Reviews of Little Vumbura
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Close shave with elephants at Little Vumbura
Little Vumbura is on an island which makes it an exceptionally beautiful location among the reeds. There is a speed boat journey through a channel to reach it which due to exceptional flood conditions (highest in 30 years) took about 15 minutes (longer than usual apparently), although that afforded some great views of wading elephants (we gave way to them). Coming back at dusk you needed sunglasses as protection against swarms of small insects.
A highlight was the arrival of two young bull elephants which we watched approach the camp and then take up browsing rights alongside the walkway to the communal area thus delaying tea!
The guiding was excellent (as throughout our time in Botswana). We saw a leopard in a tree by day - and Sam went to great lengths to help us find whatever we asked for (a particular treat was coming across a pair of secretary birds after searching for owls).
Little Vumbura's position in the reeds gave it its own particular character. The management staff were, as usual, professional, helpful and friendly - we particularly enjoyed the knowledgeable company of Ryan, and One for whom nothing was too much trouble. The boma braai was great fun and the singing wasthe best we heard on the trip.
Close encounters wanted & unwanted
We arrived at little Vumbura by helicopter - a new experience for us. Due to the exceptionally high water levels the vehicles had to be parked a considerable distance from the camp itself with a 25 minute boat trip along a narrow channel in the reeds. this was quite exhilarating at first, but became a bit tiresome when undertaken four times a day for morning & afternoon game drives. It also meant that night drives were unavailable as the lightweight aluminium boat couldn't be safely negotiated along the channel due to he presence of hippos.
The camp itself was beautifully situated & well appointed, but somehow lacked the happy atmosphere of the other two caps already visited. The accommodation was very comfortable & the food excellent.
Sam, our guide, was every bit as good as the guides we'd met so far, but let us down by forgetting to bring glasses for our first evenings sun downers & bring navy rum the second evening instead of the brandy we had requested. However his skills at finding game made up for this.
In addition to the usual, we saw ostrich, ground horn bill (our favourite birds) water buck & black backed jackals. He demonstrated superb driving skills when driving at speed before it became too dark to reach a reported leopard on a kill & in avoiding the unwanted attentions of a female elephant ("one crazy lady" - Sam) who decided to turn a mock charge into the real thing in thick bush & later pursued us down the track for 200/300 yards.
We achieved two more of our targets with, firstly, a group of beautiful sable antelope & secondly, in the last hour of our stay before the transfer to Mapula, a stunning female leopard in bright sunlight lying along a horizontal branch, just above us. The photos & video footage we obtained will be one of the highlights of the holiday. thank you Sam - all is forgiven.
Little Vumbura review
A lovely little camp situated amongst the water reeds.
The staff were warm and friendly and the guides are very knowledgeable.
I never got tired of travelling up and down the Hippo Highways. Taking a mokoro boat trip is a good way to relax after 4 days of drives.
A James Bond reception and great game.
Our James Bond arrival: Land Rover driven through a channel, 12 seater aircraft, helicopter and high speed boat drive - to arrive to singing staff and a boma, set the tone.
To follow it, the next day, with buffalo, cheetah and lion wasn't too shoddy either.
Expert Africa comments
This traveller has put some great pictures from his trip to Little Vumbura on Flickr – and they’re well worth a visit. Click here to see them.
Beautiful camp in a watery setting
This was easily the most beautiful camp in terms of its design and setting. The room was bigger than other camps, with a giant walk-in mosquito net that allowed you to move around the bed and still be protected. The food was average, with great afternoon teas.
Adelaide on the staff was simply wonderful, and a real asset to the camp. Activities included a motor boat trip, a mokoro trip and day drives. No game really came through the camp. The camp is set in the lagoon, and you are taken by motor boat whenever you go on a game drive, which is a wonderful way to start and end the day.
Our guide was delightful and made a big effort to make our experience memorable. His tales of elephant encounters were brilliant, if not for the fainthearted! We saw lions at the kill, chasing off vultures (on one occasion knocking one to the ground); sable antelope; huge herds of elephant; another pride of lion huntng buffalo at dusk; a leopard; and, on the mokoro trip, close up sightings of painted reed frogs (beautiful), fish spiders and dragonflies hunting and killing on the wing.
Again, overall, a superb stay at a camp not quite as abundant in game as the others, but with a particular atmosphere and serenity.
a magical place
Our 3 night stay at Little Vumbura, after 2 1/2 weeks in Namibia, was the last stop of our trip, and it did not disappoint.
We saw more elephants on the drive between the airstrip and the camp than we'd seen in the previous 2 1/2 weeks, and the short boat ride after the drive is a great way to get to the camp.
The staff are very warm and friendly, the service is excellent, and the food was excellent. The tents are large and comfortable, with the possibility of game viewing from the patio (elephants do visit the island!).
Game viewing was superb, though as always, there is a great deal of luck involved. For example, the morning our guide found a pack of wild dogs, we had elected to do a bush walk (which was rather uneventful, as it turns out). We did hear from others that game viewing tends to be better at other camps (Mombo, for example, and areas closer to Chobe), but we were very happy where we were.
our place in the wilderness
Transfers from Chitabe were very good. It was lovely to arrive by boat at the camp. The whole place had an immediate charm. Lovely tent and very clean. I have no idea why but you really felt you were far from anywhere - delightful.
Very good variety of activity- mokoro, boat, walking and game drives - each of which we enjoyed. The mokoro trip the morning of out departure home was just so relaxing.
It was nice to have one meal when you were left to yourselves (if that is what you wanted).
Food good but is an area which could be improved in terms of variety and choice.
Our guide was young and enthusiastic and there was plenty of game in this area. I never anticipated elephants shifting the tent or waking me in the night by beating their trunks on the roof for the leaves........fascinating to us, but I know some people were worried.
Helpfully the camp had already confirmed our flights before we asked.
The camp is in a lovely setting and the bird life around the camp was excellent but there seemed to be relatively little on the waterways. Although we saw some interesting lion behaviour on the 4x4 outing (tree climbing lions!), we really did not see much at all on the waterbased activites.
It is possible that this may have been due to the exceptionally high water levels this year. Quality of guiding a bit mixed (we had several different guides during our stay)
This is a lovely camp whose location is made all the more special by the fact that it can only be accessed by water. We were warmly welcomed by Adelaide, Boyson, and all the staff and for the next three days were totally entranced by the diversity of the wildlife species accessible there.
Our guide Sevara and trainee guide Piet were both friendly and professional. Sevara grew up in the Okavango Delta and was happy to share with us his extensive knowledge of not just the flora and fauna but also the way of life of people who live in this vast area. He is also a very skilled driver of the all terrain vehicle we used, demonstrating impressive get away tactics when we we were driving off track and came close upon a sizable herd of very large elephants and a very upset matriarch, all of whom decided not simply to charge us but to chase us for some distance. The rest of our animal encounters were spectacular but less adrenalin demanding.
The in-camp highlight was the traditional dinner organized by the staff in the boma area and preceded by singing and dancing which all guests were invited to participate in and of course did. Other camps we visited organized a similar activity but the one at Little Vumbura really stood out in terms of the warmth and enthusiasm of the staff.
Little Vumbura review
This is a water camp, but actually you spend most of your time on game drives, but because of the location you have a 15-minute boat trip to get to the vehicle and back twice a day. At first that is fun, but it gets old pretty quickly and it reduces your time for the actual drive.
They offer mokoro trips here and rides on the boat, but most people only do the mokoro as you get a boat ride every day. The mokoro was fun, as an elephant walked across the river right in front of us and we saw baboons in a tree as well as river life.
However, if we did it again, I would not go to a water camp. Other land camps also seem to offer experiences on a river, and I think that makes more sense.
Expert Africa comments
We passed these comments to the Little Vumbura team, and they commented:
"The floods in to the Okavango Delta have been absolutely tremendous this year and have been recorded as the highest since 1963. A number of scenarios have contributed to this including above average rainfall over the past couple of years in the catchment area in Angola; good rains over the Okavango Delta; and heavy late rains. All three factors resulted in a vey high water table which meant when this year's flood came down in to the Delta, instead of seeping in to the ground it rose to cover a far great area than usual (since 1963).
From an environmental perspective, the high water levels will lead to a fantastic regeneration process for the years to come. From an experience perspective for our guests, Chris is correct in that rather than the normal 40 minute drive from the airstrip to the boat station and a 10 minute boat transfer in to camp, the transfer became a 10 minute road transfer to a new "boat station" and a 40 minute boat transfer in to camp. This new transfer route was in place for most of June and part of July and we had hoped that the beauty of the transfer and the phenomena of the floods would increase the experience for our guests. However for those guests who were visiting Little Vumbura for predominantly the land/game experience, the boat transfers may have felt too repetitive. Little Vumbura is what we call a combination camp and, by virtue of being located on an island deep in the Okavango Delta but in an area where there is permanent dry land close by, it offers both superb water and game activities.
The flood has now pushed its way quite a long way down and as a result the water levels have dropped in the Little Vumbura and Vumbura Plains area and we are now [Ed: comments received on 31 July 2009] back to using our game drive transfer route in to camp."