Kwando – Planning a safari in an exclusive reserve

Hippo peaking out of a waterhole in the Linyanti

Kwando is one of Africa’s ultimate safari destinations.

Epic elephant herds roam across the floodplains. Huge herds of buffalo face off against ravenous lion prides. Leopards and wild dogs are seen in abundance.

Exclusive and evocative, this private reserve has become a premier destination for fly-in safaris.

Here is what you need to know to plan a safari in Kwando.

Where is Kwando?

Kwando river at sunset

Four unfenced private reserves are located around the Kwando-Linyanti river system, in the north of Botswana. This wilderness connects with the Chobe forests to the east and Okavango Delta to the south.

Habitats collide here, providing haven for an incredibly eclectic mix of animals. Kwando measures 2,300 km², with dense mopane forest (great for elephants), lush riverine forest (ideal for predators), and wide open plains (for all the grazers).

Why is Kwando so special?

The mix of wildlife is one highlight, the diverse habitats another. There are no fences, so wildlife migrates freely through the area.

Kwando is also one of Africa’s largest private reserves; there’s a real exclusivity as this wilderness is only shared by guests at two small camps.

Not only are predators abundant, game drives can take you off the trail, so you actively track predators in their natural habitat. If your idea of a safari is big cats and wild dogs then few reserves can rival Kwando.

Diverse safari programs are another key highlight. Here you can go on nighttime game drives, walking safaris and boating safaris. Few reserves make these activities so exhilarating and safe, in a landscape packed with dangerous animals.

How much does a Kwando safari cost?

Children observing elephants from a boat in Kwando

This is one of the ultimate places for an African safari. It is not cheap. Expect to be paying USD 800 per person per night.

Where can you stay on a Kwando safari?

Kwando only has two camps and exclusivity is a big part of the appeal. You can’t explore the area unless you’re booked into an all-inclusive safari at one of these camps.

With its sublime settings along the Kwando River, Lagoon Camp is surrounded by big game, notably enormous elephant herds and packs of wild dogs. It’s a relaxed tented camp with activities on land and water.

Lebala Camp is located on open grasslands with expansive views from each of the tented chalets. It is remote and tranquil, an escape from the world that’s best in the dry season from June to October.

How to get to Kwando Reserve in Botswana?

Almost all guests visit Kwando on a fly-in safari. You can take a light aircraft safari flight from different destinations in Botswana. The cheapest and most regular connection is to Maun, the gateway town for a Botswana safari.

It is possible to visit Kwando on an overland safari, connecting the Okavango Delta with Kwando-Linyanti and then Chobe. You won’t be able to do this in your own vehicle. It requires a local guide who can get the necessary permissions to travel through private reserves on route.

Plus – there are no signposts out in this wilderness and you’ll be lost among elephants if going alone!

When to go on a Kwando safari?

Little bee-eater photographed on the banks of the Kwando river in Botswana

The best game viewing is during Botswana’s dry season, which runs from June to October. June to August are more popular but September and October offer the ultimate big game encounters.

Only 32 guests can be accommodated in the reserve at any one time. Dry season is peak season all over Botswana. Some of the national parks can feel a little crowded. However, this limit on guests means Kwando provides safari exclusivity every day of the year.

You will need to book in advance for a dry season safari. Prices are cheaper for other months of the year.

Where else on a Botswana safari?

Kwando is just one of the incredible safari destinations Botswana has to offer. Read our complete guide to Botswana safaris here.

And remember – watch out for those elephants!

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