Meno a Kwena

Meno a Kwena signpost

Meno a Kwena means “teeth of the crocodile” and has been in operation for over a decade, with the team, under young manager Justin’s watch, running like a well oiled ship. You might even have heard of it as the camp where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shared a romantic date.

Perched high on a cliff overlooking the Boteti River and the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, this gem of a lodge is reminiscent of an old school safari camp, decorated with leather chairs, old photos and antiques, but with none of the stuffiness some other similar places have.

There’s a small central pool and plenty of shaded seating at Meno a Kwena so you can admire the hippos below while enjoying a dip or a sundowner drink. Follow a path down to the riverbank and there’s a floating hide so you can spy on hippopotamus and thirsty elephant at eye level.

Meals, prepared by the super-experienced cook Kebofilwe, are buffet-style, with vegetarian options so you’re never left hungry. As is the case in so many safari lodges, meals are taken at a communal table. Breakfasts and lunches are served in the canvas-shaded dining room while dinners are at a long table beside the central fire pit.

There was so much to do here that two days was far too short. Our first activity was a private game drive into Mgadikgadi NP with our guide. Crossing a dry section of the Boteti River, we entered the reserve to find a whole array of animals including elephants, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe and plenty of birdlife including vultures and owls. On the way home, we took a small car ferry at Khumaga across a deeper section of the Boteti, just for the experience.

On one excursion, we went for a San Bushman walk. Sometimes, cultural experiences can feel fake or tacky but this one is really worthwhile for several reasons. For one, the family group that hosted us all appeared to really enjoy themselves while sharing their customs and knowledge of the bush with us. Through body language and their fascinating language full of clicks and chirps, they showed us how they tanned animal skins with a type of berry, got drunk on the fruit of the brandy bush and even dug up a scorpion, which they proceeded to stun by using their lips to clean the sand off the eyes of the animal. Yikes!

Secondly, Botswana has a blanket ban on hunting. While this is fantastic for the wildlife, the ban has all but destroyed the San Bushman communities’ ancient nomadic way of life. Meno a Kwena arranges for a family group to come stay at their lodge for three months at a time so they can earn money while keeping their customs alive. The Jonkhusi tribe lives over 600km west of the camp, so this is no small undertaking for either party.

Given how close Meno a Kwena is to Maun (around 90 minutes by tar road), it's an ideal first stop on any safari into the Makgadikgadi salt pans - home to second-largest mammal migration on the planet and to meerkats. Read more about the reserve here.