Night 8 – Ihaha Campsite

Ihaha Campsite, Chobe River Front

IHAHA 17° 50.484’S; 24° 52.748’E –  this is a relatively new camping ground with modern facilities, an attractive reception office and is more remote in nature than others we had stayed at so far. It is one of the two newest campsites in Botswana and is further up stream than the old Serondella camp site which is now closed. Ihaha is the only place you can camp on the Chobe river front in the Chobe National Park. You can also camp in Kasane at the Chobe Safari Lodge campsite, which is a very different experience – see later review.

I was greeted at Ihaha campsite by a very warm, friendly female warden who was called something like Collette or Chantelle. She told me I had come to one of the most beautiful places in Botswana. Her glowing pride in her Park and the campsite was lovely to see. She was genuinely really excited for me to be visiting here and shared the exciting news that a large pride of lions had come near the camp that morning to drink at the riverside. My face must have been a picture because she laughed and said: ‘Are you scared of the lions? Oh, it’s OK, they don’t come in the camp.’ The question of why and how the lions don’t come in a campsite where there are no fences, no other campers to make scary noises, and no signs warning ‘lions keep out’ or ‘shoo, lions’, which lions understand, was a question which increasingly preoccupied me for  the next few days. Of course the lions come in the campsite!!!!

This amazingly beautiful, idyllic campsite is very long and spread out along the front of the Chobe River. Every pitch fronts on to the river and is totally private with only whatever animals wander through to peer at you. The pitches are also very widely spaced apart, so you although there are 8 or so pitches, you may only be aware of one or two others. It is one of the most amazingly beautiful, unspoilt, natural campsites I have ever visited. Looking out from our pitch it felt like I had the Chobe River all to myself, and the animals I shared it with. The solitary nature of it reminded me of Ugab in Namibia. Also because of this it felt very hardcore, 30km from another two-legged friend, but completely surrounded by many varieties of four-legged friends. My head was swivelling like radar.

The ablutions on this campsite were great, albeit miles from any of the pitches, so this is definitely a campsite where you need to drive to the ablution block after dark. The ablution blocks are two tall whitewashed thatched buildings each with two showers, two toilets and several sinks for men and women.  As in all of Botswana the elephants have destroyed the fences and it is no longer as smart as it was and game will still finds access to the camp. This part of the park boasts one of the highest concentrations of elephant in Africa and wide variety of other wildlife which move onto the flood plains to quench their thirst. There is an ablutions block and secluded camping areas. Here you will be camping in a pre booked and paid for campsite.

I was told that after 4pm our site will be given away but no one else was there. At  4.30pm even the camp staff got in their car and went back to Kasane, leaving us out there, 30km from another soul, alone in the bush. I went for a fantastic game drive along the Serondella loops where I saw some lovely Ellies down by the water drinking and playing in the river. I was also rewarded with some lovely sightings of hippo in their pods. I went back to camp to a cracking G&T and watched one of the most stunning sun sets of the trip, joined at dusk by a family of warthogs. The male was very cheeky and came right up to me and had a good root around the cooking equipment.

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17 Responses to “Night 8 – Ihaha Campsite”

  1. Dirkie Odendaal Says:

    When we was at Ihaha in July 2008,we had a-ones-in-a-lifetime expiriens.We packed up to go to Savute when there came a warthog in our camping site and when we looked up, we saw 6-8 wild dogs in our camping site.It was something to remenber!!!

  2. Alfred muhongo Says:

    I am interested in visiting your campsite in December 2009. Kindly provide me with fees for a night and whether a sedan can reach there. I am a Namibian citizen.

  3. dontyouever14 Says:

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

  4. wilddogsandenglishmen Says:

    Hi
    I think you’re a bit confused – this is not the campsite’s website – this is my blog about my trip when I visited this campsite telling my story about my experience there – to stay there you’ll need to contact them separately via the Botswana Tourist Board or similar – my campsite bookings were all done for me by my tour operator Safari Drive.
    Regards,
    Kathy

  5. Katy Says:

    Hi!
    The place looks amazing!
    Do they provide you with the tent or there is no such an option? Did you find it relatively save?
    I’m planning a trip to Africa in December for few months and I’m looking for affordable places to stay. Can you by any chance recommend any campside at the vicinity of Victoria Falls?

    • wilddogsandenglishmen Says:

      Hello Katy,
      Ihaha is very, very special.
      I had a tent which came with my self-drive camping-equipped vehicle, so slept in that on top of my landrover.
      Was marvellous.
      The campsites do not provide any equippment of their own, you need to take your own/ hire it from somewhere else.
      I didn’t go to Victoria Falls I’m afraid, but if you check out http://www.freewebs.com/luangwablondes/ or the Lonely Planet Thorntree Africa Forum, or The Fodor’s Forum http://www.fodors.com/community/africa-the-middle-east/botswana/ I am sure you’ll find helpful information.
      Have a lovely time, you’re going to one of the best places on earth.
      Best wishes,
      Kathy

  6. Heather Says:

    I’m glad you did this blog; it’s helping me finalize our route we’re going to do next month!! Looks like you had a great time and I can’t wait for our trip!!!

  7. Joyce Chika Says:

    CHOBE BOAT CRUISE/GAME DRIVE
    LET OUR LOCAL GUIDES SHOW YOU THE HIDDEN TREASURES OF THE CHOBE AND THE SURROUNDING AREAS

  8. Marius van Breda Says:

    Hi There

    Your report is excellent and very valuable for my planning

    I plan to visit Chobe (Kasane) in September 2011. I will travel via Maun, Nata to Kasane. I believe it is a tarred road. I will be driving a BMW X3 with off-road trailer.

    Will it be possible to reach Ihaha with the BMW and trailer. Otherwise I can leave the trailer at Kasane and do day visiting only

    Regards
    Marius

    • wilddogsandenglishmen Says:

      Dear Marius
      the road is tarred from Maun via Nata to Kasane. Please note that the lodge I stayed in at Nata was destroyed a couple of years ago, although they may have rebuilt it since, I’m not sure. The tarred road goes west from Kasane but runs south of where Ihaha is, so to get to Ihaha you will need to drive along a very bumpy off-road track but it’s not too far, maybe about a 45 minute drive, which you’d do very, very slowly because of the bumps but also because of all the amazing wildlife who do walk along the track as well. Is your vehicle a 4 x 4 with off-road capability? People do take trailers and you may be fine, that’s your call, but the vehicles I always saw getting stuck were ones with trailers, so you may want to leave the trailer behind and just take with you what you can carry in the vehicle. It’s well worth it, Ihaha is very, very lovely – but you’ll need to book your campsite in advance, I don’t believe you can just turn up, and as you’re going in the dry season it’s the most popular time of year and the campsite being very small does get booked up a long time in advance, so make sure you contact the campsite managers and book your place to stay overnight. Driving after dark isn’t allowed in the park, so if you really want to see the amazing wildlife at dusk I strongly recommend you camp overnight there rather than try and just see it in the daytime, camping at Ihaha is an incredible experience.
      You’re in for such a treat.
      Best of luck with your planning.
      Kathy

      • Marius van Breda Says:

        Hi Kathy
        The vehicle is always 4×4, but without low range. The ground clearance is better than normal sedan but not as high as say Landrover or Toyota Hi Lux. I realize that the road from Ihaha further to Savute is heavy 4×4. Did vehicles with trailers got stuck between Kasane and Ihaha?

        Regards
        Marius

  9. micmic Says:

    Great description, just what I needed since I’ve booked 3 nights at Ihaha this August. I can’t wait!

    • al swart Says:

      dear micmic

      do you have any feedback regarding your visit to Ihaha in August 2011 as we will visit Ihaha this year during same time. camping grounds really damaged by wildlife or is this just a rumour ?
      André ( alswart@mweb.co.za)

  10. Ina Laubscher Says:

    Hallo

    We booked accommodation, in Ihaha Camp ( Chobe) 1-3 April 2012. In your opinion, do you only have to sleep in a rooftop tent, or are there campers making use of the normal groundlevel tents ? Regards Ina

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