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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mrs K from Toro

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

4

Excursions taken

0

The Bateleur safari: highlights and tips

Namibia between 5 Oct 2007 and 14 Oct 2007

Trip rating: Excellent
"Excellent! In addition to the highlights mentioned under each camp, one of the highlights of the whole trip was the day we transferred from Sossusvlei to Damaraland. Firstly, an absolutely unforgettable flight at low altitude over the red sand dunes, and then along the coastline to Walvis Bay. Aquanaut Tours took us on the boat ride out to Pelican Point - over 20,000 Cape Fur Seals. On the way, Pelicans and other seabirds followed us; a pair of Dolphins leaped and played around the boat, and several times, a seal jumped right up onto the deck. The captain assured us they were not aggressive, though they do bark loudly asking for a attention. He threw a fish overboard each time, too encourage the seal to jump off.

An amazing sight was the wreck of an old Russian cargo vessell which is now colonized by hundreds of Cormorants. They sit lined up in rows all along the spars and masts and every other available surface.

After the boat trip we drove towards Swakopmund, with sand dunes on the right and the sea on the left. We saw flocks of Flamingoes in the lagoons, as well as people dune-boarding and ballooning. When we stopped, it was to enjoy a seafood picnic on the beach, under canvas - fresh-shucked oysters (very sweet tasting), calamari, hake, salads, wine.

Mid-afternoon, after a short visit in town, we took off for Damaraland, now flying over entirely different scenery - wild and mountainous, the airstrip looking like a thin white line in the middle of utter wilderness.

This was a truly memorable day.

I should also like to mention Etango Guest Ranch. We booked a day room here, with transfers, as it is just a few minutes from the airport. Units are very comfortable and well-equipped, and are air-conditioned, so we were well rested for the long trek home. Just before we left in the evening, Carmen thoughtfully sent over a complimentary snack of cold cuts and cheese. There was already a coffee/tea tray in the room.

This is a fine place to start or end a safari, and we would not hesitate to do so again. However, in terms of longer stays it should be noted that the majority of guests at this Ranch are Afrikaans-speaking, or German/Dutch tourists, and that it also serves as a base for Hunting Safaris.

Final comments: Our luggage, including hand luggage was well within the 12kg. restriction. This was no problem as laundry service at all 3 camps was excellent, being picked up during breakfast and delivered back during dinner the same day. We had, as you advised, sweaters and windproof jackets for the chilly mornings and nights. Unfortunately, we had a freak cold front with bitter winds while at Sossusvlei, and these garments were not nearly enough. I surely regretted not packing my warm longjohns and vest. It should be stressed that normal weather patterns can no longer be relied on, anywhere in the world, including Africa - leave out something else if you have to, but pack plenty of layers. I ended up buying a fleece vest at the Camp. I don't suppose I'll ever wear it again, but It makes a nice souvenir of the trip.

I think I've said it all! I feel the information you give, both in your brochure and on the webiste, is the most honest and most balanced of any of the Tour Operators we have dealt with. Wish we could plan another trip with you, but Namibia - alas- is our last safari. All best wishes for your continued success."

Arranged By Tracy Lederer


Olive Grove

Olive Grove

"Lovely stay at Olive Grove"

1 night Arrived 6 Oct 2007
"Cannot say enough good things about this little gem: supreme comfort, with many thoughful touches and attention to detail by warm and welcoming owners was in evidence all the way through. The minimilast decor may not be to all tastes, but we found it attractive and in harmony with the surroundings. Large airy room with French Doors leading to terrace: plenty of storage space, minibar (same prices as bar), coffee/tea tray with home-made cookies.

Spacious en-suite with quality toiletries, hairdryer, fine cotton robes, and artisan candles for that romantic bath. Breakfast from a comprehensive menu served on the patio:dinner by request. Just because nothing is absolutely perfect I would mention that a luggage stand would be useful for guests on an overnight who will not be unpacking.

We were sorry to have only one night. We had originally wanted to add a couple of days to the Bateleur but were not attracted by either Eningo (OK for overnight) or Okonjima (I am against monitoring devices on wildlife). Should you have a similar request, you might suggest a pre-safari stay at Olive Grove relaxing on the sundeck by the pool, and then daytrips for sightseeing into Windhoek and surroundings."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Image alt

Mountain Homestead, Namibia (this camp has since closed)

"Dramatic Dunes at Sossuvlei Wilderness Camp"

2 nights Arrived 7 Oct 2007
"Beautifully located high on a hill with far-reaching views and large, comfortable chalets well spaced out for privacy. Spacious, well-equipped en-suite. Staff was friendly and food was good, with the dinner menu recited in 3 different African languages.

The early morning drive to the dunes was spectacular, the colours changing with the changing light ,and fine sand blowing like smoke from the peaks. We saw quite a bit of wildlife on the way - many Ostrich, Oryx, herds of Springbok and birds such as Shrike and Falcon. Etched in my memory is the sight of a lone Springbok high on a ridge, perfectly silhoutted against a bright blue sky.

We had an extremely good guide in Marco, who is not only knowledgeable and conscientious but very kind. We are an elderly couple and Marco took particular care to ensure we did not miss out on anything that was within our capabilities. This is a very nice young man indeed, and an excellent guide."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Damaraland Camp

Damaraland Camp

"Fun Staff at Damaraland Camp"

2 nights Arrived 9 Oct 2007
"Met by smiling and singing staff. Large walk-in tents widely scattered about the property and set in dramatic wilderness scenery. En-suite was fine, though shower a bit iffy. Dinner was preceded by much singing and dancing ("We are the staff of Damarland Camp - wecome, welcome, welcome"). Staff at this camp was the most friendly, the most fun, and the most interesting to talk with. They are all local and take great pride in being one large camp family.

Food was the best of the 3 camps, with wonderful breads at breakfast and good filter coffee. On the second night, we had dinner in the Bumi; beautifully lit by candle-lanterns, all the food cooked over an open fire, and lots more singing. Anyone who enjjoys interacting with local people on their travels, and appreciates wild, mountainous scenery (some of it very similar to Monument Valley), will thoroughly enjoy this camp, as we did. However, because of the limited activites available, a 2 night stay was just about right.

The major activity was the game drive to track Desert Elephant and we were lucky enough to spot 2 Bulls, and then a small herd, with babies, in amongst the trees. Later on, we drove up to a look-out point for refreshments and a spectacular panoramic view.

I do have one complaint. The tents are accessed via narrow, winding gravel paths bordered by rocks. Unlike the other 2 camps, these paths are not lit in any way and can be quite treacherous, as it is easy to miss your footing and stumble over the rocks. Heavy-duty torches are kept in the office, but if you forget to ask for one at lunch or tea, you are in the dark for the walk to dinner. Also, if you do get one, it is removed from the tent next morning. We had with us an emergency penlight but this was useless for the purpose. The Bumi dinner was somewhat marred by this problem. It's a bit of a hike first to the main lodge and then to the Bumi, and while we did have a staff member with a torch leading the crocodile of guests, this really only illuminated sufficiently for the first in line.

I most strongly suggest that a heavy-duty torch be provided for each tent and kept there, so that it is available each evening."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Average
Ongava Tented Camp

Ongava Tented Camp

"Surrounded at Ongava Tented Camp"

2 nights Arrived 11 Oct 2007
"Comfortable tents with great showers and a view of the waterhole. Animals wander around most of the day - mostly Waterbuck (introduced from Okavango and flourishing), Oryx, Kudu, Springbok, Zebra, and there is a resident Porcupine.

We had a game drive on the property with Binius, and saw lots, including Giraffe, White Rhino and a pride of Lions under a tree. The night drive was also good, and although we did not see specifically nocturnal animals, we did see plenty of game including herds of different antelope resting, their eyes reflecting our spotlight. It was lovely to be out in the soft night air with stars shining so brightly in the clear African sky.

The highlight was our day in Etosha, and we had an excellent guide in Elaine. Stopping at the different waterholes provided breathtaking sights of huge herds of mixed animals, and many more spread out over the surrounding plains. We found, as always, being close to wild animals is a moving and highly emotional experience. Game viewing in Etosha was quite different from our previous safaris: we had seen plenty of large herds of individual animals, particularly in Botswana, but not these huge mixed herds with different animals interacting and taking their place in the scheme of things. it did come to mind that this, perhaps, is how the world once was.

No matter how many safaris you have done, Etosha should not be missed.

I do have 2 comments, both concerning this day. Firstly, it is far too long a time from 6 a.m. (very light) breakfast until 2 p.m. or later (fairly light) lunch. A snack to have with the cold drinks would have been welcome. Or better still, a packed lunch, like we had on the dune drive from Wilderness Camp, thus allowing us to stay out as long as possible. After all, most of us will pass this way but once.

My second point is that, only after we were underway, did we learn that we would stop at a complex which (as well as toilets) had gift shops selling postcards, information on the Park, and a Post Office. None of our group had brought any money and thus the one couple who had their credit card were the only ones able to buy anything, including a very useful small book illustrating the animals and birds we were about to see. We did have with us the Wildlife Guide from Chris McIntyre's excellent Brandt Guide to Namibia whcih was of some help - though not with the birds - and owing to luggage restrictions, we did not bring along our other reference books. I do feel information about this stop en-route should be made available ahead of time."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Average
Facilities
Good

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