Chitabe Camp

Chitabe Camp: Our full report

Rooms
8 tented rooms
Traveller's rating
Excellent (96%) From 54 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

Situated in the southern part of the Okavango Delta, the established Chitabe Camp has an impressive track record for game viewing. The camp 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. Chitabe was completely rebuilt in 2009, with the main area scheduled for a further reincarnation in 2017 .

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, which is scheduled to be rebuilt in January–May 2017, is at present 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 the 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 iron-framed 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 twins or a double) 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, 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 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.

Chitabe is known as the photography location for the famous book Running Wild: Dispelling the Myths of the African Wild Dog, written by the camp’s owners – and our most recent visit in April 2016 confirmed that there are epic wild dog sightings in the area. In fact, the pack of 15 dogs that we watched playing with each other before going out on an unsuccessful kudu hunt were the only wild dog we saw during our entire three-week trip. We also saw three superb lion (two adult males roaring and one adult female) at the Chitabe airstrip and other mammal sightings on our game drives, which included giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, elephant, warthog, kudu, baboon and vervet monkey.

Birdlife was excellent with tawny eagle, lilac-breasted roller, Meves’s starling, hooded vulture, white-browed sparrow-weaver, red-billed spurfowl, blacksmith lapwing, Burchell’s starling, yellow-billed duck, and spur-winged geese. In the past, we have seen Western banded snake eagles, Gabar goshawks, and martial eagles.

Our view

Chitabe Camp has historically been known for superb game viewing and its resident wild dog. The standard of guiding is very high, and the team is very enthusiastic about the area’s wildlife.This, together with very comfortable accommodation, make Chitabe a popular choice for visitors to the Okavango – so you're likely to need to book well in advance.

Geographics

Location: Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana

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

Key personnel

Owner: Flamingo Investments (Dave & Helene Hamman) own 50% of the lodge, which is marketed by Wilderness Safaris, who own the remaining 50%

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: On our last visit to Chitabe in April 2016 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 – such as chicken curry or 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 enjoyed tasty samosas stuffed with vegetables with a sweet dipping sauce. 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. In the past we have enjoyed a starter of salmon carpaccio, followed by roast leg of lamb and roast chicken with a mixture of roast vegetables, and a selection of salads, and finished with fresh berries and pavlova. .

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. On arrival, guests are usually given a water bottle of filtered water from the camp’s reverse osmosis machine, and are encouraged to top it 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.

Further dining info: None.

Special interests

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

Children

Attitude towards children: Children over the age of 12 are welcome at Chitabe Camp. The camp may accept ages 6-12 if a private vehicle is booked but this must be requested in advance. Children 6 years and under are not accepted.

Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age 6 years

Special activities & services: Chitabe can provide families with children with a ‘Bush Buddy’, who is trained in educating and entertaining children while on safari. This complimentary service must be booked in advance.

Equipment: The camp can arrange separate mealtimes for families with younger children if they want to eat earlier. There are also two selections of board games for children.

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.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: Each tented room has a power point where guests can charge their batteries, with adaptors available in camp. Extensions for CPAP mahines can be provided on request.

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 or WiFi.

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, and flushing toilets.

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. 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: 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. Fog horns are provided in the rooms to attract attention in case of emergency.

Fire safety: Fire assembly points in the camp are clearly marked with signs. Each room has a fire extinguisher outside. There are also fire extinguishers in the main areas.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included, with a net bag provided for smalls. Weather permitting, laundry is collected in the morning and brought back in the evening.

Money: There are safes in all the rooms, and pouches locked with numerical tags are provided. No exchange facilities are offered.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners Club and Amex are not. Credit card transactions attract no commission. Cash payments may be made in South African rand, US dollars, GB pounds, euros and Botswana pula.