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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr MW & Mr M from France

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

3

Lodges stayed in

11

Excursions taken

0

I want to go back!

Namibia between 21 Apr 2015 and 30 Apr 2015

Trip rating: Excellent
"It was an excellent trip in every way. Everything went smoothly without a single hitch. Everywhere we went we were met by the most charming, friendly and professional staff (less so at Onguma, but while it was disappointing it didn't spoil our overall enjoyment). Of course we loved the landscape, especially Damaraland, and the game, but it is always the people, the staff, who make your trip and your stay memorable. It's been sixteen years since we were last in Namibia and I can't wait to go again. Loved it.

( Just an aside, and I don't want to seem to be going on about it too much, but Onguma Tented Camp promised so much and delivered so little, especially compared to the others. We got the impression that all the Wilderness Safari camps/lodges were very well managed and the staff seemed happy in their job, which is always something positive and pleasing when you come across it. )"

Arranged By Sabina Hekandjo


Okonjima Plains Camp

Okonjima Plains Camp

"Lacks something"

1 night Arrived 21 Apr 2015
"This is a convenient place to spend a night either on the way to or from Windhoek and there is a considerable amount of game to see, some of it seemingly almost tame, so it's probably a good place for first-timers. The trouble is that a lot of it has been introduced and isn't native to the area so you'll see animals that shouldn't really be there - it feels like they've been put there for the tourists rather than for anything to do with conservation, as if it were a safari park in Europe. We were offered a choice of three tracking drives, one for cheetah, one for leopard and one for wild dogs. Tracking collared animals still doesn't guarantee a sighting, so we chose to go on the wild dogs drive, partly because we knew everyone else would choose the cats and partly because we'd never seen wild dogs.

So we had the vehicle and guide to ourselves, and he was a very good guide, but there are only two wild dogs in the conservancy. There was a third but he had met his demise. Neither three nor two make a pack. Herein lies the problem, I think. They aren't native to the area and aren't being prepared to be returned to the wild somewhere else. We had the impression they were 'placed' there as a tourist attraction. We had expected a pack so initially we were disappointed when we were told there were only two to see. However, our guide was so good that he made the experience fascinating and adventurous all the same and we ended up really enjoying the outing (and seeing both dogs at close quarter).

The staff were, as ever, welcoming, helpful, friendly and efficient, but there was little warmth there and you felt as though you were just another client passing through, which indeed you are of course, but you were never made to feel a guest. Some of the food was very good but some of it was not (the main course at dinner was kudu and tougher than boot leather!).

The accommodation was spacious and comfortable enough, if a little spartan (or just lacking in character), but there was a huge plate glass window overlooking the bush, which couldn't be opened and which caused huge amounts of solar gain in the room. It would be very uncomfortable in summer. The main area (called the barn, and a barn it was) also has one side entirely glazed and apparently birds do fly into it. The overall feeling was that something was missing, that the place had no charm. It's difficult to put your finger on it but it's not somewhere we'd choose to go back to."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Doro Nawas

Doro Nawas

"Location, location, location"

1 night Arrived 22 Apr 2015
"We loved this place. The location is simply spectacular and the landscape all around is breathtaking. The welcome from everybody was extremely warm and friendly.

We arrived a bit late but they made a real effort and still offered us a choice of evening drives when everybody else had already gone out, so we had a vehicle all to ourselves and saw exactly what we wanted to see. Our only gripe is that the food was a bit average: it could have been better, but it didn't spoil our appreciation of the place and the staff in the dining room were great fun so it didn't really matter."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Average
Facilities
Excellent
Desert Rhino Camp

Desert Rhino Camp

"Well worth the effort"

2 nights Arrived 23 Apr 2015
"This was probably our favourite place on the whole trip and I'm so glad we went there. It's not easy (unless you fly in) to get to but definitely worth the effort. We loved the whole landscape of Damaraland. It takes your breath away at every turn. The scale is epic and everywhere you are reminded that nothing much has changed here for tens of millions of years.

I say it every time because it's true that the staff are the highlight of the trip. They are always so friendly, warm, welcoming and fun. Here in particular they make an effort to learn your name and use it. And this was the only place on this trip that had communal dining. I am extremely shy so it is something that initially I find difficult but I also have to say that those places where we've experienced it have very often been the most pleasant stays.

If we had one gripe - and again, it's only a small one - it's that the food could have been better. Some of it was just fine but some was not so good. It was a real shame because, as it's such a small team, you meet the food and beverage manager as well as the rest of the staff and she was a lovely person and you don't want this to be a personal criticism.

The management overall was excellent and you got the impression that although this is a very small team, a team it is, and everyone went out of their way to make our stay enjoyable. Such lovely people.

We would recommend this place to anyone and would go back here at the drop of a hat, if only it weren't so far away."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Average
Facilities
Excellent
Ongava Lodge

Ongava Lodge

"Pleasantly surprised"

2 nights Arrived 25 Apr 2015
"When we arrived here we were initially taken aback at the size of the lodge. It seems much larger than others and with many more people. We felt it was more like a hotel than an intimate game lodge and that a coach might turn up at any minute - and indeed one did, though not a very large one! Having said that we soon came to realise that we needn't have worried. The main area and the bedroom were very comfortable and well-appointed and the staff were excellent in every way. The food here was the best we had on the whole trip.

The only problem here was the other people - and it did seem like there was a lot of them. The guides and the management should make more effort to ensure that the guests don't make so much noise. We saw a lot of game at the water hole, including lots of lion and two or three rhinos both nights we were there, but many of the animals were visibly put off by all the noise the people were making.

The worst was from some people who were staying at Little Ongava above Ongava Lodge, and who probably couldn't see the water hole, but they were having a real party with a lot of shrieking and laughing. And people on the same game drive as us had no idea how to behave with wild animals, making a lot of noise and moving about in the vehicle all the time. At times it disturbed the animals they were trying to view but they were oblivious to the effects. It's a pity the guide didn't advise them before setting off, as some others did.

In your review you mention that the guides have at times been mediocre, we would have to say that whereas none of the guides we had in Namibia was as knowledgeable as other places we've been, they were all been good, and here was no exception. The guide we had here was good and fun to be with. We really enjoyed his guiding and his company."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Onguma Tented Camp

Onguma Tented Camp

"Lots of superficial gloss but no substance"

2 nights Arrived 27 Apr 2015
"This was the only place that disappointed us. When we first arrived, we thought, yes, this is it, but the impression soon changed. It is tastefully decorated and is undoubtedly smart but there is no substance beyond this. I'd say there is a problem with the management here. This was the only place where there clearly wasn't a team. And there was a level of arrogance. When we arrived at every other lodge, we were so warmly welcomed and they all had both our names correct and they had all received a note of my dietary requirements from you.

Here we were down as Mr and Mrs McDowall-Wilson - it's not something that bothers me but I thought it indicative (interestingly enough, when we left, the bill was made out to Mr and Mr McDowall-Wilson, progress of some sort). We were asked if we had any dietary requirements and when I said I can't eat fish or seafood, she said, well, that won't be a problem as there is always a choice. Except that that evening one of the courses was seafood and there was no choice! People don't listen. It's not a problem for me when I travel, you have to be adaptable, and I can be quite happy with a cheese sandwich, but there was an attitude problem here. And anyway the helping was so small that I probably wouldn't have been sick if I'd eaten it.

The food was the best presented on our trip but not the best otherwise. And helpings of meals that were included (we were on half board) were meagre and in some instances minute. At every other lodge or camp they were generous to the point of being copious. The lunch that we had, and paid for, was a huge helping but it was not very appetising: it was a single course of pasta with a mushroom sauce that was just a glutinous mound on the plate. They made a big fuss of their wine cellar but in fact the wine selection was nothing special.

The staff in the dining room were sweet and one of them in particular made a real effort to be helpful but he was clearly out of his depth; he was trying so hard but he was a complete bundle of nerves. We felt that he hadn't had enough training, which of course isn't his fault, and we ended up feeling sorry for him. On top of this there was a language barrier. His name was Portuguese so maybe he was from Angola.

The staff were a complete contrast to all the other lodges we stayed in. Even the guide was not as informative or as knowledgeable. On the morning drive into the park we did see a lot of game but mainly because he was in radio contact with other guides, so he knew where to go.

As we were here on a half-board basis we had to pay extra for everything and none of it was good value. As we'd driven to Onguma from Ongava through the park, we know how much the entry fees are, and they are a tiny fraction of what we had to pay for that half-day drive in Etosha while we were at Onguma. You don't mind paying more than the average for something special but here the prices were very high for nothing that was any better than we'd had included in the price elsewhere, in fact everything was all inferior in quality (and quantity).

There are other minor negative points I could make but I don't want to accentuate the bad. Overall we weren't impressed by the place and wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. It's a shame because it looks so nice but it really is a case of a superficial gloss and nothing much behind it. At other lodges the staff were small in number but they made up for it by working as a team whereas here the tiny number of staff contributed to a strong feeling of niggardliness."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Average
Activities
Poor
Rooms
Good
Food
Average
Facilities
Average
River Crossing

River Crossing

"River Crossing review"

1 night Arrived 29 Apr 2015
"As ever, the best thing about River Crossing was the staff.

The rest was a disappointment but the location was good in view of getting to the airport and you're still looking out over the bush. The photos on their web site are flattering."
Average
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Rooms
Average
Food
Average

Wonderful despite the weather

Tanzania and 1 other country between 3 Feb 2014 and 16 Feb 2014

Trip rating: Excellent
"We had a wonderful time and had quite a few 'wow' moments. The weather was not what we expected and we were surprised at how cold it could be in the Serengeti but obviously there's nothing you can do about the weather.

We had one small hiccough at Nairobi airport but apart from that everything went very smoothly and everybody we encountered at every stage of the journey was most helpful.

It has to be said that travel in this part of Africa is now very expensive compared to the competition and we feel that better guidelines could have be given on tipping."

Arranged By Claire Scott


Ole-Sereni

Ole-Sereni

"Adequate stop-over"

1 night Arrived 3 Feb 2014
"We had to stop over in Nairobi for a night to get an early flight the next morning and this is the closest hotel to the airport.

Though the decor isn't to European tastes, it served its purpose just fine ."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Average
Rooms
Average
Dunia Camp

Dunia Camp

"Charming all round"

4 nights Arrived 4 Feb 2014
"Of all the camps and lodges we stayed at, we felt that this was the most charming and had the warmest welcome. It isn't trying to be forced 5-star uber-luxury in the African bush and so there's no pretentiousness to the place. You won't forget that you are living in a tent in the African bush.

The best thing here is the staff, who were without exception extremely charming, helpful and welcoming and made you feel you were a guest rather than a client. Our guide was the best we had, as was the vehicle. There was great attention to detail at every level. The food was a marvel. It wasn't trying to be haute cuisine: it was honest, good food, well cooked and presented. There were always imaginative touches that took it above the ordinary. I doff my toque to the chef, who was quite a character.

The only negative point concerned the hot water. We had to ask for flasks of hot water every morning and the bucket showers should have been better. We've had bucket showers before and have no problem with them, and let's face it they can contribute to the African safari experience, but here they haven't got it right. A small gripe but an important one."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Kusini Camp

Kusini Camp

"Great location"

3 nights Arrived 8 Feb 2014
"The staff were all very friendly and the rooms were very nice and comfortable but the public areas were a bit soulless, perhaps because the poor weather meant that we didn't spend much time in the evenings out of doors on the rocks or by the camp fire.

The game drives were wonderful, all thanks to the excellent guide."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Gibb's Farm

Gibb's Farm

"Beautiful setting"

2 nights Arrived 11 Feb 2014
"The setting at Gibb's Farm in the lush gardens and the coffee plantations at the edge of the forest is sensational and it's a great place from which to visit the Crater. The room was superb.

The food was more than plentiful. While we had excellent service from the staff we did feel that there was a corporate feel rather than a personal service."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge

Lake Manyara Tree Lodge

"Luxury in the bush"

3 nights Arrived 13 Feb 2014
"This tries to be high-end luxury and succeeds. Very personalised service - your own butler - the accommodation was lovely and comfortable and, once again, the staff have to be praised.

The food was all you expected it to be with unusual ingredients, all fresh and sourced locally.

All in all a very relaxing and enjoyable experience."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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