Nxamaseri Lodge is a delightful island getaway in a shallow water Okavango Delta environment.
Nxamaseri Lodge: Our full report
Nxamaseri Island Lodge stands on an island in the Okavango Panhandle, north of the Delta; about 19km north of Sepupa, or over 37km south of Shakawe. There are several camps in the area, but we regard Nxamaseri as by far the best of them. The area is a prime fishing destination and also excellent for bird-watching. It offers a real experience of a deep-water Okavango area. However, as with the rest of the Panhandle, this is not a prime game-viewing area. You may catch glimpses of a sitatunga or the odd lechwe, and you're almost bound to see hippo and crocodile, but other big game is scarce.
Nxamaseri has six brick-and-thatch chalets. They're built within a wonderful thick and tropical patch of riverine vegetation – which keeps them lovely and cool in the hot summer months. The bedrooms are spacious with large twin or double beds, made up with crisp white linen and down duvets. Very comfortable!
Each chalet has an open-plan en-suite bathroom at the back of the bedroom; with a large shower behind a white organza shower curtain. The toilet is also open-plan, but behind the wall which separates the bedroom – there's no door so some may find this a little uncomfortable.
The front of the chalets are open, with a waist-high wall, and lead onto a wooden deck above the river. There's a rainproof screen that can be rolled down at night; or during the day to keep the monkeys out when you're not around. Because the rooms are open in the front, the beds do have mosquito nets.
Nxamaseri's seventh bedroom is a 'tree house'. It's located a little bit further away from the rest of the chalets, and it's an open wooden and canvas structure. It is built on a platform amongst the trees; but it's not a tree house in the sense that it is high up and has to be accessed by a ladder. It comes off as an extension of the wooden walkway which runs above the island. The front and side of the tree house are completely open - and there are no railings. It isn't dangerous – but you should take care and children should be supervised.
All of Nxamaseri's chalets are linked to the main area by raised teak platforms, and in high-water season, the river does flow beneath it.
The lounge and dining area is a semi-circle, open-plan thatched structure. The front of the building is completely open, and has been built around a forest of Jackalberry trees. The lounge has plenty of seating space and furniture which has been handcrafted by the locals. It's decorated in earthy tones, and is scattered in Botswana artwork. It's by no means ornate, but it's comfortable and offers beautiful views over the river.
At the back of the lounge is a welcoming bar; although bear in mind, unlike most Botswana camps, the drinks at Nxamaseri are for your own account. There's also a small library, and a complimentary tea & coffee table. The dining room has a beautiful long wooden table where group meals are served. It too has open views onto the river.
Outside is large paved verandah; where there's a large fire pit for post dinner drinks under the stars. This leads down to the jetty where guests arrive by boat. Depending on the water levels, you'll either have to climb out onto a muddy riverbank, or step out / climb a few steps up onto the wooden jetty. Either way is fairly easy, and there's always a helping hand to stabilize you.
On our most recent visit in September 2013, Nxamaseri had plans for a swimming pool, to be completed early in 2014.
Nxamaseri's activities include boat trips, mokoro excursions, and fishing.
The lodge also offers fly-fishing and lure/spinning fishing, with top quality equipment throughout the year, under expert guidance at every level. Like most Okavango lodges, Nxamaseri operates a 'catch-and-release' policy – except for the occasion bream for the dinner table. They have two large flat bottom boats – which are stable for several people and ideal for photography.
Tiger-fishing here is particularly good, but the best time of year is from August – November. Bream is best from March – June. Note that in the first 3 months of the year, the rain and new floodwaters are said to disturb the fish, which move out to the floodplains so fishing in the channels can be more difficult.
Nxamaseri isn't a lodge for big-game safaris, but as we've mentioned before, the channel is a super waterway for bird watching. It's home to a tremendous variety of waterbirds; with rarities like skimmers, as well as a host of egrets, storks, kingfishers and warblers. On previous trips, our sightings have included jacanas, herons, fish eagles, cormorants, darters, bee-eaters and king-fishers. We have also seen a colony of nesting skimmers on the sandy bank of the river.
Quite a bit further upstream of the lodge, on the main Okavango River, there's a colony of carmine bee-eaters at a location known locally as 'the red cliffs'. This is occupied from around early September to the end of December, but is probably at its best in late-September/early-October (the best time for most migrant species here).
Mokoro excursions are also possible when the water levels are high and there are suitable areas of shallow water nearby.
Another activity Nxamaseri offers is day trips to the Tsodilo Hills. These rise 400m above the Kalahari's bush, and archaeologists say that the hills have been sporadically inhabited for about 30,000 years – which makes this one of the world's oldest historical sites. Exploring the marked trails to search out the paintings can take three or four hours, although a longer stay would be better. The Tsodilo Hills is a remarkable place and has been declared Botswana's only World Heritage Site.
Our viewNxamaseri is a relatively 'offbeat' Okavango Delta lodge, but we enjoyed our most recent stay here. We were well looked after and made to feel very welcome, and found it very interesting to see this 'Panhandle area' of the Okavango. The lodge offers a good standard of accommodation and food. We recommend it to keen fisherman; bird watchers; self-drivers; and those who want to get to Tsodilo Hills with its bushman paintings.
Neither Nxamaseri's creature comforts nor its game densities quite match those of most of the fly-in lodges in the Okavango; however, neither do its prices - which are definitely more affordable.
Ideal length of stay: 2-3 nights here is ideal. With three nights the Tsodilo Hills excursion would be possible.
Directions: Nxamaseri is 1 hour (approx. 60km) south of the Namibian border (including the border time) on the Shakawe-Sehitwa road, approximately 40km south of the town of Shakawe. We will pre arrange a pick up time at the signposted turnoff 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
Food quality: On our most recent visit to Nxamaseri, in September 2013, we found the food to be very fresh and tasty. 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 in to butternut soup, followed by kudu stew with mashed potatoes and lentils, followed by a chocolate mousse and it was all delicious!
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are excluded.
Further dining info: Room service is not possible due to the cheeky monkeys.
Birdwatching: Excellent place for a birdwatching holiday in the Okavango Delta with deep-water lagoon environment and relatively near to the Okavango's main channel.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Cultural experiences: Botswana’s only World Heritage Site, the Tsodilo Hills, are easily accessible from Nxamaseri Lodge. Nxamaseri offer 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 more ideas for Cultural experiences in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Nxamaseri accepts children of all ages, but children must be sensible and well behaved. Parents need to supervise their children, and child minders are not available.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions here.
Special activities & services: The lodge doesn't offer any activities for kiddies.
Equipment: There are some board games in camp, and the guides can teach 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.
Notes: Children should be supervised at all times by their parents.
Communications: There is no phone reception, but WiFi is available in the main area from 6pm until 9pm.
TV & radio: None – the camp is very remote.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
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 can sometimes come through camp.
Fire safety: The main area has fire extinguishers.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included.
Money: The lodge cannot change Namibian dollars, Zimbabwe Dollars or Kwacha, but other currencies are accepted (see below).
Accepted payment on location: Nxamaseri accepts Botswana Pula, US$, Pounds and Euros cash, plus Visa and MasterCard. No Amex or Diner’s Club cards are accepted.