Farm stays feature high on my list of accommodation options wherever I travel. Having visited Maun on numerous occasions, in April 2017 we discovered a little-known destination called the Tshilli Farm, in an ancient forest in a remote area called Tsutsubega. The farm is situated on an island in the floodplain, at the edge of the Okavango Delta. By Romi Boom
At the 2016 Wild Shots Wildlife Photography Symposium in Cape Town, Sophie Dandridge, co-founder of the annual event, urged me to stay over on the farm where she and husband Adrian have built double and family size chalets on stilts, with ensuite bathrooms and hot showers. They also have individual campsites to pitch your own tent, with shared ablutions and catering area.
Sophie recommended we meet up at her coffee shop near Maun airport, and follow her vehicle down a warren of white Kalahari sand tracks. It is about 30 minutes’ drive to reach the farm, venturing ever deeper into the countryside where community farmers have been increasingly exposed to conflict with elephants over the last decade.
Chillies it is…
When the Dandridges decided to farm in the area, the most sensible thing to grow was something that the elephants (and monkeys) would not want to eat. Chillies proved the ideal non-conflict crop in this afflicted rural part of northern Botswana. From a small experimental garden of 20 chilli bushes, they produced their first batch of Wild Fire Chilli, which has gone from strength to strength. Forgive the pun, but once you’ve tasted the sauce, made from Botswana sunshine and Okavango water, you’ll agree that it is truly hot as hell. And delish!
Although the farm is fenced to keep the animals out of the vegetable patch, elephants roam through the area frequently and sometimes walk straight through the fence. The floodplain in front of the bar, overlooked by a star-gazing and sun-bathing deck, has a small swimming dam, which is popular with ellies and guests alike.
Sophie will happily provide meals for you in the communal dining area adjacent to an Out of Africa style tented lounge. The setting, with chandeliers and curated safari accoutrements, is beyond charming. Even royal visitors have been known to show up in this backcountry, lured by Adrian’s renown as a guide on safari game-drives and boat trips into the Okavango.
Submit your data
I was one of the first to camp on Tshilli Farm, so when we made our way there it wasn’t marked on Tracks4Africa’s maps yet. I couldn’t keep this gem to myself, so I submitted the GPS coordinates and contact details to email@example.com. This means you can now find Tshilli Farm as a point of interest. Future travellers to the Okavango can thank me later.
GPS maps 17.10
Take note that Tshilli Farm will be part of T4A’s GPS map update, version 17.10, in October 2017.