Reviews of Old Mondoro Bushcamp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
Again I believe we were poorly advised in our initial discussions with Expert Africa, in which we were discussing the split of time between S Luangwa / L Zambezi. I believe we should have been advised to stay longer at the L. Zambezi.
Old Mondoro was by far the best camp we stayed at in Zambia in all aspects. The Lagoon room was a perfect location especially with the close attention of the one tusked male elephant 'guarding' our tent. One day we were the only ones in camp at lunch time, so they served our excellent meal on the verandah overlooking the lagoon, where we treated to a show of several elephants crossing, a buffalo bathing/eating and our friend the one tusked drinking/eating and bathing only a few feet from us. The highlight of our holiday.
Mentioning diabetes again! Following discussions, they said leave it to us and we'll sort things out. I had some wonderful low sugar sweets (especially the fruit crumble).
Old Mondoro was amazing
We had previously visited Chiawa and wondered if Old Mondoro could match it. We need not have worried!!Read more about the whole safari
Old Mondoro Camp
We enjoyed our stay at Old Mondoro. The camp is in a lovely area and was visited by elephants multiple times each say. At no time were the elephants aggressive - they were there to eat the fruiting pods and to cross onto the islands in the middle of the river. However, at times we were driven to and from our tents just to be on the safe side.
For the first 24 hours the game drives were truly excellent. We spent plenty of time looking at some of the less traditionally spectacular animals like antelope, baboons and birds, which I feel makes for more interesting and varied game drives. We also had a few leopard sightings (including a short sighting of a mother with a very young cub). However, half way through our stay we were joined by different guests and they mentioned to our guide that they really wanted to see big cats. From this point onwards our guide for the daytime game drives got a case of what I call "big-cat-itis" where you charge around the bush looking for big cats to the exclusion of everything else. This is great if you see them, however, it's a bit rubbish if you don't (in this case - we didn't).
One of the highlights of our stay were the night drives. We saw porcupines, leopards, genets, civets and even an aardvark. The guides were certainly good at finding things in the dark, although I suppose the tall trees and open areas really help. They use a red filter on the spotting light for finding animals. However, I did find the ban on flash photography frustrating. I can understand the reasons behind it, however, the jeeps still used their headlights (which didn't have a red filter) and if they came across antelopes that didn't get out of the way quickly enough they would flash their headlights at them. So I did find the ban on flashes slightly contradictory. We took red plastic to put over over camera flashes which helped the cameras to focus in the dim light as the cameras could use the auto assist beams of the flashes. We bought a small role of red plastic lighting gel off ebay for less than £5. The "no flash" rule didn't seem to make the animals any less skitish, or less stunned looking as they would often get dazzled by the jeep headlights anyway. We saw no difference in behaviour from other camps that didn't have this rule.
We also did a river boat trip which was great. We told our boatman that we were really interested in photographing birds and we were the only two on the boat so he did his best and we got some nice shots. We had multiple groups of elephants cross the river in front of us, which was lovely. Seeing elephants in the water is great.
We also did the canoe trip. We found this disappointing. There were three guests on the trip, split over two canoes. However, for almost the whole journey the other canoe went first. This meant that any birds or animals we were trying to photograph would run or fly away when the first canoe drew level with them and the only photos we could get from the second canoe were retreating back or blurred wings. This was made even more annoying by the fact that the man in the first canoe wasn't interested in birds at all and we were. It is just a shame that they hadn't told us before we started that we would be on the second boat the whole times, since if we had known in advance we would have chosen a different activity and gone canoeing on a day when it would just have been the two of us.
The tents were nicely appointed (although I would have liked some shade over the outside bath - you couldn't lie in it for long in the middle of the day without getting sunburnt). The staff were generally helpful and friendly and the food was good.
Nothing to improve!
Old Mondoro is one of those rare places where nothing could be improved. Its location by the Zambezi is stunning, and the rooms are perfectly designed to enjoy the amazing view (watching an elephant from your outdoor bathtub is a rare treat). The food was wonderful and the service, headed by the ever-present Chris, was always spot on.
There is a variety of activities on both land (drives, night drives, walks) and water (cruising, fishing, canoeing), 2 friendly and helpful hosts, Kayla and Jason, and a great team of guides.
Special mention to the canoeing trip and the tiger fishing - the highlights of our stay!
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
Our stay at Old Mondoro was only two nights, but we wish we could have stayed longer. The hosts Kayla and Jason make this tiny 4-chalet camp feel like home. We always felt safe, even with elephants and buffalo wandering through the camp all day, because they kept a careful eye out and even drove us the short distance to our chalets when there were animal visitors about. Elephants wandering by your chalet or the dining area create great photo ops!
Kayla did a wonderful job of planning the menus (she does the planning for Chiawa Camp also), and the food was varied and delicious. The guides and hosts join us for all the meals, which leads to great conversation. The rooms are well appointed, and we were happy to have a charging station in our room for the camera batteries. And hot water on demand is always appreciated. Sitting on the deck outside our room was a great way to relax, with the ever-changing river so close at hand.
We enjoyed the variety of activities offered, even though we only did game drives with Morat and the pontoon cruises. We saw no lions while we were there, but Morat found a great leopard sighting for us on our last morning drive.
Old Mondoro: sunrise over the Zambezi
A high speed boat transfer down the mighty Zambezi from Chiawa to Old Mondoro with Dave Cummings, the founder of these 2 camps and a great conservationist in the Lower Zambezi. He talked about his hopes and aspirations for this part of Africa. His son carries on his work.
A small camp of 5 comfortable rustic wood and bamboo tents set in beautiful green woodland on the Zambezi - in our case we looked on to a canal where elephants came to drink and wash. Like all the camps we visited in Zambia, the main sitting/dining area was a magnificent long-house of wood and thatch. Breakfast was round the campfire watching the sun rise over the river - pure magic. Elephant were impressive frequent visitors.
On drives through the open woodland we saw large herds of bushbuck, kudu, elephant with babies. Another canoe trip down a long canal - breathtaking beauty and peaceful but not without adrenalin, coming into close proximity with elephants, crocodiles and hippo. A birdwatchers paradise: egret, Goliath herons, Fish Eagles, Lilac breasted roller to mention a few.
The managers, Michaela and Jason, and all the staff made us very welcome: there was a good atmosphere.
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
We liked and made use of all wildlife viewing opportunities: boat trip, canoe trip and drives. There are many elephants, particularly during the day when they visited us in our tent and encircled the lounge area. The canoe trip was extraordinary:
the peace and quiet with only the sounds of the many various birds. The boat trip on the Zambezi river with the hippos, crocs, elephants and the vegetation was also very much enjoyed. The evening drives with a low powered red light were a disaster for photography and to a lesser degree also for a guest as it limited the views. Semantha and Levi and their team did a fantastic job in organising and catering including taking care of diabetic food requirements.
Great safari at Old Mondoro
Friendly informative managers, Kayla and Justin and.knowledgeable caring guides Levi and Morat really made theis part of our holiday especially memorable. We saw leopard on our first night drive and then again on our 4th night. The game were plentiful and we got really close. The buffalo and elephants were special.
We felt special too as thee service and commitment from all thee staff team was amazing, exemplified in thee way theey all responded when thee tree crashed onto thee kitchen during lunch one day! Everyone worked togetheer to get thee power up and running and food and drinks flowing. There was hardly a hiccup, Kayla apologised at tea time theat thee biscuits were from a packet! After theat thee routine of lovely fresh food and home baked cakes resumed.
The range of activities is a really plus withe boat trips on thee river and canoes up thee Discovery Channel where you felt very close to nature - thee hippos/ crocodiles and especially thee wonderful birds. The drives were excellent withe lots of animals, apart from thee leopards which were magnificent, we loved thee Aardvark and Porcupines at night thee Kudo, Buffalo and Elephant during thee daytime.
The walking was exceptional withe Levi providing a real insight into life in thee bush and thee history of thee region where he was brought up. We saw lots of game and learnt masses about approaching animals and how to be safe. We always walked in a different area of thee park so enjoyed different terrain and animals each time. Truly we have lovely memories of Lower Zambezi
The elephant wandering round thee camp was a real bonus. They got close up and personal so great photos.
At all times we felt very safe and looked after and I really recommend thee camp, its small and friendly and just great.
Old Mondoro Bush Camp Experience
Having not been down to the Lower Zambezi area before we thought we'd sample this area combining it with a trip to the S Luangwa Valley and this combination went very well. Old Mondoro and Ciawa Camp are a very good experience for a 5/6 night combination stay with Old Mondoro being slightly less plush than Ciawa but only marginally when you look at the finer touches.
The camp is in a very good isolated location well away from other camps for a very nice personal safari experiences for those at camp. Very nice rooms and good main camp area. Very good and tasty food. This camp is very efficiently run by the husband and wife team and offers a good range of driving, walking, boat, both motor lunch and canoes, and fishing experiences. But if going fishing please check on the timing to see when it's best to enjoy this sport.
Certainly the canoe experience is a very nice way to cruise down the smaller channels of the Zambezi and see the wildlife, although some people just before our trip had been worried by the hippos while canoeing. We certainly saw hippos on our trip but the guides were very efficient and the hippos only postured and were no threat. Very good food and good location for an evening near the water on a sheltered platform in a good airy location. They have animals which regularly come near and through the camp including elephant and buffalo and if you're located in the room near a creek you get pretty good views of wildlife during your afternoon siesta.
Good game viewing with some different game to be seen, we even saw an African Wild Cat and also saw porcupines out sunning themselves in the daytime near their burrow. The only issue is that they do not currently have a resident lion pride in the area so lion viewing is restricted to the transient lions who happen to roam though the area.
Great location on the Zambezi
As with our last trip to Zambia we finished off with 3 nights in the Lower Zambezi, this time staying at the smaller sister camp to Chiawa, Old Mondoro. This camp provided a perfect way to finish off our safari to Zambia
Although Old Mondoro is billed as a bushcamp we found the accommodation quite luxurious and the position of the camp on the bank of the Zambezi provides for some excellent game viewing even from the comfort of the deck in front of the tent. Jason and Michaela were exellent hosts and nothing semed to be too much trouble for them serving up a most delightfull stay and making us feel so very welcome.
The accommodation was excellent, we particularly liked the contan hot water available from the gas boiler and as with the other two camps visited the food was of the highest standard. A nice touch was the provision of small braziers under the tables during the evening meals to help keep us warm.
Animal sightings were very much in abundance with once again frequent leopard appearances both during the day and at night. The guiding provided by Sebastian,Levy and Morat was of the highest standard. The encounter with a bull elephant in musth on the way to the camp from the airstrip proved an interesting start to the 3 days. I didn't realise elephants could run so fast !!
The close proximity of the camp to Lusaka makes it an ideal place in which to finish a safari and we would most certainly use it again when visiting the Lower Zambezi.
Can't wait to go back.