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Wilderness Safaris Kings Pool Camp
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All reviewsgame viewingthe riverwilderness safariswild dogsprivate plunge poolmain areamale lionrooms are largedining areaoutdoor showerclass actwildlife experiencevery special placebar fridgewonderful lodgedip poolrooms are lovely
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Reviewed May 15, 2013

I had packed my stuff up at Zarafa, and was sad to leave, but another leg to my adventure awaited me at King’s Pool. I took a ride in a Land Rover for about 20 minutes before we stopped at a large body of water. On the shores there was a boat waiting for me. The man driving the boat reached his hand out and introduced himself as Gerard – the manager from Duma Tau Camp. He asked me how my stay at Zarafa was? “Absolutely Amazing!” I noted. He fired up the boat’s motor “We figured you’d been on enough planes in the past couple of days so we are going to take a boat to Duma Tau Camp and drive you from there to Kings Pool Camp.” This was yet another instance of how well Wilderness Safaris operate - they make sure that there is never much repetition… no leg of your trip feels like another. I was excited to see King’s Pool which I knew from reading was located in the Linyanti wildlife reserve on the western boundary of Chobe National Park. However, I did not know how it would compare to the other camps I had visited: Chitabe, Mombo, Vumbura Plains (North), and Zarafa. As we cruised towards Duma Tau, I felt refreshed. The mid morning air whipped through my hair and cooled my skin from the hot African sun. As we skimmed along there were hippo everywhere. As we approached their heads went under water. We continued passing loads of game along the shore. We eventually pulled the boat up to a dock at Duma Tau, a newly rebuilt classic Wilderness Safaris camp. Here we hopped out of the boat and bellied up to their bar for a refreshing beverage. A man strolled in and introduced himself as Dea. I introduced myself and asked him if Dea was short for something else and he replied, “Yes it is, my name is Yombi-Dea.” Yombi Dea was a skinny man, with glasses. He had a huge bucktoothed grin and was one of the politest people I had ever met. Yombi Dea was to be my guide at King’s Pool, and he was also in charge of driving me from Duma Tau to King’s Pool. We hopped into the Land Rover, he turned the key and we were off. I noticed that he had a green star pinned to his safari shirt; I recognized this as the mark of the ZCC, the Zion Christian Church. I said, “you’re a member of the ZCC?” He replied, “I am indeed, how can you tell?” I responded, “I saw the green star, I had a guide at Zarafa who had the same star on his shirt and he explained to me what it was.” He laughed and replied, “Your guide was Isaac?” I responded. “Yes, you know him?” Yombi Dea laughed and said, “You could say that. We grew up in the same village.” I responded, “Well I don’t know what he was like when he was young, but I do know that he was an amazing guide.” Yombi Dea laughed at this and informed me that he didn’t know Isaac all that well when they were growing up, but he’s heard a lot of people say that his guiding skills are fantastic. We continued towards King’s Pool spotting lots of game along the way - several herds of elephant, impala, kudu, giraffe and lots of other small game. Upon arrival at camp I hopped out of the vehicle and was immediately greeted by a man named Alex. Alex was an extremely tall - probably about 6 foot 8 inches. He strongly resembled the basketball player, Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics. He asked me how my stay had been at all the other camps I had been before this. I replied concisely, “Amazing, so far.” He replied, “Ahh, a common answer.” I then followed Alex to the main lodge as Yombi Dea took my bags to my room. I walked into the main area and noticed a rather large bar directly in front of me, a dining area to the left and a lounge area to the right, filled with several large couches. At the far side of the lodge it dropped onto a deck that was facing out towards the Linyanti River and King’s Pool lagoon. I noticed a good number of Hippo in the water just beyond the deck. I sat down with Alex and he went through the usual motions - the history of the camp, how to stay safe, and the signing of the indemnity waiver. I then indulged in some iced coffee and light snacks. Walking to my room with Alex he pointed out several places where the boardwalk dipped down so Elephant and Hippo could cross without damaging the walkway. Upon opening the large wooden door I was absolutely delighted. The room was large, comparable to the room at Mombo and Zarafa, and much larger than the room at Chitabe. Walking into my room the bathroom was on the right, behind another wooden door. Straight ahead was a large elegant bed and beyond a lounge area with a couch and desk. To the left was an unbelievably elegant double shower and just beyond that a large bathtub. I walked closer to the bed and looked to my left, through the screen walls I noticed the large wooden deck with plunge pool and outdoor shower that facing King’s Pool lagoon. Past the plunge pool was a sala - a covered area with a mattress, perfect for reading books while enjoying the beauty of your surroundings. I thought to myself, “is this room nicer than the one at Vumbura Plains?” I didn’t have an answer. The room was spectacular, but so was the one at Vumbura Plains. It was then that I noticed the small crocodile just off of my deck and the pod of hippo in the water beyond him. I thought back to my time at Vumbura Plains and remembered the elephants outside my room there. Alex left me to my thoughts. I watched the hippos in the water before taking advantage of the outdoor shower and comfortable bed. I slept for 2 hours, but awoke feeling like I had slept for 10. Walking along the boardwalk towards the main lodge I heard game all around me. I was careful to watch out for hippo and elephant. I strolled into the main area and was immediately met by Alex and Yombi Dea. They asked me how my nap was and I replied that it had been wonderful and well needed. We then walked over to the dining area where I noticed several tables filled with food of all sorts. I had some more coffee and 3 different sandwiches. I looked at Yombi Dea and said, “What’s on the agenda for tonight?” He looked back at me and said, “How do you feel about going out on our double deck boat? I looked at him and replied “sounds like a plan.” He gave that buck-toothed grin and said “Wonderful, you will enjoy this.” We walked over to Land Rover and was introduced to 2 other guests - Carolyn and Ian. I asked them how long they had been at King’s Pool. They informed me that they had just arrived. In fact they both worked at a safari camp in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa. I asked them what they were doing in Botswana and they told me that they were actually interviewing to work at this camp. Ian had been a guide for the past 6 years and I felt lucky to have him in the Rover with me. I had two guides at once. I asked him why he wanted to guide in Botswana instead of South Africa and he noted that Botswana was real the Africa. He elaborated that while guiding in Sabi Sands you would frequently come across other vehicles, fencing, and abandoned farm houses, among other unnatural things. He also noted that just outside of Sabi Sands there were a number of large towns and at night you could see the lights from many of the camps there. He informed me that the Kruger/Sabi Sands area is great for seeing Africa’s big 5 in a short amount of time, but he is a purist and the area is not true wilderness to him. In Botswana you could drive for days without seeing signs of civilization. While heading to the boat we spotted elephants, hippos, impala, and many different types of birds. Arriving at the boat the captain was waiting for us. We hopped in and took off from the dock. The top deck of the boat was where the captain was stationed and the bottom had comfortable chairs and couches along with a full sized bar. I was delighted to find snacks and beverages of all sorts. As we cruised along, we spotted wildlife everywhere. At one point I counted 22 Hippos in the water in front of us. We continued and as the sun was setting the vibe was serene. I felt so relaxed – another perfect day in Botswana! We cruised back towards the dock and I couldn’t help but to overhear Ian talking to Carolyn, he said, “I cannot believe this place, it’s so much better than Sabi Sands.” He continued on, “I would be so happy here and we wouldn’t have to deal with all of the stuff we have to back in South Africa.” Hearing this from a South African guide really opened my eyes. Based just off the websites I had seen before my trip, I thought South Africa would be my favorite leg of the trip. We returned to the dock, and climbed into our rover. As we got back to camp I could hear the other guests talking and laughing about their day’s adventures. I went back to my room briefly, showered, changed my clothes, and headed back. For dinner there was a choice of 3 different appetizers, 3 main courses, and 2 deserts. I chose the filet mignon and enjoyed every bite. The food was spectacular… the presentation was a work of art. After dinner I chatted with Ian and Carolyn for a while before heading back to my room. I was pleased to find chocolates lying on my bed and a nice hand written note describing how appreciative the camps staff was that I was there. I fell asleep full, happy and ready for the next day.
I awoke at about 5am to the familiar grunting of Hippos outside my room. I got up and showered before Yombi Dea arrived knocking at my door. He was holding a tray of coffee, milk and sugar. He asked me if I was excited to start my day and I replied, “Without a doubt.” After coffee I made my way to the lodge’s main area for a light breakfast. As we headed to the Land Rover I noticed Ian and Carolyn were waiting for us. Ian looked at me and asked me how I slept, I replied, “wonderfully.” I looked at him and fired the same question at Carolyn and him, they both stopped, looked at each other and replied, “we couldn’t sleep at all, we were too excited to sleep at all.” I laughed and replied, “you know you’re at a great place when a safari guide can’t even sleep because he’s to excited for the game the next day.” We started our drive and there were birds of all shapes, sizes and colors. Every time we neared water we knew we would see tons of hippos, and around every corner there was something new and exciting. We spotted several families of baboons causing mischief in the trees around us. We spotted herds of elephant and loads of giraffe. Around one corner, Yombi Dea stopped the vehicle and looked at the tracks on the ground, Yombi Dea looked at Ian and asked him if he knew what kind of tracks were. Ian looked and said, “those are leopard tracks.” Ian looked at Carolyn and her eyes lit up. Carolyn then looked at me and said I’ve been working at a safari lodge in South Africa for 2 years now and I’ve never once seen a leopard. This struck me as odd - how is it possible that she could live and work in the bush for 2 years and never have seen one of the coolest members of the big 5? We started tracking the leopard through some of the thickest brush I’ve ever been in. We followed the tracks for 10 minutes before Carolyn shrieked with excitement, “there he is”. Sure enough, about 50 yards to our right, lying down in a patch of grass was the leopard. As we neared the majestic creature he got up and started walking. It was funny, as we watched him jump up on a downed tree and later start rubbing up against a large upright tree I couldn’t help but to think that this how my cat at home acts. It’s so easy to see the similarities between a domestic house cat and a leopard, although I wouldn’t recommend trying to pet one. I had seen leopard earlier in my trip, but one of the most exciting parts was watching Carolyn - she was thrilled beyond belief. At one point I saw tears streaming down her face. I later asked Ian how Carolyn had never seen a leopard until now, he replied “where we work it is very rare to come across them, I have seen them while guiding but I’ve only seen a few at our camp and I have been there 6 years.” We watched the leopard for about an hour before heading off. We drove to another spot where Yombi Dea had seen a pride of lion a couple of days before. Ian whispered, “stop”. We looked where he was pointing and underneath a thick bush we spotted the mane of a male lion. He roared to acknowledge that he knew we were there. We watched him roll around on the ground. We then drove over a small hill to find 7 female lion and 2 cubs sleeping in an open area. We got within 20 yards of them and started taking pictures. The two cubs woke up and began playing with each other. It was the one of the most heartwarming things I have ever seen. After they tired of playing, they each went over to a female and began nuzzling their faces. It was so cute… I cannot even begin to describe the sight of it. Everyone in the vehicle couldn’t help but to laugh and compare them to a human mother and her small child. We began to imagine what the lions would be saying if they were humans, phrases like “Wake up mom, I’m hungry” and “Hey mom, why are you still sleeping”. This was how we ended our game drive and it was fantastic. We drove back towards camp seeing warthogs at play and a huge Monitor Lizard. At camp I packed my bags and said my goodbye’s to Ian and Carolyn. I wished them luck with their interviews. I then thanked Alex, the camp’s manager for a wonderful time. Yombi Dea drove me to the airstrip. My next leg of my journey would take place at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. My plane landed and I said goodbye to my new friend Yombi Dea. He gave me a huge grin and said he couldn’t wait for me to come back.

Overall King’s Pool is absolutely amazing. Yombi Dea was a fantastic guide and his knowledge and tracking skills were beyond belief. The area literally pumps with game. The room was lavish and luxurious. At his point it was a tossup between here and Vumbura Plains for my favorite room. Leaving was one of the saddest moments of my trip.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled on business
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5  Thank Safari_Tim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

Our anniversary stay at King's Pool camp was exceptional. The rooms were everything you thought they could be from the Wilderness Safari website. The staff's service level was very high and the food delightful. Alex was a wonderful guide and our lengthy experiences with two leopards will always be cherished. Dinner in the bush with a nearby grazing hippo only added to the visit. Keep up the great work!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Susan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 5, 2013

Just returned from a wonderful 3 days at Kings Pool. Khan, our guide was highly knowledgable. We had an oppy to see a wild dog in full hunt of an impala. Very interesting. The food was delicious, the service excellent, and the staff terrific. (Also if you're going from camp to camp, this was the best gift shop we saw. Buy your gifts here!) The game was good. The rooms were lovely. One afternoon as I was writing in my journal, an elephant meandered up to my room. She munched on the leaves along my deck as I sat filming her. Eventually i got to see her swim across the river. Amazing experience.

Room Tip: The rooms are in the wild--if you don't want to ehar hippos, frogs, monkeys etc, this is not the place for you. Rooms at the end are best in terms of wildlife viwing.
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank mp_dc_202
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2013

We first stayed at Jao Camp and did not think there was anything better. The managers were always at hand and everyone without exception was extremely helpful and friendly. The boat-trip is an absolute MUST. It is sheer heaven. Also the elegant dinner in the bush with lanterns everywhere was very romantic. The food was good and the wines of very good quality.
The rooms are very spacious but unfortunately for the plunge pool it was too cold. We did see hundreds of elefants and hippos and were very lucky to see 4 lions as well.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Irene R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 27, 2013

Having spent 3 nights at Jao Camp in the Delta, we arrived at Kings Pool Camp to a frosty start.
Ndebo was to become later, a wealth of knowledge but when he picked us up at the airstrip, there was little introduction and welcome. We didn't know he was to be our ranger for the duration until we arrived for high tea and our first afternoon drive.
The drive from Chobe airstrip is 45 mins and we arrived at the camp to meet Brett.
The Reception area is beautiful and overlooks a stunning river and the river border of Namibia. A few hippos around and elephant in the distance as a welcome.
The rooms are lovely, spacious and impressive double shower (no tub). The balcony area has a lovely daybed, deck chairs and a plunge pool.
The overall food was average, nothing special. I am a veggie and I found one high tea with no veggie savoury! Meals in general average.
There seemed to be some sort of separation/friction between staff and management and although Brett and Sherie are a lovely couple, management visibility could have been a lot better.
On our last night for instance, our ranger was supposed to join for dinner but didn't and then no-one from management even said goodnight. They just disappeared. We were just left for kitchen staff to see to us. No-one to tell us the plan for our last morning and departure timings. I thought this was very poor.
Most staff seemed to be in training positions and unsure and I feel this is poor for a Premier Camp.
We asked to see the 'hide' which is highly publicised on the Wilderness website and also to see the newly installed Solar panel system. Neither of these were realised, even though we asked again.
In terms of sightings, we saw lots of birds, lots of elephants, some lions that we tracked one morning and a bufalo. The river cruise was good - lots of hippos.
On our last morning we had lions pass through the camp (footprints) and heard roars in the night. Nice hippo activity at night also.
The drives seemed to be of a better knowledgable quality when a more senior member of staff joined us.
For the price we payed and the service we got, I would say, choose another place - we hear Duma Tao is a Classic Camp but better for sightings and service.
I will say when I like a place - this I was disappointed with :-(

Room Tip: Choose a room close to the main reception area - there are works going on and so alot of dust and noise in the day.
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank PratimaMahajan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WildernessSafaris, Manager at Wilderness Safaris Kings Pool Camp, responded to this reviewResponded May 16, 2013

We would like to thank the guests for their feedback and are glad that they enjoyed their overall stay with Wilderness in Botswana, albeit a few disappointing comments on King Pool camp. This is not the normal type of feedback we get on Kings Pool. We have addressed the comments below with the management, staff and operations team to ensure the high standards are maintained and the bar set even higher.

Our standard policy is that there is always a manager on duty that stays up until after the last guest has gone to bed. If there is private dining with our guests, the manager will host the evening and manage the floor. There was a manager on duty on the last night, Frank, one of our citizen managers. We are therefore unsure why this comment has come up, and apologise if there was a misunderstanding or if this was not made clear.

As part of our dedicated training program and upliftment of staff, we are constantly training staff in all areas of the business. Subsequent to this, we have reviewed our staffing and are confident that we will always have a combination of well trained and experienced staff supporting those trainees.

We apologise that the solar walk and the hide visit was not followed up with, by management, these are both two standard offerings that we make available to our guests. These comments have been addressed with management and we will ensure this does not happen again.

Kings Pool Camp does deliver a Premier offering and service, and we are disappointed that this was not the case with your stay. We are hopeful that by seeing the other positive TA postings on Kings Pool, it will be recognised that this is not the normal feedback for Kings Pool, and we would welcome the opportunity to see you back in camp one day to allow us to deliver a memorable experience.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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