Our choices for the best safari lodges in Botswana for the year 2020 – like any of our recommendations, suggestions, and pieces of advice – are shaped by personal experience. Our holiday experts build itineraries based on confidence and relationships based on trust. Each one of our four safari planners has at least a decade’s experience in the industry and they know what they are looking for in a destination experience.
Botswana is a particular area of expertise for our team. It is a country we not only love for its sublime natural areas, but for its conservation ethic and integrity. It is a destination for the mindful traveller and it supports a tourism framework worth celebrating. It is as good to explore as a fly-in safari guest, or as a source of adventure for self-drivers. Tourists are embraced while natural heritage is preserved. This unique combination in Africa makes Botswana one of our best destinations for 2020.
We asked our in-house Botswana experts to highlights five safari lodges they are recommending for this new year. We’ve got one for each prime safari region in the country. These well-loved lodges all went through a change in the last year that excites us. They have something new to offer.
Without further ado, here are our choices for the best safari lodges in Botswana for the year 2020!
Region: Chobe River
The view of Chobe River is probably the biggest drawcard for Ngoma Safari Lodge. Overlooking the lifeblood that divides Botswana and Namibia, this safari spot is perfectly elevated to make guests feel like they are dining on top of the world. It’s physical located in the private Chobe Forest Reserve, so night drives and walking safaris are permitted (and encouraged!) The national park is just three kilometres away, so daily game drives are part and parcel of the experience.
Last year, Ngoma transitioned to new ownership and partnered with some of our other favourites in Botswana (Gomoti Plains and Machaba Camp) , which really got our attention. Pairing a trusted safari operation with a location like this is what makes a place truly special. For the hours in between your safari activities, you’ll be eating (dining room view: check), swimming (pool with a view: check), and relaxing in your suite (room with a view: check). So, Ngoma Safari Lodge emerged as one of our new favourites, and we’ll put our stamp of approval on that. #SunSafarisSays
Region: Okavango Delta
Kanana Camp makes our list of best lodges in Botswana for obvious reasons. It was refurbished in 2019 and received a whole new look that delivers such a classic safari appeal. There are tents that accommodate families, making it one of the numbered lodges in the Okavango Delta that hosts children and offers a land and water based safari experience. Fishing is permitted during most months of the year and there is a star-bed experience awaiting romantics and adventurers souls.
A private concession is an added bonus at any safari lodge because it allows for a little more freedom in terms of activities, and it limits the number of vehicles you might see out there. Kanana enjoys that benefit. Its positioning in the Delta means that it can offer seasonal water activities and focus on game drives and walking safaris during the dry months. A perfect combination.
Our reasons for loving King’s Pool start and end with attention to detail. There is a lot in between, trust us, but what really sets this one apart is that every element speaks to the camp’s commitment sustainability and celebration of its origin. It is a premier camp, so it is comes at a price, but you’ll get what you pay for and more. It was rebuilt last year and its new look is something to marvel at. It remains true to its roots and emulates the famous basket-weaving craft of the Batswana people. The charcoal, copper, and dashes of emerald are transformative. The bold imprints and patterns span the walls and the floors, and the earthy use of timber and thatch give it weight.
We’ll admit this one is on our list for aesthetic reasons, but it also stands out for its location. It’s situated overlooking the King’s Pool Lagoon of the Linyanti River System (and the view is grand). It has really spectacular dry season game viewing as the rest of Chobe dries up and animals flock to this region of year-round water. And it has the added bonus of a sunken hide, which will excite bird watchers and game viewers from all over the world.
Tuludi enjoys the benefit of space and exclusivity. It is one of only a handful of camps in a concession of over 200 000 hectares. Plus, the concession is in prime Okavango Delta territory where water-based activities like boat cruises and mokoro excursions are part of the experience, as are game drives and walking safaris. The Khwai Private Reserve is designed to offer an elevated safari in terms of privacy, while also generating funds to support the local community through Tuludi’s commitment to ecotourism.
The camp celebrates nature through its eco-friendly ethos and is low on environmental impact. The rooms are earthy yet sophisticated, and there is a family room that can accommodate up to three children with their parents. That’s another reason why it’s our favourite pick in the Khwai region of Botswana; it offers families quality, uncompromising comfort.
Jack’s Camp is one we still have to look forward to! It is soon to reopen its doors after a refurb and we are awaiting the big reveal with anticipation. We expect that the look and feel of this classic “desert oasis” camp will remain the same, embodying the charm of an old era of travel in Botswana. Tented paradise that makes camping feel like luxury – something that would have been reserved for the most elite adventurers of yesteryear. We’ll give you our full review of the new Jack’s Camp when we see it for ourselves, but in the mean time, it’s on our list of best safari lodges in Botswana because of the unique safari activities it offers.
The meerkats are rather famous. They are habituated to human presence, yet they live wild in their burrows in the Makgadikgadi desert. A controlled encounter with them will allow for up-close, ethical, and unforgettable encounters with creatures that are not often seen in the wild. Also at Jack’s Camp is the chance to meet members of the San community and see how their unique skills and connection with nature allowed them to survive in the desert for thousands of years. Guests can walk with the Kalahari Bushman, observe how they track animals in the sand, use plants as medicine, and collect water from the desert.