It was my idea to spend one of our three lodge/camp visits in Botswana and Zambia "under canvas" but my first thought after driving up to five tents plopped in the middle of blazing hot sand and leafless trees was, "Oh $%@#! What have I done?"
I should have had no cause for concern - this place turned out to be the highlight of our trip. After staying at high-end lodges on a previous visits to South Africa and then Baines Camp and Savute Safari Lodge in Botswana, I felt that our three nights at Chobe Under Canvas allowed us to experience the true essence of the African bush and - aside from the en suite, flushing toilet :) - took us to another era. Think Hemingway's travels to Africa.
As other reviewers have said, this is a small mobile camp that moves every week - but not while the guests are in residence. The tents are surprisingly large with big comfortable beds, sisal carpets, toilets, bag showers, battery powered lanterns, hanging shelves to unpack and cotton bathrobes. All meals are cooked in a large tent and at night food is packed away in a truck to not attract animals. (We did have a honey badger banging pots and pans one night though - and elephants munched on nearby trees another night.) The food is surprisingly good - including fresh vegetables, baked goods - and plentiful. Same with the wine/beer/liquor/juices/water/soda. Meals are served under a large, billowy tent in the center of camp and at night a boma fire and lanterns make the camp glow at night.
The highlight of Chobe Under Canvas though is the team and their effort to make this remote bush camp effortlessly luxurious and civilized. The tents are cleaned, carpets swept and beds are made everyday and turn down service happens every night. They'll even help you get rid of a few millipedes if that's not your thing.
The game viewing in this part of Chobe National Park is also spectacular - and because the camp is actually situated in the park, the guides can get you out and spotting animals at the crack of dawn instead of needing to drive 45 minutes or so into the park. They have the same restrictions in this part of the park like staying on road and being back at camp by 7 pm (at the time of the year we were there) but this did not impede our game viewing in the least.
Our guide, Meier also seemed to be the first to spot "the good stuff" before other jeeps arrived and appreciated our desire to stay away from any sightings with a ton of people. (That is one drawback to the area is that it can be crowded - but the game viewing is so diverse and the landscape including the Chobe River is beautiful so I can understand why it's popular.) &Beyond also has a boat so one afternoon/early evening was spent on the Chobe River where we saw hippos - out of the water - and elephants, crocodile, lizards, countless birds, buffalo, giraffe, impala, zebra. Great pics!
Nice touch: the team met us in the middle of our last game drive to make us a hot breakfast of eggs, bacon, beans over an open fire as we watched elephants, zebra, impala, buffalo graze on the banks of the Chobe River.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- At andBeyond Chobe Under Canvas, mobile safari tents with ensuite bathrooms (with flush toilet and steaming hot bucket shower) are positioned at secluded sites in the game-rich wilderness of Chobe National Park. One of the top wilderness areas in the world, Chobe is home to one of the largest concentrations of elephant on the African continent. ... more less