Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs T from Oxon
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
We saw almost everything!
Botswana between 28 Oct 2017 and 12 Nov 2017
We saw many birds for the first time , and many we have seen before very close-up (e.g. pearl-spotted owlet 6' away)
We slept out under the stars (and the stars in the Kalahari are awesome).
Every trip brings new things to see and learn. We are very happy to have these moments to remember."
Arranged By Lucy Copson
Kalahari Plains Camp
"Sleeping Out Under Stars"
"Sable Alley review"
Fifteen minutes later, in a dark tent, we are watching the elephant in the moonlight. In a tent with full lighting, we would never have had such a great show. (The Camp Manager apologised for the power outage, but the unintended view was so spectacular I cannot possibly complain!)
We saw - as our guide put it - SWARMS of elephants. They were moving across the area and never have I seen so many family groups. (The long term impact is to be seen, but the immediate amazement is overwhelming.)
Starting the visit with lions at a kill was excellent. We also had leopard sightings (two at night, one brief in daylight) and a small pack of wild dogs. I appreciated that the guide did not pretend the environment for the dogs was okay - the heavy lion presence impacted their ability to raise pups, and this too is something that is an increasing problem as habitat becomes more compressed.
Overall, this new camp really impressed."
"A Night Under The Moon"
(In the interest of full disclosure, I very badly twisted my ankle on the steps up to the room, for which the camp cannot be blamed - steps are everywhere! - but this doubtless reduced the enjoyment we had at this camp.)
We did have a genet behind our bed when we went up, which was very good to see (and carefully shooed downstairs).
The downsides here were a rather unpleasant smell from the septic tank (a difficult practical detail for such a camp) and the activities were limited to a fairly brief drive along the river, and then a return to the airstrip to deliver our fellow guests. If the access was easier (from Hyena Pan?) or the activities better (not just before a flight) I think this would work well. I don't recommend this as a last day 'add-on'. Ask to put it earlier in the stay on this concession.
Visitors should note that we had no mosquito nets, so in less windy conditions than we had that night bites may be a problem. (In windy conditions, bring a buff or head scarf!) If it does rain, there is nowhere to shelter dry."
Selinda Explorers Camp
"Couldn't walk but did enjoy"
It is beautiful - very much a luxury antique camp. The service goes with the setting and is faultless! The food is good, but (and this a very personal view) I'd stop trying so hard - don't try to replicate restaurant food.
I'm rating the rooms 'good' because the lack of a drop-down mosquito net over the bed did result in picking up some bites as we slept. The tent is simply too big to effectively keep bugs out with zip doors (there can be access somewhere you cannot see) and I had insects as large as cicadas inside despite careful control on the zips! I don't think a net over the bed would be out of keeping with the ethos, so I recommended this as an option.
The location is miles from anywhere. For me that is an attraction - if you want easy access and wifi, this is not a camp for you! The facilities include hot water in the old fashioned manner for morning ablutions, but there is an 'always on' shower (alas, bucket showers are rare commodities nowadays).
The game drives were a 50/50 for us. On the one hand, I saw a pangolin!!! This was amazing. Our guide was excellent and we really enjoyed the drives. However, there is a habit here of all vehicles going to the 'sight of the day'. I know this gave us the pangolin (so hard to complain), but the tracking experience and thrill of finding things is rather lost. Even in so large a concession, we were all going to the same places. Next time I would unhook from the 'Let's go see...' group-think.
I wish we had been able to walk because I think that would change the experience significantly."
"Kwara - An Excellent 'All-Round' Camp"
We really enjoyed the trip down the river to the nest site of many ibis, cranes and heron - elephant crossing the waterway was a great sighting, but so also was the snake doing the same! The boat is covered (with a solid roof you can go onto for a higher view) and the rest stop opportunities were well planned and explained. These points haven't always been the case at other camps with boating activities, so bonus points to Kwara.
We had two excellent cheetah sightings and the lions were prominent (especially on the airstrip!) but not the sole focus. A good balance of viewing options and time. We saw more zebra here than at other camps on the trip, and many tsessebe - much less nervous here then is the usual case. Other vehicles came to the site of excellent sightings, but it was less intrusive than our time at Selinda.
The tents are comfortable, but showing their age, especially in the showers. Although there were no mosquito nets over the bed, we had less issue with bugs (mainly because of the spray / mosquito coils deployed at turn-down). Even so a net over the bed is recommended when refurbished, since the camp management were (rightly) concerned to ensure visitors were aware of malaria.
The camp was very popular, and seating in the lodge area felt over-crowded with a full camp (as in 'turn up early to get a seat'). Dinner under the lapa for 20+ guests and staff was well managed, but the size of table means it gets both loud and hot! On the other hand, this camp is *justifiably* popular and provided excellent viewings of birds and game we had not seen elsewhere.
If I had to pick one camp from this trip to send a friend to on a first visit to Africa, it would be this one. The varied terrain, activities and the experienced know-how make a very good visit."
Selous visit 2016
Tanzania between 16 Oct 2016 and 30 Oct 2016
Some people may think it odd to spend the visit in one park, but it gave us the chance to see the different environments in a leisurely way, something we enjoy immensely.
It's impossible to pick one favourite camp due to this, and all gave good value for money."
Arranged By Chris McIntyre
Southern Sun Dar
"A problem - well handled"
We appreciated the chance to relax after a long flight.
The only downside is the drive from the airport, which introduces you to Dar-es-Salaam traffic (and roadworks). Be prepared to be patient..."
There can be some long (and bumpy) drives.
Very pleased with our stay here and will stay again."
Sand Rivers Camp
"Sand Rivers Camp review"
Part of the attraction here is the Rufiji Gorge boat trip. Whilst we failed to see Pel's Fishing Owl (reserved for the honeymoon couple staying in camp!) we had some excellent osprey and Colobus monkey sightings.
The highlight was a fly-camp, sleeping (very well) under a net on a very comfortable bed roll, with the 'car-door slam' of hunting crocodiles in the nearby lagoon to remind you where you are (don't worry, the tents are well back from the shoreline)!"
Sand Rivers fly-camping
"Fly Camping at Sand Rivers"
The facilities I rate as excellent, but be aware that this IS a fly-camp, so it's a short-drop toilet and a bucket shower. I would not want it any other way.
[Ed: in their review of Sand Rivers, these travellers commented:
"The highlight was a fly-camp, sleeping (very well) under a net on a very comfortable bed roll, with the 'car-door slam' of hunting crocodiles in the nearby lagoon to remind you where you are (don't worry, the tents are well back from the shoreline)!" ]"
Sand Rivers Camp
"Repeat stay after fly camp"
[Ed: see below]"
"Return to Beho Beho"
Partly due to the location in the hills, giving an amazing view down into the wooded valley. Partly due to the people, who passion for tracking, observing and sharing their knowledge is astonishing (even on a trip where ALL the guiding was of an excellent standard), and back at camp you are treated to wonderful food (too much).
The rooms are beautiful - I have another writing desk!
If the out door meal was gate-crashed by a hippo, one cannot blame it (and the organised retreat was very carefully handled).
Walking here is very good."
My Oct 2015 trip
Zambia between 16 Oct 2015 and 3 Nov 2015
Arranged By Megan Green
"Latitude 15 Overnight"
The rooms were clean and comfortable. The WIFI access was a little variable. The breakfast menu was... interesting... if a little eccentric (no eggs and bacon, but a variety of 'European' options). More or less the same applies to the evening menu - some options worked and others, less so - but points for innovation!
I'd stay here again but it hasn't made my list of all time favourite hotels."
"Nkwali - 3 nights"
The guiding here was excellent - Chris is great for photographers and gets the vehicle in good positions for you (which is a definite skill not all drivers have). The camp is in a more frequented area of the park (but there was only one lion sighting at which there were a lot of vehicles) so there is some 'radio chatter'. The up-side is that you get to see wild dogs - the down-side is the other visitors *wry smile*.
The rooms very good, although do heed warnings about the baboons and keep your articles tidied away. (Slightly annoying to have to keep re-bagging toiletries when you have a fast start in the morning, but far from the worst place I've had with monkey / baboon issues).
Food, service, escort in the dark etc was all very good and efficiently arranged. Note that the mosquito nets aren't dropped for the siesta period - I collected a few tsetse bites on my exposed feet here so I suggest you apply preferred protection if needed.
The drive from the airport is fairly short (~ 40 min) through the local towns / villages. We were there at the end of the dry season and the river was low enough that we walked over on sandbags to vehicles waiting on the other side.
We were the only guests in camp for our final night and were offered a private dinner, which was a nice touch and much enjoyed."
"Tena Tena - 4 nights"
We had excellent morning walks here. The professional behaviour of guides and scouts is notable and we felt very comfortable walking with them. We also had very good drives, even the evening that had a lot of wind and blown sand gave us a white-tailed mongoose :)
As a highlight, we also saw wild dogs here (our second pack). We thoroughly enjoyed our time - the whole experience was great."
"Tafika - 4 nights"
There is a very good choice of activity, which works well in terms of flexibility, the downside is that you have many different guides (we had 4 different guides in our stay). This means you don't get quite the same discussion and interaction that other camps provide with one dedicated person. Overall, this camp gave a less personal atmosphere than others on our trip.
We had excellent walks here - it's clearly a strong point for this camp and I highly recommend the experience. We chose to walk in the evening - shorter walks, but giving us more time and light for photography in the morning on drives, and this was very well arranged and delivered.
The charging facilities (in the main area) were a little erratic since not all sockets worked correctly. As a minor downside, the provided drinking water did not agree with either of us (not a serious problem, but anyone with a delicate constitution should be wary).
We really enjoyed our stay here and did appreciate the flexibility of activity, so do not take the feedback to mean there were any especial problems!"
"Mwamba Bushcamp - 3 nights"
I wanted a camp that went back to basics - especially the bucket shower - and Mwamba delivered this excellently. The rooms are 'basic' but very comfortable and the service was very good indeed (for example: specific requests about our mosquito net were very well executed).
The guiding here was excellent and Andrew deserves a rating in our 'top ten' guides over fifteen years of visiting Africa. His method of waiting and listening to the environment was an amazing experience.
We really enjoyed this camp because it was simple (which we wanted) and had superb staff and viewings."
"Latitude 15 review"
My Oct 2014 trip
Namibia between 24 Oct 2014 and 8 Nov 2014
Arranged By Tracy Lederer
"A great start and end to the trip"
We liked being able to eat at the restaurant and the rooms were very good.
I highly recommend this for an overnight in Windhoek."
Desert Rhino Camp
"A very good chance to see wild rhino"
The rhino tracking is always a special thing and the contact is managed to minimise disturbance - so it is a 'one off'' experience. The local commitment to rhino conservation is what makes this special.
Here we also saw caracal for the first time, so that was a big moment. Chris (who was involved with the camp establishment back in 2004) is still based there for his work with the Rhino Trust."
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp
"Hoanib Camp - Desert and Sea"
Wilderness have a good strategy for camp location and management and this camp reflects their approach. The rooms are not the 'traditional' chalets or tents, and are rather built as 'modern-eco' units i.e. you won't need air-con because the room design keeps it cool. That's not to say they aren't spacious and very comfortable.
The full water purifying system wasn't on line when we visited, so a lot of bottled water was being used - I trust this is now working, because trucked-in bottled water is just not a good thing.
If I've marked them down here, that's really only the starting up process. We had an excellent time - including a visit to the Skeleton Coast Museum. (Spoiler Alert)
It's one room full of the most amazing random stuff that washed/washes up on the shore..."
Okahirongo Elephant Lodge
"Local guides work best"
The camp is just outside Purros, but that is still pretty remote. (The 'town' has a couple of stores and a good school - I say again, it's pretty remote!) I know Expert Africa have not yet been here, so I will try to describe in some detail:
We flew in to this camp. It is possible to drive, but the roads are not friendly to new-to-Africa drivers (a couple staying with us were stuck in sand south of the camp and after this only stayed one night - it seemed quite stressful for them to drive that route), plan well and expect sand. It may be possible with a 'standard' car but a 4x4 seems more sensible.
The look of the camp is wonderfully kooky - as our pilot said, "I think of Star Wars". And yes, it looks like Mos Eisley. In fact, given Mos Eisley is based on a desert environment, that's not a bad thing! I have to say, that has stuck in my head...
The chalets are easily accessible via a gravelled road/path, Ours had a bedroom with king-sized bed on the left, bathroom with bath, shower, toilet well laid out on the right of the entry. There is a stoop/lounge area with a day bed in the middle area looking across the desert.
Our guide was local to the area (he had worked for Wilderness previously, so we know people in common) and that local relationship really worked well. The trip to the Himba village is great if your guide really knows the people (we have done this same visit before and it was good, but local knowledge is better!).
We really enjoyed our stay here and would certainly visit again."
Etendeka Mountain Camp
"Etendeka Mountain Camp review"
"Olive Exclusive review"
Tanzania between 5 Oct 2013 and 20 Oct 2013
The airport at Dar is a little confusing - it may be worth telling people they have a a 'pre-check'security that isn't clear if you can take your water through. Once through, there is nothing much until you get past emigration! Take a good book. After emigration most shops will take dollars.
Great trip - all worked as planned. Moments we will never forget. I think that's the point :)"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Sand Rivers Camp
"Sand Rivers Camp"
Our first 15 minutes in camp went like this:
Nick: How are you guys doing? Are you feeling energetic?
Us: We're great. Just planning to relax a while after the flight.
Nick: Because we've just had a report of wild dogs...
Us: *Run for the cameras and ready to go*
A dash out to a wild dog sighting - now that was a great way to start a trip!"
"Beho Beho Camp"
It's unique and different even if you have been on safari before.
(Note: Some people who had visited said the game was very shy due to close proximity of hunting camps. I consider this to be a bit of a myth - I have never seen eland or giraffe in such numbers! No problems here.)"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
My Oct 2012 trip
Namibia between 13 Oct 2012 and 27 Oct 2012
Vertigo Boutique Hotel, Namibia (this camp has since closed)
"First Night Stay"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Etendeka Mountain Camp
"Geology and giraffes"
We saw far more animals than I expected, it seemed there was a giraffe behind every bush!
This camp is on my list of 'must re-visit'.
Note for new visitors: As for most desert areas, there is no laundry at this camp due to limited water."
"The River and the Desert"
This is an excellent camp, and it excels in being very relaxed. We loved the scenery, the activities and the staff.
Top marks for luxury, lightly presented."
"Lots of Rhino!"
At the moment the reserve is lacking focus - and this reserve has an opportunity to explain the conservation of rhino like few others!
When we were at the lodge the septic tank needed some attention (rather smelly), but this is a minor comment on a very good experience."
Onguma Tented Camp
"Finally we see dik-dik"
The rooms, service and food were great. The pick-up / drop-off to the rooms was very well organised - in some camps I have found this a little confused, but here it was well regimented and worked for us.
We enjoyed the opportunity of a night drive, since this is not very widely offered."
As such, I have no complaints at all. The food is good, the rooms are fine (although ours was a little noisy in the day, being in close proximity to the back alley and main gate).
There was a strange problem with the lighting circuit, which meant the lights dropped to 'brown-out' periodically - rather ironic after two weeks in remote camps with not a flicker."
We slept on the roof for two nights (the first night was too cold, cloudy and windy) and very much enjoyed waking late in the night to glorious stars. In the early morning of the last day we saw the hyena come down to the waterhole. Such a special and rare sighting!
Although we didn't find the cheetah, we did have a great time tracking it with Nick, and we saw many birds, oryx, springbok and giraffe.
The relocation of the waterhole since our last visit was excellent - close enough to see activity and far enough not to be disturbed by camp movement.
The sleep-out is superb, the showers not so great, so overall we rate the rooms as good. But if you want to sleep under the stars, this camp is highly recommended."