I thought of my stay at Namaxseri Island Lodge today and it felt like I was back there, despite being many miles away, back at home.
Thinking of the amazing memories I took with me, I was eating my lunch made using the exact recipe that the wonderful lodge cook gave me as I was leaving.
It had been our starter the previous evening and I had complimented how delicious the soup had been and asked how it had been made. For me this act of kindness totally sums up the heartfelt and unique hospitality as it was here at Namaxseri that I truly felt I was experiencing the culture, heritage and history of Botswana.
As we were saying genuinely sad goodbyes to the team and the lodge the cook handed me a handwritten note of the recipe. It was such a kind, thoughtful and unexpected gesture and the note is one of my much appreciated souvenirs from all of my travels.
Namaxseri Island Lodge is one of the oldest lodges in the Okavango Delta. It was established in the early 1980s by PJ and Barney Bestelink. PJ was an experienced guide who had spent months exploring the area to find the perfect location for his home. He is said to have fallen for the Nxamaseri Channel due to its ‘beauty and seclusion’. He chose well.
With sundowners in hand we spent our first evening exploring the waterways and spotting beautiful African birds. While the lodge does have a motorised boat the best way to experience the waters is by mokoro (a traditional canoe). Sitting so close to the water level passing by waterlilies and spotting dragonflies it was a serene, if slightly surreal, way to explore the waterways. The lodge has just nine chalets so immediately feels so private and intimate. Each of the chalets sits on its own deck which adds to the privacy and peace. I loved sitting on my private deck and just taking in the surrounds and sounds like the occasional splash heard in the distance.
The large open-plan lodge in the heart of the property is decorated with traditional pieces and artwork and it was here where we would sit each evening watching the sunset before dinner and then around the firepit to chat long into the night.
Dining is very much done ‘family style’, around a large table in the centre of the lodge where the team serve simple, wholesome and delicious meals. After the meal you realise the team has disappeared before they energetically emerge to entertain guests with traditional songs and dancing.
Beautiful songs painted vibrant pictures for us and it really was a memorable experience and such a wonderful way to experience the culture of Botswana. It was beautiful to see how proud the team were to be sharing this with us and how captivated every one of the guests were.
A visit to Namaxseri Lodge must include a visit to the Tsodilo Hills. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is sacred to the San people of Northern Botswana. With over 4,500 rock paintings Tsodilo is one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world and has been called the ''Louvre of the Desert''.
Our excellent guide led us on a hike, exploring the area and pointing out the artwork which documents human activity in the area. Being the highest point in Botswana also gave us the opportunity to take in some spectacular views.
Walking through the location where humans have lived for at least 100,000 years (although not continuously) and learning more about its importance was a fascinating way to learn more about Botswana.
After a morning of hiking it was such a wonderful surprise to reach the end and be met by the Namaxseri team who had set up a late lunch.
Being greeted by the friendly Namaxseri Island Lodge staff and tucking into delicious lasagne and fresh salads, surrounded by the hills was a great way to round off our visit to this special and fascinating location.
Namaxseri Island Lodge was not what I was expecting from an African Safari holiday but it was a truly amazing experience and showcases all that Botswana has to offer.
Luxury Link: www.desertdelta.com
Sarah Bryans, 14/08/2023