A beautiful narrative runs through all of Belmond’s properties, trains and boats around the world, and the African continent is no exception to the brand’s signature elements: stunning scenery, compelling stories and unrivaled experiences. From Cape Town’s iconic pink Mount Nelson Hotel to Botswana’s two safari camps — Eagle Island Lodge and Savute Elephant Lodge — Belmond delivers the pinch-me African vacation of your dreams.
This pink hotel is a well-known Cape Town landmark, known for its views of Table Mountain and access to all that’s going on in the dynamic metropolis. With 198 rooms and suites, the 5-star “Nellie” is considered one of the top luxury hotels in this city, with just the right blend of relaxation and urban adventure.
Mount Nelson‘s afternoon tea is legendary (complete with a professional tea sommelier), and dining options include long, lazy lunches and trendy dinners at the brand-new and very vibey Red Room by Chef’s Warehouse, which opened in April. This downstairs pan-Asian cocktail bar and restaurant is reminiscent of a secret speakeasy where families can gather to share the chef’s choice menu of 12 small plates; couples can nibble dim sum in a dark corner; and besties can whoop it up over a celebratory Peking duck, the restaurant’s signature dish. Also on the culinary front, Scottish chef George Jardine took over as the hotel’s executive chef in February; he’s brought a world of experience to the iconic pink landmark and to three-course dinners at the Verandah, where the menu changes every two weeks.
Ciao Bambino Family Travel Advisor Susan Robinson shares her experience from a recent stay at the Nellie: “There was period wallpaper, mirrors and beautiful upholstery. The gardens throughout the property were dotted with palm trees and English rose gardens,” she says. “There were Victorian cottages and buildings and a billiard room and study tucked away on the first floor — with wood detailing and leather chairs, this property is distinctively English in flavor.”
She also loved the resident cat in the lobby, the heated pool, the luxurious Librisi Spa and the welcome champagne upon arrival. The location, she says, was another plus.
“It’s not on the waterfront but is adjacent to Kloof Street, which is full of restaurants, bars and shopping. You can just walk out the side entrance of the hotel and you are in the midst of it all. You would feel comfortable here on your honeymoon or with your family,” Susan says.
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Belmond’s two safari lodges invite guests on the ultimate Botswana adventure, where elephants, lions and zebras (oh my!) parade across the horizon; sunsets turn the African skies pink and orange; and elegant tented rooms, gourmet dining and scenic sundowners make for an ultra-luxurious family vacation on the savanna.
Eagle Island Lodge
This sumptuous retreat-style safari lodge is set deep within the Okavango Delta, where the floodwaters attract diverse wildlife. When the Delta is in full flood, guess can canoe and take motorboat tours. Helicopter tours are also offered alongside land-based game drives.
“Guests will see a variety of aquatic animals during the wet season from June to September, including large pods of hippos, elephants wading in the watery wonderlands, crocodiles and an abundance of aquatic birdlife,” says Cindy Roberts, director of sales and marketing for Belmond Safaris. “During the green season, the focus turns to land-based game drives, night drives and walking safaris, where guests might see different cats including lions, leopards and cheetahs as well as wild dogs.”
As Belmond is in a private concession, what you won’t see is people from the outside world. Sleep soundly in the lodge’s 12 tented and spacious rooms, with luxurious linens on mosquito-netted king beds, plus private decks with plunge pools.
Sundowners at the bar by the water’s edge offer unbelievable sunset views, adds Cindy: “Don’t miss the Okavango Gin. This is home-brewed in Maun and is the perfect tipple for your afternoon sundowner.”
Savute Elephant Lodge
In the heart of Chobe National Park and set along the Savute channels, the lodge is a cluster of 12 ensuite tented rooms with mosquito-netted four-poster beds, and private decks for tranquil morning coffee. Request a room overlooking the watering hole, where animals come to quench their thirst any time of day.
“This is the elephant capital of the world and guests will see these giant animals in abundance. The area is also known for lions, and we have two large prides in the area, the Northern Pride and the Marsh Pride, both in fierce competition with one another,” explains Cindy. “In addition, we also have the second-biggest zebra migration that takes place here from November to April, and they come down by the thousands from the Linyati region.” Back at the lodge, guests can enjoy afternoon pool time and unforgettable sundowners under the baobab trees.
TIP: Keep in mind that Chobe National Park is open to the public, and thus there are professional tour guides along with self-guided cars roaming the park.
For families, both locations are a budding adventurer’s dream come true, according to Cindy.
“We have our junior rangers program, and kids from 6 years old and up can join us and learn all about the animal kingdom, including the small five [leopard tortoise, ant lion, elephant shrew, rhinoceros beetle and tbuffalo weaver]. We love to start educating them on wildlife and help them to develop a passion for this wonderful part of the world,” she says.
The lodges each have a pool, while meals are full board — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — comprised of out-of-this-world African dishes prepared by talented chefs. Dine outdoors beneath the glow of starlight or under cover during inclement weather, surrounded by vibey lantern light.
“There is à la carte-style dining at both lodges. We also do surprise bush brunches, lunches, and picnics for guests,” says Cindy. “Then we have a boma where we do barbecue-style dining, normally twice a week, with a focus on culture and traditions, with singing, dancing, and storytelling around the fire.”
As one of Belmond’s exclusive hand-selected Bellini Club members, Ciao Bambino can pass exclusive perks along, such as credits to be used at onsite spas and retail shops or on any premium branded spirits. Guests will also receive welcome treats and a letter from the general manager recognizing the Bellini Club agency. Ask your travel advisor for more information.
Editor’s Note: Photos courtesy of Belmond.
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