Reviews of Chitabe Lediba
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
A good overall safari epxerience at CL.
I will split my review into 2 parts as most camps seem to segregate Lodge / Camp management from the game experience. This is a pity as this was not the case when I was last in Botswana 15 years ago but is a sign of the times. As a self confessed Africa snob ( excuse the expression ) I think this is in great detriment to the safari experience but there are few lodges now run independently so I imagine this is the norm.
Excellent support from all areas : Kitchen to room cleaning and dinning areas.This was a notable feature of this camp and we loved the family unit set apart at the end of the camp. These are 2 tents next to each other and made the family experience first class.The design of the tents is good with very comfortable beds and bathroom areas.Despite being very up market the design of the tents gave the camp a moderate bush feel . Gone are the days of real tents and feeling immersed in the bush.Elevated walk ways and access were useful.The pool and communal areas were also first class with smiles from all the staff.These were very well set out and gave one a sense of proximity to the bush.Food was good but one always had a sense there there was not quite enough of the key ingredient of the main course. ( ie very little meat but lots of fillers in ) The wine was undrinkable.I would rate this overall camp management aspect 7/10.
9/10. We had an excellent guide ( Thuso ) who had the most extraordinary eye sight and was a first class companion in the bush.Thanks to him a female Leopard was the prime viewing option for a film crew and some other guests.We also had a good session with 2 other male leopards and wild dog ( all within 200 metres ) . Elephant were not in abundance as the breeding herds had left . They had had rain a few days before. The walk was also well timed and managed . Viewing was also very well organized with never more then 2 vehicles at the sighting. And Beyonds next door camp were having a very tough time finding game and were driving 2 hours every day to CL concesion for viewing. They were suffering too much water I believe.CL is a camp set in attractive surroundings with a wide variety of terrain. We saw few Buffalo but otherwise were spoilt with our viewing.
Leopards in Chitable Lediba
We have had many safaris around the world and I have to say that our four camp trip to Botswana was, from the point of view of variety of animals, locations, hospitality and knowledgeable guides, the best one we have undertaken. This was helped by the fact that we had arranged our own private vehicle.
Our guide in Chitabe, Gordon, was outstanding. If one wishes to see leopards this is a camp to visit. We saw thirteen throughout the trip, seven of which were in Chitabe. The young elephants in and around the camp made for some on-foot, not to be missed encounters, as did the female lion with her two 18 month old cubs.
It was my wife, Caroline's, 60th birthday whilst were in Chitabe Lediba and we must thank Mwalusi and the staff for making it such a wonderful celebratory occasion.
Chitabe Lediba review
Chitabe Lediba is in a great location for wildlife viewing and game drives. There are a lot of different kinds of birds and mammals, and we were fortunate enough to see a young leopard, thanks to the effort and determination of our guide, Thuso. We were fortunate enough to be the only guests with Thuso, and he always gave us ample time to view and photograph. Thuso also filled in at the camp to serve meals.
The dinner on our first night was in the boma. The quality of the food was substandard, and the boma itself did not seem especially welcoming. We had a much better experience in Little Vumbura when they had a dinner in their boma.
During that dinner, we noticed that the service did not seem up to the standard of the other camps, but we thought it may have been an anomaly. However, the next morning at breakfast the service was also poor. There was only one person at the buffet to serve food, the selection of items was quite limited, and we were not asked if we wanted coffee, etc. At lunch and dinner, we had to go ask for drinks, rather than being offered when we arrived (like the other camps).
We felt that the poor quality of the service was the direct result of poor management of the camp. One of the managers, Gwen, was new to the camp and to the profession. She commented that she had never been on a game drive, and that her primary goal working there was to gather material to write a book. The other manager (he was nicknamed "Lucy") was very experience, but did not seem to put forth much effort.
When it was time to eat, the person fetching us from our tent would usually not come up to the door, but just call out. And they tended to use their flashlight to light their way, but it left the walkway in the dark for us.
A new manager, Derek (sp?), arrived on Tuesday and was there at dinner (our second night). Starting Wednesday morning, the service started improving, and we felt that it kept improving during the rest of our stay. Derek was there for meals and to assist all of the guests at any time, and it seemed that he had really taken control of the situation. Our grades would probably have been much better if he had been there the whole time. On our last morning, after the drive, Derek had arranged a special, private lunch for us by the pool. This certainly helped leave us with a more positive feeling as we departed.
Our guide, Thuso, was a joy to be with. We felt we really got to know him more that any of the other guides or staff, and he was the best part of our stay in Chitabe Lediba, by far. We would love to see him again should we return.
Chitabe Lediba review
Superb accommodation and food, with really friendly and professional staff. We were really made to feel at home at this camp and absolutely loved the experience.
Expert guiding from Tuso (and work experience trainee Andrew) with a real willingness to seek out great game sightings without worrying how long the game drive was taking.
A great variety of terrain and habitat meant animal and bird sightings were really varied.
Chitabe Camp review
Our second camp was similar in size to our first camp but was very different both in luxury and experience.
We were met from the airstrip by the camp manager Jack, a larger than life character, who was a fantastic host who was full of stories and hospitality and who remained that way throughout our stay.
The camp had 5 tents but during our stay, only 3 were full. Chitabe had just been refurbished and it showed, with the tents having good design and finished to a high standard. Useful assecories like plug sockets and refillable water bottles were included. The weaknesses of Little Kwara were not in evidence here, with good natural light entering the tent and the outdoor shower being uncovered, with nice views of the surrounding area, whilst remaining private.
Staff were friendly and formal but lacked the family touch of the previous camp which led to a lesser but still a nice experience. Food was not as tasty or served as homely compared to Little Kwara. An evening meal in the Boma was a nice touch and lots of effort from camp staff made for a good evening.
The whole camp was built on stilts providing a safer environment but lost the sense of being in the wild a little because of it. The 'loo with a view' was stunning and watching an Elephant less than 10 metres away from it was surreal.
Game activities were game drives only and our guide was Ebes. The volume and variety of game was impressive and the terrain allowed much easier game viewing providing us with our best sightings, especially of Leopard and Cheetah of the whole trip. However the drives were not as fulfilling or as enjoyable as game drives experienced at the Kwando camps.
Game drives were at a much slower pace and despite the amazing sightings, we were left with a feeling of 'could have been so much better' due to unneccesary pauses in the drives, for example on more than one occasion we viewed Kudu from a far distance (over 100 metres away) when we had seen them earlier at much closer distance.
Our guide was a keen and talented bird watcher (his tracking of a Pels fishing owl was amazing) and despite having no keen twitchers on the Jeep, tried to to instil a bird watching mentality to the drives. This would have been acceptable, if there had been no signs of game around, but this was not always the case. A reluctance to go off road and track an animal, unless a visual had been ascertained was frustrating compared to what we had witnessed at other camps.
Brilliant sightings but one brilliant sighting was tainted by our guide leaving a leopard sighting to go look for his lense cap! Whilst the other vehicles followed the amazing cat we stayed still to search the vehicle for the missing camera equipment.
Overall, we enjoyed Ebes friendly and infomative guiding style and on other trips would have been raving about the sightings we saw whilst with him but unfortunately we were spoilt by the determination of the guides at the other camps to go that extra mile.
In summary the camp facilities were the best we stayed at during our trip and we enjoyed our experiences whilst at Chitabe
Chitabe Lediba review
We were only at Chitabe Lediba for 1 night because Chitabe main camp could not take us for all 3 nights. We had been to Chitabe Lediba in 2009 and my comments remain the same - great concession for game, especially predators, guides knowledgeable and friendly, staff welcoming and good food.
My only negative comment is the camp itself. We were told that it is due to be refurbished in 2011 and it needs it. Compared to the rooms at Chitabe main camp, the rooms at Lediba look very tired and the bathrooms are not the cleanest. Given the choice, I would stay at main camp until Lediba has been refurbished.
Marvellous game at Chitabe
A relaxed, small and friendly camp with excellent game.
We saw 8 leopard incl cubs, on the ground and in the trees with their kill, 8 lion incl cubs, a cheatah and loads of elephant, kudu etc and a llarge herd of Buffalo
Chitabe Lediba or Chitabe Minor?
Our final camp on which we lavished 4 nights. Game viewing was outstandingly good and the, incomplete, list of wonders included mating leopards, parent and young giant eagle owl in daylight, mud bathing bull elephant, a fresh lion kill, bat eared foxes and several hyenas......... In addition the bird photography opportunities were fantastic. However, like Jacana, the rooms are small by Classic standards and again the bathroom was open plan with a singe basin. One consolation was that it was in the netted area. They are to be updated this winter but to what?
A major missing item was a universal charging point in the room. There was a socket but to neither UK nor South African standard. This limitation is overcome in other camps by providing a universal adapter in each room as was available in the central lounge area. Our main criticism lies with the seeming subordinate nature of the camp to Chitabe Main. Our managers seemed to come and go. I think we had 4 in our 4 days. In addition Main seemed to be short of guides so our guide spent a lot of time popping into Main to pick up and deliver 2 guests who had no guide. One of the reasons we choose the smaller camps is that one seldom has 6 people in the Landrover. 10 guests means at least 2 guides for the camp and in theory never more than 5 in the vehicle. Due to the Main camp refugees we had 6 in our vehicle for most of our 4 days. Irritating with constant safety briefings and waiting for late comers but since the guides were not available not a matter for on the spot complaint. Lediba is sold as an idependant entity. We felt it is being treated as a reserve facility for Main camp.
Throughout all this Anthony was a terrific guide. We missed nothing and he is one of the best.
Chitabe Lediba review
It ws slightly noisy from nearby staff accommodation. WC cistern didn't work but we understand that site is to be refurbished next January.
Relatively little game to see but still enjoyable.
As site faces south, there was little sun to sit in during the mid-day break.
Great guiding and wildlife
The guiding and wildlife at Chitabe Lediba more than made up for the fact that the camp itself, whilst nice, is not of the same standard as Selinda and is in need of some updating.
Josie and Kenny were very good hosts and we were sorry to hear that Josie was leaving the bush as she will be a loss to the team. Staff were not quite as friendly as at out other camps but many were quite young and may have been a little shy. There were no service problems at all, it was just that service as not always with a smile.
Food was good - plenty of it and it was nice to be able to help ourselves at all meals so that we did not waste food. Everything seemed freshly prepared and meal times were sociable. We particularly enjoyed the evening that we had dinner around the fire with more traditional local food.
Our tent was perfectly adequate - clean and tidy and nicely furnished. We were told that the camp is closing for maintenance after Christmas and we would hope that this extends to the tents. They are a little tired, particularly the bathrooms areas. The completely outdoor shower was great though and surprisingly private and it was nice to sit on the terrace with babboons bouncing on the roof of the tent.
The guiding and wildlife were the best parts of Chitabe. Newman was our guide and we felt privileged to learn so much from someone who clearly loves nature and seems to know about everything. Newman was retiring and we were just about his last guests but he was still keen to get out early to show us things and share his knowledge. We saw a lot at Chitabe and it was rare to be out for long without a new and exciting sighting of something - baby hyenas at their den, 40 vultures fighting over a dead giraffe, a python wrapped around a poor baby impala and a leopard with her cub. In fact, we saw a different leopard each of the 4 days we were at Chitabe and felt very fortunate indeed.