Reviews of Sam's Giardino
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Pity about the dog
A convenient place to stay but we feel that the owner did not create a very relaxing atmosphere.
Although promised that the dog would not be in the public rooms when we were there (because of allergies) we had to persuade the owner to keep the dog out of the rooms.
Sam's Giardino review
We thought Sam a little stand-offish when we first arrived, but think he must have been pre-occupied. He was an excellent host, being very informative and helpful. He introduced us to some excellent South African wines and told us about how he trains his staff.
We had dinner at Sam's the first night we arrived and the food was good. The breakfast was the best we had in Namibia - there was such a variety of things available.
Sam provides free internet access and tea/coffee with a wide selection of different tea bags. There are also lots of books (belonging to Einstein, his dog), that are available for browsing.
Sam's is about a 15 minute walk from the centre of Swakopmund - we walked and found it safe.
Overall, we found Sam's a very homely and friendly place to stay.
Sea kayaking excursion: This was a great half-day trip. Jeanne was very helpful and reassured us that the trip was safe. We saw lots of seals and dolphins - it was terrific when they came so close to the kayaks, and there are no other boats around. Jeanne kindly emailed us some digital photos of our trip.
Excursion to coastal desert: This was a great day-trip, even though we didn't quite get to Sandwich Harbour. Our guide was very knowledgeable and helpful. The rest of the party spoke German so he had to repeat everything for us. We loved driving and walking in the dunes, and running down them. We also saw a lot of bird life, including pelicans and flamingoes. Lunch was also excellent.
Sam's Giardino review
Sam is a real gem! A wonderful host; he found an emergency dentist when my partner lost a tooth after we had been turned away by the main practice in Swakopmund.
Managed to get a table at the Tug restaurant in town, which is recommended for the food, even if the service was rushed.
Sam's Giardino review
Food excellent, nice location just outside immediate town centre but easy walking into the centre. Sam's advice was simple and practical Lovely collection of wines and books, even though I don't drink alcohol!
His phrase that has stuck is "Namibia is Africa for Beginners", it is absolutely true. Great choice for breakfast.
A unique hotel
Another warm welcome, with Sam's personal attention to all our needs even our smallest question was answered.
We ate in on two of our three nights, Pierre ably hosted our first evening, and both meals were enhanced by Sam's wine suggestions.
The location was great for getting around and seeing the sights. As ever the staff were friendly, happy and efficient.
Expert Africa comments
We organised a trip to Sandwich Harbour for these travellers, and they commented about it:
"We had a ball on this trip, Ernst was a most knowledgeable and entertaining host. The civil engineering to get along the beach was great fun, the only shame was we only had a short time at Sandwich Harbour itself, this was because of the tides so even Ernst couldn't change that.
Dinner amongst the dunes with a flypast of pelicans was a bonus. The vast quantity of birds at the salt flats were breathtaking, as was the smell. All in all a great trip."
Sam's Giardino review
Sam is a very friendly and helpful host. A short distance and very safe to walk into town for an evening meal. We ate at the Tug, recommended and booked for us by Thomas at Kulula. Sam also provided an extensive evening meal at a reasonable price if you wish. Very comfortable room, plenty of tea and coffee available and free internet which was a bonus.Read more about the whole trip
Did it rain?
Sam was a wonderful host and was quick to help in any way. Particular thanks for sorting out a hire car exchange for us while we were out for the day. The constant availability of tea/coffee and internet on the mezzanine floor was much appreciated. Einstein's library was also much appreciated. It was good to see how Sam's hotel is constantly upgrading, with new ideas and development. We were pleased to find secure carparking behind the gates.Read more about the whole trip
Great base in Swakopmund
Comfortable, with Swiss precision and efficiency. And a free internet connection.
A very good base for activities around Swakopmund
Sam makes this place special
Don't judge by first impressions! On arrival, we were tired and bedraggled and Swakopmund seemed dreary in comparison to the desert and the wilderness regions we had been in. But once inside Sam's hotel, although basic rooms, we soon felt the charm of his dining room and upstairs sitting room and general calm atmosphere.
Sam couldn't have been more helpful making phone calls for us and spending time talking with us which proved invaluable. There is much more than meets the eye. He became a friend in four days and his women staff were all very good and attentive. I left a few items of clothing for the staff to take back to their children or families and I think I am right in saying that every month Sam does a collection of such items to hand on to his staff. This would be worth checking as I would have brought out more clothes to give to them and it might be worth letting all visitors to Sam's know of this distribution, as we can't be the only family who felt they wanted to give something back.
Sam was a wonderful person to talk with and we thank him for all he did for us.
The visit to Mondesa township was truly moving and I would recommend everyone to do this. Wished I could have seen Katatura too. Sam was so interesting to talk to and so kind with his advice. But Mondesa was a turning point for us. Again, worth taking out stuff for the people there - we handed football shirts to the leader of the tour who promised to give them to the neediest of the children. We were totally impressed by the lack of begging and no demands for anything. Instead, one of the tour guides, said it was their policy to collect all donated items and distribute them to the most needy of children rather than us just handing out things in a random way and children then becomoing demanding or even upset if they didn't get anything.
Great evening meal at Sam's. Great breakfasts in candle-light and lots of interesting books. Sam is a unique person who deserves great praise for creating a very unusual place to stay in Swakopmund and we all thank him for his time and kindness. We were sorry to say goodbye to him - in a sandstorm as he was heading off on his bike! We would recomment his guesthouse over any hotel; he provides a personal service and a knowledge and appreciation of our needs and of what Namibia can offer and above all, he doesn't rush one and he listens and takes time to help.
Kayaking & quad biking excursions - OUr Kayaking day was good fun but due to weather condiditons, we didn't make it to the dolphins. We were amongst the seals which was great and really close. jeanne was a lovely lady.
However, rather like the Sandwich Harbour trip, I think it would have been better to forewarn us that we might not see dolphin and that the kayaking was really very basic. We didn't mind but I suspect some in our group were hoping for more serious kayaking. It isn't a chea[ trip and it would be wrong for Namibians to think all of us tourists are rolling in money. Each trip = if there are 5 of you - costs a lot, and so clear information is important to know prior to settting out.
Again, picnic could have done with beers/wine and not just tea and coffee or sodas. Quite a long drive for a relatively short-lived experience of kayaking with the seals. I expect had we been able to go further out and be with dolphins our view would be different. Lovely people who organised the trip - the man and Jeanne.
Quadbiking was done under sandstorm conditions at our choice! Ours sons were desperate not to miss this so we persuaded a guide to take us out! It was amazing. Great guide and great views. Not to be missed.
Township Tour and sand boarding excursions - Sandboarding - all really nice guys and so good for our boys to talk to them. So friendly. They loved the sandboarding - me as a mother of 44 years didn't love it so much!! No pressure put on me and so I watched in the end after doing it 3 times! Very glad we did it as a family. Also, great picnic on the beach afterwards which again was a really good way to integrate with local black Namibians and talk to them properly, All delightful.
Township tour was AMAZING. I am so glad we did this. I can't say how impressed we were with the way it was organised by the guys who took us round. We suggest that they make it clear that there is a meal at the end and dancing and crafts on sale as we felt awful having to make them rush for us at 7pm. We had a dinner appointment at 7.30pm which we would not have booked had we realised that the Tour lasts as long as it does and included local food too. Important to tell tourists this. Ends really mroe like 8pm.
We took some children's clothes out from England and handed them to the Tour leaders who said they would distribute them to the children later. Might want to add this in your brochure. We couldn't get over how there was no begging for anything from us ever. The township people who shared their homes with us were so kind and I felt a bit of a voyeur at times, but the tour leaders told me it was fine. The way we were taken to different homes, to a bar, a craft shop, to meet a chief, a medicine woman...all done with ease and with no feeling of being threatened or unsafe.
We were all humbled and very moved by the whole experience. I would urge everyone to take this tour. Finally, we got to see where so many Namibians live and how they live. Our children won't forget this trip. My youngest son had collected crayons and football shirts to hand over too.
We are developing our photos in order to post them to the Tour leaders, as promised. A small price to pay for taking the photos of the people who were so ready to pose.
Sam's Giardino review
We enjoyed this eccentric place and its owner Sam though would probably have preferred a more authentically local place.
Good if old-fashioned food and a truly memorable breakfast spread.