Set in a very scenic area, Pom Pom camp is one of the oldest camps in the Okavango Delta.
Pom Pom Camp: Our full report
Situated on Pom Pom Island, on the western side of Moremi Game Reserve, Pom Pom Camp overlooks the reed-fringed Pom Pom Lagoon, which is covered with water lilies and popular with hippos. Renovated in early 2012, this nine-room tented camp lies in a very scenic area where swathes of floodplain grasslands are dotted with small islands of Acacia woodland – typical of many people’s image of the Delta.
Pom Pom’s large, thatched main area is divided into three open-fronted sections: a help-yourself bar, two comfy lounge areas and a dining space dominated by a large teak table. Next to the latter, you’ll find a tea station with a selection of teas, coffees and herbal drinks. The decor is neutral and simple with splashes of colour and local crafts added to good effect. It’s cool and shady - great for relaxing during the heat of the day; and warmly lit at night by spirit lamp chandeliers and interesting ‘bird’s nest’ light fittings. A large tree trunk at the centre functions as a low display ‘table’ for curios, and a separate curio shop stocks other local crafts including hand-woven baskets. On our last visit in November 2015, we were a little disappointed to find that the main area looked tired despite the renovations only a few years ago.
In front of the main area, steps and a ramp lead down to a sandy terrace and a firepit overlooking the lagoon, where the camp’s mekoro (traditional canoes) are usually kept. Hammocks and loungers are dotted about in the shade of terminalia and jackalberry (African ebony) trees. Here Pom Pom plays host to vervet monkeys, baboons, bushbuck and a variety of birds including red-billed francolin and black-collared barbet (whose melodic duet is often heard in the early morning). To the side of the main area is a small 1.5m deep swimming pool surrounded by loungers and chairs. Sandy paths lead from the main area to the tents and guests are always escorted after dark as wildlife does occasionally pass through camp.
The nine tented rooms at Pom Pom Camp were renovated in early 2012. The spacious new rooms are structured, double-shelled Meru-style tents; elevated on wooden platforms. At the front of each is a deck overlooking the lagoon, with an outdoor table and chairs providing a peaceful spot to enjoy the views and birdlife. The outer shell of the tent forms a shaded lounge area with desk and armchairs. Meshed doors lead into the bedroom where comfortable twin beds are backed by a freestanding slatted headboard. Crisp white linen is brightened with colourful throws and cushions. At the foot of the beds are wooden chests, which create a handy space for storing luggage. Whitewashed floorboards lend the room an airy feel and an overhead fan and large mesh windows supply a cooling breeze.
Drinking water is placed on a small bedside table and reading lights are fitted to a simple wooden frame above the headboard. Behind this is the en-suite bathroom. Twin washbasins and a large overhanging mirror stand opposite a wooden wardrobe and a canvas walled toilet. Through a rear door is the open-air shower, enclosed by canvas sides. Here you’ll find a towel rail with fluffy white towels, toiletries (soap, body lotion, and shampoo/shower gel) and a lantern for ambient lighting. Other room amenities include a laundry basket, washing powder for undergarments, a digital safe, mosquito repellent and coils, insect spray, and an air-horn in case of emergencies.
One the chalets is a family unit , consisting of two interlinked bedrooms with a shared en suite bathroom, that would be well suited for families with younger children or friends travelling together.
The honeymoon chalet has an outdoor bath with a lovely leafy backdrop in addition to the outside shower. It is also located furthest from the central area for more privacy. Although having said this, when we last stayed here, we found that we could often hear snippets of noise and music from the staff village, which is relatively close to this end of the camp.
Pom Pom Camp offers a variety of safari activities including 4WD safaris (day and night), mokoro trips, fishing and walking safaris accompanied by an armed guide. On our last visit in November 2015, we had some very good game viewing, including a lucky sighting of a rare white rhino mother and calf, which were incredibly relaxed around the vehicle allowing us to get some great photos! We also spotted several small herds of elephant, a big breeding herd of buffalo, numerous zebra and giraffe, and a pride of four lions with two playful cubs out on an early morning patrol. The game drives at Pom Pom are conducted in open-sided Land Cruisers with three rows of seats. The camp have advised us that they aim to limit the drives to six guests (so everyone has an outside seat), though they do take up to nine when the camp is busy. However, on our last couple of visits, although the camp wasn’t full, there were seven guests on our game drive so we’d suggest a private vehicle for travellers wanting a more exclusive experience.
While we’ve experienced some good and diverse game viewing, we wouldn’t regard this area as the most productive in the Delta. The guides also commented that sightings aren’t consistent and explained that in the wet season big game such as elephant, buffalo, giraffe, rhino and lion migrates away from the area in search of larger tracts of dry land (pom pom means soft ground in the local language). This fits in with our previous impressions here, as far back as 1992 when one of the Expert Africa team first visited.
On a previous visit, we tried the mokoro trip that was idyllic; led by entertaining and informative guides. We haven’t had a chance to assess the walking safaris; hence we cannot recommend them personally so we’d suggest that our travellers stick to the mokoro and 4WD activities.
In terms of guiding at Pom Pom Camp, our experience has been inconsistent. Visiting in 2008 we felt that the vehicles stayed for too long with a leopard, harassing him. In contrast, on more recent visits the guides stayed a respectful distance from the wildlife. On our stay in November 2015, we found the guides to be enthusiastic, knowledgeable and engaging, striking up a good rapport with guests. Hence we’re optimistic that the guiding has improved over the years.
Our viewPom Pom Camp is a good, reasonably economic, option to enjoy the Delta’s scenic environments and great birdwatching. The game here is variable, so come for some of the Okavango Delta’s loveliest scenery and mokoro trips. And if you approach the 4WD safaris with moderate expectations you might just be surprised! The camp’s ambience is laidback and friendly but we felt that the service fell short of the attention to detail shown by other similar sized Delta camps.
Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights. We’d usually recommend three nights for most camps in the Delta, but because of Pom Pom’s variable game viewing we think that a two-night stay could be fine here.
Directions: The camp is accessed by light aircraft – a short 20-minute flight from Maun or 1½ hours from Kasane. From the airstrip, it’s a five-minute transfer by 4WD to the lodge.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Under One Botswana Sky
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our last visit to Pom Pom Camp in November 2015 we found that the quality, presentation and selection of food were good overall. Meals are generally served as a buffet and guests are all seated together. Private dining can be arranged on request.
A light breakfast of cereal or porridge, muffins, fruit, yoghurt, toast, spreads, juices, tea and coffee is served before the morning activity.
For brunch, on return from the morning activity, we were served a tasty bobotie (a spiced mince dish with a baked egg topping), yellow rice, a variety of fresh salads (including beetroot, spinach and apple, and mixed bean), homemade bread, cold meats, cheese and crackers, and a fresh fruit platter.
On our first morning, we arrived in camp a short time after brunch, and were offered a plated lunch of cold spaghetti and salads, which was on the bland side but we appreciated the effort to accommodate us.
Before setting out on the afternoon activity, tea time consisted of cheese straws, short bread biscuits and watermelon slices, along with iced tea and a selection of hot drinks.
Dinner is generally three courses. To start we were served a delicious aubergine gratin. This was followed by a buffet spread of beef stew, baked fish, basmati rice and mixed vegetables (broccoli, green beans and stuffed gem squash). The dessert was an apple sponge that we felt was a little stodgy.
We were offered red or white wine with our dinner, and house spirits were also available. After dinner, drinks were served around the campfire.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All drinks are included (nothing is stocked that guests have to pay extra for).
Birdwatching: Being close to the water, and some extensive floodplain areas, the birding from Pom Pom Camp is excellent. Notable sightings might include wattled crane, Pel’s fishing owl, slaty and black egrets, and black coucals.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Pom Pom Camp welcomes children from the age of 6 and offers a family tent that sleeps up to four people in connecting double and twin rooms, with a shared bathroom.
Property’s age restrictions: A private vehicle is compulsory for families with children 6 to 11 years old. For safety reasons, children under the age of 12 are not permitted to do the mokoro trips and nature walks are at the discretion of the guides.
Special activities & services: No special activities or services are offered for children.
Equipment: The camp doesn’t provide any special equipment for children..
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Pom Pom Camp for children aged 12 and up, unless the family is willing to pay for a private activity vehicle.
Notes: Children at Pom Pom Camp must be under their parents’ supervision at all times as the camp borders a lagoon and is not fenced from potentially dangerous wildlife.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: The generator runs during the day and goes off at night when a low-wattage lighting system in the rooms is powered by a bank of batteries (recharged by the generator). The fans in the rooms are also powered at night. Generally there is no power in the rooms during the day. There are no plug points in the rooms, but a cabinet housing sockets and adaptors can be found in the main area.
Communications: For all intents and purposes you should consider yourself out of contact. There is no cellphone reception, no direct phone or fax and no email. In an emergency, radio contact can be made with the main office in Maun.
Water supply: Borehole
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: All the managers and guides are first-aid trained and there are full trauma kits on site. The closest doctor is in Maun, which is a 20-minute flight. In an emergency, the camp has access to Medivac. Please note however 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 Pom Pom Camp is not fenced against potentially dangerous animals, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. There are air horns in the rooms for use in emergencies and the manager’s house is close by.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside each room and in the communal areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included at the camp – excluding undergarments. Washing powder is provided in the rooms for guests to wash personal items.
Money: There is an electronic safe in each room. All major currencies are accepted, including US dollars, British pounds, euros, South African rand and Botswana pula. MasterCard and Visa are accepted but not Amex or travellers’ cheques. There is no fee charged for credit-card payments.