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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr H & Ms Q from Nevada

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

3

Lodges stayed in

8

Excursions taken

0

Botswana & Namibia safari

Namibia and 2 other countries between 31 May 2016 and 17 Jun 2016

Trip rating: Excellent
"Overall, and in every detail, this trip truly turned out much better than we had expected - and our expectations were high.

Maruska went the extra mile, several times, to ensure that our itinerary was precisely what we wanted. When the initial camp selections turned out to be more expensive than we wanted, Maruska proposed alternatives that worked out very well.

Our safaris to Botswana and Namibia couldn't have been better.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
We never received a brochure, but did receive a glossy guide to your offerings, after we had returned home. Since we used your web site, and it's very good, it wasn't really an issue.

There were a number of comments about various camps that were only for Expert Africa, but there wasn't a place to put them. So we were obliged to just put them at the end of reviews. Ditto for some suggestions regarding improvements at camps, probably only of interest to camp managers. These things could be removed before posting the reviews, if you like.

We'd like to thank the Expert Africa team, and Maruska in particular, for arranging this very special trip for us."

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


Kwara Camp

Kwara Camp

"Outstanding Safari at Kwara Camp"

4 nights Arrived 31 May 2016
"We spent four nights in early June at Kwara Camp. This was the middle of our Africa trip, so we appreciated the extra time to relax. It also served as an excellent intro to safaris in Botswana, after a couple of days in Chobe. Game was abundant, and contrary to Expert Africa review, focus of game drives was not limited to predators, as we stopped to photograph all sorts of animals and birds, which all the guests in our vehicles wanted to do.

Guide Caltex and tracker KB were excellent, probably the best team at any of the camps we visited. KB was always on the lookout for wildlife, and we would have missed many of the smaller animals and birds if he had not pointed them out. Caltex was expert at positioning the vehicle for the best sun angle, and made sure everyone got good shots. He never rushed us.

We found camp managers and staff to be very friendly, and especially appreciated that the guides and managers joined the guests for sit-down meals. We also much preferred the family style dining, which allowed plenty of opportunities to exchange experiences with other guests. Flexible brunch and dinner times meant that we didn’t have to abandon a photo op in order to rush back to camp for a meal.

With four days available, we were able to enjoy additional activities, including mokoro ride, boat ride, and nature walk. If offered, don't pass them up, it's another side of Africa, not often experienced. Unfortunately, African singing and dancing shows by the staff were only scheduled for one night while we were in Kwara, and we would have liked to hear and see more of them. Since the performers were mostly in the dark while guests sat around the campfire, it was difficult to see and hear the performance. The shows were put on much better at Lagoon and Lebala Camps.

Kwara was a small camp (8 tents) which was exactly what we wanted. We were quite pleased with the food and accommodations, and didn't find the tents dated or much in need of freshening. Maybe we're just easy to please! After all, it was the wildlife that we came to see, and we were very satisfied on that account.

Highlights: the excitement of spotting a photogenic family of giraffes driving from the air strip to the camp; the beautiful lioness lounging with her very curious six week old cub less than 20 feet from our safari vehicle; returning daily to the lion pride at a giraffe kill, with vultures waiting above in the trees – and the smell of the dead giraffe getting worse each day; a leopard with her playful cub stalking mom while they walked; other beautiful leopards; the cheetah with her two “teenage” cubs; other activities including mokoro ride, small boat cruise, and guided nature walk.

We also stayed as sister camps Lagoon and Lebala, and the following comments apply equally to them.

The safari vehicles were well designed, with (relatively) easy access, canvas tops (removable), and very few support poles to interfere with photography. Only six passengers were allowed, giving everyone a "window seat", extremely important to us.

The same guides and trackers remained with us throughout our stay, from pickup at the air strip to delivery for the return flight. This added a great deal to the safari experience, as guides came to know what guests were interested in, and which areas were best to meet guest interests. It also allowed us to get to know our guide and tracker better.

Having both a guide and a tracker measurably improved the safari experience, as the guide could concentrate on driving, especially off-road, while the tracker spotted the wildlife. When trying to find an animal, it couldn't have been done effectively without the tracker to watch for paw prints in the sand.

Night drives took place after the sundowners, en route back to camp. Pickings were sparse, but we were pleased to see the occasional nocturnal predator.

We really appreciated "bush babies" (hot water bottles) on the early, cold morning drives. They were also provided in the evening for our beds, as the nights were quite chilly (maybe cold better describes the temps). We brought several layers of light jackets and sweaters, plus knit caps and gloves, taking them off as the morning wore on, and putting them back on after the sun set. We had back packs which worked well to carry all these items of clothing, plus camera gear and whatever.

Laundry service was efficient, which meant that we could have left some clothes at home, and not have stuffed our duffels quite so full.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Kwara Camp and would eagerly return. But apparently there's a possibility that Kwara and Little Kwara camps could be combined into a single, even larger camp. We would consider such a development to be very unfortunate, and would not return to a larger, combined camp."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Lagoon Camp

Lagoon Camp

"Great Safari at Lagoon Camp"

2 nights Arrived 4 Jun 2016
"We spent four nights in early June at Lagoon Camp. This was an excellent continuation after Kwara Camp, where we started our Botswana safari trips. There was plenty of game, and very good variety, plus colorful birds. Contrary to Expert Africa review, game drives were not overly focused on wild dogs or big predators. We saw them, with more than enough time for photos, but we also paused to photograph many sorts of animals and birds, which all the guests in our vehicles wanted to do.

Guide Josiah and tracker James were excellent. We never had to ask our guide to stop for photographs; he did it routinely as well as placed the vehicle for the best sun angle and the best lighting. We always paused for photos as long as people wanted, and we were never pressured to move along.

Camp managers and staff were very friendly, and we appreciated that the guides and managers joined the guests for sit-down meals. We liked the family style dining, which allowed plenty of time to chat with other guests. Flexible brunch and dinner times accommodated the game drives, since we didn’t have to quit a photo op just to rush back to camp for a meal.

We really enjoyed African singing and dancing shows by the staff, which showcased local music. The staff was extremely talented, and it seemed that everyone participated.

Lagoon was a small camp (8 tents) which fully met our wishes for an intimate African experience. Food and accommodations were excellent in all respects.

Highlights: the resident pack of 14 wild dogs finishing their kill, and then visiting a pond for water; a leopard chased up a tree by wild dogs which per the guide were harassing the leopard to chase it away from a nearby den; the sound of hippos munching grass outside our tent at 3am; African sunsets.

We also stayed at sister camps Kwara and Lebala, and the following comments apply equally to them.

The safari vehicles were well designed, with (relatively) easy access, canvas tops (removable), and very few support poles to interfere with photography. Only six passengers were allowed, giving everyone a "window seat", extremely important to us.

The same guides and trackers remained with us throughout our stay, from pickup at the air strip to delivery for the return flight. This added a great deal to the safari experience, as guides came to know what guests were interested in, and which areas were best to meet guest interests. It also allowed us to get to know our guide and tracker better.

Having both a guide and a tracker measurably improved the safari experience, as the guide could concentrate on driving, especially off-road, while the tracker spotted the wildlife. When trying to find an animal, it couldn't have been done effectively without the tracker to watch for paw prints in the sand.

Night drives took place after the sundowners, en route back to camp. Pickings were sparse, but we were pleased to see the occasional nocturnal predator.

We really appreciated "bush babies" (hot water bottles) on the early, cold morning drives. They were also provided in the evening for our beds, as the nights were quite chilly (maybe cold better describes the temps). We brought several layers of light jackets and sweaters, plus knit caps and gloves, taking them off as the morning wore on, and putting them back on after the sun set. We had back packs which worked well to carry all these items of clothing, plus camera gear and whatever.

Laundry service was efficient, which meant that we could have left some clothes at home, and not have stuffed our duffels quite so full.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Lagoon Camp and would readily return. In hindsight, three nights would have been better, both more relaxed and less rushed, plus additional game drives in this wildlife rich area."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Lebala Camp

Lebala Camp

"Wonderful Safari at Lebala Camp"

2 nights Arrived 6 Jun 2016
"We spent two nights in early June at Lebala Camp. This was an excellent continuation after Kwara and Lagoon Camps, giving us overall a far more rewarding safari camp and wildlife experience in Botswana than we had expected. There was a large and varied quantity of wildlife, both animals and colorful birds.

As the Expert Africa review noted, guides are readily willing to look for and stop for photos of all sorts of animals and birds, and not just chase after wild dogs and other predators. This worked out well for us, as all the guests in our vehicle wanted to see and photograph as much variety as possible. It’s just important to let the guide know your interests, and perhaps work out a compromise with other guests in the vehicle.

We transferred via road from Lagoon to Lebala, switching vehicles at mid-point. This worked out well, as we didn’t miss our morning game drive.

Guide Bali and tracker Voter were very good. We sometimes had to ask our guide to stop for photographs, which he readily did, putting the vehicle in the best location for the angle of the sun. We were never rushed to move along.

Camp managers and staff were very friendly, and we appreciated that the guides and managers joined the guests for sit-down meals. We liked the family style dining, which allowed plenty of time to chat with other guests. Flexible brunch and dinner times accommodated the game drives, since we didn’t have to leave a photo op just to hurry back to camp for a meal.

We really enjoyed African singing and dancing shows by the staff, which showcased local music. The staff was extremely talented, and it seemed that everyone participated. These were highlights of our time in camp.

Lagoon was a small camp (8 tents) which met precisely our wishes for an intimate African experience. Food and accommodations were excellent in all respects.

One issue was ants, throughout our tent (#5). Although the staff sprayed our room, it didn’t help. They then put some sort of candle-like device, which helped a little. Don’t know if they eventually solved the problem; hope so.

Highlights: watching a curious leopard cub on a termite mound waiting for its mother to return; the precious moment when mom and sibling returned and the waiting cub was called to join her; a pair of curious young hyenas who thoroughly investigated our vehicles (and the shoes of our tracker sitting on the fender); following a gorgeous leopard strolling through the bush; large elephant herd at a waterhole; nighttime encounter with a lioness; elephant munching on a tree next to our tent at midnight; African sunsets.

We also stayed at sister camps Kwara and Lagoon, and the following comments apply equally to them.

The safari vehicles were well designed, with (relatively) easy access, canvas tops (removable), and very few support poles to interfere with photography. Only six passengers were allowed, giving everyone a "window seat", extremely important to us.

The same guides and trackers remained with us throughout our stay, from pickup at the air strip to delivery for the return flight. This added a great deal to the safari experience, as guides came to know what guests were interested in, and which game areas were best to meet guest interests. It also allowed us to get to know our guide and tracker better.

Having both a guide and a tracker measurably improved the safari experience, as the guide could concentrate on driving, especially off-road, while the tracker spotted the wildlife. When trying to find an animal, it couldn't have been done effectively without the tracker to watch for paw prints in the sand.

Night drives took place after the sundowners, en route back to camp. Pickings were sparse, but we were pleased to see the occasional nocturnal predator.

We really appreciated "bush babies" (hot water bottles) on the early, cold morning drives. They were also provided in the evening for our beds, as the nights were quite chilly (maybe cold better describes the temps). We brought several layers of light jackets and sweaters, plus knit caps and gloves, taking them off as the morning wore on, and putting them back on after the sun set. We had back packs which worked well to carry all these items of clothing, plus camera gear and whatever.

Laundry service was efficient, which meant that we could have left some clothes at home, and not have stuffed our duffels quite so full.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Lagoon Camp and would readily return. Three nights wouild have been better than two, allowing more time to relax and additional game drives."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Hoodia Desert Lodge

Hoodia Desert Lodge

"Hoodia Desert Lodge review"

2 nights Arrived 8 Jun 2016
"Hoodia is a luxurious oasis off the main highway leading to Sossusvlei, 22 kms north of the lodge to the gate at Sesriem. Its location means that they have mains power, though only intermittent cell phone and very slow internet connections. The lodge and the 11 chalets are very attractive and sumptuously furnished. The setting is spectacular, with mountains rising steeply just across a usually dry riverbed behind the lodge, and in the front, plains stretching into infinity. There's a water tank out front, rather distant but you can spot larger animals such as giraffes getting a drink. The water tank should have been much nearer to the lodge so guests could enjoy seeing the animals closer.

The highlight of any trip to this area is Sossusvlei, and the lodge offers a full day excursion, which we took. Our guide was Jonathan, who was intimately acquainted with the area and willingly shared his knowledge with us. He stopped along the road through the park where the best photos could be taken, took us out to the dunes and areas of dead trees, and explained the geology, botany and biology of the area. He dug out sand dwelling critters, spiders, lizards, scorpions and the like, to demonstrate how they survived in such a harsh environment.

Jonathon also took us up the crest of a dune, and we followed an untraveled route to the fascinating Deadvlei. In the early afternoon Jonathon prepared our picnic lunch, a full setup including tablecloth, china ware, and real silver, not plastic or paper. We stopped briefly at Sesriem on our return to the lodge, but it’s nothing special and could easily be skipped.

Sossusvlei is truly a destination worth a special visit, and Jonathon made sure we enjoyed it fully.

Back at the lodge, it was hard to meet and chat with other guests, as meals were served when you wanted, restaurant style with individual tables. We would have preferred family style. Our chalet, and presumably all the rest of them, only had one useful electrical outlet, inconveniently located on the baseboard; another was located on the wall near the bed, for a hair dryer. Lighting also was rather dim. Given mains electricity, they could have done better in both these matters.

The vehicles were fully enclosed with only one door for the 2nd & 3rd rows of seats. Windows were relatively small and slid back rather than rolling down, limiting photo ops. It was very difficult for persons not next to the window to take pictures. They should have limited the number of passengers to the number of windows, but instead crowded people into the middle rows.

The vehicles were the worst part of the excursion, although we realize the lodge obviously had opted for air conditioned comfort rather than wind and dust. Since the photo subjects were stationary dunes rather than moving animals, for the most part, we had time for everyone to climb out without missing the picture. We had booked a private vehicle but the lodge cancelled this option; they ought to consider reinstating it, which certainly would reduce the crowding inside and improve photo ops.

The owners were not present during our stay. Money could not be exchanged without one of them to handle the transaction. Fortunately, we could pay by credit card.

Overall, our stay here was satisfactory but not excellent, for reasons noted above. However, our guide, Jonathon, more than made up for any lodge shortcomings, and he made sure our visit to Sossusvlei was truly memorable."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Damaraland Camp

Damaraland Camp

"Outstanding camp"

2 nights Arrived 10 Jun 2016
"We stayed here as much for the ever-changing, starkly beautiful scenery as for the animal life. We were not disappointed. The harsh desert environment limits the number and variety of animals present for viewing, as they move around in search of food and water, but we saw a large family of desert adapted elephants, a solitary bull elephant, baboons, and assorted antelope.

The lodge went out of its way to offer interesting experiences. Dinner in the candle lit boma, a short walk from the camp, was one example, with African songs and dancing by the staff. A sunrise breakfast for everyone on a hilltop a short drive away was another moment to remember. We enjoyed the family style dinners, which offered a chance to relax and chat with other guests. Overall, we thought the ambiance of the camp and friendliness of the staff was perhaps the best we enjoyed in Botswana and Namibia.

We opted for the chance to visit a local village, with only seven families, but it was Saturday and most of the residents had gone to town for the day. The contrast between traditional and modern was remarkable, out in the distant boonies. People still lived by subsistence farming and grazing, in mud daubed reed houses, but they also enjoyed clean water from wells with solar powered pumps, and several clean toilet blocks were lined up in the center of the village. A brightly painted kindergarten prepared students for elementary school, in another village. Excess solar power from the pumps was used to charge cell phones. Some residents worked at the lodge, providing them with cash income from the lodge, jointly owned by Wilderness Safaris and the local people. We were disappointed that hardly anybody was at home in the village, but were still glad we visited it. A more expansive visit, with the chance to speak with local people and learn more about them and their culture, would have been appreciated.

In hindsight, we thought that a third night here could be worthwhile, with the chance to see prehistoric rock art and/or take a guided hike. However, it was unclear from Expert Africa’s review precisely what these options offered and how worthwhile they might be. The village visit wasn’t mentioned at all."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

"Best camp for Skeleton Coast"

2 nights Arrived 12 Jun 2016
"Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is new (2014) and very modern, with good lighting and electrical outlets in the eight tents. It’s very remote, located less than a mile from the Skeleton Coast National Park boundary, and close to the Hoanib River (sand most of the time). Access is only via aircraft from Doro Nawas airstrip. The Hoanib River valley has underground water, which means trees and bushes in this desert area, which in turn attracts the local wildlife. There’s not a lot, due to conditions, but we saw desert adapted elephants, black backed jackals, giraffes, black-faced impala, oryx, and ostriches.

Without doubt, the all-day excursion through the Hoanib River valley and along the sand dunes to the Skeleton Coast was the highlight of our stay. Don’t miss it, and I suggest you contact the camp (or your travel agent) to be sure it’s included when you are present. En route, we slid down a sand dune, spotting a Namib desert sidewinder at the bottom. We shot photos of Klein Oasis from a sand dune overlook. While the camp was dry and unseasonably hot, the coast was cold, foggy and windy. The huge Cape Seal colony was impressive, and is the largest in southern Africa with 40-60,000 members. The nearby shipwreck remains were interesting.

We enjoyed lunch on the beach overlooking the South Atlantic, with a full service table setting, put together by an employee of the camp who stays here; we brought the food with us from the camp. Finally, we raced to the nearby airstrip to catch our flight back, made truly memorable by the pilot who circled points of interest, including Klein Oasis. Ten minutes later, and the plane would have left without us, due to the fog rolling in. It took our guide three hours to drive back.

We were fortunate that the principal researcher for a study of a resident pack of jackals was present. We thoroughly enjoyed her presentation about jackals, and her willingness to answer our many questions. We recommend you take advantage of her presentation, if she is resident in camp. She also showed us a film about a local lion pride, the subject of many years of research. Sadly, after we departed in mid-June, four of the five lions were killed by farmers for livestock predations, and the fifth was relocated to a distant area. So the chances of seeing lions are pretty slim.

The tents were very hot, with only two quite small windows that could be opened, as they had screens. More screens on some of the larger windows would be appreciated, so the windows could be opened to admit a breeze. Meals were served restaurant style, but we would have preferred family style, so we could more easily meet and chat with other guests. They are willing to push tables together, if requested. The vehicles were fully enclosed with a pop-up top which allowed guests good views. Unfortunately, the second and third rows of seats had to share a single door, which made entry/exit cumbersome.

Our guide Gerhardus did an excellent job throughout our stay at Hoanib Camp. He located a variety of wildlife, identified animals, birds, trees, bushes and flowers, and made the drive to the Skeleton Coast very interesting. The camp is run by Wilderness Safaris, which manages it efficiently , like their other properties. The staff was very pleasant and friendly, and made sure all our requests were promptly handled.

Overall, we are very glad we included the Skeleton Coast and this camp in our trip to Namibia. We would recommend a stay here, to experience a very different face of Namibia.

The owner's description on the Expert Africa website could stand to be updated."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Ongava Tented Camp

Ongava Tented Camp

"A camp with an abundance of wildlife"

2 nights Arrived 14 Jun 2016
"Ongava Tented Camp is located in the private Ongava Reserve, not far from the Andersson Gate at the southern boundary of Etosha National Park. The camp offers game drives in both Etosha and the Reserve, giving you the best of two quite different environments. In Etosha, you drive, along with quite a few other visitors, from one water hole to another, where there likely will be quite a variety of wildlife, at least during the dry season when we were there. It’s somewhat artificial, but worth it for the chance to see the animals. In the Reserve, you can go off road to get close to the animals, and take guided hikes in search of wildlife. It seems more genuine to observe them in their natural habitats. A special bonus is that Ongava Reserve offers one of the better locations in southern Africa to see both white and black rhinos.

The camp is on the smaller side with 10 tents, located in a quiet area of the Reserve, sufficiently separated from two other camps and Etosha NP so we didn’t notice our neighbors at all. The highlight of the camp itself undoubtedly was the water hole, situated only a few yards from the veranda in front of the dining area. A regular stream of animals visited, members of the antelope family (kudu, waterbuck, springbok) in particular, but also zebras and even lions and rhinos on occasion. Everyone brings a camera to the meals!

Leon, our outstanding guide, located a great variety of wildlife for us, and always positioned the vehicle for the best photo angle. We saw three young male lions lounging in the sun by the side of the road with a giraffe carefully watching them, two adult females blocking our route, and the pride’s male striding down a trail. We barely missed a rhino with calf one evening, and returned early the next morning to find a couple of them posing for photos. Leon brought us close to many other animals: elephants, giraffes, assorted antelopes (such as black faced impala, waterbuck), wildebeests, black backed jackals, and more, including colorful birds.

This camp was well maintained with a friendly and efficient staff that ensured our stay was perfect in all respects. Food was very good. The family dining arrangements made for lively conversation with other guests.

We are very pleased we included Etosha National Park, and this camp and its private reserve, on our itinerary in Namibia. We would recommend a stay here, to experience a somewhat greener face of Namibia. Our other stays were all in the desert.

The full report on the Expert Africa web site is redundant in several places, and should be re-done with duplicate info removed.

Our Namibia safaris were arranged by Expert Africa (Maruska handled our account), and they did a superb job. We can't recommend them too highly."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
City Lodge OR Tambo

City Lodge OR Tambo

"City Lodge OR Tambo review"

1 night Arrived 16 Jun 2016
"We were transiting Jo-burg between Namibia and the US, and this hotel was perfect for an overnight stay.

It's very conveniently located on the airport premises, although a somewhat long walk through the parking garage, and not very well sign posted. Breakfast was included, with plenty of food choices. Room was clean, wi-fi worked, TV worked, all was fine. It's good value for a convenient airport hotel.

This hotel was an excellent suggestion by Expert Africa/Maruska."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent

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