Sep 1st, 2004, 04:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 396
Oh also, shifting the date doesn't help since it's already shoulder season (I asked). I hope this is not our last trip to Africa! But we've got a lot of places we've not been yet (though that list is getting smaller), and a lot of places that we want to return, so who knows when the next time will be!

linjudy is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 346
hi kavey,
linjudy is right about the excess cost of mombo over other WS lodges. WS has apparently deceided to charge only 1 rate year round for 2005 (no low, shoulder or high season). i recently quoted a visit for this coming january and the cost per night is about $500-600 more per person than at the other WS lodges. essentially for mombo, you are paying August rates yr round in 2005. it doesnt make a whole lot of sense to me but that is what they are doing. i'm just glad i got to spend several days there in 2004 bc i wont be making it there again at these new rates.
bigcountry is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
Very interesting about Mombo's 2005 rates. Of coursee, many say that Mombo is good year-round, (from knowledgeable wildlife folks) I have also heard that Mombo's very best during the high water that is everyone elses shoulder season. I've also heard that Mombo operates close to 100% occupancy, year round. Amazing numbers. That is probably why WS decided thy could afford to raise rates year round. But we'll see if people who were willing to book Mombo during the hot buggy seasons will line up so quickly when the rates are the same as high season. Hmmm...we'll see how long this flat-season rate thing lasts...but it indeed does make me happy that I slipped in under the wire...
tashak is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 07:05 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 346
u are right on the money. why would u pay the same in Jan as in Aug and have a chance of getting rained on. i would always choose aug over jan. for the same price. one of the only reasons i travelled to botswana in the rainy season was to be able to enjoy mombo at a reasonable price. i was willing to take the risk of getting rained on, dealing with extra bugs etc bc the game was so good. and by the way, mombo was more full than other camps, but certainly wasnt completely booked when i was there in jan. the winter months however are booked far in advance. the discreptancy in my opinion is just going to widen. oh well i guess if i want to visit the mombo concession, i will be visiting chiefs camp (at least for 2005).
bigcountry is offline  
Sep 1st, 2004, 08:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
It will be my mind the equation for camp choices is just the tradeoff between time and money. If you have lots of time, you can chose places that are less luxurious, and perhaps less prolific in terms of wildlife. For each day at Mombo I could spend X days (from 2 to 6) somewhere else. Could that amount of time deliver as many cool experiences as Mombo? Usually the answer is "yes". But for people with limited vacation time and who have the $ to spend they have to cram it into 10 days on safari, and it might make sense to "bet" on Mombo delivering the most intense experiences. That's why I ended up there...I was travelling with a friend with very limited time, and the challenge was making that Botswana trip really worth it each day. Mombo delivered big time (again, no time for tea breaks on the drives!) I think this is one of the reasons Mombo gets so many Americans-- we get such short vacations compared to Europeans.

tashak is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 01:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
As I said in earlier posts, I do not think you'll be losing out by NOT including Mombo, especially on a first trip. Chief's Camp has a good reputation too and I'm sure you'll have a wonderful experience.

Yeah I knew roughly how much more Mombo is to other camps (having been there twice, and trust me, when one saves for 3 years one doesn't throw money around without thinking hard about it) but was unaware of the new pricing for 2005 so was curious as to whether it was $1000 more over 2 nights or 3.

Regarding that policy, I guess it is surprising but at the same time prices are set using the law of supply and demand. Demand for Mombo is very high and if WS are confident that they can achieve occupancy at top rate throughout the year I can understand their decision. They have reworked beds in camps in the Linyanti/ Savuti area too based on demand - Savuti has consistently been one of their more popular camps so they have increased the number of tents from 5 to 7. To do that they had to reduce number of beds in one of the other camps in the concession as the concession gives them rights to sell a certain total number of beds. Again, it's all about supply and demand.

As for WS marketing Mombo differently from their other camps I can't say I have ever come across that.

Generally, my agent has confirmed that US travellers tend to opt for either the 6 paw camps only (Mombo, Jao, Kings Pool), or the Classic camps. UK visitors are just as happy with the Vintage camps. Having stayed in both I couldn't really discern any obvious difference between Classic and Vintage so I assume it must just be about offering two price bands?

I find it hard to comment about the rangers because I have had the most amazing viewing when going out with my combined guide-spotter and the only time I had a ranger was for one drive in Little Vumbura which was pretty disappointing.

The good guides such as Grant were able to spot tiny animals such as MICE far up in the trees, in the pitch black night, whilst driving the car, talking to us AND holding that spotlight! I don't know that a spotter would have helped at all. I think spotters probably can make more of an impact when guides are poorer at spotting perhaps and since all guides are not made equal the need for a spotter varies depending on which guide one ends up with.

Incidentally, ty_ur_on, Clematis is not the only one who found that Mombo standards had dropped for a short while there. There was certainly a 6-12 month period where a number of visitors coming back were reporting very poor guiding standards which resulted in exceptionally poor game viewing (by Mombo standards). It would not surprise me at all that an old-hand visiting at that time would say standards had changed. Luckily, they received enough feedback to understand that the reputation would NOT carry Mombo through unless they did something about it and they seem to have succeeded.

By the time we returned recently standards were very good.

Clematis' poor feedback is just as valid as the good stuff and rightly goes towards the bigger picture.

linjudy, I do think you made the right decision. Like I said, I like Mombo a lot but don't think it's a MUST have on the short itinerary you're doing.

Kavey is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 05:29 AM
Posts: n/a
Throughout this debate, notice that the focus has been on cost, as the major criterion for choosing or not choosing Mombo.

One suggests the cost is too high - another that bypassing Mombo permits a night at Singita. And so forth.

Yes, one has suggested service, and I'm vague on what that conveys, dropped for some brief period, then regained its previous eminence.

But the one we've not heard from is truly the one who counts the most - Mombo itself. I now refer you to for the most recent Mombo newsletter, dated 31 August 2004.

As my old poker playing buds used to say in the frat room, when we should have been studying, read 'em and weep. It occurs to me that I may find it somewhat difficult to ponder the nightly cost as the ranger advises me not to go to the rover quite yet, as the car park is presently full of lions! Have another cafe, and we'll go when it's safe! It's included in the price.
Sep 2nd, 2004, 05:31 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
If anyone thinks that Chief's Camp is a cheaper option, they had better think again. Riding off the coattails of Mombo, Chief's Camp has really jacked up their rates for 2005:

Chief's Camp is now $698 pppns, and this is only $90 pppns less expensive than Mombo's 2004 rates, yet it does not appear to be in the same class as Mombo/Little Mombo. Unless Mombo raises its tariff to over $1,000 pppns, I would pass on Chief's Camp and stay at Mombo.

Roccco is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 05:47 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 346
mombo camp is more than $1000 per night year round for 2005 Rocco. even in january now. chiefs camp is $417 in jan 2005 so there is a remarkable difference in price.
as for travelsahead, i dont question the experience at mombo. it was by far the best experience i have had on safari. what i do question is why someone would pay the same price to visit there in Jan as Aug. i for one surely wouldnt. im not saying WS shouldnt raise the rates there, just that they should do it for the time of year when they are heavily overbooked, ie the winter months, not just move the price up for the off seasons. the camp was not full when i went their jan 2004 and that was with the price much cheaper than the winter months. do u think demand will pick up now in jan with the rates at aug levels. if they marked the price up in aug by 30% i dont see there being any drop off in demand, but jan i certainly do. just my opinion but i for one was planning on visiting mombo each jan and now will not be. so they have lost 6 guests for this yr. i will be signing up for aug when they dont need my demand.
bigcountry is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 06:05 AM
Posts: n/a
I cannot fathom the argument about price and demand, although I respect your right to make it, and probably it does shed some insight.

Call me price unconscious. If a lodge offers what many claim is the best experience, and if in my own visits there that claim is borne out, in spades, then price tends to fade out of the picture.

I travel to Africa knowing, and accepting (easily) that it is possibly the most expensive destination in the world, save climbing some peak and risky toe frost.

I go knowing, and obviously accepting, that price increases are the watchword of the day, in every way, every place.

Now if I were a snob, and pray tell don't tell me I am, I'd see the higher prices as useful for keeping out the riff-raff.

Africa is a special desitination. Trip of a lifetime. It was supposed to be only one trip, lol. Fat chance! I'll drink a drink to you at Mombo. Warning, fun times ahead.
Sep 2nd, 2004, 06:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Bigcountry, I can only assume that WS feel that they can still achieve acceptable occupancy in "low season" despite their new policy of charging full rate year round.

Perhaps though they will find that the demand is not as strong as they thought and revert to their previous, seasonal pricing structure. One has to assume that they have made the pricing change based on assumptions that they will still get the business, since WS have proven themselves to have a fairly good understanding of their business so far.

But, when I worked in travel (mass market tourism in the UK) I recall more than one new pricing initiative falling flat on it's face and the industry hurriedly reverting back to the previous structure so who knows?

Sadly, I won't be returning to Africa for a few years now (unless we experience a big lottery win) so it's all academic for me.
Kavey is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:05 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 346
kavey, you are absolutely right. time will tell. truth is deep down i hope they can pull off higher prices and maintain demand bc ultimately that would be better for the wildlife/environment as botswana maintains its low volume/high price model.
bigcountry is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 396
Travelsahead: Yes, I agree with you that obviously price is not the only factor. If it were, we wouldn't be going to Africa for vacation!

What makes this decision difficult is whether one gets value for the price. Even if one has all the money in the world, it still doesn't feel good to spend a lot and not feel like it's worth it.

Anyways, it's been great to have this debate and hear thoughts on both side. It's exactly what I needed. Thanks.

linjudy is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:43 AM
Posts: n/a
Maybe my brains hold but a single track, for when I see a headline - Wild Dog Update - suddendly I'm willing to pay whatever they ask.

Or to read about guests pulled out of their tents in the middle of the night to watch leopards and hyenas tug over an impala (otherwise known as the McDonalds of the jungle for the M on its rump!), then I leave the check blank and invite Mombo to enter any amount it's cheeky enough to demand.

Access that web site and read with delight. And while there, check out Savuti and Duba Plains. Color me there, as they used to say.

Fun chat, so thanks to all!
Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
So now we can see why WS is so confident that they can raise prices in January...some people are willing to give them a blank check!

I do hope that people will continue to flock to Mombo, because then there won't be such demand/price pressure on the other little gems the rest of us have found. (And yes, I have been to Mombo...)
tashak is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 08:49 AM
Posts: n/a
Valid points. So, why don't you now grace us with a few of those undiscovered gems, just in case Mombo really decides to fill in that blank with an egregious amount. And while you're at it, list each one's PP/PD price for 2004, and the agent handling them. I'd be interested in that information, for next time. Who knows, Mombo might have gone truly stratospheric. Having a gem or two would be useful, but who can judge without knowing the name and location. Your serve.
Sep 2nd, 2004, 10:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 596
Sometimes when someone posts a response to me and I don't know them from the board, I click on the username to see what else they have posted. It is interesting when someone drops in all of a sudden and they have never posted before in any forum, particularly when they are strongly defending a particular camp. Sometimes you find they are in the travel business, sometimes not. Regardless, you can never discount my experience which I give freely here to help other fellow travelers with nothing else to gain. I did not post the entire story all over again because people here - Rocco, Kavey, tashak & Bigcountry I believe - already know it. But it is wrong - absolutely wrong - to say "Mombo will be great, no matter what..." Because I did it and it was not for me or my spouse or the couple we met there. There were other posters at that time as well. As people who've been here know, it was not due to any unrealistic expectations. One small example, they continued to advertise wild dogs at that time and yet when we asked the managers they admitted the dogs had left and had not been seen all year. Not just a few weeks but all year. There is more, much more, involving repeatedly poor choices by management at the time, a nightmare of a guide, etc. Since there was no tracker there, there was no backup system for that extremely poor guide. I had trackers in another camp in Botswana, btw. I won't go into all of it again. We visited several camps of varying price ranges and Mombo was the only one that failed us and even the company agreed (which is why I still feel that WS is a good company). From hearing recent great reports from Kavey and others they must be back on track. But at a price level approaching or comparable to Singita Boulders, I would rather suggest that to my friends because of my experience. While any camp situation is always going to be fluid dependent on weather, quality of current management and animal variables, I look for places where people are not reporting negative experiences.

That is my experience and you cannot argue it away.

Rocco, Chief's Camp was good enough for Prince William. Even if their price were as high, which it isn't, I'd go there again.

I may be offline for a few days as I have to fly to a funeral.
Clematis is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 11:21 AM
Posts: n/a
Travel agent posting here to defend a WS camp? Nope, not likely. I gather your entire experience there was bad, from start to finish, added to by what I gather you believe was some dishonesty on the part of lodge management. No doubt your disppointment grew from moment to moment, until your view of the camp was far off the norm.

The issue isn't whether your report was accurate - I accept what you say. It's just is it relaibale in the sense that others consulting your views may well experience the same thing. We don't know for example whether this was your first safari. Perhaps you went with the desire of seeing wild dogs, and their absense deflated your enjoyment a bit. Did you view it as "we will see what we see" or did you have a list of things you very much wished to see? That could help explain why the experience was what it was.

You may not like what I am saying, but it's valid. I've heard similar stories of disappointment, all of course valid. But the question is how much weight should they be given? I can't say.

But on odds, given Momb's rep and experinecs of many there, I believe one may safely say that an experience at Mombo will indeed be a great one. That's why it's said.

Now, on the issues of wild dogs. We all know game is elusive, and the fact that it is on the property doesn't guarantee a sighting. Thus by going to several places one improves the odds of seeing a particular species. I note, for example, that the latest newsletter from Savuti highlights wild dogs there.

It is too bad Mombo disappointed you. That is all one may say. It is a highly rated first class camp, by any means one may apply, and if anyone reading this exchange has the chance to visit Mombo, jump at it, and forget the money.
Sep 2nd, 2004, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 165
I am glad to report that I have visited Lake Nakuru Park several times and have spotted a leopard or leopards every time. On one trip it was 3 different leopards in a day so that equates to about 40 dollars per leopard. Mombo = 350 dollars a leopard, that is if you are lucky to spot them in the first place. Imagine if you didn't. Then there are rhinos, lions, flamingos and buffaloes in Nakuru, all pretty easy to spot.

The point is I can still have unbelievable wildlife experiences without Mombo. If you want to blow your money on Mombo that's upto you but there are always other alternatives for those who can't afford the silly prices.

Mombo v Chief's camp v Singita or Cape Grace v Roccco's favourite Cape Town hangout ( see I can't even remember the name) - who's the fairest of them all? Who makes you salivate the most? Which one gives you the most brownie points ... earns you the status you so desire? The arguments will rage on forever and ever.

But honestly there is life beyond Mombo and Singita and I guess I am ever so grateful to those camps who try their hardest to offer us their own 'Mombo' at a fraction of the cost.

king is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 02:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
I always find it amusing that those who have a definite opinion on Mombo regardless of whether they are pushing it or deriding it can manage to phrase their point in a way that implies foolishness on the part of those who disagree.

For some Mombo is the be-all and end-all, price is irrelevant, comparisons to other choices are irrelevant. There's an implication that those who miss Mombo miss the point of safari!

Others practically insist that a choice to spend money on a stay at Mombo is nothing more than "blowing" one's money and insist that other places are just the same.

The truth, as always, is not so black and white. When is it ever?

The truth is something in between and the truth is different for every one of us.

It's true to say that $1000 is a very high margin above the cost of other camps.

It's true to say that some travellers who go to Mombo have an incredible experience that beats their experiences in other camps hands down.

It's true to say that some travellers who go to Mombo do not have an incredible experience and find their experiences in other camps much more satisfying.

It's true to say that some travellers who do not go to Mombo have an absolutely wonderful experience at the camps they go to and do not miss out by not going to Mombo.

It's true to say that some travellers who do not go to Mombo are not satisfied with their experiences at other camps and might have been happier spending the extra for Mombo.

What I'm trying to say is that it's not black and white.

I firmly believe that linjudy can have an absolutely wonderful trip whether she includes Mombo or not.

Many, many camps offer experiences on a level with Mombo. Not identical, of course not, but equally satisfying, exciting and enjoyable. And some of these will be much, much cheaper.

Why do some people feel so threatened if others choose different options to the ones they chose themselves?

Linjudy if you choose to go to Mombo, good luck to you, don't let anyone make you feel foolish for choosing to spend your money that way. If you choose not to go to Mombo, good luck to you, don't let anyone feel you have sacrificed your chances of a great experience.

Kavey is offline  

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