Botswana is known to many as the most beautiful country in Africa. The sunsets in the South are nothing short of spectacular and anyone who’s taken a trip on the Okavango Delta can testify to the vast splendour of green planes interwoven with beautiful streams found in the North. Filled to the brim with wildlife of all kinds, and covering 582,000 km2 of majority untouched lands, Botswana sets the perfect scene for a blissful vacation.
However, where you stay can make or break your vacation, which is why we’ve put together a list of what our 23 years in the industry has shown to be the top 10 lodges of Botswana. While luxury played an important role in our decision making, we looked beyond this to the experience of each lodge and based theirs positions accordingly.
10. Chobe Safari Lodge
Ever felt like you received more value for your money then what you paid? It’s a great feeling. One you will encounter at Chobe Safari lodge where your experience is worth far more than your booking price. Chobe Safari Lodge is one of the few places in the world where relaxation, convenience and wildlife so perfectly blend. High up in the far North, the lodge is conveniently located where Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia meet. It’s a short drive from Victoria Falls and sits comfortably on the boarder of Chobe National Park which boasts the largest concentration of Game in Africa.
Its variety of accommodation ranges from camping, rondavels and river facing rooms to luxury safari rooms. Each accommodation faces the river which is not only frequented by game, but complemented with the soothing background of vast African landscape. Guests can look forward to luxuries such as air-conditioned rooms, world class buffet meals, sunset boat cruises, scenic flights, game drives, fishing, Namibian Village walks and a whole host more.
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9. Khwai Tented Camp
Take a step back into yester-year, when life was simpler and nature and man were perfectly united. Since none of its structures are permanent, it’s able to move wherever the wildlife are without any impact on the natural environment and this year it finds itself in the heart of game viewing utopia on the eastern boarder of the Moremi Game Reserve.
Guests can truly let-go as they take in the tranquillity of Africa through the game viewing and scenic landscape of the Okavango Delta. Whether it’s from their chalet or on a game drive, guests feel like they are in the thick of the African experience. Khwai tented camp complements this further by offering activities such as night drives, guided game walks and the opportunity to explore the great stands of leadwood and mopane woodlands as well as the open grasslands of the Khwai River.
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8. Mashatu Game Reserve
Built on its own concession, renowned for its Big 5 sightings, Mashatu immerses each guest in the world of African wildlife through its list of activities. With multiple hides, guests can sit a handful of meters away from the wildlife without being spotted… The perfect place for the perfect photo! Mashatu also offers the chance to walk, cycle or horse ride with animals; a unique and unforgettable way to experience face-to-face encounters with African wildlife. For those however not satisfied with mere sightings, there’s the Discovery Room inviting guests to step into the history and biology of Africa through a highly informative museum. From cultural tours to photographic ones and from group safaris to intimate family drives… there’s so much on offer at Mashatu.
It’s truly a unique experience, one which extends from the Africa outside into the spacious erudite suites. Decorated with classy African décor in an area remote from the other lodges, one feels the serenity that the African bush provides and with multiple beds, a lounge and an extra day bed… the entire family can enjoy the serenity to.
For more than merely seeing wildlife, why not live it with Mashatu Game Reserve?
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7. Deception Valley
Holding the number one position on Trip Advisor for lodges in the Central Kakahari Game Reserve is Deception Valley and it’s not hard to see why. Deception Valley offers guests the rare opportunity to explore the Kalahari with real San People. Thousands of years before the west stepped foot in Africa, the San People were and as they guide each guest, they invite them into their way of life. Find yourself hunting, building crafts and learning survival skills that have preserved the existence of the San People for thousands of years.
It’s not all adventure at Deception Valley however, as eloquence greets you the moment you enter the lodge doors. From the world class cuisine cooked by internationally recognised chefs, to the décor of each suite, there is a high standard by which the lodge must attain. Each room blends modern with traditional through warm antique furnishings and the Victorian style bathroom gives a welcome heir of sophistication to all who enter.
For a classy cultural encounter, book your next vacation with Deception Valley
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6. Pom Pom Camp
When it comes to glamping, Pom Pom camp is one of a kind. Nestled amidst thick forest vegetation overlooking the Okavango Delta; it sits comfortably on an island surrounded by the symphony of African wildlife. With Pom Pom Camp the frills are few and the comforts are countless, offering you more time to do what you set out to do, relax.
Each chalet boasts a glamorous interior with the ability to bath in candle light on a private balcony. The chef serves only the finest food in the dining area and nothing feels better than a refreshing drink served on a reclining deck chair by the pool after a hot game drive; especially when that deck chair overlooks the magnificent Okavango. Expect incredible game drives, mokoro excursions and game walks.
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5. Jacks Camp
Set against the wild backdrop of the Makgadikgadi pans lies the welcome oasis of Jack’s Camp. Like something out of a story book, Jack’s camp is designed to look and feel like a 1940’s East African safari and, as you lie across the Victorian styled deck chairs, I’m sure you’ll agree. Everything from the architecture to the furniture creates an atmosphere of a romantic past yet the adventure speaks of the now and through things like quad biking through archaeological sites, horse riding and sleeping under the stars; the adventure speaks loudly!
The service at Jack’s camp is as every bit 5-star as its rating suggests. Guests return each night to paraffin lit hallways, meals with an artistic fusion of Western and African flavours and the china neatly laid. Meet the bushman, stand in the moon surface-like centre of the Makgadikgadi pans, encounter meerkats or simply lie by the pool and embrace the charm that is Jack’s camp.
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4. Ghoha Hills Savuti
Perched high up on the Eastern side of the Ghoha Hill, a retreat resides that not only relaxes the soul through sheer luxury, but through unprecedented 180 degree views of the Savanah; it’s true seductive beauty! Ghoha Hills Savuti was designed to make the best of the view and while you rest in the shade of its many trees, you can look forward to stretches of untouched Botswana wilderness ahead of you.
When you arrive at Ghoha Hills, you are taken to a breath-taking sunset at the scenic baobab site which sets the tone for the vacation with sundowners in hand. Each day you will arise in your lavish tented suite and greet the morning from your private outdoor shower which overlooks the savannah. After breakfast, you’ll step out of your gown and slippers to enter the wildlife filled Botswana outdoors only to return to the warm colours and solid wood furnishings of the luxury Ghoha Hills. As you sit by the fire, enjoying an exquisite meal and glass of wine, there’s nothing left to do but smile. Today was incredible, what will tomorrow bring?
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3. Ngoma Safari Lodge
There are few lodges with a view quite like Ngoma’s. High up on the edge of the valley, Ngoma sits alone with miles and miles of nothing but Africa and the great Chobe River before it. As the sun sets, the still, tranquil atmosphere is unperturbed by the sounds of traffic and noise that usually accompany other lodges in Chobe. All that’s left to do is soak it all in while you lie in your own private plunge pool and marvel at the wildlife on display before you.
If seeing the wildlife from your room is not enough, Ngoma offers the chance to take a leisurely boat cruise up the Chobe River, enjoy fantastic game drives and dine right by the wildlife under a sea of stars. Everything done at Ngoma is to a 5-star level, so whether it’s the food you eat or the game drives you take, your service is exceptional, taking away all the distractions so that all you have left to do is enjoy your African vacation.
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2. &Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp
Found within the lush green lands of Botswana’s Okavango Delta sits a true oasis of luxury. The &Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp is elegance personified, something you can’t help feel as you sip champagne and gaze over the vast African plains. Yet, despite its graceful allure, &Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp provides an African experience matched by few.
Each suite is decorated with dark African tones and overlooks the vast expanse of the wildlife-frequented Okavango Delta. Guests indulge in activities such as game drives, night drives, boating safaris, scenic helicopter flights and mokoro excursions. With each dinner, guests are treated like African royalty as they dine amidst chic decor and unbelievable cuisine, often under the expanse of the midnight sky. For a true African luxury experience come to &Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp.
Okuti makes a lasting impression on every guest. You feel it the moment the staff greet you for the first time and it stays with you throughout your vacation until you return home. Found overlooking the Maunachira River in the renowned Moremi Game Reserve, Okuti go the extra mile in tailoring your safari experience. Rooms are not called rooms; they’re called ‘mosasa’ which means reeds, because each room is designed to reflect the peaceful nature of the Maunachira River which flows by. Each ‘mososa’ is designed to give the best game-viewing experience, along with the vehicles which provide a comfortable, unparalleled game drive. If that’s not tailored enough, the staff prepare every meal in advance so that they are ready when you return from a game drive, cooked the way you like it, served the way you want it.
At this lodge, memories are made and shared between friends and family. Stories of great wildlife viewings and trips up the Okavango fill their TripAdvisor pages with almost every post sharing about how special their lodge experience was. For more than a holiday, for something truly spectacular, why not book Okuti?
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BONUS OPTION: The Zambezi Queen
Although it’s not a lodge, we felt it should form part of our list as the Zambezi Queen is unrivalled when it comes to Luxury African River Safaris. Boasting an impressive 14 suites, a restaurant, pool and curios shop, this Chobe houseboat deserves the more apt description of a luxury lodge on water. Each suite is external facing, which means that very little lies between you and the open expanse of the Chobe River as you lie on your bed.
Wildlife can be seen from all areas of the boat, but for a closer, more intimate experience, guests can hop on a tender boat. There’s fishing, bird watching, local village visits and ofcourse, simply relaxing in the multiple areas of the boat. When you travel from Botswana into Zimbabwe on the Zambezi Queen, you travel on a luxury cruise that is unlike any other.
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