Travel reviews

Travel reviews by Ms L - Queensland


My Mar 2018 trip

On this trip, I visited Namibia, South Africa & Zimbabwe between 18-Mar-2018 and 11-Apr-2018 and I travelled alone.

Overall my trip experience was:

PoorPoor

This is a trip I want to forget. I had inappropriate expectations from other travellers comments, or from advice from Expert Africa. The unsealed roads that are considered "good" turned out to be on average, alot worst than the unsealed roads in Australia. The "best" sections in Namibia were eqivalent to our unsealed roads in National Parks with corrugations. The rest were atrocious, with no warning sign if something major comes up that requires significant slowing down.

I was told that there was cell phone reception almost everywhere, and I wouldn't need a satellite phone. It turned out half of the unsealed roads had no reception. There were some stretches of roads that I did not see another car for an hour at a time. I was driving alone and couldn't deal with any breakdowns myself. I wouldn't have made this trip if I had known the reality.

I was also told that I would see a good amount of game as it is baby season, and there would be an increase in predator activities to feed the babies. When I asked the guides they just laughed. Virtually all the animals gave birth anytime if the year. Also because there was alot of late rain, I really didn't see much game except for elephants.

I really wasn't prepared for how backward Africans were. The lodges in Namibia were nicely built, but you couldn't get even the most basic requests through the staff. They are genuinely nice people, but almost all the lodges never considered purchasing the few items that I requested due to dietery restrictions, eventhough they were common supermarket items. I asked if I should bring some of these items myself and was told the lodges confirmed they would supply them. Should I have been warned they may not mean what they say?

Zimbabwe apart from Victoria Falls was unbearably backward. I am not sure if its to do with their econmic meltdown 20 years ago. Even at departure, I thought I had to spend the night at the airport as they couldn't refuel the plane.

I did manage to get some good photos. I do think Namibia has the best rockscapes in the world and massive potential to develop their tourist industry further, but I wouldn't consider going back.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

I received a very good service from Maruska in planning this trip. But I feel she may need to be updated about a few facts. When I travelled to Egypt several years ago with a tour, we were given in writing tips on cultural expectations I call it. EA could certainly do with something like that, so travellers are better prepared as they interact with Africans.

I have travelled extensively around the world but have never been to Southern Africa. I have found this trip very taxing.

Feedback response

After responding to this traveller’s comments, she wrote back to us:

“Hi Maruska,

Please don't feel bad about my experience. It was just an experience and I survived it. I know better now not to visit developing countries anymore and definitely book apartments so I can cook for myself in future. I agree my dietery requirements are unusual, but I spent alot of time with EVERY CHFF at EVERY LODGE before every meal to instruct them on what I was going to have for the next meal. But on average, they understand half of what I say (no matter how simple ) hence I feel they didn't meet expectations. What I asked of them was totally manageable (using the ingredients they already have). I felt the comprehension difficulties were probably due to the level of education there. I certainly saw a big difference between the black and white population there.”

She also commented – in the context of various more specific observations:

“The bread over there was actually terrific (for your future reference). Its better than what we have in Australia.”

“It was very difficult to explain to anyone exactly what I needed. But if they got the right ingredients, I could just instruct them how to cook it , which is in "plain boring ways". But they often don't get it and ended up making it more "interesting", which then made it not suitable for me to eat.”

“Upon arrival we discussed what I could have, but I thought I was giving them more specific instructions before every meal. For all lodges, I tell them that for lunch and dinner, I need meat, carbohydrates, and cooked veges. But before each meal, if I forget to mention meat again, and just talked about what vege and carb I wanted cooked, they don't seem to realise I still need meat. I didn't realise they won't get it. I should have written out a meal plan for them each time.”

“I still recommend Namibia to people if they can put up with very bumpy roads and long drives. It has one of the best landscapes in the world.”

“Maruska, you have been the best travel agent I have ever dealt with. I will have no hesitation in recommending you to anyone.”

I think the learning that we, at Expert Africa, should take away from this is that we need to insist that any travellers who have specific and complex dietary requirements should fill out a clear and comprehensive diet sheet – to try to explain to the lodges in detail what they can, and cannot, eat. This won’t solve all issues that may arise around dietary requests – but will help to minimise them.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge
18-Mar-2018 review: A Sour Taste from Imbalala Zambezi Safari Lod
PoorPoor
Batonka Guest Lodge, Zimbabwe
21-Mar-2018 review: Most Beautiful
ExcellentExcellent
Camp Hwange, Zimbabwe
22-Mar-2018 review: rough & tumble, guiding not up to expectation
PoorPoor
Rivendell Guesthouse, Namibia
25-Mar-2018 review: Rivendell Guesthouse review
GoodGood
Okonjima Plains Camp, Namibia
26-Mar-2018 review: Not very personal, ok for a stop
GoodGood
Vingerklip Lodge, Namibia
27-Mar-2018 review: Views like Monument Valley, good hotel
GoodGood
Mowani Mountain Camp, Namibia
28-Mar-2018 review: Rocks, more rocks, even more rocks.
GoodGood
Spitzkoppen Lodge, Namibia
30-Mar-2018 review: The BEST scenery and lodge
ExcellentExcellent
Erongo Wilderness Lodge, Namibia
2-Apr-2018 review: Poorly managed, birds gone
GoodGood
Langholm Hotel
5-Apr-2018 review: Would have been exceptional except for the re
ExcellentExcellent
Sossus Dune Lodge, Namibia
6-Apr-2018 review: Poor quality government service
PoorPoor
Rostock Ritz, Namibia
9-Apr-2018 review: Far from being the Ritz
AverageAverage
City Lodge OR Tambo, South Africa
10-Apr-2018 review: Nice hotel & fabulous breakfast
ExcellentExcellent