A quick drive from the Kasane airport, the Chobe Safari Lodge was well situated on the water for the safari boat ride and close to the entrance to the Chobe National Park for which the game drives would take place. Arriving at the lodge, you notice there are no doors at reception, you also notice the thatched roof and the open spaces. While my room wasn’t ready, I was able to explore the lodge common space, view the restaurant space and look out to the river.
A bit spent from the bush plane ride from the Okavango, I was looking forward to the indoor bath and being able to wash the layers of dust that I felt enveloped me from the early morning safari walk and flight. Having to wait for my room to be ready, I was able to have lunch in the restaurant. Since this hotel/lodge is so close to the park, it is heavily used by tour groups and travelers for a quick two days generally. With this type of clientele, the restaurant is buffet at all times with a myriad of food choice – if all else fails, they have fries! After having a quick lunch and indulging in the dessert buffet in my effort to sample all of the national desserts (who am I kidding, I have an insatiable sweet tooth and my food journal and I were divorced during this trip so international calories did not count).
The hotel package was all inclusive – room, meals (not alcohol) and two safari tours -one boat and one land. The tours were scheduled for the next day and since it was noon, I was a bit unsure what I was going to do today so I inquired at the tour office. Given the time of day, all of the day tours had departed. The woman was initially nice but then turned into one of the few unpleasant people on my trip to deal with. I asked if I could rearrange the boat/land tours and she said “No”. Of course, I queried this logic and she started with nonsense. I gave up and said “book me on the sunset cruise for today” and she said “you have to pay for it” – whatever, its like $40 and I wasn’t going to sit in my room the rest of the day – I wanted to see the animals as much as I could on the visit. Vouchers in hand – I was now booked for a cruise, land, cruise.
With my room ready, I climbed the stairs to the second floor past the garden, interesting décor and artwork. The lodge has interesting art throughout the property as well as well manicured gardens.
When I entered the large room, it contained two double beds with netting, a table with four chairs and a long shelf containing the television and space for all of my junk. The décor was wood colored and wood feeling so a bit blah. As I said it is a group tour hotel and heavily used so it needs to be more functional than fancy. In that regard, it succeeded. I didn’t take any photos of the room except for the warning on the sliding door.
Great, I thought now I need to look out for monkeys? I tentatively opened the doors looking above at the roof and around me before I opened the sliding door to look out at the grounds. While animals can roam the grounds, during my stay it was silent and absent of animals. You did need to keep an eye out but were OK to go to/from your room on your own.
The bathroom was functional (hey, I had a bucket shower for two days so indoor plumbing was lovely, I couldn’t complain too much) but quite old and tired – pink anyone? The bed was comfortable and although I didn’t need to use the mosquito netting, I did because it was there and I thought it was a bit interesting and you never know about mosquitoes. The only drawback was the extremely loud air conditioner over the entryway and that of the neighboring rooms. Since the warning precluded me from leaving the windows/door open I had to keep the air con on and the overhead fan for circulation – that was a bit annoying but not a major thing. The Internet didn’t work in the room only the common area and since this was vacation, I was OK with that. I quickly showered and ran down for the safari boat cruise which I’ve posted about previously.
After the cruise, I returned to my room and while most would get changed for dinner, I had only my hiking shoes on me, so no fancy dress for me – I went to dinner in my safari clothes throwing on a cardigan and earrings to pretend I was dressed for dinner. Since you need to make a reservation for dinner, I booked early (getting up at 5am each day, a 6:30 pm dinner seemed late to me). Seated at my own table, my server sought out the chef to walk me through the buffet to let me know what I could eat (I’m lactose intolerant). He walked me through each item on the seven sections of the buffet (told you there was a lot of choice). Each night they feature game on the menu and tonight was chops and impala. Having heard and seen the poor impala lose out this morning on my safari walk, I wasn’t game to try impala today and I was having Disney flashes from the Lion King of the friendly warthog so I passed on that too. I’m not a foodie and with my food issues, I tend to play it safe on travel so I don’t get sick and ruin the trip. The chef then chided me for not piling on more food on my plate (I tried in vain to explain portion sizes and portion control but to no avail). The food was quite good and the wine (a separate charge) even better as I ate with a view of the lake, illuminated by the candlelit tables and pool lighting. I only needed crickets or cicadas from home to provide night music to complete the romantic set up but they were obviously absent.
Enjoying my meal in the warm evening with a slight breeze, I couldn’t believe less than 24 hours prior, I was seated around a campfire with the sound of hippos in the background and comparing stories with other guests. Today, my journey started in the Delta and ended with a fantastic cruise teeming with animals. The day was surreal – looking back on it now, I’m still in awe of how the journey started and ended with a facebook check-in in between. Here I was, thousands of miles from home, content and relaxing on the water in Botswana.