Chobe Game Lodge
Situated about 9km from the park's Sidudu Entrance Gate, Chobe Game Lodge is the largest lodge in any of Botswana's national parks, and at first sight seems like just another luxury hotel. Its design is unusual though, with tribal antiques in almost Moorish surroundings, which blend together very well. Having opened in 1972, it's become something of an institution. Despite its size, it has maintained a first class reputation for personal service since I've known it; perhaps because of an experienced staff who understand how to give attention to detail.
Chobe Game Lodge's rooms are mostly spread out along the riverbank, about 60m from the water's edge, and were all upgraded and refurbished in 1999 and 2000. Each is set slightly into the bank with a barrel-vaulted ceiling and one full wall of glass overlooking the river. Their design, together with punkah-punkah ceiling fans and air conditioning, keep them cool through the day. Inside the red-tiled floors are dotted with rugs, the furniture is very solid and the decor well thought out. Each has its own mini-bar and tea/coffee making facilities. The comfy beds have little canopies, and the en-suite bathrooms have a bath with an efficient shower attachment, a toilet, a washbasin, and an electric point for hair-dryers and shavers.
The Game Lodge also has four large suites, furnished equally well but with a 'lounge' as well as a bedroom. Each has its own small, secluded swimming pool. The lodge's PR was greatly enhanced when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton chose it as a romantic place in which to be re-married, and spent their honeymoon in a suite.
As you'd expect, there's a large pool, a pleasant bar and also a 'cigar bar' with a full-sized billiard table. The lodge's food is good, and usually eaten outside on a covered veranda, or in the boma by the river. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style, while dinner is even more leisurely, à la carte by candlelight.
The activities offered here are amongst the most varied of any of the region's lodges. Game drives typically go out three times a day – early or late morning and late afternoon. All last about three hours and use open-sided 4WDs. It's possible to take out a small boat with a driver/guide, usually either in the late morning or the early afternoon. Short walks on the riverbank and around the forest reserve are usually best done when it's cool, and it may be possible to take a long excursion to explore the Botswana side of Kazuma Pan on foot with an armed guide. Generally you're not limited to two activities a day – they're quite flexible about organising all-day trips or midday boat rides if you ask them.
You can take as many activities as you have the time and energy for, and if the lodge isn't full then they're quite flexible about the timing of, say, the outings in small boats. There are usually nightly shows of wildlife videos in the conference room, which seats up to 100. (If you need access to a business centre, then the Game Lodge is your only choice in Chobe or the Okavango!)