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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr R & Ms L from UK

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

15

Excursions taken

0

Africa is catching

Namibia between 1 Jan 2015 and 29 Jan 2015

Trip rating: Excellent
"we have, we guess, become bitten by the Africa bug. We had a great time though we know that our measures of enjoyment are not necessarily those that others might use. This was our first trip to Namibia and it lived up to expectations. Stunning landscapes, extraordinarily nice people, a history that you should learn about to understand the place.... and for those that live in great cities, just amazingly empty. What will we remember? Sabina said to us that we shouldn't waste money on hiring a 4x4 but suggested we got a vehicle that had good ground clearance. We went with this.

On our drive back from Wolwedans to Windhoek, having still not seen any major rain, we had to drive over a small range of mountains, and on the way to the main pass I realised that it had rained here and the road was largely washed away. But we got over the pass and I said it should be easy from here.My partner took over as we drove down to the plains, and the we remembered that if it rains in the mountains, the water has to go somewhere. When we drove into the second bit of flooded road which seemed to run as far as we could see in front of us, we swapped driving again, and after a couple of hiccups, we got through. Thanks for your suggestion Sabina, in a VW Golf, we'd still be sitting in the middle of a fllor, and as you know, not many cars come along in Namibia ....... We will of course go back; the deep south around the Snake River is there to visit and then we'd like to go along the Caprivi into Botswana and Zambia....

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

Our experience of Expert Africa is that you are content to let people work out their own routes for particular sections of a trip and then help with areas where they are less confident. It probably reduces your income but it means that we feel that you are helping us work out what we want to do, rather than just selling us a package. This is more like the old time 'outfitters' who helped you buy your kit and suggested the best routes, than a travel agent. It suits us well and makes us feel confident in following your advice.

Thanks Sabina and you helped us enjoy your country."

Arranged By Sabina Hekandjo


Okonjima Bush Camp

Okonjima Bush Camp

"very comfortable and well designed camp"

2 nights Arrived 3 Jan 2015
"The emphasis at Okonjima has in the past been on the cats that have been saved from farmers traps and then released into Okonjima's reserve. This approach has various reservations attached to it and other, more commercial organisations, elsewhere in southern Africa have featured recently in critical press coverage. We were pleased to see when we got to Okonjima that they now stress that their prime activity is working with farmers to find ways of avoiding conflict between people and animals and developing approaches and techniques to decrease predation by wild big cats on livestock.

The leopard programme seems to be a real success, not least because of 'naturally present' leopards in the Reserve as well as 'rescued' animals. But we felt that the Camp would benefit from being more open about the fact that the three cheetahs and one spotted hyena in the Reserve are very unlikely to form the basis of a breeding population, and in reality their role is to be a visitor attraction and to see out their lives in the reserve.

But that being said, the camp is a very pleasant place to stay, with a resident population of wart hogs who provide entertainment, and a lot of birdlife who can provide hours of interest beside your hut, if you fill the small bird bath that sits outside. It is also a privilege to be able to get so close to leopards, with the aid of the guides and the radio collars on a number of the animals."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Onguma Bush Camp

Onguma Bush Camp

"Just a fence away from the Etosha"

2 nights Arrived 5 Jan 2015
"We enjoyed out brief stay here, with comfortable rooms and helpful staff. The post-Xmas quiet period had set in so there weren't many other guests. We saw our first sign of the rains here, with dramatic electric storms. The waterhole beside the main building attracted surprisingly few animals, even though the rains were only just upon us, though the staff nurtured a large population of turtles/terrapins in the pool. We took a trip with one of the Onguma guides into Etosha and this was really a very good experience.

The guide was extremely knowledgeable, and was able to guide to a waterhole where he thought that black rhino might be present and in due course they were. We also had the absorbing experience of sitting by a pride of 7 or 8 lions, and then when they all got up and moved off, our guide said he thought they were heading for a waterhole so we set off to get there before them. We then had quite a dramatic period at the waterhole where there were several giraffe including a very young male. We couldn't see the lions but the giraffe almost certainly were aware of their proximity so there was a tense hour of so while we waited to see what developed. This was slightly marred by another tour vehicle with a young Englishman who talked talked loudly and incessantly about trivia - until we asked him to shut up.

Staying outside Etosha (but v near) was very good as it meant we saw things like the lions which we probably wouldn't have done on our own. Spending time at the eastern end of Etosha meant we saw Skinners Pan, where the near permanent water hosted a variety of water birds and particularly flamingos."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Okaukuejo Camp

Okaukuejo Camp

"Okaukuejo Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 7 Jan 2015
"To a certain extent the story about the Namibian National Parks camps in many reviews has been rather negative, and they are certainly less arty-farty than some of the private camps we stayed at, but overall, we thought Okaukuejo was fine. It did what it said on the box, the accommodation was clean, the restaurant worked well and service was good, the water-hole was a real success and the seats were crowded as the evening wore on, with some brilliant views of game. The swimming pools were nice as well - not quite enough loungers but probably difficult to manage.

We took Expert Africa's advice and checked the inventory in our hut (short of one plastic coat hangar!) but they seemed v relaxed about this. Our only adverse comment was that the shop at this camp (and other National Park camps) was almost completely empty of stock. Not only was there hardly any food on the shelves, but the souvenir shop was also empty. Interestingly we had dropped into the Namutoni shop which had lots of souvenirs - but at this point we were at the start of our trip. NWR clearly did have stock but just not at the major camp! We can see why you might not stock perishables in the quiet season but canned and frozen food? It didn't affect us as we ate in the restaurant but if you were travelling on a budget and depending on self catering, you'd be in difficulties.

The gas station on site took cards and although the office staff did have just a tiny touch of bureaucrat about them, we found that by being friendly and talking about the 'not arrived yet' rains and so on, they relaxed and were helpful and friendly. We drove ourselves out on trips in the area, and the waterholes along the southern edge of the Etosha Pan had some brilliant gatherings of game, with densities of zebras and wildebeest in particular very high - in the low hundreds.."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Dolomite Camp

Dolomite Camp

"fabulous position but watch out for oryx!"

1 night Arrived 9 Jan 2015
"A fairly long drive to the western end of the Park with some stop-offs along the way brought us to Dolomite. Situated in a pass it has a dramatic position. The deal is that you leave your vehicle in a car park with covered bays, at the foot of a rocky ridge and are ferried up to reception. Because of bookings, we were only able to stay one night here and would suggest that future visitors should try to get at least two nights.

We also ended up in a hut at the far end of the ridge, away from the reception/bar/pool etc. This had a small 'plunge' pool on the deck but more importantly for us, it over-looked a water hole and as we were looking out over the bush about 5 minutes after arrival, a herd of around a dozen elephants crossed below us, on the way to water. As always the staff were great but there was a slightly confusing set-up, with two huts where meals were served, for no reason other than fitting everyone in as far as we could tell. But possibly because of a shortage of staff in the quiet season, there was some delay in getting served and getting a drink - nothing serious but given the status of Dolomite as a jewel in the crown camp, it needs looking at.

When we got a buggy down to the car park the next morning, there was some excitement and when when we got to our car we found that some roaming oryx had wandered through the car park overnight, and seemingly attracted by reflections from moonlight on the cars, had butted them. We had just one dent, but a large 4x4 from South Africa had some serious dents along one side. We took photos and gathered names etc for possible insurance claims. Then we set off to leave Etosha by the Galton Gate. Strictly speaking we had exceeded our time in the park by a few hours but the gate staff assured us that this was not a problem."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Grootberg Lodge

Grootberg Lodge

"One of the top places we stayed in Namibia"

3 nights Arrived 10 Jan 2015
"Grootberg Lodge rated very highly for us; partly because of the amazing position on the rim of a deep, almost circular, valley; partly because the guides were extremely knowledgeable and keen to explain what was happening, and probably because we were interested in the whole community set-up. As you know, Grootberg and the Conservancy it is in, are owned by local people, with an arrangement whereby a (sympathetic) consultancy has been training staff into management positions, on the basis they will gradually withdraw.

We never saw any of the consultants, possibly because it was the post Xmas quiet season, but the staff were noticeably more confident and open towards guests (well, us anyway!) than in some camps. Some of the young women in particular were very impressive and the senior guide who took us out was an ace.. Of the three main activities we took part in, the rhino tracking was a highlight of the trip. The trackers were very skilful (and I've worked closely with trackers in another part of the world) and were either foolhardy or, as we preferred to decide, so knowledgeable about rhino that they were completely confident - I still identified a large rock I was going to drag my partner behind if the two rhinos stopped displaying anger and actually charged us.

The other trip, to a Himba village, I was much less certain about as there were aspects that I felt were exploitative of the Himba women, though as my partner was probably less concerned than me I might have been over-sensitive. The Lodge staff were very clear that it was a key part of the support that the Conservancy provides to these remote communities. The drive there was also very interesting and the guides excellent.

On one trip we picked up other guests from the Hoada camp site and clearly there has been investment and improvement since the last edition of Chris's book (p.350!), and it is now staffed. The couple who were camping there were happy with the conditions though were mainly full of how they had woken up in their tent on top of their van, to find an adult male lion asleep on the ground beside their vehicle!

When we left Grootberg we diverted a bit north to Palmwag, in order to fill up with petrol at the station across the veterinary fence/ disease control point (and ended up giving the daughter of the control point gateman a lift back to school, about 40 km south)."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Doro Nawas

Doro Nawas

"as we were in transit, harder to judge"

1 night Arrived 13 Jan 2015
"First, a minor point: the directions in Expert Africa's material was rather unclear. The camp is not marked on the printed map, and the directions were fairly vague about exactly where the camp was. Distances on the gravel roads are deceptive. There were other places marked but not Doro Namas. We spend a long time wondering if we had missed it and drove for a good way past where we thought it was suggested the turning to the camp was, and were starting to wonder if we'd missed the turn and whether we should go back - but then we found it. So maybe a ball park figure for the kilometres from the last turning or similar would be helpful.

By now we had stayed in five different camps/lodges and were getting familiar with the setup. So although the staff were as pleasant as anywhere we'd stayed and nothing was too much trouble and there were few other guests etc, Doro Nawas seems to lack a particular identity of its own. Maybe a lot of people, like us, use it as a transport interchange, or are just passing through. We went on a trip to Twyfelfontein which turned out to include a visit to the Damaraland living village which was surprisingly good with a very talented young man as the lead guide. Obviously we used a guide from the site at Twyfelfontein - which is fascinating and with a good museum - as outlined in the book. ( We returned to it ourselves when we stayed on the way back from the Skeleton Coast). However on the guided trip we didn't really have enough time and ended up keeping the young site guide until after closing time and not seeing the display/museum. It could have been better managed as an overall outing. The drive back to the lodge is quite rocky and by this time we were pretty tired. The room was large and airy but putting the bed out on the veranda not realistic as much too windy. We had our first experience of getting the menu in both English and the Damara/click language from charming waiter which was nice.

So overall, we felt a bit 'neutral' about the lodge although there was nothing in particular that was negative."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

"This was a stunning experience"

3 nights Arrived 14 Jan 2015
"As suggested by friends who had been previously and by Expert Africa, going to the Skeleton Coast was a brilliant experience and the camp itself is very in tune with the location, comfortable - if not luxurious and the staff very helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. We particularly liked the fact that the modern design and decor, as the standard decor for most lodges tends towards what could be described as Bulawayo Safari Club, circa 1927.

The camp staff and the guides were very good, and one (Gert we think) was outstanding. Once again they appeared to work well as a team and we were again impressed by the competence and confidence of young staff members. Our guide, Gert, drove a party of us down to the coast, to the seal colonies, the Park Ranger station and so, and then we got on a plane and flew back to the Skeleton Coast camp whilst Gert drove the four hours back - he then took us out for a walk in the camp vicinity, looking at what were probably strand loper/San encampments. It would be good if the camp developed more visits to nearby archeological sites as it shows how people managed to live in the desert for centuries.

Overall our experience here was really very good, with a surprisingly high level of good game sightings, including a large pride of adult female and young male lions on the plateau near the camp."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Doro Nawas

Doro Nawas

"Doro Nawas review"

1 night Arrived 17 Jan 2015
"See earlier review - some nice touches like we had the same room - and the same guide picked us up from the air strip. We had time to drive ourselves to Twyfelfontein so could visit in a more relaxed way which was a good start to being back from the very rarefied context of the Skeleton Coast.

Made use of the pool and found a few (but not many) other guests now at the lodge."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Cornerstone Guesthouse

Cornerstone Guesthouse

"Comfortable and convenient"

3 nights Arrived 18 Jan 2015
"Cornerstone Guesthouse was ideal as a base. The hosts were very helpful and booked our Walvis Bay trip for us. The breakfast was fresh and plentiful and the location is good for the town. It was grey and windy in Swakopmund and even rained a little. The room was small although the little porch area was good and the bathroom spacious and with v good facilities.

Worth noting that the jetty has been renovated and The Jetty restaurant is very good (at least as good as The Tug which is mentioned in all guidebooks). The Swakopmund museum is worth visiting even though it is quite old fashioned in its style. Overall, in the post-Xmas season, everywhere was very quiet.

The boat trip out from Walvis Bay was well worth taking, as aside from the seals, pelicans and cormorants that join passengers on the boat, the crew (with a woman skipper) talked knowledgeably about the Chinese investment in the port facilities and the related infrastructure. In the afternoon, using the same company (Mola Mola) we went on a land rover trip out to Sandwich Harbour, previously a large fresh water lagoon but now lost to coastal erosion. Again a very knowledgeable guide, who had lived and worked in the dunes for years, and was able to show us the insect and small mammal/reptile life, as well as the inevitable dramatic dune driving."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Hoodia Desert Lodge

Hoodia Desert Lodge

"comfortable base for Sossuvlei"

2 nights Arrived 21 Jan 2015
"We were the only guests and the managers were away. The staff were very young friendly and helpful and we had an experienced guide who took us to Sossuvlei. Whilst you get to the Park as the gate opens it does still mean that you have another 20/30 mins until you get to the main dunes. It might have been good to stay in the reserve.

The position of Hoodia is very attractive and we saw some amazing thunderstorms, rainbows and had great views of the mountains. The hut was comfortable but as we had the place to ourselves the main terrace overlooking the riverbed was our main focus."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Zebra River Lodge

Zebra River Lodge

"a very special place in the mountains"

3 nights Arrived 23 Jan 2015
"We were the only guests which meant we got a lot of care and attention. The owners were very friendly without crowding us out - they havda lot to do with their plans to develop the Lodge. Our aim was to have some time in the mountains walking. We did do this although the walks are not quite as easy as you might think: there are some waymarks on this private land but with hand drawn maps it can get tricky.

The long awaited rains were starting so one day we got rained off from the mountains but overall it was a great experience and the landscape is stunning, fantastic birds but relatively limited wildlife, lots of baboons in the rocks above you as you walk and we did see a few zebra. It is off the beaten track but ideal if you want a few days of relative solitude.

The geology is interesting and provides another reason to walk."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge

Wolwedans Dunes Lodge

"Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review"

2 nights Arrived 26 Jan 2015
"Wolwedans is of course the touchstone against which other lodges in Namibia are judged and it is in the most stunning position. The whole business of administering the arrival of guests is very impressive although it felt just a tiny bit like being 'processed'! This was the busiest lodge we stayed in during our trip and it was clear that it was geared up to receiving quite large parties, taking them in, looking after them and deftly delivering them out the other end - it was very impressive.

Everything was very well done although our earlier comment about the tendency of lodge decor to verge on colonial nostalgia probably reached its epitome here - the extent of shelves of elderly books verged on Hay on Wye, but this is not to detract from the smoothness of the overall operation and the professionalism of the staff - all impeccably done.

We suspect that a combination of the fact we reached here after a fairly long trip that took us to a good number of varied camps plus a bit of experience of other parts of southern Africa made us slightly blase, but although the experience was very good, for us it was maybe just a tad too over the top - but still all very well done, and if people have a limited time in Namibia and want to experience the desert, the this is the place to go."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Galton House

Galton House

"Galton House review"

1 night Arrived 28 Jan 2015
"This was our stop-off on our route out of Namibia - this time we knew our way in to Windhoek, we felt more familiar with our situation, our room was a little larger and besides sorting out our slightly oryx dented car (see previous comments) it all felt easier.

Our previous comments about possibly preferring to be in a downtown location hold good, though this is no reflection on Galton House or its staff."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good

overall feedback

Botswana between 10 Sep 2007 and 15 Sep 2007

Trip rating: Excellent
"Absolutely fine. As we'd been spending time in SouthAfrica before going up to Botswana and had had a very good time already, the Okavango trip rounded our holiday off wonderfully.

At 10.30 am on Saturday morning we were beside a pack of hyenas dismembering the remains of a zebra and at 6.30 on Sunday morning we were in terminal One at Heathrow still feeling slightly awed.

Can't do much better than that."

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


Footsteps across the Delta

Footsteps across the Delta

"Footsteps feedback"

2 nights Arrived 10 Sep 2007
"we particularly liked the fact it was small (only 4 guests while we were there). The staff team were really helpful and friendly and the manager/head guide TT and the other guide Alberto were very knowledgeable, were obviously very committed to their country and its environment, and took great pains to explain about the way the eco-system worked - they were also very good company at dinner.

If there was anything that we would change it would be that we felt that sometimes the level of pampering was verging on the excessive and although the cooks did miracles in their bush kitchen, we would have been jut as happy to have had a braai in the evening and not worried about the table cloths and cutlery settings.

This is absolutely no criticism at all of the staff, but rather rflects our own more informal approach to life in general."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Shinde Camp

Shinde Camp

"Shinda feedback"

3 nights Arrived 12 Sep 2007
"Again, as per our comments on Footsteps: the rooms were comfortable, the staff were great, we were lucky enough to be with Julius the Head Guide and deputy manager, who managed to find something different and fascinating every time we went out - and these were not things he knew about in advance and could 'deliver' to us (however accomplished a guide, you can't pre-arrange a huge bush fire lighting up the horizon 20 kilometres way that dramatically illuminated 7 young male lions stalking a moving buffalo herd at sunset!).

We realise that many people like the lavish hospitality bit but we found the evening meal with the long table slightly formal and might have preferred it to be a touch less banquet-like, but its a detail and overall we hugely enjoyed our stay.

Only one suggestion and its something we've noticed across southern Africa, and its that coffee is always made rather weak - but if thats our only gripe, no-one needs to lose sleep, do they?"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good

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