Part 13: Chobe Chilwero Lodge

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It was a short transfer of only about 8 miles from Chobe Game Lodge to Chobe Chilwero Lodge (operated by Sanctuary), a 14-roomed property in the Kasane Forest Reserve, overlooking the Chobe River.  First impressions were good:  certainly the main lodge and dining room area and pleasant verandah fringed by a green lawn and lots of large, leafy trees are inviting and gracious.

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The high-ceiling thatched buildings create a wonderful safari atmosphere, reminiscent of a private lodge of a much earlier era. There are no jarring notes – it is quiet, clean and elegant and styled in a timeless fashion.

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The rooms at Chobe Chilwero are amongst the best I’ve seen and experienced anywhere in Botswana.  Huge, with a large canopied bed and a wrap-around mosquito net as the centerpiece.  Accessible on two sides, there is a very well-designed bathroom with massive free-standing bath, shower and outdoor shower, lots of storage space and good natural light.  Bathrooms have to be quite special to look good in photographs but the ones at Chobe Chilwero are in that category!  Mix in plentiful plug points, effective lighting and a good view and it all adds up to rooms that are first class in every respect.

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Meals at Chobe Chilwero were outstanding with printed menus, offering a variety of delectable options.  I tried a grilled fillet of bream for lunch and it turned out to be the single best dish of the entire trip.  Perfectly done and served with scalloped potatoes, it was the equal of deluxe restaurant fare, any day.  The other meals didn’t disappoint either.  The soups and starters were delicious and creative as were the desserts.  Plus a wonderful selection of fruit and other items such as cereals, muesli, cheese, scones etc. for breakfast, in addition to several hot breakfast options with eggs to order.

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The afternoon activity on the day of arrival at Chobe Chilwero was supposed to be a boat outing on the Chobe River – I was looking forward to photographing some elephants along the river’s edge – but it was not to be.  We had hardly been underway for 10 minutes or so when we had to turn around due to running into some heavy rain and more importantly, lightning.  Nobody wants to be in an aluminum skiff on the open water, within striking distance of a lightning bolt.

Our morning game drive on December 17 was mostly quiet but was enlivened later in the morning when we came upon several lions right along the river.  There were several females and a young male, about 5 or 6 in total.

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The afternoon activity was a definite highlight.  From Chobe Chilwero Lodge, it is a drive of about 15 minutes or so to a jetty where we boarded a typical Okavango Delta-type aluminum skiff (just like the previous day).  Within minutes, we were observing hippo and crocodiles close-up, including a fascinating interaction between an adult and several baby crocodiles.

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Although we could not be sure, it looked as if the older crocodile was interested in catching and eating the recently hatched 6-inch long baby crocodiles.  Fortunately for the youngsters, they were in an awkward spot on the top of a log, difficult to get to.  We left the spot with the outcome uncertain.  A fairly large water monitor was also eyeing the young crocs.  It is a hard life out there, no wonder the survival rate of baby crocodiles is so low:  as many as 40% to 60% of crocodile eggs hatch, but a very tiny percentage of hatchlings make it to adulthood.

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Our next stop along the Chobe River was a group of about 20 or so elephants which we observed drinking, hosing themselves down and generally enjoying the water.  They were almost all a very dark, almost black shade of ‘elephant grey’, clearly just recently having been immersed in water.

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Two of the young bulls started to push each other around and delighted the many onlookers – there were several other boats from nearby lodges in attendance.  This is what one comes to Chobe to see!

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After 20 minutes or so of observing the spectacle in decent light, we returned to the jetty and to the lodge, a much happier group than the rather bedraggled, damp bunch of the previous day.

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The next morning, after an enjoyable breakfast at Chobe Chilwero, I would be off to Victoria Falls.

I’ve wanted to spend a couple of days at Chobe Chilwero for many years now and was very happy to finally get the chance to do so. The lodge was even better than I had anticipated and it would be a great choice for any visitor to the Chobe area, particularly for honeymooners or for anyone who puts a high premium on privacy in a luxury setting.

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