Reviews of Old Mondoro Bushcamp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Can it get any better?
Now Lower Zambezi is becoming more mature it is rivalling S Luangwa, and with the boat/canoe activities adding a magical dimension. Fabulous game viewing and river canoeing a highlight.
Very hard to fault with cover hosts Stuart & Maddy making a flawless experience. Two great guides in James and Levi although did experience one shortage of scout which necessitated party of four delaying a walk and we did not walk every day. But given our first experience of OM was no hardship.
Lovely boat transfer to Chongwe.
Luxury in the Bush
Our game sightings got even better with our fantastic, top-notch guide, Sebastian. We lost count of the leopards we saw (which I will never tire of seeing!), but the real icing on the cake was seeing the elusive Pangolin. It came right up next to our jeep, giving us a good view. Amazing! And the boat safaris and sundowners were so peaceful and tranquil. I will miss the Cape Turtle Dove's repetitive call to "drink laaa-ger, drink laaa-ger, drink laaa-ger", and the hippos' hilarious laughing sound!
Again, we had a surprise lunch in the bush, with gorgeous food.(How do they do it?) Staff, accommodation, atmosphere-----top marks!
Ideal Bushcamp Experience
I loved the look and feel of Old Mondoro. It reminded me of some favorite bush camps visited during the past 20 years. The area is gorgeous, both the Zambezi itself and the forest of winterthorn and mahogany trees.
The management team, Jason and Michaela, are excellent--warm and welcoming and very capable, and their staff is exemplary. Lovely and plentiful food was prepared by two men that we never saw but greatly appreciated.
We arrived exhausted, so especially appreciated that our tent (#2) was comfortable and perfectly situated for wildlife sights and sounds. From the daybed on our porch, we watched hippos and elephants on the nearby islands and white-fronted bee eaters that frequented an uprooted tree on the riverbank. Despite our laziness, we enjoyed a game drive and a boat ride and saw quite a nice selection of wildlife. Just as we were about to leave for our next camp, two elephants walked right through camp as if they owned it and scoured the winterthorn trees for pods--the first of the season. I left wishing that we could linger for a few more days.
Helpful hint: take slippers or thick socks for the unbelievably, inexplicably cold floor in tent!
Old Mondoro - The Highlight of our trip.
Of the 7 campswe stayed at across Botswana, Zambia and Malawi, this was undoubtedly the best for us and we were delighted with the 4 nights we stayed there. It was exactly what we wanted. We could have ended our African trip right there as we did and saw almost everything we expected to cover over our 26 days holiday. We would liked to have stayed longer.
Wonderfully scenic with a mixture of woodland and a grassland plateau, plenty of animals and birds, including lion cubs, leopards, huge herds of buffalo ,hipoos, elephants etc,it was just what we wanted. Furthermore from the photographers point of view the lighting is magnificent. The walking safari therefore was the most pleasant of the several we did in the various other camps.
Turning to the people at all levels there is only one word needed - fantastic,
If we go again to the Lower Zambezi it will only be to Old Mondoro
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
Again I believe we were poorly advised in our initial discussions with Expert Africa, in which we were discussing the split of time between S Luangwa / L Zambezi. I believe we should have been advised to stay longer at the L. Zambezi.
Old Mondoro was by far the best camp we stayed at in Zambia in all aspects. The Lagoon room was a perfect location especially with the close attention of the one tusked male elephant 'guarding' our tent. One day we were the only ones in camp at lunch time, so they served our excellent meal on the verandah overlooking the lagoon, where we treated to a show of several elephants crossing, a buffalo bathing/eating and our friend the one tusked drinking/eating and bathing only a few feet from us. The highlight of our holiday.
Mentioning diabetes again! Following discussions, they said leave it to us and we'll sort things out. I had some wonderful low sugar sweets (especially the fruit crumble).
Old Mondoro was amazing
We had previously visited Chiawa and wondered if Old Mondoro could match it. We need not have worried!!Read more about the whole safari
Old Mondoro Camp
We enjoyed our stay at Old Mondoro. The camp is in a lovely area and was visited by elephants multiple times each say. At no time were the elephants aggressive - they were there to eat the fruiting pods and to cross onto the islands in the middle of the river. However, at times we were driven to and from our tents just to be on the safe side.
For the first 24 hours the game drives were truly excellent. We spent plenty of time looking at some of the less traditionally spectacular animals like antelope, baboons and birds, which I feel makes for more interesting and varied game drives. We also had a few leopard sightings (including a short sighting of a mother with a very young cub). However, half way through our stay we were joined by different guests and they mentioned to our guide that they really wanted to see big cats. From this point onwards our guide for the daytime game drives got a case of what I call "big-cat-itis" where you charge around the bush looking for big cats to the exclusion of everything else. This is great if you see them, however, it's a bit rubbish if you don't (in this case - we didn't).
One of the highlights of our stay were the night drives. We saw porcupines, leopards, genets, civets and even an aardvark. The guides were certainly good at finding things in the dark, although I suppose the tall trees and open areas really help. They use a red filter on the spotting light for finding animals. However, I did find the ban on flash photography frustrating. I can understand the reasons behind it, however, the jeeps still used their headlights (which didn't have a red filter) and if they came across antelopes that didn't get out of the way quickly enough they would flash their headlights at them. So I did find the ban on flashes slightly contradictory. We took red plastic to put over over camera flashes which helped the cameras to focus in the dim light as the cameras could use the auto assist beams of the flashes. We bought a small role of red plastic lighting gel off ebay for less than £5. The "no flash" rule didn't seem to make the animals any less skitish, or less stunned looking as they would often get dazzled by the jeep headlights anyway. We saw no difference in behaviour from other camps that didn't have this rule.
We also did a river boat trip which was great. We told our boatman that we were really interested in photographing birds and we were the only two on the boat so he did his best and we got some nice shots. We had multiple groups of elephants cross the river in front of us, which was lovely. Seeing elephants in the water is great.
We also did the canoe trip. We found this disappointing. There were three guests on the trip, split over two canoes. However, for almost the whole journey the other canoe went first. This meant that any birds or animals we were trying to photograph would run or fly away when the first canoe drew level with them and the only photos we could get from the second canoe were retreating back or blurred wings. This was made even more annoying by the fact that the man in the first canoe wasn't interested in birds at all and we were. It is just a shame that they hadn't told us before we started that we would be on the second boat the whole times, since if we had known in advance we would have chosen a different activity and gone canoeing on a day when it would just have been the two of us.
The tents were nicely appointed (although I would have liked some shade over the outside bath - you couldn't lie in it for long in the middle of the day without getting sunburnt). The staff were generally helpful and friendly and the food was good.
Nothing to improve!
Old Mondoro is one of those rare places where nothing could be improved. Its location by the Zambezi is stunning, and the rooms are perfectly designed to enjoy the amazing view (watching an elephant from your outdoor bathtub is a rare treat). The food was wonderful and the service, headed by the ever-present Chris, was always spot on.
There is a variety of activities on both land (drives, night drives, walks) and water (cruising, fishing, canoeing), 2 friendly and helpful hosts, Kayla and Jason, and a great team of guides.
Special mention to the canoeing trip and the tiger fishing - the highlights of our stay!
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
Our stay at Old Mondoro was only two nights, but we wish we could have stayed longer. The hosts Kayla and Jason make this tiny 4-chalet camp feel like home. We always felt safe, even with elephants and buffalo wandering through the camp all day, because they kept a careful eye out and even drove us the short distance to our chalets when there were animal visitors about. Elephants wandering by your chalet or the dining area create great photo ops!
Kayla did a wonderful job of planning the menus (she does the planning for Chiawa Camp also), and the food was varied and delicious. The guides and hosts join us for all the meals, which leads to great conversation. The rooms are well appointed, and we were happy to have a charging station in our room for the camera batteries. And hot water on demand is always appreciated. Sitting on the deck outside our room was a great way to relax, with the ever-changing river so close at hand.
We enjoyed the variety of activities offered, even though we only did game drives with Morat and the pontoon cruises. We saw no lions while we were there, but Morat found a great leopard sighting for us on our last morning drive.
Old Mondoro: sunrise over the Zambezi
A high speed boat transfer down the mighty Zambezi from Chiawa to Old Mondoro with Dave Cummings, the founder of these 2 camps and a great conservationist in the Lower Zambezi. He talked about his hopes and aspirations for this part of Africa. His son carries on his work.
A small camp of 5 comfortable rustic wood and bamboo tents set in beautiful green woodland on the Zambezi - in our case we looked on to a canal where elephants came to drink and wash. Like all the camps we visited in Zambia, the main sitting/dining area was a magnificent long-house of wood and thatch. Breakfast was round the campfire watching the sun rise over the river - pure magic. Elephant were impressive frequent visitors.
On drives through the open woodland we saw large herds of bushbuck, kudu, elephant with babies. Another canoe trip down a long canal - breathtaking beauty and peaceful but not without adrenalin, coming into close proximity with elephants, crocodiles and hippo. A birdwatchers paradise: egret, Goliath herons, Fish Eagles, Lilac breasted roller to mention a few.
The managers, Michaela and Jason, and all the staff made us very welcome: there was a good atmosphere.