Reviews of Shinde Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Shinde Camp review
The most luxurious of the sites for us, with large tented 'chalets', fixed cubicle showers, twin washbasins, decanter of sherry on bed side table, impressive dining area etc, but poor guiding and with a rigid attitude to game viewing being confined by meal times.
Our fellow guests liked it a lot apart from the 'low' density of game compared with Chobe. So it depends what your priorities are.
We found our guide Alberto very disappointing, monosyllabic, would grunt 'zebra, hornbill, giraffe' etc without any attempt to inform about the animals/birds/habitat or what he was doing in looking for game.
Our guide had very much a take two photographs and move on approach, rather than knowing when to sit and watch.
To give two examples of how camp routine overrides game viewing:
A pride of lions was feeding on a dead elephant and rather than wait and observe, we had to leave to have our 'sundowner' at it's appointed site and be back in time for dinner. Another vehicle from Ker and Downey's adjacent sister lodge stayed with the elephant in to the evening (able to because the kill was closer to their lodge) and saw the arrival of many hyaena.
On our last morning we saw fresh leopard tracks on our way back to the lodge but couldn't look for the leopard as it would have made us late for lunch
A minor irritation was Ker and Downey's failure to provide the quides with binoculars, our guide borrowed ours as his personal pair had been damaged. Niggling when you go to pick up your binoculars to view something, to find the guide has got there first!
Managers felt superficial and inflexible, and amazingly ignorant about bird life. Food perfectly adequate but not as good as previous camps
If you want a four star hotel that happens to be in the bush with added 'activities' then this is for you. If you want to see and learn as much as you can during your trip to Botswana, then I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole
Expert Africa comments
We are sorry that these travellers did not enjoy Shinde. We forwarded them to the team at Shinde, who commented as follows:
We were surprised and disappointed to hear the comments regarding the guide, Alberto. He is normally rated very highly and even has a mention on Expert Africa’s website. Other guests staying at the same time as these travellers gave excellent feedback on Alberto. We have, however, discussed these travellers’ comments in full with him as we are always striving to improve our service and our guiding.
With regards to returning early to camp, we have looked into this thoroughly. The incident with the lions feeding on the elephant was regrettable, but in order to return to Shinde, the vehicle needed to cross a fairly high river. Alberto left the sighting to cross this river before dark, as crossing it in the dark would not have been safe. Perhaps had he explained this fully to the guests, they would have understood his reason for leaving earlier – and we apologise that this was not communicated to them.
The leopard tracks which were found just before lunch were right on the edge of the game-viewing area, and were heading in the direction of the concession (game-viewing area) next door – through which Shinde does not have permission to drive. In addition, the tracks disappeared into an area of very long grass by the river so the guide took the decision not to follow them so as not to get stuck or damage the vehicle with any hidden hazards in the grass.
With regards to Alberto borrowing these guests’ binoculars, we can understand that this must have been frustrating for them. It is not usually our policy to provide guides with binoculars and Alberto does have his own pair which he usually uses. We asked him about this and unfortunately the day before he had dropped these into the water and they were currently in Maun waiting to be fixed! We usually have a spare set in each camp and we are not sure why Alberto did not use these.
Expert Africa has also noted that these travellers had previously stayed at a private mobile camp, Santantadibe, run by a superb guide with individual attention. Their comments on this camp speak for themselves! We realise that after such an exclusive experience, moving to a slightly larger camp where there were other guests may be a slight anti-climax. We have learnt from this and will, in future, strongly encourage our travellers to visit private mobile camps at the end of their trips, rather than at the beginning or in the middle.
Shinde Camp review
Shinde is in a great location - you get the benefit of both water and game drives. We saw the best big game here (lion and leopard) thanks to some very clever tracking by the ever-knowledgeable guides.
It was also the most luxurious camp we stayed at - but also probably the most formal. The atmosphere was not as relaxed or welcoming as at the other camps, and one of the guides was a little too gung-ho (especially for the 12-year-old in the party - eg inviting elephants to charge).
Nevertheless, a great and memorable time, and an ideal camp if you have limited time and want to sample both kinds of Delta experience.
Shinde Camp review
Following an unpleasant flight we had a fabulous first afternoon gamedrive with a guide (Bee) of the highest calibre whose intimate knowledge and experience enhanced our stay.
The food was probably the best on our trip, with great variety and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Early morning tracking at Shinde
Much enjoyed the tracking experiences at Shinde. Alberto, our guide, made it a fascinating experience, and gave us the chance to see what a Land Cruiser can really do - apart from going to Tesco's! Came up trumps with lion and cheetah.
Very much enjoyed this camp also, and experiencing a drier part of the Delta. Would recommend the boat and mokoro trips also. Again, our guide, Moja, gave us very interesting and informative trips. The staff again were great.
Food superb. Game excellent.
Good tracking by guide. Again, wonderful food and superb service.
But as before, no need to have tea served at 5.30 when having great breakfast at 6.00.
This was our first safari - brilliant
Lots of activities, although the mokoro trip was shortened by elephants getting too close and a cold stong wind. James the guide was very enthusiastic and we learnt a lot from him.
All the camp staff were very helpful and friendly. Great managers, great hospitality
Shinde Camp review
Very nice ambiance, excellent food and service create a relaxing place to stay.
Spacious layout in woodland gives opportunities for birdlife to while away time when in camp.
Tents a little old fashioned in style but are perfectly functional.
5 star ratings for Shinde
This is a wonderful camp, made even more so by the fact that during our visit the previous camp managers (Barbara and Bruce) were then providing relief for the current managers, who were on leave.
Managers Barbara and Bruce, our guide Bee, major domo Julius and virtually everyone else on the staff were absolutely top-notch. The guiding and activities were superb, the best of our trip. Vehicles were new and comfortable. Food was excellent, so was the service.
The site of the camp is wonderful and its overall design just lovely. We would definitely return to this location. I would rank this camp the top overall rating of the four we visited and would recommend to anyone.
Shinde is a well established camp and thus the game seemed more tame! Whislt this means getting very close to them (which was great!) however seemed all too easy to come across the animals compared with our time at Linyanti.
The guides, whilst have the most amazing spotting skills, lacked enthusiasm that we had seen in our earlier camp... The food at Shinde was good but felt the dining setting was a little too formal. We loved the fact there was a pool which meant we could relax in the afternoon between game drives - although it did lack sunloungers and towels for the numbers that wanted to use it.
Shinde excelled in offering a number of different type of activities - mokoros, motoboat trips, walking safaris. The champagne and cheese platter we received as a honeymoon treat was a lovely touch.
Again, as per our comments on Footsteps: the rooms were comfortable, the staff were great, we were lucky enough to be with Julius the Head Guide and deputy manager, who managed to find something different and fascinating every time we went out - and these were not things he knew about in advance and could 'deliver' to us (however accomplished a guide, you can't pre-arrange a huge bush fire lighting up the horizon 20 kilometres way that dramatically illuminated 7 young male lions stalking a moving buffalo herd at sunset!).
We realise that many people like the lavish hospitality bit but we found the evening meal with the long table slightly formal and might have preferred it to be a touch less banquet-like, but its a detail and overall we hugely enjoyed our stay.
Only one suggestion and its something we've noticed across southern Africa, and its that coffee is always made rather weak - but if thats our only gripe, no-one needs to lose sleep, do they?