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“So fun”

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Oddballs' Palm Island Luxury Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Frederick, Maryland
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“So fun”
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
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Helpful?
1 Thank kari4princess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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119 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (17)
Date | Rating
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English first
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed February 5, 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
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Helpful?
3 Thank RoseMcCauley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank upupherewego
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Level Contributor
22 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed January 7, 2012

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
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank RJSpooner64
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Level Contributor
137 reviews
127 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 233 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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Helpful?
14 Thank djonce
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Level Contributor
217 reviews
157 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 449 helpful votes
Reviewed November 2, 2011

Friendly, helpful staff who are eager to please. Lodging are basic tents set on platforms that are small, but comfortable. Bathroom is just outside the tent, with bucket showers, but plenty of hot water from the solar water heaters. Food is rustic, but very good, and served in a communal dining area made up of picnic tables. The main lodge area faces the sunsets (which are beautiful) and they offer cold drinks, comfortable lounge chairs and an evening bonfire. Sure, this is much more basic than many other lodges in the Delta, but if you want a simple uncomplicated experience, this is the place. The mokoro trips are wonderful, but you might want to do a full day trip (with pack lunch) to really get the most out of being there. Note that you will not see animals like in the Serengeti or Masai Mara, but it is still an amazing experience. No TV or internet, so bring a good book along for any down time. Like most of the Delta, this lodge is only accessible by light aircraft.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank EisBaer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kenya
Level Contributor
170 reviews
113 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 253 helpful votes
Reviewed October 17, 2011

The camp is located on Chief's island and next to the Moremi reserve. You need to take a light aircraft to get here and as such the rates are pretty high. Rates include activities and meals. Activities are limited to mokoro excursions and safari on foot either early mornings and/or late evenings. Guides are born and bred in the delta and are pretty knowledgeable about the flora and fauna. Three meals included - simple but hearty (the soups are amazing!). The other staff were also helpful and friendly and the camp was very well kept.

Accommodation is in dome tents on raised platforms. Also included are bucket showers (not as basic as it sounds!). There are no fences/barriers so camp is visited by elephants and hippos, which is pretty cool - we almost walked into one in the camp!.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ashah_008
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 Luxury Lodge

Property: Oddballs' Palm Island Luxury Lodge
Address: Chief's Island, Botswana
Location: Botswana > North-West District > Okavango Delta
Hotel Style:
Ranked #40 of 70 Specialty Lodging in Okavango Delta
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 12
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Also Known As:
Oddballs Palm Island Hotel Okavango Delta
Oddballs' Palm Island Luxury Lodge Botswana/Okavango Delta

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