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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Ms H from Texas

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

7

Excursions taken

0

My Feb 2014 trip

Namibia between 20 Feb 2014 and 4 Mar 2014

Trip rating: Excellent
"I had a great time, thanks largely to Maruska's excellent planning :-). The combination of the fly-in safari and the self-drive trip in central Namibia allowed me to experience a fairly wide swathe of the country, including some amazing animals and birds and countryside, and to try out various hostelries.

I met some very interesting people and also thoroughly enjoyed the road trip on my own. The car went very well and I had no trouble finding my way around. Thank you for providing the map with all my stop-overs marked on it; that was very helpful.

The next trip I plan in Africa, you will be the first people I call. Thanks again!"

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


Galton House

Galton House

"Galton House review"

1 night Arrived 20 Feb 2014
"I stayed for two nights, the first before I went on safari and the second after I came back.

Pros:
1. The staff were all very helpful and pleasant, especially the receptionist Frances, who gave the Budget guys her body spray to use as a lubricant on the jammed locks of the Toyota pickup truck they delivered (Budget owes her a new spray). Also the young man whose name I forget, who booked me in when I arrived and then remembered me after I came back from my three-day safari. He also waited at table and was very pleasant and efficient.
2. The guesthouse serves dinner, which is very handy when one is tired and has no transport to go into town.
2. The food (at both dinner and breakfast) was excellent, well-prepared and beautifully served.
3. The kitchen is open and there is an "honour bar" refrigerator from which guests can get drinks. I was also offered a refill by one of the staff.
4. There is an attractive swimming pool, and the surrounding patio was very pleasant in the heat.

Cons:
1. The two bedrooms I was in had no fans and very little ventilation. They tended to get very hot, airless and smelly. The second one was also small, and felt a bit claustrophobic with no windows. All i could do was leave the door open.
2. The showers in the bathrooms had no doors on them, which meant water went all over the floors.
3. The guesthouse is in a residential neighbourhood, and there were dogs nearby barking at night and in the early morning. Not the guesthouse's fault, I know, but disturbing nonetheless.

Personal comments:
1. The place was very clean and the public rooms are open, with lots of places to sit and read or talk, also several shelves of books to read, but I found the the design and furnishings a bit too modern-minimalistic for my taste. The wild-life photographs on the walls, which were promoted in their marketing literature, seemed to me to show animals fleeing in terror from the plane, so also something of a turn-off for me.
2. The place was surprisingly quiet, considering the layout of several rooms opening onto a small central courtyard.
3. The place is not within walking distance of the town centre. Visitors require a car to get around."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Average
Food
Excellent
Schoeman's Skeleton Coast Safaris

Schoeman's Skeleton Coast Safaris

"Schoeman's Skeleton Coast safari"

3 nights Arrived 21 Feb 2014
"I had a wonderful time on this trip, which was a 3-night, 4-day flying safari.

Pros:
1. It was a small group, myself plus one other couple, all of whom spoke English, so no need for constant translations. Also, it was easy to ask a lot of questions and get answers without feeling you were monopolizing the guide's attention.
2. Our guide was Andre Schoeman, who is a native of these parts and is steeped in the lore of the coast. I thought he was fantastic. Even though he has been conducting these tours for decades, he made everything sound as if it were new, fresh and exciting to him as well as to us. He is very good at gauging the level of knowledge and expertise that will please his clients, and he talked geology, geography, history, botany, shipwrecks, airplane design, animal lore, local tribes and anything else he and we could think of in a way that we could all take in.
3.The combination of air and ground travel gave us the opportunity to see the amazing geological structures of the country from the air, which gave a very broad view, and then from the land, which is a difference perspective altogether. Mr. Schoeman flies the plane is if it were a part of him; I almost forgot I was in a plane much of the time. We were also able to travel across large distances in a short time.
4. We stayed at three camps. In each one, the service was impeccable - great ground staff. The food was amazing in its variety and quantity, and the selection of drinks left nothing to be desired. The tents were very comfortable and the bucket showers were sheer bliss after a long dusty day.
5. Each camp is built so that it has a view over the surrounding countryside and all three locations were spectacular. I appreciated the efforts that Schoeman's makes to keep rubbish and waste to a minimum, both in the camps and on the road, e.g. by having everyone re-use their water bottles.
5. We did not have to get up at the crack of dawn, so no bleary-eyed exhausted travellers unable to take anything in. Up at 7am, then breakfast and then out on the day's exploration - just right .
6. Each day was full and we did a lot, but the outings were not presented as "activities', which I appreciated very much in retrospect, when I was at places where "activities' abounded. I never felt either regimented or bored on this trip.
7. Andre (and his son) took all their meals with us, which made for some great conversations and the development of a more personal bond than might otherwise have happened, which added depth to the pleasure of the trip.

I can't think of any cons.

Personal comments
It has to be remembered that one is out in the wilderness for the duration of the trip. There is no internet or cell-phone connection (lovely!), and food and supplies have to be trucked into each camp at vast effort. Considering the circumstances and logistical restrictions, I think the Schoemans do a brilliant job of adding comfort and even luxurious touches to the whole experience. The trip brings you face to face with nature untamed, and it was awe-inspiring."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Galton House

Galton House

"Galton House review"

1 night Arrived 24 Feb 2014
"Already done - see above [ Ed: see below! ]"
Excellent
Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch

Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch

"Bagatelle Game Ranch"

1 night Arrived 25 Feb 2014
"Pros:
1. Very comfortable chalet with a beautiful bath, well-equipped mini-bar, lovely setting.
2. Ceiling fans in the chalet, windows and doors that opened wide.
2. Food was excellent, both dinner and breakfast. Also had tea/snacks in the afternoon.
3. Kitchen and dining room staff were very good - attentive, friendly, helpful. My waitress was there for afternoon tea, dinner and breakfast. She obviously works hard. The cook was there for dinner and for breakfast. Did a great job making toast fried in bacon fat over the fire when the electricity failed at breakfast.

Cons:
1. My chalet was quite far from the main office and there was no internal telephone. So if you wanted something, you had to walk down to the main office (about 10 mins) to get service.
2. The chalet I was staying in is, I think, supposed to be the most luxurious of their accommodations. However, to get there you have to drive part-way up a hill of heavy sand, park and then walk the rest of the way to the top and then wade 100 metres or so through more very heavy sand to get to the chalet. I found it heavy going and inconvenient, plus my shoes got full of sand.
3. There were no lights on near the chalets at night and it was impossible to find your way without a torch ( not supplied that I could find).
4. There was no hot water in the chalet for all the time I was there.

Personal comments:
I thought the place tried too hard to provide luxury trimmings, such as fancy toiletries and stylish decor, without making sure that the basics worked, e.g. no hot water, a lamp in my chalet did not work, no torch, they provide a beautiful bath and then put up a notice in the bathroom that basically says, please take short showers and don't use the bath. Sporadic electrical failures, a fan in the dining room that made a dreadful noise.

When I arrived, hot and tired, I was accosted by a receptionist who seemed to want only to sell me tickets for the upcoming "Activities". The next one was a game drive at 4.30pm and the time was already about 4.10pm. So I wasn't going to make it, particularly with her keeping me there talking.

Their roads are heavy sand and definitely require 4-wheel drive vehicles. It would be nice if their literature mentioned it.

Two things that detracted from my pleasure, which I realize were only temporary,but still, I think it is part of not paying attention to basic comforts.

1. They were doing construction work around the pool and public out-door areas. The noise of the back-hoe and power tools could be heard even in my chalet; they were deafening anywhere near the pool. It was hot and I would have liked to have had a swim.
2. The area had had a lot of rain just before I arrived, and the result was a plague of insects which showed up after dark. The problem was that they got into the chalet despite its being shut up and also under the mosquito netting, even though the net was tightly secured as possible. Not that I mind insects particularly, but the sheer numbers were overwhelming. There were so many of them that they were in my face, hair, mouth, underfoot. And I heard the next morning that others had been similarly afflicted. It would be nice if the mosquito nets had kept them out."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Facilities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

"Sossusvlei Desert Lodge review"

3 nights Arrived 26 Feb 2014
"i spent three nights at SossusVlei Desert Lodge.

Pros:
1. Chalets designed so that each one is very private. Paths from main building to each chalet paved and clearly lit at night.
2. Magnificent setting.
3. Excellent food, huge quantities.
4. Lots of personal service. My guide George, and butler Anna, were very knowledgeable and friendly, and so was all the staff. Excellent cooks, too.
5. Lots of attention paid to personal preferences. Each mealtime, my table was set in a slightly different place, and one night it was set upstairs so as to escape a particularly obnoxious child.
6. Every luxury provided in the chalet; the bathroom with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows was a real treat.
7. The activities were diverse, including a game drive, dune drive, hot -air balloon and trip Sossusvlei itself. They were well-organised and included - guess what ? Lots of food!
8. The star viewing platform was wonderful and the resident astronomer very informative.

Cons
1. No ceiling fans in chalet, only air-conditioning, which was noisy as well. A direct counter to the environmentally friendly image that & Beyond cultivates.
2. The stairs from the main floor of the chalet up to the sleeping area are too shallow, and difficult to negotiate.
3. I found the decor very gloomy and depressing - all ivory and bone and cream and grey. The desert has a lot of colour, too; it would be nice to see colour used a bit more.
4. At times, the personal service seemed like too much, and there was a big emphasis on the activities. It was hard to get time to just be alone and do nothing.
5. Too much food. I started to feel sick after a while. I know one doesn't always have to eat it, and I didn't. It's just being faced with it all the time.

Personal comments:

I found the Lodge almost too luxurious for my taste. It seems unbalanced, in that environment of starkness and scarcity, to be wallowing in such excess. That said, I cannot fault their professionalism. It is all extremely well done."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rostock Ritz

Rostock Ritz

"Rostock Ritz review"

1 night Arrived 1 Mar 2014
"I was at the Rostock Ritz for one night and could happily have spent longer there.

Pros:
1. Stunning location, fascinating chalets shaped like igloos, designed to conserve energy.
2. Very friendly and welcoming staff, includin the managers, the Goosens.
3. The owner came over from his house at dinnertime and walked around and chatted to everyone in the dining room, a really friendly and engaging gesture.
4. Excellent food and service at dinner, also at breakfast
5. There were several resident dogs around, which I enjoyed.
6. Lovely pool and the most comfortable pool chairs, of a most interesting design
7. The place hosts a meerkat rehabilitation center, which was fascinating to see in operation. It also generated some great stories.
8. The evening game drive took us over some remarkable terrain and the guide (also one of the managers) was very knowledgeable about the territory, and the animals and birds in it.

Can't think of any cons, except perhaps that the chalets were very small, and felt a bit cramped, especially after Sosusvlei :-)."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Hansa Hotel

Hansa Hotel

"Hansa Hotel review"

2 nights Arrived 2 Mar 2014
"I spent two nights here. It is a beautiful hotel, very well-kept and reminded me of a different, more leisurely era. I had a ground-floor room that faced onto the garden, which is quite charming. My room was spacious, with an outdoor porch, and indoor sitting area, and very comfortable bedroom and a large bathroom with bath. I especially liked the small magnifying mirror attached to the main mirror over the basins and countertop. Perfect for doing one's make-up.

The staff at the front desk were very friendly and helpful, and the hotel had an office containing a computer that guests could use.

The breakfast was plentiful and tasty but I found the service in the dining-room indifferent, both at breakfast and on the one night I had dinner there. I had to wait quite long for service; at dinner they forgot my dessert, and at breakfast I had to ask for coffee twice and also for the cooked portion of my breakfast to be prepared. Perhaps I was spoiled after my previous experiences, or perhaps it is just that hotels are more impersonal by definition. I felt much more anonymous there.

The location is great; one can walk all over town and down to the beach from the hotel quite easily in a short time. It also felt very safe, given that it is still a city center."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent

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