Ngoma Safari Lodge

Ngoma Safari Lodge: Our full report

Rooms
8 thatched chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (100%) From 1 review
Children
Best for 16+
Open
All year

Situated overlooking the Chobe River and its adjacent floodplain, Ngoma Safari Lodge is relatively new to the Chobe Forest Reserve, having opened in 2011. It's one of only a handful of lodges on the western side of Chobe National Park, an area that receives fewer visitors than the east, which is closer to Kasane.

Ngoma has a classic safari feel, tastefully decorated without being over the top. Set on several levels across the hillside, almost as if in an amphitheatre, it makes the most of the magnificent views down to the floodplains of the Chobe River. The lodge has a very laid-back, friendly atmosphere, while maintaining high services standards through its great team.

The thatched entrance shelters the main office and reception area, a light,open space attractively decorated with wooden African artefacts. Steps lead down to the main area of camp, a long, relatively narrow area that feels rather like a thatched veranda. Here you’ll find a small sitting room and bar, with sofas, chairs, a coffee table and a small wood burner, and Ngoma’s dining room.

Further steps lead down to the first of a number of multi-level platforms. The first is paved, with tables set up for dining in the evenings, weather permitting. A couple of steps further down is a small plunge pool with a couple of sunloungers, and down again are more seating areas with deckchairs by a striking baobab tree. Each level makes the most of its situation on the escarpment, giving semi-private and cosy little areas for guests to sit and enjoy the views and the wildlife down on the plains.

Lined up along the ridge, Ngoma Safari Lodge’s eight thatched chalets are joined to the main area by gravel pathways. Each chalet has a small patio area, with a table, deckchairs and a private plunge pool – which we particularly enjoyed!

From the chalets, big glass windows offer views over the floodplain from a large double bed with mosquito net and a small seating area with comfortable lounge chairs. Decorated in muted tones with touches of blue and green, the chalets feel quite modern. Each has air conditioning, a ceiling fan, a tea and coffee station and minibar.

A couple of steps take you up to the en-suite bathroom behind the bed, where there's a bath set into the wall, his and her basins and a large separate shower off to the side, as well as plenty of storage space and a small hanging rail. It’s all very contemporary, open and airy but not particularly private; only the toilet is in a separate cubicle with a door. An outdoor shower is somewhat quirkily set on the patio with views down to the river but well screened by a wall of wooden poles.

Like most of the lodges near Chobe National Park, Ngoma's activities focus on 4WD game drives and boat cruises along the Chobe River. However, because of its position in the Chobe Forest Reserve, Ngoma is also able to offer walking safaris accompanied by an armed professional guide as well as night drives in the forest reserve – activities which are not permitted within the national park. Ngoma can also arrange village and school visits. During our stay in May 2014 it was good to see the guides and management enthusiastically promoting everything on offer, including a night drive after supper.

Chobe’s only boat station is currently located near Kasane, so boat cruises from Ngoma Safari Lodge are offered as a full-day activity. Guests begin the day on a morning game drive through the park to Kasane, then the afternoon is spent on the boat, before another game drive back to Ngoma. Depending on the time, the last part of this drive may be on the tar road in order to make it out of the park before sunset (park rules). We have enjoyed these day trips in the past, but they certainly make for long days and some guests find them quite tiring. There is talk of a second boat station much closer to the western side of the park, but until that materialises, boat cruises from Ngoma will continue to be part of a full-day activity.


Our view

Ngoma is one of the more luxurious lodges in the quieter, western end of the Chobe Riverfront area, which is a favorite of ours. Even with its air conditioning and plunge pools it feels closer to a safari lodge then many of the options further east. Combine this with a relatively low density of visitors, high standards and an enthusiastic team of staff and we think Ngoma makes for a great lodge!

Geographics

Location: Chobe National Park, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: Two or three nights, either at the start or end of your safari in Botswana, especially between July and October when game densities along the Chobe Riverfront tend to be higher.

Directions: It's roughly a 50-minute drive from Kasane Airport to Ngoma, largely along a tar road; transfers are made in an air-conditioned minibus.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The food during our stay in May 2014 was fabulous, well presented and very tasty! Vegetarians and many other special requirements can be catered for with sufficient notice.

Mealtimes at Ngoma depend on your activities, which tend to run to a slightly different format than on the standard safari.

Breakfast is served before the morning activity or full-day excursion. As well as yoghurt, cereal, fruit, muffins, tea and coffee, eggs are cooked to order with sides such as bacon, sausage, baked beans and sautéed muchrooms. We particularly liked the way that the muesli ingredients were served in separate bowls so you could mix to your taste.

Lunch, served after the morning game drive, is off an à la carte menu, with a variety of options. We had a yummy chicken quesadilla. If you are on the full day excursion, however, your guide will take a packed lunch: a delicious variety of picnic treats such as cold chicken wings, quiche, boiled eggs and fruit.

Afternoon tea includes a savoury and a sweet snack, such as mini quiches, and chocolate orange cake.

Dinner is a three-course meal and ours was delicious. Our starter was a very tasty butternut and ginger soup with croutons and freshly baked bread. For the main course we had lamb curry with poppadoms served on a bean risotto. Pudding was a very filling apple strudel with fresh custard.

Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers, spirits and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Premier champagne and premium imported brands will cost extra and must be requested well in advance.

Children

Attitude towards children: Children aged 10 years and over are welcome at Ngoma Safari Lodge.

Equipment: Two of the rooms can be converted into triples.

Notes: Due to the presence of potentially dangerous wildlife around this unfenced camp, children must be under the constant supervision of their parents. The pool is unfenced and there are steep drops in front of many of the chalets and viewing decks.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: Ngoma is connected to the mains power supply from Kasane.

Communications: There is usually cellphone coverage at Ngoma as well as WiFi in the main area.

TV & radio: There is no TV or radio at Ngoma.

Water supply: Mains

Water supply notes: The rooms at Ngoma have fully plumbed showers. Toilets are flushing and there is running water in the en-suite bathrooms. Fresh bottled mineral water and glasses are kept on a stand by the bed.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Kasane. Management and guides are first aid trained and medical evacuation is available in case of emergencies.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guests are escorted to their chalets after dark as dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. A thorough safety briefing is given on arrival. 'Fog horns' are provided in the chalets to summon help in case of emergency.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers at all the tents and in the main area.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included. Laundry is collected in the morning and usually returned the same day, weather permitting.

Money: No exchange facilities are offered at Ngoma. There are small safes in all the tents.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted.