Nxamaseri Lodge: Our full report
One of the oldest lodges in the Okavango, Nxamaseri Island Lodge stands on an island in the Okavango Panhandle, ...... north of the Delta – about 37km south of Shakawe. Nestled among the deep permanent channels of the Panhandle, Nxamaseri offers a prime deep-water Okavango experience. Cruise the waterways in search of birdlife among the papyrus, glide silently across the water in a mokoro, visit the Tsodilo Hills or enjoy a spot of fishing – fly-fishing for the prized tiger fish was pioneered here.
The lodge's nine thatched chalets, including two triple chalets and one quadruple, are spread out around Nxamaseri Island making the most of the thick riverine vegetation for privacy and shade. This layout gives each chalet a feeling of isolation while also ensuring they stay cool in the hotter summer months. Most have a river view. The bedrooms are spacious with large twin or double beds, made up with crisp white linen and down duvets, and enveloped with mosquito nets. Each chalet has an open-plan en-suite bathroom, including a large shower and separate toilet.
All the chalets have large mesh windows and folding doors leading out to a wooden deck. This gives them an open, airy feel, really bringing the outside in and connecting guests with the sounds of the surrounding bush.
The furthest chalet from the main area is a little larger than the others. Known as the Tsodilo Suite, it provides additional privacy and is often used for honeymooners or those celebrating a special occasion.
All the chalets are linked to the main area by teak walkways raised above the river, which in high-water season flows beneath.
The lounge and dining area is an open-fronted, semi-circular, open-plan thatched building, built around a stand of jackalberry trees with views of the river throughout. Central to the building is the bar, where guests are welcome to help themselves to drinks should a member of staff not be around to help. However, do note that, unlike most of Botswana's lodges, Nxamaseri does not include drinks in the rates. To one side of the bar is the lounge area; to the other the dining area where group meals are served at a beautiful long wooden table.
In keeping with a lodge that has such strong community ties, much of the furniture has been handcrafted locally and the earthy décor is dotted with Botswana artwork. It's by no means ornate, but it is comfortable and offers beautiful views. Family-style meals combined with relaxed and friendly service gives the lodge a comforting, almost homely feel which we have thoroughly enjoyed on our visits over the years, most recently in 2017.
Outside, a firepit for post-dinner drinks under the stars is set on a large patio, which in turn leads down to the wooden jetty where guests arrive by boat.
A short walk from the main area is a small swimming pool. This is a wonderful place to relax with a book or cool off in the heat of the day – and is a great option for those travelling with children.
Nxamaseri's activities include boat trips, mokoro excursions, birdwatching, fishing and trips to the Tsodilo Hills.
Just an hour’s drive from Nxamaseri, the Tsodilo Hills were declared Botswana's first World Heritage Site in 2001. Sacred to the region's San people, also known as Bushmen, these hills have been sporadically inhabited for about 100,000 years. During this time, the hills have been adorned with over 4,500 rock paintings earning them the nickname “the Louvre of the desert”. Nxamaseri can arrange guided day trips from the lodge to this under-visited and spectacular site, where you'll be joined and shown round by a San tribesman. Typically, you’ll have time to explore one of the marked trails before having a picnic lunch and returning to the lodge. Trips are best booked in advance, so speak to us for more details.
Activities focus on exploring the area by boat; Nxamaseri isn't a lodge for big-game safaris. Though you may glimpse a sitatunga or the odd lechwe, and you're almost bound to see hippo and crocodile, other big game is scarce. Instead, the deep permanent channels and thick riverine vegetation make this a super area for birdwatching, with over 350 species
recorded here. Among them are rarities such as the African skimmer, slaty egret and Pel's fishing owl, on top of a host of storks, kingfishers, warblers and more.
Nxamseri is also one of the best spots in the Delta for fishing with both fly and lure fishing on offer. Tiger-fishing here is particularly good, particularly August–November, while bream is best from March to June. Note, however, that fishing in the channels during the first three months of the year can be challenging, as the combination of rain and new floodwaters is said to disturb the fish, which move out to the floodplains. While top-quality equipment is available for guests to use (lost fishing tackle may be charged), the lodge recommend bringing your own fly-fishing gear. Like most Okavango lodges, Nxamaseri operates a catch-and-release policy – except for the occasion bream for the dinner table.
If birding or fishing don’t appeal you can simply enjoy cruising the beautiful waterways, perhaps with the occasional island stop for a cup of tea or a sundowner. Depending on water levels Nxamaseri is also a wonderful place to enjoy a mokoro trip. Gliding silently though the reeds of the Delta in these traditional-style canoes poled by a local guide is an exceptionally peaceful way to while away the afternoon.
Finally, but no less important, Nxamaseri can arrange guided day trips to the under-visited and spectacular Tsodilo Hills, which were declared Botswana's first World Heritage Site in 2001. Sacred to the region's San people, also known as Bushmen, these hills have been sporadically inhabited for about 100,000 years, and over millennia they have been adorned with over 4,500 rock paintings, earning them the nickname “the Louvre of the desert”. After an hour or so’s drive from Nxamaseri, you’ll typically have time to explore one of the marked trails, accompanied by a San tribesman, before having a picnic lunch and returning to the lodge. Trips are best booked in advance, so speak to us for more details.
There are several camps in the Panhandle area, but we regard Nxamaseri as by far the best of them. It is a relatively economical, offbeat and, in our opinion, under-visited lodge offering comfortable accommodation and hearty food. We have always been well looked after and made to feel very welcome. We recommend it to keen fisherman, birdwatchers, self-drivers visiting the Caprivi, and those who want to get to the Tsodilo Hills with their exceptional collection of San rock art. However, as with the rest of the Panhandle, this is not a prime game-viewing area.
- North-west Kalahari & Panhandle, Botswana
- Ideal length of stay
- 2–3 nights here is ideal. A stay of three nights would make the Tsodilo Hills excursion possible.
- Nxamaseri is approx 60km south of the Namibian border, taking around 1hr (including the border crossing time). It lies on the Shakawe–Sehitwa road, some 40km south of the town of Shakawe. For self-drivers, we will pre-arrange a pick-up time at the signposted turn-off to the lodge, where you will leave your car (guarded) for the duration of your stay. You will then be transferred by road and boat to the camp.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Breakfast is a selection of breads, cereals, fruits, and tea and coffee, as well as eggs cooked to order. Lunch is light – maybe a salad and fruit or a quiche. For dinner we tucked into butternut soup, followed by kudu stew with mashed potatoes and lentils, and finished by a chocolate mousse; it was all delicious!
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Room service is not possible.
- Drinks included
- Drinks are not included, except for tea and coffee.
- Relatively near the Okavango's main channel, Nxamaseri Lodge makes an excellent choice for a birdwatching holiday in the Okavango Delta, with a deep-water lagoon environment.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Cultural experiences
- Botswana's first World Heritage Site, the Tsodilo Hills, are easily accessible from Nxamaseri Lodge, which offers guided and catered day trips here. Get a taste for this ancient culture, see the amazing density of historic San rock paintings and take in the stunning views.
- See ideas for Cultural experiences
- Attitude towards children
- Nxamaseri accepts children of all ages, but children must be sensible and well behaved. Parents need to supervise their children, and childminders are not available.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There are no age restrictions here.
- Special activities & services
- The lodge doesn't offer any activities for children.
- There are some board games in camp, and the guides may be able to teach older children the difficult task of controlling a mokoro.
- Generally recommended for children
- The rooms are connected by high walkways – not ideal for small children – and there's not a lot here to keep children amused. We would recommend Nxamaseri for older children only.
- Children should be supervised at all times by their parents.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Nxamaseri Lodge
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Nxamaseri Lodge have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- 24-hour power is supplied be a generator and batteries with an inverter. Batteries can be charged at any time in the main area of the chalets.
- There is no cellphone reception or WiFi available here.
- TV & radio
- None – the camp is very remote.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Water is taken from the Delta and filtered/purified for drinking.
Relationships for a lifetime
Situated in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Nxamaseri Lodge prides itself on its dedication to the local community, allowing guests the opportunity to create strong bonds with the lodge staff.
Since its launch, the lodge's main aim has been to protect “a living culture” and to support the local community and traditions. Projects such as the adoption of Nxamaseri Village Junior School allow the next generation to benefit from the lodge. Donations, along with visits to the school, help support the project and provide visitors with an insight into the local culture. Guests can also purchase local crafts in the curio shop.
The hiring of local people at the lodge has encouraged skill development within the Nxamaseri communities, allowing them to benefit both financially and socially. The staff offer guests the chance to learn about their lifestyles and to understand a little of their culture.
See more great sustainability projects in Botswana
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The camp has a first-aid kit and staff are first-aid trained. 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
- There are no guards because the camp is very remote. Elephants and hippos sometimes come through camp.
- Fire safety
- The main area has fire extinguishers.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is included.
- The lodge cannot change Namibian dollars, Zimbabwe dollars or kwacha, but other currencies are accepted (see below).
- Accepted payment on location
- Nxamaseri accepts cash in Botswana pula, US dollars, GB pounds and euros, plus Visa and Mastercard. No Amex or Diner's Club cards are accepted.
Other lodges in North-west Kalahari & Panhandle
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Shakawe River Lodge
Shakawe River Lodge has a picturesque location on the banks of a channel of the Okavango River.
In a remote corner of the Kalahari, Feline Fields offers guests a luxurious stay in a seldom-visited part of Botswana.