• Carrie Hampton

Arrive in Style at Chobe Water Villas Chobe River, Namibia

Updated: Jan 13

As I stepped off the motor launch into Chobe Water Villas I couldn't help giving it a “Wow”, for safari lodge décor the likes of which I'd never seen before.

From the water – which is the fabulous only option by which to arrive here – the 16 thatched suites on stilts along the riverbank appear quite rustic. Don’t let that deceive you! Entering the lodge, I quickly saw that this is far from traditional African safari décor. Chobe Water Lodge is the latest version of Safari Chic with an ingenious design ethic.

All the natural elements of Namibia are creatively interpreted in the décor. There’s so much to notice and admire in each of the separate but flowing spaces and if you’ve been to Namibia before, you’ll be able to appreciate the references to desert and rain, tribal patterns and native animals. Like the sociable weaver birds nest, epitomised in a light feature above the bar.

"Everything is symbolic, everything has meaning.

After admiring the originality of décor at Chobe Water Villas, I just had to meet the dashing architect/interior designer Jan Lewis, who credits his team at Design Union. "Everything is symbolic, everything has meaning.” he says. Jan admits that there’s a lot going on decoratively, but says it reflects the activity of the area, where game-watching boats and water taxis abound and the busy Botswana border town of Kasane is just across the river.


Swimming Ellies

When Chobe is talked about, most people think of Botswana, but Chobe Water Lodge is one of very few lodges on the Namibian bank of the river. It has a splendid position looking directly across the Chobe River at Chobe National Park in Botswana. In the middle of the river is the large, lush and grassy Sedudu Island, which elephants, buffalo and hippo consider the best spot for afternoon munchies. As a result, you get a bird’s eye view of wildlife from your bedroom balcony, with tripod-mounted binoculars for close up inspection.


I was transfixed one late afternoon watching a highly animated young elephant charging about trumpeting with an insistent bellow. A child would have been told to stop making such a racket! I suspect some of his friends did not swim across to the island, or had returned and he got left behind. Seeing elephants swimming, with their trunks poking above water like a drainpipe, is a highlight of Chobe.

Chobe Water Villas takes you up river away from other boats, in a fully-stocked craft to peer into Chobe National Park from the water. We observed seven lions that were so fat they couldn’t even muster a mock charge at the herd of impala who came past them to drink. There are an estimated 160,000 elephants in this area – too many actually, especially when there’s a drought. The hippo are so lazy here they don’t even get out of the water to chomp on grass and crocs just lay unmoving – it’s hard to get an interesting pic of a crocodile!

Good Value for Top Quality


Chobe Water Villas tell me that they are up to 35% cheaper than the Botswana lodges across the river. So, if you haven’t been to Chobe put it on your list. It’s very close to where the four African countries meet: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia and just a day trip to Victoria Falls and short flight into, Savute, Linyanti and the Okavango Delta. The whole area is part of KAZA (Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area) – see my article about the region on this page. Or of course you could travel west into Namibia to see just how well the décor at Chobe Water Villas represents the natural beauty of the country. You can see several of my articles about Namibia here.



Airlink fly to all the best safari destinations


I flew with Airlink from Johannesburg to Kasane. They have routes from Joburg into all the safari destinations I like to visit, which makes Airlink my first choice carrier to Maun (for Okavango Delta), Livingstone (to see Victoria Falls), Windhoek (to explore the rest of Namibia), Upington (for the Kalahari), Pemba (for Mozambique’s post-safari tropical islands like the heavenly Medjumbe), and many more southern Africa destinations.


My thanks go to the indomitable Brett McDonald, who conceptualized Chobe Water Villas, built it and invited me to come see his latest masterstroke of genius. He’s a tourism maverick – see my personality profile on him on this page. He sees no problems as insurmountable and makes beautiful things happen in watery surroundings. If you want to book this lodge, or create a great safari itinerary contact Brett’s tour operation, Flame of Africa.



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