Mombo or Vumbura?

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Apr 19th, 2005, 04:37 PM
  #1
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Mombo or Vumbura?

We've been planning a 3 night stay at Mombo. Our TA has suggested Vumbura instead. Which would you choose?

(Price isn't an option. We just want the best game and accomodations).
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Apr 19th, 2005, 04:55 PM
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I have not been to Mombo or Vumbura since they have been upgraded, but believe they are both quite lovely now, meeting your best accommodations requirement in both accounts.

For game viewing Mombo does surpass the other camps, including Vumbura, in my opinion. You do have the option of water activities at Vumbura that are not present in Mombo.

Having voted for Mombo, I will be going to Little Vumbura and not Mombo when I visit Botwsana, but $$ was a consideration.

I'd be interested in the reasons your agent gave for suggesting a Vumbura-Mombo swap. Was it availablility or something else?

When do you leave?
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Apr 20th, 2005, 12:21 AM
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Dear travelwmn

I am imagining that your agent has asked you to move to Vumbura as Mombo availibity is really scarce. Please bear in mind in the Mombo Concession you have Chiefs Camp which in my opinion is awesome and the game is fantastic and depending on the time of year you can do water and land activities at Chiefs, and it is every bit the equivelent of Mombo, and for gaming this is a phenomenal area. Vumbura is great as well, but if you wanted Mombo and cannot get it try for Chiefs!
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Apr 20th, 2005, 07:12 AM
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We're going with several other couples in September 2006. I believe our TA suggested Vumbura because it was being rebuilt with upgraded lodging. The price difference is only about $75 per person per night. He also mentioned the additional water activities at Vumbura. I kind of had my heart set on Mombo because of the reports of amazing game viewing. Since I'm kind of guiding the group as to where we go, I want to make sure I make the right decision.

Thanks to all for your insight and help!
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Apr 20th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Travelwmn,

I would agree with you to try to remain at Mombo or as debbi1970 mentioned, Chief's Camp. The only problem with splitting Wilderness camps (Mombo is Wilderness) with other camps (Chief's is Sanctuary I think) is that you can lose some pricing advantages. I believe Wilderness gives a bit of a price break with 7 days or more in their camps.

Maybe your agent is trying to get you the newest property. I would not trade newness for game viewing. You have heard amazing reports about Mombo for a reason.

Are you leaving soon? If so, you will want to commit to space, especially if you are several couples occupying a couple of tents.

Let us know what you decide upon.
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Apr 20th, 2005, 09:34 PM
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I've been to both (Vumbura before upgrade in 2001, Mombo last year.) Both are super, but I must admit that if I had to chose one, I'd go with Vumbura. The game seemed more varied, the water activities were wonderful (Vum has the most beautiful waterways around camp)...and I just thought it was magical. Mombo certainly "delivers" on lion and leopard however...particularly superb for leopard, and the game viewing was so non-stop that on many drives there was no time for tea or call-of-nature breaks! You really can't go wrong with either...Mombo has more "name value" but sometimes that is a negative. The folks I met at Vum were the true Afriholics, and that also added alot to the enjoyment. (Sorry if saying this offends anyone, but lots of visitors go to Mombo for the big-name...)
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Apr 21st, 2005, 12:05 AM
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I'd choose Mombo, myself though I'm sure you'll have a great experience at either.

In 2001 our itinerary included both Little Mombo and Little Vumbura. LV is more of a water activities camp than main Vumbura so it's probably a little unfair to judge main Vumbura from that visit but... although we LOVED the water activities, camp and staff at Vumbura we did not rate viewing experiences highly. It was, however, a magical experience. In all the reading I've done since then (forums, travel press, magazines etc) I've also got the impression that Vumbura is a good, solid area but not a highlight if game and bird viewing is a priority.

On our 2004 visit we included Little Mombo again but visited Jacana instead of LV as our water camp (MAGICAL). Mombo, once again, provided an unparalled viewing experience. We were lucky that all but one night, our fellow guests were definitely as into the safari experience as we were and had not chosen Mombo for the name. The people we met on the last night were complete ****s and probably had but you can't win them all!

It would be good to know what your priorities are:
Game viewing (large, small or all animals)
Bird viewing
Accommodation quality/ size
Food

Unless you are absolutely set on 6 paw accommodation I'd also recommend Tubu Tree (I'd rate it 5.5 paw) and Jacana (standard 5 paw but classic water experience in the wet season) and of course, Mombo.

I'd also recommend Jack's Camp if you have time...
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 02:38 PM
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Kavey, I do think that LV is a different experience. When I went (my first Botswana trip) I was steered toward Vum rather than LV because the wildlife viewing was better there...which makes sense because LV is really a water camp, while V is considered both. On my 2004 trip, I talked to several people who had been at Vumbura (not LV) and they all had their most spectacular experiences there. It made us wonder if we had made the right choice in going to Mombo instead of Vumbura. I do think that Vum delivers more big wildlife than LV, and is a better "substitute" for Mombo. Although I have heard that LV is a truly wonderful water camp, and I do hope to get there...someday...
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Apr 23rd, 2005, 07:26 AM
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Mombo is the top for game, Vumbura is a little behind and with the upgrade will cost about the same so stick with Mombo. u wont be disappointed.
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Apr 23rd, 2005, 07:48 AM
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I just hope that Vumbura does not go the same route as Mombo in not offering discounts in low season. Wilderness Safaris camps in Botswana actually become relatively affordable between November 01st - June 30th, with the exception of Mombo.

Given that Jao, another 6-paw camp, discounts its rate by about 31.5% in low season, I hope that Vumbura follows the same route. I kind of have my heart set on an itinerary that would include Savuti, Tubu Tree or Jao and Vumbura for 3 nights each, next April. Wouldn't that be an excellent introduction ot Botswana?
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Apr 23rd, 2005, 01:40 PM
  #11
 
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Tashak, you're probably right that LV and V offer very different experiences. I guess my thinking is because they are pretty close together so one wonders how this can be the case but then I have read that Chief's and Mombo aren't far apart yet offer different experiences because Mombo is at the edge of the island and animals are more concentrated there so I'm not saying it couldn't be so.
Generally, one has to put some measure of faith in the opinions of the experts, those who make their livings based on photography and documentaries and who require best game viewing possible and I still see them queueing up to film at Mombo but haven't heard much about the reputation of Vumbura.
That said, it's ALL about luck and chance with game viewing and one could have the best experience in the world where one least expected it and be utterly disappointed at a destination seen as a sure thing.
Travelwmm I'm sure you'll have a FANTASTIC experience whichever of the camps you choose!
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Apr 24th, 2005, 06:47 AM
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Kavey said it right:
"it's ALL about luck and chance with game viewing and one could have the best experience in the world where one least expected it and be utterly disappointed at a destination seen as a sure thing".

If it weren't about chance, we could all just go to a zoo. Chance is the very essence of being in the bush on safari. And you'll have the BEST time if you are open to being amazed by every part of creation, large and imposing (ellies & big cats) or small (termites and other tiny things that are an important part of the ecosystem.)

Even terms like "best game" are personal and relative. For some people this means cats, cats and more cats. (I don't denigrate this...I'm a cat-lover who still gets a thrill out of every encounter, but having seen lots of big cats, I really value diversity AND the total experience of HOW the encounter occurs, and the type of behavior we manage to glimpse.)
So when people say "best game" how do we weigh a place that will deliver more lion and leopard (per drive minute) than most others (like Mombo) with a place that may offer more diversity (lion, leopard plus cheetah, caracal, etc)? Each person has to think about what they are looking for and choose for themselves. There is no "BEST" for everyone...just need to figure out what is most likely (given its all up to CHANCE) your own dream experience.
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Apr 25th, 2005, 01:17 PM
  #13
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After reading all of your suggestions, I spoke with the other couples and we finally made a decision. We're going to add a day to our trip and visit both camps: 2 nights at Mombo and 2 nights at Vumbura. We didn't want to miss out on the game viewing at Mombo, but loved the idea of staying at a water camp as well.

Here's our itinerary:
1 night Jo'burg
2 nights Mombo
2 nights Vumbura
3 nights Chobe Chilwero
3 nights Vic Falls
2 nights Singita
1 night Jo'burg

Thanks again for everyone help!
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Apr 25th, 2005, 03:29 PM
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travelwmn,

That worked out well! The best of all worlds. I think your friends will thank you for encouraging a longer stay. I'll be interested in your comments and comparisons upon your return.
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Apr 25th, 2005, 07:04 PM
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Oh my goodness, that is a killer itinerary! Gives me the chills just thinking of it...lucky travelwmn!
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Apr 26th, 2005, 12:48 AM
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Sounds great. I think Vumbura main is predominantly land activities with some water ones available so it's a good way to get a taster of those.

Do bare in mind that Mombo accommodation, whilst luxurious, is a very different ball game to Singita. I haven't been to the latter but have read a lot about it and seen many images too. Mombo is beautiful but still about offering a tented experience, there will be spiders, bugs and so on even in the tent but the tents are roomy, beautifully furnished and offer great views...
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Apr 26th, 2005, 07:24 AM
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Has anyone been to Vumbura Main Camp recently?
My trip was in 2001, and at that time, guests were offered whatever activity they chose (drive, mekoro or boat) each morning and afternoon. So one could choose all drives, all water, or mix it up. Once I chose the boat (for photography)...no one else did, so I had the boat all to myself (with a guide and assistant). That kind of flexibility is real luxury! And the waterways around Vum are extraordinarily beautiful.

Anyway, I wonder if they still do this...or if that, like guides and trackers on every drive at Vum) have gone by the wayside...

Might be worth checking with WS about their policies before making a decision. Because if main Vum does offer this, they are a true "do everything" camp.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 04:20 PM
  #18
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Kavey- We realize that although it's a beautiful camp, we will be roughing it somewhat at Mombo and Vumbura. Having traveled to Chobe and Moremi before, I must admit that life without A/C will be tough. I got through it last time and will again -- the game viewing is just too wonderful to pass up! That's why we're doing the Botswana camps first -- it'd be harder to switch from A/C and electricity to the basics than the other way around. Singita should prove to be a nice comfort stop at the end of a long adventure. I must admit that I'm not looking forward to the bugs, though. On our last trip to Londolozi, we had big fury spiders (at least 3 inches in diameter) hanging out in our bathroom. I had to take an extra shoe with me to kill a few every time nature called!

tashak- I'll take your advice and contact WS regarding their activity policy. It would really be wonderful if we could pick and choose like that (especially with such a large group of us -- we might have a little individual flexibility).

Thanks again. This board and its members are an invaluable source of information. I owe you all so much!

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Apr 28th, 2005, 09:47 AM
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Tashak we had similar at Little Vumbura in 2001 which meant we chose fishing one morning and were the only ones. It was essentially a gentle and wonderful boat trip through stunning Delta waterways with an hour paused in a wide open area of water to try our hands at fishing (for the first time in our entire lives).
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Apr 30th, 2005, 11:26 PM
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travelwmn, we hit many of the same places you did on our trip a couple of years ago. We started at Victoria Falls first (great place to get over jet lag), then hit a different camp, then Little Mombo, Chiefs, Singita, Cape Town. From the sounds of Kavey's latest trips, Mombo is living up to its reputation now. But when we were there, we had a very poor guide and the game viewing was minimal. A woman who had been there three years prior said she was very disappointed. An old-timer to Africa we met at Chiefs said he'd heard this before. We never saw cheetah, leopard, any kind of cat other than some sleepy older lions. I also didn't like the poison spray that's used in the tents. The view from the room was great but my main focus on safari is the game ride. At the time I went others were also posting about disappointing stays at Mombo. But it seems as if things may be back on track now. I suspect there is different management at Little Mombo now as well.

We loved Chiefs but for us the game viewing was the best at Singita, of all places. My spouse wanted it for the luxury but we saw leopard twice (one was considering an attack, the other had a kill up in a tree). We saw cheetah families twice and a pride with 2 month old lion cubs. Also saw hippos on land twice, one with a baby, plenty of eles, rhinos up very close, warthogs mating and many other animals. We felt Singita did a great job of putting people together in the car and we are still friends with one couple we rode with.

Next time I go, I will inquire as to who the management team is at camps I'll consider. They really set the tone for the camp and your stay.
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