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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr J from Thailand

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

9

Excursions taken

0

Excellent Trip!

Zambia between 16 Jul 2016 and 1 Aug 2016

Trip rating: Excellent
"Overall, the trip was excellent!

This was the second time I have worked with Expert Africa, and the professionalism, knowledge and helpfulness of the staff has totally and completely gained my trust and admiration.

Claire Scott was very easy and enjoyable to work with, as basically all of the staff I've worked with have been."

Arranged By Claire Scott


Nkwali

Nkwali

"Nkwali Camp - My Welcome to the South Luangwa"

4 nights Arrived 16 Jul 2016
"Nkwali was my first camp of this trip, but the sixth camp I have visited in South Luangwa National Park. I chose Nkwali due to the reputation of Robin Pope Safaris, and the fact that I had never stayed in this area (southern sector) of the park before and wanted to give it a go. Overall, it is probably the least favorite camp I've stayed in in the park.

Location: Good, but not great. Being outside of the park is not a big deal, as Nkwali uses boats to ferry its guests to the park on the other bank of the river, where the safari vehicles are waiting. The camp has a beautiful location right on the Luangwa River, as well as a delightful lagoon behind that sees a huge amount of activity throughout the day. One does not need to leave the camp to have decent wildlife sightings due to the presence of the lagoon, and throughout my stay cheeky elephants roamed through camp. The main reason that the location isn't ideal is that the southern sector of the park is not as game rich as other areas of the park, and it is also more crowded with vehicles from other lodges. I prefer the northern sector (near Lion Plain) and the Nsefu sector of the park to this area.

Rooms were excellent, with a beautiful, open design -- some of the best in the park, in my opinion. My only issue is that they are a bit close together, and, since they are open-fronted, one effectively cannot walk in front of them without invading the privacy of the neighbors.

Service was, as typical for upscale Zambian lodges, quite good. I did get the sense that all of the staff didn't click with each other, which was the first time I've come across this situation in the park.

Food was a bit of a letdown. Despite having "a sous chef from a Michelin-starred restaurant in London" overseeing things, meals were by far and away the least impressive I came across in the four camps I stayed at on the trip. Generally, the brunches -- consisting of an assortment of cold salads, typically more interesting, fresh and healthy than is the norm in South Luangwa camps -- were excellent, but dinners were almost uniformly a let down. I am not sure why the camp doesn't stick with the brunch-time formula of a fresh buffet at dinner, instead of resorting to plated dinners which were not exceptional.

I took all game drives for my activities. Game in the southern sector of the park was varied, and we saw plenty of everything. I wasn't super impressed with my guide compared with some of the other camps I have stayed at in the park.

Lodge facilities were excellent. I particularly liked the small lagoon as, even during the afternoon "down time," one could walk over and still see interesting game. The pool certainly looked nice, but in the middle of Winter was not very inviting! I also enjoyed the beautiful deck built almost directly over the river -- made for some great opportunities to photograph elephants crossing the river!

Overall, I would say that Nkwali is best suited as an intro camp for guests who are venturing on to other Robin Pope lodges in the Nsefu sector, or the walking safaris. As a stand-alone safari camp it is certainly good, but there are many better camps elsewhere in the park. I probably would not return, unless it was in conjunction with an RPS walking safari.

I am more than happy to discuss specifics of any issues I had directly with Expert Africa staff or Robin Pope Safaris directly."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Average
Facilities
Excellent
Lion Camp

Lion Camp

"Big Bang for your Buck!"

4 nights Arrived 20 Jul 2016
"Lion Camp is, in my opinion, an excellent choice of camps in the South Luangwa. There are a couple of camps I liked better (Kaingo and Mwamba), but Lion Camp is extremely well-run and offers exceptional value for the money.

Location: It doesn't get any better than this! Lion Camp is located in the quiet, game-rich northern sector of the park, close to the aptly-named Lion Plain. The biggest variety and highest densities of game in the park are found here, along with very few other vehicles as it is quite remote -- what's not to love about that? The only small issue is that Lion Camp is not located on the river itself.

The rooms at Lion Camp are fine, and certainly comfortable, but not exceptional. They are small wood-and-canvas cabins built on stilts, and don't really bring Africa to mind. They feature balconies that overlook the camp waterhole and the plain beyond, so it is possible to view a wide variety of game directly from your room. One issue: The large, oversized chairs in psychadelic shades of lime green, orange and blue are absolutely hideous eyesores and should go....

Service at Lion Camp was friendly, efficient and impeccable.

The food at Lion Camp was outstanding! The buffet lunches featured a great variety of fresh, innovative offerings to satisfy all tastes, and the plated dinners were well above average. Excellent selection of beverages on offer, as well.

Once again, I stuck with game drives for all of my activities. There were four of us in the vehicle for the first couple of days, then three. Our guide, Andrew, was excellent. In addition to being extremely knowledgeable, he is a kind man with an infectious, happy personality and a good sense of humor.

The facilities feature almost everything one could want in a lodge. I would suggest, though, that if you are going to advertise wifi service to your guests (and I think that camps should, where it is possible), it be of better quality than Lion Camp offers.

Finally, my only caveat about Lion Camp: It is a relatively large camp (9 rooms) for this part of the South Luangwa park. When full, it is a bit busier than I would prefer. So one must weigh the value of a smaller, more intimate camp versus the low price that Lion Camp offers."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Chiawa Camp

Chiawa Camp

"Another Great Stay at Chiawa!"

4 nights Arrived 24 Jul 2016
"This was my second visit to Chiawa Camp, and I came away as satisfied as I was after the first visit. Chiawa Camp and its "bush camp" sister -- Old Mondoro -- show just how excellent a Zambia safari can be, when location, camp, activities and staff all exceed expectations. It is well deserving of its reputation as one of the best safari camps in Africa, and a camp that I would not hesitate to return to again and again.

Location -- Excellent! Fabulously situated on the Zambezi River, with panoramic views over the river and offshore islands and sand bars that never grow old. Combine this with a locale that is rich in game and you have a winning combination.

Rooms -- Chiawa's tented cabins represent the best of "Africa Chic," without going over-the-top. I love the open-fronted cabins and the spacious feeling of the accommodations. They are spaced far enough apart from each other that, despite the fact that there are nine cabins in camp, one feels a sense of privacy.

Service -- Top notch, all the way. I get the feeling that staff -- from the humblest "behind-the-scenes" staff to the guides and camp managers -- truly enjoy working here. Level of service is on par with what I receive at 6-star hotels in Thailand (where I live), here in the bush of Africa! Truly amazing.

Food -- Excellent, extremely high quality. It is mind-blowing what the kitchen of Chiawa does in the bush. My favorite food experiences here are the "brunches on the boat," floating down the Zambezi.

Activities -- One of the highlights of my stay was a canoe excursion through the nearby channel, where we came face-to-face with elephants, crocs and the odd hippo. Birdlife was simply stunning. The game drives lived up to their billing with everything major making an appearance, often in mind-blowing numbers (four leopard sightings on one afternoon game drive is simply insane!)

Facilities -- everything you could ask for, including decent wifi service (I know this is a vacation and I am supposed to totally "turn-off," but I am a business owner and appreciate being able to check in with the [sad] real world once in a while.

Overall -- CAN'T WAIT TO COME BACK!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Old Mondoro Bushcamp

Old Mondoro Bushcamp

"Saved The Best for Last!"

4 nights Arrived 28 Jul 2016
"I "discovered" Old Mondoro Bushcamp last year, and believe it to be the best-run safari camp in Zambia. It is truly a special place; small and intimate, beautifully-situated and -designed, comfortable and friendly, with professional and efficient staff that go out of their way to make your holiday magical.

As with sister camp Chiawa, Old Mondoro is located on the banks of the Zambezi, with gorgeous views over the river channels and many islands. If it weren't for the outstanding wildlife on tap, I could imagine visiting and just chilling for days on end, staring at the gorgeous view! However, this would be losing out on the camp's location near spectacular, game-rich areas!

The rooms at O.M. face the river (or, a small lagoon off the river in the case of cabin #4) and are fantastic. The tent/cabins consist of reed walls on three sides; the front facing the river has a reed, three foot high divider on the bottom but is open from the top of this divider to the roof. There are canvas and fly sidings that can be closed at night for those guests who don't care to be so close to open nature. The open air shower and bathtub -- with stunning view of the Zambezi! -- are delightful.

The service, as I've alluded to in the first paragraph, is top-notch, and I honestly don't see how it could possibly be improved. I've stayed in hundreds of hotels, guest houses, inns and camps over the years, and this is one of the very few that truly made me feel both "special," and "at home." Bravo!

The food served at Old Mondoro was hands-down the best of the trip, and probably the best I've had at any safari camp in Africa. Lunch is served buffet style, and was always fresh, interesting and varied. Dinners were plated and were truly something to look forward to every night.

As with Chiawa, there are numerous activities to choose from. The safari drives were excellent, with great sightings of everything (with the exception of the elusive serval and pangolin, which I have now gone twenty years worth of safaris without seeing!). I love the fact that at both Chiawa and O.M. vehicles are usually limited to four guests each, which of course is excellent for those of us who are photographers. The canoe trip through Discovery Channel was a very memorable afternoon, and I also enjoyed going out on the river a couple of times via boat.

Overall, Old Mondoro remains my favorite camp in Zambia, if not all of Africa. I'm hoping to make it back very soon!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

Six Camps in Zambia!

Zambia between 1 Jun 2015 and 21 Jun 2015

Trip rating: Excellent
"What a fantastic trip!

Expert Africa, and particularly my primary contact there, Megan, were patient and extremely helpful in putting together this itinerary. I spoke with Megan many times over the phone regarding the trip and she was always a pleasure to work with.

I will not hesitate to work with Expert Africa for my upcoming trips to Africa, and would HIGHLY recommend their services!"

Arranged By Megan Green


Chiawa Camp

Chiawa Camp

"Great Camp in a Fantastic Park"

3 nights Arrived 2 Jun 2015
"Chiawa Camp was the first of six I stayed in on my Zambia safari, and what a great start it was! The camp is simply stunning, and the "tents" as comfortable and aesthetically pleasing as can be, given the remote location. Luxurious extras, like twin his-and-hers vanities and a ball and claw bathtub, will surely please the "comfort queens" of the safari world!

The common areas are outstanding, as well. Well-designed, with plenty of space to stretch out, relax or socialize in.

Service is outstanding, without being over-the-top. Camp staff are efficient and genuinely friendly, and no request goes unanswered.

The quality of guiding is very good, the vehicles comfortable and in good shape. Sightings were not as frequent and animals not quite as abundant as in some parks, but ... that said, we had incredible, high-quality sightings with Chiawa! Watching a mother leopard and her eighteen-month old female cub play and interact in a tree, then groom each other on the ground, then call and greet the eighteen-month old male cub when he came home from his walkabout, is something I'll never forget! Nor another female leopard grooming her two, tiny cubs! Lower Zambezi Park truly deserves it reputation for leopard sightings!

The only small criticism I have regards the dinners, which were a bit uneven. The brunches (served buffet style) were outstanding, beverages on offer outstanding, but the dinners -- plated, 3-course affairs -- came out a bit flat, in my opinion. There seems to be a need to offer haute cuisine; as we are in the bush I am not sure why the catering folks don't simplify things and serve food that is perhaps more appropriate for a bush setting.

That said, the culinary highlight was a full moon BBQ (braai) set up and held on a small island in the middle of the Zambezi River -- truly magic!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Old Mondoro Bushcamp

Old Mondoro Bushcamp

"Heaven on the Zambezi!"

2 nights Arrived 5 Jun 2015
"Now THIS is what a bushcamp should be! Old Mondoro ticks all of the boxes -- beautiful chalets that offer the perfect balance between "rustic" and "luxury" (and stunningly located mere meters from the river); great food; superb, yet refined and relaxed, service; wonderful activities with excellent guiding; and the exclusivity of a small camp.

The other two parties occupying camp when I arrived were multiple-repeat customers (one couple was on, I think, their fifteenth annual visit to Old Mondoro!), and I can certainly understand why. I would return here in a heartbeat, and not hesitate to recommend it to friends and family looking for a high-quality safari in a stunning setting."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Kaingo Camp

Kaingo Camp

"Fantastic!"

4 nights Arrived 10 Jun 2015
"Kaingo, along with Mwamba Bushcamp, my next destination, was the highlight of my trip. Kaingo is an extremely well-run camp spectacularly located on the bank of the Luangwa. The staff are professional and personable, always anticipating their guests' needs. Of all of the camps I stayed at on this trip, these two had the overall best levels of service.

The level of guiding was spectacular. I was lucky enough to have Patrick as my guide for six days; he has so much knowledge of the South Luangwa bush, along with incredible people skills, that he should be declared a national treasure.

Kaingo is in a prime game area and sightings are spectacular, even at the beginning of the season, when water is available throughout the park and game isn't forced to congregate around the river or few remaining lagoons and water holes.

At first I was a bit let down by the cottage, which looked somewhat drab from the outside -- like it had been lifted out of a South African national park rest camp. However, one soon gets over this -- the cottages are enclosed by reed fences for privacy and there is plenty of open space in front, the interiors are delightful, and -- best of all -- each cottage has a magical, open air sala on the bank directly over the river! These salas serve as a wonderful spot to sit back and relax between game drives, read or just watch the crocodiles and hippos in the river, or elephants downstream, or the amazing bird life, or whatever wildlife appears on the opposite bank.

The catering was of a very high quality; brunches were served buffet style and were uniformly outstanding, while dinners were plated, 3-course affairs and a bit less exceptional than the brunches, but altogether very good.

Of the six camps I stayed at on this trip, Kaingo would be my first choice for a return visit...."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Mwamba Bushcamp

Mwamba Bushcamp

"Excellence in the Bush"

2 nights Arrived 14 Jun 2015
"I visited Mwamba after a 4-night visit to its more luxurious sister camp, Kaingo. The two of them make an excellent combination, and I HIGHLY recommend walking between the two as I did.

The term "bushcamp" is a bit misleading here, as Mwamba has all of the amenities most people need (including lights in the cottages). The huts are sturdy, well-constructed, and spacious. Hot water is provided in the evenings, but the lack of running hot water is not an issue at all, as a request to any staff member will result in a bucket or two of hot water within a few minutes' time, any time of day.

The camp is well-run and, due to its very small size, has a very intimate feel to it. Staff are lovely and extremely personable. The guide staff is shared between Kaingo and Mwamba, so it is of top-notch calibre.

Mwamba is probably not for everybody. Comfort Queens and those looking for a spa experience will be disappointed. However, for those looking to get as close to the bush as possible, with plenty of luxuries and excellent guiding, it is a fantastic place to go!

Catering features the same menu as at Kaingo, and is of a very high calibre."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Mwaleshi Camp

Mwaleshi Camp

"Walking the North Luangwa Park"

4 nights Arrived 16 Jun 2015
"Let me start with a caveat: North Luangwa National Park, and Mwaleshi Camp, is not for everybody! I would not recommend this park or camp to first-time safari goers, or those looking for a "Big Five Experience." You won't get that here.

However, for those who A) Have been on safari a few times and are interested in something beyond "game drives," B) Want to get off the beaten track, C) Want to get as close to the bush as possible, with a high degree of comfort, and D) Enjoy walking, Mwaleshi is a FANTASTIC option!

The experience from walking at ground level is very different from sitting in a Land Rover and driving around looking for game. It is much more exciting, even if you don't spot the "Big Five." We did some terrific walks (none were what I would describe as "overly taxing"), and were able to really learn a great deal about the bush. We also had some amazing wildlife sightings, including huge herds of buffalo, elephants at close range, Cooksons wildebeest, crocodiles and hippos, and the best honey badger sighting I've experienced yet. We tracked lions for close to five kilometers one day, but never did get to see them....

The camp itself is laid out with the bush huts in a row on the bank of the Mwaleshi River. The accommodations are comfortable and attractive. A bowl of hot water is provided in the morning and buckets of hot water for showers are placed in the tank in the afternoon; if you wish additional hot water it is never a problem, as the staff is always willing to provide for you. The lounge and dining area is well-designed and also overlooks the river. Staff is experienced and friendly. Catering is fantastic; they follow the same menu as the "mother camp" Tafika and the meals are, along with that camp, the best I've had on safari.

Quality of guiding was extremely good. My only point of contention is that there is only one guide at Mwaleshi. This means that all of the guests in camp must agree on and participate in the same activity. If you have strong walkers and not-so-strong walkers (which, unfortunately, was the case while I was in camp), the group must tailor the walk to accommodate the needs of the weakest walker. This is a bit of a problem, in my book...."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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