XIGERA SAFARI LODGE, BOTSWANA
BEYOND THE EXTRAORDINARY
From water, sky and boundless plains life springs in wild profusion
I was recently invited by the Tollman family – visionaries of the travel industry – to voyage into the Okavango Delta, and become intimately acquainted with their newly opened, Xigera Safari Lodge (pronounced – Kee-Jera). It has already been touted in the media as “The Versailles of the African Bush.”
It’s no secret that the Tollman family are curators of the extraordinary, the Travel Corporation and their many businesses are a testament to that. I knew before boarding the plane that I was about to experience the finest safari lodge in the world.
The journey was one of ease, from OR Tambo International Airport, it was a short flight with Airlink – just over an hour and a half – into Maun, the gateway to the Delta. On arrival, we did a rapid COVID test, which took less than thirty minutes, and one more short twenty-five-minute flight with MacAir, landed us at Xigera’s private airstrip.
Xigera Safari Lodge is unabashedly magnificent. The Xigera Design Collection, brilliantly conceptualized by Antoinette Tollman, Philip Fourie and Anton De Kock has created a ‘Living Gallery’ of true African craftmanship. It was done in collaboration with the Southern Guild, a Cape Town Gallery of contemporary design, and all the pieces were sourced from mainly African artists and designers.
It is an inspirational and visual extravaganza. I felt as if I was not only marveling at the exhibits, but able to revel in their functional uses. It’s bold, it’s beautiful, and it’s a tribute to Africa and her many talents.
The Water Lily, a Botswana flower that is known for its stunning perfection has been incorporated as an emblem throughout the lodge. Seen in the copper fireplace, featured on the four-poster beds of the apartment-size suites, it’s an ever-present reminder of the pure, natural environment that surrounds the lodge.
There are only twelve suites available and exclusivity is a given at Xigera. The suites are tucked away beneath the canopy of a riverine forest and connected by raised wooden walkways. An interesting anecdote during the construction phase was a leopard taking temporary ownership of Suite Two and nursing her cubs, halting development, until they slipped quietly back into the bush.
Despite the natural challenges as well as the impact of a global pandemic, the vision of Xigera Safari Lodge has materialized in ways that I find hard to express with mere words. It is a sanctuary of wood, steel and glass in the midst of the wild, with its own solar power station and employing local Botswana community members.
To complete an already pristine picture, the Baobab Treehouse, a three-tiered construction of steel and mesh features a rooftop deck, a lantern-lit staircase, a twin-basin bathroom and a large double bed. This is where you will be serenaded by the sounds of the Delta and wooed by the panoramic views of a million stars.
Xigera Safari Lodge is a kaleidoscope of safari activity both land-based and water-based. There is a freedom of choice and to follow the time that best suits you and your desires. Game drives are facilitated in state-of-the-art 4×4 vehicles. Think padded arm rests, USB ports, individual storage boxes and lighting above the seats. The emphasis is firmly on guest comfort.
For water-based adventures, Mokoro’s feature glass-bottoms to bring you even closer to the natural world and her splendours. Jet boats are also available to glide effortlessly through the winding, magic canals of the Okavango Delta.
As you would expect, the wildlife viewing is nothing short of spectacular. I saw the famed cubs who had taken residence at Xigera during its construction, four of the prized Big Five, leopards in iconic tree poses, and wild dog, the closest I have ever been to this endangered and sought-after safari species.
Back at the lodge, I was treated to a hospitality and a warmth that reflects the spirit of Botswana and her people. I was addressed by name, my mini bar was always stocked with my preferred beverages, room butlers took great care of my room and laundry, and the chef took note of the breakfast I had ordered the day before. Attention to detail is what elevates a safari experience.
There is an incomparable spa facility that encompasses a range of mindful living practices as well as restoring, calming and purifying treatments. The wellness programme boasts international guest experts and there is a dedicated yoga teacher that offers daily sunrise and sunset yoga sessions, a true highlight. The healing power of nature is harnessed splendidly at Xigera Safari Lodge.
In terms of cuisine, Xigera Safari Lodge has ‘The Boma’ that is the centerpiece of the lodge. In my opinion it is the best I have ever experienced. This is where al fresco fine dining is a showcase of the vibrant flavours of the Africa continent and gastronomy is an art form. Each meal at Xigera is a palette journey, all the while surrounded by the majesty of the bush.
I would suggest for those travellers in search of the exceptional, that as a stand-alone, you will need a minimum of three nights at Xigera Safari Lodge. Combined in a circuit, it works perfectly with Savuti and Linyati, always ending with Xigera Safari Lodge, saving the very best for last.
I left feeling renewed, transformed and appreciative of being invited, grateful for the opportunity to be one of the first to experience what is sure to become a preferred on the global safari stage. I relish the opportunity to be able to bring guests to this masterpiece.
With you in travels,