By Emma 02 February 2019

The Battle of Botswana

YZ expert Emma has just returned from an epic adventure to Botswana’s Okavango Delta, where she witnessed her very own ‘Battle of the Beasts’.

Mombo… a camp that carries not only a high price tag, but also a huge reputation as ‘the place of plenty’, as it’s located at the heart of the Okavango Delta. As I approached, the questions on my mind were, is this camp worth the price tag and does it live up to its game-rich reputation?! On arrival, it was instantly obvious to see why Mombo features at the top of the high end of the market. The style and the quality of the camp’s rebuild are pure luxury, and I could easily understand why it has recently won style awards. Moreover, the camp’s design is coupled with a very strong conservation ethos, which helps to deliver the ultimate safari camp package. As for the game viewing, Mombo certainly is ‘the place of plenty’, and here’s why…

IN SEARCH OF THE BIG FIVE

After our welcome drinks and orientation, my group was introduced to our guide Ike and we headed out for our afternoon game drive. As every guide does, Ike asked if there was anything particular we were hoping to see, and we jokingly suggested that if he could deliver the Big Five that would be nice. It wasn’t long before we managed to tick off elephant, lion, and buffalo, which left arguably the two more elusive animals to find. Through some radio contact with another vehicle we got an idea about where we could see a leopard, and that was soon ticked off the list too!

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Having heard that a female rhino had been sighted that morning, Ike returned to the area where she had last been seen in the hope that she was still around. Unfortunately luck was not on our side, as we couldn’t find her. However, Ike was now determined to find us a rhino and he was not giving up. This meant we were going wherever we needed to go to try to find one! Our journey included a bumpy drive across the ‘Elephant Highway’ (luckily Mombo has some of the comfiest Safari Jeeps going!). Ike’s patience and perseverance paid off, at the sacrifice of our sundowners, as we found a mother rhino and her calf, which completed the Big Five.

WILD DOG VS HYENA

The next morning started as usual with our 5:30 wake-up call from Ike. As we were getting ourselves ready to head down for breakfast, we got a rather unexpected and frantic knock, again from Ike, asking if we were ready and suggesting we forget about breakfast… apparently a pack of wild dogs had just passed in front of our room and the lodge on a hunt, and Ike had brought the truck round so we could head straight off and follow them.

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Still slightly bleary eyed, but suddenly with a rush of adrenaline pumping, we grabbed our stuff and made a dash for the truck. We drove for maybe 5 minutes before seeing a hyena run through the bush in front of us carrying a part of a kill. Ike assumed from this that the wild dogs had already made a kill, and the hyena had swooped in and stolen it. Continuing on, we soon found the dogs and it was obvious they had made another kill. The puppies were feeding whilst the adults kept guard, but they were very unsettled and seemed quite agitated.

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As the dogs kept drifting off to the left, leaving the pups to feast on the kill, all at once a cackle of hyenas swooped in from the right-hand side and stole the kill from the puppies. An aggressive scrap followed with the dogs, but the hyenas soon turned and ran with the stolen food.

HYENA vs LION

Their success was short lived, however, as from nowhere a massive male lion came running out of the bush, wild dogs scattered, and the unsuspecting hyenas had the kill stolen off them! The whole scenario felt like a whirlwind of a dream and quite a surreal experience for having only been awake for about an hour, but to see such a natural display of hierarchy was very dramatic. Needless to say, Ike’s previous words, ‘Welcome to Mombo and the place of plenty’, could not have proved more apt!

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We continued with our morning drive after the exhilarating start, and we did a link up with another vehicle that Mombo’s staff sent out from camp – this had two other guests and some breakfast for us. After stopping for our refreshments, our new companions said they would like to see some leopards if possible. Already feeling rather smug with everything we had already seen, we were happy to go along with their requests. Ike, however, had different ideas, and by the end of the morning drive we had seen the unbelievable drama with the wild dogs, hyenas, and lion, and we had achieved the Big Five (again) with different lions, leopards, and our rhino from the day before. Needless to say, and although every day is different, my experience of Mombo showed that this camp really is ‘the place of plenty’!

If you'd like to encounter your own "Battle of Botswana", then contact our experts here to start planning a safari holiday.