New luxury tented camp captures the classic safari feel with modern themes and finishes crafted by South African design firm Fox Browne Creative
Set within the Okavango Delta’s community-run Khwai Concession, African Bush Camps’ newest camp is tucked under Leadwood trees on the edge of the Khwai River. This river is all that separates the iconic Moremi Game Reserve and the camp. From time to time, hippos, elephants and even lions cross here. Watching wildlife maneuver through the water while surrounded by the sounds of the bush creates an unforgettable experience – even for safari veterans.
Khwai Leadwood’s look, feel, and hospitality concept is the work of Fox Browne Creative, a South African design firm with three other African Bush Camps properties already under its belt. Khwai Leadwood is a destination all its own with intimate and vibrant, elements that transform the guest experience from great to amazing with added moments of theatre in vibrant interiors and elevated details in food and beverage; all hallmarks of an African Bush Camps property.
“We feel privileged to work in these beautiful remote areas with the people of African Bush Camps who are passionate about making a difference in wildlife conservation and their communities,” notes designer Debra Fox. “We see sustainability as a multifaceted process. It encompasses every aspect of the operator’s operations, values, and beliefs.”
African Bush Camps’ 16th luxury location features six twin/double tents and one family unit, all arrayed around a guest area that has been laid out like the open wings of a raptor. Tents are low-impact with an extremely light footprint, in keeping with requirements from the Botswana government. Each has a covered verandah that mimics the beak of an eagle, and displays colors and textures inspired by leadwood. Rooms are designed for comfort, with modern amenities, private en-suite bathrooms, indoor/outdoor showers, and private timber decks crafted from commercially farmed and certified hardwood.
The design was inspired by a classic safari style that is captured in a clean, sculpted way with a touch of whimsical retro design. The organic shape of walls softens straight lines, and bush pole fencing and the finials on the tent poles have been laser cut in a bird’s shape. Furniture pieces show elements of ebonized timber and steel, and the old patterned and natural textures of locally produced Botswana basket-ware give the spaces a contemporary look and feel.
Hints of mustard yellow inspired by the water lily and wild grasses of the Okavango Delta enliven an otherwise subtle duo-chrome palette. Circular patterns on features such as lampshades and sun loungers reference giant water lily leaves.
Botswana crafts are celebrated throughout the design. The bed, for instance, “is the hero of the room,” notes designer Fox, with wall-mounted Botswana baskets creating a striking headboard that gives rooms warmth as well as a distinctive sense of place. The drinks trolley with a low-energy, battery-operated cooler and the beautiful dressing table found in every tent continues this basket reference.
The designers kept the guest areas playful and light, with a sense of place connected to the prevailing culture of the region around the camp. Imagine archival animal print wallpaper, reed weaving, custom Southern African furniture, and Botswana basket-ware visible in contemporary chandeliers, tables and cabinets. The look and feel of external and feature walls, outdoor showers, boma walls, and the camp’s outdoor dining area were inspired by a construction technique the designers discovered while exploring the local village, where houses and walls are made with recycled glass bottles or cans set between mud plaster.
Sustainably built, Khwai Leadwood is exceptionally environmentally friendly, with 90% of its energy drawn from a full solar farm, and energy-efficient appliances and light fittings used throughout. Tents are made of tensile fabric and set on plinths to reduce their foundations and enable their placement in intimate settings without disturbing roots or removing trees.
The new Khwai Leadwood camp is a thoughtful, inviting space for travelers to immerse themselves in an authentic safari setting based on local inspiration, modern design, and contemporary, sustainable amenities.
Rates at African Bush Camps’ new Khwai Leadwood camp start at $609 per person per night.