Safari camps and lodges are a dime a dozen in Southern Africa. Many of them are good, some are ok and there are even a few that are seriously average. Only a select few are really special. Machaba Camp in Botswana falls into that category (it also falls into our luxury Botswana itinerary, which you can check out here).
Take one of the world’s most famous wildlife areas, the Okavango Delta. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, this vital ecosystem has one of the highest concentrations of game animals on the planet.
Now, using the Google Earth functionality of your brain, zoom in on the North Eastern corner of the Okavango. Got it? Good. Now zoom even further in to the Khwai Concession, a 35 000-hectare reserve bordering on Moremi Game Reserve. This is where, under the Sycamore fig trees that give it its Setswana name, you will find Machaba Camp.
Built with a timeless 1950s safaris aesthetic in mind, yet equipped with a hybrid solar/generator power system (ensuring hot water no matter what), Machaba Camp boasts luxury safaris tents with en-suite bathrooms. Yes, that does include wonderful outdoor showers for that proper bush experience. Set among the riverine trees, each of Machaba’s ten tents (eight luxury and two family luxury) tent has a view of the river so you can sit and watch the procession of animals coming down to the water to drink from the Moremi and Khwai rivers that the camp looks out over.
The Machaba trees around the camp attract birds, monkeys, baboons and elephants, but even without them the area is teeming with wildlife, including the Big 5. You can take in an early morning, late afternoon or an evening game drive (the best times to see animals), get poled through the shallow waterways on a traditional mokoro dugout or go on a guided bush walk with an armed ranger. For the amateur or professional photographer, the landscape and wildlife photo opportunities, especially around the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, are absolutely unbeatable.
If you ever tire of the sights and sounds of the bush (something we find almost impossible), you can get your fix of culture by visiting the local community. For those wanting to slow things down even further, Machaba also has a library, a swimming pool with loungers and even a spa therapist offering massages and facials in the comfort of your tent.
After an afternoon game drive, toast the sunset over sundowners (we recommend a G&T, but the stocked bar caters to all tastes). After a sumptuous bushfare dinner prepared by skilled Botswanan chefs under the Milky Way, all that’s left to do is listen to the sounds of the bush at night and to stare deeply into the fire (aka the bush TV).
There are undoubtedly fancier camps in busier areas, but for value for money Machaba Camp is one of those rare gems that offers understated luxury and a truly special safari experience in one of the world’s most incredible, untouched places.
There’s a reason we love it so much. It is that good.