To the east of NG33 and 34, NG43 is really a huge (3,460km˛) patch of the Kalahari, east of Moremi’s South Gate and south of Chobe’s Mababe Gate. It’s not an area where there’s easy or prolific game viewing. I include it here because it is the base for a new bush lodge, and this may prove a very convenient stop between Maun and either Moremi or Chobe. In time, as the areas under wildlife protection effectively expand, it may even become more of a game-viewing destination in its own right.Getting there and away
Virtually all visitors travelling directly between Maun and Chobe will pass through a section of NG43, even if you haven’t noticed it. The lodge is situated in the northwest corner of the reserve, just north of Sankuyo Village, and between the roads that lead to Chobe and Moremi (GPS: MANKWE: 19°22.030’S, 23°53.510’E).
To reach it from Maun, head towards Chobe’s Mababe Gate. (That is, follow the directions to Sankuyo covered at the end of Chapter 8
.) Shortly after Sankuto Village the track splits. The right turn goes to Chobe, the left northwest to the cut line which runs north-south and divides Chobe from Moremi. You’ll find turn-offs to ‘Mankwe’ signposted on both roads.
Return transfers between the lodge and Maun can also be organised by the lodge for P100 per person (for a minimum of four people).What to see and do
Mankwe really works in two different ways, with different sets of activities. Firstly, if you’re just passing through on the way to Chobe, and decide to stop for a day or two, they will organise bush walks in their area led by a guide, or game drives. These can be shorter drives on NG43 itself, including afternoon/night drives with a sundowner, or whole day-drives which usually head into the Khwai River area. Night drives after dinner are also an option.
These guided activities are offered for a minimum of four people – at least, you must pay for four. Bush walks (2–3 hours) are P40 per person, short gamedrives (3–4 hours) are P60pp, full-day drives are P100pp, and short (2-hour) night drives are P40pp.
Secondly, you can use Mankwe’s position close to South Gate as a base for mobile safaris into the Moremi Game Reserve, often combined with overnight trips into the Delta from Mboma Boat Station, which they run.
A full day drive in Moremi or Chobe is P500 per person, and an overnight boat trip in Moremi is P880 per person per night, including food and equipment. Again, these assume a minimum of four passengers.
They’re also starting to offer wilderness 4WD trails across the NG43 concession, though these require two vehicles for safety reasons. A local guide accompanies each trip (in your 4WD), and s/he costs P100 per day.Mankwe Bush Lodge
There is only one place to stay here: Mankwe Bush Lodge. Far from any other lodge, constructon of Mankwe started in November 2000, and it opened for business in April 2001.
The main lodge is raised up on a wooden deck, with a thatched lounge, an outside boma area to sit around the campfire and a small swimming pool. Accommodation is in one of eight Meru-style tents. All are fairly large, about 4m x 8m, and stand on wooden decks overlooking the plains around. Inside are twin beds, simple furniture and an en-suite bathroom including a flush toilet, washbasin and a hot (gas-fired) shower.Mankwe Campsites
About 1.5km from the main lodge there are six private campsites, half under camelthorn trees and the other half under mopane trees. (Thus they’re known as the ‘camelthorn’ and ‘mopane’ sites respectively!) Each campsite has its own small ablutions, with a flush toilet, a bucket shower and a washbasin. By prior arrangement, meals can be eaten in the lodge.
Limited firewood is available (you’re asked to collect your own after the first night), and you’ll need all your own drinking water as well as food and fuel.