Nxamaseri Island Lodge

Nxamaseri Island Lodge has a beautiful setting on the panhandle of the Okavango Delta, specialising in water and cultural activities. It is the closest and best lodge for visiting Tsodilo Hills, home to over 4,500 ancient rock paintings. This charming lodge encourages a slower safari pace with a range of water activities including boating, mokoro and excellent birding saafris as well as superb fly and sport fishing. An over the water spa completes this retreat style experience.

Nxamaseri Island Lodge, as the name indicates, is located on a pretty island in the Panhandle, in the far north of the Okavango and offers a classic deep-water delta experience. Following an extensive rebuild in 2024 Nxamaseri reopened as a beautiful and more luxurious retreat style lodge, encouraging a slower and more holistic Okavango experience. The spa, set over the water, offers a range of relaxing treatments, and all guests will receive one complimentary treatment during their stay.

Nxamaseri Island Lodge has nine chalets each with a secluded location for privacy and all overlook the Panhandle waters and have a private deck to view the birds and animals discreetly at your leisure. The rooms are light and airy, with an open design allowing for cooling breezes from the water. The lodge features a communal central area for relaxation and socialising complete with bar, lounge area, fire pit and swimming pool.

Nxamaseri Island Lodge has undergone a full rebuild in 2024 to offer a more luxurious experience to visitors exploring this unique section of the Okavango.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the waterways by boat and mokoro (the traditional dug-out canoe). Your guide will happily share stories of growing up along the waterways of the Delta as you enjoy the perfect viewpoint to watch the many fishing birds including the Malachite Kingfisher, the Fish Eagle, Cormorants, Egrets and Herons. Bird-watching here is outstanding and guests are likely to see over 200 different species in a 3 day stay.

Nxamaseri began as a fishing lodge- and still offers excellent fishing opportunities – but the variety of experiences here has expanded considerably over the years and guests are encouraged to try the other activities – boating safaris, mokoro rides and to visit the sacred Tsodilo Hills.

This remarkable cluster of rocky hills rises from the flat Kalahari landscape about 40km from the Lodge on the banks of the panhandle. The four massifs that make up Tsodilo Hills are home to around 4,500 ancient rock paintings, one of the largest concentrations of rock art in the world. The paintings are spread over 200 sites and a number of different rails on offer, depending on fitness levels.

Tsodilo Hills  is a sacred place to the san bushman and all visitors must be accompanied by a local guide, who can share the site’s rich cultural and geological history. This is a full day trip (you will take a packed lunch and guide with you) and highly recommended. The drive between the lush riverine forest of the panhandle and the dry Kalahari landscape surrounding the hills is interesting and offers a glimpse into local rural life in northern Botswana.

For visitors staying three nights or more at Nxamaseri the Tsodilo Hills Sleep-Out Camp is offered – a new experience from September 2024 and certainly the best way to explore this sacred site. The Tsodilo Hills Sleep-Out Camp consists of three twin/double pods (accommodating a max of 2 people) as well as a family unit (accommodating a max of 2 aduls and 2 children, under 16 years). Accommodation is basic but comfortable, the canvas pods are set on raised decks and simple bathrooms with bush toilets and bucket showers are located next door.

Highlights include wonderful views of the sun setting across these revered hills and watching the sun rise from the highest point in the Kalahari. Being onsite first thing in the morning allows for early access to the hills, to enjoy the most peaceful cultural tour of the hills. Overnight guests will enjoy a cultural interpretation from the local bushman community and learn about the heritage of this sacred site. There is the option to upgrade to a helicopter transfer to/from the camp, a highly recommended experience.

Back at the lodge guests can also join the daily traditional basket weaving lessons- a very gentle and relaxing activity. The swimming pool is the perfect place to relax between activities, or the many comfortable areas created to unwind and immerse yourself in the Okavango.

Nxamaseri Island Lodge was established in the early 1980s by PJ Bestelink, an keen fisherman who pioneered fly-fishing in Botswana. The lodge still offers excellent fishing opportunities, with fisherman able to try their hand at catching some of Africa’s most famous freshwater species including the Okavango Bream, Catfish and Tiger Fish while the Barbel Run is recommended for keen sports fishermen.

Standard tackle is available at the lodge but keen fishermen are advised to bring their own gear. The fishing experience will vary depending on the season – Late August-September through to November is the time of “The Barbel Run” when catfish swarm to the Panhandle to feed. Tiger fish are lured by the potential to hunt, giving a spectacular fishing experience. In other months, as water levels reduce, the fishing focus changes to Bream. For those keen on pure relaxation, the Lodge’s location is serene. Bird-watching from the rooms or the Lodge or from the water on a boat or mokoro is a wonderful way to enjoy an afternoon or morning.

While not a big game viewing area, the beautiful aquatic environment and the birding and fishing opportunities as well as the fascinating san cultural experience at Tsodilo Hills make this an attractive destination for those looking for something different in the Okavango. It is important to understand this is not a classic game viewing safari, there are no game drives offerred at Nxamaseri. There is plenty of life in the area, with hippos, crocs, elephants and wonderful birding but not the full range of wildife many might expect on a safari. A visit here is more about slowing down and enjoying the wonderful waterways and ancient culture of this special corner of Botswana. Nxamaseri works very well as a start or end to a safari, in combination with another camp where big game viewing is offered.

In 2021 Nxamaseri Island Lodge was acquired by Desert and Delta Safaris – one of Botswana’s leading safari operators with a wide range of safari camps and lodges. The addition of Nxamaseri to the portfolio brings with it greater access to this remote lodge. Their extensive flight network, through Safari Air, will connect Nxamaseri with Chobe, The Okavango Delta and the Kalahari.

Nxamaseri Island Lodge is about 320 km from Maun, 40 km south of Shakawe and 35 km from Tsodilo Hills. The lodge is best visited as part of a Desert and Delta itinerary, flying into the local airstrip. Though self-drive guests are welcome too, they will have to leave their car at the pick-up point, and transferred by boat to the lodge.


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