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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by LJ from Ealing

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

3

Excursions taken

0

September 2015 a trip beyond measure

Zambia and 1 other country between 9 Sep 2015 and 21 Sep 2015

Trip rating: Excellent
"This was not my first Safari but it was my first experience of Expert Africa, which I shall be delighted to repeat. The service was attentive from first to last, taking into account the various tastes and preferences of our group, and capably incorporating their travel schedules from various points of origin.

Expert Africa takes its business seriously, paying equal attention to insurance and inoculations as to my more rudimentary questions. They provided a clear, and comprehensible, itinerary as well as a comprehensive checklist, giving me confidence at every stage of my journey. Although this safari entailed a number of locations, travelling between each was smooth and painless - unlike others I have encountered, Expert Africa has its logistics down to a tee. It also enjoys an exceptional range of venues which, as became clear during the trip, are known personally to the Expert Africa team rather than being tied up with some anonymous agency.

Each of the lodges and hotels recommended not only lived up to but exceeded expectations. Not only will I be pleased to book a further excursion but, on the basis of a short conversation after my trip, a colleague has asked for details of who I travelled with. I have had no hesitation in passing the details on."

Arranged By Megan Green


Luangwa Safari House

Luangwa Safari House

"Fabulous house amid teeming wildlife"

4 nights Arrived 10 Sep 2015
"Wonderfully warm and friendly welcome, not just at the outset but at the return from every trip. Service was a brilliant mix of attentive and understated - akin to eating in a top class restaurant where the sommelier and waiters pitch in at exactly the right moment, without any unnecessary hovering or intrusiveness. The meeting of our every need - down to insect repellent, torches and cups of tea - a testament to the experience of the House owners and the skills of the daily team. I suspect our group was particularly demanding at breakfast as we were not perhaps as punctual as might have been, yet we were all fed and watered and magically ushered onto the safari vehicles with our water bottles almost to schedule. No mean feat.

As to the wildlife - who could have asked for more? To get so close, and to feel so much a part of goings on, was sometimes to the point of surreal, and incredibly special. This includes the location of Luangwa Safari House itself. How fabulous to have a watering hole within yards of the seating area and viewing platform/lunch area, and a hide from which to watch the elephants/warthogs/stork about their business. And, on early arising, to be able to ask the team 'what is that noise?' and get the answer (ground hornbills). The 'knock knock' was delightfully subtle, and the breakfast perfectly handled for those like me who are not morning people. Top porridge. I thought Claire did a super job shepherding us all. She was consistently thoughtful and attentive and it was lovely to have some open conversations with a young person just starting out to hear what she had learned and to share experiences.

A great pleasure also in the contrasting styles of our guides, Jacob and Obi, each of whose knowledge have a particular depth, but from a different vantage. Being somewhat English and reticent myself, Obi gave me the confidence to ask quiet questions whilst Jacob's energy, enthusiasm and intimate understanding of the Luangwa ecosystem enabled sights that we never would otherwise have seen, with a particular sensitivity to capturing the best vantage for the photographers among us. Completely fabulous - I do hope he imparts at least some of his knowledge to the next generation.

I should add that the option of a walking safari was very welcome over the four days. It could have been quite frustrating being confined to the house area and vehicles over a number of days, watching the wildlife roam free in a way that we, for obvious reasons, could not. The flexibility over driving/walking and regarding night safaris was most welcome.

Delighted that both Jacob and Obi were able to join us for the special, slightly breezy, bush curry to talk a little further. Although the birthday guest was indisposed we all greatly appreciated the event and the trouble that had been taken. And what amazing food! Hats off, of course, to chef Simon who really really knows what to do with beef and who presented some of the best food I have tasted in a long time (the lunchtime salads, and bush curries, were spectacular)

Room for improvement? Like heck! But if the lily needed gilding, it would be nice to have a one-pager (apologies if I missed it) about the main house and how it was built as this was a great conversation piece among our party. We were particularly fascinated by the front door and how on earth it was made to fit. The over all design of the house is of itself a talking-point, with every possible comfort and the most enormous beds I have ever seen.

From sublime to ridiculous, the clothes laundry service was excellent but, allowing for local considerations regarding ladies' underwear, it was a bit tricky to find somewhere to hang my smalls to dry after handwashing - my travel clothes line wasn't quite long enough to tether between the available points, so in the end I just got creative …

The only other observation comes from a subsequent visit where the night safari used yellow filters for the spotlights. This was (apparently) to protect the vision of the big cats and avoid disturbing the prey mammals. I have no idea whether there is any science behind this, and none of the other night drivers we saw in Luangwa Park seemed to use them, so it may or may not be something to consider for the future.

A fabulous stay at a cleverly thought-out, brilliantly located and immensely comfortable and welcoming venue. A truly magical and memorable holiday. My thanks and appreciation to all."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Chongwe River Camp

Chongwe River Camp

"Lap of luxury down by the Chongwe River-side"

4 nights Arrived 14 Sep 2015
"A truly stunning location on the banks of the Zambezi, accommodated in the luxurious 'Albida Suite' with two double en-suite 'tents' separated by an al fresco living room (sofas of the utmost comfort) and dining room replete with handsome sideboards and the immaculate breakfast and evening cocktail services of Watson who, given the opportunity, would surely give Jeeves a run for his money. Top class service, and fried eggs and whisky porridge (breakfast!) beyond reproach.

Unusually, Chongwe River Camp is thoughtfully equipped with 'Fred and Ginger' mini-staircases, making it easier to step elegantly in and out of the safari jeeps on camp. The Albida Suite (fabulous bedrooms, with broad vistas onto the river and quasi al fresco bathrooms with steaming hot water for the shower and bath) has the communal bar and wfi a short walk away. This area is also shared with the occasional roving elephant - staff are highly attentive in escorting unwary guests including after dark when, after the merest moment, a member of the team was on hand to see me safely on my way be it in daylight or after dark.

The ebullient Flossie came by from time to time to check that all was well, in a way that was friendly, brief and never intrusive. Much appreciated.

As to the safari proper, amazing to see the 'beyond 3D' expanse and depths that Zambia's landscape has to offer, with all the associated wildlife and surprises. In navigating this unknown we were treated to the skills and enthusiasm of George and Troy whose expertise and patience knew no bounds. Particular appreciation to George who not only kept his - and our -calm in the face of the occasional flat tyre but who swiftly plucked my errant blackberry from the depths of the Zambezi and, aided by some dry rice provided by the main house (a Troy top tip) soon saw it back to working order. George's enthusiasm and alertness found us switching in the small hours from a planned boat trip to a mad dash in the jeep in pursuit of rare wild dogs - a new sight even for our most seasoned travellers, while Troy kept us calm in the face of unexpected attentions (nobody's fault) of an unhappy she-elephant. Perhaps unfortunately we didn't indulge in a canoe trip on this visit - just don't ask what happened to his binoculars and bird book!. Some really fabulous teamwork between two very knowledgeable, capable, professional - and charming - guides.

The bulk of our party stayed in the main house where we were treated to excellent buffet lunches of the highest quality and a choice of main course for dinner. in our case this was usually served on the patio, a little way from the kitchen, so (given the cool breezes of the evening) it might be helpful to warm the plates in future. No such attentions required, however, for the Mongolian-style barbecue which marked our final evening to the fabulous sung accompaniment of our various hosts. Particular culinary plaudits to the dessert chef whose pastry throughout was some of the finest I have ever tasted (and portions easily fit for two).

Chongwe emphasises engaging local staff and training them up for new roles; all were attentive while unobtrusive and took great trouble to meet our requests. The leadership team, Billy and Ben, are a year in and swiftly attended to any issues that we (as a large, and possibly occasionally demanding group) raised. Chongwe River Camp proudly displays the various awards it has won over recent years and, through sustained focus on detail, there is every opportunity for this young couple to sustain that success."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Victoria Falls Hotel

Victoria Falls Hotel

"Edwardian style with 21st Century standards"

2 nights Arrived 18 Sep 2015
"Goodness - where to begin? A beautiful building making every best use of light, space and airiness even amid the midday heat. The character of the Victoria Falls hotel hits top notes to rival Maria Callas, yet with the discretion and understatement of a Lady rather than a prima donna. Most telling was the response of the 'bell hop' (a terrible phrase for a mature man) who not only revelled in my delight at the surroundings but who could not conceal his pride at five years association with this fabulous establishment. Its history, borne out in carefully chosen furnishings and art works, is a backdrop rather than a burden and carries through from the 'public' areas into the sumptuously equipped bedrooms.

The high standard of service was sustained throughout my stay, the staff attending unobtrusively to every detail. For example, on day one I asked the chamber staff how I might obtain an iron. On day two he asked if I had been given one - to which I replied 'no, but only because I haven't asked yet'. Remembering such details was a common feature across the team - this is an establishment whose leadership has very clearly managed to establish a sense of shared identity and professional pride at every level.

As to the food, I don't believe I have seen such a generously supplied breakfast, catering to every taste. Lunchtime sandwich 'snacks' could easily have served two. And I have a lingering memory of the mouthwatering dinner at the Livingstone Restaurant, being still unable to forgive myself for allowing the waiter to take my plate with some of my dish uneaten, even though I was full. Amazingly I nonetheless managed the occasional swim in the commodious pool which was just at the perfect temperature and provided with towels just when required.

Through enquiry I learned that the hotel is a little larger than when originally built, but this is scarcely felt as everything is entirely in keeping. A wander around the grounds revealed some crannies and oases that made the whole hotel feel entirely private.

The location is, of course, explicit in the name. Having visited for the purpose of seeing the Falls my stay was brief but the 'Activities' desk was receiving new hand-painted signage during my stay and I am sure there is plenty else on offer.

The only negative I can think of (and I am really having to dredge) is that the drinks service at the Stanley's Terrace was occasionally a little slow. But, with a view of Victoria Falls to gaze upon, this was scarcely a hardship."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent

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