Chitabe Lediba is a lovely five room tented camp overlooking floodplains on its private reserve.
Chitabe Lediba: Our full report
Chitabe Lediba is situated on an elevated island within the Chitabe Reserve. This fairly dry area lies towards the south of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, largely surrounded by the Moremi Game Reserve, and is generally regarded as good for game year-round. The camp’s focus is solely on drives rather than water activities.
In contrast with areas further north in the Delta, the Chitabe Reserve is largely mixed forest: an interesting mosaic of mopane and acacia woodlands. However as the reserve is bordered to the north and east by the Gomoti River and to the south-west by the Santantadibe River, you will also find riverine forests, lagoons and lush channels. Chitabe Lediba shares the Chitabe Reserve with its larger sister camp, Chitabe Camp as well as &Beyond’s Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge.
Chitabe Lediba has just five secluded tented chalets, set on low decks and shaded by large trees. Each has a veranda at the front kitted out with comfortable chairs, a couple of footstools and a table. From here, sliding double glass doors lead into the bedroom, with polished dark-wood floors and rattan rugs. The décor is smart and airy, but not overdone. Comfortable beds (or, in the honeymoon room, a four-poster) sit under a mosquito net, and are flanked by bedside tables with reading lamps. A writing desk plays host to stationery, magazines and bottled water, and the adjacent strip of universal plugs is handy for charging batteries – though not suitable for hairdryers. A standing fan helps to keep the tent cool and the mosquitoes at bay, while meshed windows enable a cooling breeze to flow through.
A tall wooden headboard separates the bedroom from the bathroom, where two deep ceramic basins are set on a wooden counter beneath large framed mirrors. Behind the headboard is ample hanging and shelving space, with a digital safe, bathrobes and extra blankets. There's a separate flush toilet, and a canvas-walled shower that gives a powerful blast of water. There's also a spacious outdoor shower, partially surrounded by canvas walls for privacy, but with views over the plains. Big fluffy towels, mosquito repellent and a wide selection of toiletries are provided.
Two of the chalets are family units, consisting of two en-suite bedrooms – one with an outside shower. Both rooms share a balcony and one unit has an interleading hallway, well suited for families with younger children or friends travelling together.
Chitabe Lediba's main area is accessed from the chalets by wooden walkways raised about a metre off the ground – low enough to keep you at one with nature; high enough to keep some of the creepy-crawlies away! It's a beautifully designed set up, with fabulous views across the floodplain. The open-plan layout runs from a help-yourself bar at one end, set beside cosy sofas in muted tones, to a long wooden dining table at the other, surrounded by smart, cream-covered chairs. A good little 'library' houses a selection of wildlife magazines and some interesting books, including Running Wild, a book about the wild dogs of northern Botswana written by the owners of Chitabe and Chitabe Lediba, Dave and Helene Hamman.
Leading out from the dining area, a wooden deck with a firepit is surrounded by comfortable directors' chairs. Shaded by a large tree, this is a lovely spot to relax with uninterrupted views across the plains. From the other side, leading out from the bar, a wooden walkway leads to the loo-with-a-view and a small swimming pool complete with sunloungers and more superb views.
Behind the main area, steps lead down to a boma (a natural space surrounded by a wooden fence), where traditional evening meals and barbecues are sometimes served. These occasions are great fun and the staff are genuinely keen to impart a little knowledge of their local history and culture. There is also a curio shop which stocks a variety of safari clothing and local crafts.
It's the staff who make this camp though – unfailingly friendly and cheerful and always happy to chat about the camp and the surrounding wildlife. The guiding is usually superb and the guides conscious of getting the vehicle and the light in the right places for great shots!
Being a primarily 'dry' camp, activities at Chitabe Lediba concentrate on 4WD game drives both day and night. The game in this area is prolific and over the years we've had some fantastic sightings. In the past, we’ve had considerable leopard, lion, and cheetah sightings as well as phenomenal elephant, zebra, giraffe and hippo. Our most recent trip, in April 2016, was less successful in terms of game, though we did see three superb lion (2 adult males roaring and one adult female) near the airstrip, where vehicles from all three camps on the reserve were taking turns to watch. We also spotted giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, elephant, warthog, kudu, baboon, and vervet monkey, but the highlight of the trip was the pack of 15 wild dogs playing with each other before going out on an unsuccessful kudu hunt. This area was the photography location for the Hammans’ book about wild dogs, Running Wild, and our experience confirmed that there are epic sightings in the area.
The birdlife is pretty good at Chitabe, too, at its best between December and March. Raptors are especially common, with Gabar goshawks, western-banded snake eagles and martial eagles a few of the more sought-after sightings, and a good chance of seeing the endemic slaty egret and the endangered wattled crane near the waterways. On our latest trip we spotted 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.
Our viewChitabe Lediba is a smart, very comfortable camp in an area that has a great diversity of game. The guiding team is very professional and friendly, keen to get good sightings but also thoughtful about how our interaction may affect the animals’ behaviour. While activities are limited to 4WD game drives in this dry camp, it lies within a concession that consistently delivers some fantastic game experiences.
Ideal length of stay: We’d usually recommend three nights at Chitabe Lediba; four would be fine if you’re happy to focus solely on game drives, but two is usually a little too short.
Directions: The flight from Maun to Chitabe airstrip takes 20 minutes in a small plane, then it's about a half-hour game drive to camp.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Flamingo Investments (Dave and Helene Hamman) own 50% of the camp, which is marketed by Wilderness Safaris, who own the remaining 50%
Staff: Ips (manager)
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Meals at Chitabe Lediba are served buffet-style, and guests dine together.
Over the years we have found the food to be exceptional – delicious and fresh. We have not dined in camp on our last two visits, but when we last ate here, in November 2013, we had mixed feelings about some of the dishes, as reflected below.
The camp is able to cater for most dietary tastes – vegetarian, vegan, gluten free etc – as long as they are informed in advance. An early-morning breakfast of cereal, fruit, muffins, tea and coffee is served in the dining area before your game drive.
For brunch, after our morning game drive, we were offered a cooked breakfast along with an assortment of other dishes that included pork cutlets, vegetarian linguine, various salads and bread.
Afternoon tea is usually accompanied by both savoury and sweet snacks, which on our last visit did not disappoint! A selection of salmon and artichoke canapés was served alongside a delicious coconut cake – together with iced or hot tea and fresh juice.
For dinner our starter consisted of a rather tasteless aubergine and tomato stack. The main meal of coq au vin was very good, and accompanied by mashed potato, butternut squash and garlic beans. For dessert, though, a promising-sounding orange and amarula mousse unfortunately didn't live up to expectations.
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. Guests are usually given a water bottle on arrival, which they are encouraged to top up from the supply of filtered water in the main area from the camp’s reverse osmosis machine. Each room is also provided with glasses and a flask of filtered drinking water.
Further dining info: No - this is a safari camp!
Wildlife safaris: The Chitabe area is renowned for its wild dog population, which has formed the subject of a book by the camps owners. Also worth noting are the regular lion, leopard and even the odd cheetah sightings, 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 Lediba. The camp may accept aged 6–12 if a private vehicle is booked but this must be requested in advance. Children of six years and under are not accepted.
Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age 6 years
Special activities & services: Chitabe Lediba can provide families & 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 has two family chalets, which are essentially two en-suite tents with a shared balcony. The interconnected family unit is an excellent option. for families with young children. The camp can arrange separate mealtimes for families with younger children, if they would like to eat earlier. Childminding can be arranged with staff, though note they are not specifically qualified in childcare.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Chitabe Lediba Camp for children over the age of 12 who have a genuine interest in wildlife.
Notes: Dangerous wildlife wanders freely around this unfenced camp and the walkways are raised about a metre off the ground, so children should be kept under supervision by an adult at all times. Children are generally kept separate from other guests.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: Each tented chalet has a power point where guests can charge their batteries, and adaptors are available at camp. Extensions for CPAP machines can be provided on request.
Communications: Chitabe Lediba 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: There is no television or radio
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: All the tented chalets have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers, and flushing toilets.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: When we last visited, all the camp managers and guides were first-aid trained and various medications are kept in the camp. Wilderness Safaris also have an on-call nurse who can be contacted via radio. In an emergency, guests can 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 Lediba Camp is unfenced, guests are escorted from/to their rooms after dark. Alarm sirens or whistles are provided in the rooms in case of emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside all the chalets as well as in the dining and kitchen areas.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included, with a netting 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 tented chalets, 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 US dollars, GB pounds, South African rand, euros and Botswana pula.