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“Oddballs Enclave - what an experience”

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Oddballs' Palm Island Luxury Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 25 January 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, travelled with friends
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Thank upupherewego
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 7 January 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
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1  Thank RJSpooner64
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 November 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, travelled as a couple
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14  Thank djonce
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 November 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, travelled solo
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2  Thank EisBaer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 October 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, travelled with family
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1  Thank ashah_008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 October 2011

I stayed 2 nights at Oddballs, it was an experience I'll remember the rest of my life. The tents are mounted on platform off the ground, clean and comfortable, with good cots that are easy to sleep on. The staff will come and tidy up the tents each day, at night they are a great place to listen to the abundant wild life as you drift off to sleep. Private outdoor showers and toilet facilities are really nice and very convenient.
The meals are all served in the dining area, long picnic tables with a thatch roof overhead and open to the delta. All the meals were well prepared, no complaints about the food. There is a bar that is always open to supply you with bottled watter, soda and beer.
The guides will take you out to the islands to look for game on their mekoro canoes, they are extremely knowledgable about all the plants, animals and insects and will answer all your questions to a great level of detail. Just the amount of animal life present in the area is really amazing and cannot be described adequately, maybe we were just lucky but in two days of game walks we saw just about everything. On the second day I nearly walked directly into an elephant who had wandered into the camp to snack on one of the trees.
The Okavango Delta is a must see if you are in Botswana and Oddballs is a great place to use as your base of exploration.

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled solo
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Thank Chicag0_Paul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 August 2011

We flew to Oddballs from Maun on a light aircraft which lands on Oddballls own landing strip. The views of the delta are breathtaking with sightings of wildlife especially elephants on the various islands of the Delta. On arrival we were met by Poni and KT the two managers there who were charming and informative. We were also introduced to our Mokoro polers who would be our guides for our time at the camp. We told them before that three of us did not eat red meat and one was vegetarian and they went out of their way to accomodate our dietary requirements with delicious foods. We stayed in the tented accomodation for one night sleeping on comfortable beds with outside flush toilets and showers from buckets suspended filled with solar heated hot water. The views of the river and the game reserve across from the camp are beautiful as you comtemplate them with sundowners on a raised deck. The next day we set off for three days of bush camping in the game reserve. They take you gliding along in silence along the waterways of the delta with all your camping equipment they supplied in the Mokoro. The guides point out all the wildlife including stunning bird life as you pass. We encountered hippos and elephants and they kept a respectful distance from them allowing the animals their space and giving you as much time as you need to watch them. Camping the Moremi game reserve was comfortable even though one dispenses of modern luxuries. We were taken on early morning walks throught the game reserve sometimes taken by Mokoro to other parts then walking . Althoug one does not see a huge amount of wildlife because the delta is flooded and so there is an abundance of water for the animals over a wide area, what you do see is at close quarters. This included a lioness coming face to face with us as she was chasing a wart hog for breakfast. You are briefed how to handle these situations and it all passed off peacefully albeit adrenelin filled. Returning after three nights to the main camp is a pleasure especially hot showers and the food. The staff could not have been more helpful or accomodating and the setting is breathtaking. A wonderful exerience best done in their winter from May to Sept.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank RickyLouise
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

Address: Chief's Island, Botswana
Region: Botswana > North-West District > Okavango Delta
Hotel Style:
Ranked #39 of 73 Speciality Lodging in Okavango Delta
Price Range: $1,012 - $1,114 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 12
Also Known As:
Oddballs Palm Island Hotel Okavango Delta
Oddballs' Palm Island Luxury Lodge Botswana/Okavango Delta

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