A wonderland of prolific floodplains, dense woodlands and nutrient-rich semideserts, Botswana’s landmass is a recipe for wildlife prosperity. With fewer than two million people in a nation the size of France, this precious tract of planet Earth is ruled by the animals. And the adventurous traveler is handsomely rewarded for taking southern Africa’s road less traveled.
Botswana’s game-rich north headlines the safari diaries of the globe’s savviest wildlife enthusiasts. The remote safari camps of the Okavango Delta pepper the breathtaking floodplains, reached exclusively by small, light aircraft, which are required to traverse the undeveloped terrain. Lodges here are categorized as either “wet” or “dry,” depending on proximity to the permanent flood zones, thus determining if a road vehicle or a boat will serve as the primary method of transportation after touchdown.
Though located on a dry edge of the wetlands bordering Moremi Game Reserve, &Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp showcases the best of the delta’s dichotomous offerings. Extensive dirt roads weave through the 19,800-acre wildlife concession Nxabega calls home. With exclusive rights to this stunning swath of land, Nxabega doles out Africa’s most candid wildlife moments without competition from other vehicles or lodges. This exclusivity translates into intimate, hours-long sessions with prides of curious lions, foraging herds of elephants and boisterous baby hyenas at your own pace and with no other humans in sight—a far cry from the more typical crowded safari experience. To complement the game drives, the Nxabega team capitalizes on the crystal clear channels defining the delta, offering the splendidly romantic mokoro experience—a leisurely boat ride along the papyrus-lined banks of the floodplains in a dugout canoe, where 360-degree immersion in the delta’s beauty of low-lying islands completely ambushes your senses.
Back at the camp, an oasis of alfresco luxury awaits. The Nxabega enclave consists of nine exclusive tented suites and a number of common dining and social areas, all of which unassumingly blend into the wilderness. The tented suites feature luxurious bathrooms, private verandas overlooking the floodplain, and just enough canvas to keep you feeling secure when you hear the elephants snoring and the leopards hunting come nightfall. Whether served in the privacy of your suite, by candlelight in the bush, or in the atmospheric outdoor dining room, each meal falls nothing short of experiential, featuring exotic farm-to-table ingredients and unbelievable fresh baked goods that could impress top French chefs.
From the suite butler to your personal ranger, the on-site team demonstrates tremendous pride in both culture and work. Camp staff members often join guests after dinner to engage in traditional song and dance. No matter what time of day or night, the constant smiles, effortless hospitality and unwavering diligence elevate Nxabega to a category of its own. Africa teems with gorgeous lodges and majestic wildlife, but few places have yet to master this level of service.
Nxabega’s culture of excellent service extends to its sister &Beyond camps beyond the delta. At &Beyond Chobe Under Canvas, a team of two dozen works tirelessly to facilitate exclusive “glamping” within the boundaries of Botswana’s renowned Chobe National Park. Though fewer creature comforts are offered in the spacious mobile tents, the wildlife experiences at Chobe are exceptional. And camping inside one of the most wildlife-intense national parks in the world conjures an extreme sense of adventure and excitement.
Not only is Chobe home to one of the largest concentrations of elephants on the continent, its riverbanks and interiors are loaded with zebras, pukus, buffaloes, sable and roan antelope, eagles, lions and Nile crocodiles, too. Given so many species in such close quarters, the scene quickly changes from one of serenity to one of explosive encounters in the animal kingdom. No two days—or two hours—are the same. Though more hard-core and demanding than Nxabega (while still in the realm of luxury), Chobe Under Canvas is the ultimate untamed wildlife experience and the supreme way to experience Africa in the raw. andbeyondafrica.com