“From your pool, you often see elephants wander by,” says the lodge manager, Garryd. “They like to drink from the pool too. If you return to your room and see it empty, you’ll know thirsty elephants have been by.”
“And keep your door closed too so the baboons don’t go in,” he adds.
Our Ngoma Safari Lodge review
We’re staying at Ngoma Safari Lodge just outside Botswana’s Chobe National Park, where wildlife is prolific. The park isn’t fenced, so wildlife freely wander beyond the park’s borders across Ngoma’s property.
The lodge was built in association with the Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust, which helps support the local community. We did our research before staying here for this Ngoma Safari Lodge review, and it’s probably the best place to stay in Chobe – definitely romantic!
Ngoma has only eight, butter-yellow stone chalets with thatch roofs. Strung along an escarpment overlooking the wide flood plain of the Chobe River, each has private plunge pool on the outside terrace.
We especially love the bathroom at the back half of our egg-shaped chalet – it’s all pale gold stone with a river of inlaid pebbles in the floor and two egg-shaped, above-the-counter sinks. A carved tree stump serves as a chair when sitting at the bathroom vanity.
And how to describe the river views?
Let’s just say they’re so captivating that you’ll be spending a lot of time fussing over how your photos can do justice to them, which they simply can’t.
You see plenty of animals too right from the dining room.
Placed amongst centuries-old baobab trees, Ngoma’s thatched-roof restaurant overlooks a waterhole where elephants, giraffes and other animals drink. Over breakfast – whisked egg white topped with tomato, bacon and cheese, with mushrooms on the side – we see a dazzle of zebras drinking from the water hole below the restaurant. At dinner one evening, Garryd shines his flashlight into the bush, and we see a huge herd of elephant tromping down about 100 feet past the restaurant.
What’s the food like?
We’ve talked before about how you’re wined and dined very well on safari. Ngoma Safari Lodge is no exception; meals are delicious.
All bread, muffins and pastries are baked at Ngoma. Fresh herbs come from a local supplier in the nearby village.
At the end of the day, after sunset artisanal gin-and-tonics, candlelight dinners are three-course affairs. The menu changes nightly, depending on what the chef wants to offer. Entrée choices might include lamb with mint sauce, Botswana prime beef fillet served with a red wine jus, or kingklip fish in a coconut sauce.
What’s the weather like?
September and October in Chobe – while prime game viewing months – are known to be super hot.
In early June, however, it’s cold first thing in the morning and the air is fresh and crisp; we put on fleece-lined ponchos (provided) when driving out in the open Land Rover. By mid-morning, the sun in the clear blue sky has heated up the land and it’s deliciously warm. Come early afternoon, it’s dry and hot – we could even take a dip in our plunge pool if we felt like it.
By dinner time at 7:30 pm, we throw our sweaters on again and wrap ourselves in blankets to dine outside under a starlit sky at a table just for the two of us.
What’s the game viewing like?
In a word – superb!
Chobe National Park is known as the “Land of the Giants” because it’s home to so many elephants. But we also come across a large variety of other animal species too.
Ngoma’s game drives occur in small groups (we share our vehicle with just one other couple). Vehicles head off separately in different directions, so you may not see another vehicle for long stretches of time.
The full-day game drive and river boat excursion – with an elegant picnic lunch in the wild – is a highlight.
If you stay at Ngoma Safari Lodge
Location, location, location:
One reason our Ngoma Safari Lodge review is so positive is because the lodge is located just outside Chobe National Park’s less-visited West Gate. Most visitors to the park enter through the East Gate, almost 30 miles away, and stay in that area for their game drives. This means you don’t see many other vehicles on your game drives when staying at the lodge – so it feels more wild.
Easy to get to:
About an hour’s drive from Kasane, Botswana, Ngoma Safari Lodge is easy to get to from Victoria Falls, another popular stop on Africa’s southern safari circuit. If you stay at the lodge’s sister hotels in Vic Falls, the Victoria Falls Safari Club (where we also stayed) or Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, convenient transfers can be arranged between the two properties.
Rates and booking information:
Rates include all meals, alcoholic and other drinks, and game drives.
All photos are © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase (except lead image and where noted)
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We stayed at Ngoma Safari Lodge as media guests. But as professional travel writers who adhere to professional codes of ethics, we always keep the right to write what we like.