Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs R from Hants
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
Zimbabwe between 8 Sep 2019 and 22 Sep 2019
Hardly another vehicle to be seen whilst on safari, great wildlife sightings, excellent accommodation and superb guides."
Arranged By Claire Scott
Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
"Beautiful Chilo Gorge and charging elephants"
"Wild dogs and standing elephant at Vundu Camp"
The wildlife sightings were fascinating although drought meant many grazing animals looked poor. It was a wonderful to see wild dogs at their den with young puppies. Also to see one of the famous Mana Pools elephants standing on his back legs to reach the higher branches. Lovely sightings of carmine bee eater, racket-tailed roller and other birds. Despite feeling busier than the other areas of Zimbabwe we visited, there were seldom other vehicles in sight.
Our guide was excellent and we had the chance to walk towards the dogs and a group of lions. The camp's owners are committed to working for the protection of wildlife, especially the "painted wolves" in the area."
"Wow, wonderful Camp Hwange!"
Thanks to our excellent guide Washington we had the best few days of safari drives we have had on the continent. We saw so much and saw it so beautifully. We have never had a guide so gifted at placing us in the right spot at the right time to see events unfold. From lion kills, leopard and cheetah sightings, fantastic views of roan and sable, a thousand or more buffalo approaching water with dust filling the air, elephants drinking and bathing at sunset, secretary birds hunting for snakes, aardwolves, servals, African wildcats and so much more...this was the best few days on safari we have had anywhere.
Thank you Washington."
"Great Zimbabwe and rock art from Amalinda Lod"
The main dining area felt slightly cramped with insufficient room for everyone to comfortably gather and mingle before meals and the mix of one large table and two small tables seemed awkward. However, the whole lodge felt friendly and well run and it was a superb base for exploring the Motopos area. The work done by Amalinda to protect the local habitat and wildlife is laudable.
We had the pleasure of two days with Paul Hubbard, a local archaeologist. We had a 4 hour drive to Great Zimbabwe where we spent 5 hours exploring the fascinating medieval ruins. Paul's knowledge of the beautiful sight was inspiring.
The following day we had another full day out with Paul, firstly tracking a group of 6 White Rhino, then exploring a number of sites with stunning rock paintings. The quality and state of preservation of the paintings was staggering and again Paul's knowledge made for a fascinating day."
Namibia Sept 2018
Namibia between 11 Sep 2018 and 27 Sep 2018
"Olive Grove review"
Excellent meal on visit at start of trip, less good on return visit at end of trip."
Wolwedans Dune Camp
"Wonderful Wolwedans Dune Camp"
Great "bush camp" atmosphere, simple but beautiful with excellent views, friendly staff, lovely food and great activities.
Amazing views at sundowner spots."
The first evening was the highlight when a short drive took us to a beautiful view for our sundowner. En route we had a great sighting of an Aardwolf and distant Hartmann's Mountain Zebra.
The trip to the dunes started way after sunrise so felt busy with other tourists. Our guide simply dropped us off at the bottom of the popular Big Daddy.
There was no choice of afternoon activity, just quad biking which isn't of interest to me. The next day we were driven to Sesriem Gorge for an unaccompanied 20 minute stroll. The rest of the day and evening we were left with no activities. This lack of guiding and choice of activities was very disappointing and we felt we should have been advised to just have 2 nights at Kulala, not 3. If we had been there just for 2 nights I would have said the activities were good."
Desert Rhino Camp
"Superb Dessert Rhino Camp"
The atmosphere was wonderful; the staff were the most friendly ever, our guide the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable, the location superb, the activities fun and exciting. Plus great food and great company. The style is simple but everything you need.
The bush dinner was enormous fun and very much appreciated by all the guests.
All this in an area which felt truly remote."
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp
"Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp"
However the location is wonderful and the activities really gave an insight into the arid, harsh landscape.
The day trip to the coast was excellent. It was amazing to see so much wildlife in such an environment."
Ongava Tented Camp
"Ongava Tented Camp"
We spent all but one of our drives in Ongava's private reserve to avoid the big roads and busy waterholes of Etosha. The wildlife in Ongava was plentiful and varied with fantastic sightings of White Rhino with young, including a baby only days old.
We had to drive away quickly from an angry Black Rhino and spent time with 3 prides of lions.
It was interesting to see lots of birds for the only time on the trip including several Kori Bustard."
Okovanga Delta June 2017
Botswana between 1 Jun 2017 and 13 Jun 2017
Thanks to Sarah Glyde's suggestions we saw a wide range of habitats; we stayed at camps near permanent water channels, another near mopane woodland, another in open grassland.
The range of camps and the stunning flights over the region gave us a feeling for the vastness of the delta and the ever-changing water levels."
"Mokoro heaven plus lions in the camp"
Although it isn't the smallest of camps it had a wonderful atmosphere with a lot of laughter and all of the staff know the guests by name. The staff were enormously friendly and relaxed and nothing was too much trouble, even dealing with more awkward guests. Coffee served with wake-up call. Singing before dinner one evening seemed spontaneous and fun with more and more of the staff, including guides, joining in.
The water-based activities were excellent. We took a motor boat to reach the mokoros, stopping en route to watch an elephant slowly crossing the deep channel with only the top half of his head and the tip of his trunk above the water. All around were malachite and pied kingfishers,African fish eagles and coucals. The trip in the mokoro was incredibly peaceful with thousands of water lilies all around and reeds decorated with jewel-like Angolan reed frogs. This was followed by a walk on a large island with plenty of game to watch before returning by mokoro and motor boat. We also had a longer motor boat trip to enjoy the sunset on the water after visiting a large heronry and also seeing the elusive sitatunga.
We were pleasantly surprised at the amount there was to see on game drives. There were plenty of wonderfully relaxed elephants, reed bucks, red lechwe, greater kudu, zebras and giraffes, also great views of a leopard and late in the afternoon a group of lions. The next morning the lions were in camp watching from a distance as we met for breakfast. Our guide patiently waited for them to start to move so we were able to follow in the vehicle as the three sub adults played on fallen trees in the morning light.
The tent was comfortable with a nice deck over-looking the reeds...a great spot to bird watch. Our guide was excellent and joined the guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On two out of the three nights we missed sundowners as we were too busy watching wildlife...in my opinion the correct priority!"
"Elegant and peaceful camp"
Our guide was experienced and did his job professionally. Although Little Machaba has just 4 tents their two guides "hunted as a pack" with the guides from big Machaba, just next door. We were very aware of other vehicles and the noise of the radio. During our stay the wildlife viewings were few and far between although we enjoyed briefly seeing wild dogs chasing prey. We weren't able to follow them but saw the pack the next day. The dogs had decided to sleep in the Kwai public campsite so we joined an enormous number of vehicles crowding and jostling round the dogs. Not a good way to see anything! The second day a call came over the radio of a sighting of a leopard...again we found ourselves with a crowd of vehicles, I counted 12. For us being in a community concession, with many other camps and mobile safaris driving in the same area, was quite a big negative point.
We had a short mokoro trip as part of a morning activity. It was very peaceful and the boatmen made decorations from the water lilies. They also talked about their traditional way of life and the effect nature conservation and tourism has had on village life. Really interesting and a little disturbing.
Our final morning we were lucky to see some great birds, including Verreaux's eagle owl and a harrier hawk. We were lucky to have the company of a travel agent from Maun with us who was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic birder, pointing out many of the smaller birds too which the guide didn't realise would be of interest to guests.
Another small point. The vehicle was a Land Cruiser, as used in the other 3 camps we stayed at. In the other camps the seats were covered in blankets which made them less slippery and meant there were no gaps between the three seats on each row. Unfortunately I didn't notice this and placed my camera next to me; it instantly slipped to the floor of the vehicle and broke. My fault for not carrying out a full "risk assessment" but this may not have happened in the other vehicles."
"Cheetah, servals, dogs and birds"
With 5 cabins and two guides, one vehicle always had six guests; fortunately we were with just one other couple. Our guide asked what we most wanted to see, so we listed "cheetah, secretary bird and kori bustard". We got sightings of all three! This was definitely the richest area for wildlife during our trip although the guide often felt a little in a hurry to get to the next big predator. We only stopped to see the bustard because I saw it and shouted out. We tripped over lions, saw the cheetah 3 times, had a great view on a night drive of a serval and her cub, plus a male checking to see if she was ready to mate. We also had a fantastic view of a leopard who finished his performance by posing in a bare tree in the morning light.
As well as the game drives we took a boat trip on the Kuando River. The boat had an upper storey which gave a fantastic view over the reeds. It was a bit of a race to get to a heronry and back to the best view point in time for sundowners, but it was a beautiful sunset.
Little Kwara and "big" Kwara have a policy of having a maximum of 3 vehicles at a sighting at any one time. This worked well in my opinion. The guides from both camps shared information and but sightings remained personal. It often felt as though there was a race to get to sightings first, although arriving to see the cheetah in fifth place we were on our own and saw him chase a steenbok.
Our guide was experienced and professional but he had little time for birds or even mammals if they weren't big predators. Having said that, there were a fantastic number of predators to see!"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
This camp had the least happy atmosphere and least user-friendly management out of the 4 we visited on this trip. There was little fun at meal times and both morning and afternoon activities seemed to end as promptly as possible.
The food was less good here than at the other camps we stayed at. Our first dinner was a slice of fried hallumi followed by very tough beef casserole followed by one slice of fried banana. No coffee with wake-up call.
We were disappointed to be 6 in a vehicle with a group of four friends. It was impossible to hear the guide from the back.
Due to the location activities were limited to game drives. The grass was too long to be able to see anything on a walk. We loved the scenery at Lebala; beautiful open spaces then groups of trees and tranquil water holes. Although we didn't see any big cats here, we loved the views of large numbers of elephants including lots of tiny babies, mixed groups of zebra, wildebeest, tsessebe, impala and giraffe and a sighting of 2 male sable antelope. We also watched a pack of wild dogs which other guests saw later with a kill. I was pleased to miss that bit! Also lovely views of swallow-tailed bee-eaters. Some of the loveliest views of our trip.
Our guide was professional and knowledgeable but with the encouragement of our fellow guests spent too long near a female elephant with a calf, encouraging her to repeatedly trumpet and mock charge again and again. She was clearly distressed by us. Racing flat out for sundowners seemed a daily ritual. Night drives seemed half hearted, although perhaps the long grass limited our chances of seeing much."
We drove all day with no other vehicles in sight.
The lodge is smart and efficient with excellent food. It lacks the atmosphere of a bush camp but is comfortable and well equipped. We had to work quite hard to get a drink served before dinner which seemed odd! Our cabin had a wonderful river view and we woke to the roaring of hippos just below."