Reviews of Splash Camp
Wildlife sightings and reviews
38 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Splash Camp and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"Splash Camp review"
"Splash Camp Review"
A little too urban for my taste but very well put together and very well managed." See all these reviews: 8n in Botswana; 1n in South Africa
"Large pack of wild dogs seen at Splash Camp"
The token mokoro excursion was a waste of time, being a short ride along one side of a large lagoon with nothing to see, but the high speed boat ride on the river was exhilarating despite not seeing anything. Game viewings were again disappointing in intensity, perhaps because of the 2 year drought, but we were pleased to have 2 sightings of a very large (25+) pack of wild dogs, despite them just resting on both occasions, as well as a leopard lying in a vultures nest at the top of a tall tree, something our guide had never seen and did not expect to experience again.
Of the 4 camps we visited, this was one of 3 that had trackers as well as guides and we found having a tracker considerably enhanced the experience." See all these reviews: 10n in Botswana; 2n in Zambia
"The main event"
Cabins very nice with outdoor shower and deck with view of watering hole which almost always had animals. Animals walking around the camp, including elephants and hyenas.
Friendly staff, knowledgeable and fun guides, good with kids, and excellent food.
Saw tons of wild life including leopard, cheetahs, lions, wild dogs, elephants, giraffes, etc. Great amenities on game drives including hot water bottles and blankets for cold early morning game drives." See all these reviews: 6n in Botswana; 3n in Zambia
"Splash, a beautiful new camp"
There were more jeeps than at other camps which caused some problems with another jeep blocking our view a couple of times or not being able to go to a sighting because other jeeps had already arranged to go. At times it got frustrating and seemed to inhibit the tracking of animals.
Having said that, we did have some amazing sightings both during the day and during night drives, although the emphasis was on finding the big 5 to the detriment of other species. The highlights were probably hunting with the wild dogs, going to their den to watch their young pups and then at night the highlight was seeing the young leopard trying to get its kill up a tree away from predators." See all these reviews: 10n in Botswana; 2n in Zimbabwe
"Splash Camp review"
For game viewing and stunning variety of landscape there are few to compare with the Kwara concession. We virtually fell over predators every day. We also had a sighting of three lesser seen of the antelope (Sable, Roan, and Eland) all in a line at the edge of a flood area.
The staff are delightful, especially the new manager Rene. He is full of energy and enthusiasm, and a great addition to the team. He has taken over from Charles, who is moving to the renovated Kwara Camp. The guides and trackers are polite, considerate and knowledgable.
My one caveat is that it can be a long walk to your room. The camp is in a crescent. The main area is in the middle. We were in room 12, which was a brisk 5 minute walk along a winding sandy path." See all these reviews: 6n in Botswana
"Splash camp: good game, tepid customer care"
We chose the Okavango Delta for its water experience and while the water activities were still offered, the landscape was parched as this was the second year of drought. The view from the lodge and rooms was dull, dry and flat, a stark contrast to the lively visual excitement of our other camps.
We experienced poor staff interaction/knowledge here: maybe it was cultural but there was little warmth, enthusiasm, or initiative. This is a very large camp, holding up to 28 people, and I’m sure that creates a challenge to staff appropriately. We were disheartened by the tepid environment and the quality of the guides/trackers considering the price point, the well-known Kwando brand and our previous camps.
There was a bar cabinet, but no bartender. Meals were in one long table that can hold 28 guests plus guides. And yet they only had 2 salt/pepper shakers (and two butters and two water jugs) for the whole table! Unlike other camps, we did not get personalized water bottles—they provided glass bottles--and you had to pick up your own bush baby for the night.
Our room was modern, with an attached sitting area, good shelving in the bathroom area, a small deck (though the room is clearly designed to have a longer deck). It was the only camp without universal plugs or USB ports. And they never changed our towels over four nights. As cold as it was, they could have drawn the exterior canvas awnings over the screens to provide more shelter, but they didn’t. We were surprised by what seemed to be unfiltered water that came out yellow and weak. Splash did not seem focused on sustainability as the showers emptied straight onto the ground beneath the chalet. Somalisa, by comparison, has an entire system to recycle “grey water” for the watering hole.
Dining was good and they did well with our requests for no vinegar, mayonnaise or mustard, setting aside special plates for us. Breakfast was porridge, toast, muffins, cereal sitting around the fire pit. Most lunches/dinners were buffets with a starter soup and dessert. Tea was very good with yummy desserts.
The staff seemed dispirited and passive. While some greeted us, others did not. They often spoke to each other in their native tongue while guests were standing there, which felt uncomfortable. It seemed as if they had never been taught about hospitality and customer care.
One night there was a boma dinner. It was very cold. Splash is the only camp of four that didn’t had blankets on the chairs for a boma. I asked for one and was given a disbelieving look and questioned about what camps in Botswana provided blankets. They finally brought two (one for me and one for my daughter) but it was done very begrudgingly.
There was a persistent attitude at Splash of “that’s how it’s done in Botswana”, with requests outside of that standard viewed as annoying and demanding—which is obviously unacceptable at that price point. Notably, our first guide boasted of Botswana as “high cost, low volume,” with apparent disregard for value. We chatted with many guests who were fans of Kwando, and they also said this staff was not quite up to par despite this being Kwando’s premiere lodge.
We struggled with our first guide. We found him to be ponderous, unengaged, uncommunicative. He really liked lecturing AT us: we learned his first aspiration was to be a teacher and we were shocked to hear he’s been a guide for 14 years. During a sundowner, where we could hear another jeep laughing nearby, he attempted to give us a review of Botswana history, with many uncertain dates and details. On the morning of the second day, he was rushing us to see mating lions and slammed into a huge rut that nearly tossed me out, jarring my back so badly it made me nauseous. I was in tears and feared it was serious. Fortunately it wasn’t. My daughter got hit by a branch that almost hit her eye.
We were placed with a group of four travellers with whom we could not build rapport. Since they were seated in the front, we took the third row, where I had comfortably ridden in our other three camps. But this jeep had two large coolers at the base of the third row so you had nowhere for your feet, making it awkward and a little precarious as you weren’t quite stable. One time, I noticed they shoved one cooler under the second row, which helped a lot. But when I asked them to do it again, they were resistant (“this is a bigger cooler; it won’t fit”) instead of eager to please.
Upon our arrival, Charles had (a little reluctantly) developed a plan to give us another guide for a day to do a game walk and a cruise. That plan changed because there was a cheetah on the hunt and we chose to forego the private guide. After the jarring drive, Charles was very attentive and supportive, and provided us another guide for our last day and morning. This made a huge difference.
David was so much friendlier and enthusiastic—he was one of the few who introduced himself to us at the beginning with warmth. Our final days were immensely better: even though we had three flat tires in one day! (Another example of inferior services: I asked my fellow guests who wanted to use my hand sanitizer and David said he did—it was provided in all the other camps!)
The game was pretty good though we never saw a leopard. The best part for us was being around a large pack of rare, endangered painted dogs, including seeing a dozen pups emerge from the den and frolic and feed. We had a nice sunset boat cruise in a channel (very few animals nearby but hippos and an enormous crocodile), and a nice mokoro canoe outing around a pond.
Splash is the only camp in which we felt a little unsafe. There is only a dirt walkway between spread-out chalets, with minimal lighting. At least twice, guests couldn’t get to their rooms in the evening as elephants were all about (this happened to us!). Staff had no weapons and our guide told us about helplessly running away from baboons the day before. While we were walked to our rooms at night, we were unescorted in the wee hours to breakfast, when it was just as dark and unlit as at night, and when lions, hyenas and elephants had just been walking through camp.
(Interesting note: their guides had to work harder and longer than in other camps. They wakened guests, ate with guests, and accompanied guests back to their rooms at night. Other camps had other staff to walk guest, and guides did not always dine with their guests, which is a nice break for everyone.)
Compared to Anabezi in Zambia, which was the same price point, Anabezi was a 10 and Splash a 4.
In conclusion: This Botswana safari was not worth the time, money and frustration." See all these reviews: 6n in Zambia; 4n in Botswana; 3n in Zimbabwe
We knew that these travelers were hoping for an excellent wildlife area, with very good chances of predator sightings in particular, and an Okavango Delta experience. After discussing a range of safari camp options, Splash Camp was settled upon because it combined great animal viewing opportunities and water-based activities at a reasonable price. Splash Camp is located in a dynamic and ever-changing environment, subject to the ebbs and flows of the Okavango River, impossible to accurately forecast or predict. The current year is a dry one: there is low water throughout the Okavango Delta. Hopefully rains will bring some relief towards the end of the year, but this is a natural cycle due to reduced rainfall across northern Botswana and southern Angola and is affecting all of Botswana.
Water activities at all of our camps across Africa are always subject to their being enough water in the rivers and channels. Many safari camps have suspended their water activities until levels are higher. During this visit, the channels around Splash Camp had enough water for the camp to continue offering all of its normal water activities. That said, we’re sorry the place felt very dry.
We are particularly sorry that these travelers felt there was little warmth or enthusiasm from the staff at Splash Camp. Kwando Safaris and the camp team apologised that there were not more than two butters, waters and salt and pepper sets on the table at meal times. There should have been.
In our experience, people from Botswana’s more rural backgrounds are sometimes a little reticent at coming forward. With western eyes, we’ll sometime interpret this as ‘shy’ or ‘stand-offish’. So, these travellers were probably right when they identified this impression as being down to a “cultural” difference, rather than any negativity from the staff team.
Regarding the colour of the water at Splash Camp, the Okavango Delta is famous for its clear waters that are filtered through a vast network of reedbed and sand channels from its source in the Angolan Highlands. This water does contain natural tannins which give it a slight red-brown colour. Though tinged like this, the camp’s water is perfectly safe to use.
We were really sorry that these travellers found some of the seats in one vehicle uncomfortable, due to the presence of cooler boxes. We understand that the guide offered the seat up the front, next to him, as it gives better back support and would be more comfortable to the guest, and that the other passengers offered to change seats, but she declined.
Kwando Safaris were very concerned to find out that these travelers didn’t enjoy their time with their first guide, and have taken their comments with the seriousness that they deserve. They have advised that they will work with the guide on being more attentive and informative on what is going on throughout the activities that he leads, and to be more aware of how his driving affects his passengers. They did clarify that he worked at other high-end safari camps as a guide before joining Kwando Safaris. They believe that these travelers’ note regarding the guide originally hoping to be a teacher was due to mishearing a conversation he had with other guests involving how you become a guide in Botswana. He described that a combination of self-study and enhanced training was needed and he commented that being a guide was a bit like being a teacher.
We were pleased that the guests had the chance to discuss their feelings of the guide with Charles so that he had the opportunity to make changes and try and improve their stay for them. He was able to arrange a private vehicle for one morning drive (where a walk had been planned but they got distracted by a wonderful cheetah sighting), and he was able to allocate a different guide for the remainder of their stay.
We were sorry to hear that these travelers felt unsafe when walking to and from their rooms at Splash Camp. After dark it is very important that a guide, trained in wildlife behaviour and how to interpret it as well as on what to do in a conflict situation with an animal, escorts guests to their rooms to ensure they don’t unexpectedly ‘bump’ into any creatures. In the morning, the camp team thoroughly check the camp whilst they are doing their wake up calls to ensure the area is clear of animals. Because this has been done, the guests are able to walk to the main area unescorted in the dawn light.
It was good to hear that these travelers enjoyed their meals at Splash Camp and that they saw an interesting array of wildlife including cheetah, lions and painted hunting dogs with pups. But we are very sorry that the overall experience was not the highlight to end their holiday that we’d hoped and expected it would be.
"New camp, great rooms - very comfortable"
Game viewing was superb and we were privileged to see a pack of wild dogs at their den and 10 puppies - these are very endangered animals facing extinction, so it was great to see them. Mr T and Matt were great at knowing exactly where to find the wildlife.
Amazing to hear an elephant eating the tree outside our room in the middle of the night." See all these reviews: 17n in Kenya; 9n in Zimbabwe; 6n in Tanzania; 5n in Botswana; 5n in Zambia
"Outstanding experience of a safari"
We had an outstanding guide and tracker, T J and Mike. They tracked down animals with their knowledge and expertise, and showed great delight when finding one (a cheetah). They were knowledgeable and very helpful. T J was less jovial than some guides, but he more than made up for this by his knowledge - giving us tutorials in the field!
Again the accommodation, food, welcome and site were all excellent. I enjoyed being able to see zebra, wildebeest and wart hogs whilst taking an outside shower!
We also enjoyed a boat ride, and canoe ride (mocorro) and a helicopter ride (a surprise gift from our children!).
We saw one cheetah four times (2 at night), multiple lion sightings, two packs of wild dogs (4 and 8 adults) the first with three baby pups, and a small group of hyenas on our last morning!" See all these reviews: 10n in Botswana
Holiday styles & special interests in Botswana
From birdwatching breaks to walking holidays, find great ideas for your trip in Botswana.
Other lodges in Okavango Delta Safari Reserves
Alternative places to stay in this same area.