What I love about andBeyond in Botswana
The answer to that isn’t ‘yes’ or ‘no’ — it’s always ‘when?’
My most recent to sojourn to Botswana with &Beyond was, as photography buffs would say, ‘picture perfect’! (You’ll have to read on to find out why!)
AndBeyond Chobe Under Canvas
This is the ultimate camp for die-hard safari purists who would rather forego little luxuries like air-conditioning than miss out on exhilarating wildlife sightings as this tented camp moves every 5 days – providing an incredibly authentic and dynamic experience of the bushveld and its wildlife.
These are my top 5 reasons to choose Chobe Under Canvas:
- Authentic simplicity: Just 5 tents, pitched directly on the ground. No air-con. (Yes – you read correctly. This pared-down approach is easier on the earth and makes the camp lighter on its feet for frequent relocations to where the animal action is! I was there in December which was a little too hot for me — but don’t worry, I can always let you know the best times of the year to stay at this special camp.)
- Exceptional eating: Pared-down to the safari essentials or not, Chobe Under Canvas proves my point: ‘There’s no excuse for sh*tty food.’ Deliciously wholesome, good food is served at every meal – be it a picnic, brunch, dinner or snacky sundowners.
- Wildlife: The beauty of this area is that its wildlife varies with the seasons – and because I was there in December, it was as though every animal had a baby with it! Utterly amazing!
- Rangers, guides and trackers: Phenomenal! (I’d like to give Innocent a particularly special mention for going above… and beyond!)
- And… if you stay on at Chobe Under Canvas for more than two nights, you get to radically upskill your photography skills and engage with the wildlife at a whole new level of intense, awe-inspired observation with a water-borne photographic safari a la Pangolin Photo Safaris. This was a total game-changer for my Chobe stay!
- Pangolin has designed unique adaptations for their photographic boats to ensure maximized photographic opportunities, with ultra-comfortable and versatile swivel chairs, superb stability and padding along the edges of the boat for resting and balancing against to capture that perfect shot — every time! Needless to say, the photographic equipment on board is state of the art.
- Guts! He’s a complete sentence all in his own! Legendary amongst those in the safari-know, Guts passionately and expertly dispenses his vast wealth of wildlife knowledge — interwoven with an astounding understanding of photographic skills — as he moves effortlessly around the guests and their cameras, covering every aspect of the photographic process from lighting, camera angles, exposure, composition, color and focus. Never in my life did I think I could take – quite literally – world-class wildlife photographs… until I had the ‘Guts’ to try!
AndBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp
After bidding Innocent and the rest of the Chobe Under Canvas crew adieu, I flew from Kasane to Nxabega on a fixed-wing flight — a bucketlist-must: the Delta unfolding in front of your eyes, its elephant-carved waterways and endless shades of bold Botswana green, has to be seen to be believed!
- If ever there was a shining sustainability star, it’s Nxabega — who have become, literally, so expert in solar power that they now have power 24 hours a day!
- Thankfully, Nxabega has air-con. (It also has Wi-Fi in the main area, USB ports and a communal swimming pool.)
- I absolutely LOVED my outside bed and swing!
- Besides the wonderful new decor, the recent refurbishment successfully made the most of the simply WOW views of the plains beyond with the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows
- Changing the hot, dusty pace of the day I arrived – spent in cars and planes – I was whisked away that evening on a gentle, slowly meandering boat safari, replete with perfectly chilled sundowners and &Beyond’s signature scrumptious snacks. I love being on the water… It’s one of my favorite things to do in Botswana.
- My personal favorite safari sundowner? The elegantly iconic G&T — especially tickled pink with the new rose and cucumber tonic by Fitch & Leeds!
- The sunsets. They’re beyond words. That’s why I’ve included the photos.
- AMAZING food, artfully plated and with the most beautiful service
Instead of a fixed-wing plane, we transferred from Nxabega to Sandibe by helicopter, hovering low over the landscape – and piloted by a deliciously handsome young Irish pilot who was literally bubbling over with excitement to share the views he said he’s ‘so lucky to experience every day!’ An obviously expert-hand, he didn’t just answer my question about how helicopters can hover in one spot — he showed me! Though I’d missed out on seeing the cheetah kill he saw en route to pick me up, I was incredibly lucky to see a rare rhino!)
Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge
They say you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Instead of waxing lyrical about the jaw-dropping beauty of Sandibe’s sustainably-styled architecture, let me just say this: whichever lodge I visit next will have a very hard time outshining the welcome I received from Sandibe’s incredible staff team!
- Utterly sublime food. (There’s even an open kitchen where you can make your own pizza!)
- Plunge pools. Say no more.
- Perhaps the most exquisite bar in all of Africa? With a master mixologist (more like a wizard!) concocting delicate collisions of botanical gins and sparkling tonics, the bar doesn’t stop there — with coffee I can only describe as insanely amazing. The same whiskey wizard by night is a gold medalist barista by day – and makes the gargantuan Italian coffee machine sing! (Example of said wizardry: a delicious alchemy of Inveroche, blushing rose tonic I now call my favorite, swirled with sexy spirals of orange zest.)
- Sandibe’s new game drive vehicles exclusively seat only 4 passengers
- When you’re at Sandibe, you’ll find out all about the jackalberry trees – and the elephants who scent the trees from afar and arrive to feast on these berries with obvious enjoyment!
- Wildlife is super-abundant — and I managed to see painted wolves (wild dogs), bat-eared foxes, lions and hyenas. (I never miss out on game drives. Ever!)