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Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge
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All reviewsgame drivesthe riverbotswana borderflood plainmorning cruisenight gamesafari lodgepontoon boatknowledgeable guideother guestsprivate concessionbirds and animalsgreat guidewild horizonsnight packagegreat hostsbird life
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Reviewed April 20, 2013

We stayed only two nights which was a mistake but we had pre booked our next stop so had to leave, but would recommend anyone to have more than 2 nights. I was dismayed to read a previous review of the " management of Brad and Annie", our experience with them was amazing and they couldn't do enough for us. I had booked the "honeymoon chalet" but this had not been confirmed to them but owing to building of a "new honeymoon chalet" it would have been unsuitable for us to stay in that chalet anyway but our chalet Number 2 was perfect. We only had 3 other chalets occupied at our time of stay and were very fortunate in the other guests were interesting and friendly people to mix with. I would have to agree with the reviewer from Spain though that it would have been spoilt if we had have had children running all over the resort as well and its the type of place you revel in the tranquility and peaceful surroundings. Our guides Stan and Abraham were brilliant, their "eyesight " spotting of the animals on the game drives was amazing, there would have been no way we would have seen nearly as much without them. The activities of the Sundowners cruise on the Zambezi river to the day and night game drives made our African experience one to never forget. We wouldnt hesitate to recommend anyone to stay at Imbabala Safari Lodge.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Gillian C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 9, 2013

Wonderful hospitality from Brad, Annie and staff. Expert advice on animals, plants and birds from our ever patient guide Jefferson. We did a game drive and river trip each day and saw at close quarters elephants, giraffes, hippos, kudu, sable, mongoose, all sorts of exotic birds and even the odd snake. On the final night we encountered a lioness who came close to the camp in search of dinner amongst the 100 or so impala that had taken shelter in front of our cabin. Dinner is communal. Quality of food was first class but one has to be prepared to socialise with whomever fate delivers. Not a problem for us, but could be for some.
This is a truly wonderful location and the experience is enhanced by some excellent customer service. Free wifi and laundry service and a small shop round off the experience. Highly recommended

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank encal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2013

A couple of points up front:
The guides and workers there are great. Jefferson, Abraham, and the rest of the staff provided tremendous tours and expertise. My evaluation is not a direct reflection on them, but on the experience as a whole. Secondly, the management changed hands around May of 2012, so you may want to take that into account when reading back through the reviews.

Since Imbabala and Elephant Camp are linked through Wild Horizons, it is impossible to disconnect the two, or to not make comparisons between them. They are both similar, in that you have an individual tent/cabin and there are a limited number of rooms (Imbabala has room for 18 guests in 8 cabins).

Upon checking in, Brad (who is closely related to the Wild Horizons management) and Annie did their best Jonathan (from Elephant Camp) impersonation, but they failed from the beginning. First off, they did not show us to our room (I had to find Annie later to let her know that we- Mr and Mrs- would like our twin beds made into a double…her response is “we didn’t know”…nor did she care to ask when we made our reservations).

If you are going there, as we did, as a married couple to relax- be advised that you will be at the mercy of the other guests and their possession of the camp. Two large families were there and dominated the pool and clubhouse. Wet towels and clothes were left on much of the furniture and all of the beach chairs, limiting the use by other guests. Additionally, there really is no escape if the other guests and their children run loose, as the cabins are all in close proximity to the pool/clubhouse. Not to mention no oversight of the bar area where kids and adults took drinks as they pleased and put their hands right into the ice.

Additionally, while Elephant Camp set meal tables for individual groups (e.g. if there were three couples and two families of five staying there, they had three tables for two and one table for five set up). Imbabala, on the other hand, sat everyone together. That drunk lady wants to talk about her C-Section? That kid wants to throw his food? That guy wants to espouse his political leanings? You may get to experience all of that- it’s a gamble that you might not want to take.

Much of this could have been headed off by the staff, but Brad and Annie were really out of sight for most of our visit- which is fine, if that’s they way they want to run it. I’ve been to plenty of hotels without a clue as to who the managers are. But they really want to be like the Elephant Camp, but come off as amateurs (think College R.A.s) in the execution. Elephant Camp gives you a comment card to fill out, Imbabala didn’t even ask how our stay was when we checked out. Elephant Camp management and staff spoke often, worked together and seemed to genuinely get along. We saw none of that at Imbabala. Meals at Elephant Camp were on time, every time. Imbabala was different every day, and not published anywhere that I could find.

My suggestions to Imbabala- police the pool and clubhouse area; put someone behind the bar; take a genuine interest in your guests and their comfort; pre-arrange seating at the meals so that couples can be couples and families can be families; and show the guests that you respect and interact with the staff and that they aren’t just ‘helpers’.

Now this is perfectly acceptable for some people who don’t mind some unstructured family time playing it fast-and-loose. However, if you are a couple doing a 3-5 night package through Wild Horizons, I would recommend that you maximize your time at Elephant Camp and minimize your time at Imbabala. If you only spend one night at Imbabala, you can still do an afternoon boat/car safari and a morning drive and achieve most of your wildlife sighting goals.

Room Tip: Couples- ask for a room as far away from the common areas as possible.
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank H3KB4Y2K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2013

We loved our stay at Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge -- truly a wonderful experience. The staff was helpful and welcoming, our guides were wonderful. We never saw another vehicle on our game drives or another boat on our river cruises. We did see plenty of animals, and we particularly loved the impalas that slept outside our room and the elephants that came to the river to wash in the late afternoons. The birds were marvelous, and many of the males were growing their mating plumage. This is a beautiful, secluded and serene place which we found quite pleasant. We spent a day at Chobe, and while we enjoyed that, we had to share it with many other people, not the experience we so appreciated at Imbabala.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank emily F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2013

Very much enjoyed our stay here.Brad,Annie,Stan and others could not have been more welcoming.We enjoyed the game drives and although we did not see a vast amount we knew in advance that this was the green season and so game would be hard to find.The evening river cruise was lovely and day in Botswana very enjoyable with wonderful elephants bathing in river.Final highlight was bush dinner besides the Zambezi river on our final night.
Feeling of space in this place and starry sky's at night will draw us back.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Malcolm F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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