Mombo Camp offers fantastic game viewing and luxurious accommodation
Mombo Camp: Our full report
Mombo Camp overlooks a floodplain at the northwestern end of Chief's Island, deep within the Moremi Game Reserve. It is one of Botswana's flagship safari lodges with a reputation for excellent service, luxury accommodation and exceptional game densities, and a price tag to match.
The main area of Mombo Camp is very large indeed, with a couple of beautifully furnished seating areas and a library with a good selection of reference and fiction. At one end is a well-stocked bar, open throughout the day and where pre-dinner drinks are served. The deck in front of this main area incorporates a firepit and an alfresco dining area, where brunch and dinner can be served. A second, covered dining area lies off to one side. Tea and coffee are available here all day.
The first of Mombo's two plunge pools lies at the end of a short walkway leading from the firepit. This pool has sunloungers and also a couple of 'salas', or day beds. A second, elevated, pool area is reached via the walkway that links Mombo Camp to its smaller, sister camp: Little Mombo. Beside this pool, you'll find a small lounge with a 'help yourself' bar, a couple of relaxing sala beds and a firepit. On another deck there's a gym, complete with a running machine and some exercise bikes. All afford great views across the floodplain.
All of Mombo's nine tented suites are raised high off the ground. Large and luxurious, these are timber framed with canvas walls, and mesh windows from floor to ceiling affording great views across the floodplain. A wooden deck at the front shares the views, which can be enjoyed from some very comfortable chairs or the sala bed – which is also a great place to catch a siesta after an early-morning start.
Inside, each suite is furnished with a very large, very comfortable bed complete with bedside lighting and bedside controls for the ceiling fan, which is set within the mosquito net. There is ample storage space for clothes in the form of a wardrobe designed to look and function like an old trunk turned on its side.
Every suite has its own lounge, incorporating a couple of sofas with a coffee table and a small selection of reference books. A cleverly disguised minibar/fridge – a converted travelling chest covered in linen – is stocked with soft drinks, beers and cider, and an assortment of bar snacks. There's a tea and coffee station and a writing desk with a stack of international plug adaptors (including US and British configurations).
The open-plan bathroom boasts his and hers showers and basins, and a toilet housed in a separate cubicle. A door leads out to an open-air shower, which shares those views across the floodplain. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soap are all provided.
Mombo's activities focus solely on morning and afternoon 4WD game drives and the guiding, from our experience, is superb. The camp lies in one of the most fertile sections of the Okavango Delta, where the high nutrient content in the soil supports a vast food web which in turn leads to great game densities. Game viewing is from exceptionally comfortable Land Rovers, all of which have heated seats – a real luxury on those cold morning game drives between May and August!
The camp’s location within Moremi Game Reserve means that they are restricted by national-park regulations, which prohibit off-roading, night drives and walking. That said, Mombo’s private location in the game reserve means that these restrictions are somewhat flexible.
On our last trip to Mombo in May 2014 we spent an afternoon watching one of the three prides of lion that operate around the camp feast on the remains of a zebra they had caught that morning. We were also lucky to spot a Pel’s fishing owl perched on one of the trees in camp – we are told that sightings of these magnificent birds around camp is quite regular!
On previous trips we have been lucky enough to spend time with a leopard on the prowl; to follow a pride of lions as they stalked a herd of red lechwe, albeit unsuccessfully; and to watch a large pack of hyena at dusk, a surreal and almost spooky experience as the alpha-female began calling in the last light of day.
Although game densities at Mombo are remarkable, and the lion population goes from strength to strength, the pressure on other big predators is increasing as they struggle to compete for the same resources. As a result the number of leopards in the area has decreased, wild dog are rarely seen and the cheetah have moved away. In spite of that, the area plays host to a number of notable individuals. One such is Legadema, the female leopard made famous by the 2006 National Geographic feature film Eye of the Leopard, who we were very lucky to spot during our stay in May 2014. She had managed to catch a vervet monkey while hunting in a tree close to camp and we watched her greedily devour it while its fellow monkeys made a loud racket of protest in the trees above.
The Mombo concession was also the site of the reintroduction of black and white rhino in the early 2000s. Having been effectively poached out of northern Botswana by the early 1990s, their reintroduction has been a hugely important project, although they remain elusive and sightings are rare.
Because of this area's great game, which has fed into its formidable reputation, Mombo Camp is substantially more costly than almost any other safari camp or lodge in Botswana. It's also very often full (which means you should book well in advance to get space here).
Our viewAsk any experienced guide in northern Botswana about Mombo Camp and you're likely to see a glimmer in their eye and get a response along the lines of 'Wow! Mombo…' The high game densities alone justify visiting this area, and these, coupled with Mombo's high levels of hospitality, luxurious surroundings, great guiding and great food, make for a fantastic camp. We think Mombo is certainly very good and if you want the best of the best on all fronts in Botswana, then Mombo is the place to visit.
Ideal length of stay: We'd suggest three nights at Mombo – or perhaps four if budget allows.
Directions: Mombo is accessible only by light aircraft; the airstrip is roughly 15 minutes away from camp by 4WD vehicle.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The quality of food at Mombo is excellent with top service to match.
A light breakfast, served before the early-morning game drive, consists of an assortment of cereals, freshly baked breads and pastries, yoghurt pots and fresh fruit, accompanied by a hot drink of your choice.
Brunch takes place upon returning from your game drive. On our last visit a selection of tasty individual salads was brought to our table and we were also offered a choice of plated meals; we had eggs made to order, but steak was also on the menu.
For afternoon tea, served prior to the afternoon game drive, we enjoyed salmon tarts, mini sausage rolls and mini lemon meringue pies accompanied by fruit smoothies, fresh fruit juice and iced tea.
In the evening, after drinks around the bar and fire, we sat down to dinner. Again there was a good choice of plated dishes from which we chose a lovely starter of parmesan risotto with parmesan crisp. This was followed by game meat casserole served on vegetables, which was delicious. For pudding a cardamom rice pudding rounded off the meal very well. A very good selection of red and white wines was available.
We could also take small jars of sweets, nuts and dried fruits onto game drives with us. That – along with coffee, tea and biscuits on the morning activity and sundowners and snacks on the afternoon one – ensures you won't go hungry; you may even need to use that gym!
Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables
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 selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra. Mombo’s bar is stocked more comprehensively than most, and they can order in special requests if advance notice is given.
Further dining info: Room service is not available.
Birdwatching: The fertile soils around Mombo make for nutrient-rich vegetation and some of the best dry-country birdwatching in Botswana. With so much game around, vultures abound and birds of prey also find easy pickings – whilst the wetter extremities have a different set of species again.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Photography holidays: The game densities, varied birdlife, fertile soils and textbook examples of Delta environments make Mombo an excellent place for photographers. Private vehicles are also available (at additional cost), giving you complete flexibility on where and when you want to go.See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana
Wildlife safaris: At the heart of a vast protected area, Mombo is one of the very best areas for wildlife safaris in the Okavango Delta, and indeed in Africa. Its animal densities are high and its landscapes are very open, which provides for some world-class game viewing.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children of 12 years of age and over are welcome at Mombo. The camp may accept aged 8–12 if a private vehicle is booked but this must be requested in advance. Children under 8 years of age are generally not accepted but this can be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Generally recommended for children: Yes, but only for older children who will be safe on the high walkways – and only for the under-12s if the cost of a private vehicle is no barrier.
Notes: Mombo is a very open camp with dangerous wildlife frequently wondering through. The rooms and walkways are raised on stilts and are not suitable for small children.
Communications: There is no cellphone reception and no internet access at Mombo, so you can consider yourself completely cut off from the outside world. Radio access to Maun is available in emergencies and in exceptional circumstances messages can be relayed to friends and family.
TV & radio: There are no TVs at Mombo
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: All the chalets have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush toilets. Each room is provided with glasses and a flask of filtered drinking water that is replenished daily. Although plastic bottles of water are available, guests are encouraged to top up from the filtered water in the camp’s main area. We don’t recommend that travellers drink from the tap.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Maun. All management and guides are first-aid trained and medical evacuation is available in case of emergencies. There is a nurse on call (via radio) 24 hours a day. Please note that it is only possible to fly out of camp during daylight hours as the bush airstrips do not have any lighting at night.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: A guide or manager escorts Mombo’s guests to their suites at night. The raised walkways give added security from wild animals. There is a horn in each tent to attract attention in case of emergency.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are positioned throughout camp and pre-arranged assembly points are clearly demarcated.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included at Mombo Camp; wherever possible, items will be returned to guests on the same day.
Money: No exchange facilities are offered at Mombo. There are small electronic safes in the tents.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. No commission is charged on credit-card transactions. Cash payments may be made in pounds sterling, US dollars, euros, South African rand and Botswana pula.