A trip to Botswana is incredibly special. The country is known for its elephant population (the largest in the world), diverse species and spectacular landscapes, none more so than the Okavango Delta with its ancient waterways and abundant wildlife.

Accessibility (by plane or boat), a relatively small number of visitors (to protect the environment, numbers are regulated), and an altogether slower, more peaceful pace of life make it a true bucket list destination.

Imagine gliding along the Delta’s water courses on a traditional mokoro, guided walks, helicopter flips to see the Delta from above and some of the best birding (not to mention stargazing) in Africa.

I was lucky enough to experience all this and more on a recent trip to the Selinda Reserve, which lies between the Okavango and Linyanti water systems, and the Okavango Delta, where I stayed at two extraordinary lodges: Zarafa Camp and Xigera Safari Lodge.

1. Zarafa Camp (Selinda Reserve)

This small and intimate tented camp has 4 spacious luxury tents plus their Dhow suite, which is perfect for families. Completely eco-friendly, Zarafa also occupies a stunning position overlooking the Zibadianja Lagoon – a birder’s paradise and the perfect place to spot hippos and crocodiles.


Accommodation, service and activities:

Zarafa was Relais & Chateaux’s first property in Botswana, and it captures the genuine warmth and special, 5-star touches that Relais & Chateaux is so well known for. As an example? Each tent comes complete with its own Canon camera, including a Canon 40D body and 35-135 mm and 100-400mm zoom lenses – and Swarovski binoculars, making it a photographer’s dream! The guides are on hand to help you use the camera and polish your photography skills, and your photos will be downloaded to a DVD on departure.

The HES Zib, Zarafa’s special pontoon-style houseboat, also provides an utterly unique experience – afternoon game viewing and sundowners on the lagoon. In fact, all the experiences are incredible, and guests can choose from game drives, boat trips, walking safaris, catch and release fishing (except during Jan and Feb), as well as a young explorers programme for children.

A big selling point? Due to its small size, the camp offers complete flexibility, which means each day can be tailored to your whims and wishes. The staff are all extremely warm, welcoming and accommodating – and our guide, Donald, was super, and deeply knowledgeable and professional.

What’s on the menu:

The food was wonderful – from the moment we touched down to the moment we left. Literally, because we enjoyed a delicious high tea at the airstrip on arrival! I loved each and every meal and even enjoyed one of the best sundowner drinks stops that I have ever experienced!

Best for: Couples/Honeymooners/Small groups or Families

2. Xigera Safari Lodge (Okavango Delta)

Situated in the western reaches of Botswana’s iconic Moremi Game Reserve, looking out on the seasonal floodplains of the Okavango Delta, Xigera brings the wow factor – promising an extraordinary safari experience that you will never forget.

Accommodation, service and activities:

It is hard to describe just how special Xigera is, from the Lodge to the Xigera Suite Collection to the Baobab Treehouse, the accommodation is both luxurious and absolutely magical, and the art collection a sight to behold. The rooms are spacious, modern and private – and even boast aircons, which is quite unusual in Botswana!

The three-storey Baobab Treehouse has hot and cold running water, a shower, and even a flushing toilet. Even better, you can opt to sleep indoors on a 4-poster bed, or under the stars on the top floor of the house!

The staff were fantastic. The team is extremely friendly and accommodating, helpful and efficient. They’re on hand to organise game drives, mokoro safaris, guided walks and boat trips (when the water levels are high).

What’s on the menu:

The food at Xigera was outstanding. There is a big focus on using fresh, seasonal ingredients and to support local suppliers. From light sharing platters (including fresh salads) to a la carte dinners, you will not be disappointed. Highlights included a surprise brunch – and a Chef’s table for dinner which was incredible.

Best for: Couples/Honeymooners/Small groups or Families (and of course art lovers!)

Top Tips & Advice

  • Include a helicopter excursion at Zarafa.
  • Spend at least three nights at Xigera Safari Lodge – four if you can!
  • Book a ‘sleep out’ under the stars at Xigera, it’s an unforgettable experience.
  • If coming from Cape Town, I would definitely recommend the direct flight with Airlink – it’s very easy.
  • The passport control/immigration process is easy, but do be aware that you cannot take any fresh fruit, vegetables or meat across the border.


Chat to us if you’d like us to plan your Botswana safari.