My own unassumingly labeled “guest suite” turned out to be lovely villa with a private plunge pool large enough to swim in, and an air-conditioned bedroom. Its upper level deck under thatch went from being a superbly comfortable hide during the day to offering optional open-air sleeping quarters at night. I spent an entire siesta time there watching a herd of elephants browsing about the camp before trundling off to a copse of mopane trees at the end of the property.
The staff was consistently gracious and attentive, with everyone’s demeanor unequivocally expressing how happy they were I had come to visit. The attention to the smallest detail was amazing. My wake-up calls came with a carafe of freshly squeezed orange juice. Morning drive coffee was French-pressed. When I walked from my suite to the main lodge shortly after the elephants’ passage, I noticed that the pathways had already been raked clear of any signs of their visit. And after I complimented the chef on the delicious savory herbed shortbread served with cocktails, a copy of the recipe materialized on my desk the next morning.
The quality of the guiding was on par with the hospitality. I had come to Xudum to experience the remote waterways of the Delta and enjoy its bountiful birdlife. My guide Ona Basimani ensured that I did that, from marveling at the expertly woven straw cup of a warbler’s nest threaded between three reeds to repeatedly spotting elusive Pel’s fishing owls. I was pleasantly surprised to find some game as well. In addition to the omnipresent elephants, hippos, and lechwes, I enjoyed sighting the occasional giraffe, and a rarely seen side-striped jackal howling at the moon.
My one regret about Xudum was that I hadn’t planned to stay longer. There were not enough hours in the day, nor days on my itinerary to take full advantage the outstanding offerings of this luxurious property, its superb food and munificent hospitality. I long for an opportunity to return. I have already recommended it for its romantic setting and glorious pampering to friends considering a Southern African honeymoon.
Communications There was no mobile phone service in the area. Short-wave radio was the lodge’s main means of communication. A satellite phone was available for emergencies. For guests with their own laptop, there was good WiFi Internet access in the main lodge.
General Manager Johan van der Merwe and the Lodge Manager is Florence Potgieter
Handicapped Access No
Length Of Stay Two nights
Location In the southern Delta; a 20-minute flight by light airplane from Maun the main gateway into Botswana’s safari areas.
Owned-Managed &Beyond, previously known as Conservation Corporation Africa (CC Africa), with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, owned and managed the property. At the time of this writing &Beyond itself is owned by two major shareholders, Capricorn (the Enthoven family, originally from South Africa) and the Getty Family Trust.
Power The camp had diesel-generated power . The tents had electric lighting and air-conditioning, and sufficient power to charge batteries for cameras, computers and other electronic devices.
Size The 18.5 acre (7.5 hectare) camp consisted of nine guest suites capable of accommodating up to 18 guests. It employed a staff of 35, including four guides and four trackers.
Year Open-Renovated Xudum was built in 2008. It was inaugurated and opened for guests in August 2008.
On the middle level, seating area was a dark gray wicker and chrome sofa framed by matching armchairs with light brown toss pillows, arranged around a glass-topped coffee table. End tables were constructed of brown-lacquered soda cans. A line of rough-hewn natural wood logs stood against the back of the sofa to serve as a credenza. The dining room was furnished with square tables, their white wooden tops set on various reclaimed bases. Dining chairs were of gray molded resin and chrome. The upper level lounge followed the theme of the lower levels with two gray upholstered sofas facing each other across a distressed white bench coffee table. In a corner, a table with four resin chairs could be used as a writing table or set for intimate dining.
Room My 1,625 square foot (151 square meter) suite, Number Three, was a two-story structure with terrazzo and thatch roofing and wrap-around veranda. The outer walls were made of mesh screening with brown sliding canvas privacy panels. The floors were dark polished wood covered with gray jute runners and throw rugs. The sliding front door opened onto a long foyer. A wood-paneled partition with a long built-in credenza, topped by a wall-size black and white areal photograph of the Delta flanked by two wall sconces, separated it from the bedroom. On the left, the foyer led into a seating area with a tuxedo sofa upholstered in gray cotton and a polished wood coffee table. Two end tables were glass slabs supported by stacked tires. In the corner, a brown-lacquered metal drum held bar utensils and three black leather boxes filled with snacks. An ice chest covered in black canvas held ice and an assortment of cold drinks. On the right, the foyer opened onto the sleeping area where a king-size bed facing the bush was draped in cappuccino-colored linen. The drapes could be drawn to double as mosquito netting fully enclosing the bed and the two bedside tables topped by sconces that matched those in the foyer. The overhead air conditioning unit was remote-controlled. Bedding was white high-count cotton with brown embroidered trim. A sidewall alcove had a built-in writing desk with a square, wood-framed wall mirror to double as a dressing table and a bench seat.
The rear and side exterior mesh partitions slid open, allowing access to the deck that ran along the rear of the suite and wrapped around the right side of it to form a deep veranda. The veranda was furnished with a large circular sofa made of a gray wicker base and brown canvas upholstered cushions. Near the entrance door to the suite an outdoor staircase led to a second floor thatched deck. At the center of the space, a queen-size platform bed with a thick mattress was covered in brown canvas and a profusion of matching pillows. The deck was surrounded with brown linen draperies that could be drawn for privacy and mosquito protection. A ceiling fan hung from the peak of the ceiling.
A breakfast buffet was served before the morning game drive. It included cereals, yoghurts, fruit, and freshly baked breads with fruit juices, tea and coffee. Full English breakfast was available on demand. Lunch was served at individual tables, each set with assorted meat dishes and salads, breads and a tray of well-ripened cheeses. Teatime was around 4 PM, prior to departure for afternoon activities. It was a combination of savory snacks and cakes with tea, coffee and juice. The three-course dinner was formally served plated and featured a choice of entrees, usually a choice of meat, game or fish main course, and a vegetarian option. Deserts were decadent offerings such as an excellent, rich but light chocolate mousse or poached fruit on a bed of brandied crème anglaise .
In the bathroom there was a hair-dryer, a generous supply of thick cotton bath and hand towels, washcloths, two each blue and white cotton sarongs, white cotton bathrobes and slippers, and black pool towels. The shower and sink area had face soap, laundry soap, bath soap, pump bottles of body scrub, bath oil, shampoo, conditioner and body moisturizing cream, shower caps, cotton balls and cotton swabs. Votive candles were arranged around the room. The storage closet had an electronic safe large enough to accommodate a laptop computer in addition to smaller valuables. There was mosquito and insect repellent spray, two high-density flashlights, an emergency horn and two golf umbrellas. A wicker tote bag was filled with exercise equipment, including a yoga mat, Pilates elastic ropes, and sets of two and five pound free weights.
All meal, soft drinks and house alcoholic beverages were included, as were all daily game viewing activities, and daily laundry service. Top brand alcoholic beverages such as vintage wines, French champagnes and luxury whiskies where available for an additional charge.
Gift Shop There was a well-stocked gift boutique within the main lodge area. It carried an assortment of chic Xudum-branded safari wear, a variety of souvenirs, mainly local wood carvings, wrought-iron knickknacks, baskets and jewelry, and a few safari-related books.
Spa Although Xudum didn’t have a dedicated spa facility, there was licensed masseuse on staff who offered a range of treatment options, including Swedish and aromatherapy massages in guest suites.
Swimming Pool My suite had a private 6 foot x 14 foot (1.8 meter x 4.25 meter) plunge pool overlooking the bush.
Date Of Last Visit October 2009
Reviewers Article and photographs by Josette King
Service Excellent. Every member of the management and staff I met was thoughtful, enthusiastic and eager to please. Attention to details was outstanding. My suite was serviced three times daily.
- Private Bag X 27
- Benmore, Johannesburg
- 2010, South Africa
- + 267 686 1979
- Emergency 24×7
- + 267 716 92997
- + 267 686 1972