GRACE Spectacular, untouched nature offers sightings of giraffes, warthogs, impalas, buffalos and zebrasPHOTO: Muhammad Noormahomed
The Chobe National Park in Botswana lies alongside the Okavango Delta, one of the lushest nature areas on earth, and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Muhammad Noormahomed visits Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe, a luxurious spot for river cruises and game drives.
‘Chobe National Park is home to the largest population of African elephant in the world – between 120 000 and 200 000 of them. But you might not think so after today,” laughs Jarryd King, one of the managers at the Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe, Botswana.
Jarryd and his wife, Frances van Pletzen, run the place.
He is right. Our only sighting is a quick glimpse of an elephant on our last day.
Chobe is a place of contrasts – one moment you’re watching impalas laze around and the next you come across a pair of lions blocking the path of your safari vehicle, stretching their majestic bodies.
Upon our arrival at Ngoma, we are greeted by friendly smiles and welcome cold towels and drinks.
The lodge has eight private suites, all of which provide everything you could possibly want and some things you didn’t even know you needed – except for a TV. But with the spectacular views on offer, you probably wouldn’t notice.
All rooms have an inside and outside shower, and a plunge pool to cool you down – if the elephants don’t get there first.
During the high season – when water is scarce – a herd may come up to your room and empty your pool.
“Don’t worry, if that happens we’ll fill it up again,” says Frances.
The lighting in the room is very poor but it is apparently deliberate in order to create a romantic ambience and keep the bugs at bay. It can get very frustrating if you’re looking for something, though, or if you want to actually see the bugs before they see you.
Meals are an event at the lodge, with dinner being the most intriguing as the staff escort you, under torchlight, to the main area. Guests are not allowed to roam freely after dark.
The ever-smiling chef reads out the menu and offers just about enough options to keep everyone happy. While waiting for your food, you can indulge in drinks or just soak up the picturesque land stretching as far as the eye can see. The presentation of the food is excellent – and it tastes almost as good as it looks.
One of the impressive aspects of Ngoma is the involvement of the locals, who partly own the lodge and also make up some of the staff.
Packages are all-inclusive – meals, as well as a drive through the Chobe National Park and a full-day safari with a boat ride across the Chobe River, which is a chance for the excitement of seeing crocodiles and hippos up close.
Our guide, MK, is not just a friendly face. He shares his immense knowledge of the park to give us a richer experience of the animals, birds and trees.
We are treated to another sighting of lions, this time of a pride feasting on a buffalo under a tree. A startling roar reverberates through the earth, so raw, powerful and frightening that you instantly realise why this is the king of the jungle. We hold our breath as one of the lions moves away from the pride and passes barely 20 metres from our vehicle to have a drink from the nearby watering hole.
The rest of the ride is less nerve-racking as we come across warthogs, impalas, buffalos, giraffes and zebras. The untouched nature of the park is what makes it truly spectacular.
A stay at Ngoma is like living in luxury in the bush. It doesn’t get better than that. A three-night stay is perfect to get away from the bustle of city life and enough time to enjoy getting up close with animals in their natural territory.
If you go:
. No children under 10 are allowed at the lodge unless you book all suites.
. Rates are $565 (about R7 000) per night for 1–2 nights or $494 (about R6 100) per night for 3–4 nights until March 31 2018.
. Rate includes accommodation, full board, all local brand drinks, laundry, scheduled activities, road transfers and levies.
. Ngoma Lodge is two hours’ drive from Victoria Falls (crossing at the Kazungula border post), which makes it a perfect next stop if you’re looking at creating a full holiday experience.
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* Disclaimer: Noor Mahomed was hosted by Africa Albida Tourism