Reviews of The Garden Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Garden Lodge is the friendliest lodge ever.
We believe we had the best room here, with a private balcony allowing views over the lovely garden and river. The management team were friendly and eager to please. Happily going to any lengths to spoil their guests, even joining us for meals on our private outdoor table.
We were treated more like valued friends than paying guests. The food and service were top class and the tea making equipment in the room was very much appreciated.
We took an enjoyable river trip with Bevan, a polite and informative guide.
We liked The Garden Lodge a lot. It has a family atmosphere, like you're staying at a friend's house; it's a small 8-room lodge run by a German couple (well, she's really Swedish), really nice people, they made us feel very welcome. It's located right on the bank of the Chobe river, it has a nice garden with a jetty from where you leave for the sunset cruise. The price is very appealing compared to the more popular lodges in town.
Don't expect extravagant luxuries here, but the basics are very well covered: clean room with flush en-suite toilet, hot water, balcony, electricity to recharge batteries, even AC (not necessary this time of year). There's also a plunge pool. The food is good, nothing fancy but home made. The decoration is simple, non-pretentious, African-inspired.
The room size is adequate (we were in #4, second floor), with two levels: the main one has the bathroom, balcony and a big comfortable bed with mosquito net, and then there are two small twins on the second level (also with mosquito nets), so it's a great place to go if you have kids. A funny thing is that there are two mirrors in the shower, not sure what they're for...
Standard activities are game drives in the morning (either 6 to 9 or 9 to 12) and sunset cruises (3 to 6), but they are flexible. We did a “full day” game drive (6:30 to 12:30) one day, and an early morning game drive (6-9) on the day of departure, plus sunset cruises on both evenings. Since the “full day” drive counts as 2 activities, we had to pay extra for it.
On both game drives we had the vehicle all to ourselves. The cars are Landcruisers with a canvass roof, they have three benches that seat 3 people each, plus two seats up front. We did all activities with the same guide, Calvin, he's great, has an amazing ability to spot game (eg., spotted a malachite kingfisher sitting on a branch from across the Chobe), he's very experienced and has a bit of a swagger, in a cool way.
In terms of game viewing, we had some good sightings: saw four lions (a big male and 3 lionesses), herd of 15 sable antelope (first time we've seen sable), big herd of over 100 buffalo, many elephant –including a baby less than a month old-, puku (also first time for us), many birds. It was good to do a long drive, as it allowed us to get further inside the park and leave the crowds behind. Example: when we say the lions, close to the gate, we counted 16 vehicles around them, but we were all alone where we saw the sable, which was near Ihaha. On our way out of the park we had to help another lodge's vehicle that had gotten stuck in the sand, their guide seemed clueless and Calvin took charge and pulled them out.
The sunset cruises were great, better than the drives. The garden lodge's boat seats 18, 6 rows with 3 seats each, which may seem a lot but was actually one of the smallest boats we saw in the river- and there were many. The first day we were 12 guests on the boat, the 2nd 13. The river banks are teeming with wildlife, you are constantly seeing animals: elephant drinking, hippos, crocs, water monitors, red lechwe (another first), baboons, plenty of birds (many fish eagle, king fishes, black heron doing the “umbrella thing”, jacana, storks, etc). The sunsets in the Chobe were probably the best in the trip.
The second night after dinner we had an interesting surprise: 2 hippos and a waterbuck came into the garden (which is not that big) and were grazing there for 10-15 minutes. Apparently, one of the hippos does that almost every night, but the managers where shocked to see two of them. Also during the day a family of warthogs visited the garden several times.