Xudum Delta Lodge is set on an island in Botswana's beautiful Okavango Delta...
Xudum Okavango Delta Lodge: Our full report
Spread across an island within the seasonal and permanent waterways of the Okavango Delta, the upmarket Xudum Okavango Delta Lodge was previously known simply as ‘Xudum’. It offers a range of water- and land-based activities within an area that is known for its natural beauty rather than its wildlife and is run by an operation with a reputation for high standards.
Xudum shares its 250km2 concession of channels, lagoons, floodplains and islands with its sister lodge, Xaranna. Typically, it’s not a prolific game-viewing area, but rather a place to relax, indulge and experience the natural beauty of the Delta’s waterways. To reach Xudum’s remote location guests are introduced to the area and some of its wildlife during a transfer by 4WD vehicle and boat from the nearest airstrip, taking approximately 1½–2 hours. Alternatively a short helicopter transfer can be arranged at additional cost.
Overlooking a permanent lagoon, Xudum’s central lounge and dining areas are spaced over multi-layered wooden decks. They are open to the front, designed to maximise the surrounding views. Recycled and natural materials feature throughout the main areas and rooms, combining earthy and industrial designs to stylish effect. Wood and metals add texture to backdrops, used tyres create an interesting base for coffee tables and rustic oil drums function as bar tops. Complementing the theme is a colour scheme of rich browns and black. Large black-and-white photos on the walls pull it all together to create a surprisingly comfortable set up. The integrated kitchen is a feature of the dining deck, with guests invited to interact with the chefs should they wish.
To one side of the main area is the jetty where the mekoro and boats are kept; to the other is a curio shop stocked with an assortment of crafts, books and jewellery.
The nine safari suites at this Okavango Delta Lodge are reached along sandy pathways either side of the main area. Built of wood, on several levels, each has a bedroom and lounge area, an en-suite bathroom, a lower deck with its own plunge pool, and an upper deck with views over the waterways. This lofty hideout has a large sala (day bed) that can be made up at night for a sleep-out under the stars.
The bedroom has a large bed with overhanging mosquito net, bedside tables and lamps, ceiling fan, air conditioning/heating system, a lounge area, writing desk and international 220-volt plug points. Steps lead down to a decidedly smart open-plan bathroom, incorporating a large bath, indoor and outdoor showers, and a separate toilet. There’s plenty of shelving and hanging space where you’ll also find a digital safe, hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers, sarong, insect repellent and spray, torch, umbrella and even an exercise bag (with a gym mat, skipping rope and weights). A range of toiletries includes body wash and scrub, conditioner, shampoo, body lotion, bath salts and bath oil.
At the entrance of the suite there’s a ‘minibar’ of sorts with snacks and drinking water, and a chalkboard to note your orders for hot and cold beverage. Cold drinks can be kept in the coolbox provided.
The level of service and guiding during our latest visit in June 2012 was of the typically high standard we’ve come to expect of &Beyond lodges such as Xudum. The staff was enthusiastic, friendly and extremely attentive. It’s hard not to feel spoilt when assigned with your own housekeeper and butler.
Guided activities at Xudum Okavango Delta Lodge include mokoro excursions, boat trips (water levels permitting), day and night game drives in open 4WD safari vehicles and walks on the islands with an armed guide. That said, the scope of dry land is limited, particularly when the Delta floods between March and September. Spinner fishing (catch and release) is offered between March and December. For an additional cost, scenic helicopter flights can also be arranged, as can massages (a massage menu and pricelist in each suite details the options, from foot to full body massages).
The beauty of the wilderness area around Xudum Lodge is in its captivating scenery, explored by a network of channels, lagoons and floodplains. The lush environment is home to a wide variety of birdlife and vegetation, as well as aquatic-loving animals like painted reed frogs, hippos, reedbuck and red lechwe. On the islands you may see warthog, baboon, leopard, steenbok and small herds of impala, zebra, tsessebe, wildebeest and kudu. However, those expecting to have regular and plentiful sightings of big game are likely to be disappointed. Big game such as elephant, giraffe, lion and buffalo does seasonally migrate through this area but there isn’t sufficient dry land to support stable populations.
Our viewXudum is a beautifully crafted lodge set in a pretty area of the Okavango Delta. Although a variety of wildlife is seen here, historically this area of the Delta has never been great for big game. So don't come to Xudum hoping for great game sightings, but do come to explore scenic waterways; to watch its smaller creatures and plentiful birdlife; and perhaps for an indulgent, romantic interlude with superb accommodation and service.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a stay of two nights at Xudum Okavango Delta Lodge or three nights for those wanting more time to just relax in the tranquil setting. Xudum often forms part of a trip with Sandibe Safari Lodge, and/or Nxabega Safari Camp, which are owned by the same company, &Beyond.
Directions: Xudum 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 1½-2 hours, depending on wildlife sightings on the way. Helicopter transfers directly to the lodge can be arranged at additional cost.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The quality and variety of food during our most recent stay at Xudum was of the same excellent standard we’ve enjoyed here previously. The interactive kitchen added a fun element to the meals and the chefs are happy to cater for any dietary requirements and private meals on request.
Before setting out on the morning activity, we were served a filling breakfast of muesli with yoghurt and fresh fruit; toast, cold meats and cheese; tea, coffee and juice; and our choice of eggs with bacon, cooked to order.
Lunch was a delicious selection of butternut bread with blue-cheese dip, sticky grilled pork ribs, melanzane (aubergine, tomato, mozzarella and parmesan bake), salad greens with cashew nuts and grapefruit, and rice salad with tomato and kalamata olives.
Too tempting to miss, the assortment of goodies at afternoon tea included vegetable samosas, blue cheese on homemade crackers, chocolate and peanut brownies and fresh fruit. This was accompanied by iced tea and coffee.
Dinner was equally tasty, starting with minestrone soup and olive and rosemary focaccia bread. The main course was a choice of beef rump steak with sweet pepper sauce or guinea fowl potjie (stew), served with mustard mashed potatoes, roasted red onions and broccoli. For dessert there was sticky gingerbread pudding and mint and pear sorbet, plus cheeses, truffles and strawberries. Yum!
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: There is a well-stocked bar and 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.
Further dining info: Room service is not included.
Solo Travel: Xudum Delta Lodge is situated on a private reserve in the Okavango Delta - a great place for enjoying the wilderness the Delta has to offer. Solo travellers will be happy to know that their stay here is without any single supplement.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Xudum.
Property’s age restrictions: For safety reasons, children aged five years and younger are not able to participate in the scheduled activities. At the manager's discretion, children aged six to 11 may join game drives and children aged 12 to 16 may participate in mokoro trips. Children under the age of 16 years are not able to join any walking activities. It may be possible to arrange a private vehicle for short drives with younger children on request.
Special activities & services: A child-minder can be arranged when requested in advance and at an additional cost.
Equipment: A single bed can be added to create a triple room for a child to share with their parents. Only one triple room is permitted at the lodge at any one time.
Generally recommended for children: Xudum has quite an adult atmosphere, and is unfenced, so we would not recommend it for children aged less than 12 years.
Notes: Children must constantly be under their parent's supervision as potentially dangerous animals do roam through this unfenced camp.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: Usually the generator is run from 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 supplies power 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 isn’t a guest computer, though the lodge’s office computer can be used on request. There is no telephone or cellphone coverage. The lodge has a satellite phone to contact Maun in an emergency.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Guides carry field kits on activities and a comprehensive first-aid kit is kept at the lodge. Both lodge managers and guides are first-aid trained. Medical evacuation to Maun can be arranged in case of an emergency.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: In case of potentially dangerous wildlife passing through this unfenced lodge, guests are escorted to their suites after dark. An alarm is provided in each room to summon help in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in each suite and in the common areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included.
Money: The lodge does not offer any money-exchanging facilities. Each suite has a digital safe.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Amex is not. Cash payments may be made in GB pounds, US dollars, euros, South African rand and Botswana pula.