At the very end of the main road in Kasane in northern Botswana is a group of lodges and a campsite owned by Under One Botswana Sky. One of these is the Chobe Bush Lodge which looks out onto the Chobe National Park and for travellers like us, who had thrown away their leaking tent on the first night of a 12-day trip around Botswana, this lodge saved our entire trip.
Our initial trip itinerary included a few places along the way from Gaborone to Kasane and we planned to combine camping with tented accomodation and treat ourselves for a few nights at a lodge as well. We planned to spend a few nights in Kasane at the Chobe Safari Lodge mid-way through our trip, but because of heavy rains and a leaking tent (which we threw away on day 1) we had to change our plans and headed straight for Kasane where we would stay for most of our trip.
We arrived in Kasane at around 18h and our GPS directed us straight to the lodge (or so we thought). At the very end of the main road that runs through Kasane is Chobe Safari Lodge, where we parked our Toyota RAV4, filled with camping gear that wouldn’t be used. We had called a day earlier after our tent had been thrown away and added a few more nights to our previously booked reservation at the lodge, but at the reception we were told that they weren’t expecting us till the following day, but that we could spend our first night at their sister lodge, the Chobe Bush Lodge just across the street and then check in to the Safari Lodge the following day.
The recption & lounge area and curio shop at Chobe Bush Lodge.
Under One Botswana Sky is a group of lodges in Botswana, two of which are the Chobe Safari Lodge and Chobe Bush Lodge. The Safari Lodge is the oldest of the two and is literally on the banks of the Chobe river while the Bush lodge, across the street is merely two years old and looks out on to the Chobe National Park. We checked in to the Bush Lodge and were impressed by the modern design and feel of the lodge while still keeping a natural, bush-theme about it. The room was very clean and had all your basic amenities including satellite TV, coffee/tea facilities, large bathroom with toilet, shower and tub and a large terrace that looked out onto the pool area and outside bar. None of the rooms have fridges, but the staff gladly and quickly brought us a small bar-fridge in which we could keep the food and drink we had brought along on our trip.
The spacious room and comfy bed are quite inviting.
Our room was relatively close to the reception and kitchen area, so the noise was a little irritating (we could hear every detail of the reception’s phone call when someone called), but we figured we’d last the night and move into our room at the Safari Lodge the following morning. We made our way to the restaurant that evening and had some tasty ostrich kebabs before turning in for the night after a full day’s driving.
The next day we strolled over to the Safari Lodge and after having a look at their rooms we decided to in fact stay at the Bush Lodge. While the layout of the rooms is more or less the same and while the Safari Lodge rooms do look out on the Chobe River, we preferred the modern feel of the rooms at the Bush Lodge and the helpful lady at the bookings office said it was no problem at all if we wanted to stay at the Bush Lodge. They even transferred us to another room away from the kitchen and reception area which was much more peaceful. Since both lodges are part of the same “family”, guests at either one can visit and use the facilities of both lodges as well as the Sedudu bar which overlooks the river and is located at the campsite in between the two lodges.
The lounge area in the Chobe Safari Lodge that looks out onto the Chobe River.
Since we hadn’t planned on spending most of our trip staying at the lodge, we had to redirect some of our funds towards the extra nights of accomodation, which meant we couldn’t really enjoy all the meals at the lodges’ restaurants, but this wasn’t a problem at all as there are various other eateries in Kasane that offer great food and aren’t as expensive. The Sedudu bar at the Chobe Bush Lodge has a relaxing, African vibe to it and the Sedudu Island Ice Tea was a favourite cocktail of ours there! The outdoor area has ample space for having drinks, a snack or just lying by the pool and reading a book. The weather didn’t permit for any pool-usage, so our swimming costumes remained dry the whole time, but the pool did look inviting.
The restaurant and bar at Chobe Safari Lodge overlooking the tranquil swimming pool.
The room itself was spacious and elegantly designed with carpetting all round (the rooms in the Safari Lodge had cold tiles all round), a very comfy bed with mosquito nets, a large bath tub and a massive walk-in shower. Room service for food and beverages is available via the phone (we were relatively quickly brought our ice bucket which we ordered for our Amarula* on New Year’s eve), satellite TV with a number of channels, hairdryer and locking safe are all at your disposal as well. The large sliding doors (with mosquito netting included) lead out on to a spacious wooden terrace with a small coffee table and chairs on it, so you can enjoy relaxing moments out there as well with a coffee or beer in hand and listen to the sounds of the bush. We frequently had families of warthog, babooons and even antelope walk past our terrace, foraging for food in the thickets below, not to mention the numerous birds one can observe in the tree tops in front of you as well.
*Amarula is a cream liqueur from South Africa. It is made with sugar, cream and the fruit of the African marula tree.
The large terrace gives you a great view of the bush leading into the Chobe National Park.
The Chobe Bush Lodge has 38 luxury en-suite rooms and 4 large exclusive family rooms. They have a small curio shop (although the one at the Safari Lodge is larger and has more souvenirs to choose from) and one can even borrow an umbrella from the front desk at no extra cost, as we had to do one rainy day when we wanted to go for a walk through Kasane. There is also a small shopping centre very close by where you can find a Choppies supermarket for all your grocery needs. The main booking office for all activities is located at the Safari lodge so you can still arrange all your safari, boat cruise and Victoria Falls day trips through them as well. We did all these activites through another tour operator as they had been recommended to us by friends, but if you want convenience and practicality, then the Chobe Bush Lodge can meet all your needs.
The local baboons are relaxed enough to come pay you a visit.
Since we didn’t plan or budget to spend 6 nights at the lodge, our accomodation ended up being a bit more than we had hoped for, but given our circumstances and how our trip started, we weren’t that perturbed by it. A night at the Chobe Bush Lodge, per room is P1720 (Botswana Pula) or $192 (US Dollar). This does not include breakfast, lunch or dinner. Breakfast is P160 or $27 per person (served from 7am-10am) while lunch and dinner are a la carte.
During our stay there we explored the town of Kasane and saw that there are many other accomodation options, which include campsites, other lodges and even self-catering options as well. Next time we head up to Kasane, we’ll probably give the Chobe Bush Lodge a miss and try one of the other places, probably camping at their campsite or perhaps try one of the self-catering options available in Kasane. Our stay at the Chobe Bush Lodge was indeed exceptional, but it does have a very hotel-esque vibe to it, even though the ambiance around is very rustic and natural and next time (given that we are much better prepared) we’d go for a more “down to earth” kind of experience, so to speak. But if you are planning a trip to Kasane, pamper yourself for at least a couple of nights and relax in the splendour of the Chobe Bush Lodge… just don’t spend too much time there, or you won’t get to experience what camping and overnighting in Botswana are really all about.
Originally published on Road Beneath Our Feet blog.