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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs Lion from Maine

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

3

Lodges stayed in

10

Excursions taken

0

A travel agency for the independent traveler

Namibia and 2 other countries between 15 Feb 2008 and 16 Mar 2008

Trip rating: Excellent
"Our trip was extraordinary. Before the trip, friends asked us why we weren't content to visit zoos or somewhere like Animal Kingdom. Now I know it's worth the effort to visit Africa: the animals behave more normally in their wild native habitats than they do in captivity.

There were almost no glitches; it was difficult to come up with the extremely minor faults I've mentioned in the previous pages--I was trying not to be glib. [Ed: click onthe links below to access those 'previous pages']

We will return to Africa.

Here's an odd thing: everyone told us to visit Namibia for the scenery, not the wildlife-viewing. But we saw more wildlife in Etosha the 4 days we were there than we did the 8 days we spent in Botswana. The 2WD may have slowed us down enough to notice the animals; also we weren't rushing around trying to find lions, and were content to see whatever appeared.

For us, the more remote the better: I found myself being annoyed at Chitabe when I heard planes or helicopters.

We had thought someone was going to drive us from Muchenje in Botswana all the way to the Livingstone Airport. We were not looking forward to waiting in line for the ferry to cross the Zambezi. But as you know, there were a number of agents involved in getting us from the one place to the other. The transition progressed remarkably smoothly, and we enjoyed seeing a little of the everyday Africa one doesn't observe at safari camps.

That being said, the agent at Kazangula, Zambia was very kiind but he didn't seem to know that everyone has to pay a visa fee now. He behaved in a rushed manner, without explaining his intentions to us. I was locked in the van with our luggage then the agent took my husband to the customs office. Unfortunately, I hadn't told my husband about making sure our passports were stamped with the appropriate number of days, so they were stamped 7 rather than 8. When we left Lusaka to fly to London, we were scolded about this.

We couldn't cash travelers' checks at Livingstone Airport; we didn't have enough time to try at Lusaka; and at Mfuwe, the clerk wanted $20 to exchange $50. We had no luck at Kapani either.

FYI, Mr. Grellman at Etango Game Ranch mentioned that Windhoek plans to expand the airport across the road, more or less adjacent to his ranch.

I'm rambling.

I don't know what additional information would be helpful. We're used to setting our own schedules when we travel, and for that reason, we enjoyed having our own car and doing what we pleased when in Etosha. For 2 active people, it's difficult to spend 6+ hours in a jeep each day; and of course, during siesta, one usually can't walk around on one's own other than from the tent, to the dining hall, to the vehicle, back to the dining hall..... I suspect a walking safari is in our future. Also, we'd like to have our own vehicle, or have our own guide who wouldn't be bored sitting watching baboons or elephants for an hour. You can arrange all of this, can't you?

We had never used a travel agency before--for one thing, one of us is detail-oriented and enjoys the researching and planning of trips. But with the complexity of this trip and my slow-as-molasses dial-up laptop, I decided to try an agency. Chris McIntyre's guide books had impressed us not only because of all the truly helpful information, but also because of the lack of platitudes. To make a long story short, Expert Africa's services have been superb. The following remarks are nitpicking and I don't know if they'll be helpful or not.

I mentioned under the "Flights" section about the Zambian Airways vouchers. The Taj clerk also seemed confused about the voucher: she thought I was staying alone and she asked me how I was planning to pay for my night.

There are a few discrepancies between Mr. McIntyre's guidebooks and the Expert Africa website. For example, the books might state that a camp is only open seasonally, but the web site states otherwise.

Perhaps when an agent is going to be out of the office for an extended period, she might notify her current clients to contact so-and-so during her absence if they have questions.

Your turn -- rate us as clients.

Thanks for everything!"

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


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Daan Viljoen Reserve

"Wildlife near Windhoek"

1 night Arrived 16 Feb 2008
"We enjoyed being outdoors and viewing wildlife within a few hours of arriving in Namibia. The restaurant, located on a hill, afforded broad views with Windhoek in the distance and hills beyond it, plus a fantastic lightning display.

Our bungalow had bedding and towels as white and new as those in a good hotel. However, none of the windows or the door fit their frames well; and only one window had a screen and this was poor-fitting as well. We closed all the windows to deter some insects, but with no mosquito net, they were bothersome anyway.

Plus, with no fan, the room was warm and stuffy. Further, about half of the inventory of the bungalow's contents was missing: soap in the dispenser, waste bin, chairs and so forth. The hot water heater for the sink didn't work. There was hot water in the communal shower block; but again the soap dispensers were empty."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Average
Activities
Good
Rooms
Poor
Food
Good
Facilities
Average
Erongo Wilderness Lodge

Erongo Wilderness Lodge

"Walk on your own at Erongo Wilderness Lodge"

3 nights Arrived 17 Feb 2008
"We especially enjoyed being able to go for walks whenever and wherever we wished. Nonetheless, we chose to go for 2 guided walks with Gelosius and these were excellent.

We began at dawn and climbed the rocky outcroppings to see remarkable views, numerous birds we'd never seen, klipspringers, hyraxes, baboons, etc. The guides and waitstaff here were particularly friendly, genuinely friendly rather than being friendly because that's part of the job.

The food was some of the best we had during our month in Africa, although the portions were too large. I liked the shoulder-high stone walls that comprised the bathroom -- showering outdoors was a pleasure. This lodge was one of our favorites."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Okaukuejo Camp

Okaukuejo Camp

"Luxury at Etosha"

2 nights Arrived 20 Feb 2008
"These bungalows have recently been renovated and they are rather posh. The solid walls, windows and air conditioning lend a different atmosphere than the usual tent and thatch accommodations of camps.

Considering we visited in the rainy season, we had no trouble with a 2WD Toyota; we saw more game and birds than anyone seemed to expect, and many of these had young with them.

We ate lunches out in our car at waterholes and wished we had brought groceries with us from outside the park because the park's store had limited cold lunch supplies: canned goods, apples, tomatoes, cheese, crackers and bread.

Also, we would have preferred a more casual option for dinner: the restaurant was full, bustling with guests dressed as if at a resort; and the buffet--although good--was more than we wished to eat."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Halali Camp

Halali Camp

"Halali Restcamp--more casual than Okaukuejo"

2 nights Arrived 22 Feb 2008
"Halali's position deeper in the park lends it more of a sense of wilderness. There are many shade trees that make walking around the grounds a pleasure.

The dining area has an institutional look, but the swimming pool was large enough to swim laps. As at Okaukeujo, the store's picnic supplies were limited and we wished we had brought in groceries from outside the park for our picnic lunches."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Ongava Tented Camp

Ongava Tented Camp

"Contented at Ongava Tented"

2 nights Arrived 24 Feb 2008
"The game viewing was splendid -- a white rhino with her young calf, elands, lions, springboks pronking and many birds. Rio was an excellent guide. The managers, Cameron and Wendy, were personable. We enjoyed our stay tremendously.

This was the only camp we visited where the guard who accompanied us to our tent after dinner was armed.

This was one of our favorite places during our month in Africa. But if forced to find a fault, I'd claim that sometimes it was difficult to recognize the vegetables in the thick sauces."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
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Etango Game Ranch

"Etango Game Ranch across from the airport"

1 night Arrived 26 Feb 2008
"Etango Game Ranch is even closer -- and hence more convenient -- to the airport than we thought, but fortunately, we couldn't hear the planes.

The evening meal was of hearty farm fare: fried porkchops with scalloped potatoes and creamed mixed vegetables. We arrived too late to participate in activites but we went on a long walk in the bush by ourselves and enjoyed that. The swimming pool looked inviting.

The owner Mr. Grellman went out of his way to accommodate our needs, including getting us back and forth to the airport, allowing us to return our rental car the night before our onward flight. If you've no interest in staying in the city before or after your arrival in Windhoek, this is a good option."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Lebala Camp

Lebala Camp

"Remoteness at its best"

3 nights Arrived 27 Feb 2008
"This camp is being renovated in April and the current manager is retiring, so comments might not be helpful. Nonetheless, all of our experiences here were top-notch with the possible exception of the tents. They were of three large rooms which seemed dark and cavernous and simply didn't allow a breeze. If the heavy brush to either side of the bedroom were thinned, a breeze might be possible; and of course, a fan would help.

We prefer vehicles with canopies, but all the game drives were rewarding. We saw wild dogs, for instance.

As an aside, Lebala afforded us with one of those unpredictable experiences sometimes encountered when traveling: the Lebala airstrip had been under water for a month due to excessive rains when our visit was scheduled. Many of the tracks were flooded as well. Consequently, we were flown into the neighboring airstrip (Lagoon) and had a 3-hour game drive to and from the camp."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Chitabe Lediba

Chitabe Lediba

"Sunsets behind the palm trees"

4 nights Arrived 1 Mar 2008
"With only 5 tents, Chitabe Lediba was wonderfully quiet (and for the most part, there was only one other guest besides us). Both O.T. and Andrea were good guides with a strong knowledge of natural history. Our favorite drive was when we rode along the channel that marks the eastern side of the concession.

Of the dozen or so places we stayed during our holiday, this one had the best outdoor shower, detached from the tent, with a view over a floodplain to trees beyond.

We were told the supply truck was a week late and this may be why we were served rice, squashes and eggplant more than we might have been if the truck had been on time. But that's life in the bush.

If the guests are coffee-drinkers, instant coffee should not be on offer. A thermos of the real thing should accompany the morning game drive. But this is nitpicking -- our stay was exceptionally pleasant."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Kapani Lodge

Kapani Lodge

"Enjoyed our stay at Kapani"

2 nights Arrived 7 Mar 2008
"South Luangwa National Park is a wonder and Kapani Lodge is a good place to stay. The staff here were thoroughly accommodating. Our guide Shaddy had a remarkable knowledge of birds as well as mammals.

The bungalows are huge. We had more insects and "Doom"-defying large spiders here than any of the other 12 or so places we stayed during our holiday. We even had a scorpion. The rooms could use a bit more sweeping out of spider webs and the like. Or, maybe that's just how the bush is!

The food was especially good. The pool was of an ample size--not just a plunge pool."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Mchenja Bushcamp

Mchenja Bushcamp

"Exciting time at Mchenja"

3 nights Arrived 9 Mar 2008
"Of the dozen or so places we visited on our holiday, this was one of our favorites and we'd return again.

Our outstanding guide Sam was knowledgeable about the immediate area, Zambia as a whole and other African countries as well. We liked the walking safaris, especially as we had spent the better part of the previous 3 weeks sitting in vehicles. On one walk we saw a large colony of storks; on another we found a hyena in its den and observed numerous elephants at close range. The boat trips were a pleasant change, too, especially the one wandering through a channel under ebony trees.

The food was creative and delicious. I may have eaten some meat that had been at room temperature, so to speak, for a couple of hours on a safari as I was a little ill the morning after leaving Mchenja. C'est la vie.

How about moving the employees' footpath to the boat landing farther from the back of the tent?

The plunge pool was too dark to be inviting.

Sam can be found at Luwi Bushcamp during the dry season and we think it would be enjoyable to stay with him there."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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