One of the perks of being well-established in the safari industry is that we get trusted with things, which is exactly what happened with Khwai Private Reserve. Previously, the reserve was rather unimaginatively called NG18, so we’ve assigned it the catchier moniker of Khwai Private Reserve, after the Khwai River that runs through it. The reserve borders the lush Moremi Game Reserve to the south, and the wilderness of Chobe National Park to the east, both of which are part of the larger Okavango Delta World Heritage Site. It’s also something of a hidden gem and visitor access is restricted to a small handful of guests at Natural Selection’s camps. Hyena Pan itself is in the drier interior of the reserve, 12km north of the Khwai River, it is surounded by a forest of mopane and overlooks a very productive natural water pan.
The flight to Khwai Private Reserve from Maun is approximately 35 minutes, and then it’s an hour-long drive to Hyena Pan from the airstrip. It’s also possible to drive here from Maun, and it takes between three and four hours.
We’re not exaggerating when we say that Khwai is one of Botswana’s densest, big-game areas. Chobe National Park is just to the north of our reserve, where dense mopane woodland attracts the world’s largest population of elephant. We’ve heard mutterings of 7,000, but many scientists believe there are nearer 10,000 trunk-swinging pachyderms in the area. And the best bit? There are no barriers and certainly no fences interrupting their movement into Khwai. Lucky us!
Your binos will be buzzing on game drives from Hyena Pan. Giraffe and elephant come from the north, whilst herds of buffalo and zebra migrate from the south, joining the resident hippo who fight fiercely for their space. Out on game drives, you’ll learn the difference between kudu and tsessebe, and distinguish rare roan antelope from the even rarer sable antelope. And don’t get us started on the birdlife; it’s as diverse and multi-coloured as the resident big game.
Then come the big cats. On some Botswana safaris, you enjoy brief glimpses of these predators. But in Khwai, we go one step further. Our guides know exactly where the territorial lines are drawn, and what to find, where. There’s a good chance you’ll see lion on the prowl, leopard slinking through the trees, as well as cheetah and even wild dog.