“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey” – Pat Conroy (Author)
Chobe National Park has the power to change your perspective, it challenges you with its almost overbearing stark beauty, and then lures you in again with all its subtle delicacy, as you drive through breeding herds of elephant and fish eagles cries.
The first thing that you see when arriving at the ‘Chobe Game Lodge’ is the sprinklers as you drive in. It seems like such a small detail but cool water spritzing green, golf course worthy lawn is your first hint of hard-won luxury in this arid riverine reserve. Originally built in the early 70’s by the Southern Sun chain, this is famously where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton remarried, after being completely enchanted by the place. The hotels longest standing member of the family, Albert, ( a man with an unending knowledge of the bush) was privy to their wild fights and him serenading her back into his good graces.
Lodges of this calibre can be awfully snooty and full of themselves, but the ‘Chobe Game Lodge‘ staff seem genuinely preoccupied with preserving this incredible part of the world and sharing their passion with guests.
The only permanent structure in the Chobe national reserve isn’t a title they have taken lightly. Painted a muted sand colour to blend in with the environment and with a full eco grading, they are at the forefront of eco-tourism. The respect with which they operate is tangible.
Every opportunity to travel and expand one’s understanding of the world is special, but to use this very cliché term, Chobe is the trip of a lifetime. It will humble and seduce you, you will be powerless to her charm.
You arrive at high tea on one of the six decks overlooking the Chobe River and all of her bounty and are instantly transported to another world. Chobe gets under your skin and nestles in your spirit, it is achingly beautiful here and it must be said that despite being a truffle pig for luxury, it makes me throw caution to the wind. It’s an addiction and as a confirmed addict I will do what I have too, to get my next fix, be it luxury lodges or camping once you leave you can’t help but plan your return.
The rooms are all river facing with private terraces and everything you’d expect from a high-end lodge. Decadently high thread count sheets, slipper baths, endless sumptuous meals and plunge pools are some of the perks. It is the team, though, who call this lodge home and spend their days making sure your every need is taken care of (including personalised itineraries) that is the ultimate spoil. The sights and sounds of the great Chobe River elevate this lodge from just another luxury bush hideaway.
We were looked after by ‘Mytie’ who has worked her way up through the ranks and James whose title is ‘Business Development Manager’ but you get the sense that he is so much more. Their energy is infectious and I have to confess to daydreams of convincing my husband to leave it all behind, did take over. He could be a ranger in a ‘croc Dundee’ hat and I could take guests icy drinks and hot towels. We could live simply and spend our evenings listening to nightjars and drinking King beers on the deck. Romantic rant over (Mytie and James don’t worry! Sadly I won’t be moving in anytime soon!)
Moroccan influences, chic African-inspired décor and endless textures and details, culminate to create thoughtful, relaxing spaces throughout the lodge. The biggest decision you will be faced with here is whether to get up early for a game drive, or sleep in and enjoy your own little sanctuary with a view. Do you go on the sunset river cruise and watch lazy pods of yawning hippos or do you head to the deck with your copy of ‘In Patagonia’ and dream up your next adventure.
This lodge somehow heightens your senses, it makes you want to read more, know more, care more and re-evaluate what is important. If you are in a position to experience this park, that will give you a gift with every sunrise that it offers up, from inside its borders then you absolutely have to do so. With that said, don’t let it stop you from coming. Look out for our next post which offers up more affordable ways to basque in this place. A walk a little closer to the wild.