Botswana Traveler

An American explores the desert and the delta

Elephant Sands Lodge: Comfortable place to spend the night, but not a destination for relaxation

Posted on | February 2, 2010 | 35 Comments

http://www.elephantsands.com/

Review originally posted by me on TripAdvisor

Elephant Sands is the kind of place I always looked for in Botswana – affordable, unpretentious, and somewhere I could drive to. Unfortunately, all of those features make it a bit of a truck-stop on the way from Johannesburg to Kasane. Every time I’ve been there the place is full of South Africans with their loaded up Cruisers and Rovers heading to or from Kasane. And I can’t say that I’m much better…the only time I’ve stopped here is on the way to or from Kasane myself. But let me tell you, Elephant Sands is a welcome respite after dodging donkeys and (the now temporarily fixed and under repair) potholes.

Elephant Sands is at the southern end of the Worst Road in Southern Africa – a tarmac road that has degraded into a moon-scape of potholes that look like meteorites had hit the road. However, when I drove this stretch in October of 2009, these potholes had just been filled in with gravel, allowing someone in a Hilux or similar vehicle to travel the whole stretch at highway speed without fear of demolishing a wheel to a pothole. I believe the plan is to build a whole new stretch of road alongside this old one, work on which was underway already (ask to hear the story about Ian Khama and the Highways Minister…it is a good one!)

Back to Elephant Sands….the place has a number of lodging options: camping, pre-erected tents, and chalets. There might be one other option I’m missing here, but I can’t think of what it could be. Do yourself a favor and skip the pre-erected tents. They are twice the price of camping (P110 per person vs P55 per person when I was there) and I’d have rather just slept on the ground than the awful cot they put me on. The tents are falling apart, the mattresses appear to have been slept on by an elephant, and they are wedged in the middle of the parking lot. It was my impression they were phasing out these pre-erected tents and I’m all for that. The chalets looked nice enough – like every other chalet at a reasonably priced Botswana lodge, which is to say nicer than you’d expect for the price. Camping is excellent, the campsites all being huddled rather close together, but with enough space for privacy and the obligatory cammelthorn and acacia trees providing some shade. I give it two thumbs up for camping as there’s usually somewhere you can camp and likely that is all you are looking for here.

I had dinner one night here and the food was pretty good. The main attraction, however, is the watering hole that the entire place is built around. This is a rather parched section of land, especially in the dry season, and every evening, like clockwork, elephants trek to this watering hole to have a drink. You are literally a few feet from the behemoths and it is a sight to behold. The chalets, the campsites, the restaurant and bar, and the braii (cook-out) area is all huddled around this watering hole so everywhere gets a view. We never did any of the activities like a game drive etc, but at night we heard hyenas whooping and lions roaring, more than I can say for most campsites in Zambia and Tanzania I stayed at, but quite typical Botswana bush camping it. Except at Elephant Sands, you really aren’t roughing it.

I wouldn’t make this the destination of your trip, but as a place to spend the night after a long day on the road, it is a winner.

Be warned – you cannot get to this place with 2-wheel-drive, the road in is deep deep sand that takes 4×4 year-round. Once you get to Elephant Sands, prepare to buy water or drink water you brought because the taps give nothing but saltwater, a startling experience when you have forgotten this fact and go to brush your teeth!

Comments

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    Hi
    Have read you excellent blog – esp. the one “Self Drive Botswana” that was reposted verbatim elswhere.

    I’ve got a little FAQ on self drive safaris and would like to link to the original blogroll if it still exists…any chance?

    enzo

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    August 15th, 2010 @ 12:03 am

    PS: Thanks for the link.

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