Chobe Safari Lodge
Review by The Eye
There is something about Chobe that I felt the minute we arrived, I could not quite put my finger on exactly what it was, but you can feel it. Perhaps it is the sound of water running, or the karma and pride that the contractors left behind when they had completed the lodge, or perhaps it’s the warmth of the staff – I don’t quite know, but it is there. The feeling I am describing is one of peace and tranquillity. You feel it the moment you arrive at the main gate – all feelings of stress, work and a hectic lifestyle just seem to disappear.
Some background information on the lodge:
Chobe is situated on the Nile River, just downstream – around 10 km’s from Karuma Falls in the Murchison Falls National Park. The lodge was originally one of the great places to fish (and still is now, because of the uninhabited state for the last 10 years) and more recently, one of the hang out’s of Joseph Koni during the height of the war (he is long gone now, in case you had some safety issues). The lodge was rebuilt and refurbished, then extended to what it is now – simply magnificent.
There are different types of accommodation available at Chobe which includes 36 elegant guest rooms, 21 luxury tents, 4 suites and a presidential cottage. All rooms can be regarded as luxury as all rooms and tents are air-conditioned), and all accommodation takes the river into account – the river can be seen and heard from every room or tent. We were accommodated in a Super Deluxe tent, which had a massive bed (I woke up one night and could not find my wife – it was only after I turned on the lights that I found her on her side of the bed!). The bed was new so I did find it a little hard at first, although still very comfortable. The tent had a big bathroom with a large shower on the one side (perfect for showering together) and a toilet and bidet on the other side – separate basins with individual lights separate the two – the bathroom is very spacious and just great!
The tent we were staying in had a lounge area for indoor relaxation, but the patio area is the very, very best. It is covered for the occasional rain while the chairs are perfect for simply lounging around in and enjoying. The cool breeze, the sound of the river, the grunts of the hippos, calls of the fish eagles, kingfishers and other birds (along with some Egyptian geese) all makes for some great entertainment and complete relaxation. I started reading the Elephant Whisperer on the day we arrived and I finished it the following day – it was a superb read but the atmosphere of Chobe made it conducive to relaxation and enjoyment.
There are various things to do at Chobe besides rest and relaxation and one of them is the swimming pool. The pool area is a sight to behold as there are three different levels of the pool. There is a pub right on the pool deck, so ice cold beers were the order of the day. As I am not a lover of the sun I was sitting under the brolly with an iced cold beer and a great book in hand – my wife on the other hand was lounging around in the sun like a lizard and every twenty or so minutes would dive into the refreshing water to cool off.
On the Saturday we walked around the estate and for a fair way down the airstrip. It was a really enjoyable walk and one where a lot of game can be seen (although we did not walk far enough).
If you are the adventurous type, there is a three or four drive from Chobe through the forest to Paraa Safari Lodge, where you could potentially stop and have some lunch, then return via the Pakwach route, along the tarmac road. This would be a full days trip but one that is well worth the effort. The route to Paraa covers many different types of terrain and you will need the services of a ranger (around USD 20) and a 4×4 vehicle to get there and back – Arrangements can be made at the lodge for the services of a UWA Ranger.
During our two day stay at Chobe we ordered our meals from a set menu which ended up being a four course meal with each meal (this included a soup to start at lunch and dinner). Catering for most tastes, there was an excellent variety of meat and vegetarian dishes along with a few curry choices. We enjoyed all the meals we ate at Chobe and on our first night there I was taught a valuable lesson. After a bit too much of the wine, I ordered the veggie curry and asked the waiter to make it hot and that’s exactly what the chef did – hell’s teeth was that curry HOT (thinking back on it now, I don’t know how I ate it). On the whole the food that we ate was very tasty, plentiful and well presented. Some of the desserts we ate were creative and my favourite was the home-made Orange Ice-Cream.
We did not do any game viewing as such as the lodge is developing a game circuit in this area of the park which should be operational by Christmas. However, we did experience the beauty of the surrounds of the lodge on the game side. The hippos are an integral part of the lodge and their grunts, groans and howls can be heard all day. It is a real treat to watch them play, yawn and at times fight with one another. There is a resident buffalo at the lodge named Reginald and he can be seen munching on the manicured lawns at the lodge. In the early hours of the Sunday morning I was woken up by a chewing sound. I quietly got up and slowly opened the door to see what was making all the noise, expecting it to be a hippo but the noise came from Reggie the resident buffalo, and he was feasting on the grass directly outside the tent. I grabbed the camera, but because of the light, could not take the photo without a flash – the last thing I wanted to do was frighten the poor chap. At this point I was wide awake, so thought that I would relax a bit and enjoy the river. As my eyes became accustomed to the light (there is a small light down near the water’s edge where our tent was), I realised that the entire front area of our tent was full of hippos – all eating.
There was a huge hippo that was standing about 5 metres away from the front of our tent and at least another twenty between the tent and the water’s edge – there was also a baby hippo among them that was tiny and if he was two foot at shoulder height it was a lot. This was a sight to behold and my only wish is that I had had the opportunity to take some photos without disturbing the peace. I woke my wife up and the two of us sat and just watched the hippos for around 20 minutes – I have not seen them like this before and I felt really lucky – hippo’s are normally under water and only their backs and heads can be seen.
We headed back to Kampala after a wonderful breakfast feeling totally relaxed and wishing we had stayed an extra night – the lodge is just beautiful and well worth visiting.
The drive back to Kampala is pleasant and without speeding it will take you around three and half hours. For a map of how to get to Chobe, ask Guru!
For more information, please contact:-
Marasa Central Reservations, Plot 96-98 5th Street Industrial Area, Kampala
Tel: (031) 2260260/1 / (041) 4255992. Fax: (031) 2260262
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.ChobeLodgeUganda.com