Travel reviews by Mr B from Ireland
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
My Jan 2023 trip to Tanzania
Tanzania and 1 other country between 6 Jan 2023 and 27 Jan 2023
Lyndsey's main role was to assist in stitching our itinerary together, liasing with both Nomad Tanzania on the ground, with accommodation providers and with safari charter companies. On a positive note, all our transfers, accommodation and transport were seamless. We appreciate the work Lyndsey did to make this happen as we are aware logistics in Tanzania can be complex.
However we dont feel Lyndsey or Expert Africa proactively discount or negotiate on behalf of clients. We were offered discounts with various accommodation providers for booking direct but we had to push for these to be made available for booking through Expert Africa. They were never proactively offered. In addition, we had to push to stay at Hatari Lodge. Lyndsey wrongly commented that Arusha National park is closed after 6pm and we would be unable to arrive into Hatari later. We had to contact the lodge ourselves directly and paste information on email from Hatari's website to challenge this as Hatari have an agreement with the park management to allow guests arrive post 6pm.
We were disappointed we never received a paper copy of our documentation from Expert Africa. We didnt purchase a travel guide as we were expecting to receive one from our agent. With only 2-3 days before our departure date, we were finally told no paper documents, luggage tags or guide book would be sent. It left us no time to purchase one online ourselves. Its a small thing but it left a poor impression. In addition, & despite agreeing accommodation choices, it took a long time to receive confirmation of reservations, some times up to 14 days.
Finally, we are currently disputing a fee we were told we must pay in order for a safari charter to operate. We paid 4 seats and were reassured by our agent that this would be refunded if other pax were subsequently onboard. When we sent an email from Tanzania that 4 pax were in fact on board and requesting a refund, we received an email from Lyndsey offering to refund only 1 seat and would we be happy with this? There was no offer to escalate this on our behalf. We werent happy.
We have responded with copies from two emails quoting Lyndsey reassuring us of a refund if we were not the sole pax on board. We have been told twice in the last week on email that the matter has been escalated and the agent is awaiting a response. We would have preferred if this had been done promptly and efficiently. Having paid almost £20000 for this trip, it leaves a poor impression of both the agent and Expert Africa. After almost two weeks, we still are none the wiser.
We have every intention of returning to both Tanzania and exploring other parts of Africa. Based on our latest experience, we're not so sure however we'll continue use Expert Africa to facilitate these trips in the future."
I was very pleased that the arrangements for this trip were seamlessly, despite the challenging logistics in remote areas like Mahale and Katavi. Obviously, I’m sad that these travellers were disappointed in some ways.
We strive to include the best discounts in all of our quotes. In planning this trip, we sent this traveller six different quotes over a period of 4-5 weeks, each one crafted for slightly different arrangements. On one, we missed a “4 nights for the price of 3” offer at one camp. This was due to a systems glitch – and we were really sorry about it. We were very grateful when this traveller flagged it up to us and delighted to rectify the omission.
We strive to send out timely documentation . These travellers booked many months in advance. Shortly before travel, in November 2022, after the trip was invoice and paid for, and as we were re-confirming all the fine details, this traveller asked us to change their trip – adding a few nights to the start. Sorting this out took a little time, but we were finally able to send their tickets and documents electronically in mid-December – a month before travel.
However, our travel pack including a physical wildlife checklist, contact card, Notes for Travellers, luggage tags, wallet and Tanzania guidebook – hit a real problem: Royal Mail’s international deliveries had been stopped by a malicious computer hack. We were really sorry that these travellers didn’t receive the physical pack that we sent to them.
When the comments above about a safari charter cost were written, we were discussing a refund for this traveller from a local airline. We had already escalated the issue to involve Expert Africa’s MD and the airline’s owner.
In a nutshell, these travellers had paid extra because there were no other confirmed passengers on their route; but when flying there were other passengers on the plane. The airline viewed the finances of this differently from how we and the travellers viewed them. Eventually, after we sustained pressure on behalf of these travellers, we were pleased to be able to refund to the travellers the full amount that they had expected – although this was achieved after they wrote their comments above.
Arranged By Lyndsey Marris
"Hatari Lodge review"
"Katambuga House review"
We arrived late and left early so it's difficult to provide any detailed feedback."
"Greystoke Mahale review"
Our one concern has to do with the chimp trekking itself. Each morning our encounters with the chimps differed in both location and activity. Although camp was busy, we were split into two groups to view the chimps. Even then we felt sometimes as though our time with the chimps was intrusive. On more then one occasion, it felt as though we were literally chasing the chimps to ensure we used up our allocated 60mins. There was pressure from other guests at camp to make sure they received their full daily allocation of 60mins which made us increasingly uncomfortable. We were more interested in the quality of our interactions, and maintaining a respectful distance. Unfortunately, our camp guests didnt always agree or comply and this caused tension. It was clear that some of the chimps were not happy being with us or having endless telescopic lenses pointed in their direction.
The encounters with chimps are an incredible privilege and not a right. Human interactions with wild animals can have a detrimental impact if not properly managed. This had an impact on our enjoyment in camp, and I'm not sure it was handled properly by camp management who just seemed intent on making sure all demands were given into. We wish the camp manager had intervened earlier to manage expectations & limit interactions where appropriate.
Having said all that, our time spent watching sun sets over the lake, or cruising on the boat taking-in the spectacular location from the water will remain cherished memories. It is such a special location and we would love to return here for longer some day. Truly an incredible camp in a spectacular location."
There’s a very clear ‘code of conduct’ for both guides and travellers visiting the chimps – covering the best etiquette for these sensitive wildlife encounters. In the past, our experience has been that the team at Greystoke really set the bar for the quality of chimp interactions – in marked contrast to some other chimp experiences that we’ve had. Hence we were concerned by this report and contacted the Greystoke team about it.
The team there confirmed that the welfare of the chimps is their No. 1 priority – although noted that it was tough as they had to follow the rules, yet also balance the differing expectations of every guest.
They commented that they’d never heard of or experienced, any ‘chasing of chimps through the forest’ – but have flagged the issue for inclusion in their guide training course, due in April/May 2023.
Of course, for many camp managers, the balancing of the competing requests from different travellers can be very challenging indeed.
"Kichaka Zumbua review"
Kichaka is located exclusively on a ridge overlooking the Great Ruaha River on the Eastern edge of the expansive national park with no other lodges or camps nearby. The location and the accommodation is wonderful. Our accommodation was incredibly comfortable, with a wonderful deck for sundowners and numerous animal sightings. You are up high and can see for miles. The plunge pool was such a luxury after a morning spent hiking in the bush. The bathroom was spectacular, and that sunken bath was so inviting. The rooms were gloriously cool at night time and we never had any issue with insects.
But what makes Kichaka truly exceptional is the interactions with both Moli and Noelle, the dedicated visionaries who have followed their dream to create one of the most exciting camps we have ever visited. Trekking with Moli was such an exciting experience. He is a gifted story teller, botanist, zoologist, birder and conservationist. Trekking in the bush was always at a comfortable pace, allowing for plenty of stops with witty observations and insights. We had close encounters with Lions, Lion cubs, wild dogs, Elephants and we learned so much about the amazing diedrick cuckoo, woodpeckers, baby crocodiles, Hippos and Thereapins.
Returning to the comfort of camp each lunch time to the genuine hospitality of Noelle was a joy. She is the heart and soul of Kichaka, always smiling, gracious and great fun. The food was the best we had on our whole trip. And just like our treks each morning, the menu was varied, fresh, innovative and delicious. Our encounters with each of the team from Kichaka were always polite, friendly and welcoming. It is clear the team are incredibly proud of working for Kichaka and both Moli and Noelle have invested both time and energy into training this charming team. Abdul was always ready with a cocktail or a refreshing drink to cool us down, and he always ensured the fire was lit before dinner to allow us to star gaze.
For us, Kichaka is the reason we adore Africa. Its remote, wild and free. It exceeded all our expectations and we are determined to return one day and go fly camping. This is a camp for dreamers, to escape the trappings and stress of modern life, and to reconnect with the very best of nature and people. We will remember our time in Kichaka forever."
Baraza Resort & Spa
"Baraza Resort & Spa review"
The resort is all inclusive, great for sun worshippers, those into water sports and those wishing to just chill. Our accommodation was spacious with a plunge pool and wonderful air con.
However we were made to feel very uncomfortable as a gay couple sharing a double bed by our "dedicated guest team member" who showed us to our comfortable lodgings. Whilst the same gentleman could be seen interacting with other guests throughout our stay, he never came near us again. We are respectful of other cultures and attitudes but we certainly didn't feel welcome.
Having said that, the other staff we interacted with at both breakfast and other meal times were polite and friendly. Baraza is perhaps a little too formal for us and the food was a little repetitive after 5 days. We've never stayed all inclusive at a resort before and we're unlikely to do it again."
We had informed Baraza that these travellers were a same sex couple and requested room arrangements accordingly. While homosexuality is a culturally sensitive subject in Zanzibar, and many locals hold conservative views on the subject, this is the first time an incident such as this has been reported by our travellers.
As everyone will realise, it’s utterly impossible for us to guarantee, let alone police, the attitudes of all the staff who work in law establishments across Africa. We do what we can to promote tolerance and understanding (and also to promote education, which is really info important for the future) – but sadly I don’t think there is any way for us to promise that travellers won’t occasionally encounter prejudiced attitudes from people working in tourism.
Based on the experience of these travellers, we have revised our LGBT travel advice for Zanzibar.
"Emerson Spice review"
It is located in the heart of StoneTown close to everything and has a great reputation for food.
We enjoyed our stay here with a chance to do some last minute shopping before returning home."
My Jan 2019 trip
Namibia between 13 Jan 2019 and 21 Jan 2019
Tom from Expert Africa did a great job at tailor making our 4x4 self drive.
Overall, the distances between camps are huge, and the standard of accommodation was really good. We would do less and stay longer perhaps driving less and flying more. But Namibia is spectacular and driving gave us a real sense for how varied the landscape is.
We had a wonderful trip made all the more seamless by Tom's recommendations and organisation."
Arranged By Tom Morris
"Relaxing overnight close to Windhoek"
This would be a great place to finish your holiday in Namibia as its relatively close to Windhoek and offers both an indoor pool and spa facilities which we didn't see at any other lodge during our stay.
But the evening safari drive left us with more questions as it seemed the grounds were a little too packed of wildlife, all of which were too easy to spot. We'd describe GocheGanas as more of a zoo park with a comfortable lodge attached."
Mowani Mountain Camp
"Really comfortable lodge beautiful location"
The safari drive each morning to view the Desert Elephant were terrific. Up close, but keeping a respectful distance, and our guide Boetie was knowledgeable and friendly. Food each evening was a real treat, the rock pool was beautifully situated and we had a gorgeous view from our room.
Desert Rhino Camp
"The experience of a life time."
Ben was a superb ambassador for Desert Rhino Camp. Passionate, enthusiastic and great company, he organised our safari each morning accompanying the trekkers from Save the Rhino Trust. He made our holiday for us, chatting about life in Namibia, local culture and sharing his hopes and dreams. But it wouldnt be fair to just single Ben out. Gertruda, Carl and Thyssiana were wonderful hosts, fun, obliging, engaging, and so hospitable. We danced at camp, learned the click language and were spoilt by the wonderful food and service from the moment we arrived at camp.
This camp was unlike any other. Its location is remote which we loved. Its difficult to get to, and it doesn't offer much in the way of facilities. But it was informal, and with tons of personality. It was exactly what we wanted and more. Yes, you wont find all of the Big Five here. It offers so much more. We witnessed Jasson, and the team from Save the Rhino at work, under harsh, remote and challenging conditions.
Wildlife is difficult to spot in this vast wilderness, and safari drives are long and sometimes uncomfortable. But it made spotting the wildlife in their natural habitats, so much more rewarding. This was an authentic experience, both humbling and a privilege to be allowed participate in. We'd return here in a heart beat, and we would recommend this camp to anyone who cares more about the environment, and people over the 5 star anonymity or formality of other camps. Truly the experience of a life time for us."
Erongo Wilderness Lodge
"Hot & Humid"
The accomodation was comfortable and with a wonderful view. But we struggled to relax in our room as it was baking in the summer sun and with no air conditioning.
Erongo was hot and humid compared to other locations we stayed in and the activities were geared towards bird watching which we were not that interested in. But the food and the service was great."
We had organised a full day excursion and hike to nearby Mt Meru Crater. Our guide from Hatari was excellent and great fun from the start. Within moments of commencing our excursion, we spotted a cheetah. We couldn't believe our luck. The sighting was made all the more remarkable as there was no else in the park at the time and we had the cheetah all to ourselves, keeping a respectful distance. We also spotted plenty of Giraffe, Antelope, Waterbuffalo, Hogs, Waterbuck, Blue monkeys, Black and White Colimbus monkeys, Zebras and Baboons.
The only negative was the fact that a ranger from the National Park never bothered to join our vehicle which restricted our ability to hike despite our guide attempting to organise this several times. This meant we were not allowed off the vehicle and not able to hike which was something we were looking forward to. Not something that Hatari Lodge has any control over.
The accommodation was spacious, the food plentiful and really good quality.
The team from Hatari were excellent. From housekeeping to the restaurant team, the guides and the new management team. We really enjoyed our stay and would highly recommend."