Chief's Camp (Moremi, Botswana)...

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Apr 11th, 2004, 09:25 AM
  #1
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Chief's Camp (Moremi, Botswana)...

I just read on Taga Safaris website (www.tagasafaris.co.za) that Chief's Camp will soon be offering night game drives. I don't know if that means that the nearby Mombo/Little Mombo will follow suit or not, but it definitely peaks my interest in Chief's Camp. Chief's Camp is 19 kms. away from Mombo and shares Chief's Island.

Here is the link to more info on Chief's Camp:

http://www.tagasafaris.co.za/chiefs-camp-botswana.htm

Although Mombo/Little Mombo probably offer the very best, for half the price one may stay in the same general area (12 miles away) for about half the price. According to www.botswanasafari.info, Mombo/LM is $788 per person per night sharing up until June 30th ($964 pppns in high season), while Chief's Camp is $398 pppns until June 30th ($660 pppns in high season).

Both Mombo/LM and Chief's Camp have 24 beds, so it is not as if one is more concentrated than the other, although Little Mombo has 6 beds and Mombo has 18 beds.

I'd be really interested to know if Mombo will start offering night game drives and how soon it will be before Chief's Camp begins with their night game drives. I will e-mail Chief's Camp for more info.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 09:53 AM
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that would be incredible if night drives were allowed in moremi. Rocco keep me posted in you hear when and how Chiefs will be able to offer the night drives.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 09:57 AM
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What is Chief's camp email address? Do they have their own website?
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Apr 11th, 2004, 10:14 AM
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Clematis,

GOOD QUESTION!!! I just went through six pages of Google and did not find that Chief's Camp had its own website. Guess I will have to go through an agent on that one, unless there are any good agents on this board (hint hint, nudge nudge) that care to take on the question of when Chief's Camp intends to begin its night game drives.

Here is a good link showing a lot of information on Chief's Camp, but please do not use A&K and pay 50% more than is necessary:

http://www.akhotelsandresorts.com/ak...camp/index.php

You know if A&K uses Chief's Camp, then it must be a pretty fabulous place.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 10:30 AM
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I was at Chief's camp last year and I think I recall that they were applying for permission to do night drives. I can find out for you, it will just take a couple of days.

My impression of Chief's is largely dependent on the fantastic managers, Roy and Madeline. I will ask if they are still there. They had the right combo of being warm and real, looking out for your interests, just truly lovely people. They went out of their way and we were only there one night! The first thing they did was sit down with you with a cold drink and ask what have you seen? What do you want to see? It's surprising how many more expensive camps don't do this. I want to say though that the Frommer's description of the camp which is often copied on other sites is not quite right. The camp is not luxurious compared to luxury camps. It is comfortable and wonderful and much less money than the luxury camps. It is nicely understated. Food was good and their pastry chef was the best I found, better than Singita or Mombo. A boma dinner was friendly and lively. We only had two game drives. We chose to go after leopard the first one and because she had had cubs, she was nowhere to be found. Our guide though, tried his hardest. The next ride we chose to give up on that and we had a wonderful ride following a huge male lion while he drank and walking through golden fields, leading us to his young cubs.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 11:45 AM
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LizFrazier
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Clematis-
What am I missing here? You first stayed at Mombo, then went to Chief's Camp. You are the authority as a comparison. Rate them on animal viewing please. I would a million times rather stay at Chief's Camp than Mombo.
I thought that A&K owned Chief's Camp, Stanley's Camp and Chobe Chilwero. Did I miss something rapidly reading the posts?

Rocco-
Each year e-gnu offers a green season special featuring 4 nights at any of A& K's three camps. $213 a night with a 4 night minimum. I think you have to go before the end of March. I would do that in a heartbeat. I'd take all 4 nights at Chief's Camp based on Clematis' stay there last year. I would only go to see Chief's island game as I wonder if it really is better than elsewhere in Botswana.
Sorry if I missed something and sound stupid. I'd hate for anyone to actually see that I might be. Liz
 
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Apr 11th, 2004, 01:34 PM
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Liz - you're correct, A&K owns Chiefs Camp and the other two, but then A&K owns half of (or joint ownership) the accommodations they use worldwide. That's from all those outrageous mark-up on their prices.
 
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Apr 11th, 2004, 02:46 PM
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Hi Liz, I'm hardly an authority, only having been once to each camp but yes, last year we stayed at Little Mombo as well as Chief's Camp. And in addition we also stayed at Stanley's Camp, another camp owned by A&K. (Mombo is owned by WS). We did not book through A&K.

My apologies to the old-timers who have heard this before but at Liz's request I will rate the camps *as I experienced them*. This is important because I believe that camps are like a blood pressure reading - it is only a picture in time and could change quickly dependent on many variables. First of all, the camp management is very important. That includes both the overall company that owns the camp but also the specific camp managers. They are the ones who run the camp, the ones that you will meet and interact with who set the tone for how things are run. They are often but not always a husband and wife team. Of the three, Chief's had the best managers at that time. But all three camps had managers who had only been there a few months. I was told there was a rule/law in Botswana that the managers, if they are not native Botswanans, can only stay at one camp for 3 years maximum.

Little Mombo was a huge disappointment, I thought it would be the wildlife highlight of our trip. Part of the problem was that a group cancelled their reservation in Mombo. That meant that the vehicles usually going out on rides and sharing radio info were reduced to one. Considering the circumstances, they should have sent out one extra car. It would have cost them the gas but all the guides except two were still in camp. On top of that we had a guide who was getting over some serious medical problems and really should have been assigned some easier task than being the only guide (no tracker) for the only car going out game viewing. He was clearly not up to it. Now a better manager would have thought of this ahead of time or fixed this once it was clear it wasn't working. I really didn't want to go through this again so I hope you get the picture. We saw very few predators, no leopards, no cheetah, no cats of any kind except for a few sleeping lions one drive. No wild dogs because even though it was on their website, the dogs had not been seen all year and the managers said, "They'd moved on." That happens but it should have been clear on the sites.

No one can predict the game situation completely but much of this was due to camp management. And the cost was high, maybe $1600 a day for 2 for this kind of gaming! I believe we were charged the higher rate because it was after June 1, so watch how you are quoted. At less than half the price, Chiefs was twice the camp. It just doesn't have the fabulous "tent condo" on stilts that Mombo does, with its wonderful view of the swamp. Sitting on that veranda and watching the changing panorama of buffalo and warthogs feed was the highlight of that stay - it is memorable. However the cold I caught (with a hacking cough) was also memorable when housekeeping forgot to zip up the flap above the bed. I carried that cough all through Africa, and it was always worse when it mattered most. Now we had friends who had wonderful game viewing in Mombo at other times but we ran into three sets of old-timers in Africa who felt that Mombo wasn't as good as it used to be. If I was to send someone for high-end, consistently good game viewing I couldn't pick this camp. I would still consider other WS camps because it's a good company with a great reputation and most of their other camps are priced less.

Lastly, Stanley's Camp. When we were there they were just about to remodel. There was only one other couple in camp, probably due to war jitters. This camp was our most primitive in that it had no electricity in the tents. There was also a 15 minute walk to get to the main camp, so they gave us radios to use in case of emergency. Lots of broken trees within 3-10 feet of our tent from the eles. The sole reason to come here is to do the elephant walk. It was probably the most amazing thing of our safari. It is a 3-4 hour walk with 3 rescued elephants and their very sensitive, intelligent handlers, a couple. They allow the eles to roam and they sleep in a vehicle following them. These people are just devoted to them. At the end you and the elephants arrive to a gorgeous buffet "picnic" set up for you on tables.

The game drives at Stanley's - the animals struck us as skittish. But the most amazing sight was being surrounded by hundreds of buffalo! Our guide, Jacob, was fantastic. A wonderfully personable and smart guy who easily could be groomed for management. And his tracker, Aliss, was quite up on American politics. We had night drives there but we rarely saw anything after dark.

I looked on the website and there's no mention of a remodel and the latest quote is from 2001 so one would have to check to see how they are doing now. If I recall the cost was very low, it was less than Chief's, might have been half. I recommend one night here if you can fit in your elephant walk.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 05:17 PM
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Sorry if I cause a war on Mombo here. I wasn't too clear in my request and I think Clematis didn't know I just wanted to know the animal population difference between the two camps. I know you had some problems with mgt while at Mombo and I don't want to bring up that, however, Rocco and I (not together ) are considering visiting Chief's Camp for the Mombo concession and both of us (individually ) are thinking the animals must be the same due to the proximity of the camps. That's all folks. Just this: Are there as many animals at Chief's Camp as at Mombo at any point in time.

Sandi- I am not planning on booking through A&K. For me, e-gnu offers the best green season special for their camps and that will dictate when my husband and I go. The cheapest rates allow us to make these wonderful trips to Botswana more often. I don't care where I lay my head as long as I can hear hyenas at night, etc.
So if Clematis' post presents a problem, please blame me and not her. I thought I was just as plain as can be, but then I was the one thinking about it. So Clematis, just animal wise, nothing else, can we get a similar experience and save mucho bucks? Thanks Liz
 
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Apr 11th, 2004, 05:28 PM
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Liz,

Thanks for the clarification...wasn't sure if I was running off with you or not until that clarification!

Please let's make sure that we visit Chief's Camp on different dates so that we do not feed the rumour mill!
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Apr 11th, 2004, 06:03 PM
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Oh, Liz and Rocco, an item!
I wish I could just delete my post now. But it's hard to answer your question without the qualifications. Anyway the answer is in there. For me, Chief's was twice the camp in terms of animal viewing at less than half the price. Prince William also chose Chief's btw. Yes, you can save mucho bucks.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 06:08 PM
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DJE
 
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Liz,

I would say that you could probably get a similar animal experience at Chief's Camp. We met some people at Chobe Chilwero who were also continuing on to Kings Pool which was our next camp as well. Afterward they were headed to Chiefs and we were off to Mombo.

We ran into each other again at the airport in Maun and shared our experiences and they pretty much saw what we did and also happened to speak to some guests from Mombo on one of their game drives, as they were driving in the same general area one afternoon.

By the way, the wildlife we saw at Mombo was terrific but we also had the luxury of time as we spent 5 nights there. As Clematis said, the setting is lovely and for me was the best of the three areas. From our tent at Mombo we could see large herds of buffalo in the delta area out front.

One late afternoon as the sun was starting to decline we saw a spectacular sight as hundreds of buffalo in the distance all of a sudden exploded into a mad dash out of the water and this created an incredible massive mist up in the air and with the wonderful lighting at that time of day it was a most memorable experience. We only caught the tail end of this on the video.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 06:21 PM
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Gosh, I haven't laughed so hard in a while. I thought you all would appreciate my humor there, but I've tried so hard to tell Rocco that he doesn't have to stay at Mombo to see how the animal life is in the area. I certainly don't intend to. But then I'm only trying to pass along an idea here. (No not THAT one)

DJE- One evening at Shinde Island Camp we were returning from an evening game drive when we came upon a breeding herd (of elephants), the sun was setting and back lit them. The dust had kicked up all around them and they seemed to be walking in a mirage. The most beautiful nostalgic sight I've seen really. We sat for a long time and watched them as they kicked up the dust and walked along. Those moments happen most unexpectedly and remain forever emblazoned in your mind.
 
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Apr 11th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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Oh by the way, thanks Clematis and DJE. You only stay at Mombo if you are going for the GOLD. I just don't cre for it. Don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but the animal life isn't really the reason is it? No problem, lots of people like the luxury and I have no problem with it. I don't spend my money that way and I yearn for the Delta, that's all. Just be there. One night I was sleeping in a pup tent and my arm was resting up against the canvas side of this small tent when a hyena passed by. I could feel him through the tent as he rubbed up against the side as he passed by. Let me tell you that is a feeling I will carry to my grave. I'll never forget it. Of course it was when I was with Earthwatch and we were at a public campground and there were many wild animals through the camp at night. We had to leave the tent to go to the bathroom. Now I could tell you a few stories about that too. Those memories are still the most vivid in my mind. though.
 
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Apr 11th, 2004, 07:16 PM
  #15
DJE
 
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Liz,

Great elephant moment. Yes these types of special sightings due seem to standout in ones memory. I can still picture it in my mind as if it were yesterday.

Actually we didn't choose Mombo for it's luxury although I quite enjoyed the camp, but our main priority was the wildlife as we were specfically told this was one of the best camps for animal viewing in Botswana, especially in the delta area. At the time we booked Kings Pool I did not know they had completely redone the camp and thought we would be staying in more modest tents etc. like what I had seen on the internet. After the remodel they are definitely not modest and would outdo Mombo in terms of their rooms/tents.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 07:41 PM
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LizFrazier
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DJE-
Now that you know Chief's Camp offers the same wildlife experience, would you consider it? I'm kind of curious because I just don't understand why one wouldn't. Of course Chief's Camp offers more luxury than anyplace we've ever stayed in Africa. I almost feel it (Chief's Camp) would separate me too much from the things that Africa shares with me. Its only that I want to see for myself if Chief's Island offers more or if it is hype. I really suspect the latter. But to find out for myself, I would be more comfortable at Chief's Camp I suspect. We'll see. If they don't have that under $300 rate, I'll never know. It's not THAT important. I'm glad you can stay at such places and that you enjoy them. I just can't imagine that Africa can inhabit one's soul in such a place. It's just too far removed. I hope not.
 
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Apr 11th, 2004, 10:49 PM
  #17
DJE
 
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Liz,

I would definitely stay at Chiefs Camp and see what that area of the reserve is like. If you are considering it BEWARE that it looks pretty posh to me as I took a look at the camp on the web. I can honestly say that I never felt far removed from my surroundings in the Delta, because my tent was more upscale. It still felt like I was in the heart of Africa surrounded by such wonderful wildlife and beautiful scenery.

The only place that I didn't feel like I was in an isolated area was our first stop in Botswana at Chobe Chilwero. A lot more tourists and vehicles in the park and close to the little town of Kasane.
Probably more like the experience of being in Kruger National Park.
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Apr 12th, 2004, 01:04 AM
  #18
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Here is a nice 21 page photo gallery for Chief's Camp:

http://africanadrenalin.co.za/chiefs...lery/index.htm
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Apr 12th, 2004, 04:57 AM
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DJE-
I fear I have belabored this point to exhaustion. Thanks for sharing and I didn't mean to pick on you but you WERE handy and I really don't care which camps you stay in, I just wanted to know why someone wouldn't stay at Chief's Camp. I thought Governor's Camp would be too upscale for us but lo and behold, it is anything BUT upscale. I really like the Botswana camps that are smaller. Well, I would like to visit Chief's Camp and we'll see if they have their green season special next year. I needle the folks who stay at Mombo because they are on a collision course with Wilderness Safaris who will keep raising the rates until they are all but priced out of the market and what with the hype folks will put up with it. That then seems the emphasis is off Botswana and more on the "I stayed at Mombo club". Just my opinion.
Your experience with the buffalo was one I have not heard from anyone else and I think it is a wonderful treat. Liz
 
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Apr 12th, 2004, 05:01 AM
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Rocco-
Thanks for the link. It does look lovely. The aerial view of the camp left me trying to see the Camp. Couldn't. How do you think it compares to Kwara? See, I think Kwara is the kind of camp that is the essence of Botswana. I had that one on my list but I don't know how that will wash out. I think I will drop Namibia and just keep it Zambia and Botswana. I question even Mala Mala, because if flying in is the experience that Diane had at Singita, I think I'll pass. Does anyone know? Liz
 
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