Lawson’s Featured Camp: Polentswa Lodge.
The small lodge concept is done better in Africa than anywhere else, and we are fortunate to have visited a fair few on our tours and travels. This month’s featured lodge is Polentswa, situated deep in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, on the Botswana side of the Nossob River, in one of the remotest parts of Southern Africa.
The accommodation comprises safari tents, set in a row overlooking a vast ephemeral pan and small, artificial waterhole. The tents are situated on raised decks, getting you away from Scorpions and other nasties that roam the sand at night. The camp is unfenced, so predators may move around at night, and we know that first hand from footage recorded on one of our trail cams placed outside the tent on a recent visit.
The dining and communal areas are also set on raised decks, and in the evenings the views from the lounge are just spectacular. The food is basic but wholesome and tasty, and the chef is a miracle worker indeed, considering how far they have to go to get provisions!
There are game drives on offer, though we usually prefer to book on an accommodation-only basis and do the game drives ourselves. Night drives are not allowed even for the lodge guides (as per the rules of the Transfrontier Park), and one has to be off the main tourist road by the allocated closing time (though that means you still have 20 minutes or more of driving in the growing darkness as you make your way to the lodge itself). The only other accommodation anywhere near the lodge is a small, basic camp site, but other than that, this camp is extremely remote, and that’s all part of the appeal.
The best aspect is the location – not far from Polentswa Waterhole, a Lion magnet during the dry season, and you can be one of the first cars there in the morning. And so remote that you really feel like you are in the wilderness. The starscape at night will floor you…
The Lawson’s rating:
Accommodation: 3.5 (basic but clean and comfortable, the only negative is that the tents are placed quite close together, so you can hear pretty much most of what’s going on next door… On future bookings we’ll ask for our groups to be allocated alternate tents, if at all possible).
Communal areas: 4.5 – the views are to die for.
Food: 4 – basic but tasty and wholesome.
Game Viewing: 5.
Suitable for: more adventurous travellers.
Recommended length of stay: 3 nights.
Special notes: not recommended in mid-winter, when it can get bitterly cold.
Visit Polentswa on a Lawson’s Custom Safari!
Lawson’s Featured Bird: African Harrier Hawk.
Today we are taking a look at one of the most remarkable and entertaining of African raptors, the African Harrier Hawk (Polyboroides typus). This species is widespread across sub-Saharan Africa, with the very similar Madagascan Harrier Hawk representing the genus in Madagascar. One of the unique features of the bird are the double-jointed knees, enabling the lower legs to bend in multiple planes, giving the bird the ability to access prey items such as geckos, lizards, birds, squirrels etc hiding in cracks, crevices and nests. Watching this bird hunting is quite an experience, and it’s clear at times that it has a degree of problem-solving ability as it works out how to extract something from a hole or crack. Another interesting feature is the ability of the normally yellow facial skin to change to bright scarlet according to mood – as can be seen in the mating pair which were obviously a bit excited! It’s a relatively common species, even occurring as a garden bird in our home town of Nelspruit, South Africa, and easily seen on most regional safaris. Photos by Leon Marais.