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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs A from Surrey

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

3

Lodges stayed in

13

Excursions taken

0

A wonderful time in Malawi

Malawi between 28 Sep 2019 and 16 Oct 2019

Trip rating: Excellent
"We had a wonderful time in Malawi, with all accommodation of a good standard and all travel arrangements working more or less to plan.

We were glad that we had the night in Blantyre on arrival to recover from the journey out (exactly 24 hours door to door), prior to going to the game park.

The drive from Majete to Liwonde was arduous and took nearly 7 hours. This was partly due to misty conditions through the mountains, bridge repairs in Blantyre and the poor quality of the roads, particularly the access road into Liwonde National Park.

The drive from Liwonde to Nkhotakota was extremely arduous and took about 7.5hours. The driver did not seem too well to start with and had to stop for a short while. We fed him some of our packed lunches as the monkeys had apparently pinched his breakfast!. We had a stop in Salima for toilets and refuelling, but there was a delay due to an issue with the driver's office, in sending him through sufficient funds to buy enough petrol. We moved on and had the same issue in Nkhotakota town, where we stopped for nearly an hour while he tried to sort it out. The driver had not been to Tongole Lodge before and had to keep stopping to ask how to get to it. Once in the park, signposting disappeared and we ended up at the sister camp and had to be re-directed. We were concerned when the driver said that he was driving straight back to Blantyre without a break. It might be worth exploring air transfer - the pilot we spoke to said it was possible via Lilongwe. Obviously the cost would be higher but after undertaking the road journey, this could be worth it.

We are not sure why Expert Africa are offering South African Airways via Johannesburg as their preferred route. We found Ethiopian Airlines flights to be extremely good, with modern planes (Airbus A350 and Boeing 787) and excellent crew. The issue about flight changes that we were notified about prior to departure were due to the main runway at Blantyre being closed for several months for re-building. Only small planes can land at Blantyre on their small runway, and so all large planes have to go into Lilongwe and then a shuttle service is run down to Blantyre in small turboprop planes. Ethiopian could have explained this to us when they changed the flights. Our luggage was taken right through to Blantyre and immigration was also done at Blantyre, even though we arrived there on an internal flight.

The only other downside to Ethiopian is the airport at Addis Ababa. although a relatively new terminal, is not to the standard of Johannesburg airport, although is tolerable for a few hours.

Our Business Class flights (for 2 people) cost £4545.24 compared with your quote with SAA of £9841.98 and we were extremely happy with the service.

Thank you so much for organising this trip for us. we had a fantastic experience and really enjoyed our time in Malawi."

Arranged By Claire Scott


Ryalls Hotel

Ryalls Hotel

"Overnighting in Blantyre"

1 night Arrived 29 Sep 2019
"A short overnight stay as we arrived too late to travel to and get into Majete Wildlife Reserve.

Very historic, but in a noisy area - even on a Sunday evening.

Friendly and helpful staff and good food.

The bathrooms were not up to the usual Marriott standard, but were acceptable."
Good
Location
Average
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Mkulumadzi Lodge

Mkulumadzi Lodge

"Great Hospitality at Makulumadzi"

3 nights Arrived 30 Sep 2019
"A lovely position overlooking the river Shire. Recent repairs to the access footbridge and to two of the rooms following flooding and damage earlier this year.

Food was copious and good, with a fixed menu, although slightly stodgy

Staff were very attentive and the acting Manager was awaiting another Manager to arrive the following week, who would concentrate more on working with the guests.

The Lodge was quiet with only one other group of 5 guests. The weather was extremely hot and there was little shade around the pool, so we did not use this. The spacious room had a lovely balcony overlooking the river, an outdoor shower and a large bath, which did use up all of the hot water! (solar heated). The breeze bed facility, whilst being an excellent idea, did not seem to work properly.

Game viewing was difficult due to the density of vegetation, although the guiding was very good. We asked to look at smaller animals, birds and vegetation rather than concentrating on large mammals. We undertook one walk, which was cut short due to a heavy rain shower. We did get caught in a heavy rain shower on a game drive also, but waterproof ponchos are thoughtfully provided.

We had a lovely sundowner boat trip, but were surprised that lifejackets were not available, particularly as the small boat was filled to capacity.

Requested Sightings : see below

Also saw Waterbuck, Impala, Porcupine, Common Duicker, Nyala, Kudu, Orange Baboon, Reedbuck, Bushbuck, Liechtenstein Hartebeest, Vervet Monkey, Livingstone's Suni, Crocodile and many different and interesting birds."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Kuthengo Camp

Kuthengo Camp

"Wonderful location at Kuthengo Camp"

3 nights Arrived 3 Oct 2019
"A small tented camp in a wonderful location, with excellent game watching over the river from the tent and from the communal facilities. The camp is reached by boat following an arduous journey along a very poor road.

The tents were very well equipped, with an outdoor shower, with game sitting just outside.

The management were away during half of our visit, but the staff were excellent in running the camp on their own. We were the only guests for 2 of our 3 nights stay, giving us a wonderful experience. A lovely pool for cooling off.

The food was very good and as usual in Africa, too much was available.

Some good game viewing with an excellent guide, although the black rhino remained elusive. Wonderful boat rides along the Shire River, with great viewing of elephant and colourful birds. No walking was offered.

Requested Sightings: See below There are currently no Giraffe in the Park

Other Sightings: Spotted Eagle Owl, Bushbuck, Genet, Buffalo, Waterbuck, White tailed mongoose, Kudu, Liechtenstein Hartebeest, Reedbuck, Zebra, many interesting birds."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Tongole Wilderness Lodge

Tongole Wilderness Lodge

"Tongole - to be rebranded as a retreat"

3 nights Arrived 6 Oct 2019
"A very spacious room with a lovely balcony overlooking the Bua river. A large walk in mosquito net over the bed, but there were holes in it. The main building was lovely, but lacked shade with a lovely elevated viewing platform. Many places to sit and relax at different levels towards the river. A lovely pool for cooling off.

The Managers were very attentive and the staff very good. The breakfast and lunches were excellent, but the evening meals were not quite to the same standard.

We questioned why drinking water was only available in plastic bottles rather than being filtered, as in all other camps. The Mangers were adamant that bottled water was better for visitors. There was copious use of cling film. We strongly disagree with this policy and support the removal of plastic wherever possible.

The Wildlife reserve has Tsetse fly traps throughout and particularly around the camp, although they did not bother us. However the small flies on sundowner trips by the river were very persistent and did bite.

The reserve is going through a re-stocking process with game, and hippos should arrive next year and lions within 5 years. Understandably, game drives are not offered at present, although the guides were very knowledgeable when we did walks and canoe journeys. We did see many interesting birds around the camp and along the river.

Because of the lack of wildlife, the mangers advised that they are rebranding the lodge as a retreat rather than a location to view game. they are planning on offering beauty treatments in the future.

Requested sightings: see below There no Hippo in the Reserve at present, but they may be introduced in 2020

Other sightings: Waterbuck"
Average
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Chelinda Lodge

Chelinda Lodge

"Cooling off at Chelinda Lodge"

3 nights Arrived 9 Oct 2019
"A delightful flight to the lodge, with great views of the Nyika Plateau.

The wooden chalets were wonderfully rustic, with a balcony looking out over the plains and a log fire that was lit every evening. Hot water bottles were put into the beds each evening.

The main lodge building was very cosy, again with great views over the plains and warming log fires most of the day.

Management and staff were excellent and very attentive. The lodge was quiet, and we were the only guests for one night of our stay.

Food was good and imaginative and it was great that dining was at a communal table with other guests and the managers. This was not offered at all of our camps. It was a great opportunity to swap stories.

Daytime temperatures were mostly hot, but the evenings did cool off. We had one day of thick mist and abandoned the idea of a walk so that we could take a drive to a lower elevation which the cloud base was not covering.

Guiding was excellent, with game drives finding many antelope and zebras and some bird life. Only escorted walks were permitted during our stay, as there was a lion in the area, although we did not see it. We had an excellent walk across the plateau, getting reasonably close to the wildlife. Guests should be made aware that their legs will become marked with black charcoal on walks where the vegetation has been burnt. Gaiters could be useful.

We were delayed for 4.5hours in flying out, due to the low cloud base. The pilot had arrived the previous afternoon and joined us for the evening game drive. Flights are often delayed at Chelinda due to the weather, so care should be taken if International flights are the same day. The Lodge made a point of not clearing the chalet until they knew that the flight had departed, in case we needed to stay another night.

Wildlife seen: Zebra, Bushbuck, Reedbuck, Warthog, Leopard, Hyena, Common Duiker, Eland, Roan Antelope"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Kaya Mawa

Kaya Mawa

"Kaya Mawa - time to relax"

3 nights Arrived 12 Oct 2019
"A delightful place to relax at the end of a safari holiday.

We had a deluxe room, which was built into the rock face on the promontory. It was extremely spacious and well equipped, with a large bed, a daybed, writing desk and fantastic views out to a small island. The sides/windows of the room virtually opened fully to wander out on the split level patio with dining table, seating area around a coffee table, bean bag cushions, plunge pool and day beds. The bathroom area was outside with open views out across the lake.

An uneven path with steps led down to the beach and restaurant/bar area. This was lit at night, but a torch was provided also.

The food was excellent at all times and dinner was served at candlelit tables on the beach, with the sound of lapping water. On the last night, we were led up onto the cliff top for a romantic sundowner at the 'the lookout', with beautiful views along the beach and to the sunset across the lake.

The management and staff were excellent, being very attentive, but not overbearing. It was also good to hear about how the Lodge is working with the local community, in particular the schools, the craft workshop and in helping to clean up the island.

The lake was safe for bathing, although the beach at the restaurant end was shingly along the water edge. Further along it became more sandy, where local women and children bathed and washed clothes and pots. Snorkelling gear was provided in each room and canoes, surf boards and dinghy's were available for use on the beach. Beauty treatments were also available.

The lodge was relatively quiet, and we were the only staying guests for one of the nights, although others came in for the restaurant.

We took the vehicle tour to the craft workshops which were very interesting and could teach us all about how to recycle redundant materials. We also saw the town, market and the renowned cathedral. Our guide (Nicholas) led us on a walk through the market to the waters edge, although he was quite quiet and did not explain too much.

The lodge does take credit cards so we need not have taken so much cash if we had known."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

Tanzania safari during the 'short rains'

Tanzania and 1 other country between 26 Nov 2015 and 10 Dec 2015

Trip rating: Excellent
"We had a great time overall, but as always in Africa, plans do not always go directly as you intended, so it is important to remain travel wise.

The safari section of our trip was quite tiring, with early morning game drives and moving camp every couple of days, although this is exactly what we had expected, so were prepared. This was the first time that we had visited Africa during a rainy season, so expected a different experience to our previous trips. It was lovely to save the best safari camp to last and then to relax in Zanzibar for a 3 nights - even though the heat and humidity hit us hard.

It was very helpful to have the experience and suggestions from Expert Africa to help us plan the trip as their knowledge of the individual camps and hotels is extensive.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

This was our seventh trip to Africa booked through Expert Africa, which precisely sums up our view of their expertise.

Looking forward to number eight!"

Arranged By Elizabeth Chapman


Oliver's Camp

Oliver's Camp

"Relaxing after long journey at Oliver's Camp"

2 nights Arrived 27 Nov 2015
"Jackie and Justin and their staff made us very welcome. They were always around when needed and were keen to ensure that out visit ran smoothly. A wonderful location at the quiet end of Tarangire National Park, with lovely views from the viewing platform where, rain permitting, sundowners and breakfast were served. The food was excellent and the relaxed atmosphere enabled us to recover after a long and slightly difficult journey.

We were lucky enough to be given the furthest room from the dining and lounge tents, which meant that we saw wildlife right outside our room whilst we relaxed on the bed. We went in the 'short rain' season, so some of the park roads were closed due to flooding. The Tsetse flies within the park were rather troublesome, although they were mostly steering clear of the camp.

Wildlife viewing was reasonable, bearing in mind the season and we saw unusual things such as a crab and a terrapin."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Kirurumu Manyara Lodge

Kirurumu Manyara Lodge

"Kirurumu Mayara Lodge - a great location"

1 night Arrived 29 Nov 2015
"The location with stunning views over Lake Manyara is great and the lodge is close to the park gate. the lodge was extremely quiet when we visited. The tent was adequate, and the torch was missing.

There were holes in the mosquito nets and some puddles appeared on the concrete floor of the tent when it rained heavily. A thunder storm caused the path lights to fail, so we struggled along to dinner in the rain and darkness. They did rectify the path lights once we reported the problem.

The evening meal was not very appetising and did not seem to be well cooked. Breakfast and the packed lunch provided were better. They failed to collect our bags when we asked and our guide had to request them to hurry up.

A great opportunity, but needs some TLC."
Average
Location
Excellent
Service
Average
Facilities
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Lemala Ngorongoro

Lemala Ngorongoro

"A cosy stay at Lemala Ngorongoro"

2 nights Arrived 30 Nov 2015
"Although a more basic camp, we were thoroughly relaxed at the Lemala Ngorongoro tented camp. The staff were extremely welcoming and it is in a great position for early access to the crater.

The bucket showers (talking showers!) were great fun and arrived promptly when requested. The tent was very well equipped and cosy, with a heater for the cold evenings, hot water bottles and a flask of hot water for tea. The food was good but spicy - typical of local food. Wildlife visited the camp during the night, so the Masai guards escorted us after dark.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Dunia Camp

Dunia Camp

"Dunia Camp in the wet season"

3 nights Arrived 2 Dec 2015
"The weather was particularly wet during our stay at Dunia Camp. The camp was being supervised by a relief manager during vacation of the permanent manager. The tent was pleasant and well equipped although one bedside lamp did not work, the radio did not work until we reported it to the manager and the wellington boots (which really were needed as the path to the dining area turned into a river when it rained heavily) were missing.

The bucket showers were fun, with more than enough hot water. The food was good (particularly the bread and cakes) and the breakfast bar looking out over the Serengeti plain at dawn was wonderful. A resident Hyena boldly circled us when we were having drinks around the camp fire, but was well monitored by the staff. The settees and arm chairs in the lounge and library areas became very damp and it was difficult to find somewhere dry to sit. The rugs on the open vehicles were also quite damp in the mornings.

The camp used an open vehicle for our game drives, which was not very appropriate during the afternoon drives when it tended to rain very heavily. We returned totally soaked and cold on the second day, even though ponchos were provided. A covered vehicle was commissioned on our third afternoon at our request, as the rains had been extremely heavy and the roads were totally flooded. Some of the seat belts were missing on the open vehicle that we used on most drives and our rather 'fast' guide, all but threw us out of the vehicle a few times when negotiating the slippery and muddy roads.

The game viewing from this camp was particularly good, with several large prides of lion. The drive to the Seronera air strip took about 75 minutes and was not easy due to the state of the roads."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Average
Sayari Camp

Sayari Camp

"Luxury at Sayari Camp"

2 nights Arrived 5 Dec 2015
"Roger and Annabelle were extremely welcoming and made us feel at home straight away. This was a great camp to end our safari, with a beautifully equipped tent and wonderful lounge and dining areas.

We were there too short a time to make use of the inviting swimming pool, although the Rock Hyraxes were relaxing on the loungers! All of the staff were particularly attentive and it was great to see the work being done by the camp, to help local children to understand the benefits of protecting the wildlife in the park.

Food was of a very high quality and was plentiful. We had a lovely bush breakfast on our second day. We had a young but very knowledgeable guide, who interacted particularly well with us and joined us for meals, which was a change from the other Serengeti camp that we had used.

The camp had a well stocked library, with many books to learn about Africa."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Pongwe Beach Hotel

Pongwe Beach Hotel

"Relaxing after safari at Pongwe beach"

2 nights Arrived 7 Dec 2015
"The rooms were relatively basic but adequately furnished. Two fans were provided, but no air conditioning. The shower utilised salt water. The outside shaded balcony was particularly welcome to shelter from the midday sun and watch the activity on the beach.

Little touches such as providing sunhats, kikoys, a beach basket with flag to summon bar service on the beach, all day tea in the bar, were thoughtful additions. The dining room and bar were reached by a lovely walk under the coconut palms along the beach and were blessed with a lovely cooling breeze. The food was very good and the service fast.

The salt water swimming pool was very welcome to cool off, and swimming in the sea was also great at high tide. Water activities were provided straight from the beach."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Serena Inn

Serena Inn

"Luxury in the Serena at Stone Town"

1 night Arrived 9 Dec 2015
"The Serena Inn brought us back to luxury at the end of our holiday. We were upgraded to a lovely room with a huge balcony over looking the sea - great to watch the dhows passing by. The Serena had the service and facilities that you would expect from an upmarket hotel anywhere in the world, with pool, coffee shop, bar, and two restaurants. Complimentary Afternoon tea was served by the pool.

We took a walking tour booked at the hotel desk. This was quite expensive, but made sure that we did not get lost and we were fed with the history of Stone Town and Zanzibar as we walked around. Stone Town was rather dirty and dilapidated and was not quite up to our expectations.

The bar lunches a the hotel were good, although service was slow. Breakfast was excellent, although it was extremely hot in the restaurant. We had sundowners on the roof terrace of the Africa House Hotel, 2 minutes down the road and had a lovely evening meal at the Six Degrees South restaurant next door.

As we had a evening flight out from Zanzibar, we paid $100 to keep our room for the day, which in our view was money well spent, although there is a shower available by the pool."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent

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