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“A most unique and memorable setting!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Oddballs Palm Island Lodge

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Oddballs Palm Island Lodge
Chief's Island, Botswana   |  
Hotel amenities
Klang, Malaysia
Top Contributor
104 reviews 104 reviews
46 hotel reviews
Reviews in 60 cities Reviews in 60 cities
184 helpful votes 184 helpful votes
“A most unique and memorable setting!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 11, 2012

We were a group of 14 , many of whom were on their first ever safari. Certainly, Oddballs with its spaced out tents, and open air bathrooms was an immediate shock to these city-slickers. Then, at nights, the elephants and the hippos came through the Camp area and that left all of us in shock and awe!! All that noise and they played in the waters near our tents and they pushed against the trees to feed and passed ever so close as we lay in our comfortable beds. With some fearing to leave their tents at night to visit their toilets!! It was an experience we will never forget!

The meals were another memorable event! Many of our Group said the food at Oddballs was the best in our trip of 4 locations. While the range was limited, the dishes were a great reflection of the best they were doing. The ox tail stew was a big winner!

The safari portion was also unique to us--in mokoros and walking with experienced and informative guides. As it was our first stop, every African animal and bird was a new sighting. And that meant that we stopped to enjoy each one for a long while. The guides were great with their detailed explanations and keen to impart their knowledge to us.

The scenery in Okavango was astounding! Such beauty in such a contrasting location. Its green lushness of water plants contrasted so well with the blue skies, clear waters and brown and green vegetation of land. Beautiful photographs here. The skies in the day were all blue without a cloud in sight. At night, the stars lit up the clear sky and the day turns cold, as we gathered around the fireplace to chat and drink before resting up for another great day ahead. Certainly, Oddballs is a place we will never forget.

Room Tip: All rooms are spaced out, My tent #9 has a platform outside in the shade for resting and has great v...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (8)
Date | Rating
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English first
Tampa, Florida
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2012

We had a very nice stay at Oddballs in April. If you are looking for a more intimate safari and lodging experience, this is the place for you. Kitso did a great job as our guide. He taught us a lot about animal behavior, and we always felt safe with him. This was our second safari on our trip to Boswana. One invisions a walking guide with a gun at all times. However, they explained that the risk level increases when guides have guns, as the guides would be inclined to put their guests in more dangerous situations...after experiencing two different types of safaries, I can appreciate the truth in this. Durring our entire stay, Pony and KT made sure that we were taken care of.

The tents are basic, but are very clean and well kept. The linens are fresh and white. The bathroom was an experience on its own...open air with a bucket shower straight from the delta (you have hot water).

At night, you can hear the animals. As you are off the ground, there is no danger. Hippos did stroll through the camp at night; it was neat to see their prints in the sand on the way to breakfast. In the morning, we could hear lions in the distance (miles away on another island)...WOW!

Our typical day started at sunrise. Our guide would meet us for coffee and fresh baked muffins. We would travel by mokroro and do about a to hour bush walk. Kitso, our guide, was good about teaching us about the area as we went. When we got back to camp, we would have a full breakfast (coffee, cerial, fruit, eggs & bacon). We would relax until lunch, and then relax some more. In the early afternoon, we would go out for another walking safari. Our guide was good about taking us to new places. On our last day, our guide took us to his village, which was a great experience.

The pilots in and out of camp were very professional and a lot of fun to talk to.

Overall, this was a fun stay. We saw hipos, elephant, baboons, giraffe, zebra, warthog, wildebeast, and lots of frogs and small creatures. Just as neat, we were able to see a traditional Boswanian village. You will not see as many animals as you would on a driving safari, but it is a different way to do it and you definitely learn alot more. But if you are looking for non-stop animal viewing, you will be dissappointed. There were game walks where we did not see any mammals at all.

Overall, it was a great experience. We felt very close to the environment and really had a chance to slow down our pace of travel as there is a lot of time for relaxing between game walks and meals.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Frederick, Maryland
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2012

Absolutely amazing. Unlike any other experience. Most of our African/safari adventure was spent in luxurous places, but this semi roughing it place was amazing. There were baboons all over the place, hippos and elephants making all kinds of noises outside our tent in the night..a true african experience! Tour guides were amazing, food was fabulous, I long to go back.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2012

What a fabulous, intimate camp. We could not have wished for more. KT and gang met us at the airstrip and took our bags and walked us back to camp. After a very warm welcome, tea and other drinks, we checked into our fabulous tent and unpacked and rested before meeting for our afternoon activity.
There were 5 guests in total at our camp, which made for a very intimate setting. Our guide TK was great, very friendly, knowledgable and informative. We did not know before we got there that we would be on a walking safari. TK took us across the river to Palm Island twice a day for our walking safari. It was very exciting and nerve wracking, you never knew what would encounter on the walk! We saw hippo, elephants, zebra, buffalo, lion, impala, red lychee, and lots of birds. The Odballs staff were fantastic, great food, great company and spectacular scenery. We could not have asked for more. I was so sad leaving.

Room Tip: Tents are very comfortable with deck and net view for early hours. We saw hippo, elephant and severa...
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2012

We stayed here in Sept 2010 for 4 nights and it was amazing! (fyi - I selected Sep 2011 but it was 2010)

We stayed in the basic tents and I love the outdoor shower! It feels like your back with nature. Its not everyday you can shower and listen to the elephants roar or goto the bathroom as fast as possible at night and look out for predators.

Activities
You go out twice a day, morning and before sundown to avoid the hot sun.
You have the same guide during your stay. They will take you out on a mocorro to see hippos, elephants or go walk about (giraffe, pumba from lion king, baboons and a variety of birds). But I would suggest three days, on the forth day the guides didn't have much more to show us.


Highlights
One evening (around twilight) we saw a herd of elephants stroll by outside out tents up close.
The viewing platform is a nice place to relax and enjoy the hippos going up and down the river. One day during lunch we saw elephants crossing the river and they were playing in the water (we even saw some mating!)
The food was delicous and hearty - really yummy food. Even the pilot said that this oddballs had the best food out of all the camps he serviced.
The hosts were very friendly and helpful.

Other comments
I heard from other pple that oddballs wasn't that good after being at other camps but its a great place to start. I love this place and would recommend.
Also there was an option to go out camping with a guide.. like out with the wild animals! I would have but my companions were too scared. One other couple that went out and almost got trampled by elephants but the guide tried to scare the elephants away with pots and pans.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Vancouver, British Columbia
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2012 via mobile

As a reward for 2 weeks of work around Maun we treated ourselves to a day of relaxation at Oddballs. The flight into the camp just after sunrise was breathtaking- the full expanse of the Okavongo Delta is really only appreciable from above. As the plane touched down on a rutted dirt airstrip, getting covered with muddy water with each puddle it hit, our 3 guides for the day rushed forward to greet us.
Oddballs is a charming, rustic safari camp on the southern tip of Chiefs Island, about 20 minutes by air north of Maun. A central reception/bar/dining area sits at the water's edge, and several cottages and tents permanently mounted on raised platforms dot the surrounding area. We were only there for the day, but a quick peek inside one of the tents showed cozy accommodation.
The five of us hopped into three mokoros (hand carved dugout canoes) and our guides expertly chauffeured us through the reeds. My guide, KG, was an expert at spotting all creatures from the miniscule but loud-voiced reed frogs to a single zebra or giraffe hidden in scrub several hundred meters away.
We beached our mokoros and started the overland portion of our day, hiking through brush, swamps, and scrub in search of wildlife. Over the course of 3 hours we spotted elephant, zebra, giraffes, baboons, and the ever present Impala before stopping for lunch and a chance to dry our feet.
We took a different route back to the lodge, and our guides encouraged us to take a stab at steering our mokoros-much trickier than it appears. After 20 minutes of poling in circles, they took the wheel and brought us safely back to camp.
We had a terrific lunch and a couple beer while waiting for our return flight, and we're sent off by our guides with memories of an amazing day.
I would love to return to Oddballs for a couple nights to experience the delta at night and take advantage of overnight camping they offer.

  • Stayed April 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Top Contributor
140 reviews 140 reviews
133 hotel reviews
Reviews in 127 cities Reviews in 127 cities
213 helpful votes 213 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2011

The oddballs camp is well integrated into nature. We saw squirrel, hippo, elephant & plenty of elephant poop, lizards, and even a rat. At night heard, hyena, elephant, lion, hippo, crickets, and frogs. Fish Eagles nest across the channel. The tents and buildings are integrated into the jungle plants and trees. Several buildings had roof line or walls altered to accommodate nature.

The camp food was probably the lowest quality of any of the eight African Lodges in which we have stayed. It was not as bad as dorm food. But don’t set expectations high. Beware, you are charged for all drinks other than juice at meals and filtered water. This charge includes bottled water. The prices are fair. Just be aware they are extra charge.

Accommodations are in small tents. We had #9 which seemed to be in a nicer location than most and was very private. It had a nice view to east over an expansive marsh. The setting was well integrated into trees & vines. The tent was pitched on a wooden platform about 3 feet above grade and high water. Tent was surprisingly cool even in the heat of the day and provided comfortable sleeping at night under soft comforters and sheets. It could be cold in rainy season. There was no furniture in the tent except for two small beds, no chair, no dresser, no work area. There were no bugs in the tent, except for no-see-ems that manage to get past the course netting. Illumination is provided by side windows during day and very small single 12V bare bulb at night. The floor has inexpensive carpet over wood slats.
The bathroom was totally outside and reached by a 3 meter [private] walk from sleeping tent. The toilet is out under the stars. It was a standard flush type starting to show age. The shower is also under the stars. It works by filling a bucket with hot water and then raising the supply with a clever lever and pulley to an elevation higher than the shower head mounted on a post. A garden hose connects the bottom of the bucket with the shower head. This arrangement was free of any grunge, mold, soap-scum, etc. In place of the usual bathroom challenges were a number of insect visitors -- ants, spiders, grasshoppers – and bird poop. Nothing was very menacing. Despite being trimmed each day, marsh grass would grow between the floorboards. And trees would regularly drop their flowers and leaves. Hot water was plentiful even in early mornings after a cold night; therefore we wondered if there is propane backup to the solar collectors.

Charging electronics was problematic. Oddballs uses solar from 2 panels and an array of 3 deep charge marine style batteries. During our visit, the batteries were either not well charged or poorly maintained so as soon as a cloud would appear, charging stopped. It took many trips just to keep gps and camera batteries going. Laptops were out of the question and we left with our computer batteries nearly exhausted. If your electronics won’t stay charged the entire time you are at Oddballs, choose another resort.

Oddballs has three gathering areas in what would be considered the lobby part of the lodge. There are some nice books on Botswana to browse. For the most part, various buildings at Oddballs are connected by dirt paths. As a consequence, the staff was continuously sweeping those areas where there is regular flooring.

While at Oddballs, we took a visit to the local village where most help resides. We were very impressed with how tidy and functional it was. Thinking back the local village looked ‘sharper’ than the Oddballs camp due to management of animal waste and trimming of bushes and trees.

In summary a stay at Oddballs should be considered a budget stay. The facilities were cleaner than many 3rd world budget places. And it’s more functional than full on backpacking. But it’s considerably below the seven other camps we have visited.

Part of the Oddballs experience is the Mokoro Safari into the Okavanga Delta and Moremi National Park. We are camping and backpacking enthusiasts and adventure travelers who spend several weeks on long backpack trips. We also have biking, kayaking, and hiking experience in a couple dozen 3rd world countries. We have hired over two dozen non-native speaking local guides. We contracted with Oddballs for two nights camping in Moremi National Park, native guide, and Mokoro transport. The African adventure was awesome. However we were ¬very disappointed in how Oddballs performed. Based on our broad set of experiences, Oddballs delivery ranks in the bottom 10% [we had one worse]. Here are two specific examples of Oddballs poor performance:

1] – Within minutes of our arrival the local manager named Pony sat us down to discuss “extra charges”, including charges for fresh water. In total these were approximately $150 for 2 nights. We told Pony we had booked “all inclusive” with our agent and there had been no mention of extra charges. Her response led me to believe we that this was neither the time nor place for this discussion. After our return to the US we took the matter up with our agent who willingly provided us the literature that Oddballs had provided to them. In this literature there was no mention of the items for which we had “extra charge”. In fact some of the items were expressly mentioned as “included”. Our agent also contacted Oddballs management who insisted in an email copied to us that these extra charges were well documented. Our agent reimbursed us. To the best of my knowledge Oddballs would not. Future guests …. BEWARE.

2] – The English spoken by the guide provided by Oddballs was barely intelligible. And his ability to understand us was even worse. He would answer every question with “yes”. It was impossible to have a conversation with him. He tried hard to make the most of our private tours, but in the end we feel Oddballs under-delivered. His name was MD. We reported this disappointment to our agent who shared our disappointment with the owners of Oddballs. Instead of an apology, the management of Oddballs asserted in an email copied to us: “His English is perfectly adequate”. Measured against the two dozen of other guides we have hired, MD’s English was the absolute poorest. Future guests to Oddballs, should understand that Oddballs “adequate” is globally a bottom five percent experience.

Apart from the above disappointments, the camping experience in Okavango Delta is superb. We saw plenty of wild life and appreciated the camping and safety skills of a local guide. The food [which we cooked ourselves] was a mixed experience including tasty, hearty, limited, odd, and impractical. On the 2nd day out, we worried a bit about getting sick due to lack of refrigeration. The camping and cooking equipment was well used; and some was not well suited to campfires. A helpful tip for future campers is to be sure to bring bottled water as the water pulled from the camping areas of the delta has a greenish tint and the shores are laden with animal excrement. [On this subject of the water the manager/owner of oddballs was both rude and incorrect in an email he wrote that was forwarded to us. Email us for details].

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Oddballs Palm Island Lodge

Address: Chief's Island, Botswana
Location: Botswana > North-West District > Okavango Delta
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #31 of 46 Specialty lodging in Okavango Delta
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Also Known As:
Oddballs Palm Island Hotel Okavango Delta
Oddballs Palm Island Lodge Botswana/Okavango Delta

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