With cosy and comfortable cottages, lush greenery and scenic barbecue areas located on the banks of the Notwane river, the Waterside Cottages just on the outskirts of Gaborone offer a great option for couples, small or larger families to escape the bustle of the city and unwind in peace and tranquility.
Waterside Cottages in not a party venue and does not permit loud music or raucous behaviour. We classify ourselves as a retreat where one can relax and unwind in a beautiful environment.
When we read this on the official website, the two of us both agreed that this was the place for us to go spend a couple of nights with our 14-month old baby. Having loud and boisterous party-house neighbours, we were sleep deprived and in dire need of some quality R&R, so we booked two nights in April of 2022 at the "Nguni" cottage at the Waterside Cottages in the Notwane area, about 20km outside of Gaborone (on route to the town of Lobatse).
Communication with the owner through email was quick and easy, we were assured that the cottages are fully-equipped and that all we needed to bring was food and drink. The photos looked inviting and the fact that we didn't have to travel far to get there was an added bonus. We reached the entrance to Waterside Cottages by around 14h on a mild Saturday afternoon (check-in is after 13h). Following the directions outlined clearly in the email we received we drove through the property and arrived at our cosy cottage.
The ground was slightly damp from the rain the previous evening but the afternoon sun was drying it out while I unpacked the things from our car and Dina and baby walked around the cottage and the bbq area looking on to the river. Given the time, we unpacked our bags and put all the food and drinks in the well-equipped kitchen, before setting up Viktor's camp-cot so he can have his afternoon nap. We then sat outside on the terrace, having our lunch and enjoying the peace and quiet.
The website showcases the five cottages on offer (Double room, Deluxe room, Superior room, two-bedroom chalet and three-bedroom chalet) and our "Nguni" cottage was the deluxe room with a King XL bed and a small sleeper-couch. The back of the cottage faces the path which we drove in on (and where we parked), while the front of the cottage and its covered terrace/veranda looks onto the bbq area below which leads to the bank of the Notwane river. The cottage is nestled in greenery with plants, trees and bushes "hiding" you away from the other cottages on the property. It was mid April though and Botswana was seeing some decent rainfall, so the river was flowing and the ambience was expectedly green and lush.
Short Video of the Outside of the Nguni Cottage
Our Nguni cottage (or Deluxe Room as it's labelled on the website) was comfortable and spacious (for a cottage). It has one main room with the mentioned King XL bed, an additional sleeper couch, a TV with full DSTV (regional digital satellite television) package and adequate power points around the room. It is tastefully decorated, has ample natural and artificial lighting and has an air-con as well. The large wood and glass sliding door gives you an idillic view of the greenery outside and the river further away.
The cottage has a decently-sized bathroom with a large stone shower, wash basin, toilet and all the necessary toiletries (soap, shampoo, toilet paper, towels etc.) and there was sufficient hot and cold water to shower with. The following day, though, the water pressure in the entire cottage was very low and upon inquiring with the reception we were informed that there was an issue with the pump that was pumping the water from the main tank to the cottages. The issue was resolved the same day, but a head's up or a quick Whatsapp message to let us know about the problem would have been appreciated.
The cottage's compact kitchen is fully equipped with all the necessities for a self-catering stay. The mini bar fridge was filled with milk, fruits, yogurts and jams, the drawers and cupboards had all the essential cutlery, glasses, cups, pots and the counter top had sugar, tea and coffee in abundance. The kitchen also has a small oven/stove combo as well as a microwave and kettle. So you really only need to bring your food and drinks and everything else is supplied for you. A bit of advice, if possible do bring along a 5L bottle of water just in case the water does go off for a bit, for those essentials morning coffees or even to boil some noodles with.
Attention to detail was also given to the outside of the cottage. The veranda outside the large sliding door is adequately-sized with a small table and two chairs to relax on. Ample shade and cover from rain is provided by the over-hang of the cottage's thatched roof. There is a small path (with a few steps along the way) that lead down from the veranda to the bbq area - the path is thankfully lit up at night, as is the actual bbq area itself. We lit up the fire on our first night to cook some steaks and "boerewors" (South African sausages) for dinner. So while the fire and our drinks warmed us up on that chilly evening, the three of us hung out outside, listening to the peaceful sounds of the bush around us. Even though we had brought our own grilling utensils, charcoal and fire lighters, we were pleasantly surprised to find that even these items are supplied for you in the cottage. There's even a bbq grill into which you can "clamp" your meat before putting it on the fire.
We slept like babies, the three of us, that night. It was a bit chilly in the cottage, so having the air-con to heat the room up a bit before going to sleep was great and in the morning there were no dogs barking, no cars hooting, no police sirens and so on and we felt like we were hundreds of kilometres away from the city. We had coffee outside on the veranda while baby Viktor was slowly waking up. We brought our own camp cot and there was more than enough space for it in the room, right next to the window. After breakfast, the sun had pushed through the clouds and we went on a little walk around the property. There are five cottages in total (although they are expanding to build another two units - written in September 2022) but by walking through the property you don't really see all of them anyway or you don't pass directly in front of any of them, so everyone's privacy is respected. There is a path that will take you to an open area of green grass right along the banks of the river, but these are in fact picnic spots for the cottages that don't have river views, so that the visitors can have their own spots next to the river a short walk from their cottage. There was no one at the spots, so we walked around and hung out by the river for a bit.
We spent the day walking around, relaxing in the cottage, making lunch in the kitchen while a light rain fell in the afternoon and even had a short nap afterwards in the peaceful surroundings. That evening there were some party noises that were heard as we sat outside sipping our wine, which did get a bit annoying as the sound carried quickly and easily over the water and we could hear everything that the party goers were saying (shouting) as well as their loud music. After a quick message to the owners, they informed us that the noise was coming from another venue further down, but because of the water it sounded like they were right next door. However, the music and noise died down shortly afterwards which was a relief and we spent the rest of our last night at Nguni cottage in peace and quiet.
The next day we had our coffees and quick breakfast before we packed up our things to head back to Gaborone. Check-out is 10am or earlier, so we didn't have to rush anything that morning. Apart from the low water pressure the previous day and the neighbouring party noise the night before (neither of which were really serious issues), our short but sweet stay at the Waterside Cottages was a great little break from the hustle and bustle of the city and you can really relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility out there in Notwane, along the river. As we drove out, we noticed that there was a tea garden (The Wheelbarrow) and a restaurant (Zorro's), all within walking distance from the cottages so one can take a stroll outside of the property as well. The area does seem relatively safe and the cottages even have alarm systems built-in for you to arm in the evening before you go to sleep, which may be strange for some foreign visitors perhaps, but it's quite normal (unfortunately) for us. We'd definitely go back here again when the city gets too loud (which will probably be sooner rather than later).
You can find out more about the cottages, the accommodation options and more, through their website or visit their Facebook page.
"We are a Botswana-based family of 3, with a passion for going out into nature and the bush any chance we get!"