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It Started With a Dream

Matshidiso (Tshidi) Stiekema

I moved to Maun in 2008 after having worked in Francistown in the hospitality industry. I also had an IT background, so when I initially came to Maun, I was working in the IT industry. At the start, during the construction of the DML project, I met a few mine employees through an acquaintance, it was then I realized the need for accommodation in Toteng for both the mine contractors and employees. As such I developed a few properties in Toteng for rental for the mine employees.

These projects were exciting in that they offered relief for some employees who otherwise had to commute from Maun to Toteng (90km) on a daily basis. At this stage I had developed passion for thatching and construction. For the past few years during my projects, I had to source most of the thatching grass I needed in Khwai. This is when I developed friendships with people in Khwai, and ultimately secured a plot for a possible tourism project. The Khwai project development started in 2010. My initial development was a family cottage, similar to what I had developed in Toteng.

This development was next to an already established tourist operation. Before completion of my project, and even before I had envisioned the final development, I was approached by my neighboring operators to work together, this is when they developed my project for their own management. This came as a blessing in that it offered me an opportunity to learn the business while leasing out my property to them. I was involved in the operator’s social investment projects in and around Khwai and in the Chobe region. Our working project lapsed in 2019. This challenge became an opportunity to develop the property and manage it myself.

The advent of Covid and travel restrictions resulted in total shutdown of the tourism business. It is likely restrictions might be in place until the end of the year. The property is developed and stays accepting customers since July 2021. Construction started in May. The project was successfully executed with the use of local suppliers, mainly canvas tents who designed and supplied and erected tents at short notice.

The other main challenge in this industry is the need to attract international customers once travel restrictions are lifted. As a new and locally owned venture, a lot of effort of effort has to go into marketing it internationally. For this purpose the company has hired two very experienced people to manage both operations and marketing of the business. International customers except the highest levels of facilities, and as such our customer service has to be world class. Our chefs, tour guides, bar tenders and customer service personnel are held to world class standards.

Being competed for by the whole world and with the Delta one of the seven wonders of the world, prices are elevated compared to normal tourist destinations in the country, or even in the region. We however do offer reduced rates for both Botswana and SADC countries citizens.

Khwai is a six tent resort that can accommodate six couples at a time, including children. The total package includes accommodation, meals, activities, which include boat cruises (seasonal), game drives and scenic flights over the delta, and flights from Maun International Airport to the Delta.

Owning my own safari camp was a distant dream, my source of information on this was from magazines and documentaries I watched. I was just a humble Motswana girl, born in Selibwe Pikwe with great ambition and drive, and a strong will to achieve above and beyond, but I never thought this day would come. With my experience and having partnered with one of the leading brand ambassadors in the tourism industry, the more and more I felt a strong desire to do something like this on my own… to give it a try.

My wish is to welcome you all to experience Khwai Expeditions Camp, the unique culture and heritage that our great country, Botswana, has to offer. My team and I would love to share our small corner of paradise with you here in Khwai. Come experience the wild with us!

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