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“will dream about forever”
Review of Chitabe Camp

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Chitabe Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“will dream about forever”
Reviewed October 21, 2011

If there is one place in the world I would return again and again, it is to Chitabe. I traveled with a college alumni educational package tour, and the dozen of us on the tour spent three nights in Chitabe, (also traveling to South Africa and Zambia) but it seemed like a month - in a great way. We saw so much wildlife, I made so many close friends, I learned so much culture, biology, and bird identification, that it seemed a semester of study was crammed into a few days. A birders paradise, our CHitabe guide taught me 80 new species in two full days of safari. Seriously. We tracked leopards, followed lion prides on their hunt, saw more stars in an expansive sky that seemed to stretch from the earths curvature in all directions, listened to native staff harmonies over a night campfire. The staff, food, and comfort was impeccable. Not luxurious, in a soft,pampered, top of the line, newest and most fasionable, superficial and flashy way. But in an environmentally conscious, friendly and helpful, fresh and wholesome, part of nature, intelligent and reasonable kind of way. I could live happily there and never leave. I was there in the dry season, and every day with the guides was spectacularly beautiful, though hot. If it is possible to love a place, I love Chitabe, and by extension, all the Okavango Delta of Botswana. I did not make my own travel arrangements to get there, so I am not familiar with the expense of doing that. We took a tiny private plane from Maun, Botswana into the Delta, to be picked up by land rover and driven a hour or so to the camp. The view from the plane was exciting from the co-pilot's seat, and the Landrover trip to the camp was a guided safari of dozens of species. The entire trip had the feel of visiting friends on a private, isolated tour of their land. Not a group, Disneyland, landrover safari tour with dozens of people driving around looking at canned exhibits (like in other So. African tours we went on). We seldom saw another landrover, or person, outside of our one six person truck driving around in nature all alone. The concession is so large as to feel like you are one with the natural environment. The animals do no act like they are familiar with people, or care that we are there. A biologist's or naturalist's dream environment. I want to tell NO ONE about this place, so that it will be preserved for me and me only. Guess I ruined that here.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank MoxieMa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
Date | Rating
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English first
Cph
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed September 23, 2011

Chitabe was our first camp. Coming off a 24 hour journey from london, and onto a game drive within 45 minutes of getting there. That set the pace.

We weren't expecting the family feel of this type of camp where you get to know everyone and your guide sits with you over communal dinner..reminding you that he is going to knock on your door at 6 am for the morning game drive as you knock back the wine.

By the end of our trip that had become the norm but there is something a bit special about
Chitabe's approach. It felt very warm and natural.

BB (Barberton, his real, and rather classy name) was an amazing guide. When we surprised a new cheetah mother with vehicle-shy cubs he worked out where they would go and got us there. He is a talented photographer and the camp's owners are too - they train their guides. I got my best photos in Chitabe. Partly BB knowing what made a good shot, but a lot of it was him knowing when to stop..when what he could see was different from what i could see.

Sensitivity. That sums the place up.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Nick P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed July 28, 2011

Traveling on Safari with two grandkids ages 13 & 15. They made such good friends at our first camp that when we moved on to Chitabi one of them was depressed and a little homesick. I told the G.Mgr Alex and he and Mgr Deanna, and the rest of the staff swung in to action with special cheesburger and fries for Lunch and camaraderie that just had the kids (and us) wanting never to leave. Our driver Gordon found a pride of lions with a fresh zebra kill - 2 males, 3 lionesses and 3 juveniles- and for that afternoon and the next morning we felt like we had joined the pride. The accomodations were great, there was an elephant (and later, baboons,) drinking out of the plunge pool. excellent food and above all, that marvelous staff.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank eagleCapeCod
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level 5 Contributor
60 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed June 15, 2011

This was our second visit to Chitabe; it has been refurbished in the last 3 years and is still a great camp to visit. The tents are nicely furnished and the staff is very responsive. The only caveat is to be very careful not to slip on the new slick wood floors. They are beautiful, but dangerous with socks or wet feet. Even the shower floor is dangerous when wet (slick concrete). This camp is built on stilts with elevated walkways between the tents. This provides for some interesting game viewing right in camp as the wildlife is free to wander through. We love it here.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank deapackedandready
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed December 7, 2010

Chitabe must be one of the best kept secrets of the whole Okavango Delta. I cannot imagine why. It offers superb comfort style and the best guiding I have experienced there.
I would say it is decidedly not a place for first-timers to either Africa or a safari holiday. To get the most out of it you should be relatively informed about basic ecology and African wildlife. Birders especially will love it as the variety and quantity of bird life is amazing. Here you will not be dragged around waiting for lion or leopard kills but each species encountered is described and explained so that you are enriched with a much more profound understanding of the species, its behaviour and role within this complex and unique ecosystem
The design and comfort of the rooms is really WAY above standard for a classic camp - beautifully appointed and each chalet with its own unique vista of the plain and outdoor as well as indoor shower if you want the total-nature experience! The headboard in each room is an exclusive wildlife photographers art print - taken by one of the owners who is a World Famous wildlife photographer - Dave Hamman. Stunning!
I suppose there are three things that make Chitabe stand out from the other lodge options in the Delta: They are the people, the people and the people. The staff characters and the way that the lodge is run is really a tribute to everyone working there. You arrive a guest and leave a friend. I believe its true to say that Chitabe has the highest number of repeat bookings of any lodge - astonishing when you consider most people only go to Botswana once in their lives!
Primarily the guides at Chitabe must be amongst the best and most experienced in the Delta and bring each game drive alive with their complete and profound knowledge and understanding. You get so much more out of the experience when you understand say the effect new Mopane leaves have on elephant movements, changing seasons and species interrelationships say of Baboons and impala. You get an enormous sensory awakening as you realise how much we ignore and shut out in the city. You begin to smell Eles before they come into view, your ears become alert for the impala alarm bark or the unusual cries of unfamiliar birds, a black dot in the grass could be a lioness' ear... It's a total sensory revival making you appreciate the richness so profoundly. The guiding is passionate, patient and brings mysteries to life.
The management team there are also excellent. I suppose the hospitality and welcome there just seems much more natural and unaffected - sincere. Chitabe is almost entirely run and managed by Botswanans from all over the country. And I dont know about you but I just dont see the point in flying 2,000km to have dinner with staff who are imported from Johannesburg or Nelspruit. If I visit Botswana I want to talk to Botswanans! Really nothing seems too much trouble for this lovely crowd of people and the genuine warmth is so much more enjoyable that all that faux colonial ersatz tut that they practice in safaris camps further north in Africa. This is a real experience, real life, real people, real learning. Personally I have no desire to be treated as if we are stuck on a set somewhere in-between Humphrey Bogart and Maggie Smith. But maybe thats just me.
Its astonishing given the obviously high turnover of guests that everyone from the managers and guides through to the camp hands, bar staff, waitresses and housekeepers all greet you unfailingly and by name from the moment you arrive. But it is the relaxed familiarity overlaying their professionalism that makes the place really stand out.
Obviously this has another knock on benefit - the quality of the guiding and richness of the ecosystem attracts serious intellectuals from the conservation world - you will always find a researcher studying some aspect of the areas ecology, maybe a wildlife photographer or an academician from an international faculty sometime at dinner and this makes the fireside after dinner chats much more stimulating and educational than the retired industrialists etc found in more mainstream camps.
So dont book Chitabe if all you want is Lion kills - to be honest they aren;t that many lions in that area. However this has meant a dramatic rise in the number of other predators that lions kick out. While I was there there were 37 leopard in the area! And their signature pack of Wild Dogs has increased to some 27 in one pack. No wonder they have them as their logo emblem!
As I type this I can almost hear the soft babble of the broad-billed Rollers nesting in the old stump above the bar, the relentless trilling of the Woodland Kingfishers and tinkling of the bell frogs at sunset
I yearn to return

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Philip B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed December 4, 2010

Chitabe camp was my second camp of my first Safari experience and I had a fantastic time. Very good things about Chitabe camp. The camp is very well kept and the staff are very friendly and make your stay there very worthwhile. The rooms are of extreme good quality and furnished to very high standards. The food is godd and varies from day to day. My best food was the barbeque night. But the best thng of them all is the animals you encounter in your drives in the early mornings and the late afternoon. Not to mention spending late afternon watching the sun go down withn a drink by the Hippos pool . you hear the sound of the Hippo singing and the birds washing by the water. The colour of the light is so warm it will dry up any unwanted sentimets and warm you up. AMAZING Not only that but you will see animals by the camp. Chitabe camp was definately a place where I would go back and spend quality life time there surrounded by the animals and people who are in pure synthony with their surrounding there and they transmit that to you. A special thank you to Tiny BB and the rest of the satff there too. I will never forget that place. AG

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank Cheetah68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Level 6 Contributor
109 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed October 3, 2010

From the minute we were picked up at the dirt airstrip to the time we were hugged as we got on the plane to leave we felt like family at Chitabe Camp. Of the three camps we stayed at it was the most comfortable (each of the other camps had their highlights too). This was my mother and my first safari experience and it was exceptional.

Our guide for our stay was Anthony and we was exceptional. His sense of humor and personality were a great fit for us and the other guests with us. His knowledge and insights made this a wonderful first safari experience!

All the staff at the camp including Dawson, Tiny and Buzz and others whose names I don't remember made our stay better than we could have ever imagined.

The food was great! The animal viewing was wonderful - we had a great time!

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank JodiDH503
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Chitabe Camp

Property: Chitabe Camp
Address: | bordering Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Location: Botswana > North-West District > Okavango Delta
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #27 of 72 Specialty Lodging in Okavango Delta
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Chitabe Camp 3.5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The archetypal Okavango game-viewing destination. Raised on decks on a beautiful tree island in the south-east of the Okavango, Chitabe Camp looks out across a Delta floodplain that is transformed during winter from dry rushes to lush oasis, one of only a few distinct habitats in this diverse concession. Back in camp, the thatched dining and lounge area provide beautiful views, while each tent exudes its own personality, aided by superb fine art wildlife photographs. A pool provides cool sanctuary in the heat of the day. Highlights: On this classic safari experience, game drives take in the different habitats - the variety of these ensures that there is an equal diversity of wildlife, including big game such as elephant and buffalo, but also a range of plains game species like wildebeest, tsessebe and lechwe in numbers that support healthy lion, leopard and hyaena numbers, as well as regular visits by wild dog and cheetah. The camp is composed of 8 tents: spacious en-suite Meru-type tents, individually styled; outdoor shower; double vanity basins. Experiences include: day and night game drives • guided walks (on request). ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Chitabe Camp Hotel Okavango Delta
Chitabe Camp Botswana/Okavango Delta

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