Hyena Pan: Our View
We arrived at Hyena Pan, which is situated in the vast Khwai Private Reserve in the iconic Okavango Delta, in the heat of the day. One thing you can pretty much guarantee in Africa - you’re not going to see much wildlife at noon - especially in the heat we were experiencing then in the Delta. Not even in the Khwai Private Reserve, where wildlife is prolific. So it was with some surprise that as we walked up the steps of the Hyena Pan main lodge deck we found ourselves face to face with not one but many, huge, calm Elephants standing silently in the water of the Hyena Pan, staring at us, no more than twenty meters away. Lunch was forgotten and out came the cameras. That’s how it goes at Hyena Pan! You arrive - there are elephants in front of the lodge. You wake up - there are elephants in front of your tent. You leave - there are still elephants in the water of the Hyena Pan, from which this camp got its name.
Hyena Pan is a relatively new photographic concession that is well removed from Khwai Village and Khwai River. In our view that is a good thing because the Khwai Village/River area has become very crowded. Unfortunately it’s not unusual there to end up in a traffic jam of game vehicles following some poor leopard rather too closely.
The Concession Managers/Partners of Hyena Pan take a keen interest in the day to day running of the camp. Their passion certainly reflects in the excellent service at the camp, its general cleanliness, as well as in the plentiful, wholesome cuisine that is served. In particular the Hyena Pan guides/drivers were exceptional. Our guide was from a San tribe in the Okavango Delta and was able to give us remarkable insight into the history, fauna and flora of the area, having literally grown up there.
As we arrived at Hyena Pan, guests from New Zealand and Malta were having lunch on the deck, waxing lyrical about the camp, saying that they had been on Safari for a week, “but they have saved the best (Hyena Pan) for last”. We always listen to what other guests have to say. This was a definite thumbs up!
Hyena Pan has 8 well-appointed tents in a Mopane Forest overlooking the Pan. The wooden floor tents are well spaced apart in a horseshoe pattern around the Pan, although the Mopane trees had shed their leaves for winter when we were there - which reduced privacy to an extent. The tents are recently renovated, bright, large, clean, modern, and very welcoming.
Hyena Pan offers exciting walking with well trained guides, their famous Skybeds (more under Details below) which we thought were just brilliant, and superb game viewing.
Hyena Pan: Quick Facts
- 8 modern tents in a Mopane Forest next to Hyena Pan
- Swimming Pool
- Good game viewing both at the camp and in the Concession at large
- Exciting bush walking with highly trained guides
- Passionate management
- Sunken hide for up close game viewing
- Unique Skybed experience
- Fly in to Banoka airstrip - it’s an hour by vehicle from there
Hyena Pan: The Details
Apart from Elephant at the Pan in front of the camp we saw Zebra, Hyena, Giraffe, and Warthog coming down to drink there too. Hyena Pan offers excellent bush walking with highly experienced guides, something we really wanted to experience. We decided first to go and have a look at the new underground hide that had been built at a small watering hole to the North of Hyena Pan. We took a vehicle to the hide but when we arrived there were so many elephants milling about the watering hole that a couple of them were literally standing on the entrance to the sunken hide. After about half an hour the elephants had shown no interest in moving from their water source so we left them and disembarked from the vehicle a little further on to continue our journey on foot.
Our intention now was to take a longish bush walk across to the Skybeds, arriving in time for sundowners. We had perhaps the best guide we’ve ever had on a Safari Walk. He had grown up in the Delta and had amazing stories to tell, from walking as a child with his family to Namibia(!), sans passports, through the Delta - to how to catch pheasants using local beans and a hole dug in the sand. All the while he was talking our guide was nimbly avoiding herds of elephant on both sides of us and keeping an eye out for spoor. And keeping an eye on us. And lugging a great big elephant gun for our protection if necessary. Quite remarkable.
We eventually arrived at the Skybeds and were treated to sundowners and an exquisite sunset on the deck at the top of one of them. The Skybeds are remarkable wooden structures with two floors that are raised well above the ground. On the first floor is a bathroom. On the second floor is a high deck/bedroom. A fully equipped mobile kitchen parked nearby caters for the guests. Mosquito nets are provided at night. Armed rangers keep an eye on the Skybeds from a respectful distance. Should guests find that this experience is too close to nature for their liking, apparently a fairly common occurrence, a guide will return them safely by vehicle to the camp at once. The Skybeds are a great concept. We would certainly recommend spending a night out there under the African Night Sky, gazing at the stars and listening to the roaring Lions and cackling Hyena.
If we are to mention any drawbacks: We are not aware of this camp offering a Mokoro experience. Hyena Pan is not a Camp that is near the Okavango Floodwaters where Mokoro boating usually takes place. Hyena Pan is also an hour’s drive from Banoka airstrip, which can be quite a long, hot and dusty drive, especially if you have already travelled far on that day.
The owners are still developing the camp and you can see that in their relatively low charges. We recommend this camp, in particular for the well trained guides and walking experience, but also because it’s a clean, comfortable, unpretentious camp that offers good value for money in an area teeming with wildlife.