Night 1 – Motsentsela Tree Lodge, Maun

Motsentsela Tree Lodge, Maun


I had planned a 30 minute drive to my first night’s accommodation, the Motsentsela Tree Lodge. However, being fresh off the plane, not used to the Landy, not used to the GPS unit, and finding I was almost immediately driving through sand, I was very disorientated for that first journey. It was only 30 minutes down the road to Francistown and did the first U-Turn of the trip. When people say the roads in Botswana are rough, take your definition of rough and multiply it by 100. They are not roads in so much as they are places on a map which are vaguely marked by tracks in the sand where some people have gone before you. There are very few road signs. We weren’t given any directions to the lodge, so if you’re going here’s how to find it:

  1. To get there leave Maun on the road to Nata.
  2. Shortly after you pass the Caltex 24-hour fuel station and the adjacent turning northwest past Maun Lodge, there is another right turn. I emphasise the ‘shortly’ because I missed this, went sailing down the road to Nata, before thinking maybe after about half an hour I had missed the turn. What’s more, the turning is signposted with a sign to the lodge. It is about 50m before you reach the ‘Auto Pedigree’ car showroom – so if you pass that you’ve gone too far.
  3. Take this right turn which heads roughly southwest and the tar road soon becomes a dirt track and 50m after that it splits. Bear left here and continue through a village.
  4. After the village keep bearing left and following the signs for another c 8km when you’ll see a sign for the lodge on the right.
  5. After 500m this track leads to the gate. Once inside the gate, the track leads you straight to the lodge.
  6. For Motsentsela Tree Lodge get a gate code before leaving – we weren’t given one, so we arrived at a large gated fence which was locked. We had to put the satellite phone to is first test and telephoned Safari Drive to ask for the code.

Their view

“Motsentsela Tree Lodge safari tents are designed with the bed centrally positioned against a false wall, facing out towards the African bush. Bedside tables and wall mounted attractive reading lights create a feeling of permanency, as does the free standing colonial bath tub and double sinks on the reverse of the wall. This clever design gives the canvas safari room a spacious and airy feel, while providing more home comforts than you might expect. Additional thought has gone into the closed off toilet and outside reed-enclosed shower. The high canvas walls are set upon a wooden floor scattered with coir mats, which leads out onto your own private deck. The main lodge area of Motsentsela Tree Lodge is an open plan thatch affair with doors opening onto a large teak deck shaded by a Leadwood and Birdplum tree, under which meals and drinks are often served. Wooden tables and chairs scatter the deck, while a large brown leather sofa and easy chairs with African fabric cushions invite you inside to flop into them, while your drinks are being poured at the bar. Dining is also an open affair, where you are likely to chat over fresh and tasty food with the other guests at one big table. Zebra, kudu, the unusual black springbok and ostrich roam freely and there is an abundance of birdlife for the avid birdwatcher. You stay in well-built and furnished en-suite tents with a bath tub for colder days and outside shower, twin basins and flush loo. There is a swimming pool set into a deck near the main building where a bar, sitting room and dining room are situated. You can walk freely in this area as there are no predators. Your stay here is on a fully inclusive basis.”

My view

This place was an idyllic oasis, and the best welcome to Botswana we could have had. The Man and Wife team who ran the lodge were very friendly, with the kind of warm lodge charm and ability to run a place like this in the middle of nowhere that makes them a rare and specific breed. It looks like a tranquil swan on the surface, very peaceful, everything spick and span, a haven of tranquility. But it can’t be easy.

They are relaxed and laid back and welcome you like you’re long lost family who’ve just wondered over the hill, creating surprise and great excitement on the homestead. Their focus was on relaxation, and the Hostess had made trying to gauge my mood to understand my immediate needs into a fine art. She was clearly a mind-reader: when she suggested I could take some bottles of beer to the room to relax before dinner I could have hugged her. The host and hostess were very hospitable and shared my excitement about the trip ahead, but without being intrusive. There was something immensely calm and reassuring about them.

The lodge included a swimming pool which was very pretty set in amongst the decking, and the main building was built around decking around an enormous tree.

The room was like a fairy house, a thatched bungalow that would have been suitable for Oberon and Titania. I stepped out of the white glare of the day into the cool dark wood of the room, with views out into the bush, and through a wooden door an outside shower which was very thrilling indeed. The room was beautiful and incredibly comfortable. I dumped the bags and sat outside on the veranda sipping my first Botswana beer and listened to the whisper of the bush and cries of birds – and nothing else. I immediately started to relax.

I ate dinner together with the other guests, who included two pilots for the small planes which sweep the lodge guests around the country. I tasted the first thrill of telling the other guests we were about to self-drive and camp, while they were all being driven or flown by guides in groups. “Gosh you’re brave” they said. Naively we said: “No we’re not, we’ve driven around Namibia, and it really is not that big a deal.” Ha!

The night sky at the Tree Lodge place was utterly amazing. I sat outside the little hut and enjoyed some wine and a Cuban cigar, looking up into the southern sky above. The moon was at its smallest at this point in the trip, so the stars were at their most magnificent. It was exquisite, and not for the first time in Africa I felt humble and small.

The only thing that mildly marred this lovely lodge was the razor wire fencing which looped around the perimeter not far away from my room. This fierce fence was inside a double electric fence which stood over 6 feet tall. I looked out from the veranda onto this and wondered at what they were trying to keep out given this wasn’t meant to be a high density game area, it made it look like a luxury war zone.





2 Responses to “Night 1 – Motsentsela Tree Lodge, Maun”

  1. Weapons: Knives Says:

    Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    The swimming greats you should write about next, my ex was an olympic swimmer!

  2. Sherwood Oleksiak Says:

    Great post, bookmarked, will be back soon. Because this was a awesome post, keep up the good work .

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