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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs B from W Sussex

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

9

Excursions taken

2

Chada/Greystoke - Nomad camps

Tanzania between 7 Sep 2009 and 21 Sep 2009

Trip rating: Excellent
"On past trips we have tended to prefer smaller, individually run places and I was not sure how I would like these two "top of the range" places. However, I was very impressed by Nomad. Good policies on local involvement (running trips for local kids and dignitaries into the park at Chada, gifts in the "shop" made by local women and sold with profits fed back to the village school) and well trained local camp staff. A cheery greeting from the lowly night watchman says a lot about how a camp is run.

All the Nomad guides (including the one who took us for a day trip into Arusha NP) were very knowledgeable and wanted to share this - for instance they all preferred to "talk you through" identification of a bird (flight pattern, habitat, solitary or group) rather than just giving you a name. The guides at Greystoke really did know the chimps individually and were most keen to point out their favourites, but also really knew their stuff on other species and birds."

Onsea House

Onsea House

"Belgian chocolates?"

2 nights Arrived 8 Sep 2009
"Lovely place, wonderful setting, friendly staff, great food but it did have me wondering why we had come all the way to Africa to eat Belgian chocolates and drink Italian fizzy water. Given that Onsea make no secret of the fact that they import not only these but also a wide range of basic ingredients (their advertisement in a free tourist magazine we got on the flight to Arusha makes it a selling point) I was surprised we had not been warned by Expert Africa that the "best food in Arusha" (p112 of EA brochure) was not locally sourced. I would have preferred to eat less well."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Chada Camp

Chada Camp

"Chada Camp review"

4 nights Arrived 10 Sep 2009
"Great camp, great guide. Three nights fly camping was everything it should be. Lucky enough to get a guide to ourselves for most of the time - which meant we could spend hours at some good spot just sitting watching animals come out of the bush and "birding". Four hours sitting by the river watching lions mate, pied kingfishers fish, and crowned cranes wander.

Did not leave one fly camp site (Paradise) until well after midday - just sat watching hippos, a variety of waders and herons, and eagles fighting. Three hours at a waterhole watching two elephants drink slowly from the only clean water supply whilst everyone else (including playful young elephants) waited patiently or drank from the muddy pool shared with giraffe, zebra and mud bathing warthogs.

Apparently Nomad will guarantee a guide to yourselves for a supplement - why isn't EA mentioning this?"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Chada fly-camping

Chada fly-camping

"Chada fly-camping review"

3 nights Arrived 14 Sep 2009
"See comments on Chada - not to be missed."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Greystoke Mahale

Greystoke Mahale

"Greystoke Camp review"

4 nights Arrived 17 Sep 2009
"Hot and humid - "chimping" should not be undertaken by anyone who is not prepared to sweat. That said, the hardest tracking we did was only a 45 minute walk (up a very steep hill). We saw chimps on 3 days out of 4 (we went out in the afternoon of the day we arrived). On the last day the chimps had gone to the far side of the mountain and the trackers failed to find them - so success is definitely not guaranteed. We had a good sightings of red colobus monkeys and red tailed monkey - aided by excellent guides who kept moving us back and forth so we could glimpse them as they travelled the tree tops.

Face masks have to be worn when anywhere near the chimps - to prevent human infections passing to them - and these are a real problem for spec wearers and for anyone trying to use the eyepieces of cameras or binos (they steam up instantly you put the masks on). Wish someone had told me to take contact lenses - I have them for skiing (same problem) but did not think they would be needed on this trip. Take a small towel and lots of lens cloths for your camera.

The humidity, and very early arrival of the rains, meant washing in the camp could not dry. If you tend to travel very light (or, like us, take so much camera equipment that this is forced upon you) you may find you end up wearing clothes to dry them. We travelled home with a bag of clean and beautifully pressed damp clothes!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

Do I have to give it a title?

Rwanda between 7 Sep 2007 and 20 Sep 2007

Trip rating: Excellent
"I think when we started planning this trip some doubts were expressed about whether we could really fill two whole weeks visiting only Rwanda (and in addition refusing to "do" the genocide bit). But we never had a boring day.

Rwanda is such a populated country - on every drive the scenery competes with "people watching" opportunities. Everyone with their bundles on their heads, children with homemade toys (we bought banana-leaf footballs back as presents for everyone), markets to look at and explore. And then there is the bird-life. And it also a country with some amazingly forward looking environmental policies - plastic bags are banned.

So much to see and learn ......

Regarding the guide ... Fred was not just a guide, he became a friend. It makes a huge difference when you have a guide who really goes the extra mile to make sure you enjoy every hour of your trip. Fred arranged things really well: I'm sure we got good rooms, good service and definitely better guides for tracking because of his knowledge and connections.

He didn't fuss, but I felt he just quietly watched to see what sort of people we were, and what we liked doing, and then suggested or arranged things to suit us. So we, as very amateur bird watchers, got guides for our walks who were knowledgeable and interesting.

He also made sure we had plenty of information about what to expect when tracking (how far into the forest the primates were, how long it had taken groups the previous day, how much water to take etc.) and made sure we had a good porter, which was money well spent as it makes the walking much easier and provides much needed local employment.

Suggestions for improvement:

No complaints! This feedback form is great - though it took me ages to fill in. Glad you did not have these last year when we finished our ten week trip, I would have been at the computer for days. Funny thing is that although I never got around to sending in feed back after that trip your next brochure said exactly what I thought about most of the places we had visited - your carefully researched descriptions matched our experience.

I think that was also something we appreciated on this trip - Tracy took the time to make sure we knew what we were letting ourselves in for, so when we arrived somewhere pretty basic, that was what we were expecting. I don't think she prepared us properly for the Sabinyo Lodge - but the log fires, huge rooms and vast hot showers were a very pleasant shock!"

Arranged By Tracy Lederer


Akagera Game Lodge

Akagera Game Lodge

"A good intro to Rwanda and time to relax"

3 nights Arrived 7 Sep 2007
"This is not the place to go if you are looking for the "safari with style" experience but it is a clean, friendly and pleasant hotel run by Rwandans and in many ways aimed at the Rwandan family (not overseas) market.

Attracting "weekenders" from Kigali to visit and enjoying their own wildlife must help secure the future of the park and it was great to see a bus load of schoolchildren having a game drive."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Image alt

ORTPN Resthouse, Rwanda (this camp has since closed)

"A basic resthouse, but a great place to be."

3 nights Arrived 10 Sep 2007
"Everything said in the (out of date) Bradt guide you sent us is true. It is basic, hot water (in fact any water) limited but it is friendly and clean and gives you plentiful and tasty food.

Lovely garden for bird watching (lots of marico sunbirds). No complaints!"
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Average
Image alt

Bethanie Guesthouse, Rwanda (this camp has since closed)

"Fantastic location - room with a "wow" factor"

2 nights Arrived 13 Sep 2007
"We were given a brand new room in a new building overlooking the lake. It still smelt of paint and we were given the use of a (still totally unfurnished) room next door, which looked like it might be going to be a private breakfast/dinning room.

This second room had a perfect private balcony for relaxing; bird-watching and watching life on the lake go by and was a perfect retreat from what was otherwise a rather busy and overfull guesthouse.

(We had the misfortune to have arrived during the visit of a large group of evangelical Americans who were there to visit - and convert - in the nearby Congo refugee camp.)

The boat trip from the hotel is great - but watch out for the boatman trying to charge double the agreed price by taking you out for longer than you asked!"
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Average
Gorilla's Nest

Gorilla's Nest

"One bad day, one good day"

2 nights Arrived 15 Sep 2007
"Again we had the misfortune to overlap with a large group. These ones were American, elderly and demanding and had resulted in the hotel being overbooked, the staff exhausted and the other guests most unhappy. The first evening was grim.

The following day we came back from tracking golden monkeys to an empty lodge, smiling staff and a totally relaxed atmosphere. We went for a very interesting walk with one of the hotel staff to visit the local community, meet people, chat to the children (the older ones being desperate to practise their English) and tour the market - a highlight of the holiday.

There was a lot of rain by the time of our stay here and it was not warm - so by way of warning (not complaint) - visitors need to be prepared for damp clothes you can't dry and getting cold, there is no heating in the rooms - but wonderful charcoal fires in the bar and dining room.

Regarding the Golden Monkey tracking: Do this before you visit the gorillas - you don't get as close, the photos won't be as good but the monkeys are well worth the visit and somehow the more different groups of primates you get to watch, the more you will get out of each group. We got to see vervet and baboons (in Akagera) chimps, colobus and mountain monkeys (in Nyungwe) and the golden monkeys before seeing the gorillas. It gives a perspective ...."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Average
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Golden Monkey Trekking

Golden Monkey Trekking

"Definately do this ...."

16 Sep 2007 • Morning excursion

Do this before you visit the gorillas - you don't get as close, the photos won't be as good but the monkeys are well worth the visit and somehow the more different groups of primates you get to watch, the more you will get out of each group. We got to see vervet ad baboons (Akagera) chimps, colobus and mountain monkeys (Nyungwe) and the golden monkeys before seeing the gorillas. It gives a perspective ....
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

"What a place!"

3 nights Arrived 17 Sep 2007
"Brand new, fantastic location (though the climb up the hill to reach it is a stiff one), Luxury, pampering, wonderful food - everything we wanted for the last three days of the holiday. I think we were the third set of guests to stay here, and only two chalets were finished.

The reception/dining/ communal rooms were still being built so we were cooked for and fed in a third chalet (what will be a guest bathroom was the kitchen).

But everything about the accommodation, food and service is first class and (even better) the Rwandans are really pleased and excited about this project which promises to give jobs to and train members of the local community. When the guide taking us to visit gorillas learnt we were staying here he insisted upon shaking our hands and even the State Minister for Tourism and Culture (or similar title) turned up during our stay to look at the work in progress.

We did two days of gorilla tracking. On day one we visited the Sabyinyo group and on day two, Susa. It is, as the guide book says, a peerless experience.

I was very worried about the hiking involved but actually we (despite being mid-forties, relatively sedentary lifestyle etc etc) managed it fine and with seemingly less problems than our younger fitter looking companions. This I put down to:

(i) having by this stage in our trip been at altitude for some time and having completed treks to see chimps and golden monkeys, and

(ii) hiring a porter - cameras, water, coats, lunch make for a bulky heavy backpack and clambering under fallen bamboo poles in mud with a backpack is no joke (and the porters need their job!), and

(iii) using two sticks. We took our own, but the guides also provide these – so we slid about in the mud much less than those balancing on one!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Gorilla Trekking Safari

Gorilla Trekking Safari

"No title necessary ........"

18 Sep 2007 • Morning excursion

We did two days of gorilla tracking. On day one we visited the Sabinyo group and on day two, Susa. It is, as the guide book says, a peerless experience. I was very worried about the hiking involved but actually we (despite being mid forties, relativley sedentary lifestyle etc etc) managed it fine and with seeemingly less problems than our younger fitter looking companions. This I put down to (i) having by this stage in our trip been at altitude for some time and having completed trecks to see chimps and golden monkeys (ii) hiring a porter - cameras, water, coats, lunch make for a bulky heavy backpack and clambering under fallen bamboo poles in mud with a backpack is no joke (and the porters need their job!) (ii) using two sticks (we took our own but the guides also provide these)- we slid about in the mud much less than those balancing on one!
Excellent

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