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Ngoma Safari Lodge – a wilderness outpost?

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The first place we bedded down in Botswana was at the Ngoma Safari Lodge. We’d heard and read a great deal about this luxury destination: the accommodations are supposedly beyond belief and the safaris as well. Naturally, we were curious as cats about what was waiting for us in the renowned Chobe National Park…

It started in semi-adventurous fashion with our crossing the border (on foot!) from Zimbabwe to Botswana: after spotting my Swiss passport the black border guard greets us with the “Chuchichäschtli” shibboleth in perfectly unaccented Swiss German and with the biggest grin south of the equator! We have to be careful not to burst out laughing; who knows, it might get us arrested on the spot otherwise. This actually happened to acquaintances of ours, admittedly for more serious transgressions…

Such may have been their fate, but we on the other hand are picked up at the appointed time on the other side of the border by the driver from the Ngoma Safari Lodge and chauffeured without major obstacles (relatively speaking…) through the heart of Chobe National Park to our lodgings.

 

Grand arrival at Ngoma Safari Lodge

The reed-roofed lodge with its rustic ethnic look clings to the edge of a plateau to offer sweeping views of a near-by water hole and the Chobe River, which here forms the border with neighboring Namibia.

We actually were ushered into the lodge’s main building from the building’s back, but for a good reason: it let us move through lounge, restaurant, and terrace in a dramatic sequence of ever-larger spaces, a cascade of impressions that ended in the panoramic outdoors view and with being handed a welcome, moist towelette.

Now this is how you do reception!

View of the Ngoma Safari Lodge

Frontal view of the Ngoma Safari Lodge

Entrance to the main building of the Ngoma Safari Lodge

Entrance to the main building of the Ngoma Safari Lodge

View with Chobe River

View with Chobe River

The view from the terrace with rock pool

The view from the terrace with rock pool

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Lodge managers Judy and Peter bid us a cheery welcome as if they had known us for ages. And then there was Jona, the good-humored manager of the parent company Africa Albida Tourism, who did his level best to appreciate my well-worn witticisms and even top them now and then. In any event, the banter went non-stop.

Jonathan Hudson von Africa Albida Tourism with lodge managers Judy and Peter Hepburn

Jonathan Hudson of Africa Albida Tourism with lodge managers Judy and Peter Hepburn

Adventuring at Ngoma Safari Lodge

Ngoma Safari Lodge offers guests a variety of adventure activities: bush walks, game safaris, night safaris, and river cruises. Wildlife sightings are guaranteed, so dense is the population of all sorts of quadrupeds and bipeds here!

We did “the whole nine yards,” including the bush walk (here is our review), and enjoyed it all immensely!

The game safari and the day excursion into Chobe National Park are beyond the scope of this article, hence we posted separate reports on them. Because in Chobe National Park, there’s more than just swimming elephants to marvel at…

Giraffe on the bank of Chobe river

Giraffe on the bank of the Chobe

Sundowner by the Chobe River

Sundowner by the Chobe River

Those interested taking a break from being out in the wild can relax by the pool with a gin and tonic on the spacious terrace at sunset while watching a herd of buffalo pass in review. It just doesn’t get any better than this!

At least so we thought; after all, this was only our first lodge…

Sunny terrace with view of the Chobe River

Sunny terrace with view of the Chobe River and Namibia on the other side

Buffalo herd heading for the water hole

Buffalo herd heading for the water hole

 

Terrasse und blau beleuchteter Baobab Baum

Terrace and illuminated baobab tree

The suites

The lodge’s eight suites are just as stylish as the main building and appointed with just as fine an eye for detail. You can indulge in the spectacular view even from the canopy bed — simply sensational!

Ngoma Safari Lodge

Ngoma Safari Lodge

Ngoma Safari Lodge

Ngoma Safari Lodge

Ngoma Safari Lodge

Culinary Highlights

The “aahh-s und oohh-s” continued when we sat down to the appetizingly presented meals: Here, chef Eva and servers Zita, Peter, and Sam see to it that your physical well-being also gets its due. And how well they do so, here in the middle of a wilderness! For as the title of this article already hints: We wonder if in the Ngoma Safari Lodge we find ourselves in an outpost of civilization in the wilderness or if it is really one with this wilderness outside the adjacent national park…

Evening mood in the restaurant

Evening mood in the restaurant open on the river

Chicken with Cajun cream sauce

Marinated grilled chicken breast with Cajun cream sauce

 

At dinner on the second evening, we are surprised by a birthday cake for me and a serenade joined in by the cook, service staff and rangers. How delightful!

My birthday was actually a few months earlier, but the travel agent knew, and so presumably did the lodge operator, that we booked this Botswana trip for my 50th birthday. I guess they think it’s never too late to celebrate ;-)

Just for that, I tried to bluff that it was only my 30th. If only Katja hadn’t burst out laughing, I’m sure I would have fooled everyone!

Ngoma Safari Lodge

Warm thanks go to…

Judy and Peter of Ngoma Safari Lodge! They manage the lodge with a great deal of passion and, together with their staff, touchingly look after their guests’ well-being.

Well done!

Many thanks also to The Safari Source for the tip and for booking our trip. We will be happy to recommend you!  Everything worked out beautifully ;-)

Walter at Ngoma Safari Lodge

All set for adventure!

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About Author

Walter Schaerer’s extensive background in the travel industry, passionate enthusiasm for photography and a firm belief that luxury destinations can also be affordable; were some of the main factors that motivated him to create the travel blog travelmemo.com. In his day job Walter is a web product manager based out of Zurich, Switzerland.

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