In the heart of Botswana’s pristine Okavango Delta lies a remarkable diamond of a lodge, a place so extraordinary that it defies belief and expectation. It is quite possibly the most luxurious and well-managed camp that we at Liquid Giraffe have ever experienced. It embodies a new style of safari, combining exquisite African décor and art with an international standard of cuisine, as well as an empowered and powerful team of Batswana staff and management.
When we recently visited Xigera (pronounced KEE-jera and named after the Pied Kingfisher found hovering over waterways throughout Botswana), we were expecting glitz, crass glamour and a sense of pervading luxury assaulting the senses. By contrast, we experienced a camp that blended in harmony – not only with its surroundings but also within. Hundreds of unique pieces of art, from ceramic and stone objects to carved stools and benches, are woven into the fabric of the lodge, from the main area right into the guest suites.
Xigera was once a traditional tented camp on raised platforms. It was then bought out, deconstructed and entirely rebuilt after years of careful planning and nurturing love by the Tollman Family. The lodge was the dream of Stanley Tollman, the travel tycoon, whose empire employs 10 000 people in 70 countries. He wanted to create a camp in the UNESCO Heritage site that was extraordinary in every detail, and no expense was spared in the USD30 million or so price tag. He rightfully saw the finished lodge shortly before his death in late 2021 at the age of 91.
His daughter, Toni Tollman, was tasked with the design of Xigera. She, along with Philip Fourie and Anton de Kock, in collaboration with the award-winning South African gallery Southern Guild, commissioned art pieces from across Africa to grace the lodge. Working with the architect Anton de Kock, they created an astounding lodge during COVID, overcoming transport logistics that would challenge even the hardiest of lodge builders. Toni described the process as akin to ‘giving birth to a rhinoceros’.
The 12 Xigera suites, all named after Okavango flowers (we stayed in Water Lily), are cavernous and beautifully constructed, each with its own lounge, bedroom, bathroom and veranda. They are air-conditioned (the lodge has one of the largest solar photovoltaic plants in Botswana), meticulously furnished and every detail is considered. We were met at the suite by our personal housekeeper, who managed the suite during our stay with care and fastidiousness. The bar was even stocked with sparkling water when one of the managers discovered my water preference. For those wanting an incomparable sleep-out experience under the night skies, there is The Baobab – a large metal piece of art positioned some distance away from the lodge.
Apart from its solar power, the lodge adheres to every aspect of a green policy. You won’t find any single-use plastic items, as everything is bottled on-site and all snacks provided during game drives are served in compostable paper bags. The lodge purifies all water used through a state-of-the-art reverse osmosis treatment plant, which is then re-mineralised to ensure that guests can safely drink tap water throughout the lodge. Energy-saving principles are in place, with hot water provided by thermodynamic geysers, and SolarView tinted glass ensuring temperature stability indoors for energy-efficient air conditioning. Additionally, all organic kitchen waste is composted.
With over 100 employees, the lodge is staffed primarily by Batswana and the management’s attention to detail and trained precision is the best we have ever experienced in a safari lodge. Naturally, the chef and kitchen staff create and deliver a dining experience beyond expectations. Being situated on the unexplored periphery of the world-renowned Moremi Game Reserve, the lodge not only offers an extraordinary hospitality experience but is also home to a diverse and thriving range of animals and birds. Xigera is surrounded by seasonal floodplains, riverine forests, tawny grasslands and verdant papyrus wetlands, offering the possibility of encountering a wide variety of wildlife during your stay. The animals have become accustomed to the presence of the lodge, with a female leopard even giving birth and nursing her young in one of the partially constructed suites during the build. The construction team left the suite untouched until she was ready to move off with her young.
To find out more and book your stay, please contact us at email@example.com