Travel reviews by Ms N from Idaho
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
Wish I'd kept it shorter, like first 10 days.
Botswana and 3 other countries between 13 Oct 2013 and 1 Nov 2013
I loved the safari camps prior to Macatoo and had my expectations dashed there.
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
Wish I hadn't had such high expectations for Macatoo and Bazaruto (hard in Bazaruto as Portuguese was main language). My experience at the safari camps at the beginning to the trip far exceeded my expectations for a "camp"; I've done lots of camping, but the safari camps far exceeded anything I would call a "camp". Meals, facilities, drinks, guides exceeded all my expectations, but missed my mountains. Very impressed by the training and knowledge of the guides; only in Botswana is English the primary language.
Only down side was the HEAT, and getting pestered by the street vendors in Victoria Falls. Forget about a cotton scarf for the dust, but one thoroughly kept soaked, and dripping around my neck, saved several of the morning and afternoon safari rides. Might suggest those scarves filled with hydrating beads for the hot months; I would have brought one. Forget about wearing complete safari gear in the hot months, shorts and short sleeves are more appropriate; all vehicles have a roof for sun protection. Knowing how to keep cool under a soaked cotten towel in the afternoon, or playing "hippo" in a pool, also helped. Also, being warned that you never leave a vehicle while on safari, would make one aware to only bring sandals for footwear; that was all that was needed. OK, you could get out of Land Rover for morning tea or a sun downer, served right at the vehicle; must get permission about where to go for a "potty" break. Guides hold safety as highest priority.
I can hardly wait to see the thousand plus pictures my daughter took; we had different final destinations and she said the "card" is in the mail. I think you should also contact my daughter for her evaluation."
These travellers wanted to visit a specialist riding camp. Because our team at Expert Africa don't currently have riding expertise, or great experience of these camps, we suggested that these travellers book the camp - Macatoo - directly. They did this at the end of the Botswana section of their trip.
City Lodge OR Tambo
"Very convenient with connection to airport."
They were excellent in trying to set up activities for us, but the girl in charge of booking spoke so softly she was impossible to hear. We were able to a arrange a trip to Victoria Falls very spontaneously as he was about to leave with a prebooked group. Although falls were close to hotel, it was just too hot to walk.
The main drawback was the very steep staircase with dangerous footing. Pool beautiful. Nice to have air conditioning as we adjusted to heat. Very close to shops, but the young guys descending on us to buy stuff was tiresome; they were very persistent. Service was excellent and they allowed me direct access to refrigerator for my medicine."
"Hot at Duma Tau"
The actual safari was excellent, with viewing of a large pack of wild dogs for a couple of mornings. The dogs let our vehicle settle right into their midst, without ever seeming to acknowledge us. This was a testament to how well the guides had habituated them. This was my first experience to the excellent training of the guides by Wilderness Safaris."
That said, we forwarded these travellers comments on to the team at camp for a response on the negative comment regarding the heat inside the tents during the afternoon, they came back to us with the following:
October is probably the hottest month in Botswana; temperatures average 38-40 degrees on most days. It is the end of the dry season, so the build up of heat is at its maximum before the rains arrive. The vegetation is sparse the trees have lost leaves, the grasses are low which affects the shade of most areas in the bush.
Given the lack of vegetation at this time of year, the tents can become hot in the heat of the day, and the camp is glad to hear that the guests utilised the tip of wetting a cloth or towel to cool down, as this little trick works wonders. This is very useful advice for anyone visiting Botswana in late-October.
Our team has looked at the air-conditioning options at length, but the ones with low power usage do not seem to be very effective. They will continue looking for alternative cooling systems which will be both effective, yet at the same time offer a lower carbon footprint. Meanwhile, we hope that the ceiling and pedestal fans in the tents will help to moderate the heat during exceptionally hot times, especially around late-October.
"Chitabe Lidaba, not chitabe"
Liked this much smaller camp and had an excellent guide with BB. His wife was the manager at Chitabe. BB was very knowledgeable in both the area of finding game and his expertise in photography...what a bonus!! He had had many courses in photography and had an overall supreme level of education.
He gave my daughter, the photographer, for our trip, many tips, and when she was too tired to go out one morning, he took just me, with him taking pictures (my poor close up eye site, prevented me from seeing camera dials) for the morning safari. What a treat to have both his skill as a photographer and knowledge of not only the area, but all the info about the wildlife.
While at Chitabe Lidaba, my daughter and I had the family sweet with separate rooms and adjoining pass way; great to have some separate space, which we shared with the baboons, but who cared. Really loved the small camp after the large one at Duma Tau."
"Peace on the water"
We again had the gift of wildlife hanging out right by our cabin, similar to Chitabe Lidaba. I think these were various species of antelope cows waiting to give birth. Guiding was excellent as was the food."
"Galloping through the marshes"
The room was just a tent, not like the previous cabins, but oh well. I ride most days at home, in every season except winter (snow), but the pace of the riding at Macatoo was more than I bargained for. We (most of us over 60) don't ride at a gallop at home, as it is too mountainous; also I'm spoiled by riding my very smooth gaited horses, which were not available at Macatoo, even though they said a Saddlebred was in their string of horse. I never saw him.
My calves were too sore to ride on the final afternoon ride... oh well, but missed seeing a mom and baby hippo out of the water; my daughter said this was a big treat."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
City Lodge OR Tambo
"Good transition between points"
"Tried to be an ocean paradise"
The staff tried to help me with medicine and hydration salts, but nothing worked. Cabins were lovely and had AC, what a treat, and were close to the general activity center; this was nice as I had little energy. The setting was lovely with a beautiful pool, and I took a piece home with me, three weaver birds nests all attached together, that had to be cut down from a palm tree so they wouldn't fall in the pool. For me, these nests, were the most unique part of the stay.
The draw of this place was supposed to be snorkeling and scuba diving, both of which I'm proficient at and certified, and could have done while sick, but the weather did not permit either; sea was too rough for their "rubber ducky" (a raft) boat. I've been on several actual scuba diving boats, and this raft would not classify as such. But, hey, I must remember, this was Africa.
We were, though, able to go out whale watching one afternoon on the rough water as the raft didn't have to put down an anchor."
Casa Rex, Vilanculos
"Good place to rest"
I'm still getting over illness."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa