Chitabe Camp is built on elevated wooden decks set amongst trees.
Chitabe Camp: Our full report
Situated in the southern part of the Okavango Delta, Chitabe Camp is an established camp with an impressive track record for game viewing. Completely rebuilt in 2009, it overlooks a floodplain of the Chitabe concession, which is bordered on three sides by the Moremi Game Reserve. One of the Delta's drier areas, it also differs from areas further north in the Okavango in that it is largely forested, with shady, wooded glades but few open plains.
Within the Chitabe concession you'll find a collage of mopane and acacia woodlands, bordered to the north-east by the Gomoti River and to the south-west by the Santantadibe River. Chitabe Camp shares the area with its smaller sister camp, the neighbouring Chitabe Lediba.
The main area at Chitabe is a large thatched structure, beautifully designed, with big squashy sofas and very comfortable seating areas. A cleverly crafted bar, hewn from the trunk of a marula tree, is well stocked with a variety of soft drinks, local beers, wines and most local spirits. Wide steps lead down to the firepit where guests gather for afternoon tea or to enjoy evening drinks. A walkway connects this area to a second large, thatched structure, where the open-sided dining room,affords views over the surrounding plains. Both brunch and dinner are served from counters of beautifully polished old tree trunks, with guests eating together at one large table. There is also a boma, just behind the main area, where guests on certain nights during the week (often a Monday night) enjoy a convivial evening while sampling some of Botswana’s traditional food. More steps lead down to a plunge pool in front of the main areas. Surrounded by sunloungers and partially shaded by enormous trees, it has a good view over the plains in front of camp. Chitabe also has a small curio shop selling traditional Okavango crafts and baskets made by the staff. One of the things we particularly like about Chitabe Camp is the small library, nestled in the branches of a large tree along a walkway away from the main areas, yet still with a great view. With a seat designed from the branch of a sausage tree balanced by comfortable and stylish sofas, it’s a great place to retreat with a drink and a good book.
Chitabe Camp has eight tented rooms, built on raised wooden decks that are linked by walkways that meander through the trees. To the front of each tented room is a shady veranda with cushioned wicker chairs and a table, where you can sit and watch the birds or the wildlife that wanders by the camp.
Glass sliding double doors lead into each room, flanked by equally large mesh windows, with comfortable beds (which can be double or twin) directly in front of you. A large walk-in mosquito net surrounds the bed and the bedside table and lamps, which makes lighting easily accessible at night. The rooms also have a writing desk, standing fan, luggage rack and a soft chair with a footstool. The décor has a classic but modern feel to it, with pride of place given to wildlife photos taken by the owner of Chitabe Camp, Dave Hamman, who is a photo-journalist and private guide. Separated from the bedroom by a canvas wall divider, each tent at Chitabe has a very respectably sized en-suite bathroom with hot and cold running water. Central to the room are twin basins, with a very large mirror above each, while the toilet is hidden discreetly behind a canvas screen, and another screen hides an indoor shower. Outside, a second private shower has more of those fantastic views! Along with plenty of shelving and hanging space, an electronic safe and a laundry basket, you’ll find fluffy towels and a bathrobe, as well as complimentary shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. Mosquito repellent, bug spray and mosquito coils are also provided.
Chitabe offers a classic dry-land safari experience, with activities focussing on 4WD game drives by day, and spotlit drives at night. All drives are conducted in covered open-sided safari vehicles that have three rows of three seats – but as no more than six seats are used, everyone has a 'window' seat. The Chitabe reserve supports a varied range of animal and birdlife, with numerous leopards thriving on a prolific population of impala. Other common sightings are giraffe and zebra and there are also good populations of buffalo and elephant, as well as lion. Periodic sightings of wild dog are also highlights here.
We've seen a considerable number of leopard on previous visits and have also enjoyed fantastic sightings of lion and cheetah. On our last visit in November 2013 the game was just as phenomenal. A particular highlight was spending time with a large bull elephant that was attempting to teach a young male some manners: a delightful interaction that clearly depicted the elephants’ hierarchy. Other notable sightings included a leopard with her impala kill, various lion, including failed hunting attempts, large herds of zebra and giraffe, a black mamba hanging precariously from a tree and a 16-strong pod of hippopotamus grazing. The birdlife at Chitabe is often good, too, with raptors especially common. Western-banded snake eagles, Gabar goshawks and martial eagles are just a few of the more sought-after sightings in drier areas like this, and in the wetter areas, there is a good chance of seeing the endemic slaty egret and the endangered wattled crane – although you won't see the full range of water birds found elsewhere in the Delta. Birding here, like much of the rest of the delta is at its best between December and March.
Our viewChitabe Camp is in a really super area for game, and is characterised by excellent game viewing and a high standard of guiding from an enthusiastic team of guides. Coupled with very comfortable accommodation, this makes Chitabe a popular choice for visitors to the Okavango – so you're likely to need to book well in advance.
Ideal length of stay: A three-night stay is ideal at Chitabe Camp.
Directions: Guests take a light-aircraft flight to the Chitabe airstrip, and it is then a half-hour game drive to camp.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Flamingo Investments own the lodge, which is marketed by Wilderness Safaris.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our last visit to Chitabe in November 2013 we found the food to be very tasty. The camp is able to cater for most dietary requirements as long as they are informed in advance.
Early-morning breakfast is served before your morning game drive. There was a choice of cereal, porridge, fruit and muffins, alongside tea/coffee/juice.
On your return from the morning activity a substantial brunch is served in the dining area. There is always a hot dish on offer – we had pork belly – and the chef will cook up bacon, sausages and eggs in front of you on request. There is also a selection of salads, freshly cooked bread, fruit and a cheeseboard.
Afternoon tea is served before the afternoon activity, with both a savoury snack and cake; we had a choice of delicious mini beef wellingtons, olive tapenade and tomato pastries and a very yummy passion-fruit and lemon tart. Homemade lemonade and iced or hot tea and coffee are also available.
Dinner is served shortly after your return to camp following the afternoon activity. We started with a vegetable soup, followed by roast beef, a mixture of roast vegetables, and a selection of salads, and finished with a chocolate pudding.
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 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.
Further dining info: None.
Wildlife safaris: The Chitabe concession has regular lion and leopard sightings (both of which we saw during our most recent one-night stay), as well as wilddog, tsessebe, blue wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, reedbuck and steenbok.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children over the age of 12 are welcome at Chitabe Camp. The camp may accept aged 8–12 if a private vehicle is booked but this must be requested in advance. Children 6 years and under are not accepted.
Equipment: The camp can arrange separate mealtimes for families with younger children if they want to eat earlier. Childminding can be arranged with staff, but please note that they are not specifically qualified in childcare.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Chitabe Camp for children over the age of 12 years.
Notes: Dangerous wildlife moves through camp on a regular basis and the walkways to the rooms are raised fairly high off the ground, so children must be under the constant supervision of their parents.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Chitabe Camp has a CB radio link in case of emergencies, but for all intents and purposes you should consider yourself out of contact. There is no cellphone reception.
TV & radio: No TV or radio - this is the bush!
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: All the tented rooms have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush toilets. Guests are usually given a water bottle on arrival with filtered water, which they are encouraged to top up from the filtered supply in the camp’s main area. Each room is also provided with glasses and a flask of filtered drinking water.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: All camp managers are first aid trained and various medications are kept in the camp. In severe emergencies Wilderness can arrange for clients to be flown out either via helicopter or medical rescue plane.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Because of the Okavango Delta's large population of dangerous game, and the fact that Chitabe Camp is unfenced, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. Alarm sirens or whistles are provided in the rooms in case of emergency.
Fire safety: There are extinguishers outside all the rooms.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included, except for underwear, for which washing powder is provided in the bathrooms.
Money: No exchange facilities offered. There are safes in all the rooms.
Accepted payment on location: Mastercard and Visa credit cards are accepted. Diners Club and Amex are not accepted. Credit card transactions attract no commission. Rand, US Dollars, Pounds, Euros and Botswana Pula are accepted.