Reviews of Old Mondoro Bushcamp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
High class bush camp
We did all but fishing. Walking, driving and canoeing.
This was again a different camp, a bit more upmarket than the others.
Started off with an evening drive, not so much wildlife but a habitat completely different from what we had experienced, and a very beautiful one.
Our guide,Levy, was yet another very experienced, knowledgeable and committed guide. We had a good morning drive with him as well, afternoon was set for a trip in the canoes. We went into what they call "discovery channel", close up with most animals including hippos. It all ended by one hippo attacking and taking two bites of the leading canoe. The incident went very well thanks to the competence of Levy and Peter (the other guide). This goes for the camp management as well. We would not like to have the canoe trip undone.
A very good walk in the morning with elephants on their back legs going for the green branches high up in the trees.
Last day we, all 8 guests, had a surprise lunch out in the bush, very much appreciated. And coming back to the camp we had some 13 elephants around the houses for several hours. Last evening drive we had an exceptional 1 hr spotting and very close up to a leopard - walking and climbing trees, very professionally conduced drive.
The coal boxes under the table during dinner was nice and warm, as the evenings in Lower Zambezi were much colder than in the Luangwa area.
Expert Africa comments
We immediately looked into exactly what happened during the very worrying canoe incident mentioned above. Even though nobody was hurt, the Old Mondoro team has taken statements to learn what lessons they can. They concluded that nothing was done wrong whilst canoeing in that channel, that the guides had acted well, and that the attack by the hippo couldn’t have been prevented on this trip. It’s clear that the quick and professional actions by the guides helped ensure that this was not a more serious incident. Our travellers certainly felt that the quick and correct response from the guides and the entire camp team helped ensure that they enjoyed the rest of their time at Old Mondoro.
This incident underlines of the reasons why we believe that high guiding standards – like those demonstrated in this incident by the team at Old Mondoro – are essential. It also reminds us all that no safari is without any risk, especially canoeing trips like these which take place in the Lower Zambezi and its network of channels, always in close proximity to hippos and crocodiles.
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
The wheels were falling off when we were there. The managers had left (perhaps been fired) and an assistant manager from Caingo was there filling in until the new managers arrived. The towel replacement was terrible. We put a towel on the floor (which I would have thought is a universal code for not wanting to use them again) but the cleaner picked it up and put it on top of a clean towel - making two dirty towels. We put the 2 towels on the floor and again they were hung up by the cleaner. We had a couple of new towels one day and random changing of face cloths but other than that we used the same towels throughout our stay.
When we commented at the end to the acting manager, he told us that they should have been changed every day and that the staff should have understood what putting towels on the floor meant. We could not get reliable hot water and, even after we drew that to their attention and the hot water was "fixed", we still could not get reliable hot water. Showers were unpleasant. (We later learned that in the floods the water heaters had been damaged, an insurance claim had been made, and new water heaters had just arrived and were to be installed after we departed.) We also have to ask for shampoo to be replaced. The outdoor bathtub was fantastic, even though getting it full of hot water was a rather laborious process.
We enjoyed the game drives (though there wasn't as much game as we are used to in Sabi Sand) but the night game drives were a bit of a waste of time unless cats were around, to the extent that we eventually cut them short and asked to be taken back to camp. One night after we had come back to camp early from a rather boring night drive, another vehicle spotted a leopard. We were extremely impressed that Spencer came to our chalet to tell us and give us the opportunity to go out again - we saw the leopard. That, to us, showed the difference between a worker and a professional with pride in their work. Well done, Spencer!
The water actives were great - fishing, canoeing and being taken from Old Mondoro to Chiawa by boat.
Old Mondoro experience
Our third camp on this holiday. We were met by Michael, our pilot, at Lusaka airport and flown to Jeki airstrip in the Lower Zambezi. The only passengers on board, we had a bird's eye view of the river - and what a view! Maurat met us and drove the short distance to the camp. Lunch was waiting for us after which we settled into our new room, on the banks of the river.
Everything about the camp was excellent. There are opportunities for game drives, boat trips, fishing and walking. We chose what we wanted to do and when we wanted to do it. It was also nice just to sit on our deck watching the animals and birds drinking.
Beukes and Jacomine were very attentive hosts. Beukes shared some of his guiding stories around the campfire.
Our very knowledgeable guide was Levy and it was apparent that he is passionate about the environment. Equally knowledgeable, Andrew guided us through the channels of the Zambezi pointing out birds as we floated gently passed hippos. We enjoyed bush walks as well as game drives.
One evening we were about to sit down to dinner when we heard a leopard. Grant (the owner) suggested that we have an additional game drive in the hope of seeing it. We all piled on board the vehicle and went to search out the elusive animal. Great fun, although the leopard was hiding extremely well! We returned to another beautiful meal and fireside chat.
It is the unexpected that we enjoy so much about being on safari. Not knowing what we will encounter next and the flexibility and willingness of staff to do everything they can to make our experience one to remember for a lifetime.
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
Old Mondoro is a very nice bush camp. The chalets are reed and wood structures with an open frontage on the river. There's plenty of room, but it's a very open plan with the entire front open to the river. There was comfortable furniture on the back porch from which you could watch life on the Zambezi unfold – mostly sleeping hippos. The beds were comfortable, and the bedding sufficient. It was rather cold in June, and I appreciated the hot water bottles they provided in the evening.
The bathroom was fine with the shower and separate tub outdoors. The hot water heater was an on-demand water heater, and a bit tempermental – there was tendency of the water heater to shut off during showers, but was fine. The generator runs all of the time, and there are a couple of electrical outlets from which you could charge your electronics, as well, as electric lights in the room. I was advised not to drink the water, and they provide a carafe of potable water in the room.
A nice bonus is that they give you a water bottle to use during your stay for potable water, and which you can take home with you as a souvenir. They also provided kikoys for use during the drives.
It should be noted that the area is very active with large animals. The hippos come by very close, and can be heard calling almost all day. For two days in a row, guests had to stay in their rooms while elephants ate the foliage nearby and around the chalets. We actually considered this a bonus – it's what you come to Africa for, but guests do have to be cautious around camp.
The main lounge area was very comfortable, and was unique in that it had a loading platform for the vehicles which means you didn't have to climb in and out of the landcruisers.
Food was good. It was rather cold in June, and a nice touch was that they provided braziers of coals underneath the dinner table to keep you warm. Hosting was excellent. The camp managers were very attentive and looked after the guests very well.
Guiding was good. I think the game density is a bit thin this time of year, but I think Morat was fairly diligent in trying to track down game. I did enjoy the forest in this area very much – it's such a different environment from South Luangwa. I also enjoyed the boat tour on the safari – the guide was very good at spotting birdlife.
Game drive vehicles are the standard Landcruisers with 3 rows of seats. However, these vehicles have a roll bar over the front cab, which can be good and bad. It's good since it provides a place to steady your camera, but it's bad in that it can obscure your view. They provided bean bags, and there were pockets in front of each seat.
Of note, they use a red filter on the spotlight during night drives. The justification is that the red filter is less blinding to the animals and allows them to act naturally when observed. I must say that I found this to be true during a leopard sighting, as the leopard seemed very comfortable with the red light on him. Unfortunately, the downside to the red filter is that it makes for very poor photography on the night drives. In addition to the strong red color cast, the light output is much diminished, which makes for very slow shutter speeds. I pretty much gave up on photography on the night drives.
I did ask about the use of flash, and they discourage it for the same reasons that they use the red filter on the spotlight – to keep from blinding the animals. It did seem like this is a trend for the Lower Zambezi as we ran into a vehicle from another camp and they even had red filters on their headlights.
I'm not advocating one way or the other regarding the spotlights, but just noting the pros and cons.
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
Old Mondoro proved to be the perfect end to our holiday. This was our first visit to the lower Zambezi National Park. The flight into the Jeki airstrip gave us wonderful views of the magnificent Zambezi valley. Expert Africa had recommended Old Mondoro to us and they were absolutely spot on. We had thought that Sausage Tree camp and Chiawa would be too luxurious/expensive for us. Old Mondoro proved to be the perfect solution.
We were driven to the camp by Reagan and greeted by the charming hosts Beukes and Jacomine. In their first season they are doing a magnificent job. The atmosphere in the camp was terrific and all the staff were extremely friendly, engaging and determined to make sure we had a good time. Our main guide was Levy. He was an exceptional guide and great fun. He made sure we saw all aspects of this beautiful park and was also an excellent walking guide. He was ably supported by Morat and we also much enjoyed the boat trip with Andrew and Peter, incredible bird life as well as game on the river bank and of course crocs and hippos. Although a bush camp, Old Mondoro is not basic, the chalets are extremely comfortable all with views of the beautiful Zambezi.
The camp was full of game, and sneaking tree to tree with our guide to gain entrance to our chalet and avoid 3 huge bull elephants was terrific. We then sat on our veranda and watched them swim across the river in front of the chalet. One point to note, the Lower Zambezi was very cold in the morning and evening in late June/July and much colder than South Luangwa, so go prepared. The camp was perfect but we would have fancied a cup of coffee on the morning game drive rather than a cold drink! Lower Zambezi and Old Mondoro combined perfectly with the South Luangwa camps and we would love to return.
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
First (and sole for our stay) guests of the season. Lovely location looking over Zambezi with a feeling of remoteness within the Park. Rooms well spaced out and of a simple but by no means basic design. Elephants wandering through the camp and wonderful dusk/dawn sounds of the bush.
Guides and camp staff excellent. New management couple from SA for 2011 season who are very welcoming and enthusiastic. Nice surprise of a birthday cake and songs from some of the staff. Game drives and walk very enjoyable but wildlife not prolific in May as the bush hasn't dried up sufficiently to force animals towards the permanent water sources.
Excellent leopard sighthing though and best ever of civet and white-tailed mongoose - largely since red-filters are used at all times on the night-drive spotlights which the animals are comfortable with and don't avoid as with the unfiltered spotlights. Not much good for photos perhaps but we really liked the policy as it gives a much more rewarding sighting when you are able to observe the animals for longer.
Our sort of camp: simple, relaxed and with a primary focus on wildlife. Would return in a heartbeat.
Old Mondoro Bushcamp review
Good, on time flight connections
Friendly, efficient staff at the camp.
Great – everything we had hoped it would be
Old Mondoro was a new experience for us and one that we hope will be repeated again – the managers there [Etienne and Leana] were so enthusiastic it was infectious and they run a very good safe camp with just enough excitement.
Everybody was keen for us to see the very best game. The canoeing a was new and great experience.
Superb in every respect
Old Mondoro had the best table arrangement of our trip.Read more about the whole safari
A lovely finish
We were told this is the only bushcamp now in the Lower Zambezi NP and this explains its popularity. We could only get two nights (and wanted to stay longer) and we met several who couldn't get in at all. It's a small camp, feels intimate and remote, yet is of a very good standard. We hope they don't follow the trend and upgrade it too much!
The terrain is much more open than at Chiawa so the camp offers good land and water activities (with fishing stated to be secondary). It's this wide variety that makes this camp special. We particularly enjoyed the night drives - we shall never forget the leopard leaping over a 7m stream - twice! Well tracked, Livvy.
However, we also had a most enjoyable river trip (thank you, Andrew) and constant interaction with animals (elephant in particular) in the camp.