Private Mobile Camp

Reviews of Private Mobile Camp

Excellent(96%) From 20 travellers
Excellent
18
Good
1
Average
0
Poor
1
Terrible
0
Below are independent comments from 20 of our travellers who have visited Private Mobile Camp, and have kindly agreed to share their thoughts.

They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
6 from Whangarei, New Zealand
Arrived on: 29-Apr-2011 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Savute safari - a privilege to experience

We were treated to a wonderful safari experience with one of the best operators in the area. The safari exceeded our expectations - the camp was already set up when we arrived with a main dining tent and three other 2-room dome tents (one tent for each couple). Everything supplied, right down to a canvas handbasin each (complete with mirror hanging in the tree) which was filled with hot water just before we arrived back from the game drives. Two shower tents complete with bucket and rope pulley. All water was heated over an open fire, and Joyce, the amazing cook, prepared all the food in a camp oven over an open fire.

You would not believe how well we ate - it was superb! Another 4 men made up the staff compliment, preparing the vehicle, and doing all the work behind the scene. Even our laundry was hand washed, dried and folded each day! A long drop toilet was set up near camp, but we also had chemical toilets in our tents for use at night when you don't want to share the night with the wild animals.

Grant (our guide) was absolutely awesome - he worked tirelessly to find the animals for us. His knowledge and family history in the area were extremely valuable. We were up before dawn, quick breakfast, game driving, back for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, and then more game driving until dark. Dinner was waiting on our return, then early night for more of the same the next day. For three days we criss-crossed the Savute area searching for the elusive big cats. He found us a leopard on the very first day - we still have no idea how he spotted it, and a pride of lions on the very last morning on a very big detour to the airstrip.

Grant is obviously passionate about the flora and fauna and the Savute area, he infected us with his enthusiasm, and we feel extremely privileged to have had him as our guide.

As a keen photographer himself, he was aware of positioning the vehicle at the best vantage point, turning off the engine to stop vibration, and always patient while we got whatever shots we wanted. He also had the facility to charge camera batteries on the truck.

We cannot recommend Grant and his team highly enough and would love to return one day.

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Mr & Mrs N from Edgware
Arrived on: 27-Oct-2010 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Good
Good
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Good
Good

Santantadibe Mobile Camp review

This was pretty close to the classic African safari experience. The basic style of the camp would probably have been recognisable to anyone going on a safari 60 or 70 years ago. Although I was very pleased with the camp and the facilities, it has to be said that they wouldn't be to everyone's taste. They are, deliberately, very simple and basic, so if you don't like having to use a hole in the ground as a toilet, or having to use a bucket shower, this isn't the camp for you. But if you want to feel a bit closer to nature, I would strongly recommend it. Within limits, the staff do try to make it as comfortable as possible; the food is plentiful and tasty and the cool box is always full of drink.

The selling point of Santantadibe is, of course, the guide, Grant, whose family have been in Botswana for generations. He clearly knows the area intimately and has a pretty good idea of what animals are around and where they're most likely to be found. We managed to find everything on our wish list, with the exception of wild dogs, for which Grant was very apologetic. He's obviously very keen on lions and we saw some on every game drive.

On one night drive, we were taking some time to locate any lions so he turned out all the lights in the car and imitated the cry of a buffalo calf in distress. Sure enough, after a few minutes he turned the lights back on and we were surrounded by a pride of lions looking for an easy meal.

The other big attraction is the walking. The walking is in no way strenuous; it didn't feel much more than a gentle stroll, but being on foot gives an entirely different feel to game viewing. You don't get as close to the animals as in a car but it's an entirely different experience. Grant was a fantastic guide with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the animals, birds and plants. He always managed to come up with something interesting and we felt entirely safe in his hands.

Most of our friends have marvelled that anyone should choose to stay in basic accommodation and go walking among wild animals. I can't think of anything more satisfying.

One point which should be borne in mind is that it took us 5 hours of driving through the bush (not on a track) from Santandibe to reach Maun. For anyone flying home after Santantadibe, it's likely that the drive to Maun, combined with the waiting time in Maun will push the whole journey time to over 24 hours.

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Mr M & Mrs B - Colorado
Arrived on: 25-Sep-2010 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Poor
Poor
Location:
Average
Average
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Poor
Poor
Facilities:
Good
Good

Santantadibe Mobile Camp review

Santandadibe—this is where we part company. On the bright side, Grant and his mother Daphne were just plain enjoyable to be with and the food was “the best” of the four camps, which I found amazing considering it was all cooked over an open flame. Grant and Daphne's warmth and knowledge fit the descriptions & comments I've seen on the website.

However several aspects of Santandadibe disappointed us greatly. First, the game viewing was the poorest we've experienced in the 12 camps we've visited during the past three (3) years — I realize game can be hit an miss, but we only learned once in camp that Grant did not have a tracker and that the area was much smaller than the other areas we visited, which is a built in limitation regarding game viewing. The first nine days of our safari far exceeded expectations but this camp truly disappointed.

To begin with, why did you have plane pick us up from Sandibe to fly us to Maun when Santandadibe was only a few miles away? Several people we spoke with at the various airstrips (pilots, other guides, various staff at the camps) commented as well — why go to Sandibe then Santandadibe when they're so close. What was the point? Why not send us to a different area and camp like Duma Tau or one of the others Anton Wessels had suggested? This baffled all of us.

Also, a six hour drive from Maun to Santandadibe was ridiculous considering we could have flown to Santandadibe from Sandibe by helicopter in under ten minutes. The brochure's indication of a 3 to 5 hour drive from Maun “depending upon what we see” implied that it would be a game drive when in fact it was nothing of the sort. It was 6 ½ hours of driving over and through boring bumpy flooded roads & bridges.

Obviously you cannot control the flooding, but I feel strongly that it was not a game drive should have been made clear to us. Also, considering the time and distances involved, I feel we should have been offered the option of using a helicopter to fly in and fly out of Grant's camp.

For what it's worth, after the 6 ½ hour (only 1/2 hour spent stopping) drive I asked Grant to check into chartering a helicopter for us for the ride out. What really disturbed me is that it appears no one at Expert Africa gave a moment's thought to us driving 6 hours thru the flooded bush before even beginning our 38-hour trip home!

Thank goodness we were able to arrange a helo flight from Santandadibe to Maun (at an additional cost to us of $800 U.S). Additionally, it strikes me that instead of flying us from Sandibe to Maun a helo could have been arranged to take us direct to Santandadibe and we would have saved both time and hassle.

Had we not been able to charter the helo on our last day, we would have had to get up at 4:30 am to ensure enough time to get to Maun. There could have been an elephant in the road (as happened on the drive from Maun, when we had to stop for 20 minutes) or who knows what else could have caused us to miss our flights. From this perspective, that was cutting the tolerances far too close.

Maruska and Chris, to summarize, the first three camps exceeded our expectations. The last, while Grant and Daphne were wonderful, put a real damper on the trip and left each of us with a bad taste in our mouths, not to mention the additional $800 out of pocket expense for the helo charter.

I truly wish the two of you the best and you've both been a delight to work with. But based upon our last experience (primarily from a logistical standpoint) I'd find it difficult to recommend Expert Africa to friends or use them again for our next trip.

Nevertheless, I do wish you all the best,

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Expert Africa comments

Expert Africa takes feedback seriously; we aim to learn from our mistakes, and so are sorry that this small group of travellers was disappointed by Santantadibe. We’ve naturally taken time to respond and discuss each issue with the person in this party who booked their trip. Considering these issues individually:

Our website mentions the possibility of a helicopter transfer to and/or from Santantadibe, but in retrospect we should have spelt out this option more clearly. We will do this better in future.

When these guests booked their trip, we understood that the road transfer Maun <-> Santantadibe took 3-5 hours. This was based on our own experiences over the last 3-4 years. The Delta’s recent flood reached record levels in 2010, when local conditions were exceptional. This resulted in longer transfer times. Based on our experiences, and our travellers’ comments, we saw these merely as an extension to an enjoyable, adventurous journey which is often punctuated by game sightings. We didn’t expect it to be an issue for our travellers – but in future, we’ll explain the longer transfer, as well as highlighting the helicopter option.

These guests didn’t view the transfers as a game drive in any way. We describe them as a ‘road transfer/game drive between Maun and Santantadibe’ – which, based on the experiences of most of our travellers and ourselves, we still feel is very fair and accurate.

We were also sorry to hear that these guests viewed their game viewing at Santantadibe as poor. Based on the reserve’s location, and our own experiences visiting there, we expect very good game here. Grant reports that during their visit these guests saw a fairly usual range of species – including buffalo, lion, zebra, elephant, kudu, giraffe, wildebeest, tsessebe and impala (not to mention plenty of birds) – and also had an extended sighting, lasting about 5 hours, of a pride of six lions, two of which climbed up to the top of an acacia tree. (Grant described this as quite a ‘spectacular’ sighting.) Clearly the three previous camps visited by these guests must have delivered an even more intense game-viewing experience than they felt they had at Santantadibe.

After extensive discussions with the person in this party who booked their trip – and knowing how highly we and many other travellers rate Santantadibe – we expected this to be a highlight of this trip. That’s why we suggested it to them, and encouraged them to go there. Evidently it wasn’t the right place for this group; we are very sorry it wasn’t. We have learnt from the experience and feedback given by these guests and that will reflect in advice that we offer to future travellers with Expert Africa.

Mr M from London
Arrived on: 12-Sep-2010 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Good
Good
Rooms:
Average
Average
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Santantadibe Mobile Camp review

The highlight of our safari!

We were not sure exactly what this stay would would involve (the description "mobile camp" is not quite right!). We particularly enjoyed having undivided use of the camp and the attention of Grant and his team.

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Mr & Mrs S from Kent
Arrived on: 12-Sep-2010 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Good
Good

Santantadibe Mobile Camp review

Only negative was that we thought it was going to be truly Mobile!

Grant is charming and has everything running totally smoothly. Nothing too much trouble. FANTASTIC food, great camping experience. Great 5 hour drive to the camp through deep fords. Nearly missed the lions, but stumbled over the pride with a new kill on the way to Maun on the last morning, pity we did not have more time.

Had fun fishing, catching enough to feed us all that evening.

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Mr & Mrs A from Cumbria
Arrived on: 8-Sep-2010 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent

Santantadibe Mobile Camp review

This whole experience was a real treat.

Grant met us at the airport and immediately supplied food and drink. The drive to the camp was an adventure in itself. Five and a half hours through soft sand and deep water past small farms to begin with and then across deserted bush, except for the animals that is.

The camp was basic but very comfortable. The food was wonderful, many expensive restaurants do not produce food of this quality in their modern kitchens and Joyce did everything on a wood fire.

Grant is extremely knowledgable and knows the area around the camp really well so can spot the signs and changes that lead to some really good wild life viewing. We were on our own so were able to spend time watching animal behaviour.

On our first day a pride of lions had killed a buffalo and we were able to visit the site several times and watch the progess. We called in as we were leaving and were able to see hyaenas crunching the bones.

We thought everthing about this trip was magic, but it would not be for everyone. Some people would find the journey very difficult and not enjoy the total isolation or the very close encounters with the animals.

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The J Family from Herts
Arrived on: 23-Aug-2010 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Santantadibe Mobile Camp review

Grant was fantastic - loads of activities to keep the children entertained, and very knowledgable. We trusted him completely.
Location is very remote - which we loved - but it wouldn't be for everyone. The floods have made the drive to and from camp very long (6hrs) and a bit tricky in places (i thought my mother was going to have a heart attack!).

The game here is much more sparse than in Chobe - and not so used to seeing vehicles, so rather shy and skittish. Having said that we had some good sightings (including a family of wild dogs with pups). Having started our trip in Chobe, where there was so much to see, there was a danger that the kids would get bored, but Grant kept them busy.

The food was absolutely fantastic - and included tea and cakes before we left on evening safari, and snacks for our sundowners. Joyce does an amazing job.,

The facilities were great, and every detail had been thought through - including colouring books for the kids.
Lovely campsite in a great location. Very efficiently run.

The only thing i would change is that we found it odd, and a bit awkward not to be introduced to the team managing the camp. On previous trips we have got to know the camp staff, and it has felt like one big team, which was great. On this trip we weren't introduced to anyone - even the guy who was on the 6hr trip with us from the airport to camp - by the time we realised he was part of the team, and not just getting a lift it was a bit late to introduce ourselves. With hindsight we should have made more efflort ourselves, but it felt as if the rest of the team was deliberately kept in the background. Very efficient, but a bit impersonal.

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Mr B from Maidenhead
Arrived on: 12-Aug-2010 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Truly exclusive experience at Santantadibe

In summary, the overall experience from 4 nights with Grant Truthe at Santantadibe was outstanding. We were provided with a very personal, and exclusive safari, a far cry from the at times "busy" experience you find in National Parks or Reserves, particularly in East Africa. Of course, you pay extra for this privalege, but for those genuinely keen on experiencing a personal safari, with no other people or vehicles this is a great option. You also have the benefit of running the trip on your own terms, you stop when you want to stop, take your time where you want to, this is very liberating.

Grant Truthe is an experienced guide, who provides a well rounded and informative outlook in all areas. Excellent bush craft, tracking, and overall ecological understanding was first class, and as a forth generation Botswanan you get a great view of the country, culture, people, we were allowed for a short time only to experience his life and love of his country.

The wildlife on show was also good. Whilst you don't have the abundance of game found elsewhere, we were more than satisfied. Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Hippo, various Antelope species, as well as good observations for some of the lesser known species such as Honey Badger, and numerous Mongoose species. The birdlife was also very varied, and Grant was very knowledgeable here too. Like any safari you need luck on your side, I have worked in East Africa and sampled safari across East and Southern Africa, Santantadibe stands up well by comparison. We did see signs of both Wild Dog and Cheetah, but unfortunately did not see the animals. As this is essentially private land, you are able to stay with the animals for longer, and go where they go, the wildlife sightings are improved as a result. Grant was always respectful of the animals space,

The Mobile camp itself was situated in a secluded area, nicely shaded, with a good view over nearby woodland and waterways. Again, this is where the exclusivity makes a difference, as we were treated like royalty from start to finish. The food was very good, and we remained healthy for the stay. Visitors should appreciate that this is a mobile camp, it was very comfortable and rustic, it is not a lodge, so "luxury" in the accommodation is not to be expected, the luxury of this trip came in other areas.

In summary 9.5 out of 10, a Wild Dog sighting would have been a 10. But you can't have everything!

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Mr & Ms S - Surrey
Arrived on: 3-Jun-2010 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

A camp dedicated to just you - and it shows.

What could be better? We camped with friends with a knowledgeable, dedicated, guide; a clutch of attentive staff and a brilliant cook. All with great game.

Our special request had been to see wild dogs - and we came across them three times. There simply aren't any other vehicles in the area - this is real bush.

Now there is a 5h30m trip from the airport to the camp - and then back again - but don't let this put you off. On the way in we say our only leopard of the trip and lions. On the way back we saw wild dogs and a lioness eating a giraffe. Treat the toing and froing as an extended game drive and you'll do just fine.

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Expert Africa comments

This traveller has put some great pictures from his trip to Santantadibe on Flickr – and they’re well worth a visit. Click here to see them.

Mr & Mrs B - London
Arrived on: 31-May-2010 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Good
Good
Rooms:
Average
Average
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Average
Average

Santantadibe Mobile Camp review

We made an incorrect asumption that mobile meant mobile and thought we would move locations during our stay. The fact that we didn't did not detract from our experience. Grant and his team looked after us very well. Having already spent 9 days on safari, we set Grant a very challenging task to find us something new! He rose to that challenge with a great hyena and leopard spot on a night drive and a wild dog hunt.

The high levels of water this year have increased the drive time to the camp to 5 hours. Obviously this encompasses game viewing but it is a factor to be aware of.

Grant offers a very special, individual experience with his undivided attention. It is quite humbling to appreciate that the camp is there just for you. It is ideal for a family where the activities can be tailored to the needs of children, a service not so readily available with other camps.

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