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Mombo Lodge, Elephant Safari in Vic Falls?

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I am currently planning a trip to South Africa for next December. As it stands now, we will start the trip by visiting the Victoria Falls area, then go to Mombo Lodge. I would appreciate any information that might be available.
Firstly, in the Victoria Falls area, I frequently see a half day elephant safari listed. Has anyone personal experience with it? I would love to do game viewing, elephant back, but my previous experience in another location was more like a trail ride.
I have seen several posts on this board about Mombo Lodge. Otherwise, the only current information I have is the travel industry websites and Paul Augustinus. Everything that I have seen so far is very positive, but I would love to get some more personal experiences. It would be a significant amount of time and money, so I would like to have all the information I can get. I have tried to visit other boards, to see the members contributions, but haven't found any other boards that are very active that would be applicable to these questions. If anyone has references to other message boards pertinent to the above, or general leisure travel, the information would be appreciated. Thanks for your time!
Bob

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    Last May I went on the elephant back safari at the Elephant Camp in Victoria Falls. It was a morning long, followed by lunch. As for game viewing, it was minimal, and the ride was, as you say, more like a trail ride. This was fine for me, as I had never ridden an elephant before, and we had plenty of game viewing on the other portions of my trip. Who knows, maybe we hit an off-game-viewing day, but the Camp was very nice and the people who run it were very professional, and the day alltogether was very informative. However, since you have already ridden an elephant, you might want to check on the experience with another company (if there is one), which might have more game viewing, although game viewing is always partially a function of luck anyway.

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    Bob
    What kind of info on Mombo are you looking for?
    I have posted on it in other threads here recently, but if there is further info you would like, please ask here or email me.
    I loved it and we are going back for our 10th wedding anniversary, which isnt till 2004 when we can afford it!

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    Thanks to both of you for taking the time to reply. I have read the posts mentioning Mombo Lodge, and that is part of the reason I am seriously considering it for December. I guess that at this point, I am just trying to broaden my base of information. I think that my current questions are just about logistics, and I will email the wildlife safari people next week. Please correct me if you see a flaw in my reasoning.
    At this point, I will fly SAA from Atlanta to Joberg, connect the same day with a flight to Victoria Falls (to rest up from the trip and have some good scenery). I plan to check some luggage at Joberg airport (with SAA or the airports checked luggage service--anyone have experience with this?). I plan to take some disposable clothing to Vic Falls, shedding it to get the weight down for small aircraft transfer. After 2 days Vic Falls, transfer to Mombo for 3 nights. The reason I am looking at Mombo is: 1. it is the only place I have found that has a good probabability of game viewing-at the camp and on game drives in December, 2. It appears that after their yr 2000 construction it is relative luxury, 3. It is convenient to my itinerary, 4. It is connected somehow to the Wildlife-Safari group-and I have read good things about them.
    I will be returning to SA via Joberg, so the area aroung Joberg could be a viable alternative, except that I have read that in December it is hotter than Botswana, game viewing is drastically reduced and it becomes overrun with South Africans on holiday. I know there are some very luxurious camps/lodges in the area, but the relative luxury is secondary to the game viewing and ambiance. After the 3 night stay in Mombo, we will stay in Joberg 1 night, just long enough to get our luggage out and catch a flight to Cape Town. We plan to spend 4 nights in and around Cape Town, ending in Port Elizabeth. Transfer to spend a day and night in Pretoria to reposition ourselves to take the Blue Train to Cape Town. One more night in Cape Town and return to the US.
    One thing that has been a little confusing is that I read on some posts and travel industry websites that December is low season, and a person can get great rates at the gaming lodges. I always travel the last 2 weeks of December, and am used to having to pay the premium holiday rates, all over the world, so I was not surprised with the quote for my Vic Falls/Mombo package. Any thoughts on this? I am just assuming that the last part of December is high season for every travel destination that is highly desirable, and that some information is old news, and that with the new Mombo Lodge, perhaps it does not have a low season. It would make sense to me, because because from what I have read, it has more consistently good game viewing, great facilities and moderation of weather and rain compared to other areas. One question--is there a place on the internet with pictures of the camp and the "tents interiors?"
    Thanks for taking the time to read. I appreciate anyones views.

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    Hi Bob

    I understand what you mean about the prices but Mombo is apparently fully booked year round, and you sometimes has to book almost 2 years in advance to secure the exact dates you want.

    It's worth it. Certainly in June we could not believe, still can't believe how much game we saw, and not just saw but stayed with for hours at incredibly close range.

    Unless you have a specific list of things in Cape Town which you think will take four days, I personally would consider making Mombo 4 nights and reducing Cape Town by 1 night.

    Though, that is based on the sheer volume of game we saw in Mombo.

    If you prefer smaler intimate ambience go for Little Mombo which has 3 "tents" so maximum of 6 guests, compared the othewise identical Mombo just down the walkway a kilometre, which has 9 tents and 18 guests.

    Lastly, I think it's Wilderness Safaris not Wildlife Safaris which runs this camp, though I may be mistaken.

    Kind Regards
    Kavey

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    Bob

    I forgot to answer the last part of the question:

    http://www.wilderness-safaris.com

    Then go to

    Our Camps

    From the Select Botswana Dropdown select Mombo

    There are some pictures there, and also a link for More Pictures.

    Kavey

    (I just love looking at this site every now and then to remember it all... not that I will EVER forget)

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    THAT was an enjoyable interlude as I reviewed all the pics.
    They also have the new pics of the Rhino conservation project we were told abut but which hadnt started when we were there. Rhino are no longer found on Botswana but Wilderness Safaris are part of a project to reintroduce them.

    I tell you, talk about wanting to win the lotter more than ever...

    And no, I have nothing to do with the company, I just adored the experiences we had!

    Kavey

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    I have recently returned from a trip to Southern Africa in December, I believe I can answer all of your questions.

    Where are you planning to stay in Vic Falls? We stayed at The River Club in Zambia and loved it. A description is on the same website as that for Wilderness Safaris:
    http://www.wilderness-safaris.com
    Or, if you want to get a jump-start on your game viewing, I would recommend the Matetsi Safari Lodge.
    http://www.ccafrica.com/destinations/zimbabwe/matetsi/default.asp

    We checked luggage at the airport in Johannesburg: you take the elevator to the lower floor. It was excellent, and it cost me about $35.00 for two bags for a week.

    You will not need a lot of clothing at the wilderness camps. The staff does laundry for you (included) every day, except for underwear -- due to cultural taboos. In December it will be warm, so you will only need shorts and Tshirts and one pair of long pants and sweatshirt -- and maybe something a little nicer to wear to dinner.

    You are misinformed about Mombo being the only camp where there is a possibility for gameviewing. ALL the Wilderness Safaris camps offer excellent game viewing. We went to King's Pool and Jao and Chitabe and Varumba and Jacana and Duma Tau and saw game at every camp. There are not huge numbers of every animal in every location, because in the wet season there is water everywhere, and game scatters because they do not have to concentrate themselves around the water pans. But the guides know where to find game. It's fantastic.

    Mombo is one of the most beautiful and luxurious of all the camps in Botswana and it has the most incredible diversity of game. The camp has also been well-publicized and, for this reason, it is very hard to get a reservation. Jao Camp is similar in layout and amenities, although it doesn't have the same profusion of animals that Mombo does. However, you would certainly be very comfortable there. Another camp that I would recommend to you is Duba Plains, where there is a huge resident herd of Cape buffalo and a large pride of lions that prey on them. Your chances of seeing a "kill' there are very good. All the Wilderness Safaris camps have great ambience, wonderful food, fantastic service. Everything good thing you have heard about Wilderness Safaris is true -- they are wonderful.

    Another place that I recommend that you look at, since your major interest is game viewing, is Mala Mala near Kruger National Park in South Africa.
    http://www.malamala.com/
    It is a short plane ride from Johannesburg and the game there is incredible. The accommodations are quite luxurious, with real concrete structures not tents, and air conditioning. This in no way detracts from the wilderness experience. I saw "The Big Five" in my first day there. In fact, the game drives at Mala Mala were the most exciting of all!

    As far as December being low season, "holiday" time is always high season, even when it is really low season, you know what I mean? But I think December is a great time to go. During their winter (high season: July-Aug-Sept), it is very cold in the morning and at night. The grass and vegetation turn brown. The water dries up. In the summer, everything is green and lush. It's beautiful! You go out on the game drives and you "hunt" for the animals. It is an wonderful adventure. You will have a wonderful time.

    Just a word about the Blue Train. the train is fabulous, but the scenery between Pretoria and Capetown tends to get very monotonous -- looks a lot like W. Texas -- at least until you get real close to Cape Town and into the Winelands. Be sure to visit the Winelands. Stay at Grande Roche in Paarl, Gorgeous.

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    Sandy... I will be staying at the River Club in Namibia in June. The photos do look wonderful. Did you take any of the excursins listed? Did you hear anything about the visit to a small village?

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