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“Beautiful Place and Location - Just Not "Perfect"”

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Wilderness Safaris Mombo Camp
Reviewed 11 October 2010

We stayed at Little Mombo on a two week trip to Southern Africa which also included stops at Singita Boulders in South Africa, Marlin Lodge in Mozambique and Vumbura Plains in Botswana. We had very high expectations for Little Mombo – it is hard not to when you consider all of the positive press and reviews this place receives, coupled with the premium price they charge. We really enjoyed Mombo and would love to go back someday but overall it didn’t quite hit our very lofty expectations. There was absolutely nothing “wrong” that happened or any real gripes, just a matter of expectations for us and comparisons to prior stops on our trip.

Little Mombo contains three rooms and is connected to (main) Mombo via a raised walkway (which the baboons like to patrol during the day – they seemed harmless – at least that’s what I was told! They didn’t bother us, and actually seemed scared of people if you got too close). Mombo has nine or ten rooms to my knowledge by way of comparison. You can go back and forth between camps, as they share a gym, a pool and the store, but meals are eaten separately (so Little Mombo guests dine with Little Mombo guests and Mombo with Mombo) and game drives are separate as well. I think this is a real consideration if you are going. Little Mombo is certainly more intimate, and if you are traveling in a group you could rent the entire place out. If you don’t want to take a chance that you’ll get along with the other guests (as you tend to dine together) or just want to meet a greater number of people, you may be more comfortable at Mombo. I believe the rooms are pretty much the same across both parts of the camp.

The room was very nice. It looked a little older than our other point of comparison in Botswana with was Vumbura Plains, and I’m pretty sure that’s because it is older, I believe Vumbura was built more recently. Don’t get me wrong though, a very nice room. Quite a different style than Vumbura – more “old school” or perhaps colonial is the right word. The rooms have very nice views and each came with a private outdoor sala which was awesome. It was a big comfy couch under the shade overlooking the glory that is wild Africa. Just sitting there I saw amazing birdlife, a big pack of red lechwe that made their home about 100 feet to my left, and numerous elephants would pass by directly in front of it – you could almost reach out and touch them. There is a fridge in the room stocked with drinks, a separate living room area, and a nice bathroom with dual showers.

The service we experienced was pretty good. We found the staffs at Boulders and Vumbura to overall be a little bit friendlier but we had no complaints about the level of service provided. Martha, the camp manager while we were there, was especially terrific in her friendliness and the effort she put out for us.

The food was excellent the entire time we were there. We even did a “bush breakfast” one morning which was unique. After the morning game drive we pulled up to a long table set for us next to wide open plain, with elephants grazing not too far away. We had the executive chef out there cooking up a masterpiece over some open flames. Experiences like that are parts of what make an African safari so memorable – enjoying gourmet food in an incredibly pristine and wild natural environment with wild animals around.

Speaking of wild animals Mombo is AMAZING for lion viewing. We saw lion on every single drive we were out on, and usually many, many lion. The biggest pride we saw numbered almost twenty, and included two big males and some younger ones. We also were fortunate to see Legadima, the female leopard made famous by the Joubert documentary Eye of the Leopard. We spotted her as we were viewing a smaller breakaway pride of lion. She was walking not more than 200 feet behind them but they did not see each other for the lion were sleeping and covered by some trees. We followed Legadima for awhile and watched her climb a tree and try to take a nap. We also saw a wild dog who has taken to living with a pack of jackals. Very unusual we were told. Both the jackals and the dog have realized that it’s better together than apart it seems. One night we found them lying near the airstrip. The dog took off running (as did the impala that were nearby – they thought the dog was coming for them!) and we followed in the Landover. It was a very cool experience following the dog through the bush and trying to figure out what she was up to. It turns out she was just looking for the other jackals, which she found a few minutes later. In summary on the game viewing, there is a lot of it and it is amazing for lion. The flip side is I hear there are no cheetah nor any rhino in the area, and if you don’t see that one lone wild dog right now then you won’t see any wild dog. So the diversity of game wasn’t quite what we experienced at Boulders or Vumbura Plains, but again, it was out of this world for Lion and all in all we enjoyed every game drive we took at Mombo. Our guide was very knowledgeable and experienced though slightly less personable than some other guides we had in Africa.

Little Mombo was a memorable experience to be sure. I admittedly set expectations very high, and had amazing experiences at Boulders and Vumbura Plains before getting to Mombo which set the bar high. All in all it was great but I do feel the four stars is the right rating for me, due in part that I expected some type of perfection which wasn’t completely there.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank bullet78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 9 September 2010

don't believe the hype. don't get me wrong, the rooms are quite nice and staff is very friendly, but go to selinda for a far superior experience/value. we haven't been too many places, but since this is a national park, drives must be over by 7:00pm, there are no boat rides and no walking safaris. plus, given that it's an island and a little constrained, by the second safari drive, you've seen it all. even though there's a lot of lions and leopards, they don't have cheetah, wild dogs or some of the diversity we saw in other camps. that said, food was fabulous and the camp seemed to attract an interesting crowd. guides were ok here, but they seemed to be more buddy/buddy with each other than in other camps (maybe because they're isolated) so they end up speaking more to each other on radios rather than informing guests during the drives. so overall it's good, but just doesn't quite deserve the worldwide reputation nor merit the premium cost.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank barow44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 August 2010

We arrived at Mombo mid May 2010 via the Wilderness Safari helicopter after three days at Vumbura Plains and were met by our guide Malinga and his open Land Rover. On the short drive to camp we encountered elephants, giraffe and wildebeest and marveled at the lush, almost tropical vegetation normal for this area at the end of the rainy season. Mombo is located on a plain in much the same configuration as Vumbura. Guest tents are arranged on either side of the common space and everything is elevated to accommodate high water and protect animals trails, specifically cape buffalo, who like to wander under the walkways at night. The common area is comfortable with plenty of space to gather and discuss the days animal viewing. The bar is under cover as is one of the two dining areas. Mombo has a nice pool, open exercise pavilion, great curio shop, fire pit for morning and evening socializing, boma, and large viewing deck.

We stayed in tent 4 which like the previous camp had electricity 24/7 and electrical outlets for charging our netbook and camera batteries. Each tent also had a newly added electric, stocked refrigerator the size of a large ice chest. The tent is canvas on three sides with canvas vents should you need some extra airflow. The fourth side faces the plain, is securely screened and opens onto a small deck with chairs and a large siesta couch. Each tent has a nicely sized seating area, writing desk, comfortable mosquito netted bed, open double shower, double sinks and overhead fans. The rooms generally face east which allows the morning sun to sneak its way into the room through the surrounding trees and provide a gradual wake up call. The late afternoon sun provides plenty of light and not much direct heat since the west side of camp is mainly high trees. There is usually a soft breeze coming off the plain during the afternoon which makes the room a pleasant place to relax anytime of the day. Temperatures during our stay were about 80-85 during the day and about 55-60 at night. There is no internet or cell service at Mombo so we used some of our siesta time to review pictures and prepare emails for the next time wireless was available.

Within an hour of our arrival we were off on our first Mombo safari and were not disappointed. Mombo is known for the large amount game in this area of the Delta and after leaving camp we quickly saw a wild dog snoozing in the grass, jackals, impala, and more giraffe. In another 15 minutes we were enjoying the late afternoon sun with a pride of lions – 4 females, 4 cubs. We spend an hour and a half in this one location watching the adult cats wake up and stretch and play with the cubs. Some of the best pictures on this safari were at this site where we stayed until the sun went down. Malinga provided sundowner wine and treats in the Land Rover while we sat and marveled at these animals – most as close as 20 feet from our vantage point. Dinner that first night was in the boma where we were treated to a wonderful meal of impala and brim accompanied by local wines. After a light dessert the staff sang and performed authentic dances. There is nothing like a soft, comfortable bed and the sounds of a lion roaring in the distance, a cape buffalo sloshing in the water and frogs to put you to sleep.

The next two days we were treated to amazing animal sightings. On one game drive we came upon two snoozing male lions and parked 10 ft from the first who was in the process of waking up. What a magnificent routine. Yawns. Stretches. Frowns. And the occasional look right into the camera lens. Malinga kept up a commentary about specific lion behavior and what it meant. Fortunately none of the behavior involved having a Mombo guest for dinner. At times it was hard to realize these are wild animals who command the respect of those of us lucky enough to see them up close in their native environment. We discovered Malinga is the head trainer for the other guides at Mombo so once again we were lucky to have someone who always had an answer to our many questions. As was the case at Vumbura, we learned more than we ever imagined during our game drives. Having an experienced and knowledgeable guide adds significantly to the safari experience.

The most amazing game drive occurred on the second day when we visited an area of the concession known for its variety of animals. In just one 30 minute time period we saw 100 impala, 50 zebra, 50 baboon, 5 warthogs and numerous varieties of birds all feeding with complete disregard to our presence. Later that day we followed a female lion calling her cubs and then leading them into the bush. We spent the second sundowner with a herd of 30 elephants, one third of which were youngsters playing, chasing, trumpeting and sparring. That night we dined on the viewing deck under the stars with a menu choice of game or fish, assorted vegetables, wine and dessert.

Mombo provided us with two leopard encounters. The first was a male just walking down a game trail who we followed for about 15 minutes off road through the bush. He knew we were following him but seemed oblivious to Malinga as he negotiated his way around potholes, downed trees and scrub brush. The second was a female with two cubs just trying to sleep while the cubs chewed on her ear, played with her tail and were generally annoying. Both sightings were 20 ft from the Land Rover which allowed us to take some amazing photographs.

We enjoyed all the Mombo staff especially the managers who were very responsive to our needs. In one case they exchanged a squeaky ceiling fan while we had dinner. In another they brought extra mosquito coils to minimize an especially active night of small bugs that love the night lights.

We were sad to leave Mombo because of the incredible animal population and especially Malinga who helped us make memories of the Okavango Delta we will never forget.

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank OregonStateTravler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 July 2010

My husband and I visited Mombo for 3 nights in May. We wish we could have stayed longer. Like many other travelers from the forum blogs, we are "value" travelers, and struggled with spending so much money. Would it really be worth it?

Yes, yes, yes. All the superlatives are true. But most importantly, the high volume of game just hits you in the face the moment you leave the airstrip. Our guide, The Doctor, seemed to know where every lion and leopard was (we saw Legadima, Pula, and the Boyfriend), not to mention the rhino and lone wild dog. He served up perfect photo opportunities at every turn. What an experience.

And then the creature comforts match the game viewing experience. The meals are just superlative, wines excellent, and tents luxurious (the private, stocked fridge is the ultimate touch).

We will save our pennies once again to experience this extraordinary camp. All deprivations to do so are worth it.

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Get out of Dodge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 June 2010

Finally understanding that the longer you have a dream, the closer it becomes to a fantasy, my wife and I acted on my burning desire this February. Seeking the best possible African wildlife safari we could obtain, my research lead me to Botswana. I was seeking small crowds and high quality game viewing experiences. Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast both indicated that Botswana operated on a high cost, low tourism model for their bush experiences and I knew Botswana was going to be my destination in short order.
I was not sure where I was going to stay and this is a very important factor for my wife and I. After reviewing popular top 100 hotel lists from around the world, it became readily obvious that Mombo was our place. Reviews among the best in the industry and frequently confirmed as a world class property according to experts was enough for me.
Working with a good friend at UTG, I booked Mombo and another Wilderness safari camp to make my 10 day stay the trip of a lifetime.

Quick side note, Mombo is owned by Wilderness Safaris and Wilderness is an amazing outfit, everything they do is top notch and as advertised. They are the best travel related company I have ever had the pleasure to deal with and I strongly recommend their operations in Botswana.

When we landed on the dirt airstrip leading to Mombo, my wife and I had already spent four nights in the bush at another "6 paw" camp. We saw amazing animals, in multiple situations, and I thought there was no way Mombo could be much better than what we just experienced. I was wong, wong, wong....
Mombo is to game viewing (Im told, i've only been to the bush one time) what Cuba is to cigars. I arrived with two of the big 5 still left to witness, and instantly saw the Buffalo on the way into camp (Rhino we saw later). Not to mention the biggest bull Elephant I ever encountered in my life! The game is dense, diverse, and readily located close to your quarters. Even if you were in a one room sweat box, Mombo (the land of plenty) would be the most magical place you have ever sent foot on. It's Jurassic Park, Lost, and Castaway all rolled into one mystical experience.
Mombo camp is a wooden palace with nine luxury tents, that makes you wonder if you are really this far removed from the general populace. After the staff welcomes you in a special way, they review the operating procedures of the camp, and show you to your amazing room/tent. The room has running water, electricity, indoor/outdoor showers, comfortable large beds, a long deck to view wildlife outside your room, a sala for outside naps, and a working cooler box IN YOUR ROOM stocked with beer and other various drinks. The rooms have million dollar views of Botswana plains, often filled with multiple types of wildlife, and you could not ask for anything more.
The property has two pools, a work out area, a sitting room, boma (fire pit), stacked bar, and multiple places to eat and relax. The food is very good, the drinks constant, and the operation very smooth.
The staff is very friendly at Mombo, although I thought the property we came from had a more "real" staff and the guides where clearly in it for love of wildlife, as oppose to a job, but I am splitting hairs here. I cannot think of one thing that I would rate below 95% (maybe some staff members) and I would recommend Mombo as the place to call home base for the best big game viewing in the world. We successful tracked a pair of Rhinos (not easy) and this property, and area where it is located, lived up to my super high expectations and makes Mombo special in my mind. It's the best in the world, even if you disagree, it's certainly in the conversation and that says something.
We are high end vacationers with a real grounded view of the service industry, and Mombo has my complete admiration and will benefit from my repeat business.
Pictures can be located on my site, traveltrae.com
Hope this helps, tripadvisor has helped my many a time and I wanted to return the favor.

Cheers,
Trae

  • Stayed: February 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank iTravelTrae
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Wilderness Safaris Mombo Camp

Address: Mombo Island, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Region: Botswana > North-West District > Okavango Delta > Moremi Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 29 Speciality Lodging in Moremi Game Reserve
Price Range: ₹ 74,530 - ₹ 3,12,054 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Wilderness Safaris Mombo Camp 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A nostalgic look back at our roots as safari pioneers in Botswana, Mombo Trails Camp is a light-footprint tented camp that has been specially erected to provide accommodation during the rebuild of Mombo and Little Mombo camps. As such, there are no permanent structures, but all the luxury and comforts of a Mombo experience, along with Mombo’s world-famous spectacular game viewing on offer. Eight elegantly furnished and spacious guest tents with en-suite facilities are situated on slightly raised decks to minimise impact on the site, all under large, shady trees, and often within sight of a variety of the area’s wildlife. Set under towering jackalberry trees, the dining, bar and lounge area offers beautiful views over the floodplain. Delicious meals are enjoyed here or under the stars, while veteran Mombo guests, guides and staff gather around the campfire to relive the history of one of our longest-running camps. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Mombo Camp Hotel Moremi Game Reserve

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