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Okavango Delta in May 2014 & Lodge Shortlist for Feedback

Melbourne, Australia
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Okavango Delta in May 2014 & Lodge Shortlist for Feedback

Hello Again TA Friends,

Further to my previous posts and with the help of the valuable information I received from everyone…..I have done a lot of research & reading. I’ve come up with a short list of lodges I’m considering for travel in the first half of May 2014 & I would appreciate any feedback on same.

Option 1; Water Camp = Jao; Land Camp one of the following, Little Kwara / Little Vumbura / Vumbura Plains

Option 2; Water Camp = Jacana; Land Camp one of the following, Little Kwara / Little Vumbura / Vumbura Plains

Option 3; Water Camp = Xigera; Land Camp = Tubu Tree

Potentially 3 nights at each camp.

Still working through the rest of my trip, but trying to get the two OD camps decided first.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Grande Prairie AB...
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1. Re: Okavango Delta in May 2014 & Lodge Shortlist for Feedback


I realize this is an old post. Hopefully you still get the reply. I'm planning a similar trip for May of 2015 and wondered how you finalized your trip as you sound like a real researcher (As am I). We are looking at a 3 camp combination of some kind and the current front runners are Selinda, Little Vumbura & Chiefs or Mombo. It would be great to know what you end up choosing and to hear a report after your trip. Good luck and have a great time.

Melbourne, Australia
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2. Re: Okavango Delta in May 2014 & Lodge Shortlist for Feedback

Hi John B,

The camps we finalised on are the Wilderness Camps of Jao & Vumbura Plains, plus also Kwando’s Lagoon camp.

We chose Jao because it is predominantly a water based camp (20% dry /80% wet in May) and we are interested in experiencing mokoro activities. It also offers dry water activities on Hunde Island (transfer required) weather permitting. Motorboat activities are also available. There is also opportunity to see many red lechwe here and the elusive sitatunga.

Vumbura Plains due to the drier nature offers a different experience. (80% dry/20% wet in May). It also has mokoro and boats but here our focus is more on dry safari. Vumbura concession is known as one of the best & most scenic reserves. In dry season it is reported to come close to rivalling Mombo for quality and diversity of game. It offers day & night game drives and walking safari and operates off road as it is a private concession.

Lagoon is again different in habitat. The main attraction for us here is the very good reputation of the guiding at this camp and the opportunity to see wild dogs. The safaris also operate off road, being a private concession and night drives can be taken.

So, if you take a look at a map of the Delta, you will see that these three camps are positioned to each offer something different in terms of location/environment. They also offer different activities and we felt blended together well.

In terms of Mombo – it has an excellent reputation, but we couldn’t justify the price given that they only offer day safaris (so no night drives) and being a protected area, there are no walking safaris offered and no off road driving. The camp is also dry based. For us the expense vs return also applied to Chiefs.

Little Vumbura is surrounded by water and to get to the jeeps for safari you must take a boat. For us, when we delved further, we found that the game drive activity leaves at 7am – therefore missing some activity and the best early morning light for photography. This may/may not be true but it’s the information we came across.

Selinda camp has mainly dry based game drives in May. Day & night drives and walking. It is reported to have a short stretch of waterfront and therefore it is thought that game viewing is more reliable on adjacent Kwando and East Linyati concessions.

We read about every camp, referenced them on a map and looked at activities offered. We also looked at if dry/wet in May. Most importantly we matched the animals we want to see with particular areas. Concession size and guiding was also a criteria.

Suggest you research on many websites to get different views. Also read TA reviews on each lodge you are interested in. Hope these comments are of some help.

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3. Re: Okavango Delta in May 2014 & Lodge Shortlist for Feedback

We just spent 3 weeks at WS camps in the Delta. We were at Tubu Tree, Vumbura Plains, Xigera, Chitabe Lediba and Savuti (in Linyanti). We also visited Joa and Jacana on day trips.

I think your choices are lovely. Personally I liked the "vibe" at Jacana more than Jao, but that's just personal. Loved VP for the villas. Do request to be in the North section of the camp (loved #3 North). Much better views. I'm not certain about your information regarding night drives. Although at VP you can request anything you like, we didn't see night drives as a matter of routine. A typical day was: up at 5:30 am, a full sit-down breakfast before departing on game drive at about 6:30 am. Back to camp at 11:00 for brunch. Rest until tea at 4:00 pm. Afternoon game drive at 4:30 pm until 8:00 pm with a sundowner stop somewhere along the way. Back to camp for dinner at 8:00. So part of your afternoon drive will be in the dark -- returning to camp. In all honesty, we never really saw much on those night drives. Once a bush baby, once a glimpse of a porcupine, once a glimpse of dogs at their den. Mostly the night drives were lots of bugs in the face, hair, mouth, eyes. I found it to be a bit unpleasant for the pay off. The guides don't drive off-road after dark.

Hope this helps with your planning.

Destination Expert
for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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4. Re: Okavango Delta in May 2014 & Lodge Shortlist for Feedback

On night drives- I also didn't really experience these as much of a feature at Wilderness Camps, even though you'd return to camp at maybe 7:30-8pm. I think the reason for this is because you usually only have one guide, and it's not really practical for a guide to drive and operate a spotlight, and spot things all at the same time. So my experience was that mainly we'd just drive back to camp in the dark without even getting a spotlight out. On the other hand, at the Kwando camps where they have guide + tracker, they will get a spotlight out and do a proper night drive on the way back to camp. I found them quite productive- we watched lions hunting one night at Kwara, and saw serval and spring hares.

If Mombo is subject to the national park rules, though, it may mean you have to rush back to camp for 6:30pm. So even though other camps might not really do much of a night drive, at least you don't have to rush back so early.

At other WS camps, if you want to do a night drive later eg after dinner, they can probably arrange it, although I've never asked. Then they would probably take a second person out to operate the spotlight.

As far as Little Vumbura goes, I've also heard the same thing about it being on an island being a bit of a limitation. I hadn't heard it as much about the morning, but I think in the evening they don't like to take the boat in the dark due to the hippos, so you will go back to camp a bit earlier than at Vumbura Plains. I've stayed at Vumbura plains, I forget whether I was at North or South, but whichever it was, for some unknown reason they had a standard start time in the morning 30 mins later than the other half of the camp (and the other camps I'd stayed at). Fortunately I was only sharing with one other lady, and she and our guide were more than happy to go out earlier so we did.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Okavango Delta in May 2014 & Lodge Shortlist for Feedback

SimplyRedMN & stokeygirl,

Great to hear your feedback & experiences also.

SimplyRedMN, thanks for the tip re North section of camp for VP and also appreciated your description of a typical day at this lodge.

Helpful information from you both on the night drives / return to camp also.

Will post a review following the trip.

6. Re: Okavango Delta in May 2014 & Lodge Shortlist for Feedback

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