Chobe National Park
Located in northern Botswana, the Chobe National Park attracts thousands of visitors annually because it has one of the largest game concentrations in the country. This wildlife sanctuary actually boasts the largest elephant population in Africa both in number and size. It is the first national park, and the third largest in the country.
Chobe Chilwero Lodge
Sitting above the Chobe River, the lodge offers unparalleled panoramic views across the islands and floodplains as far as Namibia. This is an incredibly luxurious lodge with just 15 guest cottages. It also has the only full spa on the Botswana safari circuit.
The main area at Chobe Chilwero is a large and elegant lounge. To one side is a small library with a selection of books and board games. Here you will also find a big-screen television hidden discreetly behind cupboard doors. The other side of the area is the dining room with views of the gardens and the river. Guests may eat either indoors or out on the covered veranda.
In addition there’s a well-stocked curio shop, and a discreet ‘communications centre’, where WiFi – which only works in this part of the building – is available to guests. The entire lodge has the feel of an exclusive country-house hotel – quite a step away from the usual bushcamp/lodge feel that you get elsewhere.
A short walk from the main area, is the split-level pool. It is next to a well-equipped spa offering a wide selection of products and treatments from both the Thalgo and Africology ranges. While not for everybody, a complimentary half-hour massage at the end of a safari can be a very welcome treat.
Chobe Chilwero’s 15 brick and thatch suites are light, luxurious and exceptionally spacious. Large glass doors look out onto the lawn to the front and to a private walled-in garden at the back. They even come complete with an outdoor shower and hammock. The suites are stylish and luxuriously appointed with air conditioning, double or twin beds, a writing desk, a dressing table, a minibar fridge, plenty of storage space and a seating area. The en-suite bathroom is spacious, with a free-standing bathtub big enough for two, a shower, his and hers basins and a separate toilet.
Activities center on game drives as well as boat trips on the Chobe River, usually in the afternoon. There is the potential for some exceptional big-game and predator sightings in the Chobe riverfront area, particularly during the dry months between around July and October, when water sources in the interior of the park dwindle and wildlife is drawn to the permanent waters of the Chobe. No matter what time of year you visit though, don’t expect to have sightings along the riverfront to yourself – this is a busy area, even more so than parks such as Moremi, in part because of its reasonably good infrastructure and proximity to Kasane and the Victoria Falls.
In addition, do note that strict park rules mean that no night drives, walks or off-road driving are allowed and the roads along the riverfront, as well as the river itself can get quite crowded. Because of this, I suggest starting your Botswana safari in the Chobe area, before moving to the less busy parks and reserves. However, after a week or two in more remote areas, Chobe Chilwero could also be a good place to end a safari.
Chobe National Park may not be exclusive, but Chobe Chilwero is. This luxurious lodge offers good standards of service, reputable food and an array of facilities we’d expect in a good hotel. It may not suit the traveller looking for a more traditional safari experience, but it will appeal to those looking to avoid the larger hotels in Kasane, but still wanting to indulge themselves for a few days.