Elephant Valley Lodge
Elephant Valley Lodge stands in the heart of the Kasane Forest Reserve, south-east of Kasane. The lodge’s main draw is its lovely setting and its waterhole, which can be viewed from the lodge itself and some of the tented chalets, or from the hide built right next to it. This attracts a variety of antelope and also elephant, which often come to drink in the early mornings and evenings.
The main lodge is a beautiful building with towering thatched ceilings, decorated with an array of traditional African artefacts. There is a comfortable lounge and bar area, and an adjacent dining room which offers indoors and outdoors tables. There are lovely lawns which stretch down to the waterhole, shaded by ancient acacia trees. You could sit for hours watching the variety of birdlife attracted by the bird bath and bird table. The lodge also has a nice swimming pool which provides welcome refreshment in the hot afternoons.
Elephant Valley Lodge’s 20 tented rooms are spread throughout its grounds and linked by sandy pathways. Some overlook the waterhole, and some are located in shady gardens, near to the pool. Note that the perimeter of the camp has an electric fence to deter the many elephants that move through this area.
Activities at Elephant Valley Lodge focus on drives into the Chobe National Park and boating along the Chobe River. The lodge therefore offers morning cruises along the Chobe River and game drives in the park in the afternoons, complete with sundowner drinks on the banks of the river. The lodge generally does these in the opposite order to the other lodges and hotels in the area, to try and avoid the crowds.
It should be noted that it is a 40-minute drive from the lodge to the entrance of the Chobe National Park, and much of the drive is along a bumpy sandy track through the Kasane Forest Reserve. Each safari vehicle has ten seats and takes a maximum of ten passengers.
Game-viewing from Elephant Valley Lodge can feel a bit rushed in comparison to the private reserves, where the safari starts the moment that you leave the lodge. Also note that the guides here are constrained by the park opening hours (dawn to dusk) – and park rules forbid driving off-road, driving at night in the park, and walking safaris.
Whilst this is a lovely lodge in a beautiful setting, it would be best visited at the start of a safari to Botswana, and used as a place at which to just relax. Visitors should understand that compared to Botswana’s private safari reserves, the game-viewing areas of northern Chobe can be exceedingly busy; also, because the lodge is far from the national park, game drives need to get there and back before they can really start properly, and this can feel quite rushed.
Ideal length of stay: 2 nights
Directions: It’s 20 minutes by vehicle from Kazungula; 35 minutes from Kasane and a 40-minute drive from the lodge to the entrance gate to Chobe National Park.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited we felt that the food at this lodge was a step down from most of the other lodges and camps we have visited in Botswana, and it had a slightly school-dinners feel to it. All meals are served buffet style.
The lunch buffet comprised fish fingers, stuffed pita bread, a selection of salad, coleslaw, and bread.
At dinner, we were served mushroom soup to start, followed by an overcooked selection of meat (kudu, lamb or chicken), and mixed vegetables, which were actually very good and not at all overcooked!
For pudding we were served lemon cake with custard.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Except for when you are on game drives and boat trips, drinks are extra (including bottled water).
Further dining info: No
Birdwatching: You could spend hours here on your Botswana birding holiday watching the birdlife in the lodge itself, or from the balcony of your room. We spotted crested barbet, long-tailed shrike, pearl-spotted owl, giant eagle owl and hornbills.
Attitude towards children: Children from 2 years of age are welcomed.
Property’s age restrictions: 2 years and over.
Special activities & services: The lodge can arrange high chairs and baby-sitting on request.
Generally recommended for children: For children of 10 years and over.
Notes: Although the camp’s perimeter is fenced, children will need constant and close supervision by adults.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Free internet is available from the main lodge. The area has variable mobile reception. It is possible to use the lodge’s telephone at additional cost.
TV & radio: No
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is always someone who is first-aid trained on site. The closest doctor is in Kasane, which is 35 minutes away by road.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The lodge employs day and night watchmen. There are whistles in the rooms which can be utilised in case of emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside each room, and in the common areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service – Included
Money: The lodge accepts any major currency. There are electronic safes in the rooms.