Xigera Safari Lodge: Our full report
Xigera (pronounced 'keejera') is within a private area of Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve, in the heart of ...... the Okavango Delta. When the water levels are high in the Delta, it feels as if water is everywhere around the camp, and the luxuriant vegetation makes this seem one of the Delta's most tropical corners.
Xigera Camp changed hands in 2019. It was subsequently re-built and re-opened as 'Xigera Safari Lodge' in December 2020 - having been extensively re-modelled. Considerable opulence and comfort are now its hallmarks, and it caters unashamedly for those who will want room service, air-conditioning and flat-screen TVs as part of their Delta experience.
The latest and most palacial incarnation of Xigera has 12 suites, each constructed from cedarwood topped by a sensuously-curving canvas roof, and each with endless views of the floodplains. Eleven of these suites are “standard” suites, designed for two people, with a separate lounge, bedroom and dressing room area - as well as outside space. All are raised high enough to have game wander underneath, and each is named, and themed, after a local tree (The Jackalberry Suite, The Sycamore Suite, etc...)
There is also one larger Family Suite, the 'Xigera Family Suite' which consists of two en-suite bedrooms which share a very lovely lounge that opens out onto a wide deck overlooking the Okavango Delta.
Each suite is very large (184m2) and features a private deck with gazebos, a king-size daybed, indoor and outdoor shower, full en-suite facilities, tinted glass windows (to keep the room at even temperatures), good wi-fi and, unusually for Botswana, air-conditioning and satellite TV. Room service is available and a 'butler store' in each suite has a fridge, a kettle, plates, cutlery and glasses.
The decor in each suite is unique, with a common theme of wooden, four-poster beds, tasteful cream panels and wooden walls. In some suites (most notably the Sausage Tree Suite), the interior designers were fearless in their mixing of colours, patterns and styles - straying far from the subtle hues of most safari camps.
The opulence and sheer space extend into the main areas of the lodge where in addition to the grand lounge and dining room, there's a bar and wine cellar, an air-conditioned library, traditional boma and out-door fire pit, star deck, swimming pool, gym and wellness centre and spa, and a very smart little boutique.
Activities from Xigera include motorboat and mokoro excursions, morning and afternoon game drives (these are dictated by water levels) catch and release fishing (seasonal), walking safaris and scheduled yoga sessions. At an extra cost guests can also enjoy private yoga sessions, spa treatments and scenic helicopter flights.
At Expert Africa, we have known Xigera since 1998, when we first visited and started sending our travellers here. The camp stands on the edge of Moremi Game Reserve in an area twhere the focus is naturally on the floodplains and channels. It's always been a destination for a true water-based Delta experience. While the densities of 'big game', and predators in particular, tend to be lower than in many other areas of the Okavango Delta, there is game around, including red lechwe and the rare sitatunga that favour the waterways of this area.
The birdlife is spectacular, with herons, egrets, cranes and smaller water birds in abundance. In the past we have been treated to the very special sight of African skimmers nesting at Xigera Lagoon; typically, they start arriving around September and depart again in March. This is also a good area for the elusive Pel's fishing owl.
While water activities are the focus at Xigera, early one December the camp advised us that due to unexpectedly low – and swiftly receding – water levels, motorboat trips had become limited. That year, short boat trips were still being offered, but not to Xigera Lagoon where it was too shallow. So be aware that for at least some of the year, probably around September or between October and March, mokoros and game drives may become the key activities. This is an excellent example of how the dynamics of the Delta can change the options for visitors, not only between the seasons but from year to year.
Deposits for itineraries including XigeraTo reserve space at Xigera Safari Lodge requires a higher level of deposit than is the case at most other safari camps across Botswana, and indeed across Africa. Hence we have to ask that any travellers booking Xigera as part of their itinerary pay a 30% deposit for their trip, rather than Expert Africa's usual 20% deposit.
Xigera's location offers visitors the kind of lush, watery experience that many first-time visitors might expect in the Okavango Delta: not the best for big-game, but ideal for water-based activities and a totally tropical feel.
It's now one of the most luxurious, even palatial, lodges in the Okavango - with a very substantial price tag to match. Air-conditioning, satellite TV channels and room service are the norm in five-star hotels, but not yet in the camps in the Okavango. So is the new Xigera a trail-blazer of what's to come?
Or a profligate use of resources for travellers who insist upon having every luxury, even here?
The jury's currently out...
- Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
- Ideal length of stay
- Two nights when water levels are high, although three nights would suit those wanting more time on the water, particularly keen birders.
- Access is by light aircraft to Xigera airstrip. It's then a short drive either directly to the camp or, when water levels are high, to the boat station, followed by a five-minute boat trip to camp.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- The food at Xigera is of a very high standard. Most special dietary requirements are catered to without any problems at all; please advise us of any dietary issues won your booking form, and we'll pass the details to camp.
- Dining style
- Mixture of group dining and individual tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- There is no room service at Xigera.
- Drinks included
- Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra and may need to be requested in advance.
- Situated in the heart of the Okavango Delta the birding at Xigera is superb all year round. Pel's fishing-owl is regularly seen, with other specials including wattled crane, slaty egret, fan-tailed widowbird and pinkbacked pelican.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Attitude towards children
- Children aged 12 and over are welcome at Xigera.
A minimum age of 13 years is stipulated for walking and mokoro excursions.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No children under the age of 12. Children aged between 12 and 16 years must share a suite with one adult.
- Special activities & services
- No special equipment is provided for children, but the camp has a family chalet with two rooms joined by a shared deck.
- Generally recommended for children
- Due to children under 13 years being unable to participate in mokoro excursions – a key element of a stay at Xigera – we recommend the camp for children of 13 years and older.
- The camp is on raised walkways but it is not fenced. Xigera receives regular visits by elephants and other potentially dangerous wildlife is known to move through camp. The pool is unfenced. Parents must keep their children under constant, close supervision.
- Power supply notes
- There is a back-up emergency generator.
220V multi-plug adaptor charging facilities for mobile devices in all rooms. Additional charging facilities (available on request) for the use of guests’ own sleep apnoea machines.
- There is no cellphone reception, direct phone and no email at Xigera. Communication is maintained with the head office in Maun via radio.
- TV & radio
- There is no TV or radio.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- This is to be confirmed but we would expect all the chalets to have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush loos. Guests are usually given a water bottle on arrival with filtered water, which they are encouraged to top up from the filtered supply in the camp's main area. Each room is also provided with glasses and a flask of filtered water beside the sink for drinking purposes – which is replenished by the staff daily. We don't recommend that travellers drink from the tap.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The nearest doctor is in Maun. All management and guides will be first-aid trained and medical evacuation by air is available in case of emergency. There is a nurse on call (via radio) 24 hours a day. Please note that it is only possible to fly out of camp during daylight hours as the bush airstrips do not have any lighting at night.
- 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. There is a latch on the inside and outside of the door to each chalet. 'Fog horns' are provided in the chalets to summon help in case of emergency.
- Fire safety
- TBC - but we would expect there will fire extinguishers at all the chalets and in the main area.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Daily laundry services (weather and water supply permitting) will be included. A mesh laundry bag is supplied for underwear which will be machine-washed and returned in same mesh bag. Environmentally friendly detergent for optional handwashing is available in the rooms or can be provided on request.
- No exchange facilities are offered at Xigera. There are small safes in all the chalets, as well as a larger one in the office if required.
- Accepted payment on location
- Cash payments will be accepted for Xigera Boutique purchases or gratuities to guides or staff in Botswana pula, pounds, euros, South African rand and US dollars (but only notes dated later than 2007). MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted, but payments by American Express or Diners Club credit cards, or any form of debit card are not accepted.
Other lodges in Moremi Game Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.