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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mrs & Mr G from Washington

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

5

Excursions taken

0

My Feb 2018 trip

Botswana and 1 other country between 27 Feb 2018 and 17 Mar 2018

Trip rating: Excellent
"We had the best time in spite of some hiccups. We went previously in the dry season so it was quite interesting going in the "green" season. We are so glad we did! It was fantastic seeing so many new born animal babies and so many of the birds were in mating plumage which can be so different from regular plumage. We really like the green season best of all!

As for the camps, Wilderness Camps are so well run and maintained. So far we have not seen any camps who can hold a candle to their standard. If we go back a 3rd time to Botswana or any of the other countries that have Wilderness camps...........we will go with Expert Africa and Wilderness Safari Camps.

It was wonderful working with Maruska Adye in New Zealand. We used her 5 years ago and were so delighted to work with her again. We truly appreciate Expert Africa's approach of good common sense when planning a trip and listening to what a customer thinks (ha!) they want versus what is realistic. All documents were spot on and we knew that all details were addressed. It was wonderful to be met by various individuals at the airports as one is never sure where to go in a new airport.

Thank you for a great trip!

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

Perhaps letting folks know what kind of power plug can be found in the camps. What is stated on a general query about plugs on the internet does not translate to what the camps have (ie. Bristish plug in Nkwali!)"

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


Nkwali

Nkwali

"Nkwali"

5 nights Arrived 27 Feb 2018
"Rooms: Open to the elements and wildlife/bugs at all times. Hippo deterrent pulled across the front of the room at night but still open at night at the top. No screens. There are no areas to place clothing in order to unpack except for 2 shelves on each side of the room. There are 4 hangers with 2 being used for robes. Bathroom has a huge shower with 2 shower heads and plenty of hot water. Monkeys and others can get in via wall surrounding shower area. There is remodeling taking place to the bathrooms in each room. The room was adequate but very poor as one had to live out of their suitcase due to lack of a wardrobe. Didn't appreciate baboon spider in the room!

We were able to use our CPAPs but we were surprised that the plugs were British 3 prong plugs. Everything we had read was that Zambia used South African plugs. We were able to use a converter plug provided by host Michael. It might be important to let folks know about the British style plugs! We never found any distilled water.

Service: Very attentive at meals, during activities and in general. Not happy with the way the last day in camp went (see below). We were very surprised to be met at the Lusaka airport by a Robin Pope Safari representative who made sure we were all checked in for the continuing flight to Mfue. What a nice surprise for us.

Food: Breakfast was in the bar area and cooked over an open fire. Good variety of food to include eggs cooked to order, porridge, cereal and fruit. Lunch was in dining area and was a buffet of local dishes to include hot food and salads. Dinner was in the same dining area with dinner being served individually with out asking if one wanted specific items and portions as it was doled out in the kitchen and placed in front of each guest. Dinner was very much a meat and potatoes fare as if catering European meals.

Activities: We went on one of two roads for our drives the five days we were there. Viewing was from a single road through the national park. We did leave camp to drive to the main gate of the park as there were lions seen with a kill. The guides we had, Johnny and Jobi, were very good and very patient. They were very good at spotting animals in the bush like chameleons! We saw Genet almost every day. They were also very good at identifying birds! The night drives revealed very little and should have been cancelled.

Issues we encountered:
1)one afternoon while out on a game drive the clouds were building in front of us. My husband (a pilot) kept telling our guides, that we were in for a storm and time to put ponchos on and seek shelter. They did not listen; we got our own ponchos on and the skies opened up with thunder, lightening, wind and driving rain. Pat was soaked to her skin in spite of a poncho. She said the rain pelting her arms and face hurt so much so that we wondered if there was ice in the rain. The guide, Johhny, was driving and picked up speed. At one point the back end of the car was slipping in the mud and there were visions in Pat's head of dying in a flipped over car in Zambia! We ended up at Chichele Presidential Lodge. Others from our camp were already there as their car had no lid on it (their request) yet they were not soaked to the bone as they beat the storm by one minute to the lodge . We ended up having sundowners in the lodge. This was not a good game drive!

2) We had very heavy rains which we know are normal for the time of year we visited. It was very interesting to watch the river rise and to watch the current change to extremely swift with large trees floating by. The camp used an aluminum boat with 13 seats and one 60 hp engine. As the river became higher and swifter the crossings over to the park were becoming dangerous, especially the return from the afternoon/ night drives. It meant returning back across the river in the dark. The last evening we were there was the worst crossing. There were 11 adults in the boat, including the driver and a staff member (Micheal) holding a torch (flashlight) to see what was in the water. The engine was laboring as we were overloaded (was told we were okay as there are 13 seats in the boat!) and the current was trying to push the boat sideways down river. We thought if the engine quit the boat would end up down stream or worse capsized.

Pat addressed our concerns about the lack of safety measures that were in place with hosts Michael and Kiki. She brought up the subject first with Kiki by stating there should be a "kicker" engine on the boat should the main engine fail. He was very sarcastic with his comments by asking if all boats in America have 2 engines. We explained that we are boat people and yes, boats which ply waters with tides and currents do indeed have 2 engines. He then said "this only happens two or three times a year". He stated that the boat was not overloaded as there were 13 seats. We informed him load is based on weight not seats. He also said there were paddles on the boat. which we were surprised about as no one mentioned it previously. He said there were two paddles, one for the driver and one for another staff member. We said there was no way that boat would be able to be paddled in those waters. He said the paddles would be used for steering! He also said they only encountered this kind of situation a couple times a year. We mentioned it only takes one capsizing to have a disastrous ending for guests and for Robin Pope Safaris.
And then there is the issue of life vests. There was one on each chair that were in pretty sad condition. While all the guests wore life vests the staff did not. They did not fit well enough to buckle and some of the buckles were missing.
This boat transportation is a disaster looking to happen. Someone needs to pay attention and review the issues with crossing the S. Luangwa River.

3) Our last day at camp did not end very well. We were booked on a flight at 1740 that afternoon. After breakfast, Michael, came to us and said we needed to vacate our lodge as they needed it for a couple coming in who were sick and might need a doctor. Michael jokingly said perhaps one of the British couples, who were leaving on the same flight, might want to share their lodge with us. At which point the British couple were apoplectic about having to share their lodge with an American couple! We quickly packed our bags and were out of our room by 10a. We saw the couple who was supposedly sick arrive in the camp. When they arrived they were at the bar having a beverage, went to our/their lodge and returned later to go on a safari drive. Guess they were not very sick! We sat in the main camp area, by the bar, with our baggage until our van transportation left the camp at 1600.

As you can imagine this camp was an experience we would rather forget. The camp had 7 British individuals who basically turned their backs on us at meal time. One of them got stuck with riding with us in our vehicle on a game drive. She later told Scott that we weren't so bad after all. Really? The individuals were seasoned safari folk with some having been to the Robin Pope Safari camps 7-9 times. They even mentioned Claire at Expert Africa's London office who did their bookings.

Sadly we would not recommend this lodge to anyone based on our experiences."
Good
Rooms
Poor
Food
Good
Facilities
Average
Service
Good
Activities
Terrible
Radisson Blu Hotel

Radisson Blu Hotel

"Radisson Blu Hotel review"

1 night Arrived 4 Mar 2018
"This hotel was excellent and it was like an oasis in paradise based on the previous 5 days in Zambia! Our room was very nice, the bathroom was in great condition and the bed was very comfortable.

We ate dinner and breakfast in the hotel dining room. The food was very good. The service was extremely slow - first it took forever for a waiter to take our dinner order and then it took a long time to be served. Breakfast was excellent and was a self serve buffet.

We were met and returned by private driver between the airport and the Radisson."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Poor
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Chitabe Lediba

Chitabe Lediba

"Chitabe Lediba review"

3 nights Arrived 5 Mar 2018
"Rooms: This camp was very nice. We asked several times about who the host is and it was never clear who was the host. We found out at another camp that Chitabe Lediba is managed by Wilderness Safaris but is owned by Botswana hence there is no "management couple" on site.. The rooms are permanent tents which were in excellent condition and what we have encountered in previous Wilderness camps. The bad thing about the tents is that the floors are like ice and very slippery in socks. They should warn people.

We were able to use our CPAPs with no problem. We were never offered distilled water so we used bottled water.

Activities: The game drives were wonderful and we even saw one of the S. African black rhinos that have been relocated in Botswana - a rare sighting! Our guide was excellent and was able to point out many birds and animals. The highlight was we found that termites were coming out of the ground on the wing. We have the most amazing picture where by at the end of the airport runway we found on the ground - eagles, vultures, Kori bustards, and jackels all together catching the termites as they came out. There were Starlings above to catch the ones that escaped. It was one of the most amazing things we have ever seen on safari.

We also found out from another Wilderness camp that we should have received metal water bottles to take with us on safari. Instead we were given water that was in plastic bottles straight from a store. We thought it strange based on Wilderness Safari's commitment to eco-conservation.

Food: The food was also very good. It had a lot of variety, including local dishes for us to try. The staff who took care of meals, beverages and rooms were very nice and we enjoyed interacting with them.

Facilities: The main Lodge area was very nice and clean. Meals were done buffet style which was nice.

We heartily recommend this camp to others."
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Okuti

Okuti

"Okuti review"

3 nights Arrived 8 Mar 2018
"Okuti was an interesting experience. The staff was very nice and they were very attentive to their guests. We had the experience of having staff members sit on either side of us at lunch and dinner so we really didn't get to mingle with the other guests which was fine but odd. There was a Ker and Downey beverage manager in the 1st evening from Lusaka to see how things were going at the camp. Very nice person to chat with.

Service: was excellent especially our guide. The staff knew all guests by name which was nice.

Food: was excellent as well. There was a huge variety at all meals and eggs to order in the morning. Lunch was a buffet and dinner was wait staff walking around with a plate or bowl to serve the contents with each guest. There was 1 evening when we were told there was kudu fillets for dinner everyone at the table except us were served kudu (one of my husbands favorite fillets). Instead we were served beef. We can only assume that they did not have enough kudu fillets and assumed we wouldn't want kudu? When I asked our guide about it he was not able to respond. Sitting away from the other guests and not receiving what was advertised for dinner was rather off putting.

Activities: the game drives were excellent. Moremi had a large variety of animals as well as birds. Moremi was so diverse in its geographical layout where one minute you were in a woodland and then a huge meadow would open up on the next turn.. We got to see Pel's Fish Eagle and Verreaux's Giant Eagle Owl due to our guide's excellent spotting. Seeing those birds was one of the highlight's of our trip. We also appreciated that there were no night game drives which gave us time between game drive's and dinner. People did dress for dinner with some women wearing dresses.

Facilities: The main lodge and the dining area were very nice. We really appreciated the bar area as it was a serve yourself operation. There was chilled water available to fill our water bottles. There was a refrigerator with bottled water and other beverages which was also self serve. This was the best beverage operation we have ever seen in any lodge we have ever seen and enjoyed the self serve.

Rooms: were adequate. There were 2 wing chairs, which was nice, but they seemed to be covered with wool fabric. They were to hot to sit in very long. The issue we had with our room was that we kept finding animal/insect droppings in one area of our room. We kept cleaning them up and they would reappear. We do not know if they were Gecko, bats or rate droppings. There was something in the ceiling chirping at us when we were using the bathroom area. Also the screen above the door to our room had a large fist size hole in it would allowed things to come inside.

This camp was able to provide car batteries for us to hook up our CPAP machines. It disappeared during the day as they were using it and it returned in the evening. So we were not able to use our CPAPs when taking a nap. There was no distilled water offered.

Just an FYI - There was a guest in camp who was very obnoxious. She wanted the staff to sing and dance every night before dinner was served which also involved getting the rest of the guests to dance to the dinner table. We were embarrassed for the staff because this guest was trying to imitate the dancing and singing done by the staff. She looked ridiculous!

We would recommend this camp to others. However it is not the same quality as a Wilderness camp."
Good
Rooms
Average
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Little Vumbura

Little Vumbura

"Little Vumbura review"

3 nights Arrived 11 Mar 2018
"We left the best for the last....what an outstanding camp! The hosts, Lara and Anton, were superb in their interaction with the guests and the quality of everything at the camp.

Rooms: The room was superb. It was very roomy and had a sunken living room area with a desk,sofa, cocktail table, guide books and other chairs. There was a porch on the front of the tented room with a sofa and several chairs. It was literally over the water. We saw so much wild life and birds just sitting on our front porch. We had Red Lechwe, a hippo and lots of bee eaters and King fishers! There were 2 fans in the room which provided a wonderful breeze in the room.

We were able to use our CPAPs wih no problem. No distilled water was offered so we used bottled water.

Service: was outstanding. The guides and the hosts were very attentive and it was a joy to spend time with them.

Food: was outstanding. The meals were all served buffet style. There was a huge variety of local dishes and there were items right off the grill at the end of the buffet. Morning included eggs cooked to order.

Activities: Our guide, Sam, was a delight to be with. He knew his birds very well. We were able to see a Secretary bird which can be tough to find. We enjoyed his ability to track animals by "reading" the foot prints on the road. My husband quite enjoyed learning the footprints as well.

We were originally alone in our vehicle with Sam. However, two days before our departure 3 American men (grandfather, father and son) joined us. They had never been on safari before and seemed to only be interested in large game. The father asked us if we had flown all the way to Africa just to see birds!! When Sam asked them what they would like to see the 27+ yr old son replied "black mamba snakes and puff adders" as he was versed in snakes. Our guide Sam picked up immediately that we were not happy to be with this group of people and asked us if we would like to go fishing to which we happily replied "absolutely". Not sure who or how it is decided what vehicle to put people into but putting 3 people who had never been on safari with 2 people who are pretty well versed in animals, etc. was a huge mistake by the camp! Anyway we had a great time fishing and my husband caught a fairly good sized Tilapia which he gave to our fishing guide.

Facilities: were top notch! The main eating, sitting and library areas were spotless. The dining room was well about to handle guests with out stepping all over each other. A grill in the dining area was wonderful as the food was piping hot! The tents were well designed, the pathways were raked I suspect several times a day and there was always some body to walk us to our tent after dark. There was also a very well stocked gift shop on site. One late afternoon, at tea time, there were 3 local ladies weaving baskets. Our guide, Sam, gave an excellent presentation to all the guests about the importance of basketry to life in Botswana.

We would return here again and again and stay longer. It was the best of all the camps!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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