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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in Botswana

Chobe Savanna Lodge: the Namibian camp run by a former flying doctor

The sunsets here are epic. It’s hard to beat watching the river turn gold at dusk; it’s a magical sight…

By Sue Ricketts
Owner of Target Africa

Chobe Savanna Lodge is located on the other side of the river from Chobe Game Lodge, so it’s actually in Namibia rather than Botswana, in the eastern Zambezi region.

There’s a lovely story behind the lodge; it’s run by Andre Birkenstock, who used to be a doctor for the camps, flying between the lodges to treat staff. He retired in 2017 and became the camp manager with his wife Anne-Marie – they’re a charming couple and guests really love them.

The camp itself is very remote and peaceful, and the journey here is an adventure in itself – you’re met at the border jetty and taken up the river in a boat to a small Namibian Passport building in the woods, where goats and chickens wander round. Then you get back in the boat and continue your journey to reach the lodge in what feels like the middle of nowhere.

Once you’re there, it’s laid-back, homely and rustic, with a thatched roof and 12 rooms, plus a swimming pool, gardens and a stargazing deck. Dr Birkenstock is big on astronomy, so they set that up on the deck and point out constellations and satellites – you can see the southern cross, and as it’s so remote, the stars are amazing.

Because it’s set right in front of Chobe River, the views are spectacular, and guests eat outside together at a big candlelit table overlooking the national park. It’s all à la carte, with dinners sometimes served in a surprise venue (and South African wines included with lunch and dinner). It’s very sociable – I’ve been here on my own and it’s a great holiday to do as a solo traveller because everyone’s always sharing stories from the day while they eat; the leopard they might have spotted or the pride of lions hiding in the bush.

Giraffes, antelopes, buffalo, hippos and crocodiles all call the area home too, as well as plenty of birds, including the African fish eagle. You can see all of this from the lodge with a pair of binoculars; I’ve seen a couple of leopard kills from up here, when a poor, hapless antelope has come down to have a drink and got pounced on! So even though there are no game drives from the camp – it’s all water activities on this side of the river – you see a lot.

There’s another big spectacle too – when the grasses on the other side of the river have all been exhausted from grazing and the water levels are low enough, you get herds of elephants swimming across to the Namibian side to seek out fresh grass. It’s quite a sight!

In terms of activities, there are no set times, so everything is very flexible. Guests can head out on morning motorboat trips, guided nature walks and fishing excursions. There are also sunrise and sunset cruises on skimmer boats – the sunsets here are epic. It’s hard to beat watching the river turn gold at dusk; it’s a magical sight, and as it’s so cut off here, you have this amazing spectacle all to yourself.

Categories

  • Places to stay
  • Wildlife

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Alfred & Sue Ricketts

Sue has worked as the UK Sales Representative for Desert & Delta Safaris for 18 years under her company Target Africa, which she launched in 2003 after working as a Product Manager for Jetsave and Southern Africa Travel. She has visited all of the operator’s nine properties and is drawn back to Botswana every year by the people.

Alfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like James, who's travelled extensively in Botswana. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the rangers who'll ensure you'll spot the best wildlife in Chobe, the village chiefs who'll give you an insight into local life and the helicopter pilots who can land you on an island in the Delta never visited by humans before.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656