Xaranna Lodge is set amidst intricate waterways in Botswana's stunning Okavango Delta.
Xaranna Okavango Delta Lodge: Our full report
Xaranna Okavango Delta Lodge, like its sister lodge Xudum, occupies an island within 62,000 acres of private reserve amidst the seasonal and permanent waterways of the Okavango Delta. The idyllic channels, lagoons and floodplains are explored mainly by mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) and by motorboat when water levels permit. The lack of sizeable dry land restricts lengthy game drives, particularly during the annual flood from around March to September, and limits stable wildlife concentrations. With only nine tents, Xaranna focuses on exclusivity, pampering and offering its guests a memorable water and wilderness experience.
Due to its remote location and watery surroundings, getting to Xaranna requires an approximately one hour transfer by 4WD vehicle and boat from the nearest airstrip. This provides an introduction to the beauty of the area and a chance to see some wildlife. On our most recent transfer to Xaranna we spotted a variety of birdlife and shared the channel with a wallowing elephant who was feeding on waterlily roots. Depending on water levels, guests usually arrive at the lodge by boat.
A floating jetty leads up to the lodge’s split-level main area, with dining room to one side and an elevated lounge to the other. Both have wooden floors, canvas roofs and are open-sided to maximise the sweeping views out across the channels, fringed with classic Delta tree line silhouettes. Steps off the dining room lead to a sandy open air firepit with camp chairs, and a well-stocked curio shop is reached via a walkway to the rear.
The nine tented rooms are well spaced along sandy pathways either side of the main area, providing privacy and unhindered views of the surroundings. It’s about five minutes’ walk to reach the furthest rooms so those needing to be closer must please advise us in advance. The spacious rooms are of a wood, canvas and mesh construction, each with a private outdoor shower, sala (day bed) and plunge pool. Internally they have air conditioning and heating, a bedroom area, en suite with indoor shower and a luxuriously deep bath, and a separate toilet. The bedroom is furnished with a plush four-poster bed draped in a mosquito net, bedside tables and lamps, fans, a round cushion covered sofa and writing desk. Additional amenities include a digital safe, international 220 volt plug points, hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers, insect repellent and spray, umbrella and toiletries (soap, conditioner, shampoo, body lotion and washing powder for underwear). Snacks and drinking water are also provided. There is no tea and coffee station but hot and cold drink requests can be noted on a chalkboard or ordered by intercom and a cool box is provided to keep drinks cold.
The décor throughout the lodge is an unusual blend of contemporary, rustic and industrial styles. The waterlily inspired colour scheme combines soft greens, pinks and browns with whitewashed wood. The overall effect is light, airy, colourful and a little quirky in places.
Guided activities available from Xaranna Okavango Delta Lodge include mokoro excursions, boat trips (water levels permitting), walks on the islands with an armed guide and game drives in open 4WD safari vehicles. Spinner fishing (catch and release) is offered between March and December. Scenic helicopter flights and massages can also be arranged, for an additional cost. There is a massage menu and pricelist in each tent which details the options, from foot to full body massages.
This region of the Okavango offers beautiful scenery and a true sense of the inner Deltas myriad of waterways, lagoons and floodplains. The lush environment attracts a spectacular range of birdlife and aquatic loving animals such as painted reed frogs, hippos, reedbuck and red lechwe. The islands are also home to baboon, warthog, leopard, steenbok and small numbers of impala, tsessebe, kudu, wildebeest and zebra but those expecting to see a wide variety and large concentrations of big game are likely to be disappointed. There are big game sightings in this area, such as elephant, giraffe, lion and buffalo, but most seasonally migrate through here in search of larger tracts of dry land which supports greater grazing or prey populations.
On our most recent visit in June 2012 we found the typically high standard of service and guiding we’ve come to expect of &Beyond lodges such as Xaranna. Overall the service is friendly and very attentive, with each guest assigned a housekeeper and a butler. The only minor dissatisfaction was that during our game drives the guide was more focused on trying to locate big game at the expense of passing by some of the smaller but equally interesting sights, but to be fair this was due to the pressure of guests who were under the misconception that they would see plenty of big game here.
Our viewWe do not recommend that you come to Xaranna Okavango Delta Lodge to search out big game, but instead come to experience the idyllic waterways of the Okavango Delta; for its spectacular birdlife and its smaller creatures such as the pretty painted reed frogs; and for the pampering service and the plush accommodation. Most of our safari-goers agree that a change of pace and scene, cruising along the tranquil waterways of the Delta, is a welcome interlude and highlight to any Botswana game viewing safari.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a stay of two nights at Xaranna Okavango Delta Lodge or three nights for those seeking time to just relax and enjoy the tranquil setting. The lodge often forms part of a trip with Sandibe Safari Lodge, and Nxabega Safari Camp – which are also owned by the same company, &Beyond.
Directions: Xaranna Delta Lodge is accessible only by light aircraft; about 25 minutes from Maun or 1½ hours from Kasane, followed by a combination 4WD vehicle and boat transfer of about one hour, depending on wildlife sightings on the way. Helicopter transfers directly to the lodge can also be arranged at additional cost.
Owner: '&Beyond' – which is the new name, launched in November 2008, for 'CC Africa', which was itself a shortened form of its original name, 'The Conservation Corporation Africa'.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: During our latest visit to Xaranna we found the food to be of the usual high standard we’ve enjoyed here previously. Special dietary requirements and private meal requests are catered for on request.
For breakfast we were served delicious muesli with yoghurt and fresh sliced pineapple, papaya and guava. This was accompanied by toast, ham and herbed cheese. Our choice of eggs with bacon was cooked to order and to drink we were offered juice, tea and coffee.
Following the morning activity, lunch was tasty chicken kebabs with naan bread and a spicy butternut and red cabbage salad.
An assortment of sweet and savoury snacks, fresh fruit and hot and cold drinks filled any gaps for afternoon tea.
The day was rounded off with a satisfying dinner of panzanella salad to start; a choice of springbok steak and green pepper sauce or fish with pesto sauce, along with potatoes, baby carrots and courgettes for the main; and a strawberry and yoghurt mousse to finish.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Xaranna Okavango Delta Lodge has a well-stocked bar where almost all the drinks are included in the price (bottled water, soft drinks, local beers, spirits and a selection of (generally) South African wines). Excluded are premium brand imported whiskies, French champagne and a selection of vintage wines.
Solo Travel: Solo travellers on holiday will love Xaranna’s policy of no single supplements. It’s a place for exploring waterways by mokoro, perhaps for chatting to like-minded people on a 4WD game drive and for enjoying spectacular birdlife when you’re on a solo safari holiday.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Xaranna.
Property’s age restrictions: Children aged 5 years and younger cannot join in any of the scheduled activities for safety reasons. At the discretion of the lodge manager, children aged 6 to 11 can participate in game drives and children aged 12 to 16 may join in mokoro activities. It may be possible to arrange a private vehicle for short drives with younger children on request, at additional cost. Only children aged 16 and over can participate in nature walks.
Special activities & services: A child minder can be arranged, if requested in advance, for an additional cost.
Equipment: An extra single bed can be added to create a triple room for a child to share with the parents. There is only one triple room permitted at the lodge at any one time.
Generally recommended for children: We’d recommend Xaranna for children aged 12 and over as potentially dangerous animals do roam through this unfenced camp. Children must constantly be under their parent's supervision.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: The generator is usually run from about one hour before guests get up until one hour after they go to bed, but it can be run overnight on request. A battery and inverter system provides limited power (i.e. for lights) when the generator is off.
Communications: WiFi is available in the lodge’s main area for guests who have their own laptop or internet device. There is no guest computer, though the lodge’s office computer can be used on request. Contact can be made with reception and between rooms via an intercom system. There is no guest telephone or cellphone coverage for external calls. The lodge has a satellite phone to contact Maun in an emergency.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: A comprehensive first-aid kit is kept at the lodge and guides carry field kits on activities. Both managers and guides are first-aid trained. In an emergency, medical evacuation to Maun can be arranged.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to their rooms after dark as potentially dangerous wildlife does pass through this unfenced lodge. Alarms are provided in the rooms for use in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the common areas and outside each tent.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included.
Money: Each room has a digital safe. The lodge does not offer any money-exchanging facilities.
Accepted payment on location: Cash payments may be made in GB pounds, US dollars, euros, South African rand and Botswanan pula. MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Amex is not.