Reviews of Lebala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Accommodation - This was our first camp in the Delta (the others being Nxabega, Kwara and Sandibe) and we stayed here for 3 nights. Lebala is a lovely, luxurious camp - the individual tents are beautifully appointed and furnished - and Charles and the team make you feel very welcome and relaxed.
The friendly, all inclusive, approach is particularly evident at mealtimes - early breakfast is taken around the camp fire in the morning prior to going out on a game drive; and Brunch and Dinner, are both served with guests sat around a single long table. This gives you the chance to chat with different people and share experiences - which is very nice, especially if you are travelling on your own. But don't worry - nothing is forced on you, and there is plenty of opportunity for peaceful solitude and relaxing.
Wildlife - We were incredibly fortunate to see the Wild Dogs on our first 3 Game Drives in the Reserve. Currently there are 2 packs in the area - one pack of 11, led by an Alpha Female with a broken front leg; and one pack of 18. We saw both packs, and spent time with them as they relaxed in the sunshine - and also as one pack headed off one evening looking for food, and a place to settle for the night (this was an exciting drive in the Jeep, across rough terrain, as we tried to keep up with the pack).
As well as the usual array of Elephant, Giraffe, Hippo, Warthog, and various different Antelope species (including Red Lechwe and Tsessebe) we were fortunate to see a large group of elephant (probably 75 to 100 animals) crossing the river just in front of the Camp, after Brunch one day. We also saw a Honey Badger out foraging one morning which was also a treat - as these animals are less common, and consequently difficult to see.
The wildlife sightings are often much closer than in other parts of Africa, as the Drivers/Guides and Trackers take you off road. Note - we had both a Driver and a Tracker on every Game Drive, so you need to consider that when estimating the amount of cash required for tips.
A very good camp but after Kwala we did not find it as friendly and not the great atmosphere as Kwala. It was a bit more luxurious than Kwala but this was not what we were looking for. Our guides were good but not as good as Kwala and definitely not such a friendly atmosphere. However it was a good camp with fantastic sightings of leopards and wild dogs.
The biggest downside for us was the vehicles which, we think, need to be upgraded by the owners (they own Kwala as well). They were three abreast instead of three rows of two and had very hard suspension
Lebala Camp Safari
Another good Kwando operated camp ,nicely appointed with friendly,helpful staff ,good food and busier than Nxai Pan.We had two different guides and trackers over the 3 nights and being a private reserve did night drives and one short walk in the bush.Here we saw our only Lepoard sighting ; beneath the tree where its kill was hidden in the branches overhead .
We saw a herd of Buffalo crossing the river and had Ellies wandering outside our tent the first night and Hippos the next night who were noisily eating the Sausage Tree fruit practically on our verandah.......it sounded as if they were cracking skulls open! We also saw Roan Antelope here and Lions but although we tracked Wild Dogs furiously we never saw them.
The camp staff made traditional food for one dinner and entertained us with wonderful traditional singing and dancing.
Lebala Camp review
Lebala was another lovely camp. The tents are particularly nice here, being large and quite airy. Also appreciated the return of outdoor showers (both Kwando camps we visited had them). The common areas, while perfectly pleasant, werent quite as nice as the Kerr & Downey ones. Generally Kwando seemed to have nicer rooms while Kerr & Downey had nicer common areas. I think that Kwando should have reference books available, esp for birds. The food was very good - especially baked goods.
Game was variable. We were lucky enough to have a pack of wild dogs in the area (we didnt really realise at the time how rare this is) but on a few drives didnt really see much. But it's entirely possible that's the voice of a jaded safari-er at the tail end of her holiday!
Again I was very impressed by the staff who were uniformly pleasant, courteous, and competent. Our guide Kanawe and tracker Bowman were cheerful and knowledgeable company. Staff were a little more gregarious here than the other camps - perhaps they'd worked together longer.
Lebala Camp review
This camp was our favorite. I would have loved to stay another night. Our tracker and guide ( Play and Speedy ) were our favorite on the entire trip. We wish they could have followed us to the rest of the camps. We had so much fun on the drives. Educational, fun and comedian quality entertainment. The tents were extremely luxurious and comfortable.
My ONLY recommendation would be for a more powerful fan.
Very memorable thanks to great staff
The only reason we have not rated this camp as Excellent is purely based on limited wildlife; this may be very seasonal.
At Lebala the game was the least impressive. Both in total number and in the uniqueness (though we did track a caracal spoor at some point, without actually encountering any; also went looking for wild dog and leopard without luck). We even went to the far west end of the concession during a full day game drive. But even Lebala offered some unique sightings (bush babies, roan antelopes and a fleeting sight of some elands).
From a staff and atmosphere perspective both Nxai Pan and Lebala were significantly more special than the other two. The tracker at Lebala (“Mr. Play”) was probably our favourite (he did not at all appear to be the reason for the relatively limited sightings); driver Alex was great as well (but he fell ill after our first day). Charles (management) did a great job in hosting us.
Lebala Camp review
A little bit too similar to Lagoon camp, but without the wild dogs, saw new-born Elephant baby, and some lion and hippo action, good bird life.Read more about the whole safari
We loved staying here
Having arrived here from Lagoon Camp, we were happy to find accommodation which was just as good and in another beautiful setting. Food was great and staff couldn't do enough to make our stay enjoyable.
Very good game viewing with Alex. He is very knowledgeable and obviously loves his job. He gave us lots of information on everything we saw and was able to answer all our questions.
Lebala Camp review
After having such a fantastic experience i was concerned that Lebala would not be as good. However, it was every bit as good.
Guide Alex and tracker Julius showed enormous forbearance in the face of a well meaning American who insisted we went back to look at some tracks she had seen, as she thought they were Wild Dog. Alex identified them as avian, and she asked him if he was sure! We did find the dogs though; the highlight of the trip. Both guiding and tracking were of a high standard.
Lying in bed in the middle of the night, listening to an elephant chomping on something just outside, is a real priviledge.
Lebala camp was also very nice. We had a max of 4 people in our car and occasionally just the 2 of us. Our guide and tracker, Alex and Shooze, were excellent. The tracker and guide system seemed to work really well. We were lucky enough to see the wild dogs and their 9 puppies on a kill. We also saw a leopard very close up. They definitely tried their best to do whatever they could to make us happy.
I liked the open trucks much better than the covered trucks, despite getting mildly wet and a little bit hotter. The trucks at Lebala are pretty old, but I probably would not have noticed, if we had not gone to Kwara next. They apparently will be replaced at some time in the future. The camp is in a beautiful location.
The only problem at Lebala was that a trophy hunter stayed in the camp the first night we were there. He had chartered a helicopter to hunt in Zimbabwe. We are in a current battle in the states with trophy hunters, so the last thing I wanted to hear on my vacation were hunting stories about animlas I would love to see in the wild. I understand that Botswana and the other African countries probably still need hunting revenue to help with consevervation (kill to conserve, the lesser of two evils) and there are concessions in Botswana which allow hunting, but it really ruined my first night there and would have ruined the rest, if he had not left.
I preferred the open trucks with Kwando and really enjoyed our drivers and trackers at both camps, but I don't think I can return to Kwando camps if there is even a small chance hunters will be in the camps. I do not agree with multipurpose camps. It is way too depressing.
Expert Africa comments
There’s no hunting on the Kwando Reserve. Photographic tourism has effectively replaced hunting on Kwando, as it has on many of Botswana’s photographic areas. That’s something we celebrate! Tourism has played a huge part in this change and visits to wildlife areas like Kwando by our travellers, and others like them, ensures that the shift from trophy hunting to photographic safaris is long term.
Expert Africa have never, and will never, arrange hunting trips; we don’t support it in any way. However, we can’t ‘vet’ travellers who are sent by other tour operators to the camps that we use. We understand that the person who upset this guest was on a photographic holiday at Lebala Camp; but another part of their trip was a hunting trip in Zimbabwe. Upon realising that this person was a trophy hunter, the managers at Lebala Camp arranged a private vehicle for him and his party, understanding that his views would also not be appreciated by other guests.
As with anywhere, different people hold different views. A very small number may have views that others find offensive, or pursue topics of conversation, or pastimes, which upset others. We’re really sorry about the serious effect of this, but we can’t predict who fellow guests will be at any camp in Africa. Incidents like this are thankfully very rare; certainly most of our travellers have a clear ethic in favour of conservation and development – and we do our best to encourage this where we can.