Mombo Camp offers fantastic game viewing and luxurious accommodation
Mombo Camp: Our full report
Mombo Camp stands at the northwestern end of Chief's Island, deep within the Moremi Game Reserve and overlooking a floodplain. It is one of Botswana's flagship safari lodges with a reputation for excellent service, luxury accommodation and exceptional game densities. Although governed by all of the usual rules and regulations associated with camps in the national parks (i.e. no off roading, no night drives and no walking), Mombo lies in a private area far from the busier eastern section of Moremi; you won't see any self-drive or mobile safari operators around here – and indeed visitors can only access Mombo by light aircraft.
The main area of Mombo Camp is very large indeed, with a couple of beautifully furnished seating areas and a library with a good selection of reference and fiction. At one end is a well-stocked bar, open throughout the day and where pre-dinner drinks are served. Each guest is given a water bottle which can be topped up at the water cooler during their stay. The deck in front of this main area incorporates a firepit and the al fresco dining area, where brunch and dinner can be served. There is also another covered dining area off to one side. Tea and coffee are available here all day.
The first of Mombo’s two pools can be found at the end of a short walkway leading from the fire pit. This plunge pool has sun loungers and also a couple of ‘salas’.
The other elevated pool area is reached via a walkway linking Mombo Camp to Little Mombo. It has a small lounge with a ‘help yourself’ bar, beyond this a plunge pool with a couple of relaxing sala beds and a fire pit off this. Also on another deck to one side there's a 'gym', complete with running machine and some exercise bikes. All afford great views across the floodplain.
All of Mombo's nine tented chalets are raised high off the ground. Large and luxurious, these are timber framed with canvas walls and mesh windows from floor to ceiling affording great views across the floodplain. Each is furnished with a very large, very comfortable bed complete with bedside lighting and bedside controls for the ceiling fan, which is set within the mosquito net. There is ample storage space for clothes in the form of wardrobe designed to look and function like an old trunk turned on it’s side!
Each tent also has its own lounge, incorporating a couple of sofas with a coffee table and a small selection of reference books. There is a cleverly disguised minibar/fridge, in the form of a converted travellers chest covered in linen, which is stocked with soft drinks, beers and cider, plus a tea and coffee station and a writing desk with a stack of international plug adaptors (including US and British configurations).
Another section of the tent houses an open-plan bathroom, which boasts his and hers showers and basins. A toilet is found in a separate cubicle and a door leads out to an open-air shower, again with views across the floodplain. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soap are all provided.
At the front of each tent is a wooden deck where some very comfortable chairs face the floodplain. This decking extends to house a sala bed, a great place to catch a siesta after all the early morning starts.
Mombo's activities focus solely on morning and afternoon 4WD game drives. The camp lies in one of the most fertile sections of the Okavango Delta, where the high nutrient content in the soil supports a vast food web which in turn leads to great game densities. On our last visit to Mombo in April 2013, we spent a good few hours following a pride of lions as they stalked a herd of red lechwe, unsuccessfully as it turned out. We also spent time with a leopard on the prowl. On a previous trip we also experienced a large pack of hyena at dusk, a surreal and almost spooky experience as the alpha-female began calling at last light.
Although game densities at Mombo are remarkable, and the lion population goes from strength to strength, the pressure on other big predators increases as they struggle to compete for the same resources. As a result the number of leopards in the area has decreased, wild dog are generally not seen much and the cheetah have moved away. That said, this area also plays host to a number of notable individuals. One instance is Legadema, the female leopard made famous by the 2006 National Geographic feature film Eye of the Leopard. Then there's the lone wild dog, once part of a pack, which left the area, who has developed a remarkable relationship with several black-backed jackal packs and even the odd hyena. And finally there are the black and white rhino that were reintroduced onto Chief's Island and are now seen from time to time on the Island. Having been nearly poached out of northern Botswana by the early 1990s, the reintroduction of these two rhino species has been a hugely important project.
Ask any experienced guide in northern Botswana about Mombo and you're likely to see a glimmer in their eye and a get response along the lines of 'Wow! Mombo…' The high game densities alone justify visiting this area, but coupled with Mombo's high levels of hospitality, luxurious surroundings and great food it all makes for a fantastic camp.
Because of all this, and especially its reputation, Mombo is substantially more costly than most of Botswana's camps. Although it is certainly very good indeed, we probably don't think of it as good value per se – although perhaps we're in a minority, as it's very often full. (Which means you should book well in advance to get space here.)
Ideal length of stay: 3 nights
Directions: Mombo is accessible only by light aircraft; the airstrip is roughly 15 minutes away from camp by 4WD vehicle.
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Mombo is excellent and on our last visit to the camp we were fortunate enough to arrive on a traditional evening. After drinks around the bar and fire we were called to dinner by drums and then entertained by a fantastic performance by the staff of traditional dancing.
A soup starter was followed by pap and seswa, a traditional maize dish (similar to mashed potato in consistency but totally different in taste) and pounded beef. This was accompanied by creamed spinach and vegetables, with a tomato sauce and gravy. A dessert of pears in red wine rounded off the meal very nicely, and a good selection of red and white wines was available.
A light breakfast is served before the early morning game drive, then brunch takes place at around 11.00am. On our last visit this included a selection of cold cuts, a couple of imaginative salads, fresh bread, cheese and a very tasty quiche.
Afternoon tea is served at around 4.00pm, and that – along with coffee, tea and biscuits on the morning activity and sundowners and snacks on the afternoon one – ensures you won't go hungry; you may even need to use that gym!
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Yes
Birdwatching: The particularly fertile soils of Mombo are a result of its geographical position and receive much of the Okavango's alluvial deposits as the flood waters enter the Delta. The combination of floodplains and dry areas play host to a vast array of bird species. With so many predators around vultures abound and birds of prey also find easy pickings. The wetter regions are visited by egrets, herons and storks to name but a few and passerines abound in the thicker forest and shrub of Chief's Island.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Photographic: The game-densities, varied birdlife, fertile soils and text-book examples of Delta environments make Mombo a photographer's paradise. Private vehicles are also available (at additional cost) giving you complete flexibility in where and when you want to go.See more ideas for Photographic in Botswana
Wildlife safaris: Mombo is one of the most astonishing wildlife areas in the Delta and because it's in a remote area of Moremi the game viewing is very exclusive. The animal densities here are some of the highest you'll find and the landscape is quintessentially Delta. It's also open, providing excellent viewing. As well as excellent predator numbers there is always the unique chance to spot one of Northern Botswana's very few remaining rhino too.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Generally older children are welcome at Mombo but please take into account the restrictions below.
Property’s age restrictions: Children of 12 years of age and over are accepted. Mombo may accept ages 8–12 if a private vehicle is booked but this must be requested in advance. Children under 8 years of age are generally not accepted but this can be considered on a case by case basis.
Special activities & services: Not really, but special meals can be organised for children on request.
Equipment: No special equipment is available.
Generally recommended for children: Yes, but only for those aged 12 or over.
Notes: Mombo is a very open camp with dangerous wildlife frequently wondering through. The rooms and walkways are raised on stilts and are therefore not suitable for small children.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is no cellphone reception and no internet access at Mombo, so you can consider yourself completely cut off from the outside world. Radio access to Maun is available in emergencies and in exceptional circumstances messages can be relayed to friends and family.
TV & radio: No
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Maun. All management and guides are first aid trained and Medivac rescue is available in case of emergencies. There is a nurse on call (via radio) 24 hours a day.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to their rooms at night by a guide or manager along the raised walkways which give added security from wild animals. There is a sounder horn in each room for medical emergencies too.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are positioned throughout camp and pre-arranged assembly points are clearly demarcated.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Included
Money: No exchange facilities are offered. There are safe deposit boxes in the rooms.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. No commission is charged on credit card transactions. Cash payments in pounds sterling, US dollars, Euros, South African rand and Botswana pula are accepted.