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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mrs S from Cambridgeshire

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

7

Excursions taken

0

Independent Travellers Lose Independence

Malawi and 1 other country between 14 Dec 2008 and 11 Jan 2009

Trip rating: Good
"We are first and foremost independent travellers and this is the first time that, due to making a late in the day travel decision, we have had somebody arrange a trip for us. While we enjoyed the venues the lack of independence that we experienced by e.g. not having our own vehicle would put us off going down this route again. This was acutely felt when we arrived at Chintheche and discovered that we would be 'stuck' there for 6 nights. Again, had it not been for Briony and her staff we are likely to have shortened our time there and headed off to SA earlier.

I think EA should spend a bit of time really understanding what type of travellers they have in front of them. E.g. I fully expected that as we were being driven between locations we would have a person standing with board with our names on when we came through arrivals. What we did not expect - and did not appreciate - was having somebody standing with a board on the runway tarmac to meet us and guide us through customs, baggage relclaim, etc as though we were unable to do this for ourselves. Nothing like the looks from your fellow travellers to drive this home.

Before we left I raised concerns that 6 days at Chitheche was too long a time and we would ideally liked to have spent an extra day at Mvuu and/or Mumbo only to be told that this was not possible as they were full. On leaving Mvuu Lodge, which caters for at least 12 people, we asked them if they were full only to be told that they only had 2 couples that night (so we could have stayed an extra night). Similarly on the day that we checked out of Mumbo there was space available. Having arrived at Chintheche, with the accommodation clearly in need of investment, we found this 'availability' irksome.

While at Chintheche we mountain biked (which by the way also need some investment in repairs) to Makuzi Beach. Why is this venue not offered by yourselves as it is so much better in terms of accommodation and communal areas verses the Inn? It is also much better placed for snorkelling, etc and their kyaks, etc, etc all appeared to be working.

The above comments are not aimed to be critical but constructive and I have to emphasis that we definitely both enjoyed our time in Malawi around the lake.

I think that if you are the type of person that likes to have everything arranged for you then I would recommend using Expert Africa. Everything did what it said it would do on the lable - and we cannot fault that.

I am happy to discuss any of the above with EA if you wish to discuss/expand/clarify anything."

Feedback response

These are very valuable comments which illustrate some key points of how we work.

These travellers approached us just a month in advance for a trip over a peak period: Christmas. Finding space was challenging; the choice was limited. We worked very hard to find the best places left available for these travellers – but this can be difficult when options are limited. The lesson is that it’s always best to book well in advance.

Very occasionally a place will be full when we try to book it – but have cancellations later. We work in good faith: we’ll always tell you what we know, but sadly we cannot always predict what may happen after you start travelling.

We do know Makuzi Beach (it’s on this website !), but when last visited it didn’t have a pool, and its food/service were not up to Chintheche’s standards. However, we know that things change; so we’re grateful for this news, and will be looking at it again when we next go back to Malawi.

As these travellers observed, our trips work well for people who ‘like to have everything arranged for them’. We try to take care of everything. On this trip, this included a service to side-step airport queues that can be long and tedious. If we’d known that these travellers wouldn’t like this, we would have not requested it.

This is the first complaint that we’ve ever had about such a service.

Once we arrange a trip, everything is booked. However, this means that there is not the flexibility to change the itinerary as you go without incurring extra costs. If travellers need this flexibility, then it’s best to make arrangements for yourself and probably not with us.

Arranged By Claire Scott


Palacina

Palacina

"Good hotel worth a longer stay"

1 night Arrived 14 Dec 2008
"We were not there long enough to comment on e.g. the food (breakfast) but the hotel and rooms are very good. To get real value from staying at Palacina you would want to be spending a few days in Nairobi and not just wanting to use it as a bed for a night. As a transit hotel there may be better options closer to/at JK International.

We stayed at Palacina twice and on both occassions had problems trying to settle our bill early in the morning using VISA. Nothing wrong with our cards but there appears to be an issue with their processing capability. On the second occassion we had to cobble together all our loose change to pay the bill otherwise we would have missed our flight."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Domwe Island

Domwe Island

"Basic balanced by great location"

3 nights Arrived 15 Dec 2008
"Pretty much had the island to ourselves. Nice and relaxing. Had a Kayak Africa staff cooking for us. There is no way we can eat that much food! When so many local people have so little consideration should be given to this excess."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Mumbo Island

Mumbo Island

"Island life - perfect"

2 nights Arrived 18 Dec 2008
"All round excellent venue"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Mvuu Camp

Mvuu Camp

"Great venue even in rainy season"

3 nights Arrived 20 Dec 2008
"Despite it being the rainy season which decreased the amount of large game near the river Mvuu Lodge is an excellent venue."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Chintheche Inn

Chintheche Inn

"Excellent Manager. Venue needs investment"

6 nights Arrived 23 Dec 2008
"Before I make any other comments I have to make special mention of Briony, the manager. She is excellent and went the extra mile to make our stay (contrary to the comments below) very enjoyable. The food and the friendly staff are also a big plus.

If it were not for Briony, her staff and the actual lake and beach I would have rated the 6 days as decidedly average

The inn seems totally at odds with the rest of the Wilderness portfolio. If they want their brand associated with this venue (especially when their are better beach resorts in reasonable proximity) they should invest some of their profits into upgrading the rooms, particularly the bathrooms (and the communal bar area)!

Of their 4 kyaks ony 1 worked properly. A little bit if focus here would also not go amiss.

Finally, you would not spend 6 nights at Chintheche without having access to a car (Expert Africa what were you thinking?)!"
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Poor
Food
Good
Facilities
Average
Image alt

own arrangements

"Back in control. Means everything."

12 nights Arrived 29 Dec 2008
"We are independent traveller and having total control of our plans is the x factor between a good holiday/trip and a great one."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Palacina

Palacina

"Great penthouse"

1 night Arrived 10 Jan 2009
"We were given the 'penthouse' for a stay of less than 8 hours. Why?

See further our comments for our outbound first stay."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Rooms
Excellent

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