Little Vumbura is a small safari camp on its own private island in the Okavango Delta
Little Vumbura: Our full report
Little Vumbura is an intimate and remote - but eminently comfortable - camp, built on a secluded island in the private Vumbura reserve; which it shares with its more opulent sister-camp, Vumbura Plains. The camp is surrounded by water, both permanent deep channels and seasonal shallower floodplains, with access to good tracts of dry areas of open plains, woodlands and riverine forests. It’s an interesting reserve which has a particularly diverse set of environments within easy reach of the camp, as well as a high density of game.
Little Vumbura is surrounded by water, reached from the jetty by a long wooden walkway which leads to a shaded open-sided lounge. We particularly liked the use of the vibrant blue sofas and cushions to complement the water setting and we thought an attractive departure from the traditional ‘safari khaki’!
In a spot that is a little more secluded, is the library area; with a selection of reference books and wildlife magazines, and included some literature on recently concluded research that done in the area on the sable antelope.
Off to one side is a bar and the dining area, which is large and open-sided with a long dining table at its centre. Down a short walkway is the star deck and fire pit. It really is a great spot to retire to after dinner, especially when the fire is roaring on a cool evening. However, as it is usually surrounded by water, make sure you’ve sprayed liberally to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Behind the dining area is the pool – a large relatively secluded plunge pool and decked area, with sun-beds and a shaded canopy. Little Vumbura also has a curio shop.
Wooden walkways, slightly raised to allow for a rise in water levesl of the delta, lead from the central area to the tented chalets. The tents at Little Vumbura are not especially large, but they are quite smart and we found them very comfortable. The pale wooden timber of the floorboards, floor-to-ceiling mesh windows and the circus-top-style canvas roofs lend an air of space and light. The tents are furnished with the usual double or twin beds – with mosquito net – as well as comfortable chairs both inside the room and out on the deck. There is an en-suite shower room, and a separate toilet. We particularly liked the beautiful blue ceramic ‘his and hers’ basins on the washstand.
The activities at Little Vumbura offer the visitor a good choice; with both water and dry land around, there’s deep-water motor-boat trips and shallow-water excursions by mokoro to choose from, as well as day 4WD game drives. On one visit a member of the Expert Africa team spent a fantastic afternoon fishing on the local waterways. Bream and African Pike fill the meandering streams and a spot of catch and release fishing with your guide is a really great way to unwind and relax. Guided walks can also be arranged on request, although for safety reasons this is at the discretion of the managers and should be requested in advance of your stay.
On stay in December 2010 we had an excellent guide, Sam. He did a great job of tracking the elusive sable and we had three top quality sightings of this elegant antelope – which we also saw on a visit to the reserve in May 2011. We briefly spotted a leopard, which was unfortunately a bit skittish and disappeared very quickly into the undergrowth. We also had a pretty unusual encounter - and we appreciate it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but - it was fascinating to watch the demise of a rather unfortunate frog as it became a lunch for a green water snake.
On a number of previous visits to the area, we’ve had excellent lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog sightings; in our view it’s one of the best areas for game in the Okavango Delta.
We’ve mentioned that the camp is surrounded by water, so it’s worth noting that getting to and from the camp will always include a transfer on the water – usually by boat. The length of the transfer will depend on the water levels in the area, however. So it may vary anywhere between five to 25 minutes between the camp and where the jeeps are parked.
Our ViewWe’ve been visiting Little Vumbura for many years now and it’s long been a favourite; most especially for the excellent game we’ve consistently seen there. The camp is very comfortable and we’ve had some very good guides and generally good food.
But what we really stands out about Little Vumbura for us, is the reserve. Not only is it an exceptionally pretty area – and thus a great backdrop for photography – but it offers fantastic mekoro and boat trips, as well as game drives that deliver regular, good and varied game viewing.
The main problem has always been that it fills up so fast, and getting space here is always a challenge unless you book a very long way in advance! We have found that when the camp is full - and it regularly is – then, most likely because of the intimate setup, it really does tend to feel so.
Ideal length of stay: 3 or 4 nights
Directions: Access to camp is usually via a light-aircraft transfer to the airstrip. It is then a short drive and a boat transfer to the camp.
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The day usually starts with a light breakfast of toast, fruit and cereal, along with tea and coffee is served prior to your early morning game activity. Brunch is then offered at around 11 o'clock.
A hot option is served at this time – offerings have included a plated meal of cottage pie and sausage with a selection of vegetables, along with a selection of cold salad dishes and bread.
Tea is served at around 4 o'clock, usually a savoury snack, iced tea and coffee and a freshly baked cake or pie or biscuits.
Dinner is usually a buffet-style meal. On one of our visits, this included a spicy-lamb and rice dish, with salad and gem-squash, followed by a lemon tart with cream. Our team member commented that it was ‘very tasty indeed!’
With advance notice, the camp can also cater for vegetarian and many other dietary requirements. Please contact our team if you’d like to find out more.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra and may need to be requested in advance.
Birdwatching: Little Vumbura is a first-rate Okavango camp for bird-watching, as it is within an area of many different environments: from shallow- and deep-water floodplains and channels to dense, shady woodlands. We heard (but didn't see) a Pel's fishing owl, and our sightings included pygmy geese, carmine bee eaters, little bee eaters and plenty of owls.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Wildlife safaris: Little Vumbura has some of the best game in Botswana; it's one of the Okavango's prime safari areas – with a real depth and range to the game here. Our team has, in the last few visits here, had good sightings of lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: The camp may accept children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. However, private activities must be booked and this will be at an extra cost. Children younger than six may be accepted by special arrangement, and then only if the entire camp is reserved for exclusive use. Note that minimum age requirements also mean that children are allowed on boat trips from the age of six years, but on mekoro trips only from the age of 13 years.
Special activities & services:
Equipment: No special equipment is available. However, there is a two-bedroom family room with an interior inter-leading door that is suitable for families.
Generally recommended for children: Noises travel in this small camp and it is in very close proximity to lots of deep water. We would recommend this camp for more mature children aged 13years or older, because otherwise activities can be limited to game drives, due to age restrictions on the water-based activities.
Notes: The camp is unfenced and wildlife is known to wander through Little Vumbura on a regular basis. The pool is unfenced and the camp is often surrounded completely by water. Children must be under the constant supervision of their parents.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is no cellphone reception, no direct phone or fax and no email. Communication is maintained with the head office in Maun via radio.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio.
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 after dark as the camp is unfenced and dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. A thorough safety briefing is given on arrival. ‘Fog horns’ are provided in the rooms in case of a medical emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers at all the tents and in the main area.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included. Laundry is collected in the morning and usually returned the same day, weather permitting. For cultural reasons and because the clothing is generally hand washed, the staff do not wash underwear. Detergent is provided in each chalet for guests who wish to do a little hand washing.
Money: No exchange facilities offered. There are small safes in all the rooms, as well as a larger one in the office if required.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted. Diners and Amex are not. Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted.