Even if Xigera Safari Lodge opened in 2021 in the pristine Okavango Delta – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – it has already received multiple awards and honors. Aficionados who have been impressed with this exceptional new lodge include Robb Report, National Geographic Traveler, CondÃ© Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure. Xigera’s exterior and interior design was praised by Architectural Digest.
Provided by Xigera Safari Lodge
Located at the western end of the Moremi Reserve, the lodge overlooks the vast flood plains of the Okavango Delta alluvial cone. In this semi-arid area, with its ever-changing river system, the Xigera Safari Lodge has permanent water, so guests can enjoy land and water activities all year round. This channel water is stabilized by particularly pretty papyri at sunset and is home to dozens of malachite kingfisher, the endangered wattled crane and the long-toed lapwing. Being led by a skillful guide in a mokoro – a hollow wooden canoe historically, but now fiberglass – is a classic Okavango experience. Hippos enjoy the water channel in front of the lodge’s communal dining room, entertaining guests by leaving the water at sunset to graze. They punctuate the night with loud honking and growling.
Twelve solar and air-conditioned tents are located far from each other, each guaranteeing a completely private facade. Each suite has been built on stilts over seasonal canals, so water can flow when the delta is in flood and so wildlife can pass underneath. A shy bushbuck shelter in the lodge surrounds and warthogs graze on their knees. Handcrafted from FSC certified cedar, with an arched traction roof covering, the suites blend into the wilderness. The decor is unique in each suite. The Sausage Tree Suite conceptualizes the tree’s brown-colored blossoms through ruby-red textiles, a delightfully unconventional pop of color when most lodges choose subtle hues of khaki.
In my suite, 1,980 square feet of indoor and outdoor space includes a bedroom – with a king-size bed and tables with ceramic Ardmore lamps depicting African water lilies and jacana – a separate living room and walk-in closet, as well as a separate living room and walk-in closet. ‘a bathroom with two sinks, an indoor shower and a freestanding copper bathtub. The candlesticks are made of brass, shaped like a water lily, a clever theme, as this is Xigera’s logo. The outdoor shower sports a panoramic view of the floodplain up front and tree canopies above. On my secluded terrace, I find gazebos with designer outdoor furniture and a daybed with cushions scattered in fine fabrics.
The attention to detail in The Sausage Tree Suite includes a bar fridge stocked with pretty bottles of South African artisanal goods like Elephant Gin and Aromatic Clemengold Gin; a watercolor painting kit and a comprehensive checklist of flora and fauna species in the area. A witty coffee table represents a wooden water lily supporting a sheet of glass, as if it were under water. The logo is embossed on paper, napkins and napkins, as well as represented by objects like candle holders, fan blades and carved wooden bowls. My pomegranate welcome cake even has the water lily made of frosting on the serving plate.
Reinventing the concept of safari decor, Toni Tollman – daughter of Beatrice Tollman, the famous founder and president of the Red Carnation Hotel collection – commissioned hand-crafted works of art, inspired by the beauty of the surrounding ecosystem. A celebration of African creativity, each sculpture, image and piece of ceramic has been carefully placed to blend in with the visual splendor of the surrounding Okavango Delta. My favorites are the hands-on art of the wooden benches and chairs – carved from fallen trees – that dot the driveway and patio of my suite. Adam Birch spent seven months on site carving these 150 large-scale wood sculptures, training local carpenters.
The elaborate system of walkways between the suites and from the common areas facilitates a pleasant walk within the confines of the lodge. From the suites or the walkway, I spot an abundance of game including elephants, aggregations of lechwe – adapted to wet conditions with splayed hooves – scurrying squirrels, lizards and skinks in the sun, as well as a variety of butterflies. A huge asset to the Xigera Safari Lodge is the Pel’s Fishing Owl – a “mega-tick” for bird watchers – which perches in the ancient trees that dominate the suites. Every morning the aisle is damp under the sausages, where the crimson flowers have fallen and spilled their nectar. The African mangosteen – known locally as the Bob Marley tree because its shape is reminiscent of dreadlocks – gives off a yellow-orange sap from its orange berry.
Every aspect of Xigera has been carefully thought out, planned and designed. The common dining room and living room have feng shui airflow from one end to the other. Still, there are separate mods for socializing, including a lounge with curved red sofas next to the well-stocked bar and a sunken lounge dominated by a copper-clad water lily forming the chimney of a fireplace. The adjacent dining area has covered tables, some outside for alfresco dining under wicker umbrellas and others in private areas open to the sun. Romantic lanterns, stars and moonlight illuminate nooks and crannies at night.
The Sandblasted White Land Cruiser has bespoke features designed by Mike Meyers – renowned for his wildlife photography and in the safari industry after decades of service – to ensure ease for photographers. With just six seats and an aisle in the middle of the play vehicle, each guest has a spot outside. One of the hallmarks of Xigera Safari Lodge is its extreme flexibility, allowing guests to plan or participate in activities as they wish. This makes a welcome change from the training camp schedule of most lodges. As I am passionate about photography, I love the light at dawn, so I choose to go out into the wild while the red-billed kittens call from the top of the termite mounds, in a series of loud, gruff notes and the Chacma baboons. descend from their refuge in an African ebony. The iconic Big Five are regularly sighted, along with African wild dogs, cheetahs, aardwolf, and side-striped jackals. The classic wilderness sunset stop is taken to a new level of lavishness.
When I am inside the lodge at dusk – when the butterfly hour becomes the moth hour – I am sitting on a promontory in front of the Spa and the heated swimming pool, under a metallic umbrella inspired by water lilies, watching the spectacular sunset. Xigera Safari Lodge is a place to reconnect with nature, let go of the worries of the world, absorbing the energy of this amazing biome.
Airlink operates direct scheduled flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg to Maun (Okavango Delta), Botswana.
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