Crossing the wide expanse of Chobe waters from Botswana to Chobe Water Villas in Namibia, all one sees is the row of A-frame peaks, like the zigzagged scales on a crocodile’s tail.
A tranquil, sophisticated ambience is endorsed by the warm, welcome smiles of graceful Subiya tribe staff who drift through our neutral-coloured, fascinatingly designed “home” for the next few days.
The simplicity, the open spaces, the cubist arches and columns- all reminiscent of an Afro-Roman palace. Organic textures, desert sand and seed-pods capturing the essence of Namibia’s simple beauty. Stylish, chic, elegant, arty and many other adjectives apply. The attention to detail is noteworthy, furnishings, fixtures reflect a fine eye for design with an enviable artistic flair. So too the architecture.
The complex and intriguing layout leads the eye and invites exploration of interleading indoor and outdoor spaces. Gentle steps to a patch of manicured grass, sunken seating with hot rock firepits, a long infinity pool, overhead metalwork extending the indoor-outdoor flow, ringed by trees and shrubs with cushioned alcove seating dotted about- one could spend hours just taking it in.
Boardwalks interwoven amidst natural flora of silver clusterleaf and sausage trees lead to the villas.
What a welcome. A cool, spotlessly clean space where an impressive variety of materials have been cleverly used to create ultimate luxury and comfort. Meshed inner curtains soften the view onto the daba grass and the river.
The room itself has the best of everything including a cabinet containing a kettle with multi-boiling points, exquisite wines, full mini bar and snacks, great coffee and a superb selection of teas and black china- all lit by automatic lighting.
The outside deck has been cleverly railed like the bow of a cruise liner to maximise the effect of being “at sea on the Chobe”.
Clever lighting maximises the spaces and the art. Epauletted fruit bats silently dance amongst the giant leaves of fruit trees. The rim flow swimming pool has transformed into ink, reflecting the last hint of the African day. In the dining area, resplendent with gleaming glass, crockery, cutlery and crisp linen, one gets very excited at the thought of a menu which will surely complement.
A degustation menu- seven little courses of delectable tastes- awaits. Chef Linus Siyambangu changes his menu daily, so the following night it’s his Sense Experience.
Tastes to remember include seeded and rosemary lavash, fresh basil pesto, apple and cucumber gazpacho, superbly plated kudu fillet with perfectly complementary selection of veggies, red pepper puree and red wine sauce-probably trumped by the pan seared Norwegian salmon dish and the excellent strawberry cheesecake.
The lodge is transformed at night by the truly exemplary lighting, seducing one to tarry here, tarry there.
Tarrying is lovely but the sun rising in front of the villa reminds one there are things worth doing. A quickish breakfast and we are on a boat across the river to Botswana immigration to get passports stamped and be welcomed by our Flame of Africa game guide.
Then we’re into the unfenced 11700 km2 Chobe National Park for a morning game drive- never a disappointment. Back from learning about the wildlife, including a lion we spot within a few minutes- as well as the birds, history and plants and our game vehicle becomes a boat- surely the best way to view game?
Undoubtedly a wonderful way to enjoy a lunch and an afternoon cruise, with a quick nap before dinner.
The bed itself provides inspiration for me, seeking an air conditioning solution to a double volume house. The overhead canopy does not merely provide a rail for the mosquito curtain, but a curtain of air-conditioned air.
Flame of Africa, in conjunction with Airlink, are offering a weekend for two people, sharing, at Chobe Water Villas including return flights from OR Tambo Airport, worth R00000.
Airlink is a privately owned airline business, operating as a regional feeder Airline, connecting travellers to more than 55 routes within southern Africa and St Helena Island. Airlink provides direct scheduled flights from Johannesburg to Kasane (Chobe), Botswana. With an all Jet service, Airlink provides a Business Class service, styled in the manner of a European intra-continental service.