and water as refreshments.
Furthermore, we had to put up with the managers' "when we" discourse ( for those that don't understand this: "when we were whites in power in Rhodesia and no longer are because we have been forced to leave by the blacks"), winging, and implicit and overt derogatory remarks about the locals and staff, some of whom were either dining with us or were responsible for providing and serving the food. As a South African who has moved on from this colonialist frame of mind I found it highly embarrassing and deeply disturbing that they had so little concern for the feelings of their fellow employees.
The sheets were of the cheapest polyester kind that one would get at the discount merchants and the towels were threadbare.
The area around the lodge is spectacular, especially near the Kwhai river. Wildlife in abundance, great bird watching opportunities and a chance to see giraffe, elephant and hippo at close range. But also, as is the case in Africa, it does require a fair amount of travel and a good picnic box to sustain one for an 06h00 start returning at around 18h30-19h00.
The highlight of this part of the trip (and I would say the whole 5 weeks we spent in Botswana) was the two night excursion to an island in the Okavango Delta. We were transported from the lodge to the island, through Moremi, by our very competent guide. However, I have to agree with picoullet that the lodge is really just to far away from the Delta. It took us nine hours by road and boat to reach Mboma Island. However, once we were there the experience was AMAZING AND UNFORGETTABLE. The guide, chef and boat guide were absolutely fantastic and really knew what they were doing. The food was extraordinary and we had the most amazing fillet steak for dinner one evening. All of you old enough to remember the movie "Close encounters of the third kind' , well this place puts a whole new perspective on that idea. We had the most amazing close encounters, and as someone who spends a lot of time in the African bush, this definitely was the highlight of my life. I have been to and seen many places in the world, but this island I would rank as a MUST DO BEFORE I DIE, a definitive for the bucket list. My advice, book the trip to the island with a transfer directly from Maun and fore go the forgettable experience of Mankwe Bush Lodge, unless you are planning to make use of their camping facilities.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Situated between the Moremi Game Reserve and the Chobe National Park, Mankwe Moremi Game ReserveMankwe Bush Lodge is an ideal gateway to exploring this area. Moremi is undoubtedly one of the most famous Parks in Africa. Moremi Game Reserve is the only officially protected area of the Okavango Delta, and as such holds tremendous scientific, environmental and conservation importance. Moremi Game Reserve is situated in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango, and includes the Moremi Tongue and Chief's Island, boasting one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the continent. This makes for spectacular game viewing and bird watching, including all major naturally occurring herbivore and carnivore species in the region, and over 400 species of birds, many migratory and some endangered. Both Black and White Rhino have recently been re-introduced, now making the reserve a 'Big Five' destination. Contained within an area of approximately 3900 sq. kms, where land and Delta meet to create an exceedingly picturesque preserve of floodplains - either seasonally or perennially wet, waterways, lagoons, pools, pans, grasslands and riparian, riverine and mopane forests. This terrain makes driving Moremi's many loops and trails both delightful and, at times, totally inspiring. Overlooking the bush and mopane forest, Mankwe's tents offer comfortable accommodation. The 10 safari tents are set on wooden decks overlooking a small valley. Each tent has an en-suite bathroom with shower, wash basin and flush toilet. The camp is run on solar power. Walk in tents are furnished with either two x twin beds or a double bed, chair, bed side tables, water pourer, glasses, safari chairs on patio, steel clothes and hanging space, large open mosquito gauze windows, and front door. Towels and bathroom guest amenities are provided. (please bring swimming towels). Trips can be arranged between Mankwe Bush Lodge and the Mboma Boat Station up into the Okavango Delta, offering the visitor a unique safari tour with a full day's game viewing in between. Or combine a stay at Mankwe with a game drive tour of Moremi, and an overnight at Xobega Island Camp - offering a true Okavango Delta water based experience. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mankwe Bush Lodge Botswana/Okavango Delta