Nata Lodge is situated a short distance before the town of Nata, if you’re coming from South Africa like we were, and is a convenient stopover when on a road trip into Botswana. But its location on the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans and proximity to Nata Bird Sanctuary, a popular birding destination, make it the ideal destination for an extra day or two exploring the region.
Nata Lodge offers a range of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences, from luxuriously appointed thatched chalets, to their glamping safari tents and shaded camping facilities.
On our road trip to Chobe we opted for a night in one of the air-conditioned chalets. Check-in dealt with, we parked our vehicle in the shade of a clump of trees adjacent to our chalet, stepped up a few stairs and into our air-conditioned, comfortable and luxurious wooden chalet with its gleaming wooden floors, open beams and thatched roof. Its private veranda overlooking the surrounding grassland and bush – the perfect spot for an early morning coffee.
A claw-foot bath stood to one side, inviting a relaxing soak, there is an outdoor shower and a separate loo, and a spacious counter around the basin with all the necessary amenities – yay, I didn’t need to unpack all my toiletries. The king-size bed with its crisp white sheets and surrounding mozzie net was inviting a nap, but much exploration and a game drive into the Nata Bird Sanctuary awaited. Time to sleep later!
After a chilled drink at the bar, it was time for a light snack from the restaurant. The dappled shade of indigenous trees and prolific birdsong providing the perfect background.
We stroll around the extensive grounds, my hubby with camera in hand to try capture the abundant birdlife. Arrow-marked babblers scratch around in the undergrowth, and we hear the high-pitched call of a Meyers parrot, but it remains elusive. The Mokolane palm leaves rustle in the gentle breeze, and the sandy road is littered with ripening marula fruit. Grey go-away birds clamber through the trees and surrounding bush – their nasal “g’wa-ay” a familiar sound for those accustomed to the bush.
For camping enthusiasts, there are both powered and non-powered camping sites available. These sites are located in a shaded area and have shared ablution facilities. We take a detour to get a closer look…
The secluded camp sites look inviting and I can just imagine the fun to be had over the upcoming school holiday season, I note the clean and spacious ablutions – something most, if not all campers, especially us ladies, appreciate.
We walk past the Meru-style safari tents – ideal for those less inclined to roughing it and prefer glamping. These were our choice of accommodation on our return trip. But for now our game drive beckoned – read about our wonderful experience HERE.
The Nata Lodge offers restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating, with the open-air seating under the trees being a favourite. We peruse the a la carte dinner menu but opt for the slow-cooked beef oxtail which had been recommended to us. It was prepared to perfection and served with rice and vegetables and accompanied by a glass (or two) of red wine was just what we needed.
Back in our chalet the thought of soaking away the day in the claw-foot bath seems inviting, but I choose a blissful shower outside under the stars, the night air a nice contrast to the steamy shower. Relaxed and refreshed I slip beneath the crisp white linen on the of our fabulously comfortable king-sized bed, safely ensconced beneath the cloud of white mozzie net. I fall into a deep sleep with the air-conditioner humming quietly in the background.
Waking up with the birds allowed time for some ‘quick’ birding – as if birding can ever be considered quick. And after a hearty English breakfast we were on our way… as were several other safari and road trip guests.
A few weeks later we were back… Yay! And it felt like coming home.
But his time we stayed in one of the safari glamping tents. Pitched on raised wooden platforms each tent nestles into the surrounding bush, beneath the shade of towering trees. The spacious tent, with its twin bed configuration under mozzie nets, was perfect for our needs, and the en-suite bathroom with its outdoor shower adding to the glamping vibe.
By this point in our road trip our SUV was no longer packed to precision and our suitcases were somewhat ‘higgledy piggledy’ so having an opportunity to return a semblance order was a welcome relief. And as we hadn’t planned on another game drive, we had the time to plug in our electronics and relax a while on the deck with a welcome cuppa from the tea station.
A late afternoon stroll was followed by a chilled Savannah at the bar followed by dinner – this time the beef curry, which was also delicious. That night as I lay beneath the mozzie net, I was once again convinced that it’s hard to beat the experience of sleeping under canvas where the night sounds are clearly audible and the sense of being in the, in the case relative wild, quite apparent.
So whether you’re a hard-core outdoor fanatic and choose camping above all else, love the idea of camping but don’t want to forgo the little luxuries (like me) or can’t bear the thought of being too close to nature and want solid walls around you, Nata Lodge has an option.
But don’t just stay for one night, make it at least two. We certainly will on our next road trip up this way.