Belmond Khwai River Lodge in Botswana will always have a special place in my heart. I can hear you asking me why… Let me explain: Although I am a seasoned “Africa” traveller, I have never had the chance to meet the beautiful African wild dogs “in person” -until last May! To see this awesome species in its natural habitat was on top of my bucket list. A two-nights stay at Belmond Khwai River Lodge made my dream a reality… On my last afternoon drive, my guide Richard received a VFH-radio call and screamed with joy: “The rangers found them! Let’s go and see!” The rest was history…
The African wild dog, also known as painted dog, is an endangered species and there are only four populations left in Africa. Botswana –especially Chobe, Moremi and Central Kalahari regions– is home to one of these populations. And world-renowned hotel and travel company Belmond runs three breath-taking safari lodges in the country where you can not only see the wild dogs but also the big cats, colorful bird species and fantastic mammals. Offering five-star accommodation in three unique places, Belmond lodges make you experience Botswana in a very different way…
- Belmond Khwai River Lodge is located at the heart of the Okavango Delta, in world-famous Moremi Game Reserve. The lodge has 14 tents built on raised wooden platforms and all of them overlook floodplains which attract animals almost right to your door.
- Belmond Eagle Island Lodge overlooks a lagoon and focuses on the waters of the Okavango Delta. Here guests can easily head out into the waterways by mokoro. What is a mokoro? It is a traditional dug-out canoe used to get around in the shallow waters of the delta. During a mokoro trip, in a way you go on a “water safari” and see animals from a different perspective.
- Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge is located on the Savute Channel in Chobe National Park. Thirsty animals visit the channel frequently for refreshment and this is where you get the chance to see great game almost all day. Elephants taking a bath in the adventurous waters of the channel promise the most unforgettable moments of your trip.
And… What are the MUST-DO’s at the Belmond safari lodges? The list may change from person to person of course, but let me share with you my own “precious” tips!
- At Khwai River Lodge, try to spend your afternoons in your tent and you will see elephants passing by your deck! Great chance to take some great selfies!
- The main “heated” pool at Khwai River Lodge is located right next to the floodplains. Make time for the pool and enjoy the Delta’s nature to the fullest!
- Each of the 12 villas at Belmond Eagle Island Lodge boasts with its own plunge pool and private deck overlooking the Delta. Skip one of the afternoon drives, stay in your tented room, order a bottle of champagne and get lost in Bots!
- Take a mokoro trip early in the morning and discover the flowers, birds and little mammals of the Delta from the water. Enjoy the silence of nature. While you sail, don’t forget to take some videos. After you go back home, you will need them to remember the priceless silence of the Okavango Delta.
- Do a scenic helicopter tour over the Delta. It’s a great way to understand how the delta is formed and to see how animals roam freely in its waters. If you are lucky enough, you will see the giraffes, zebras, elephants and even lions running or swimming in the water.
- You can see the “Big Five” almost anywhere in the sub-Saharan Africa, so do your best to look for the wild dogs in Botswana! They are one of the true gems of the bush.
- Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge has just reopened following a total rebuild. Try the new luxury spa, a one-of-a-kind in the African bush, and explore the walls of ancient San rock paintings that illustrate the San people’s rich history.
- At the end of your trip, fly to Cape Town and spend a few days at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel to breathe in the true elegance of the Mother City. You can read my story about this magnificent hotel at http://www.especiallyafrica.com/6-reasons-to-stay-at-belmond-mount-nelson.html and discover my personal tips to make the best of your stay.
Belmond Safaris, www.belmond.com