Travel reviews

Travel reviews by Mr and Mrs O - Somerset


Okavango Season 9

On this trip, I visited Botswana between 21-Sep-2014 and 5-Oct-2014 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

Our 9th trip to the Okavango and twelfth to Africa with Expert Africa. Many thousands of air miles and almost as many nights in safari lodges and never a foot wrong from this most excellent company. Thank you and for this trip a special thanks to Megan - again.

We had another wonderful holiday and our only concern was our stay at Tubu Tree. We knew it might no longer be to our liking but after two fantastic previous stays we simply had to try it again. Compared to the old small formula the new bigger camp does not really work for us.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

It is clear things are changing in the Okavango Delta.

Some examples are camps increasing the number of rooms, the distribution of general game and weed clogging channels and lagoons. There always were changes but recently they appear to be having more impact on the differences between camps and seasons. If the changes continue it will be more important than ever to bring them to the attention of clients when planning holidays.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
The Residence
22-Sep-2014 review: The Residence Boutique Hotel
ExcellentExcellent
Tubu Tree Camp, Botswana
23-Sep-2014 review: Big New Tubu Tree
GoodGood
Kwetsani Camp, Botswana
26-Sep-2014 review: Kwetsani Visit 6
ExcellentExcellent
Xigera, Botswana
29-Sep-2014 review: Xigera Visit 3
ExcellentExcellent
The Residence
2-Oct-2014 review: The Residence Replay
ExcellentExcellent

Our Eighth Trip to the Okavango

On this trip, I visited Botswana between 23-Apr-2014 and 7-May-2014 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

After a few self inflicted disappointments last year we returned to our well tried formula on this trip and had the most wonderful holiday. As usual the Expert Africa input was impeccable and the new Mrs Green, aka Megan, excelled. At no point were we left wondering where, what or when and knew that had anything gone wrong it would be sorted.

Almost without exception all the managers, staff, guides and boatmen who looked after us went out of their way to ensure that we had the best possible experience. It worked and we saw pretty much all that the Delta has to offer in relative comfort and with excellent food - even if it is delivered 8 times a day!

Another triumph for Expert Africa and Wilderness. Thank you.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

No. It aint broke so don't fix it!

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
The Residence
24-Apr-2014 review: The Residence Boutique Hotel
ExcellentExcellent
Chitabe Lediba, Botswana
25-Apr-2014 review: Chitabe Lediba - Visit Two
ExcellentExcellent
Jacana Camp, Botswana
30-Apr-2014 review: Jacan - Also Visit Two
ExcellentExcellent
Little Vumbura, Botswana
3-May-2014 review: Fifth Visit to Little Vumbura
ExcellentExcellent
The Residence
7-May-2014 review: The Residence review
ExcellentExcellent

Our Tenth Trip with Expert Africa

On this trip, I visited Botswana between 13-Apr-2013 and 24-Apr-2013 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

Any limitations with this trip were entirely of our own making. We have been travelling to Botswana for long enough to know what works and what is less to our liking. The planning done for us by Megan was exemplary. It worked like a dream and we were confident that had anything gone wrong it would be 'sorted'.

Overall we had yet another magnificent holiday marred only by a guide who has probably been in situ for too long. The pity is that he is the 'best friend' of our guide at Savuti who was first class. Similar seasonal difficulties but very different outcomes.

We have 4 observations that may help future planning:

a. Wilderness red meat. At the prices they charge they simply cannot continue to serve guests meat that cannot be cut let alone chewed. Can expert Africa please ask them what is going on?

b. Approaching 73 I am the last person to make ageist remarks but at Sandibe we were teamed in the vehicle with a Belgian man accompanied by his 88 year old mother. She was remarkable but had severe mobility problems, especially entering and leaving the vehicle. Perhaps camps should make special arrangements for such guests? I hope so, as I might be using them in the future!

c. Newsletters. We like to browse the Wilderness web site before travel to see what is going on in the camps we are to visit and get a flavour of the state of the annual flood etc. This year, up, to the time we left in mid April, there was not a single Savuti their news reports but unless they are recent they are useless.

d. Room Increases. There have been one or two reports of camps increasing the number of rooms. As old Okavango hands we have been willing to pay premium prices as we have been assured of very low guest numbers and the exclusivity that goes with it. If the Delta is to become as crowded as some other safari destinations it will be difficult to maintain exclusive prices. A number of fellow travellers expressed just this sentiment this time.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

Nothing further to add. We will be contacting you for 2014 very soon!

Feedback response

We were delighted to hear that, despite some less than perfect aspects, these travellers had yet another superb trip to Botswana. However, such honest feedback is vital and so we forwarded their comments to the camps and lodges concerned.

These travellers found the meat at Savuti tough and difficult to cut. The camp were very sorry to hear this, especially as they told Expert Africa they tenderise the steaks before grilling them. However, they discovered that they did forget to set the table with steak knives. They assured Expert Africa that their meat supplier has been contacted and they will be keeping an eye on the meat supply to ensure that the cuts are of high grade.

Sandibe appreciated the suggestions from these travellers regarding older travellers, and say that they will take them into consideration. After addressing the issues about their guide with the lodge, Expert Africa and these travellers are assured that this is being investigated and addressed.

Sandibe have just recently announced that they lodge will be rebuilt next year. Expert Africa joins these travellers in their sentiment and will be visiting the lodge once the work is completed, for an update and to see for ourselves what impact the changes have made. In the meantime, Expert Africa will update the webpage as we learn more about the plans.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Westcliff Hotel
14-Apr-2013 review: Westcliff Hotel review
ExcellentExcellent
Savuti Camp, Botswana
15-Apr-2013 review: Savuti- A Preview of Paradise?
ExcellentExcellent
Sandibe Safari Lodge, Botswana
19-Apr-2013 review: Sandibe - A Return Visit After 11 Years
GoodGood
Westcliff Hotel
23-Apr-2013 review: Westcliff Hotel review
ExcellentExcellent

The Okavango Delta - Season 7

On this trip, I visited Botswana between 26-Apr-2012 and 7-May-2012 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

Our seventh trip to the Okavango and ninth to Africa with Expert Africa. Another epic holiday and another singular example of the result of excellent planning by a team who care and know what they are doing. Our 2013 trip is well into planning. This time we met a number of other guests who had travelled without the benefit of such expert guidance. Many were unprepared, ill equipped and even without essential mandatory inoculations. We gave out a number of your cards!

Thank you again for another fantastic holiday and we only regret that the onset of age may eventually remove us from your mailing list. Meanwhile we will keep spending the kids inheritance!!

For prospective travellers, listen to Expert Africa.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

Not this time!

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Little Vumbura, Botswana
26-Apr-2012 review: An Island Gem
ExcellentExcellent
Kwetsani Camp, Botswana
29-Apr-2012 review: The Jewel of NG25
ExcellentExcellent
Tubu Tree Camp, Botswana
2-May-2012 review: Second Visit to a Great Camp
ExcellentExcellent
The Westcliff
6-May-2012 review: A Hotel With a Difference
ExcellentExcellent

A First Tanzania Safari

On this trip, I visited Tanzania between 8-Jan-2011 and 21-Jan-2011 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

GoodGood

I suspect our main problem is having been spoiled by too many Botswana holidays. Tanzania was quite beautiful; 2 of the camps were pretty well spot on as advertised but choosing Manze was our mistake and made against Liz's advice. Overall, the bird and game sightings were excellent, bearing in mind it should have been wet with lush vegetation. In effect the Selous and Ruaha were having a mini dry season and we benefitted greatly from it, albeit with some pretty savage humidity at times.

We were privileged in having Kwihala and Beho Beho totally to ourselves and were looked after royally in both camps. Both delivered top notch guiding and everything that there was to see, we saw. We were a little disappointed in the park rules for Ruaha and the impact that nearby shooting in Selous and poaching in both reserves is having on game and bird behaviour. Unusually I collected a small portfolio of photos of damaged animals. Coastal is a bit chaotic and BA really needs to review the standard and scheduling of catering on the return flight from Dar.

On balance we had yet another great holiday thanks to Liz and Expert Africa.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

In respect of this holiday, the information on Kwihala will need a major update after the move and improvements this spring and I suggest potential clients should be told of the off road and driving in the dark restrictions that are imposed in Ruaha.

Coastal's 'flexible' scheduling may also need to be considered for clients with tight schedules.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Lake Manze Adventure Camp, Tanzania
9-Jan-2011 review: Lake Manze - Ouch!
GoodGood
Kwihala Camp, Tanzania
11-Jan-2011 review: Lion Free Kwihala
ExcellentExcellent
Beho Beho, Tanzania
15-Jan-2011 review: Beho Beho - A fabulous birthday venue
ExcellentExcellent
Oyster Bay, Tanzania
20-Jan-2011 review: Oyster Bay and another meeting with Charlie
ExcellentExcellent

Okavango Delta Visit 5

On this trip, I visited Botswana between 1-Sep-2010 and 16-Sep-2010 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

Anyone who can put up with being fed 6 times a day, bone shaken in a Landrover or baked in the sun in a motorboat/mokoro must be mad but we keep going back because we absolutely love it. Expert Africa's planning and execution were, as ever, faultless. Any criticisms of the camps must be viewed in the light of consistently high standards across the board and are made when things are 99.9% rather than 101%.

This was the first time we had noticed a significant difference between the Wilderness Classic camps in tems of room size and facilities. It might be worth making this point in the brochure. People will still go because each camp has its unique charm or attraction.

This year was special because the annual flood was so high that there was still considerable water in places normally dry in September and a lot of the big game has moved. Is it worth considering bringing major weather/natural events to client attention in time for them to perhaps change their itinerary? We planned wet, dry, wet, dry and were not disappointed but we met a number of guests (not Expert Africa) who were deeply disappointed that they had been expecting the big 5 and had to be satisfied with mostly birds.

We had another 5 star holiday. Thank you. In overview, both Xigera and Tubu Tree feted us with extra activities. Jacana had none, not even a traditional evening while the 4 nights ay Chitabe Lediba provided just a traditional evening. Interesting contrast reflecting management styles?

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Xigera, Botswana
2-Sep-2010 review: A Heronry with Attached Safari Lodge
ExcellentExcellent
Tubu Tree Camp, Botswana
5-Sep-2010 review: Tubu - Where All the Game Is
ExcellentExcellent
Jacana Camp, Botswana
8-Sep-2010 review: A Lovely Small Water Camp
ExcellentExcellent
Chitabe Lediba, Botswana
11-Sep-2010 review: Chitabe Lediba or Chitabe Minor?
ExcellentExcellent
The Grace, South Africa (this camp has since closed)
15-Sep-2010 review: The Grace
ExcellentExcellent

Another Great Holiday by Expert Africa

On this trip, I visited Namibia between 2-Sep-2009 and 14-Sep-2009 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

We have travelled to Botswana and South Africa with Expert Africa 6 times now and are already planning our 2010 edition. This was another example of how to tailor a holiday for clients ensuring that they have the holiday that suits them.

More used to Botswana there were differences but while we could not see all of Namibia in the time available Sabina ensured what we did see was the best available. We had numerous experiences in our short stay in this amazing country - mountains, desert, classic mopane bush and high veldt. We saw so many wonderful animals and birds and were looked after quite royally. Another terrific holiday.

Thank you and we look forward to you looking after us many more times in the future.

Suggestions for improvements:

We think the Expert Africa product is second to none and we never fail to sell you to people interested in Africa. We have already mailed you about the outstanding co-ordination you set up to re-arrange our flights home when we were fogged in in Damaraland. Just what we have come to expect of a great company. As to Namibia just a few general observations:

Can you ask Wilderness Safaris to see if they can dissuade their camp managers from always feeling they have to talk to us if we are alone. Sometimes it is nice just to sit and enjoy the place in peace and quiet.

Wilderness and Okonjima in Namibia seem to overlook the added value to a game drive of stopping for morning coffee. Works in the Okavango why not in Namibia?

Finally, it might be worth reminding travellers to Namibia that much of the north of the country is several thousand feet above sea level with very low humidity. Plays havoc with sensitive sinuses but makes one very fit!!

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Kulala Wilderness Camp, Namibia
3-Sep-2009 review: Two Nights on Iron Mountain
ExcellentExcellent
Okonjima Bush Camp, Namibia
5-Sep-2009 review: Spotted Cats and Luxury
ExcellentExcellent
Ongava Tented Camp, Namibia
8-Sep-2009 review: Ongava Tented, a Unique Experience
ExcellentExcellent
Desert Rhino Camp, Namibia
11-Sep-2009 review: Rhino Tracking for the Faint Hearted
ExcellentExcellent

My Sep 2008 trip

On this trip, I visited South Africa between 1-Sep-2008 and 17-Sep-2008 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

We had a family visit at the centre of this trip and the itinerary was built around it. Had it not been for the Stellenbosch hotel mistake this would have been a 99.5% success but the D'Ouwe dragged it down to a 98%er.

We love your holidays and the efficiency and expert kowledge you apply to getting it right for us. Long may it continue. We look forward to planning a Namibia/Botswana combo with you for 2009!

Oddly the only Okavango camp we have not wanted to return to was Sandibe also run by CCA who manage Kwandwe. We felt the Sandibe buildings similarly poorly suited to the environment. I would welcome the opportunity to talk about the Kwandwe management, the D'Ouwe Werf and Samara game.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Oude Werf, South Africa
2-Sep-2008 review: D'Ouwe Werf - A hotel that has lost its' way
PoorPoor
Klippe Rivier Country House, South Africa (this camp has since closed)
7-Sep-2008 review: A Dream Hotel in a Wonderful Location
ExcellentExcellent
Hog Hollow Country Lodge , South Africa
8-Sep-2008 review: Hog Hollow in the rain
GoodGood
Samara Karoo Lodge, South Africa
9-Sep-2008 review: Samara Sensational Scenery
ExcellentExcellent
Kwandwe Ecca Lodge, South Africa
12-Sep-2008 review: Kwandwe for great game and birds
ExcellentExcellent
Rosenhof Country Lodge
15-Sep-2008 review: The Rosenhof at Oudtshoorn
ExcellentExcellent
Roggeland Country House, South Africa (this camp has since closed)
16-Sep-2008 review: Roggeland Country House review
GoodGood

Orwins Okavango 2008

On this trip, I visited Botswana between 2-Apr-2008 and 15-Apr-2008 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

Another triumph for Expert Afica and Wilderness Safaris. Oh for the dream team of this duo and Virgin Atlantic!!

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Kwetsani Camp, Botswana
3-Apr-2008 review: Kwetsani Camp review
ExcellentExcellent
Little Vumbura, Botswana
6-Apr-2008 review: Little Vumbura review
ExcellentExcellent
Little Kwara, Botswana
10-Apr-2008 review: Little Kwara review
GoodGood
The Grace, South Africa (this camp has since closed)
13-Apr-2008 review: Overnight at The Grace at Rosebank in J'burg
ExcellentExcellent