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Back to the Okavango Delta

Gallery HBA redesigned The Belmond Eagle Island Lodge in Botswana, creating one of the country’s leading luxury safari lodges in the Okavango Delta.

The lodge is a place of discovery and wonder, delightfully capturing the spirit of the delta and becoming a place where guests can explore even as they relax and unwind after a day’s safari.

The Untouched Beauty of the Okavango

The Okavango Delta is a virtually untouched natural wonder, shaped by the water and characterized by the subtle, shifting colours of nature, the redesigned Belmond Eagle Island Lodge is a retreat for the discerning adventurer.

Perched on a private island surrounded by some of the deepest stretches of the delta, Belmond Eagle Island Lodge encompasses 12 luxury tented guestrooms, each with a large terrace and plunge pool; a dining pavilion; a lounge pavilion across two levels; an arrivals boma; a retail area; the Fish Eagle Bar; a library and internet lounge; and a camp fire area. All the structures are new, their form inspired by the massive ant nests which rise from the local landscape, as well as the gentle motion of the nearby water channels.

Each area within the camp is a space to explore where the natural world is interpreted into features, materials and patinas that convey its essence, that conjure up the spirit of adventure past and present and which enrich the guest experience with new memories to take home.

Just like the numerous water channels that weave their way through the grasslands, the design flows through the camp, here and there more specifically picking up on the idea of gently rippling water. The colour palette also flows indoors and out, inspired by the green washing into soft yellows of the surrounding grasslands as well as the layers of grey toned land. This forms the backdrop to pops of vibrant colour which take their cue, for example, from the vivid mustard hue of the indigenous eagle’s face as well as the brilliant red and blue of other local birds.

And, just like the rhythm of the world outside, lighting in the Belmond Eagle Island Lodge has a key role to play indoors and out. Lamps have been specially designed to cast mysterious shadows and play with the illusion of insects in flight or to create moody pools of illumination. 

The ambience is of discreet sophistication, the furniture and fittings convey a rugged elegance and many of the elements are artisanal, commissioned and hand-made in Africa.

Luxury in the Heart of the Okavango

The 12 tented guest rooms are each 62 square meters with an ad-additional 20 square meters deck. Their interiors are full of African inspired details. The centerpiece of each lodge is the bed offering views out onto the delta. Its copper finish headboard references Botswana’s copper mining tradition and is uniquely designed. The mosquito net is suspended from above and custom-made from grey tulle to play with the lighting. Bedside cabinets are integrated into the headboard, the traditional folding camp table is re-invented as a leather upholstered bench at the end of the bed.

Inge Moore, Principal & Creative Director of The Gallery HBA explained: “Our wish has been to give guests an insight into the soul of the Delta that they can marvel at while they are there and take away with them when they leave. By using local artisans and materials, reinventing traditional safari camp paraphernalia and translating the natural world into the interiors, the design is crafted to fill the hearts and minds of both safari camp connoisseurs and new-comers alike.”

In addition to the many items that were handmade in South Africa by Simon Beebe of BB Designs, suppliers included:

Moorgas and Sons (rods & rails); Sealy (bed base & mattress); Out of This World (tables); Deker (lounge sofas); Kiwinet (mosquito nets); Streamlight (headboard reading lights); Chelsom (reading light for daybed sofa). Fabrics, canvas and leather were mainly locally sourced. Suppliers included: Fabric Library, Halogen, Hertex, Kravet Fabrics, Mavromac, Moore & Giles (Leather) and St Leger & Viney.

Richly toned jarrah wood predominates. Much of it is re-used from the previous guest rooms. Bathrooms are finished in grey concrete.

Throughout, the Belmond Eagle Island Lodge is generously accessorized with hand-made curiosities inspired by the local flora and fauna of the Okavango Delta, as well by such local crafts as basket making.