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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Porky from Perth

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

3

Lodges stayed in

13

Excursions taken

0

Lots to See and I Saw Most of It!

Namibia and 1 other country between 25 May 2016 and 17 Jun 2016

Trip rating: Good
"The highlights in some sort of order :
Hoanib Camp *****

Edo's Camp ****
Ongava Tented Camp****
andBeyond Soussusvlei Desert Lodge ****
Mack Air ****
Desert Air ****

Okonjima Bush Camp ***
Olive Grove Guest House ***

Wilderness Air **
Damaraland Camp *

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
Tracy organised my/our safari really well. She had to blend in two different itineraries and there was a fair bit of juggling to be sorted through and she did it well.

The only arrangement that I found a bit frustrating was to find out that Wilderness Air did fly direct from Sousessvlei through to Hoanib, albeit from an airstrip a bit of a drive from Soussusvlei Desert Lodge. I felt that it should have been feasible to organise a transfer (perhaps at extra cost) to fly direct from Soussusvlei and avoid an overnight at Olive Grove in Windhoek which was really a """"wasted"""" travel day which might have been better spent at Hoanib.

And I think Expert Africa need to talk closely with Wilderness Air - the latter seems to have some problems."

Feedback response

We were delighted to read that overall this traveller had a super time in Namibia and Botswana enjoyed the majority of camps that he stayed at.

We are sorry that this traveller (and his group) felt that we did not present all the alternatives for this specific flight route. When planning their itinerary with them we looked at a number of options.

As Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is located a fair distance from the main airstrip in the Sossusvlei area (called Guluk), the lodge has their own airstrip for use by those staying there. As a matter of course we recommend the light aircraft flights directly to the lodges’ own airstrip to save guests the 1 – 1½ hours road transfer (between Guluk and the lodge) in an open-sided vehicle along rather dusty gravel main roads. The very best direct flight option from Sossusvlei Desert Lodge itself to Hoanib is a private charter and we provided a quote for this at the same time as presenting the option with a stop over in Windhoek. This came in at an additional cost of about £100 per person, but the option via Windhoek was chosen.

We are very sorry that we did not go into details about the alternative option to fly from Guluk (which would have included the road transfer, as mentioned, from the lodge to the airstrip), and then a flight from there to Swakopmund, then on to Doro Nawas and then finally to Hoanib, This route via Guluk worked out more expensive than the private charter option and given that the travellers did not want that, we didn’t think to recommend this longer and more costly option too.

We will ensure that in future we present all options to our travellers.

Arranged By Tracy Lederer


Olive Grove

Olive Grove

"Olive Grove is Comfortable"

1 night Arrived 26 May 2016
"Olive Grove Guest House is a mixture of reasonable quality renovated rooms and some rather tired aspects. I stayed in two different renovated rooms over a couple of visits. The positives are a firm comfortable bed, a refurbished bathroom in an interesting concrete/cement style which to my mind complements the dry and "desert" nature of Windhoek and Namibia and there are basic comforts such as a stocked fridge and minimalist furniture.

Less attractive aspects where the total darkness and lack of any form of reception when I arrived around 10.30pm (was let in by security guard), there was no indication about the quality of the drinking water, there was no complimentary bottled water provided ($N18.00 for a small bottle from the bar fridge) and you were pretty much left to your own devices. The lighting in my rooms was good in the bathroom area but very limited in the bedroom with minimal room lighting.

There is a "plunge" pool and quite nice umbrella seating over several levels and wi-fi worked quite well in these public areas. It tended to drop out once in your room.

During "normal" trading hours the staff where cheerful and helpful and worked hard to sort out some transfer difficulties with a separate company. The downstairs dining area was well presented with a modest buffet and quality "full cooked" breakfast and other meals were generally tasty and of good quality and, along with the drinks service, reasonably priced. It is located a fair distance from anything else of much interest and this would be OK if walking is your thing, otherwise you are pretty well stuck or need a taxi.

It is quite noisy with loud barking from neighbourhood dogs being a bit of a pest and the noisy, squeaky security gate starts around 0500 hours as movements of the day start.

Overall, it is a mid level quality place which is comfortable for the "standard" overnight stay as you transit Windhoek. I suspect if you were contemplating a longer stay you might prefer a more up market place and convenient location."
Good
Location
Average
Service
Good
Activities
Poor
Rooms
Average
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

"Enjoy the Namibian Desert!"

3 nights Arrived 27 May 2016
"Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is a quality &Beyond facility which pretty much ticks all of the standards of this quality group. The Lodge itself is really well located at the head of a rising valley with a splendid outlook over a desert plain, bordered by mountains with a view towards the first line of the famous sand dunes. It is really quite special to sit on your patio or in the lounge area and just absorb the "emptiness" of the desert surrounds and yet be surprised by the arrival and movement of various animals which surprisingly thrive in the tough environment.

The individual lodges are really well presented and have all modern conveniences with an excellent bedroom, really comfortable sitting areas and modern, quality bathroom. There is efficient air conditioning and expansive picture windows which enhance the feeling of belonging with the surrounds. I was told that the Lodge is due for a programmed renovation and on close inspection there were a few small issues such as the door not closing properly and some light switches not working which were a little surprising to find in an &Beyond property - this is why they renovate!

The lounge and guest facilities are really comfortable with more of the great views combined with quality food and drink services and friendly and efficient staff. Paulo and his team work hard to make your stay effortless and enjoyable.

The Lodge is well place for the "Soussusvlei" adventures of the dunes, "dead vlei", some wildlife sightings on drives, balloon ride, quad bikes, walking and just enjoying the desert feel. There are enough things to do here to justify a stay of two or three nights. I do not think that one night would do justice. During my visit there was an additional attraction of a guided astronomy experience which by all reports was well worth attending."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

"Simply Brilliant"

3 nights Arrived 31 May 2016
"Hoanib was definately the highlight of the eight different lodges/facitlies that I visited duirng a four week safari!

First, the location of the Camp is tucked against a hill background at the head of a long valley which is overlooked by surrounding mountains. It is simply a spectacular view along the valley. The individual lodges are reasonably separated from each other and are of a very clever "box" style construction with well place opening windows underneath a broad canvas tent which encourages a breeze way effect both within your lodge and on the comfortable verandah.

There is an artificially supplied water hole about two hundred metres from the lodges and this does attract a variety of wildlife, including lions walking though the camp, but is a bit of a distance away for all but the most enthusiastic and well equipped photographers. A good zoom lens is a definate asset.

The central guest areas are extremely well presented and very comfortable and provide good lounge facilities and a very nice dining area which is based on individual tables. A feature I like!

The Camp is managed really well by Beauty and she has an excellent staff with Elias and Clement being standouts as guides and sources of information. Their professionalism and competence is matched nicely by all other staff. This is a very, very good Wilderness Safaries establishment and well worth the fairly long trip to get there.

There are excellent wildlife and scenic opportunities and the range of animal life and spectacular scenery is simply unexpected as much as it is outstanding."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Damaraland Camp

Damaraland Camp

"Not Worth the Effort"

3 nights Arrived 3 Jun 2016
"Damaraland Camp is a reasonably attractive Wilderness Safari establishment and the staff work hard to make it work. However on balance there is a lack of "real" wildlife opportunities and quite limited alternatives as well as some other less attractive features of this Camp which really lead to a conclusion that there are better alternatives to do more. I would not go here again.

The Camp itself is actually well positioned high on a hill overlooking a dry, rocky valley which is panoramic and attractive and certainly reflects the harsh environment that is Damaraland. The individual lodges and central guest facilities are "standard" Wilderness quality and are all quite comfortable albeit the majority of lodges are more than a "reasonable" walk from the central area and while all are well equipped and have electricity they lack a facility to re-charge batteries and technology, which has to be done in the "office". Given the distances involved this becomes a real pain if you happen to forget your camera battery and have to trudge back up the very steep hill to get it!!!!!

This Camp provided the least attractive staff, food and beverage experience of my safari. The "bar" staff seemed to lack confidence and primarily resided behind the bar service area, the food was generally of poor to modest standard and the "family"" type seating around a single long table where one is forced to share with other guests is not, to my mind, what you pay for at expensive venues of this type. Especially if you are unfortunate enough to draw the seat next to the almost predictable fellow traveller from the USA - it seems every trip must have at least one!!!! Also, the presence of starlings flying and landing all over the food areas did not engender confidence. I certainly did not fancy the sharing the cornflakes after a dozen or so starlings had been pecking their way through it.

To be fair, the Camp does promote other activities beyond just "wildlife". You can walk, visit a "village" as well as see rock carvings and desert adapted elephants. However, the walks are really only for "enthusiasts' as the going is quite hot and rough, the village turned out to be a single "farm" which frankly was mildly interesting and really not worthy of being called an "activity". The elephants were well worth seeing. But they seem to always congregate in an area roughly 2 to 3 hours drive over very rough tracks each way from the Camp. You could stay a lot closer and achieve the same viewing. Also, the way the activities are presented you are confronted with a repeat return journey to view the rock carvings. It is all a lot of bouncy travelling when the whole lot could be combined into a single day's activities with a take out lunch!

Also, the information about the carvings is simply not up to standard. After enduring the long trip to get there the unsuspecting punter is confronted by a mountain goat standard rock climb to get to the various viewing points. There was no advance warning about the potential difficulties about this trip and it was a long way to go if you were a bit unsteady on your feet - frankly it was bloody dangerous!

My guide Chris worked really hard to make everything work and to be fair did a good quality job. He also turned out to be a successful astronomer by giving a really good presentation on the southern stars. Excellent. However, other aspects of the staff were not as encouraging as this Camp persists with the unfortunate habit of a "singing/dancing" presentation at dinner which was, to be truly honest, cringeworthy. Another unfortunate experience was the "no choice" option for dinner in the Boma which resulted in, frankly, mostly inedible food, I heard on the grapevine of a couple of cases of tummy troubles immediately afterwards and a long an modestly lit trek down hill from the main lodge area. I did not enjoy this experience and was lucky enough to hitch a ride back up the substantial hill with a passing vehicle - I did not fancy the walk in the dark!

In reading the various literature it appears that this Camp is rated the same as Hoanib! This is simply a joke. There is no comparision. Frankly, I think for all it tries, Damaraland is perhaps for the first timer who does not understand or appreciate the extent of quality safaries elsewhere. I don't think Expert Africa should direct people here."
Excellent
Location
Poor
Service
Average
Activities
Poor
Rooms
Average
Food
Poor
Facilities
Average
Ongava Tented Camp

Ongava Tented Camp

"A Quality Camp with Good Wildlife"

3 nights Arrived 6 Jun 2016
"Ongava Tented Camp is a very good quality Wilderness Safari camp. It has comfortable tents with all facilities and most are really well placed to sit and observe the wildlife attracted to the water hole located immediately beside the central guest area, bar and lounge. The Camp is not fenced and wildlife can (and does) wander in, near and through the camp area and night time walking between tents is only in the company of an armed guide - not that anyone wants any thing shot ........ but you get the idea. During my time there a couple of lioness came and drank at the waterhole (remember there is no fence) and an angry baboon was right inn camp and "chased" away by enthusiastic staff.

There is a single communal dining table (which I normally don't favour), but this one works well with the support of good staff who make the dining experience pleasant without the "singing/dancing" stuff of Damaraland Camp. The dining area is open on both sides and is good viewing for the water hole. The buffett breakfast was good, there were no starlings in the cereal, and the main meals were tasty, varied and good quality.

The game drives were actually more rewarding than first impressions and there was quite a lot to see, albeit there was a fair bit of travelling between sightings/locations. But the Reserve is well worth exploring and based on my experience was much more rewarding that traversing the wind, dust and crowds of the actual Etosha National Park. The latter was, frankly, disappointing and I only went into the Park for the one "unrewarding" explore.

But Ongava produced some excellent close ups of a pride of lions with an impressive large male (although Guide Zamu probably was a bit over enthusiastic about getting us close for a shot and disturbed the pride), great close up of a mum and junior white rhino, some excellent giraffe and elephant sightings at a water hole and a close up of black rhino from a hide. And in between there were other useful sightings which completed the experience.

It is a nice camp, well run with lots to see and well worth spending a few days. Based on my experience I would not actually go into Etosha itself unless the winds were "down" but also you can really only view from the roads so are somewhat restricted to sightings around water holes - which naturally attract all sorts of vehicles and crowds."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Okonjima Bush Camp

Okonjima Bush Camp

"Okonjima Bush Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 9 Jun 2016
"I came away from Okonjima with very mixed feelings.

First the positives.

The Thatched Lodges are very high quality, very comfortable and have everything that you need. Each also has a separate viewing room for betting up close to the local wildlife (bit limited) and birds. But it is very, very comfortable even if the closest Lodges are a pretty decent walk from the main guest area - in fact a long walk! For some the presence of green lawns is somewhat at odds with the dry surrounds of the country side. It makes it nice and pleasant but is a bit artificial?

Next, the game viewing, particularly cats, is very good provided you can set aside any prejudices that you may have about "cheating" a little by searching via radio collars rather than genuinely "hunting" in the wild. But, if you want to see, in particular, leopard, this is that way to do it. I also had some good cheetah sightings and was able to "track" an impressive pair for about 15 minutes but be aware they do move quickly, even when they are just walking. We also had a close up of a "resting" spotted hyena and found a pair of wild dogs for really good close ups. We also saw porcupines from a night hide - which were impressive but only after a dangerous clamber over a rocky path in the dark because no body bothered to tell us to bring a torch!!!!!

Less impressive was the actual guest service in the areas of the welcome, the food and bar service and the overall quality of the meals. Frankly, it seemed as though they were a staff member or two short for the number of guests! The buffet and cooked breakfast were actually quite good and we were served by an excellent and enthusiastic waiter who was pretty much run of his feet and there was a tendency for the buffet to run out of things. Certainly, on the occasion of one afternoon tea the plate of savouries had disappeared within about 10 minutes and a request for a refill could not be fulfilled.

The main meals were OK but not outstanding. Some of the game meats were, frankly, a bit tough compared to other places and the "service" side did not match the quality of the accommodation.

There were other irritations such as a very confused welcome and booking in process where clearly our party of three lodges got confused and I ended up with the "personal" welcome note of one party and the luggage of another. How hard is it to remember three different groups/names? And on check out we had to sort out a small issue of being charged for some bar items when we had booked "fully inclusive". Not major issues and all solved but at these prices .........!

For the purists the visit to the Africat Foundation is both impressive and perplexing. It is impressive because of the effort and energy that has obviously gone into creating a very impressive facility to accommodate leopard and cheetah and to assist at least some back towards a potential release into the "wild" within a Reserve environment. More perplexing is the ultimate outcome for some animals that are not able, for various reasons, to be released back into the wild. Africat explains that these animals are used for "education" purposes and the long term objective of helping the community to better relate between farming and wildlife is clearly desirable. At the same time I came away with the impression that there was an awful lot of energy and resources into creating a very, very impressive "zoo" to look after some wonderful animals - but for how long and ultimately to what purpose. I was impressed but am still in somewhat of a dilemma.

Overall, Okonjima is worth a visit."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Poor
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Average
Facilities
Good
Olive Grove

Olive Grove

"See Previous Comments"

1 night Arrived 12 Jun 2016
"See previous comments [Ed: see below]"
Good
Edo's Camp

Edo's Camp

"Edo's Camp is really"

3 nights Arrived 13 Jun 2016
"This is a remote Camp with more traditional, perhaps "rustic" tented lodges and guest area situated right beside a large, natural water hole that has reasonable wildlife viewing and good bird viewing. A resident African Fish Eagle was my favourite.

The "tents" are very comfortable with all facilities although to some the use of lanterns to supplement the limited powered lighting might be a little basic - but for me it really works. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on my deck watching the movements around the water hole and generally being in the Kalahari!

Andy and Charlcie are hands on Managers who are involved with making everything work for their guests. We were the only people in camp during our stay so may have been a little spoilt but they were excellent company and did everything they could to make an excellent stay. All meals were served in the separate dining/lounge area and the combination of buffet breakfast and "light" buffet lunch was really good and well backed up with quality main courses. You don't go hungry here.

Edo's is very comfortable now but is in the process of having a lot of upgrading work done. At the moment this is focussing on infrastructure and behind the scenes services and will shortly move towards upgrading tents and stone lodges. For example, the swimming pool was being upgraded and although it was too cold to have been used on this visit it would be essential in the hotter weather - and it will be ready for the season.

Andy and Charlcie have great plans to upgrade all the facilities and I really enjoyed being part of their enthusiasm for a few days and I am confident that everything that they do will be done in a way that retains the "basic" charm of this excellent safari camp.

The actual wildlife viewing is actually pretty hard work because the vegetation is quite dense and most animals are nervous of vehicles and disappear quickly. However, this is a place to see White Rhino and we did have many excellent and close up sightings and it is clearly a destination to go to see this endangered species.

The nature walk was actually quite fun and I tasted a Sour Plum (yes it is!) and a Bush Potato (texture a bit like a pear) and there are several good water holes and pans which are good places to sit and watch the world go by.

It is a bit of a trek to get to Edo's from Maun. We flew in via Mack Air and they were on time and smooth but for many itineraries it is a little out of the way - but it is worth it!"
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good

Excellent

Tanzania between 9 Feb 2008 and 24 Feb 2008

Trip rating: Excellent
"Claire Scott organised everything. It met all of my expectations. Mdonya was a little disappointing but not a disaster. Beho and Mwgusi were all I expected and more. Try them!"

Arranged By Claire Scott


Serena Hotel Dar

Serena Hotel Dar

"Royal Palm Hotel review"

2 nights Arrived 10 Feb 2008
"The Royal Palm Hotel was a very good quality hotel. It is a quality four star establishment with comfortable rooms, everything worked (except a couple of lights), the restaurants are good (the Italian was excellent), the pool/bar/gardens are good and the staff were helpful.

The Business Centre, especially access to Internet, could perhaps review its hours. Travelling people often need to use the internet outside of standard business hours."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Beho Beho

Beho Beho

"Beho Beho is a must visit!"

3 nights Arrived 12 Feb 2008
"Beho Beho is simply first class. It is excellently appointed in all respects and the views from its hillltop location are excellent. The lodges are beautifully appointed with excellent furnishing and some "deadly" comfortable lounge chairs and sofas which can quickly turn a comfortable "rest" into a "nap".

The drives in Selous are great because there is nobody else around. The animal sightings are excellent. I was there at a time of very heavy rains. This made it hardy to do game drives and the lush vegetation made it easier for the animals to be invisible. However, the guides were excellent in every respect and dealt with the difficult conditions with great competence. Even getting bogged to the axles was great fun ....... especially as hyenas and vultures gathered!

The only hiccup was a lack of warm/hot water into Lodge 5. On most days it wouldn't matter but on a wet miserable day with lots of mud it would have been handy."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Beho Beho Tree-house

Beho Beho Tree-house

"Get close to nature in style!"

1 night Arrived 15 Feb 2008
"My one night fly camping was designed to help experience Selous away from the luxury and comfort of the Lodge. It was an excellent experience, close to nature with lots of noises and sounds that you would not otherwise hear.

We walked into the camp. Our walk was hampered because of the heavy rains and muddy conditions - it was harder work than I thought it might be. But the final stages through thick bush with elephants nearby and then onto the dry river bed made it all worthwhile. I recommend it.

The camp itself was brilliant. The dinner setting in the river bed was special, the tent was very, very comfortable and not in any sense 'roughing it". Do it. You will love it!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Mdonya Old River Camp

Mdonya Old River Camp

"Mdonya could be good!"

4 nights Arrived 16 Feb 2008
"I stayed at Mdonya Old River at a time when the heavy rains had restricted access to many parts of Ruaha and so some game drive activities were restricted. This was unlucky but not a showstopper. So perhaps I did not get the best of Mdonya ......... but there are aspects of this Camp which don't capitalise on its attractions or potential. But in any event the location in the river bed does not have a great outlook. It may have animals wandering through from time to time but sitting on my front verandah was not attractive when compared to the views of other camps I have been in.

It is a tented camp and I was expecting tented camp facilities. And as a permanent tented camp it does have good bathroom facilities - plenty of hot water and flushing toilet. But, it does appear a little tired. Little things don't happen, such as having a lantern outside your tent, having insect spray available. But these were minor because it is a camp that is more "basic".

What was more important was the lack of presence or leadership to help us work out the best way to see Ruaha in the difficult wet conditions. Our Manager (Nick) brought a pleasant manner and was cooperative. But there did seem to be a lack of direction and standard compared to other "basic" camps that I have experienced. Service was there if you asked. But there seemed little anticipation. I felt sorry for the staff who tried hard but seemed to lack confidence to be forthcoming in their dealings with clients.

The meals were average. Surely toast at breakfast can be warm ...... not made 30 minutes before and left to sit. And for the price the lunches were mediocore. The boiled rice with traces of capsicum? and a banana may have suited the "basic" theme but really did not reach the required standard. And being asked to pay for bottled water on game drives was over the top ........ after all, this was not a "cheap" camp!

However, do not be discouraged from Ruaha. There is plenty to see and the drivers/spotters from Mdonya were good, but it is difficult to describe them as "guides" because the latter need to provide "leadership" or "guidance" rather than just finding animals."
Average
Location
Average
Service
Average
Activities
Good
Rooms
Average
Food
Poor
Facilities
Average
Mwagusi Safari Camp

Mwagusi Safari Camp

"Mwgusi is excellent!"

4 nights Arrived 20 Feb 2008
"Mwagusi is an excellent camp. It has excellent facilities, good food, good staff, good service and is a great location right on the river.

I was there when the water was very high. We had to use a chairlift to get across the river and it was great fun but after a few days the 15 minute walk along a sometimes muddy path was something to be missed ......... but it did add to the adventure and does not detract from the over quality of Mwagusi. The presence of animals right in amongst the lodges was great ...... I had an elephant swimming right in front of me as I sat in my hammock!

And Mwagusi is perfectely placed to see Ruaha, even though parts of it were out of bounds because of the high water levels. The game sightings were excellent and I saw two brilliant but unsuccessful lion hunts. The guides here know their park and worked hard to bring us the very best viewing with good, sometimes spectacular results. It was hard to find some animals because of the vegetation and greenness ....... I would love to come back in the dry season."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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