Written by Co-Founder: Leah Green
When going on a safari, you can anticipate that you’ll have up-close wildlife encounters to some degree. These special moments can come in the form of playful monkeys running across your deck, or a curious impala scurrying through a lodge passageway. It is not assumed that you’ll come face to face with big cats in camp… but, we did. We find great joy in sharing the magic of Africa with our Ubuntu Travelers, and properly vetting the lodges we recommend is an important piece of what we do. A huge perk of the job is getting to experience Africa’s wild lands and learn first-hand why each destination is so uniquely special.
Our first visit to Mombo Camp
Mombo Camp in the Okavango Delta has long had a reputation for exceptional game viewing and exclusive safari experiences. We’ve always wondered what sets this lodge apart and if a safari at Mombo truly lives up to all the hype.
The lodge itself is gorgeous with fantastic amenities and everything you’d expect from a luxury safari lodge. The real difference here is not the linen thread count, or the fine dining menu, but rather the intimate wildlife experiences that take place on Chief’s Island in the Moremi Game Reserve.
Meeting the Tladi Leopard… for the first time
Our two-night stay was filled with exceptional game viewing, starting with a very rare mid-afternoon viewing of an aardvark, something Ona, our seasoned safari guide, had never seen before in his life! We joked that after such a strong start we should expect to cross a few more thrilling animal encounters off our bucket list. Upon returning back to Mombo, Kyle teased that “the only thing left to see was a leopard walking through camp”, and within seconds, a male leopard appeared and made his way through the main lodge to greet us on the arrival deck.
The timing was truly serendipitous as we watched the leopard named Tladi (meaning ‘lightning’ in Setswana) stroll up to meet our vehicle at the entrance of camp. Although our game drive was meant to end there, we curiously continued on with Tladi as he walked through the management tents and into Little Mombo Camp. Here he found his afternoon resting spot upon a guest room’s outdoor daybed. To watch this magnificent creature strategically bat pillows around for comfort like a house cat was quite a sight to behold.
That wasn’t the last we would see of Tladi at Mombo. During breakfast the next morning, between sips of coffee and stories of the previous day’s adventures, we caught a glimpse of a tail flickering out of the corner of our eyes, as the leopard walked past the gift shop and through the dining room. We sat in awe as he moved down to the fire pit, where our breakfast sandwiches were being toasted, and out through the brush in front of the lodge. What a special way to say goodbye and leave a lasting impression on all the guests in camp that week.
Even after countless game drives, every single safari experience is special and humbling. We’ll never forget our first stay at Mombo Camp, or the diversity (and density) of the game on Chief’s Island. The action-packed safari experiences definitely lived up to the Mombo-hype, and we look forward to crossing paths with Tladi again in the future.
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