We made it!!! When we finally arrived into Xakanaka Camp at almost 11am on Tuesday (after flying in from Maun and a morning game drive), we were shown to our tent to get settled and shortly after met for brunch at the main eating area. The concept of the camp is really well done in my opinion. It is all-inclusive which means your accommodation, meals, drinks (including local alcoholic beverages), and game activities are included in your cost. The only additional charges are your purchases of curios in the shop and tips for your game guide and camp staff at the end of your stay.
A typical day consists of a 5:30am wake-up call, gathering at the bar area for a light breakfast, and then off for a morning game activity (usually a game drive).Upon returning from your morning activity, you gather for brunch in the communal dining area. This is where all guests and staff members congregate twice a day for meals (brunch in the morning and dinner at night). After brunch is “siesta” time from about noon to 3pm – this is the heat of the day and most animals are either sleeping or hiding in the shade to protect themselves from the elements. With a 5:30am wake-up call each morning, the siesta’s were actually quite necessary…!
At 3pm you gather once again by the bar area for tea and a light snack before heading out for your afternoon game activity (either another game drive or a boat ride around the Delta). Once you return from the afternoon activity, you are escorted back to your tent by your guide and you set a pick-up time for dinner. Your guides act as escorts at daybreak and after nightfall because the camp is unfenced and they often come across hippos within the campsite at night – since hippos are one of the deadliest animals, the camp is very careful and wants to ensure your safety at all times which is good to know.
Now originally I was concerned about staying in a tent in the middle of the bush, but this was really more of a permanent structure – it is up on stilts with wood floorboards, a deck, king size bed, dressing table, nightstand and electricity. The bathroom is located off the back of the tent and was open-air at the top (which means that animals can and will enter at some point – and pretty sure something did on our last night but not exactly sure what it was…!). There is running water (hot and cold), a shower, sink and toilet so you can hardly call this “roughing it” – not that I minded at all! It was the perfect combination of rustic and luxury accommodation in my opinion. Check out their website for pics of the camp – this place is really awesome!
Our tent, named after the Sable Antelope, overlooked a channel of water from the Delta in the foreground and the grasses of the Delta for miles beyond. During the night we could hear the Hippo’s passing by our tent – they come out of the water and onto the land at night to eat the grass. I must admit I did not sleep very soundly the first night and counted 4 Hippos passing by in the middle of the night! One actually sounded like a human’s footsteps coming down the path and I was seriously expecting it to walk right up the stairs and into our room! When I mentioned that to our guide, Water, the next morning he said the hippo was probably stalking something. Apparently hippos DO stalk things (just like cats!), and when they are stalking something, there footsteps are very slow and measured which can often sound like a human walking slowly. But, when these hippos enter the water they sound something like a submarine submerging in the water – it is pretty loud and somewhat unnerving in the pitch-black African night!
(Here is a sneak peek of a Hippo photo from a game drive)
After we settled in our tent on the first day we headed to brunch and were treated to the first of many delicious meals cooked by the staff. That morning was bacon, sausage, salad, and a yummy pasta dish that was some sort of macaroni/lasagna combination. The communal nature of the dining area is actually a nice way to get to know the people who run the camp and also other guests. We met a couple from Johannesburg who were there for a week and were there for the bird-watching (this is the same couple that we shared game activities with for the next day and a half). A nice German couple arrived the second night and had just come from the Serengeti where Hyena’s had tried to come into their tent during the night! Ugh! Side note: The thing about going on a safari that I can promise – you will ALWAYS have a great story to tell upon your return (whether it is being charged by an elephant or stalked by a hyena, maybe not, but you never know!).
(The Boma or Campfire)
Jason and I explored the camp and spent one siesta time by pool area having a beer and enjoying the Delta scenery. I played around with our camera a little bit to see if we could capture the beauty of the scenery with our new lenses and filters – not too bad for a couple of first-timers if I don’t say so myself! Here are some of the pics of the scenery from the campsite.
(Below is the dock for Xakanaka)
(View of the Delta from the Pool Area)