Set in a very scenic area, Pom Pom camp is one of the oldest camps in the Okavango Delta.
Pom Pom Camp: Our full report
Situated on Pom Pom Island, on the western side of Moremi Game Reserve, Pom Pom Camp overlooks the reed-fringed Pom Pom Lagoon, which is covered with waterlilies and popular with hippos. Renovated in early 2012, this camp has nine tented rooms and lies in a very scenic area where swathes of floodplain grasslands are dotted with small islands of acacia woodland – typical of many people’s image of the Delta.
Pom Pom’s large, thatched main area is divided into three open-fronted sections: a help-yourself bar, two comfy lounge areas and a dining space dominated by a large teak table. Here you’ll also find a well-stocked tea station with a selection of teas, coffees and herbal drinks. The décor is neutral and simple, with splashes of colour and local crafts added to good effect. It’s a cool and shady area – great for relaxing during the heat of the day, and warmly lit at night by spirit-lamp chandeliers and interesting ’bird’s nest’ light fittings. A large tree trunk at the centre functions as a low display ‘table’ for curios, and a separate curio shop stocks other local crafts including Botswanan hand-woven baskets.
In front of the main area, steps and a ramp lead down to a sandy terrace and a firepit overlooking the lagoon, where the camp’s mekoro (traditional canoes) are usually kept. Hammocks and loungers are dotted about in the shade of terminalia and jackalberry (African ebony) trees. Here Pom Pom plays host to vervet monkeys, baboons and a variety of birds, including white-browed robin-chat, crested barbet and black-collared barbet (whose melodic duet is often heard in the early morning). To the side of the main area is a small 1.5m-deep swimming pool surrounded by loungers and chairs.
Sandy paths lead from the main area to Pom Pom’s nine tented rooms, including one family unit. We have yet to see the room renovations completed in early 2012, but we understand that the new spacious rooms are structured, double-shelled Meru-style tents, elevated on wooden platforms. At the front of each is a deck overlooking the lagoon, with an outdoor table and chairs providing a peaceful spot to enjoy the views and birdlife. The outer shell of the tent forms a shaded lounge area with desk and armchairs. Meshed doors lead into the bedroom, where comfortable twin beds are made up with crisp white linen, brightened by colourful throws and cushions. At the foot of the beds are wooden chests which create a handy space for storing luggage. An overhead fan and large mesh windows supply a cooling breeze and the views outside provide a leafy backdrop.
Drinking water is placed on a small bedside table and reading lights are fitted above the free-standing slatted headboard. Behind this is an en-suite bathroom, where twin washbasins and an overhanging mirror stand opposite a wooden wardrobe and a canvas-walled toilet. Through a rear door is the open-air shower, enclosed by canvas sides. Here you’ll find fluffy white towels, toiletries (soap, body lotion, and shampoo/shower gel) and a lantern for ambient lighting. Other amenities include a laundry basket, washing powder for undergarments, a digital safe, mosquito repellent and coils, insect spray, and an air-horn to attract attention in case of emergency.
Pom Pom Camp offers a variety of safari activities. The mokoro trip we took on our last visit in November 2011 was idyllic, and led by entertaining and informative guides. Other activities include day and night 4WD game drives, fishing trips and walking safaris accompanied by an armed guide. (We didn’t get a chance to assess the walking safaris on our last visit; because we cannot recommend them personally, we’d suggest that our travellers stick to the mokoro and 4WD activities.)
Game drives are conducted in open-sided Land Cruisers with three rows of seats. Pom Pom advised us that they try to limit the drives to a maximum of six guests (so everyone has an outside seat), though they do take up to nine when the camp is busy. Although the camp wasn’t full on our last visit, there were seven guests on our game drive so we’d suggest a private vehicle for travellers wanting a more exclusive experience.
The game viewing was reasonably good, though we have never regarded this as the most productive in the Delta. The guides also comment that this area’s game is variable, and that sightings aren’t consistent. This fits in with our previous impressions as far back as 1992, when one of the Expert Africa team first visited. Having said that, we’ve seen quite a variety of game here including bushbuck, tsessebe, elephant, reedbuck, red lechwe, wildebeest, leopard, zebra, buffalo, hippo, lion, spotted hyena and giraffe. A lengthy sighting of a leopard, who posed beautifully for photographs, was the highlight of our most recent visit.
Our experience of the guiding at Pom Pom Camp has also been inconsistent. Visiting in 2008 we felt that the vehicles stayed for too long with a leopard, harassing him. In contrast, during our 2010 and 2011 visits the guides stayed a respectful distance from the wildlife. They were also knowledgeable and engaging, striking up a good rapport with guests. Hence we’re cautiously optimistic that the guiding has improved over the years.
Pom Pom Camp is a good, reasonably economical option for those seeking to enjoy the Delta’s scenic environments and excellent birdwatching. The game here is variable, so come for some of the Okavango Delta’s loveliest scenery and mokoro trips. If you approach the 4WD safaris with moderate expectations – you never know, you might be surprised.
Despite only having nine tents, we don’t feel the camp quite achieves the same intimate feel and personal level of service of many other small Delta camps. When we last visited in November 2011 we felt that the tented rooms needed an upgrade and we look forward to seeing the renovations completed in early 2012.
Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights. We’d usually recommend three nights for most camps in the Delta, but because of Pom Pom’s variable game viewing we think that a two-night stay could be fine here.
Directions: The camp is accessed by light aircraft – a short 20-minute flight from Maun or 1½ hours from Kasane. From the airstrip, it’s a five-minute transfer by 4WD to the lodge.
Owner: Under One Botswana Sky
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our last visit to Pom Pom Camp in November 2011 we found that the quality, presentation and selection of food were good overall. Meals are generally served as a buffet and guests are all seated together, but private dining can be arranged on request.
A light breakfast of cereal or porridge, muffins, fruit, yoghurt, toast, spreads, juices, tea and coffee is served before the morning activity.
On our return, we enjoyed a sizeable buffet brunch of beef lasagne, a variety of tasty fresh salads (including lettuce, avocado and gherkin; and mozzarella, cucumber, tomato and balsamic vinegar), homemade breads, cold meats, cheese and crackers, and a fresh fruit platter. We were also offered eggs and bacon to order.
Before setting out on the afternoon activity, tea consisted of a tempting iced ginger cake and a variety of sandwiches, along with iced tea and a selection of hot drinks.
For our evening meal the dinner buffet spread was an assortment of steak, boerewors (farm sausage), basmati rice and mixed vegetables (carrots, beans and courgettes), with a choice of garlic, mustard and tomato sauces. To finish was a light chocolate mousse.
We were offered red or white wine with our dinner, and house spirits were also available. After dinner, drinks were served around the campfire.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All drinks are included (nothing is stocked that guests have to pay extra for).
Birdwatching: Being close to the water, and some extensive floodplain areas, the birding from Pom Pom Camp is excellent. Notable sightings might include wattled crane, Pel’s fishing owl, slaty and black egrets, black coucals and a variety of bee-eaters, including the blue-cheeked and swallow-tailed.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Pom Pom Camp welcomes children from the age of eight and offers a family tent that sleeps up to four people in connecting double and twin rooms, with a shared bathroom. A private activity vehicle is compulsory for families with children under 12 years. For safety reasons, those under 12 are not allowed to do mokoro trips, and may participate in nature walks only at the discretion of the guides.
Equipment: The camp doesn’t provide any special equipment for children. No special activities or services are offered for children.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Pom Pom Camp for children aged 12 and up, or for children eight and up if the family is willing to pay for a private activity vehicle.
Notes: Children at Pom Pom Camp must be under their parents’ supervision at all times as the camp borders a lagoon and is not fenced from potentially dangerous wildlife.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There is no cellphone reception at Pom Pom Camp. VHF radio is used for communications.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: All the managers and guides are first-aid trained and there are full trauma kits on site. The closest doctor is in Maun, which is a 20-minute flight. In an emergency, the camp has access to Medivac.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Because Pom Pom Camp is not fenced against potentially dangerous animals, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. There are air horns in the rooms for use in emergencies and the manager’s house is close by.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside each room and in the communal areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included at the camp – excluding undergarments. Washing powder is provided in the rooms for guests to wash personal items.
Money: There is an electronic safe in each room. All major currencies are accepted, including US dollars, British pounds, euros, South African rand and Botswanan pula. MasterCard and Visa are accepted but not Amex or travellers’ cheques. There is no fee charged for credit-card payments.