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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs M from Brussels

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

8

Excursions taken

0

Our trip to Zambia and Botswana October 2012

Zambia and 1 other country between 2 Sep 2012 and 24 Oct 2012

Trip rating: Excellent
"DIfficult to know where to begin: it was such a wonderful experience: our first time on safari - total beginners: we didn't know what to expect.

The planning and organisation by Expert Africa was excellent: we felt that the EA team in London really gave us personal treatment. The mixture of different styles of camp and environments in Zambia and Botswana which Expert Africa suggested gave us a great perspective.

Overall, our preference was for the more remote camps with the close-to-nature feel. The combination of water and grass and woodlands was particularly interesting not only for their beauty but also for the variety of animals and birds to be seen. The Luangwa and the Zambezi rivers are stamped forever on our memories.

There seemed to be a very good team spirit particularly in the small, locally run camps. All 8 camps were impeccable, well run and there was always a warm welcome. We were amazed at the wonderful homemade food in such remote places. We only took 10kgs each of baggage (plus cameras) but could have managed with less as the same-day laundry facilities were very good and there was no time to "dress-up" in the evenings. We were impressed by the policy of training local staff from humble jobs right up to management: they all seemed very proud of their jobs and their country.

We had first-class guides everywhere - very skilled and well informed and good company.

We were amazed at how many guests had been on safari numerous times before, often to the same camps. We met some really nice people both local and guests from all over the world - which is important as you are all thrown together both in the jeeps and round the campfires. We were also amazed at how close one comes to the animals in the bush - even lions and leopard. We were not previously bird-watchers - but the variety of beautiful birds and the dawn chorus was so different to what we know in Europe.

Would we go back? We are starting a bit late in life but we have wonderful memories of this experience and hope we will be able to go back.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

Some of the non-English-speaking guests could have been helped if the camps/guides had some field guides in other languages e.g. French. A couple of our guides (Dukes in Selinda, Bibi in Chitabe Lediba) were interested to learn French or Italian which could be a way of attracting more guests from other parts of Europe. The majority of guests were either from UK or USA.

A couple of ideas for the gift-shops: post-cards of the camps and of local scenery (+ stamps). If postcards were available they were mostly of animals. Small gifts such as letter openers, hair clips and hair accessories made of wood or bone. CD's of local music.

In two camps in Zambia (Tena Tena & Chiawa) we were given aluminium water bottles to use during our stay and keep as souvenirs. This was an excellent idea. Also the local filtered water was excellent and gave us no tummy problems. Only in Chitabe did the water have a strange smell and taste."

Arranged By Claire Scott


Tena Tena

Tena Tena

"Tena Tena first encounter with hippos"

2 nights Arrived 3 Sep 2012
"Our first camp in Zambia. We arrived from London late so staying only two nights was a bit short. The management and staff gave us a great welcome and very good service throughout our stay, including Brown (the night watchman) who escorted us to and fro.

Wonderful setting on Luangwa River: our first encounter with hippos who munched grass round our tent all night. We felt really close to nature in our tent and loved the open air "bathroom" complete with tiny fly-catching frogs! The only snag was getting up in the night to go to the toilet - unzipping the tent in the dark was a bit off-putting! Breakfast round the camp fire in the morning was magic.

Lots of game on the drives including leopard, lions, giraffe and buffalo."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Tafika

Tafika

"Tafika: magic on the Luangwa"

3 nights Arrived 5 Sep 2012
"Our second camp on the Luangwa River. Beautiful setting under magnificent Sausage trees. The thatched "long houses" with their reed walls and furniture, the bathroom under the trees and stars, made us really feel we were in Africa.

Everyone made us very welcome. Some great meals round the camp fire, the table and under the stars with the other guests together with our hosts and guides who gave us a great insight into life in Zambia (nearly all the vegetables and fruit came from the camps vegetable garden).

Definitely the best night drives we had during all our stay in Africa, guided by Bryan, - porcupine, genet, civet, spotted cat - even a leopard with its prey. The landscape was very varied and we had some amazing drives, wild dogs in the salt pans, lions with a dead buffalo, the surrounding trees full of vultures and even a white griffon. Also a wonderful walking safari guided by Bryan: our sherpa, Brighton, lighting the fire with a stick and elephant dung for our tea! A hide on the river provided great viewing of Carmine bee-eaters. Back in the camp a hide provided close-up contact with animals coming to drink at the water-hole: an amazing experience - we could hear the water running down the elephant's throat.

Another highlight was our visit to the nearby village which is supported by Tafika. Some guests walked to the sister bush camps and really enjoyed them.

We would go back tomorrow."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Chiawa Camp

Chiawa Camp

"Chiawa Camp on the mighty Zambezi"

2 nights Arrived 8 Sep 2012
"Our first sight of the mighty Zambezi from the air was breathtaking: a vast river dotted with tree-covered islands, backed by the Zambezi Escarpment. It was hard to believe that we were actually on the Zambezi: the stuff of geography lessons and crossword puzzles!

A larger camp with 9 thatched tents, so lots more guests and more names to remember: sticky name labels would have been useful! Very sociable atmosphere: mostly British and Americans, who came for the fishing.

A bird watcher's paradise: on one "cruise" down the river we saw 30 different species. Canoeing down one of the beautiful and peaceful canals proved to be an adrenalin experience with elephant, hippo and crocodiles at close quarters: not for the faint hearted although we were of course in capable hands (Paul). Fascinating to watch the elephants crossing the river to the islands."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Old Mondoro Bushcamp

Old Mondoro Bushcamp

"Old Mondoro: sunrise over the Zambezi"

3 nights Arrived 10 Sep 2012
"A high speed boat transfer down the mighty Zambezi from Chiawa to Old Mondoro with Dave Cummings, the founder of these 2 camps and a great conservationist in the Lower Zambezi. He talked about his hopes and aspirations for this part of Africa. His son carries on his work.

A small camp of 5 comfortable rustic wood and bamboo tents set in beautiful green woodland on the Zambezi - in our case we looked on to a canal where elephants came to drink and wash. Like all the camps we visited in Zambia, the main sitting/dining area was a magnificent long-house of wood and thatch. Breakfast was round the campfire watching the sun rise over the river - pure magic. Elephant were impressive frequent visitors.

On drives through the open woodland we saw large herds of bushbuck, kudu, elephant with babies. Another canoe trip down a long canal - breathtaking beauty and peaceful but not without adrenalin, coming into close proximity with elephants, crocodiles and hippo. A birdwatchers paradise: egret, Goliath herons, Fish Eagles, Lilac breasted roller to mention a few.

The managers, Michaela and Jason, and all the staff made us very welcome: there was a good atmosphere."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Toka Leya Camp

Toka Leya Camp

"Toka Leya and the Victoria Falls"

2 nights Arrived 13 Sep 2012
"Plane, car and boat from Old Mondoro, small bush camp, to Toka Leya, a large, more sophisticated style of camp with the houses having glass windows and air-conditioning: no doubt necessary as this was our first contact with mosquitoes since arriving in Zambia!

Lovely setting on the Zambezi but the river was busy with tourist steamers. Beautifully laid out sitting and dining areas and first class meals, even breakfast was more leisurely as we didn't have to get up at 5 a.m. but we missed the camp-fire of the more remote camps.

Our visit to the Victoria Falls was an interesting experience as we decided to start on the Zimbawean side which entailed crossing the borders with extra visa costs and form filling in both directions. We were well escorted throughout and had an excellent Wilderness guide to visit the Falls. Even though the water is at its lowest in October the Falls were impressive and we were glad to have viewed them from the Zimbawean side in spite of the extra cost.

We also went to see the rare White Rhino in a protected park near Toka Leya: a family of one male, 2 females and two young calves. We also chose to visit the town of Livingstone and its museum (the best part being at the end of the visit: the political history of Zambia through photos and newspaper cuttings).

The managers were very helpful and the staff and guides excellent."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Selinda Camp

Selinda Camp

"Selinda - the roar of the lions."

3 nights Arrived 15 Sep 2012
"Fantastic low flight over swamps, rivers and spillway meant we could see herds of elephant and buffalo and birds below us. Beautiful contrasting scenery: dry grasslands, dead trees, brilliant green pastures and the blue water slipways: great for photography.

On our first afternoon drive we came on a family of lions with 3 cubs: when a lone and magnificent intruder lion arrived the family set up a roar to let him know that he was on their territory. To name a few other animals we saw: incredible herds of zebra, buffalo, wildebeest and red lechwe all together in the same grazing area! A pack of wild dogs drinking, hyaena bathing, red lechwe, tsessebe and herds of elephant. Red crested Korhaan (the suicide bird) and the Umbrella bird were just two that we saw.

Beautiful camp site set on waters edge and tents of wood and thatch. The all-local managers, staff and guides were fantastic and we had some great talks round the table and the campfire about life in Botswana. Food was magnificent -everything homemade including bread and cakes - don't know how they manage to do it with only one delivery a week! They also dance and sing very well!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Xigera Safari Lodge

Xigera Safari Lodge

"Xigera in the heart of the Okavango"

3 nights Arrived 18 Sep 2012
"Beautiful setting right in the Okavango delta: wonderful and varied grasslands, reed-lined waterways and palm trees: great for photography. Lots of giraffe, elephants, zebra, hippos to mention but a few. A pair of Pel's Fishing Owls perch in the trees near the camp.

A highlight was the high speed boat down the canals to the lagoon where we swam and drank our sun-downers in the warm, and fast flowing cristal clear water. We saw pink backed pelicans and the rare African skimmer. Fantastic sunsets.

The food was not as good as we had experienced in other camps in Botswana."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Average
Facilities
Excellent
Chitabe Lediba

Chitabe Lediba

"Great atmosphere at Chitabe Lediba"

3 nights Arrived 21 Sep 2012
"Very warm welcome from a great team of locals. Beautiful wood and thatch sitting/dining area. Food was first class and the BBQ evening lead by Malussi and all the staff, who danced and sang for us, was wonderful.

Lots of birds around the camp including a pair of grey hornbills nesting in a tree next to our tent who came to peck at our window and offer us insects. Lots of beautiful Cape glossy and Burchell's starlings.

Landscapes were beautiful; the cheetah were elusive but we did see a large pride of lions with their kill and the lions' hierarchy inter-action was fascinating. Although we didn't see a huge amount of animals during our drives, on our departure to the airstrip in the space of 45 minutes we saw: baboon, impala, tsessebe, a group of 6 giraffe, 2 warthogs, a leopard, 2 ostrichs, 3 mongoose and a steenbok all within a few metres of our jeep! Just shows you never know what to expect."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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