Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Machaba Camp’s ten luxurious tents are tranquilly set on the forested bank of the Khwai River, one of the Okavango Delta’s watery concourses, across from the famed wildlife paradise of the Moremi Game Reserve, with lovely views of the plains beyond and of the animals who flock to the river to work and play.
Gracious informality combined with merrily-offered service and attention to things large and small are Machaba trademarks. “It seemed the staff read our minds,” one Micato guest says, “always ready with a cooling drink, nimble when it came to special dietary needs, really on-the-ball.” Bolstered by Machaba’s hospitality, we venture on game drives in search of Moremi’s bounding, abounding, and thrillingly numerous animals.
Machaba Camp’s splendid tents and tented lounge are inspired by the 1950s, one of safari’s golden ages (another golden age: right now, when modernity astutely combined with tradition is at an auriferous apex).
Those high-ceilinged tents are ingeniously designed for airiness and soft comfort; as we like to point out, they’re to the tents of our youth like a Ferrari Berlinetta is to a Ford Pinto. Each features a large bedroom and curtain-separated, plushly comfy lounge, and— here’s where modernity really comes in handy—a sparkling en suite bath. A welcoming wooden deck gives us a cushy, up-front seats from which to gaze at the animal extravaganza right in exciting front of us. And in our peaceful slumber, we may hear the undisputed monarch of beasts; “No sleep [is] so perfect,” Elspeth Huxley wrote, “as that stirred by the thrilling vibrance of a lion’s roar.”
Sipping morning coffee or snacking on our deck, we witness a constant cavalcade of Africa’s signature animals as they graze, stalk, and disport on the Khwai River. And just across that river is the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, which comprises about 40% of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Okavango Delta Reserve.
Game drives bring us into thrillingly close view of the iconic Big Five—leopard, rhino, Cape Buffalo, elephant, and, of course, the lordly lion. Many antelope species provide the Moremi’s predators with sustenance: hyenas—feliform carnivoran creatures whose guile and compact power exert a subtle charisma, skulk purposefully and the continent’s largest collection of wild dogs inhabit the Moremi. “Other predators may be bigger and fiercer,” Rosie Woodroffe of London’s Institute of Zoology says, “but I would argue that there is nothing so enthusiastic as wild dog. They live the life domestic dogs wish they could live.”
And, a little less dramatically, the area is home to more than five hundred bird species, from African fish eagles and darting kites to a congeries of cranes and storks and a host of avians whose trills and mellow peeps sometimes seem joyously syncopated.