Ilze joined a FAM trip hosted by andBeyond which visited three beautiful camps in Botswana’s Okavango Delta – Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, Sandibe Safari Lodge and Xaranna Okavango Tented Camp

Ilze’s impressions of Nxabega…

  • The main area overlooks a busy waterhole that attracts a range of wildlife, from zebra and elephants to red lechwe and warthog.
  • The suites don’t have private plunge pools, but the communal pool area is inviting and we had dinner around the pool.  A magical setting with lanterns and fairy lights to set the mood for an excellent meal and stargazing.
  • The suites are comfortable with a large walk-in bathroom with double showers and vanities. There’s an outside shower too, plus a deck area with swing chair in front of the room.
  • At all andBeyond camps binoculars are provided for guests to use – a lovely perk.
  • The minibars are stocked with a range of gins, beers, wine and a variety of yummy snacks.
  • Africa fish eagles are usually seen alone or in pairs. Here we saw a group of about 10-12 Africa fish eagles sitting at the edge of a waterhole that was drying up. The fish had nowhere to go, so of course it was easy pickings for the raptors!

Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp  –  homely with great atmosphere and wonderful staff. It was very hot during our stay, so the air-con was very welcome!

Nxabega offers water activities – boat cruises and mokoro – when the water levels allow. It was very dry during my visit so we did game drives only. We had a few different lion sightings which is always exciting, as well as plenty of wildebeest, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, hyena. They have one lone rhino in the area, a grumpy chap called Bruce. Bruce was translocated here by the Rhinos without Borders project and he’s not so keen on the vehicles. Keep a wide berth!

Ilze’s impressions of Sandibe…

  • The main area is built in the shape of a pangolin, it’s so unique. And there are a number of sitting areas offering gorgeous views of the bush and beyond.
  • Each room is a destination on its own, you don’t want to leave. From the sumptuous beds and the comfortable seating area to the fireplace to keep you warm on those cold winter’s nights. I love the private plunge pools – simply lounge away with a cold drink while watching the elephants go by. And there are many elephants here thanks for the permanent water channel that runs in front of the lodge. The air-conditioning is welcome on those sultry summer’s days. Indoor and outdoor showers which are my absolute favourite.
  • There are no tea / coffee making stations – but you have a butler’s hatch and the lovely staff will deliver your favourite fresh brew in the mornings.
  • The meals were sumptuous! The lunches were light with plenty of freshly-prepared salads, quiches, flat breads and the like. At dinner you have a choice of starters, mains and desserts – and everything looked so inviting, it’s not easy to make a choice.
  • Case, the Customer Relations Manager went out of his way to make our stay a memorable one. His wine knowledge is phenomenal, so do ask him to recommend a bottle to pair with your meal. And he makes fabulous cocktails too!
  • It was very hot! At one point we were rubbing ice cubes from the cooler box onto ourselves – but we were richly rewarded by these wonderful wildlife sightings.
  • We were treated to a thrilling helicopter flight over the Okavango! The launch site is about 15 minutes from the lodge – we flew with the doors off! All I could think of was not dropping my phone as I was taking photos! We were treated to a sight of two huge crocodiles dragging a red lechwe into the water. You cannot make this up. This is the real thing and we were privileged to witness this.
  • Sandibe has a well-equipped gym and I enjoyed running on the treadmill while watching the wildlife go by.

WOW! I had high expectations for Sandibe Safari Lodge, and they absolutely shot the lights out! I can see why this is one of the most prestigious lodges in the Delta.

At Sandibe they focus on the game drives, and they do it well. The Chitabe-Sandibe concession is productive and our game viewing was off the charts. From lion and wild dog to hyena and buffalo, we had the most interesting wildlife interactions. The leopard sightings were some of the best I’ve ever had! There was a female leopard who’d killed a steenbok the day before and stashed it up a tree. We found her about 200 meters away, having a drink at the waterhole. We could hear another leopard calling nearby, and on closer inspection we found a large male trying to steal her food! He jumped up the tree, carefully shimmying around the thorns, and helped himself to dinner. All the while there were jackals calling and hyenas circling the tree, waiting for any little morsel that may drop to the ground. This is Africa – raw and uncensored.

Ilze’s impressions of Xaranna…

  • The main areas are expansive and invites you to linger for a while. The lounge area overlooks a busy waterhole and you could easily spend a couple of hours here, viewing the action through your binoculars.
  • Xaranna is a huge private concession, so there are no other vehicles around. It’s like your own piece of paradise! Perfect for those guests looking for a remote and exclusive setting. The camp is usually accessed by motorboat, but it was very dry during my visit and we had to drive in.
  • The rooms are comfortable and feature air-con for those hot March afternoons. The minibar offered a range of cold drinks and delectable snacks. There’s a gym-in-a-bag with free weights, skipping rope and a Pilates ring for those feeling active. Each room features a private plunge pool, but sadly the elephants had taken over the pools during our visit – they were so desperate for water.
  • The food – we need to talk about the food which is simply outstanding. Chef Tiaan and his team conjure up the most amazing meals, it was like being in a fine dining restaurant. A selection of fresh salads, freshly-baked bread and chicken skewers brought to the table tapas-style. There was this one dessert that can be best described as an Eton mess served with a berry coulis and a fine sugary dust expertly sprinkled over the top. Heavenly!

Overall, I was very impressed with Xaranna Okavango Tented Camp. The service is attentive and relief manager Ashleigh runs a tight ship.

The concession consists of vast open grassland – the perfect hunting ground for cats. The lion sightings were fantastic, and we were treated to a pack of wild dogs socialising and getting ready to hunt. Plenty of elephant, hippo and crocodiles around the waterhole in camp.

If you’d like to know more about my trip or if you’d like help planning your African Safari, send Ilze an email.