Travel reviews

Travel reviews by Mr B from Hertfordshire


Eventful

On this trip, I visited Kenya & Rwanda between 4-Oct-2017 and 16-Oct-2017 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

GoodGood

Our trip to Rwanda unexpectedly turned out to be rather dramatic following the first and only gorilla trek which left us total exhausted and me seeking medical help resulting in leaving the Volcanoes National Park earlier than planned and a 2 night stay at the King Faisal Hospital in Kigali following a diagnosis of pneumonia from which I'm still recovering and will probably do so for possibly another 2 weeks or more. We would not have got through this unfortunate episode without the help of our Primate Safaris driver/guide Sura who assisted in so many ways from paying a hospital bill with his own money to procuring cups of coffee from a cafeteria for me while I was in hospital. Well beyond what was expected for which we are truly grateful.

Having spoken with several people who were trekking it seems to us that better briefing beforehand is required. With trekking up to 3000 metres you have to be physically fit and acclimatised which were not although of course I did not know at the time I was suffering with pneumonia. Comment was made that it's always best to do one trek before committing to another. Appreciate that could be a problem as permits often should be booked in advance. It's not unusual for people to abandon the trek part way and in my case the guide did mention (at the end) there was a thought that I might need to be stretchered off the mountain. Among the people I spoke with was an American lady doctor who said she had to give up on her trek but then again she should not really have been on it as she's asthmatic but no one told her how difficult it might be. Nurses at the hospital in Kigali said they often had patient referrals from the gorilla treks as many underestimate the difficult terrain involved.

It would seem there is a perception among a lot of people that seeing the gorillas in the wild is a trip for everyone. Don't believe it is and can be a lottery. At least we have experienced a meeting with gorillas but at some cost and now plenty of paperwork associated with the insurance claim for reimbursement of hospital fees and the non-refundable trek permit. Would advise would be visitors to seriously think about the risks involved.

Feedback response

We greatly appreciate this constructive feedback from one of our regular Africa travellers.

This idea of going on one trek before committing to the next is very interesting; we’d be delighted for any traveller to pay locally for their second trek. (We get no commission on treks, and sell them at cost to our travellers.) However, travellers would have to take the risk that the next day’s gorilla-trekking would be full. This would probably not be an issue during the quieter periods, but in peak season may be inevitable.

The strenuousness of the treks and the need for travellers to acclimatise to the altitude comes across loud and clear from these comments also. Hence, we’re busy reviewing what we write about the treks on our website, on our quotations for trips, and in our pre-departure information – so we make sure that we’re as clear as we possibly can be about how strenuous some people do find these treks at altitude.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Ole-Sereni, Kenya
4-Oct-2017 review: Ole-Sereni review
GoodGood
Hotel des Mille Collines, Rwanda
5-Oct-2017 review: Hotel des Mille Collines review
GoodGood
Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Rwanda
6-Oct-2017 review: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge review
AverageAverage
Hotel des Mille Collines, Rwanda
10-Oct-2017 review: Hotel des Mille Collines review
ExcellentExcellent
Kicheche Valley, Kenya
11-Oct-2017 review: Wonderful place
ExcellentExcellent

Excellent support

On this trip, I visited Kenya, Malawi & Zambia between 11-Dec-2016 and 28-Dec-2016 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

Very well constructed itinerary which for most part ran smoothly.

We were disappointed with Malawi for the reasons mentioned and also for the costs associated with Lilongwe airport. The actual internal flight departure tax is $7 per person and the external departure tax is $35 per person. Visa charge is $75 per person.

Considering the country is regarded as 'poor' and want to encourage tourism the Tourism Board should consider requesting the Government to reduce the fees involved. Suppose the UK equivalent is Air Passenger Duty (APD) which is £13 per person for flights of less than 2000 miles.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Ole-Sereni, Kenya
11-Dec-2016 review: Good hotel for short stay
ExcellentExcellent
Kicheche Bush Camp, Kenya
12-Dec-2016 review: A totally different experience
ExcellentExcellent
Ole-Sereni, Kenya
17-Dec-2016 review: Ole-Sereni review
ExcellentExcellent
Latitude 13, Malawi
18-Dec-2016 review: Disappointing
PoorPoor
Mkulumadzi Lodge, Malawi
19-Dec-2016 review: Good but no game!
GoodGood
Nkwali, Zambia
23-Dec-2016 review: Excellent is an under statement!
ExcellentExcellent

Excellent trip - all ran to plan

On this trip, I visited Botswana & Zambia between 3-Dec-2015 and 23-Dec-2015 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

With the exception of ProFlight all ran to schedule. Ground handling good, no delays.

At Xakanaxa airstrip (which incidentally is a new runway positioned a little further from the camps than the 'old' strip) we were very pleasantly surprised to see Banda, our requested guide for Camp Xakanaxa where has been based since last January, albeit we were due at Camp Moremi first. Apparently in agreement with the D&DS marketing manager (regret don't know his name and was not aware he was the South African chap who wished us well as he leaving for the plane we arrived on) we were allocated Banda for the whole of our 5 night stay on an exclusive basis. This is an amazing example of D&DS customer service for which we are truly grateful. If you are aware of the chap's name please let me know and I will send a thank-you e-mail. Thanks should also be extended to all the D&DS staff including Setch and staff at Suvute and Albert (who was 'care-taking' between Moremi and Xakanaxa) and all the staff.

We will undoubtedly return to Nkwali, Savute and delta camps again - don't know when. However in future we will try to avoid Jo'burg airport if only due to the totally inefficient and unfriendly staff at passport control. It takes ages to be processed. Never enough staff on duty. As you maybe aware, there are 2 sections, one deals with SA residents, the other all non-SA passengers.

There are some 25 (maybe more) passport control booths on the non-SA section. Less than half were being manned on our first arrival and only 7 when we arrived form Maun. Coupled with the delays occurring to some families, presumably associated with the recently introduced regulations and paperwork required for people travelling with children, the delays are totally unacceptable. We were directed to stand in a queue behind a family which we were already aware had processing problems and had to wait 20 minutes while they continued to try and resolve without any apparent success so we asked to move and were eventually directed to stand in another queue. There is no efficient management system in place, it's a shambles.

It is not surprising that Lusaka airport is building a new terminal (by the Chinese!) and Maun wants to expand so that passengers can fly direct rather than via Jo'burg which attracts so much criticism. BA used to fly direct to Lusaka but apparently no more. We met people who flew with Emirates via Dubai so for the future it's worth considering another carrier. There may be others.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Pioneer Camp, Zambia
4-Dec-2015 review: Unfortunate timing
TerribleTerrible
Nkwali, Zambia
5-Dec-2015 review: What a retreat!
ExcellentExcellent
Stanley Safari Lodge, Zambia
11-Dec-2015 review: Stanley Safari Lodge review
GoodGood
Muchenje Safari Lodge, Botswana
12-Dec-2015 review: Good but hard going!
GoodGood
Savute Safari Lodge, Botswana
15-Dec-2015 review: D&DS never fail to impress
ExcellentExcellent
Camp Moremi, Botswana
17-Dec-2015 review: As good as ever!
ExcellentExcellent
Xakanaxa, Botswana
19-Dec-2015 review: Xakanaxa review
ExcellentExcellent

Great time

On this trip, I visited Botswana & Namibia between 6-Dec-2014 and 26-Dec-2014 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

Trip was very good - near enough all went to plan. Roads(!) in Namibia often meant time taken to reach destinations was longer then expected. Apart from the issue with Budget car hire we also had an issue with the Wilderness transfer from Galton House to Windhoek airport. They were supposed to let us know (or if we had not arrived when they called then inform Galton House staff) the pick-up time for our Monday morning transfer. By early evening here had been no call I decide to call them - as it was Sunday there was only an answerphone message and out of hours number - which I rang and the chap apologised for not letting us know but confirmed pick-up time. Just a lapse but would have expected them to have called or how else would we have known?

Overall thought the choice and quality of food was disappointing - in some cases it may have been the lack of guests which prevented a buffet style choice but was often on offer was often restricted and poor quality - naturally game was included on most menus and the only alternative was 'vegetarian' which was mainly the same vegetables which were being used for the main course. Rice seemed to be the main starch available. There was also a lack of detailed information given on how the food was presented eg. broccoli was a main veg but it often came with a blue cheese on it and meat often had a sauce poured on it. Fortunately we made up for this with some excellent meals in Cape Town and the High Tea at the Cape Grace Hotel is highly recommended!

This was our first trip to Namibia which has some spectacular scenery and good game viewing but don't think we will be keen to return except perhaps to Etosha. We like to regard ourselves as fairly seasoned travellers but perhaps our expectations were too high - accommodation was generally good but food disappointing.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Canyon Lodge, Namibia
6-Dec-2014 review: OK but not great
GoodGood
Kulala Desert Lodge, Namibia
8-Dec-2014 review: Excellent lodge
ExcellentExcellent
Cornerstone Guesthouse, Namibia
10-Dec-2014 review: A Gem!
ExcellentExcellent
Doro Nawas, Namibia
12-Dec-2014 review: Great setting
ExcellentExcellent
Grootberg Lodge, Namibia
14-Dec-2014 review: Great spot
AverageAverage
Okaukuejo Camp, Namibia
16-Dec-2014 review: Better than expected
ExcellentExcellent
Onguma Tented Camp, Namibia
18-Dec-2014 review: Great spot but not much to do!
AverageAverage
Okonjima Plains Camp, Namibia
20-Dec-2014 review: Interesting place
GoodGood
Galton House, Namibia
21-Dec-2014 review: Excellent choice
ExcellentExcellent
Camp Moremi, Botswana
22-Dec-2014 review: Best of all!
ExcellentExcellent