Little Pan Camp – a river island safari

Posted on 6 May 2020

An island in the wilds ensures exclusive immersion in nature.

Okavango Delta, 15km from Maun, Botswana

Maun is no longer a sleepy frontier town but a sprawling safari hub, not exactly known for peaceful, starry nights (given the number of dogs that bark at night). Which is why we were so happy to discover Little Pan. Situated on an island in the Thamalakane River, en route to Moremi’s South Gate, this intimate tented camp immerses you in tranquil nature from the minute you arrive.

The acacias around the mess tent come alive with bush-babies after sunset. Image: Sally Rutherford.

Three years of drought had all but dried up the river that makes it an island, but this mattered not a jot to the wildlife that trawls through the camp. Little Pan is the first to be awarded Botanical Garden status in the Okavango Delta, and the unspoilt terrain was a fragrant delight. Tags identify the flora, so we could stroll around camp learning more about the many species we’d seen in the bush.

Icy G&T in hand, we were shown to our ‘room’ – and what a room it was. The canvas walls of the spacious Meru-style tent were hooked back to let in the dappled afternoon light. The interiors were simply beautiful. Given the delights of our tent, it was hard to tear ourselves away for dinner at the mess tent. Delicious aromas and the approach of dusk won
out eventually.

The camp’s four tents are luxurious and ultra-spacious. Image supplied.

We relaxed around the fire over sundowners, where the antics of resident bushbabies leaping through the trees enchanted us. Dinner was a candlelit affair, with plate after delicious plate arriving to defeat our appetites. Staff set up a night camera beside the waterhole, and in the morning we viewed the ghostly images of nocturnal visitors, including bats, a genet and a gorgeous aardvark.

With a month of wild camping under our belts, we decided to relax and not take up the myriad activities on offer – from horseback safaris and mokoro trips to day safaris into Moremi. We did a guided bush walk but I have to tell the truth: once I became horizontal beside the swimming pool (which has a sloped bottom to allow hippos to walk out if they decide to gatecrash), I gave myself over to counting the birds in the nearby treetops, and considered my Botswana bush holiday complete.

Best Feature
Just four tents (two are family friendly) tucked among mature trees. I had the best night’s sleep, woke to a glorious dawn chorus in the surrounding foliage, and showered outdoors to the sound of elephants breaking branches nearby.

R6,000 pp including all meals, local drinks, transfers and a nature walk.


Words by Sally Rutherford


This article was first published in the January 2020 issue of Getaway magazine.
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All prices correct at publication, but are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please check with them before booking or buying.


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