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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by CY from Norfolk

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

3

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

5

Excursions taken

0

Another memorable trip

Tanzania and 1 other country between 23 Jan 2016 and 6 Feb 2016

Trip rating: Excellent
"Another great trip to two re-visited destinations. Still like the long stay at a single camp.

Looking back would not change anything - even the driving back to camp peeking though a tiny gap in a rain poncho against driving torrential rain!

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

Get me big discounts so that I can go again!!!"

Arranged By Elizabeth Chapman


Kwihala Camp

Kwihala Camp

"Amazing and so different in green season"

9 nights Arrived 24 Jan 2016
"A third trip to Kwihala but first in the green season. Ruaha is thankfully still quiet in terms of tourism and as amazing as ever. As a camp Kwihala just keeps on getting better – constant Asilia improvements.

It was already very good back on the first visit and it meets all my key criteria. It is small, just six ground level spacious tents giving an authentic bush feeling. You are provided with all the comforts / facilities you need but nothing that for me detracts from the bush experience. All the staff are outstanding – you could not be made more welcome and no request is too much trouble – e.g. hot bucket shower whenever you want it. The food is wonderful, right from the bonnet breakfasts out on game drives to lunch and dinners back in camp. The whole situation of pre-dinner campfire (weather permitting!) drinks and communal dinner feels like one big very friendly family. The guides are excellent at their job but it is more than just being in a vehicle with a really good guide – you are in a vehicle with someone as a friend which raises the whole experience another level.

So to the green season comparison with dry season. Before arriving we were expecting what I believed to be a typical January: a mixture of good dry spells with a number of heavy showers / storms. However, the thing no one can control thought different – we arrived in the wettest January anyone could remember for years. Rivers were all flowing fast and many routes were either impassable or partly destroyed by water torrents. That sounds bad but in reality we got out for every game drive – a few just a bit delayed while the worst rain cleared and also a bit restricted to the available roads, although during our stay we did manage roads for the first time in over a week.

Game is undoubtedly harder to see – general dispersal and the lush green undergrowth see to that. However we still saw plenty – lions on kills, cubs playing, leopards, civet, all the usual antelope, giraffe, elephants, zebra, hippo, hyena, jackal etc. etc. The sighting highlight had to be the wild dogs – I would not have believed a dog could be so vividly beautiful. There is also a mass of birds and butterflies not present in the dry season. Sitting watching weaver birds build their nests from strands of grass is entrancing. You can be shown side by side pictures of the same place in the dry / green season but the difference is so amazing that you really need to see it firsthand. Just to see the Ruaha, Mwagusi and Mdonya rivers full, bank to bank and flowing fast was a wonderful sight.

Of course the weather led to some issues on the road and in the camp. Whatever problems occurred were dealt with efficiently and professionally and we never felt insecure or unsafe. Overall we had a fantastic time and everything contributed to an unforgettable nine night experience.

Kwihala really is the complete package and yes I want to go back again – green or dry – that is the question. If you have only been in one then you have missed out."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Pongwe Beach Hotel

Pongwe Beach Hotel

"Another perfect post safari rest"

5 nights Arrived 2 Feb 2016
"A third visit to Pongwe – five nights following nine nights on safari. It provides a perfect, post safari relaxation environment.

After the busy safari schedule, what we want is eating, sleeping, swimming, reading, walking along the beach, generally completely relaxing and Pongwe is ideal for it. A beautiful well tended beach with plenty of space to accommodate guests without feeling anywhere near crowded. The beach has Maasai guards so there is no interruption from hawkers. A book and a hammock between coconut palms is very acceptable.

Guest rooms with mesh covered windows open to the breeze that give you all of the comfort you need without anything excessive – providing a genuine feel. A lovely infinity pool as an alternative to the ocean. All of the staff are very friendly, helpful and welcoming. The food, especially if you like seafood, is excellent. Drinks and wines are reasonably priced as are lunches – you may not need it after a large breakfast but it was difficult to say no.

Yes, some of the things like bathroom fittings are getting a bit old and the brakish water takes a bit of getting used to but who cares – you are in a small piece of paradise which is very good value for what you get. Also, the management are working at improving things which is good to know. A future safari trip will undoubtedly lead to a stay at Pongwe afterwards – why would we go anywhere else."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent

Amazing trip to Namiri Plains

Tanzania between 1 Nov 2015 and 10 Nov 2015

Trip rating: Excellent
"Absolutely brilliant trip.

I knew I wanted a prolonged stay at a single camp. Have used Expert Africa before and talked to Liz about my requirements. She put the trip together just as required including flexibility / changes due to various airline changes to international flight schedules."

Arranged By Elizabeth Chapman


Namiri Plains Camp

Namiri Plains Camp

"My new favourite place in the world"

9 nights Arrived 2 Nov 2015
"I had the most fantastic nine night trip to Namiri Plains. I have a set of criteria that I look for when selecting a safari destination and started to research Namiri as soon as it opened. After a lot of research, I went there with (probably unfairly) very high expectations, but can say that they were all met and exceeded.

For the location I want somewhere that is quiet in terms of numbers of tourists but with good wildlife. We rarely saw other vehicles apart from those from our own camp during the stay and more often than not, we were the first vehicle at a sighting. My prime wildlife target was cheetah. We were very quickly at the stage where I was looking at a new sort of cheetah behaviour rather than just cheetah. Twenty-one different individuals, many with multiple sightings and behaviour ranging from hunting brothers (complete start to finish), courting / mating couple, sub adult cubs playing, mothers with younger cubs (playing), a male escorting another male from his territory, every imaginable pose; certainly met the wildlife criteria. Also into double figures for different full grown male lions, again with multiple sightings of some. Countless females and different aged cubs. There were also all sorts of other excellent wildlife sightings as well including a newborn giraffe struggling to its feet for the first time and taking its first teetering steps. The gory, harsh side of nature was also represented by a lone hyena taking down a wildebeest calf. There was not a single day where you could not pick out at least one excellent highlight and normally multiple ones. I was also lucky that the rains had brought the main migration within easy game drive distance, weeks earlier than expected.

For the camp I want something that I feel gives me a real bush experience but without any hardships you might associate with camping. Eight large, well spaced ground level guest tents with all the comforts you need but nothing “resort like” that would feel out of place, fits the bill perfectly. All of the staff were excellent – very friendly and attentive and quickly knowing you by name. Meals were communal which I like – allowing sharing the stories of the day and the food was very good – it was difficult not to eat too much. Dinner was preceded by drinks round the campfire and some nights all vehicles would meet up at a sundowner location outside camp. I had read about things like a hot water bottle provided at night and thought I would not need it – in practice it was very welcome.

A good guide is an essential and I had an excellent one along with spotter. How they see some of the things they do still amazes me even after several safaris. He had a great knowledge and understanding of the wildlife along with a real empathy with the animals. Also the ability to position for the best sighting angles and just to spend lots of time observing and learning about the wildlife.

I decided to stay at one camp for a longer period rather than the more usual move round every few days. I was delighted with this choice and could still easily have stayed longer – it allowed time to see things evolve – for example a pride of lions at the start had year old cubs looking in pretty poor condition. Several kills later you would barely recognise them as the same lions.
As far as Asilia goes, I think they do a brilliant job – the things like using refillable water bottles and saving the shower water before it runs through hot (solar heated), all add up. The results of a particularly destructive storm were dealt with very efficiently. If I was looking for a new area, my first search would be to see what camps Asilia had in the area.

So far I have only returned to one safari camp. Namiri Plains is now top of my list for a return visit. I would just love to go back and hope that I get the opportunity to do so."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

Superb Kwihala, Excellent Pongwe

Tanzania and 1 other country between 1 Nov 2014 and 15 Nov 2014

Trip rating: Excellent
"An excellent holiday. We knew what to expect having been to both destinations once before.

Kwihala once again was fantastic. Pongwe was better than our first visit. Will be very happy to do both again. I definitely prefer a longer stay at a camp rather than a more typical few days at several camps."

Arranged By Elizabeth Chapman


Kwihala Camp

Kwihala Camp

"Perfect safari experience"

8 nights Arrived 2 Nov 2014
"This was a second visit to Kwihala – the only camp I have returned to. Repeat visits to Kwihala are quite common which says a lot.

For me it provides the perfect safari experience. Ruaha is a superb National Park with varying landscapes and plentiful wildlife and above all, quiet in terms of tourism. Kwihala being close to the Mwagusi river means game is readily viewable and not a long drive to get to any decent viewing. With only six tents, the camp provides a very friendly environment. It feels like a large, relaxed family which the guests can just become part of and a communal dinner with twelve guests plus guides works really well in that everyone can hear a single conversation which becomes impossible with a larger number of guests.

Tents provide all the comfort you need – spacious with large beds, electric light, battering charging, shower, loo, wash basin, soaps, shampoos etc, – without going to unnecessary luxuries. Yes you are camping in the bush but completely without any tented hardships and also without any hotel type luxuries that would really feel out of place.

Typical daily routine is on the road at 6am preceded by a wake up tea / coffee tray brought to your tent at whatever time you feel you need to get ready. Stop sometime for a substantial bonnet breakfast and continue the game drive to about 1pm depending on what you see. Quick freshen up before a sit down excellent lunch. Then a short break before a pre afternoon game drive tea / coffee / cold drink and cake before going out at 4pm. Return to camp at 7pm after a sundowner stop in the bush – possibly skipped if you make the choice between a really good sighting and a glass of wine. Back at camp, a quick get ready for dinner and pick up from your tent for pre dinner drinks round the camp fire 7:30 onwards. Then an excellent dinner under the stars with all guests, some guides / manager round communal table. Escorted back to your tent to sleep and start the cycle again.
That sounds pretty full on and tiring and the truth is that it is and may not suit some people. Individuals can obviously skip drives or a car can make a choice to change timings but for me, I go on safari to spend time out there in the bush and so the Kwihala routine is great. I don’t want to be lying in bed when I could be out in the bush experiencing the dawn and things like bat eared fox cubs playing out of their den and being suckled by their mother.

As per another reviewer, the changes since the Asilia take over mostly seem pretty positive. I think they appreciate the benefit of a small camp in comparison with a 12 or 15 tent camp and also appreciate that in Kwihala they have something very special which should be changed as little as possible.

When reviewing Kwihala it is difficult not to write on and on – I shall save doing that by saying you could pick virtually any title – guiding, staff, tents, food, location, wildlife etc etc and apply a single word to them – “brilliant”. It is too difficult to come up with a shortlist of highlights from our game drives.

Finally, there is part of me that wants to explore something new if I go on another safari – there is also part of me that really worries that if I do so, I could well be disappointed and spend time comparing to what I know I would get at Kwihala. As far as Ruaha goes, you could visit many times and still barely scratch the surface. I am pretty certain that my next safari will be another visit to Kwihala – probably “green season” for a change."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Pongwe Beach Hotel

Pongwe Beach Hotel

"Perfect post safari relaxation"

5 nights Arrived 10 Nov 2014
"This was our second visit. If you go to Pongwe expecting modern 5* luxury then you should have done some research and booked somewhere else. If what you want is a small bit of paradise – beautiful beach and comfortable beachfront accommodation (I do not know the four new suites with plunge pools apart from seeing their location – we were delighted with our particular beachfront room with its steps to the sea – lapping around the bottom step at high tide) with great staff and food (our first dinner of slipper lobster set an exceptional standard) and not much to do apart from eat, drink, lie in the shade / sun, read a book in a hammock, swim, explore out towards the reef at low tide then Pongwe is for you. You could throw in a bit of snorkeling or hand line fishing or take a kayak out if you felt like it. Trips / tours are available if you want them but that is not what we go to Pongwe for. When the tide is in you have what staff called the “big swimming pool”, when it is out you have the excellent infinity pool. The staff are very good and make an effort to make you feel welcome. Some people dislike the brackish shower water – if you find it a problem just buy an extra bottle of water and use as a final shower rinse.

We had a superb five night break after a tiring safari – if we do another safari we will be back to Pongwe afterwards. (Worth taking a pair of aqua shoes if you want to walk out at low tide or do lots of sea swimming)"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent

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