Travel & Gourmet

The Mombo Camp: A touch of paradise in Africa

Ever wanted to experience a piece of nature first hand? In infinite steppes, between free-living lions, in absolute peace? Botswana, with its diverse flora and fauna, offers such a unique natural experience, far from hectic big cities, restaurants and shopping streets.
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If you travel from Europe to Botswana, you should travel, because the journey is long and exhausting. But without diligence no price - after all, not many roads lead directly to paradise. In the middle of April this year we are ready to pack our bags. However, that's not quite true, because shell cases do not belong to Botswana. You should travel with a sports bag or a backpack and do without all that is necessary: ​​you have to make do with a maximum of 20 kilos. From Zurich we fly directly to Johannesburg, then with a local flight to Maun in the north of Botswana. From Maun you should definitely be free from giddiness, because here you can get to your destination neither by car nor by public transport. Small propeller planes, which can accommodate six to eight people, fly us to the respective camps; Incidentally, these machines are also the explanation for the strict luggage regulations. It rattles and rattles, but the view of the green grassy areas and the volcanic craters is so impressive that you easily forget the exertions of the plane. When taking off and landing, the aircraft is so close to the ground that we can already admire elephants, zebras or giraffes from the air. We see elephants in enormous flocks, to which several families come together: Botswana has the largest elephant population of Africa.

 

The small propeller plane lands on a natural track in the middle of the steppe, where a guide greets us with Land Cruiser and cold drinks. After a brief introduction to how to behave in the vicinity of wild animals, we jet in the evening sun on the winding roads and keep hearing the warning: "Branches on the side." You have to watch, because beat it again and again bushes and twigs in the face. In addition, it is recommended to hold on well.

 

After about twenty minutes we discover the first lights of the Mombo Camp, which we reach via a very bumpy bridge. For a freshman like me, Mombo Camp is an incredible experience. The welcome is very cordial and there is no lack of refreshment towels or a welcome drink. The restaurant, as the center and heart of the camp, is a real gem. At a distance of 50 meters, impalas, zebras, elephants and wild boars all graze with their offspring - a picture that I will not soon forget.

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In February 2018, the renovated camp, which was extended towards the river floodplain, opened its doors. As part of the new construction, the Mombo Camp has received an even more exclusive atmosphere and the tents - rather small houses with private terrace and a whirlpool - are now more individual than before. But it was important that the camp feels the same as before and still convinces with a new and fresh charm.


Simultaneously with the planning of the new buildings, the opportunity was taken to equip the camp with the latest standards and to make it even more sustainable. Existing elements were reused, such as the massive wooden doors. In addition, the fire bowl, where guests meet for an aperitif, reinstalled and leaves a spark of nostalgia.

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Daily Business
A typical day at the Mombo Camp begins with a ranger wake-up call at 5.30am. At 6 o'clock you will be picked up for breakfast - you wonder why? Quite simply: In the early morning it is still dark and dangerous, because the wild animals can move freely through the camp. The ranger knows the camp and the animals very well and leads us safely to breakfast.


After a light snack, it's on tour in the respective group or alone with the guide. We drive through the cool nature on the Land Cruiser and you can not even imagine that in a few hours an unimaginably brooding heat prevail. Anyone who has forgotten the jacket or shivering, receives from the guide a poncho or blanket, it is really thought of everything.

We drive and drive and watch - unbelievably that our guide knows exactly where he wants to go - but that too is part of the training of the Rangers of Wilderness Safaris. You must know the area around the camp like your own pocket. We marvel at her immense knowledge of history, geography and politics of Botswana as well as flora and fauna.

The Rangers communicate with each other via two-way radios, increasing the chances of discovering the most beautiful animals. Not everyone gets to see the so-called Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo). These animals are under protection and those poaching in Botswana can pay for it with their lives.
 

Early in the morning, we get a hint from another ranger who spotted a family of cheetahs. Immediately we go south. In fact, on a small body of water we find a mother with her three boys. The animals exude pure elegance and hardly notice our jeep. Apparently, they do not see us as a danger, as long as we are in the vehicle, do not get up and behave calmly. We observe the beautiful patterns in the coat as well as the elegant attitude of the cheetah family.

«Our journeys change lives.»

At 10 o'clock there is the first break, in the middle of the wide landscape. After sitting for a long time, it feels good to move your legs and feel the warming sunbeams on your face. Our guide unfurls a grille on the front of the SUV and serves us coffee, tea and biscuits on this beautiful morning. This is followed by another tour - we see zebra herds and giraffe families. It's quite adventurous to drive a jeep through a body of water, praying not to get stuck ...

Around noon, when it gets very hot and the sun burns down, we drive back to the camp. There a great lunch awaits us. In the Mombo Camp, lunch is eaten individually and à la carte: for us there is a light fish from Botswana with vegetables - a highlight! The kitchen in the camp is excellent, here are processed only local food. Incidentally, it should be noted at this point that I have eaten the best beef fillet of my life in Mombo Camp.

 

The afternoon can be used individually. For a tour it is too hot, the animals are looking for shade and do not want to be disturbed. Time for a siesta, then.

At Mombo Camp there is a communal pool, a gym and a small spa. However, you can just stay in his bungalow. From our terrace we have a great view and can observe impalas, zebras, elephants, giraffes and, yes, even monkeys. For a refreshment we hop in the pool and, to be fit again afterwards, we treat ourselves to a nap in the shade.

Tea time
Although Botswana has been independent of Britain since 1966, certain traditions have remained. In our case: the English-style afternoon tea at 4 pm, small sweets or miniburgers, as well as coffee and cake.

 

After a little refreshment we continue to the next tour. This evening trip is my absolute favorite, strengthened glides in the gentle wind through the savanna landscape. Leaves clap in your face and anyone who does not hold on to them is shaken up quite a bit: "Branches on the side", it is said again and again. The evening twilight brings an adventurous touch with it, but also the most beautiful sunsets under African sky.

 

Hit the right note
Equipment and accessories at the Mombo Camp are of the finest quality - and always crafted in accordance with the local tradition and culture. High-quality bathrobes and slippers made of linen show that you worry about every little detail here. The guest should feel as comfortable as possible in his tent bungalow. So, too, the attentive guide cleans my sand-soaked sunglasses - simply because attention is one of the top priorities here. The fact that each tent is equipped with a sun hat, safari bag, umbrella and other useful utensils, is only mentioned at the edge.

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Lunch in the open air
My personal highlight takes place on our last day at the Mombo Camp. After the morning tour, we do not drive back to camp like the last days for lunch, but are surprised by a beautifully arranged board in the middle of the bush. Down to the smallest detail, the table is lovingly decorated and covered with many delicacies: butter tender beef from Botswana, corn salad, halloumi cheese, fish patties and various green salads.

 

tourism
In 1996, Botswana began to operate tourism professionally and has been enormously promoting it for the past twenty years. Today it is one of the most important economic sectors in the country and will undoubtedly continue to grow. After several conversations with locals, it is clear that the focus is still on exclusive travel. Botswana should by no means become a destination for mass tourism. At Mombo Camp, a maximum of twenty guests face approximately 65 people. They all come from Botswana, have been trained by Wilderness Safaris, and are able to provide for their families through this job. Here, too, there is the much cited and everywhere noticeable sustainability - simply soothing!

 

Botswana is a paradise with a fascinating wildlife and breathtaking landscapes that are fertile thanks to the world famous Okavango Delta. A mobile network is looking for in vain. Rather, such a journey sharpens the senses and makes you see more clearly.

 

In short, this journey opens up new horizons. No wonder Prince Harry has invited his Meghan here before the royal wedding.

The expert for your safari
Anyone planning a trip to Botswana should join forces with the sustainable tourism office Rêves Afrique. This Wilderness Safaris partner organizes the entire journey from start to finish, including flights, travel advice, additional add-ons and special requests.
 

Unique and unforgettable: Rêves Afrique assembles tailor made travel throughout the south and east of Africa. All of our consultants with a passion for the Black Continent were traveling earlier than tour guides and backpackers in Africa. They are familiar with every corner and refresh their local knowledge regularly. With their expertise, you can plan the seasonal migratory movements of wildlife safely, so that your desires for comfort, adventures and the magic of nature really come true. Quite simply: so that you can put together your very own dream safari.
 

The environmental organization Wilderness Safaris offers tourism with social commitment to the population as well as sustainability and environmental protection for the country. In southern Africa, the company operates around forty camps.
 

Their goal is to allow guests from all over the world to share the beauty and uniqueness of the special and remote wilderness areas while preserving Africa's natural heritage for generations to come.

Rêves Afrique SA 1, rue de Grenus 1201 Genève
 

reves-afrique.ch wilderness-safaris.com

Image Credits:
DANA ALLEN
DAVID CROOKES

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