Reviews of Little Vumbura
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
a magical place
Our 3 night stay at Little Vumbura, after 2 1/2 weeks in Namibia, was the last stop of our trip, and it did not disappoint.
We saw more elephants on the drive between the airstrip and the camp than we'd seen in the previous 2 1/2 weeks, and the short boat ride after the drive is a great way to get to the camp.
The staff are very warm and friendly, the service is excellent, and the food was excellent. The tents are large and comfortable, with the possibility of game viewing from the patio (elephants do visit the island!).
Game viewing was superb, though as always, there is a great deal of luck involved. For example, the morning our guide found a pack of wild dogs, we had elected to do a bush walk (which was rather uneventful, as it turns out). We did hear from others that game viewing tends to be better at other camps (Mombo, for example, and areas closer to Chobe), but we were very happy where we were.
our place in the wilderness
Transfers from Chitabe were very good. It was lovely to arrive by boat at the camp. The whole place had an immediate charm. Lovely tent and very clean. I have no idea why but you really felt you were far from anywhere - delightful.
Very good variety of activity- mokoro, boat, walking and game drives - each of which we enjoyed. The mokoro trip the morning of out departure home was just so relaxing.
It was nice to have one meal when you were left to yourselves (if that is what you wanted).
Food good but is an area which could be improved in terms of variety and choice.
Our guide was young and enthusiastic and there was plenty of game in this area. I never anticipated elephants shifting the tent or waking me in the night by beating their trunks on the roof for the leaves........fascinating to us, but I know some people were worried.
Helpfully the camp had already confirmed our flights before we asked.
The camp is in a lovely setting and the bird life around the camp was excellent but there seemed to be relatively little on the waterways. Although we saw some interesting lion behaviour on the 4x4 outing (tree climbing lions!), we really did not see much at all on the waterbased activites.
It is possible that this may have been due to the exceptionally high water levels this year. Quality of guiding a bit mixed (we had several different guides during our stay)
This is a lovely camp whose location is made all the more special by the fact that it can only be accessed by water. We were warmly welcomed by Adelaide, Boyson, and all the staff and for the next three days were totally entranced by the diversity of the wildlife species accessible there.
Our guide Sevara and trainee guide Piet were both friendly and professional. Sevara grew up in the Okavango Delta and was happy to share with us his extensive knowledge of not just the flora and fauna but also the way of life of people who live in this vast area. He is also a very skilled driver of the all terrain vehicle we used, demonstrating impressive get away tactics when we we were driving off track and came close upon a sizable herd of very large elephants and a very upset matriarch, all of whom decided not simply to charge us but to chase us for some distance. The rest of our animal encounters were spectacular but less adrenalin demanding.
The in-camp highlight was the traditional dinner organized by the staff in the boma area and preceded by singing and dancing which all guests were invited to participate in and of course did. Other camps we visited organized a similar activity but the one at Little Vumbura really stood out in terms of the warmth and enthusiasm of the staff.
Little Vumbura review
This is a water camp, but actually you spend most of your time on game drives, but because of the location you have a 15-minute boat trip to get to the vehicle and back twice a day. At first that is fun, but it gets old pretty quickly and it reduces your time for the actual drive.
They offer mokoro trips here and rides on the boat, but most people only do the mokoro as you get a boat ride every day. The mokoro was fun, as an elephant walked across the river right in front of us and we saw baboons in a tree as well as river life.
However, if we did it again, I would not go to a water camp. Other land camps also seem to offer experiences on a river, and I think that makes more sense.
Expert Africa comments
We passed these comments to the Little Vumbura team, and they commented:
"The floods in to the Okavango Delta have been absolutely tremendous this year and have been recorded as the highest since 1963. A number of scenarios have contributed to this including above average rainfall over the past couple of years in the catchment area in Angola; good rains over the Okavango Delta; and heavy late rains. All three factors resulted in a vey high water table which meant when this year's flood came down in to the Delta, instead of seeping in to the ground it rose to cover a far great area than usual (since 1963).
From an environmental perspective, the high water levels will lead to a fantastic regeneration process for the years to come. From an experience perspective for our guests, Chris is correct in that rather than the normal 40 minute drive from the airstrip to the boat station and a 10 minute boat transfer in to camp, the transfer became a 10 minute road transfer to a new "boat station" and a 40 minute boat transfer in to camp. This new transfer route was in place for most of June and part of July and we had hoped that the beauty of the transfer and the phenomena of the floods would increase the experience for our guests. However for those guests who were visiting Little Vumbura for predominantly the land/game experience, the boat transfers may have felt too repetitive. Little Vumbura is what we call a combination camp and, by virtue of being located on an island deep in the Okavango Delta but in an area where there is permanent dry land close by, it offers both superb water and game activities.
The flood has now pushed its way quite a long way down and as a result the water levels have dropped in the Little Vumbura and Vumbura Plains area and we are now [Ed: comments received on 31 July 2009] back to using our game drive transfer route in to camp."
Little Vumbura review
We loved the camp, friendly staff and atmosphere. By comaprison to the other camps it was a little more reserved in its atmosphere but we only felt this after visiting them all.
Big game a little more elusive but water based camp and mokoro trip were highlight of the stay. Personally, I found the night trip back on the channel in the dark, quite scary but it was one of the features my husband loved the most!
The birdlife was amazing and wasn't something I had anticipated before travelling. Our guide, usually Kay, was a font of all knowledge and really made an effort to show all aspects of the area.
Overall, I found the concept of all staff introducing themselves very friendly but overwhelming. I then couldn't remember who was who and was embarrassed by this. I woudl appreciate if staff always wore their name badges.
Little Vumbura review
Again a very special lodge with excellent service and a fine mixture of wet and dry actvities.
Rain ,our guide , was excellent and his knowledge of birds and passion for the wildlife added greatly to the trip
Resourceful team at watery Little Vumbura
Area around the camp island has more water in it than ever before! Previous guests had been stranded in their Land Rovers in water and had to be towed out. The Company therefore acquired Devil boats from Tuba Tree to cut an access channel through the reeds in the surrounding flood plain so that we could access the camp by boat and circumvent the need for road access. Not ideal experience at night with ++ bugs but the company went out of their way to make guests comfortable and satisfied in difficult circumstances for them.
Shop was the best of all the camps and camp open layout was the best design. Staff exceedingly helpful and friendly - meeting guests on jetty with glass of sherry a particularly nice touch. Suvara the guide excellent with good viewing of lion with cubs and pangolin!!!!
Less game evident here overall, compared to other camps - ?due to prevalence of surrounding water. This should not dissuade others going there. The experience was very varied and a trip to the Delta would not have been representative without visiting Little Vumbura. Lovely camp!
Wonderful start to holiday at little Vumbura
This was my first camp in the Okavango and a truly wonderful start to my Botswana Safari experience. Everybody there made me feel welcome and I loved my time there. My guide Sevara proved so adept in all aspects of his vocation. A great communicator, with a fine sense of humour who really pulled out all the stops on all our drives. We saw very young lion cubs on our first ( all day ) drive and had close encounters with elephants and a herd of buffalo we stumbled on suddenly.
The exceptionally high water levels in the Okavango, did keep some animals like the Sable antelope I had been looking forward to seeing, away but we still saw plenty of fine Kudu and others. The exhilarating boat rides in to camp and the Mekoro trip were great ways to appreciate the delta. Our landrover did get stuck a couple of times in floodwaters but I have great admiration for the skill of everybody in resolving the "problem".
The managers and staff were all first class and it was very nice to see the singing and dancing, and enjoy the traditional dinner in the Boma on Monday night.
One morning the "resident" camp bull elephant made for entertainment as he pulled down branches nearby as we ate breakfast! before promptly wading across the channel into the reed beds opposite
I can think of nothing negative to say about this camp, and if I had to choose afavourite on my trip this would probably be it.
Interiors and exteriors at Vumbura
The flight in from Chitabe flew over the delta proper and it was such a privelege to fly over this untouched and spectacular wildernes; Ireland does not have the monopoly on '40 shades of green' ! Each flight was far more than a taxi link - it was an expeience to rival the land-based drives!
The decor in this camp was beautiful. I was torn between trying to photograph the animals and capture the interiors of our room! All the staff were friendly and very helpful; it was like a houseparty with friends instead of visiting a 'hotel'. As a typically reserved Brit I was initially sceptical of this arrangement but thanks to the lovely staff (Uno and Karen in particular) it was home from home.
Highlight had to be the mokorro ride where we felt we were truly 'in the Delta'. (But watch out for sunburn from the reflections from the water.) Sharp-eyed guides found us Cape Clawless Otters and were patient as we tried to photograph the jewel-like frogs whilst not upsetting the dugout.
We might have appreciated a little more local knowledge/opportunity to seek out more of the Delta's endemic species of birds - as at all camps the emphasis was on the mammals and as birders we sometimes felt that we would have liked support from a local fellow birder eg no-one semed to know if the Pels Fishing Owl was around. (We did find a pair!).
The drives were through lots of high water but Lazarus our guide was an expert off-roader!