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“Okavango Delta is unique but a bit overpriced”

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Sanctuary Chief's Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 23, 2013

Chief's was our second camp out of three. We had been at Baines' for 3 nights (you can also read my review). I had heard so much about Chief's camp over the last 5 years and my expectations were extremely high. The overall staff at the camp was very attentive, friendly and made us feel welcome and at home immediately. We were shown to our room, #9 and I was initially disappointed that it was so close to the main area and so close to the other tents as I normally try to stay as far away from main areas as possible for quiet and privacy. This did turn out to be a negative during our stay but all of the tents are placed too close together. Rooms 7-12 are not the best locations but I realize someone is going to be assigned to them. I agree with the other reviewer about #12 as it's definitely too close to the staff village and noise is a problem. We were awakened at 4:40 am by pots clanging in the kitchen preparing for breakfast.

Overall, we did enjoy our 3 nights at Chief's and fortunately we had some good game viewing opportunities, but the thing that really stuck out to us was how vast the land is and how few vehicles there are out to locate the wildlife. The guides definitely have a challenge on their hands and ours was made more challenging by the fact that one day, we were the only guests in camp! Botswana's philosophy is low density/high dollar and it does lead you to feel that you are in the middle of Africa without others, but that does have a down side as well. I wish we had known more about this so that our expectations would have been in line with the experience.

The room and bed were comfortable and the lighting in the bathroom was great. The price pppn is just really high compared to other safari locations. But if you really want to see the Delta, you will pay a premium.

Thank you to Kenosie, Simon, Debra, Evelyn, Monks and everyone at Chiefs for everything you did to make our stay pleasant.

Room Tip: Choose rooms 1-6 to be farther from the main areas including the kitchen. All the rooms are too clo...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank marcianluanda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryRetreats_2, Manager at Sanctuary Chief's Camp, responded to this reviewResponded August 2, 2013

Dear Guest,

Thank you for taking the time to post this detailed review on Tripadvisor.

We are glad to hear that overall you had an enjoyable experience with us and that our staff did everything possible to make your stay with us pleasant. They are our greatest asset and it is wonderful to hear your kind comments. We have past these comments onto Kenosi, Simon, Debra, Evelyn, Monks and the rest of the team who were very delighted that your appreciated their efforts.

Chief’s camp is our flagship property and we strive for absolute excellence; we are disappointed that your expectations were not met.

We do hope to have the chance of welcoming you back one day.

You can follow all the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Chief's Camp by liking us on Facebook. Just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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129 - 135 of 232 reviews

Reviewed July 21, 2013

This camp is located in the Moremi Reserve which has a reputation for great predators that has changed over time. Nonetheless, the primary asset of this property is the surrounding area of wetlands, plains, and forests. Beyond these assets, the property is at best average and tends to mediocre or worse.

The property views itself as a competitor to Mombo. It is not. Service is poorer and inconsistent. Guest preferences are forgotten.

The camp manager operates as a day-time office worker. Not present in the early morning or the evening. This is the only camp in ten (10) visits to Botswana where I have seen this casual approach to camp management.

The rooms are nice but certainly not exceptional. Keep in mind that this property is priced at the top end so you might have an expectation of high end luxury, space, and food quality. The property does not meet that standard.

The rooms are not tents which is fine. They are fixed structures with canvas sides for the main area which contains the bed. The bathrooms are relatively small and consistent with what you would find in a hotel. These bathrooms have a shower - no bathtub. Toiletries are in the pump type bottles that are popular with chain and low-end hotels. I am sure the property would argue that this is conservation-oriented.

Room spacing is relatively close both to the main area and to each other. Room #12 is especially bad as it is far too close to the staff village. When the wind is blowing from the direction of the staff village then noise is carried over to this room. This is especially disturbing should you choose to want a nap in the afternoon - as most people.

Food is absolutely not a high point for this property.

1. Lunch will is served at 11:30 AM and stated clearly as not a brunch - although there is hard to see a difference.

2. Lunch has a salad buffet that has almost no variation from day to day - lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, pickles, olives, and two salads that vary day to day. Salad dressings never change - olive oil and vinegar and a relatively sweet mustard based dressing.

3. If you order a salad with your meal it will be the same every day - absolutely no variation - lettuce, tomatoes, feta, olives, and cucumbers.

4. The chef seems to have a thing for caper sauce. I saw it the menu as the accompanying sauce for the fish over three times in three days.

5. The lunch and dinner offerings are cooked 'a la carte'. Portion sizes are small, the offerings generally limited, and tend to a standard of cafeteria food. Your best choice in general - the fish - which is almost offered as crumbed vice grilled. Example: A chicken pot pie was some salty chicken in sauce in a small pastry cup.

While the game viewing was good there can be problems with water levels. Over the years this area has seen a greater and greater level of water. This year was an average flood and while there was considerable water it was still possible to do reasonable game drives. In a high water period then this property would be severely challenged.

I had one instance where game drive etiquette was badly violated. Our vehicle moved to let another vehicle depart and then two other vehicles took our preferred position. My guide did not seem capable of resolving the situation and the camp manager was indifferent.

A measure of any property, especially one that views itself as high end, is how it handles itself when stressed by a disappointed guest. On this measure this property failed.

It was suggested I go to the airstrip 90 minutes before my flight. The drive took 15 minutes. Nobody sends their guests to an airstrip to sit there for 75 minutes. Imagine my surprise when two other guests leaving on the same airplane arrived 10 minutes before the flight with boxes lunches. No such food was offered or even a drink while at the airstrip.

Bottom line. If you are willing to accept a range of shortcomings by all means. Then again, there are more consistent, better price alternatives.

Room Tip: Avoid #12 and any close to the main area.
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled solo
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2  Thank AlwaysOnTheAirplane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryRetreats_2, Manager at Sanctuary Chief's Camp, responded to this reviewResponded August 5, 2013

Dear Guest,

Thank you for taking the time to post this review on Tripadvisor.

We are extremely sorry to hear that you were unhappy with your stay at Sanctuary Chief’s Camp.

Our aim is to delight our guests and your experience is not representative of the standards we set ourselves in looking after our guests, past feedback from guests and reviews on Tripadvisor are testimony to this.

We hope you accept our apologies and thank you again for your honest feedback as it helps in our efforts to constantly improve our service to future guests.

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats

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Reviewed July 16, 2013

My husband and I had the pleasure of spending a few days at a few of the Sanctuary Camps within Botswana. Beautiful surrounds, gorgeous rooms and especially friendly staff who pay the utmost attention to diners. Our game drive guide, Thuso had only been there a month but his personality and excessive knowledge about the reserve and animals made us feel like he was there for years. He taught us how to track as well as identify the genders of the different animals. We loved eating with the guide at meal times so that we could discuss what we saw and ask questions about things we didn't get to on the drive.
The attention to detail at the camp was amazing. Personalized water bottles are provided for fresh clean water makes you feel like they have paid special attention to you. I love that they have huge mosquito nets around the from of the bed so that it does not interfere with you while you are sleeping.
The managers were especially kind asking questions when we arrived back from our drive with heated towels and a drink. At meal times or just hanging around the lounge areas, the managers are always walking about ensuring that everyone is happy.
This camp is very well worth all the money you spend. I couldn't imagine a more perfect holiday!

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank GCSJohannesburg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 21, 2013

If ever we return to the 'Delta' this will be one of the Camps that will be re-visited - absolutely loved this property - everything just 'worked'. Accommodation - excellent. Food - excellent. Location - excellent. Animal sighting - excellent. Staff - excellent. The day after arrival, my husband experienced a turn - Mel (one of the managers) took him in hand, took his blood pressure etc and talked with the Company's Medical people in Maun. Everyone was sure it was a reaction to his Malaria medication...then within 12 hours of not taking his tablet, he was on the road to recovery.
Saw several kills - both lion & leopard. Several of the rhino's popped up on different days & those hilarious baby elephants playing amongst all those legs - you could watch them for hours.
I actually got up a bit close and personal with a leopard on two occasions - once while showering in the outside shower, one strolled past. The other, I was coming out of the Spa after a massage and there she was on the other side of the main path - but only for a second, before she disappeared into the thicket. Then another evening, we had elephant muching on a tree overhanging the balcony plus having a bit of a scratch on the thatch. Several nights we had reasonably close lion seranades - just the most amazing African sound. All part of the entertainment.
For lunch one day, the pizza oven was fired up and you could 'order' a make-your-own pizza. This was a real treat for both guests and staff. Each day the chef continually produced a mouth-watering menu...in fact there is far too much food - breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea then dinner...if you can front up for it. Then when on the game drives, snacks along with tea/coffee etc appear.
The Gift shop has a good assortment of goods and has just recently become one of two to stock the Botswana Swana Diamonds!!!
This property hums along beautifully with lots of attention to detail. Staff obviously enjoy their jobs and everything is followed through showing good managment.
A big thank you to the Chief's Team - in particular Simon, Mel, Brenda and Ice.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank MyallTeaGardens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryRetreats_2, Manager at Sanctuary Chief's Camp, responded to this reviewResponded June 27, 2013

Dear Guest,

Thank you so much for taking the time to post this wonderful, detailed review.

We are delighted that you absolutely loved Sanctuary Chief's Camp and found the accommodation, food, location, animal sightings and staff all EXCELLENT.

Seeing the lions and leopards up close and personal must have been an amazing experience..

Simon, Mel, Brenda and Ice absolutely loved hosting you and are looking forward to welcoming you back in the near future.

Thank you once again and please follow all the latest news from Sanctuary Retreats and Chief's Camp by liking us on Facebook. Just search for ‘Sanctuary Retreats’

Best wishes
Sanctuary Retreats

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Reviewed June 20, 2013

From the moment we drove up to Chief's Camp, we knew we were somewhere special when we were greeted by the staff singing, offering us hot towels and cold drinks and welcoming us home. The camp is very well run and extremely accommodating. Evelyn, the camp manager, personally ministered to my sister, who was having a bad reaction to malaria medicine. Sky, our guide, couldn't have been better. Not only could he idenitify every bird, but he took us on a multi-hour mad ride to find a leopard, which we did - as well as the rest of the big five - rhino, lion, Cape buffalo and elephants. The food was delicious and the staff was very accommodating of some specialized eating requirements in our group. We were there in winter, so we very much enjoyed the heated mattress pads. Simon's star talk also was wonderful. Loved every minute of our stay.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Abbe F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 16, 2013

This is a Sanctuary! After wonderfully adventurous camp drives, it was so great to return to the comfortable camp with indoor and outdoor showers (accompanied by vervet monkeys watching!), delicious food, and a full bar with good bar tenders. The elephants and other wild life put on spontaneous entertainment seen from the balconies. We chose private dinners but many of the guests dined communally. Great place for our 25th anniversary.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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Thank welltraveled17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 6, 2013

This area on an island in the Moremi Game Reserve is billed as the predator Capitol of Africa and they are not kidding. Lions had just made a kill in front of the lodge when we arrived and throughout the day and night you could hear them roaring away.When we first arrived we had an elephant in back of our tent happily chomping away at a tree. We had room #1 Tawana which means" Little lion". It was the furthest from the main lodge with the Spa treatment area next door surrounded by brush and good hiding places for cats. The tent was very spacious with indoor and outdoor showers, nice sitting area overlooking the plains area which at the time was starting to flood.The room was powered by generators 24 hours a day with hairdryers(amazing) and electric blankets. The lodge itself was open and lovely with nice bar area and main sitting area, pool and al fresco dining. Our food by Chef Harry Feiersinger was sumptuous. He has published a book Whats cooking in the Okavango Delta which had a lot of the wonderful recipes we were served at camp. Good South African wine choices. High tea was elegant with cakes and hot sandwiches or quiches and the gift shop had very good selections. Ice was our very experienced and knowledgeable guide and we saw several prides of lions-12 of which were devouring a giraffe, lions mating, leopards with kills. We spent a couple days looking hopefully for rhinos-there are supposed to be 55 re-located ones from South Africa in the area but they were hidden well. I had a spa treatment while we were there with Marilyn which was wonderfully relaxing with soft African music in the background. This camp paid a lot of attention to detail with welcome back drinks and even had someone bring box lunches out to the airfield for us so we would have something to eat on the way to Maun. Sanctuary had a rep in Maun who made sure we got situated for our flight back to Jo-berg. Thank you Mel, Simon, Ice, Darist, Seppe and the rest of Chiefs team for treating us royally!

Room Tip: Room #1 is the furthest out. You might want someone to come and get you in the morning which they di...
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Cynthia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sanctuary Chief's Camp

Address: Chief's Island | Maun, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Location: Botswana > North-West District > Okavango Delta > Moremi Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 29 Specialty Lodging in Moremi Game Reserve
Price Range: $1,020 - $4,831 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sanctuary Chief's Camp 5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sanctuary Chief’s Camp has twelve luxury bush pavilions, all with their own private decks as well as both indoor and outdoor showers. When visiting Sanctuary Chief’s Camp you’ll see why Conde Nast Traveler consistently rates it as one of the top safari destinations in Botswana. The camp is part of the magazine’s exclusive “Platinum Circle” in recognition of its inclusion in the prestigious Gold List for the last five consecutive years. The split-level main deck offers expansive views over the floodplain while the lower level of the deck houses an exquisite swimming pool to cool off after a day of exciting game viewing. The main area houses a bar, curio shop, library reception and dining area. For a rejuvenating pampering session, choose from a range of treatments at the camp’s treatment room. The twelve guest pavilions are nestled in a jackalberry and sausage tree woodland that is characteristic of the area. Each guest pavilion boasts an indoor and outdoor shower, a spacious seating area and a private game viewing deck overlooking the surrounding floodplains of the Okavango Delta. Sumptuous four poster beds with generously draped mosquito nets and traditional ceiling fans also feature and for your convenience, the rooms are equipped with a hairdryer, ceiling fan, room safe, emergency intercom and minibar. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sanctuary Chief`s Camp Hotel Moremi Game Reserve

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