The Lodge at Feline Fields: a dose of Kalahari R&R
This après-safari lodge offers top-notch Botswana hospitality - a very long way off the beaten track
A far-flung outpost of luxury in remotest Botswana, Feline Fields is a five-star retreat from the strains of the safari regime. Whereas other lodges may require a 5am start for the first game drive of the day, at Feline Fields you write your own itinerary: a lie-in, perhaps, and then a gentle ride on horseback through the bush, or a game of tennis before a swim and then sundowners on the sand dunes.
Where is it?
Feline Fields is in the far north-west of Botswana, near the border with Namibia. It’s a three-hour drive west of Maun, the main tourist town in the area, along rough, sandy roads. A driver from the lodge will collect you from Maun, or you can charter a light aircraft and use the Feline Fields landing strip.
Lying on the edge of the Kalahari basin, the area around Feline Fields consists of dry savannah, which greens up during the wet season. Heavier than usual rains earlier this year have led to strong growth, and in places the bush has reached shoulder height.
Where soil is bare it is white and salty – a remnant of the Makgadikgadi super lake that once covered the whole area – but on the large rolling sand dunes on the west of the reserve there is rusty red sand from the central Kalahari.
The game and other activities
Despite its name, Feline Fields is not the place to come for big cats. You may catch sight of a cheetah or a leopard, occasionally seen drinking from the swimming pools, but you’re much more likely to see one of the elephants that have made the lodge their home. In the wet season zebras and wildebeest migrate through the area, and birdlife is also plentiful.
Unusually for Botswana, though, the wildlife isn’t really the focus here. Instead, you’re encouraged to relax and enjoy the hospitality, the accommodation and the beautiful Botswana landscape. Wide-tyred mountain bikes are provided so you can get out into the bush – or get around the camp more quickly – or go out riding with Mandela, the horseman of the lodge. There’s also a tennis court and a gym for the more energetic guests.
A nearby community of San people, who have been living in this part of the Kalahari for tens of thousands of years, invites guests to visit them and learn about their culture and customs. Excursions to see San rock art in the nearby Tsodilo Hills, a Unesco World Heritage Site, can also be arranged.
Accommodation and food
The heart of the lodge is a restaurant and bar, grass-roofed and open-sided to maximise cooling breezes and extending out on to the pool deck, lined with sunloungers and parasols. Meals, mostly European or international in style, are served at a long table – unless you’re heading out into the bush for a candlelit barbecue, featuring more traditional African fare.
There are only six cabins, distributed throughout the bush to provide privacy and a sense of seclusion. Three of them come with private swimming pools, as well as a shady second-floor deck overlooking the bush. Downstairs, there’s a king-sized bed, a lounge area with daybed and writing desk, as well as a huge bathroom with a freestanding bath and rain-style shower.
When to go
Feline Fields is a year-round destination, largely unaffected by the weather. Summers are hot, up to 40C during the day and about 22C at night. From November until February, spectacular downpours are a possibility, and then the weather gets cooler and drier for the winter. In June and July, the temperature dips to 7C overnight, but climbs to an average daytime high of 25C.
Price and booking
A stay at The Lodge at Feline Fields starts from £725 per person per night. This includes return road transfers, all meals and drinks (excluding champagne and French wines), game drives and other activities, and a £25 donation to the Feline Fields Trust. To book visit the Feline Fields website.