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very well-designed bush camp, an elephant lover's paradise

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 05 Nov 2021
A stay at Old Mondoro is probably the best gift you can give to an elephant lover. There are elephants roaming the grounds of the camp everyday. While not habituated, they are definitely more used to human presence.

The camp is designed such that it has a open concept. During daytime, the blinds are lifted so you can look out of your room easily to spot game. There is also an outer deck where you can nap on the day bed as the elephants walk by. During nighttime, all blinds are pulled down again and you feel as if you are sleeping in a normal room. So i would call it a semi-bush camp.

The bathroom area has a tub which I soaked in while watching three elephants sparring in the river 50 feet away from me. They seem to be a mischievous bunch because the same sparring happen again the next afternoon, although I was not 100% sure if they were the same elephants. And let's say the last time I stepped into a tub was decades ago....

Another memorable moment was witnessing Turndown standing on its hind legs, reaching for a winterthorn branch. I always thought this is something that can only be observed at Mana Pools NP, but apparently a few elephants around Old Mondoro have also added this skill to their repertoire.

I can understand why people say Old Mondoro is magical.
Date of stay: October 2021
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      Reviews (284)
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      15 - 20 of 284 reviews
      Reviewed 22 October 2021

      Old Mondoro is situated on the banks of the Zambezi River and one of the last remaining true bush camps in the LZNP - combining rustic with comfort - an absolute treasure! Elephant are prolific IN camp and buffalo are often around, so one must always exercise caution when walking in camp.

      This was our second trip here and we were able to secure a 3 nights stay in camp (something that can be impossible to do due to its popularity with photographers and bush enthusiasts - I can only attribute it to the current COVID situation). I only wish we had had stayed longer at Old Mondoro we absolutely LOVE this place. It does not disappoint.

      Room: Accommodations here are tents that are open completely on one side to the unobstructed views of either the Zambezi River or the lagoon (as ours was - Tent #4). The setting is an ideal place for exceptional game viewing. We frequently either had elephant grazing in the lagoon alongside our tent or buffalo along with a variety of other animals and birdlife - very relaxing. In the middle of the room is a large bed with mosquito netting, a desk and chair face your private deck area and there is a fan for those very hot days. The shaded deck is lovely, with a day bed on it and 2 chairs where you can just sit and watch the bush tv, or take an afternoon siesta. The sink and the loo are inside of the room. There is a large shower area outside and for those who like to soak in the tub, a tub with a view of the lagoon outside. All the camp operates on solar power, but there is sufficient power to charge your items in your room.

      The main area where the dining is done sits alongside the Zambezi River with spectacular views. The bar is there where you can grab something to drink or sit and just enjoy the surroundings. Meals were exceptional. Madeleine and Mark were wonderful hosts making sure everyone was able to enjoy themselves and had enough to eat.

      James was an awesome guide and Samora was a great tracker. I don't know HOW James and Samora saw the lion pride tucked away on an island or how we crossed over to get on that island but we were the only ones who were able to get there and see the entire pride that day. They also located the pack of wild dogs that had been elusive for days, 23 dogs with 19 pups... on a hunt that ended in the killing of 3 impala (we only saw the 1 killed the other vehicle saw 2 more killed just a short distance away by the rest of the pack at nearly the same time). Amazing sightings alongside an incredible amount of elephant, there were buffalo, kudu, impala, waterbuck, leopard... this is a game rich area with few other vehicles in the vicinity. If you are going to the Lower Zambezi do not miss this camp! Absolutely one of our all time favorite camps (and we have been on many safaris) and our #1 recommendation in Zambia!

      If you are worried about traveling to Zambia during COVID, don't be. Zambia Ground Handlers took care of everything to make this trip safe in light of the pandemic. They arranged all the necessary COVID tests required to return and everyone was masked and socially distanced. Everything went smoothly and everyone in all the camps as well as all the pilots were vaccinated. Guests generally had their own guide to minimize contact with others as well. I felt safer here than back in the states!

      Room tip: Ask for a room with a lagoon view
      Date of stay: September 2021
        • Value
        • Cleanliness
        • Service
      2  Thank Cindy-Milford
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
      Reviewed 13 September 2021

      We spent two nights at Old Mondoro and there's no question it was one of the highlights of our trip to Zambia. Our guide, Sebastian, is the best. He connected us with amazing wildlife sightings. In fact, one morning he showed us where a leopard had killed an impala right next to our cabin and dragged it 25 yards behind a dead tree. I had brought my trail camera and was able to capture footage of the leopard returning the next night to finish eating the impala and also got video of a huge croc dragging the carcass away. The accommodations are wonderful. Somehow they are able to combine rustic with luxurious. Cabin 3 overlooks a beautiful lagoon and we got to watch elephants bathing every afternoon off our back porch. Juliet was the perfect host, taking care of all of our needs. The food was spectacular as well. Now is the time to visit Zambia and experience it with very few tourists there. . Don't let Covid scare you. You will feel safer at these camps than you do at home. Everyone on staff is vaccinated and being in the bush is a natural social distancer. We were the only people at Old Mondoro for two nights and we were treated like royalty. This is a special place that will always hold a place in our hearts.

      Room tip: Cabin 3 is the best!
      Date of stay: August 2021
        • Value
        • Sleep Quality
        • Service
      1  Thank DS14640
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
      Reviewed 12 September 2021 via mobile

      What an amazing experience this was. There were many highlights that put Old Mondoro at the top of the list of camps we’ve visited. First and foremost was the outstanding guide we had in Sebastian, who shared information with us that we had never heard before and had an unbelievable eye for spotting animals that most guides would have missed. He also has the unique ability to make even an impala (bless their hearts) seem interesting. Between his superb knowledge, commitment to duty, and friendly disposition, he’s easily one of the top guides we have ever had. We loved the camp and the closer interaction with the wild elephants that visited camp. I was initially worried as the tents are quite rustic and open, but I came to love the setup and the incredible view right outside our room. Not to mention I got the best sleep ever here. Juliet and the rest of the team took such excellent care of us and ensured our needs and desires were met. We now understand why Old Mondoro is such a highly coveted camp and consider ourselves lucky to have been granted the opportunity to visit.

      Date of stay: August 2021
      Trip type: Travelled as a couple
      1  Thank Dio9mm
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
      Reviewed 9 September 2021

      There is an earthiness to this camp, an organic richness that pairs well with the remote feel of the Zambian wilderness. It is simply stunning. Madelaine and Mark are the hosts.

      Just recently stayed for five nights at this camp (as I’m writing this I’m still in country finishing the remainder of my safari).

      The camp itself is in a beautiful setting along the banks of the flowing Zambezi river, and the main area where all gathering takes place, including meals and hanging out by the bush TV, is an open sided design, light, casual, breezy and the stunning views are all 360 degrees. Very beautiful. Guest tents face the lagoon or river, with great views from the back deck – you can spend hours just watching wildlife from the deck. Wonderful private outdoor tubs with separate showers. Tent 3 is where it’s at if you can get it (trust me on that one).

      Game: Essentially, wild dogs (and more wild dogs). Dogs for days. Dogs every game drive. Currently a pack of 23 with more on the way. They are denning in the area and when the pups are born, who knows where the pack ends up. But they should be around for some time. Of course, there are also lions, leopards, buffalo, hyena, impala, and many other animals. Stunning game drives, including predator/prey interaction. Ellies visit the dining area daily– so close! Great guiding by James and Samora.

      Food: Outstanding. Madelaine oversees the kitchen with I believe at least three chefs. Nothing leaves the kitchen that is not amazing. Entrees are fabulous, salads and soups mouth-watering, and the desserts are to die for, especially the chocolate lave cake and the ginger brownie. They are so accommodating as with a little arm twisting Mads shared a couple of recipes with me.

      Staff/Hosts: There is a focused warmth here with the staff, and the smiles, greetings and conversations are real and down-to-earth. Not forced like in some camps. Everyone happy. Madalisto (Blessings) the bartender had a smile that could light up a room.

      Mark and Madeleine are the true beating heart of the camp, and their enthusiasm, sense of humour, and kindness flows outwards and infects the staff in an ideal way. Smiles and laughter are genuine, and there is a relaxed feel that is unique. Nothing asked for is too much. Madelaine’s warm smiles, cheery attitude and general overall cheekiness throughout each day were something to always look forward to, and Mark’s booming, infectious voice, laugh and enthusiasm were not to be missed. Gonna miss all of them….

      As a solo traveller for this trip at least, they made me feel welcome and they truly went out of their way to ensure I was comfortable. Never ate alone even when it was not busy.

      Understand: I have been to 20+ camps on many African Safari’s and this camp is absolutely my new #1 camp – it is that good!

      Just go already!

      Room tip: Tents 3, 4 or 5
      Date of stay: September 2021
        • Location
        • Sleep Quality
        • Service
      1  Thank 1flagg
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
      Reviewed 19 August 2021 via mobile

      Going on safari is special enough, but being in an intimate camp on the Zambezi in a national park (this part of which was formed by the damning of the river sometime ago) creates a very unique environment and also some unique challenges for the people who manage the camp.
      To get to Old Mondoro you need to fly into Jeki in a bush plane, A more typical dirt airstrip on a flat plane at the south end of the park, you would not consider this an airport by most people’s standards. I suppose someone could drive or come by boat but typical is plane, so you will be met by someone from the camp. It makes me laugh when reviews say, “airport transportation is available”.
      Your safari starts as you fly in and when you’re picked up at the airstrip at the foot of the mountains; from there you will drive across the old river plain, down the escarpment to the new river plain, all of which is more than 4000 sq kilometers or remote, roadless land, the unique Lower Zambezi National Park Zambia.

      There are no fences but the animals are so much contained by the mountains and the escarpments and so here you see some unique species and groupings however you will also watch the animals go from the Zambia side of the Zambezi that you will be on across to the Zimbabwe side of the Zambezi… Not an easy feat even by boat with swift running currents and varied depths, but they do it every day.

      A very intimate camp, run by a husband and wife team Madeleine and Mark, there are only five cabins (one of which is a family cabin with two bedrooms) all the others are meant for a single or couple. Three cabins are on a lagoon off the river that allows you to sit on your deck as elephants, hippos, birds, water bucks, monitors, baboons, Buffalo, even the odd snake, lion or leopard come to that lagoon to drink and bathe. It does mean you must always have someone escort you from your cabin to the center of camp, except in the middle of the day when it is plenty light but you need to be aware.

      They prefer smaller groups and will only fill the whole camp if it is taken by one family or one group. What that means is you get an incredible level of attention and service and with only a maximum of two vehicles driving, you don’t ever have to see anyone else or worry about how much time you have viewing animals while sitting in your vehicle. Because it is small and everybody is so experienced and well-trained you have options for walking safaris, too. They will cater to whatever your interest: big game, birds, plants, waterline, Savannah life.. water. In our group some wanted to fish so, instead of going for long afternoon and evening drives, we spent the afternoons on a boat on the river casting for tiger fish, having our landowners, watching the elephants cross from one side to the other and, either choosing to meet up with a vehicle to drive in dark looking for nocturnal animals, or simply staying out on the water till we went in for dinner. Heavenly!

      The only animals you won't see here are giraffe and rhinos..But you will see lions, leopards (and maybe their cubs as we did), you might be lucky enough to see wild dogs making a kill of impala as we did, you will see tons of zebra, cape buffalo, water buck, baboons, monkeys, impala..,
      All in this gorgeous remote area with a pure totally dark sky at night to just blow your mind for stars... there are so few places on earth that are truly dark sky areas but this is one.

      Now to the food… Maddie has done an incredible job, everybody is so well-trained, and they use the freshest possible food, sourced from very nearby, to give you amazing meals, beautifully laid out, beautifully thought out, and incredibly delicious to eat, al fresco as always. When your camp is inside a national park it’s always more challenging because you can’t grow a garden, much as they would love to. And food comes in so rarely, but they create fabulous food with sweet and savory at every meal. If you need something special it’s always best to tell them that before you arrive so she has time to create menus meals order and do the absolute best she can which is the only thing they do there… Their very best!

      We have some friends who have gone there every year for 5 to 12 years. That speaks loads about a camp and the people who run it. Definitely put this on your list and then go to Northeastern Zambia two S. Luangwa and compare the two remote areas. You will have fabulous experiences at both.

      Room tip: Not open on the rainy season, shoulder season is May and October Cabins 1 and 2 are on Zambezi, others around the corner on the lagoon
      Date of stay: June 2021
      Trip type: Travelled with friends
      2  Thank VirginiaCW
      This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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