Not dissimilar to the leopard, Kweene is also complex when seen through the lens of the standard definition of luxury. The beds on the floor, the standing room only tent, the hole in the ground, the shower bucket. It’s not obvious. It’s not opulent. For anyone looking, however, for the distilled essence of luxury, then look no further than Simon and his right-hand man Ace. What they offer is a cerebral luxury that is hard to define, and is not what the average luxury seeker might have in mind: it is the luxury of space and being initiated into that space by the knowledge, storytelling, and standards of men and women for whom it is home. You might arrive thinking ‘what is this’ and ‘get me out of here’, but I guarantee you won’t want to leave at the end.
When one truly appreciates space, connectivity with nature, and the calibre of guides that host you, then you have arrived: you appreciate, to beat an old drum, space as the new luxury. The byproduct – the appreciation – of the process of engaging deeply with everything Simon and his team have to offer is understanding the real meaning of luxury. The truth of this especially hit home when we ended our trip in a 7-star lodge. We slept in large beds and bathed in large bathtubs. We saw a beautiful male leopard metres from our vehicle, calm and unbothered. We ate beautiful food. But I think, after what we’d just been through, we all felt bothered. A nagging sensation that this style of luxury is too easy, too removed, too curated. There was no edge to push back against, and it left us formless. Here, the luxury was not a by-product of our efforts and our willingness to let go. On the contrary, it was front and centre, and nothing like where we had just come from.
In the end, the challenge of Kweene’s proximity to nature and cerebral luxury gave us shape and meaning. Journeys by Design champions this style of independent operator who stands out in an increasingly crowded, over-fed, commercialised, and commoditised Okavango – and safari Africa more broadly – space.