Mombo – The Fourth Generation has begun!
A new year, a new beginning: introducing the fourth Mombo Camp.
Over the past months, we’ve described the wonders of our Place of Plenty, from its prolific fauna and flora to some of the “legends” that have touched our hearts over the years. We’ve explained how we’re building our new camp and how much care we are taking in keeping it the unashamedly (but appropriate and sustainable) luxurious camp that we have always known and loved.
Today, we look back at the generations of Mombo.
Back in 1984, Mombo was part of a concession that was designated as a hunting area, and a hunting camp – of simple reed and canvas structures – was built. After photographic tourism began to take off, the concessionaires turned Mombo into a photographic safari camp. In 1990, we were offered Mombo, and upon checking out the area, found that the game was skittish, but the sightings were unusual – a sign of things to come.
When Wilderness took over management in 1991, the first thing we did was upgrade the camp. While a few steps up from the original, it was a “true bush experience,” where a hippo enjoyed the swimming pool, and the two elderly Land Rovers used for game drives were likely to break down on a regular basis!
With the wildlife becoming more relaxed and sightings both in variety and numbers increasing exponentially, the ancient name in the baYei proverb – “a Place of Plenty” – could re-emerge. Mombo had come to life.
In 1999, Wilderness was awarded the tender for the lease of the Mombo Concession, and motivated for permission to relocate the camp to a site that was accessible year round. Once received, work began on a new luxury camp, comprising Mombo and Little Mombo, on a beautiful expansive floodplain that more often than not was dotted with wildlife. It opened in June 2000.
People said such luxury didn’t belong here. It would ruin the ‘soul’ of the Okavango, it was “over the top.” But instead, Mombo changed the perception of what luxury tourism was, and how conservation could – and should – be achieved using ecotourism. It was at the same time and in the same spirit that the company approached the Botswana government with a radical idea: to release rhino back into the wilds of the Okavango at Mombo. And so it was that rhino and Mombo became synonymous.
We have taken the lessons we’ve learnt over the years of building camps with as light a footprint as possible in wild remote places and applied it, with love, to our Place of Plenty.