Belmond Eagle Island Lodge | Okavango Jewel
The lure of a water safari in Botswana’s Okavango has always been high on the avid safari lover’s checklist, so everyone’s been waiting for the prestigious Belmond Eagle Island Lodge to reopen after an extensive rebuild. Besides completing a challenging and innovative rebuild with serious green cred, Belmond’s new lodge has 12 fully refurbished, 82m2 tented suites, each with a private plunge pool and deck, as well as a beautifully positioned new restaurant and a new lounge area with a bar and library. The look throughout is of understated luxury, and was created and managed by Inge Moore of London-based interior design firm called HBA (Hirsch Bedner Associates).
Many of the details have been thoughtfully conceived around the experience in each tented room, with guests are loving the fact that subtle grey mosquito netting allows better game and bird viewing from the comfort of their oversized bed, and that the mini-bar is crafted in the style of an African explorer’s toolbox. Custom-designed tables sport canvas and leather pockets for binoculars and bird guides, much like a colonial camp would have done. And even Botswana’s mining history is pulled through in the use of copper piping and industrial-style taps in the luxurious bathrooms as well as the modern chandelier and glamorous handmade copper headboard.
The new lounge, restaurant and deck areas are all now open and interleading, with a family-style open kitchen at the heart of the restaurant with a wood-burning pizza oven. The ancient sycamore fig tree has been incorporated into the new design, while bird nests and butterflies inspired the light fittings. Even the Fish Eagle Bar, near the new camp fire and barbeque area, has a colour palette of yellow, brown and white, reflecting the feathers of its namesake, and providing a magnificent area to relax and compare the day’s game-spotting notes.
The lodge was built to ensure light footprint and sustainability, in line with the the Okavango Management Plan which requires that no permanent structures exist in the Okavango Delta which has recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the rebuild, 1350 tons of rubble and cement (apart from one slab beneath the generator for safety purposes) was removed by road, a mammoth task. But most impressive is the water-treatment plant and the switch to a new Photo Voltaic Solar-battery system – even the air-conditioning runs off it.
But there’s more… Belmond Eagle Island Lodge is perched on a private island encircled by some of the deepest stretches of the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest inland water systems and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its USP is that it is one of the very few properties to have year-round water frontage, and as a result, no other lodge in Africa offers such a water-focused safari experience, including motorboat safaris, barge cruises, peaceful bird- and game-spotting jaunts in a mekoro, as well as walking and air safaris in a private helicopter. The lodge’s helicopter ensures exceptional flexibility for guests, who can simply set off at the leisure for an unforgettable game viewing experience from the air. And, watch this space for three more exciting options to be announced shortly…
From 1st November until 23rd December 2015 Belmond is offering four nights for the price of three at any combination of Belmond safari lodges in Botswana and a complimentary 35-minute helicopter safari when staying at Belmond Eagle Island Lodge. Accommodation is fully inclusive, including all meals, safari activities and alcohol. To book or for more information, visit belmond.com
Text: Michelle Snaddon