After visiting 200+ safari lodges, you may think that the ‘Wow Factor’ on entering a new lodge eludes me. But I can assure you that newly-opened Chobe Water Villas elicited a very decent “Wow” from me.
From the water – which is the only and very fantastic way to arrive – the 16 thatched suites on stilts along the riverbank appear quite rustic. Don’t let that deceive you! Entering the lodge you quickly see that this is far from traditional dull African décor of browns and ochre (which doesn’t get any “Wow” out of me). Chobe Water Lodge is the latest version of Safari Chic with a twist.
That twist is that all the natural elements of Namibia are creatively interpreted in the décor. There’s so much to notice and admire in each of the separate but flowing spaces and if you’ve been to Namibia you’ll appreciate the references to desert and rain, tribal patterns and native animals.
When Chobe is talked about, most people think of Botswana, but Chobe Water Lodge is one of very few lodges on the Namibian bank of the river. It has a splendid position looking directly across the Chobe River at Chobe National Park in Botswana. In the middle of the river is the large, lush and grassy Sedudu Island, which elephants, buffalo and hippo consider the best spot for afternoon munchies. As a result, you get a bird’s eye view of wildlife from your bedroom balcony, with tripod-mounted binoculars for close up inspection.
I was transfixed one late afternoon watching a highly animated young elephant charging about trumpeting with an insistent bellow. A child would have been told to stop making such a racket! I’m not sure what his problem was, but I suspect some of his friends hadn’t swum across and he was missing them. Swimming ellies is a real highlight of Chobe.
A Lot Going On
After admiring the décor at Chobe Water Villas I decided I had to meet the dashing architect/interior designer Jan Lewis, who credits his team at Design Union. “Everything is symbolic, everything has meaning.” he says. Jan admits that there’s a lot going on decoratively, but says it reflects the activity of the area, where game-watching boats and water taxis abound and the busy Botswana border town of Kasane is just across the water.
Having said that, Chobe Water Villas takes you up river away from other boats, in a fully-stocked craft to peer into Chobe National Park from the water. We observed seven lions that were so fat they couldn’t even muster a mock charge at the herd of impala who came past them to drink. There are an estimated 160,000 elephants in this area – too many actually, especially when there’s a drought as in 2015/6. And to get to grass on the island elephants swim the river. A beautiful sight! The hippo are so lazy here they don’t even get out of the water to chomp on grass and crocs just lay unmoving – it’s hard to get an interesting pic of a crocodile!
Good Value for Top Quality
Chobe Water Villas tell me that they are up to 35% cheaper than the Botswana lodges across the river. So if you haven’t been to Chobe put it on your list. It’s very close to where the four African countries meet: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia and just a day trip to Victoria Falls and short flight into, Savute, Linyanti and the Okavango Delta. Or of course west into Namibia to see just how well the décor at Chobe Water Villas represents the stunning natural beauty of the country.
I flew with Airlink from Johannesburg to Kasane. They have routes from Joburg into all the kind of safari places I like to visit, which makes Airlink my first choice carrier to Maun (for Okavango Delta), Livingstone (to see Victoria Falls), Windhoek (to explore the rest of Namibia), Upington (for the Kalahari), Pemba (for Mozambique’s post-safari tropical islands like the heavenly Medjumbe), and many more southern Africa destinations.
My thanks go to the indomitable Brett McDonald, who conceptualized Chobe Water Villas, built it and invited me to come see his latest masterstroke of genius. He’s a maverick who sees no problems as insurmountable and who makes beautiful things happen. If you want to book this lodge or create a great safari itinerary contact Flame of Africa.