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Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

london
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Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

Having just returned from a safari to Nxai Pan, we were shocked at the state of the ablutions. This campsite is run by Xomae group (office in Maun) - they also run the Third Bridge campsite in Moremi which has received equally shocking reviews.

There is disgusting environmental damage going on at the Nxai Pan site. Elephants had clearly caused the damage, but the toilets have been left broken and unlocked for several months with no action taken. If you flush the toilet, you excrement goes straight out the back of the building and on to the ground. You as a camper, would have no way of knowing this at the time as the broken toilets remain open.

Other problems:

Sink pipes to drains broken

Septic tanks damaged and leaking raw sewage

Building waste strewn all over the site

Broken locks

Dirty dirty toilets and sinks and showers

No toilet paper

Hot water has been down for months and no attempt to fix looks imminent

Solar panel damaged

electric cable exposed - beware with your kids

This campsite should be closed - suggest all avoid booking it..... or any business with the company that runs it until they take responsibility for it and clean it up or hand over the site to someone more capable.

Pretoria, South...
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1. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

Hi Bloke,

I cannot agree more, and since my last trip to Nxai, I haven't had the chance to post on the disgusting situation there.

While we were at Nxai, 3 big ellie bulls managed to find their way through the "elephant-proof" maze, and ripped the dishwashing taps off the wall and pulled the drains to pieces. Prior to that, they had already damaged the sewage systems and grey water tanks, and absolutely no attempt had been made to repair anything. The maintenance staff simply looked on and had no idea (or intention). This was months back.

The hot water situation, cold water situation, broken toilets, raw sewage, no toilet paper (well, when the locals see no use for it, they can't be expected to see why visitors should need it) ... all a pretty shocking state of affairs.

I used to know the manager of the camp, and he seemed to be doing a better job than some, but I haven't seen him for a while.

On a previous visit, we were sitting watching a really great lion sighting at the waterhole in the early morning, and DWNP staff arrived, chased the lions away, and starting digging a new waterhole (well, one started digging, 5 watched him digging, and 5 watched for lions).

Nxai Pan is one of my favourite places in Bots, but it, like several others, has become a shambles.

Xomae is a disgrace to Botswana (Third Bridge is not so good either, and I'd rather not share my last experience there regarding staff behaviour, as this is a family-friendly forum). Really a disgusting state of affairs.

Kwalate is no better, and I once phoned the MD to complain about the state of his campsites (South Gate and Ihaha) only to have him put the phone down on me. I complained about the lack of toilet seats, and he told me they were stolen by hyenas (who also managed to clean the mounting points perfectly as if the toilet seats had never been there LOL!). We also had raw sewage running through the campsites, and every non-working toilet had simply been locked (I think one campsite, with 16 toilets, had 3 toilets operational, but had no water because the guy had forgotten to fill the water tank - and more than 100 people in camp).

However, thanks the generosity of the European Union, we have these wonderful facilities, even if they've been trashed (the buildings were all a gift of the EU to the Botswana government, who privatised them before they were even finished).

Oh well ...

The only way I got any action was to contact Botswana Tourism, and they inspected the sites, and all the repairs were done and toilet seats fitted and toilets repaired, etc. but sadly that initiative has not been followed up.

I try use only SKL campsites wherever possible, but it's so sad that some of Bots' best campsites have gone to rack and ruin.

Edited: 02 January 2014, 17:21
Naracoorte
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2. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

The last time we were in Botswana we camped in Moremi and it was just prior to the 'upgrading' of some facilities (South Gate is it called?) ablutions were about 50% done. Must have been about 5 years or so ago? There was no water and no toilets operational but we had to stop there as we arrived just at gate closing (we had a booking anyway *sigh*) When we got to Third Bridge the next day I was horrified. I am not that easily shocked but the ablutions were totally unusable - absolute filth and it was all I could do to hover over the toilets. Unlike lots of other campers who had just used the nearest bushes around the perimeter leaving behind their toilet paper everywhere! The showers looked like a place to catch a disease. Xakanaxa was somewhat better but still not up to scratch and the ablutions weren't cleaned in the three days we spent there either. When I had a conversation with a Botswana local at Planet Baobab a week or so later about the experience he waffled some rubbish about funds and management. Which may have been relevant but as I said, 'How %^&*ing hard is it to clean a toilet? It's not rocket science!' Which left him rather peeved as he wandered off. Very sad to hear that these pervasive problems persist - it seems a complete breakdown of responsibility and accountability from those concerned. :(

Florida
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3. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

This sounds positively horrible. We have reservations for both sites in September. Please tell me the name of the company to avoid and what would be an alternative for Nxai Pan?

In Moremi we have stayed at Xakanaka and Kwai and will be there again in September. Should I give up Third Bridge and add a day to the other two sites?

Pretoria, South...
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4. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

Tryhard, when you visited about 5 years ago, the EU had donated a few million to build decent facilities at all the public campsites and entrance gates to national parks. I think maybe 15-20-odd complete "villages" were built, which included ablution facilities for guests and big staff villages for staff (and their families, and now their friends).

These facilities had not even been finished off before they were privatised, and "given" to well connected friends, who simply turned some of the campgrounds into trash heaps (as you've seen here). Problems like no water, broken solar panels, unearthed sewage systems, broken pipes, broken toilets and showers, locked toilets (because they are broken), raw sewage running through campsites, are quite common, and camp management staff rarely do anything to repair things.

Xomae (who runs Third Bridge and Nxai Pan) and Kwalate (who runs Ihaha, Xakanaxa and South Gate) are particularly at fault, and regularly overbook their campsites (in fact I think I've been to some of their campsites where they're 50% overbooked, and one has to share a campsite - well, that's not good news when you've travelled several hours through thick sand to get there and there are no alternatives to be had, and your campsite companions have also booked in good faith, believing that they also had a private campsite - it doesn't really matter who booked first or second). Ihaha, Xakanaxa and Third Bridge are notorious for double booking.

I try only to book SKL campsites (who operate Savuti, Khwai and Linyanti). That's not to say I haven't experienced any problems at their campsites, but because of the manner in which the staff and management have addressed complaints and I believe they run quite a professional operation. It IS nice to find clean ablutions, toilet paper and toilet seats, working toilets and showers, hot water, working soap dispensers, garbage bags in the bathrooms, and occasionally lighting systems that work. And nice to find a manager around who actually does care to do his/her job. Not 100% of the time sometimes, but 95% is not bad.

Unfortunately, many of the beautiful campsites are in the hands of those who simply don't care and have no appreciation for what's required or expected (you cannot expect someone who doesn't use toilet paper or need toilet seats or lights in the bathroom, to provide these things for someone else, even if they are tasked to do it).

Part of the problem was that the facilities provided weren't always appropriate (they were designed with western concepts in mind, and lots of money was wasted) - LOL, it's ok, the intention of the donation was good, even if the utilisation was poor!

I don't know what the solution is. I've addressed it with Botswana Tourism in the past (and it resulted in at least toilet seats being fitted at most campsites, and decent concrete tables and barbeque stands being installed at some), but that was after complaining AFTER my visit.

In the meantime, though, I'll try get hold of one or two of the Botswana Tourism officials and alert them of the increasing problems. I won't be returning to their campsites for a while now (I prefer Namibia these days, whose privatisation of public facilities has had a reasonable measure of success, and where good standards are maintained).

So maybe just go to these campsites prepared for the worst and then be pleasantly surprised at any luxuries you get (like water). LOL!

london
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5. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

The name of the company that runs Third bridge and Nxai Pan is Xomae. Hopefully by September we will see a huge improvement as reports are slowly drifting into the inboxes of BTO, the wildlife department, the minister and I am sure by now the president.

There are few alternatives for these campsites especially in Nxai Pan. The last thing needed is for tourists not to come....but by sending complaints to the right people these problems will hopefully be sorted out before then.

The reports about campsites being used for 2 groups and the whole facility being more than 50% overbooked are true. Even people that just turn up late without a booking are being squeezed into corners of already occupied campsites.

So if you make a booking and want to be sure of at least some form of privacy....specify that you want your own site. Demand your money back if you feel ripped off or the facilities provided are not in good order.

If you have any complaints or issues with Xomae or any tourist facility in Botswana please send them to:

http://www.botswanatourism.co.bw

Somerset West...
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6. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

I'm shocked to read this since we stayed at south camp (Nxai pan) for 2 nights during april2013 and the abblutions were in excellent condition. The toilets at Baines boabab were broken and disgusting.

texas
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7. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

ok this scares the hell out of me as i am planning a trip. was hoping to rent a 4x4 with camping equipment and enjoy the great outdoors. can y'all make suggestions of campsites that meet decent standards anywhere? is this what i can expect throughout botswana? are there any reasonably priced lodges or hotels? seems like anything i had looked at made new york city seem like a bargain.

Florida
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8. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

Maybe Bushkid would know about some community CG that are nice and cheaper. We have stayed at NP campsites in Botswana and they were ok. most had solar powered hot water and clean toilets, like Xakanakah and Khwai in Moremi and Savuti in Chobe. No complaints. That was 2012. So maybe things have changed. Will be there again this September.

Botswana is a high-end tourism place and so even campsites are outrageously expensive. Usually we payed $100 for 2 people to camp on a piece of dirt, but in a great location, with maybe a concrete table and maybe a water tap nearby. Hey, this is the price and I happily payed it since it got me close and sometimes really close to lions, ellies, leopards and all the other critters.

Namibia is cheaper, but less wild, you will be fenced into camp, whereas in Bots, the animals may walk freely through your campground. It's a thrill if you are into that sort of thing.

Maun, Botswana
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9. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

The DWNP privatised all the Camping sites some time ago. Unfortunately some of the new managers are not reaching levels of service expected by International clients.

These are a list of all the campsites and the contact details for the companies that manage them:

1. Kwalate Safaris (Southgate, Xakanaxa, Ihaha)

Tel: + 267 6861 448, kwalatesafari@gmail.com

2. S.K.L Camps (Khwai, Savute, Linyanti)

Tel: +267 6865 365/6, Fax: +267 6865 367, reservations@sklcamps.co.bw, sklcamps@botsnet.bw

3. Bigfoot Safaris (Central Kalahari, Khutse) – www.bigfoottours.co.bw

Tel/Fax: +267 395 3360, reservations@bigfoottours.co.bw

4. Xomae (Third Bridge, Nxai Pan South, Baines’ Baobabs)

Tel: +267 6862 221, fax: +267 6862 262, xomaesites@botsnet.bw, www.xomaesites.com

5. Khwai Community Trust (Mogotho)

Tel: +267 6801 211, fax: +267 6801 210, khwai@botsnet.bw

In addition to these there are HATAB camping areas that are used by Tour Operators, but they do not offer ablution or water in most cases.

It is to Botswana's eternal shame that decent, well run camping sites are not widely available. This may be a result of the Botswana Government's desire to attract 'high end' tourists who are prepared to pay the very high prices, in an attempt to limit the number of tourists and the impact they have on the environment.

Farnborough, United...
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10. Re: Nxai Pan South camp should be avoided

Hi! Peter here from UK. I would like to make comment regarding remarks concerning Xomea. From first hand experience and a close friend who is a proffessional guide in the Okavango Delta. The operations manager Rachal Ntshwarang is a very experienced and dedicated proffessional with over twenty years experience. I first encountered her at Chobe GameLodge. Racheal went beyond the call of duty to make clients stay and experience a life long one never to be forgotten. I for one will never forget her vast experience and personal skill at her job. It certainly will never be forgotten. Regarding comments on south camp. These in my view are negative, one has to remember that the magestic elephant is in its natural habitat and is very destructive. That is how we want to see it.These camps are deliberately designed to not deviate away from the natural wonders and surroundings of Botswana. Do you want a Berlin Wall round it. In other words we view the wild life in its habitat. If you want mod cons you should holiday in a Five Star Hotel and vist the zoo. It is not easy to have repairs carried out the same as in a town. Supplies and tradesmen have to travel distances, and to remark that the toilets were not in order for 10 months is beyond me. They could have been damaged by the elephants many times over that period. I would strongly praise Rachael and Xomea. Do not let these negative reports put you off. It will not put me off returning. Thank you Peter.