Botswana - Kwetsani Lodge

May 12, 2011 - Chobe National Park, Botswana


At last it was lift off! Our Cessna raced down the runway at Maun International Airport and the stress of the morning dissipated slowly as we rose into the air. What a rush! We thought ID’s would be enough and passports for such a small flight would not be needed.  Wrong...they delayed the plane whilst Karl and George dashed back to camp. In the meantime the president arrived so the whole airport was closed down! We flew out over the delta for about 45minutes and touched down at the Jao airstrip. They were busy pumping and sweeping water off the runway to keep it in operation. MT our guide picked us up, drove us a couple of minutes through the mud and dropped us where the boat was moored. From there it was a boat cruise down what are usually roads as well as the hippo channels till we arrived at Kwetsani Lodge about half an hour later.

Kwetsani was amazing, a little bit of paradise for 3 nights, what an experience! The lodge and chalets were all elevated on stilts and joined by walkways that sat just above the highest elephant but in reach of his trunk. Each chalet also had a large tree or two built into it so you had the feeling of being in a tree house. Elephants roamed through the camp and since we were on an island you could hear them slosh through the water with a kind of rhythm something like sound of water in an industrial top loader on a very slow cycle! In camp we would hear the foliage breaking, elephants chewing and the odd deep rumble. Hippos grunted and grazed sloshing around too making the nights and early mornings quite noisy at times! It was beautiful up there in the dense green canopy, bird songs filled the otherwise peaceful spaces. 

Our days were packed full of activity, there was hardly a time to just sit and reflect and savour the days experience. We arrived to high tea, sorted out our rooms and were taken on a mokoro ride to end the evening with. This was just what we all needed, tranquillity, beautiful bird calls especially the fish eagles and the sight of elephant on the water edge. Our poler gently and smoothly moved us along so that there was hardly even a splash. The water was beautifully calm and glassy with wonderful reflections and lilies as the sun set.

We went to bed that night with the fan on full but woke in the early hours to pull all the blankets on. The wind howled through the trees and the rain came later with dramatic sheet lightning and thunder. What an experience to be in the middle of a big tree in a tumultuous storm. Our deck was joined to the tree so it felt like our bed was being bumped as the tree nudged the deck. We were exhausted by the time our wake-up call came at 6am and rather annoyed since we had to wait several hours for the rain and wind to subside enough for our first activity to begin. Dressed in waterproof blanketed ponchos we headed off down to the boat to cruise back to our air strip island, Jao, where a landy was waiting for our first game drive. The day cleared and by lunch time it was sunny again.

We saw lion and their cubs and most other game and had a lovely time. Jao island was full of palm trees, dense bush and puddles. We arrived back for a late lunch, high tea and then a night boat cruise. The feeling we had was similar to our Amazon river experience, the skipper had to negotiate a maze of waterways often hidden between the grass, reeds and little islands. At times it would look like he was charging straight for the reeds but suddenly a little hippo channel would pop up and we would race down it with the vegetation sweeping the sides of our boat. It amazed us how they knew exactly which little channel to take!

The second full day was stunning from start to finish! The sunrise was gorgeous and the elephants roamed the plains in front of us sloshing through the water. We set out for a full day’s game drive to another island with a picnic buffet on a tree top deck above a lake. One of our first sightings was a gathering of nervous impala and zebra, one male impala was giving very loud alarm calls and the herd of animals scattered. There was a magnificent leopard, we spent some time admiring him from very close range! Later we also got to see a lion kill, a zebra had been taken and there were 3 large young lions with their mother taking turns to take their fill on the kilI.

I have never had a full day’s game drive but I can imagine this would have been hard to beat. At lunch we had a good spread and more importantly a well stocked cooler box of booze! MT showed us so much on that island and we were often deep in the water cruising with it up to the middle step (above the wheels) of the landy. We arrived back to the boat exhausted and cruised home just before sunset.

The lodge was beautiful though there was not much time to spend just around, taking it all in. We were fed like kings and loved every moment of it! The last morning came and we ended it again with a mokoro ride which was not as magical as the first probably because it was not sunset and we knew it was home time .

 Kwetsani was a very very special treat, one of those lodges that is a must to do! It’s a wonderful combination of water and land giving you a rich and memorable experience!




In the Cessna-550
Kwetsani - farewell dinner-550
Swimming pool at the lodge-550
Our chalet-550


Sharon Johnson:
May 12, 2011
Hi Alice and George
What an adventure - makes staying in a tree house obligatory! Can't wait for our trip through Botswana at end June - we are travelling in a party of about 9 4 x 4 vehicles and staying in organised campsites with food supplied - from Chobe to swamps to all over...will have to get more details from Greg! He organised it all and I am just packing my bags!
Few more weeks left in HP before I am a full-time student again. Will probably continue part time. I hope so! Nobody can tell me yet... I have written first 30 pages or so of my PhD and now the hard part - interventions - have to be done. The real world as opposed to a literature review!Winter has descended on CT with dark nights and chilly mornings. I rather like it but enjoy the warmth up north!
Keep safe and keep up the well-written blogs!
x Sha
brigitte parfitt:
May 12, 2011
Oh my dear friends, I could almost hear the sounds of nature in the night, see the sunsets, be on your boat amongst all these waterchannels, watching the fish eagle swooping down..... The only hight tea though which I ever experienced was at the Mount Nelson - now there is a thought: High Tea in Botswana. Something to look forward to one of these days. Your report, Alice, is so lifely and colourful. Well done!! Perhaps you could consider writing for travel magazines, once you come back.
As you were told before, winter is descening on C.T. We are enjoying our son+grandson from Sydney, daughter arriving from OZ Sunday and Natalie+Iain on Wednesday/Thursday from G'town. We will have a family celebration for Roy's b'day on 21 May. He is so happy! Lots of love and happy travelling, Brigitte
Anton Peters:
May 12, 2011
Hi George and Alice, first of all apologies for not keeping in touch, life has just been hectic for both Max and I, this chapter of your trip looks absolutely amazing, your pics are worthy of National Geographic. I was thinking of you guys at the worship service last are missed! Take care and enjoy enjoy...looking forward to more pics of your great adventure! Lots of love Anton and Maxine.
May 13, 2011
Hi Guys, You are obviously having a great time. Alice I think that you should release your journal as a book with lots of pics when you get back. The personal touches in your writing is brilliant and I almost felt as if I was there on the spot. Can't believe that you gi=uys have been away for 3 months now. Here's to a wonderfull, peaceful and Blessed next 3 months. Love. René
May 13, 2011
Hey you two.
Once again I must say how envious I am reading about all your adventures. It's amazing and the photos are great. As someone already mentioned, with your story telling technique, it feels like I am right there with you.
Thank you for your email. I did reply early this morning but don't know how often you open up.
I had a call from Cliffie in the UK yesterday. Just returned from Thailand and will be coming to the RSA in July. He seems to be having lots of fun.
He sends his regards and I will pass your blog site onto him.

Miss you guys and lots of love.
May 14, 2011
WOW, Kwetsanie sounds like PARADISE to me. I would LOVE to sleep in a treehouse with all the animals surrounding me.
I agree, your writing is brilliant. Whish you could help me write my thesis!I am still struggling. At least I am progressing.
ENJOY! and may God bless you!!
Sinclair & Carol:
May 14, 2011
Hi Guys
Thanks for sharing all the news, it's so wonderful to read all your commentry and ditto Rene's comment about the book.
You are living an experience which most of us can only dream about and to visit such places is amazing.
Getting decidedly colder here with the sun having lost much of its strength and day length shortening, well not too long to the solstice and they can startgetting longer again.
All the same as you head North it will get warmer for you.
Looking forward to your next installment of your amazing odyssey.
Have a ball.
God bless
Sinclair & Carol
Jo Van Der Merwe:
May 16, 2011
Hi Alice & George

Great Botswana story. Reminds me of a tree lodge Claire and I stayed at once in Hwange, Zim. Thanks for the call, pity about the line. Can't wait for you to get to Zim and see lots of familiar faces from long ago. Might you venture through whats left of our beautiful Auks Nest Farm ?? xx
May 16, 2011
Morning! Looks absolutely amazing! Love the photo's of the leopard and the lion cub.
Spent saturday morning at the rugby field. Samuel was playing agaist SACS. Hannah has a Cubs outing to Simonstown, so she at least had something of her own to do. Samuel also had a Math's test on Saturday afternoon. As a treat, he and Jason went to movies with friends. Hannah and I decided that we needed a treat too and went to watch RIO at Cavendish. Sunday was church, chocolate cake, homework & afternoon walks (Hannah & Jason went woth friends to Newlands forest. Samuel & I went to Keurboom park where he met some friends and played rugby). What's next on your list? Take care and safe travels. Ellie
May 29, 2011
Great story. Love your reports. Take care and lots of love!!
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