By Ian James Rodney – Guest | August 2009
Jan Erik Vold once said, “If you gave me several million years, there would be nothing that did not grow in beauty if it were surrounded by water”
This speaks true for Ntwala Island Lodge, situated in the heart of the Caprivi, one of the exclusive gems in the Islands in Africa portfolio of lodges. From the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg city streets to sitting on a boat on the soothing waters of the Caprivi in Namibia in under 3 hours. There are spa packages that take longer and still do not offer the level of relaxation achieved by these majestic waters.
Having been collected by a private boat and guide from Kasane Immigration, we were whisked along the meandering Kasai channel until a gap in the reeds gave us a glimpse of the lodge jetty, where we were greeted by warm welcomes, cold cocktails and chilled facecloths. From the jetty, we were led across this cluster of pristine islands on floating walkways and freshly raked white sand paths. Upon arrival at the main complex, which sits on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, sheltered by Ilala palms, we saw breathtaking views of this mighty river along with its many inhabitants including several pods of hippos. It is hard not to feel resentment towards the lodge managers whose reaction to the jealous glint in your eye is “Well someone has to do it!” The lodge rooms fall into the “quality and not quantity” category. There are only 4 suites and each one is a small piece of paradise complete with private plunge pool, indoor and outdoor showers, deck, outdoor sala, enormous stone bath and stunning views.
Other than some rest and relaxation, the main aim of our trip was some quality time battling the elusive tiger fish. Unfortunately they still remain elusive with our total haul including only 2 cat fish and one small tiger fish caught seemingly by accident. The poor fishing tally could be put down to the mildest cold front (28 degrees celcius) or the skill level of the fisherman. Unfortunately I think it is the latter due to the impressive take by a mom & son combo who were on the water “having a go at fishing”.
Other activities on our trip included a visit to the majestic 2,000 year old Baobab tree as well as the Chobe River Cruise. The Baobab tree can be found on neighbouring Impalila Island and provides those brave enough to climb it with a truly unique and special view of the only place in the world where 4 countries meet; Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Once at the top, your legs may stop shaking long enough for you to release your white knuckle death grip from the climbing holds to take some impressive panoramic photographs.
The Chobe River Cruise can only be described as a perfect way to spend an afternoon. With private boat, guide, cooler box, snacks and miles of pristine river at our disposal, we spent several hours cruising the river banks of the Chobe National Park in search of wildlife. Full checklists worth of game and birdlife – including some of the BIG 5 – frequent the river at this time of day. On this particular afternoon, we were spoilt for elephant, seeing at least 8 separate herds of up to 40 elephant strong coming down to the water to quench their thirsts.
These sightings were only trumped by the glorious African sunset over the Zambezi River on the way back to the lodge.
Upon return to the lodge, we were delighted to find freshly run steaming hot bubble baths accompanied by a selection of lotions, potions, bath salts and candles; everything a traveller needs after a hard day of relaxation. During our stay there was a seamless stream of meals and course as if Namibia was unfamiliar with the standard breakfast, lunch and dinner. The quality of food was high and left you with the knowledge that the lodge and staff understand that great dining is interwoven into the very fabric of a superb getaway. We found both staff and management alike to be extremely hospitable and accommodating as they go about creating a true home away from home experience.
Were 3 nights enough? It’s hard to say; I don’t feel that I would be happy to leave this magical place after any amount of time.