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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Ms Q & Mr B from USA

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

18

Excursions taken

3

Everything we hoped for and more in Namibia

Namibia between 4 Oct 2016 and 4 Nov 2016

Trip rating: Excellent
"We had been planning a comprehensive self drive tour of Namibia for a couple years and were completely frustrated by our own inability to make key reservations with the national parks. We reluctantly called in the help of Expert Africa and were pleasantly surprised at how competley helpful and indispenable Maruska was in making all our arrangements while keeping the costs lower then we had expected. Everything over the course of our month log visit, encompassing over 18 lodgings, worked out smoothly.

We had a very helpful assist from Wilderness Safaris staff who met us at the airport and helped us get a burner phone and deal with a slightly troublesome initial car rental interaction. We are ow sure that we could not have done the arrangements on our own with out significant hassles and problems and our very happy that we put our trust in Expert Africa.

We saw numerous independent travellers at the national park Lodgings who thought they had successfully made reservations to find that the parks had no record of them or places for them to stay. Not clear how these were ever resolved but it never impacted us! Maruska's printed material that she sent us had incredibly useful advice on everything form what to look for in car rentals to how to greet people in shops and restaurants. We saw many abrupt tourists getting a cold shoulder from staff that turned around and treated us very warmly because we had been told to do a full on relaxed greeting, asking about how they are and wording the questions in a more polite manner then most European and US travellers would normally use.

Namibia itself was a dream come true visit to Africa. We knew we would see all the major animals (rhinos, elephants, giraffes, ostrich, wildebeest,kudu, oryx,lions, eland, hartebeest, springbok) but we had no idea we would see as many as we did in such high concentrations. Unfortunately the drought is probably responsible for this, pushing all the animals to the waterholes just to survive. We saw 33 species of mammals and over 200 species of birds and most of them from the rental car.

Maruska's advice on several places was spot on. She had gently warned of some dropping standards at a couple places which turned out to be true, while encouraging us to do the kayaking with the seals trip and the 4X4 sand dunes drive to Sandwich Harbor. The latter was a true highlight, and it might not be as fabulous with a guide other then Bruno Nebar, but I am sure it still would be enjoyable. We were quite lucky to spend that day with two of Expert Africa's people, a complete coincidence, but they were both very interesting and helped in drawing out so much information form Bruno while having interesting stories of their own. We usually do not like travelling in guided tours but this was a fabulous day with great company.

Namibia is barely dealing with the tourist influx from Germany and the rest of Europe, and are not prepared to deal with the kind of influx Americans will contribute once Americans realize what a fabulous destination Namibia is. i am telling our friends and family to go now and to use Expert Africa to make their arrangements! We met only 2 Americans and had many more meaningful encounters with local Damara people including valiant efforts to teach us some click language words! But this will not last long."

Feedback response


1) I am not sure how we would have handled any type of car problems (flat tires or broken windshields sound common but we managed to avoid that). Also, we lucky to not be stranded by the lack of gas at Okuakuejo camp. I think we would have called the people we met from Wilderness Africa if something had arisne, but not clear if that was legitimate or would be taking advantage of things. Maybe Expert Africa could be quite explicit up front about that. I think WS are listed as emergency contacts but just not quite sure these issues would have been the intent of that support.

2) While most European cell phones seem to work in Namibia, none of our American services did. If Americans do start increasing visits to namibia, you might want to consider including instructions about how to buy burner phone and minutes minutes and how program the phones to enter those minutes. We ended up having to rely on the helpful mercy of a teenager at a convenience store in Luderitz to help us load minutes on our burner phone.

3) I think we had very rewarding interactions with local people but of course would have liked more. However, we observed a lot of other tourists who seemed to just treat locals like help and therey limiting there interactions. Everyone presumed we were German when we first met, but seemed to be thrilled to find out we spoke English and were from the US. I am not sure how much of this is the colonial era feelings or just the novelty of it. I do think this opened many doors for us in having more meaningful conversations with local people as we were always so appreciative at what polygolts they are and what unique encounters these were for us. I am not sure they felt that sort of respect from most of the European tourists, maybe because this is a much more routine thing for Europeans. At least it did not seem clear to me that most of the other tourists appreciated how amazing it is for us to be there experiencing this and meeting the people there. Our most rewarding interactions felt more like we were in small town rural US then big city Europe, Asia or US. and i think many of the other tourists acted like they were in Paris or London or NYC. I think if you can try to capture more of that more intimate kind of approach in your instructions on how to talk with local Namibians, the tourists will be rewarded. We do not like the "visiting villages" approach to traveling but felt like we had lots of insights from local guides and staff about their families, schooling and careers by treating them like people we meet in smaller towns in our own locale.

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


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Lake Oanob Resort

"Lake Oanob Resort review"

1 night Arrived 4 Oct 2016
"The overall managment at Lake Oanab was professional and friendly. The room quality was good and cleanliness levels high.

Food and wine choices in restaurant were much broader then we found anywhere else, and the food was good.

The dining room staff was particularly generous in helping us track the car rental delivery and allowed us to use a local cell phone when we had trouble with the burner we had purchased at the airport."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
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Quivertree Forest Restcamp

"Quivertree Forest Restcamp review"

1 night Arrived 5 Oct 2016
"This quirky place is family run and very unique. the location in the Quivertree forest is a bonus, but the menagerie kept by the owners and the grounds of the lodge and ranch are very unique.

We have one of the best meals of the whole trip of fresh oryx in a cream sauce. We had seen the owner head out to harvest the oryx to feed their cheetahs and suspect we got prime cuts from that kill. We did not use any of the facilities other then the dining room and lodging rooms so do not know if it would be worth a longer stay. We saw the quiver tree forest and the giants playground easily in the half day we spent there."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
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Norotshama River Resort

"Norotshama River Resort review"

1 night Arrived 6 Oct 2016
"The service was fine, and location of the dining area on the Orange River was lovely. The rooms and camping area are scattered around manmade reflecting pools as the central elements, and these were off putting because the water looked stagnant.

It would be ideal to get one of the rooms that overlooked the river, but the inside of our rooms were well furnished. The striking shower was not practical as the lack of a wall meant there is water everywhere in the bathroom.

The surrounding area is interesting form a sociological point of view (working vineyards watered from but the workers shacks highlight the disparity in income levels in the country. It is a great launching point to do the spectacular drive along the C13 and the Orange river with amazing sites, baboons, cervets and birds."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Average
Nest Hotel

Nest Hotel

"Nest Hotel review"

2 nights Arrived 7 Oct 2016
"This is a striking location for a hotel and makes for a very picturesque building.

However, the building itself suffers from being a product of its age, somewhat tatty around the edges and with loose windows that rattle in the breezy conditions characteristic of this location.

The staff is friendly and helpful and the bar and restaurant are comfortable scenic places to relax.

Whilst in Luderitz these travellers enjoyed a catamaran cruise around Halifax Island, here's what they said about it:
The outing is must do adventure while in Luderitz, where else can you see penguins and flamingoes at the same time? The catamaran is pretty basic, with eveyrone sitting on sinmple benches in very windy cold conditions, but it would be hard to do this more upscale and still get the experience of seeing all the birds, and seals as well as you do form this vessel.

The guide on the boat was knowledgable and looked after our comfort by providing blankets and even rain gear to the less prepared and also serving us all warm drinks. The seas were quite rough the day we went but the catamaran itself and the skill of the captain in handlling the boat resulted in a much gentler ride then we expected.

We appreciated the guides style in telling us about what we were seeing. He had a nice sense of humor but avoided cheesy commentary that can be so common on cruises in the rest of the world."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Rooms
Average
Food
Good
Halifax Island boat trip

Halifax Island boat trip

"Great way to see penguins and flamigoes"

8 Oct 2016 • Morning excursion

The outing is must do adventure while in Luderitz, where else can you see penguins and flamingoes at the same time? The catamaran is pretty basic, with eveyrone sitting on sinmple benches in very windy cold conditions, but it would be hard to do this more upscale and still get the experience of seeing all the birds, and seals as well as you do form this vessel.

The guide on the boat was knowledgable and looked after our comfort by providing blankets and even rain gear to the less prepared and also serving us all warm drinks. The seas were quite rough the day we went but the catamaran itself and the skill of the captain in handlling the boat resulted in a much gentler ride then we expected.

We appreciated the guides style in telling us about what we were seeing. He had a nice sense of humor but avoided cheesy commentary that can be so common on cruises in the rest of the world.
Excellent
Namtib Desert Lodge

Namtib Desert Lodge

"Namtib Desert Lodge review"

1 night Arrived 9 Oct 2016
"Although a difficult place to reach on very sandy roads in and out, this Lodge is very much worth the visit. The family who owns it are very knowledgable and helpful They have built self guided nature walks to allow you to explore their huge ranch with an extensive printed guide to help you get the most out of it.

The setting is beautiful and they try to run this as greenly as possible. The candlelit family-style dinner was wonderful, with the whole family mingling in several languages with all the guests. the rooms are very comfortable and provide all that is needed.

They did not offer any game drives as we were led to believe but for an overnight stay the walks were enough."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
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Agama River Camp

"Agama River Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 10 Oct 2016
"We only picked this spot because we had no other options closer to Sossusvlei. The facility was rather sterile, but the accomodations were adequately furnished and supplied.

Views form the bar and balcony were nice, but they were a bit anal about making people leave the bar when it came time to set the tables for dinner. It was not really clear why this was the case and kind of ruined the evening segue from sunset to dinner. the food was good and the wait staff was nice.

The dance and singing performance between dinner and dessert felt cheesy and touristy to us but others seemed to enjoy it."
Average
Location
Average
Service
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Good
Lagoon Lodge

Lagoon Lodge

"Lagoon Lodge review"

3 nights Arrived 12 Oct 2016
"This European standard BnB suffers from being on the wrong side of a heavily trafficked road from the actual lagoon.

The salt mine has drastically increased production south of town so that during daylight hours there is a steady stream of large lorries plying the road less then 40 meters from the front door of the rooms. The owners are lovely, friendly people and provide conscientious cleaning and breakfast service. The pool and garden, while small, are maintained to a a very high standard as are the rooms themselves.

Comfortable beds and well stocked toiletries are nice touches.

Whilst in Walvis Bay these travellers enjoyed a kayaking excursion to Pelican Point; here's what they said about it:
Interesting way to see the huge colony of seals. Started with an enjoyable drive with commentary by Jeanne Mientjes the tour leader.

The kayaking itself is not an adventure outing, very suitable for people with no experience in a kayak whatsoever. the attraction of course is to be so close as to be able to touch the frolicking young seals while observing the behavior of the adults on the beach. It was all worthwhile.

Jeanne provided suitable water protection gear with nice (but probably unnecessary!) snacks. Best of all she sent us all pictures she snapped of ourselves in the kayaks with the seals.

They also enjoyed a guided day trip to Sandwich Harbour; here's what they said about that:
Our tour was led by Bruno Nebar, the world famous wildlife biologist and rhino breeder. We were unaware of his fame until almost the end of the trip but by then we were not surprised given the knowledge he flooded us with over the course of the day.

Our trip was very fun, as it was a small group of just 6 of us, including two Expert Africa employees, and the whole group was pleasant and appreciative of the overall experience. From the morning drive to Sandwich Harbor racing against the tide to follow the beach we never had a dull moment. Bruno shared so much information about plants, history, wildlife, weather, local mining industry, that it took me 6 pages of notes at the end of the day just to capture the highlights.

We had some difficulties getting up the dunes, Bruno had to take several runs at the main exit route but between his attitude and everyone else on the trip we all ended up enjoying ourselves immensely. Bruno's demeanor actually helped keep me calm, despite my tendency to fear of heights and car sickness, and in hindsight it was probably a much scarier outing then I realized while participating in it."
Average
Location
Poor
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Kayaking with seals

Kayaking with seals

"Up close with seals"

13 Oct 2016 • Morning excursion

Interesting way to see the huge colony of seals. Started with an enjoyable drive with commentary by Jeanne Mientjes the tour leader.

The kayaking itself is not an adventure outing, very suitable for people with no experience in a kayak whatsoever. the attraction of course is to be so close as to be able to touch the frolicking young seals while observing the behavior of the adults on the beach. It was all worthwhile.

Jeanne provided suitable water protection gear with nice (but probably unnecessary!) snacks. Best of all she sent us all pictures she snapped of ourselves in the kayaks with the seals.
Coast and Sandwich Harbour

Coast and Sandwich Harbour

"Highlight of our trip, beway to see the dunes"

14 Oct 2016 • All-day excursion

Our tour was led by Bruno Nebar, the world famous wildlife biologist and rhino breeder. We were unaware of his fame until almost the end of the trip but by then we were not surprised given the knowledge he flooded us with over the course of the day.

Our trip was very fun, as it was a small group of just 6 of us, including two Expert Africa employees, and the whole group was pleasant and appreciative of the overall experience. From the morning drive to Sandwich Harbor racing against the tide to follow the beach we never had a dull moment. Bruno shared so much information about plants, history, wildlife, weather, local mining industry, that it took me 6 pages of notes at the end of the day just to capture the highlights.

We had some difficulties getting up the dunes, Bruno had to take several runs at the main exit route but between his attitude and everyone else on the trip we all ended up enjoying ourselves immensely. Bruno's demeanor actually helped keep me calm, despite my tendency to fear of heights and car sickness, and in hindsight it was probably a much scarier outing then I realized while participating in it.
Excellent
Cape Cross Lodge

Cape Cross Lodge

"Cape Cross Lodge review"

1 night Arrived 15 Oct 2016
"Driving out to the Cape Cross seal preserve is an adventure and the barren landscape is interesting to certain sorts of folks.

The facilities are fairly standard but with great views of birds flocking on the ocean and the spectacular sea scenery. fortunately it is far enough away form the seal colonies to not suffer form the smell.

The rooms are standard and clean but nothing to write home about."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Terrace Bay

Terrace Bay

"intersting but is it worth the drive?"

1 night Arrived 16 Oct 2016
"It is debatable if being in such an isolated location is worth the hours of driving. There are interesting aspects form a geological and wildlife point of view but the lodge itself fails completely.

The rooms are left over lodging form decades ago mining operation and they are in desparate need of an update. They are noisy, drafty and very poor standard beds and shower facilities. the main staff is not all that friendly but the dining room staff is very good. The rooms are not all that clean so it does not appear to be very well run. t

This was definitely the worst facilities we experienced in our month in Namibia."
Poor
Location
Poor
Service
Average
Rooms
Terrible
Food
Average
Huab Lodge

Huab Lodge

"Huab Lodge review"

2 nights Arrived 17 Oct 2016
"Huab lodge consists of several lovely buildings, in a lovely location. Unfortunately the managing staff currently in place is not up to the standards reported for the original owners.

The junior staff, the dining room and cleaning staff are all excellent, very polite, helpful and professional. However, the caretakers and the lead guide present for our stay could benefit from supervision and/or training. The guide leading the sunrise walk brought three large dogs who ran wildly through the bush and shrubs while the guide made futile attempts to call them back. We were also strongly discouraged from asking any questions or stopping to look at birds that were not a a part of the established patter. The guide was knowledgable but inflexible and did not set a welcoming tone.

The other disappointment was the lack of any large game such as elephants.

The guide books report elephants to be common, but apparently this has not been true for years."
Average
Location
Average
Service
Average
Activities
Poor
Rooms
Good
Food
Average
Facilities
Good
Etosha Safari Camp

Etosha Safari Camp

"Etosha Safari Camp review"

1 night Arrived 19 Oct 2016
"This is a very basic camp on the edge of a large facility that includes some more impressive lodgings, but this probably reflected in the comparative prices.

The room came with 3 single beds which was incredibly crowded. The AC was spotty at best, but the bathroom was spacious and creatively decorated.

The local band playing at the dining facility was delightful, but the dining, pool and bar area gets extremely crowded which puts a noticeable strain on the service."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Namutoni Camp

Namutoni Camp

"Namutoni Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 20 Oct 2016
"A great location with a very active waterhole and close to some of the best waterholes in Etosha, Namutoni is a great setting for seeing the animlas and birds and scenery but the rooms are very basi, while fitting the standard for al the national parks. the rooms had clearly been designed ambitiously, with plenty of room, but the bathroom desing is a bit too front and center for most room sharers.

the maintenance of plumbing, electricity and furnishings is also strained. The facilities are disappointing as we expected the old fort to be impressive, Instead it is run down and mostly shut off to any exploring.

The generators are shut off for 2 hours in the afternoon, making AC nonexistent in the worst heat of the day (42C at times we were there). But even worse, it means the shop has to process every transaction by hand during those hours so a long line rapidly forms for guests trying to buy ice creams and soda from rapidly warming and understocked coolers."
Average
Location
Excellent
Service
Average
Facilities
Poor
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Halali Camp

Halali Camp

"fabulous waterhole, standard NP camp"

3 nights Arrived 22 Oct 2016
"The highly visited well situated waterhole is the highlight of this camp. The rooms and food are very basic, national park standards in namibia. Staff is polite and very methodical. Any visitor who does not fit the model is handled in painstakingly slow manner making everyone else in line suffer the consequences.

This is apparently a popular first stop for many visitors to the country so there is a lot of kerfuffle with newbie guests trying to sort out the system and not adjusting well to the norms. the waterhole gets justifiable crowded at sunset and the park should probably consider hiring a monitor to try to rein in some of the more poorly behaved visitors who can ruin the experience for the majority of people trying to watch the wildlife peacefully.

Staff in the dining room is not optimally managed so there is a bit of chaos in service and food supply for buffet lines."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Dolomite Camp

Dolomite Camp

"Dolomite Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 25 Oct 2016
"The Dolomite camp in Etosha has a beautiful setting and with the infrastructure it really could be a showplace of the park. unfortunately it is probably the least well run of th camps in the park. the shuttle taking you around the camp or too and form the parking lot is awkward. it is not just a matter of running on Africa time but is treated as an unnecessary detail by the staff yet they demand you rely on it to go anywhere.

The dining room staff also comes off as having no desire to be there and help you, and is in stark contrast to employees at all the other camps in the park. The tent lodging themselves have the potential to be dramatic but there is insufficient ventilation (and no AC). The canvas flaps are designed to open and with the proper adjustments could really make the rooms comfortable, but the key hardware is out of reach and even the zippers at floor level are often broken and unusable. We had broken glass in our main sliding door, and while i understand it is a difficult situation to make those repairs some key duct tape would have at least made this a safer situation.

The most unfortunate thing about the camp is that only two of the tents have views of the waterhole. From the waterhole itself you can see the camp and what looks like a magnificent setting overlooking the water hole. However, the bar/restaurant/pool are on the other side of the hill and views are only available to a small percentage of the guests. It is a long drive out to this side of the park, and i do not think I would encourage people to go there unless they were entering the park from the western edge."
Poor
Location
Good
Service
Poor
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Okaukuejo Camp

Okaukuejo Camp

"Okaukuejo Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 27 Oct 2016
"As the largest camp in Etosha, Okaukeujo suffers a bit from unruly crowds and busloads of fly by tourists.

The staff is competent and friendly but are limited by the size of the operation and rudimentary resources. The dining room has food very similar to all the other camps in the park but the size of the operation means the service is a bit less thoughtful or thorough. the rooms were on par with the ones at Halali, in standards and comfort, but a little less clean and well maintained. Power was more spotty here then in the other camps but outages were short lived.

They did have a lack of petrol in the station ofr at least 5 days and counting by the time we left which was creating tensions throughout the camp as some people could not leave while others had booked their rooms. The staff clearly has nothing to do with this problem and i am sure arranging petrol delivery is done at a much higher level then anyone actually in the camp but the staff in the camp were stoically taking the brunt of a lot of angry visitors.

The waterhole is probably the least scenic of the 4 rest camps, but it was always very productive in wildlife sitings, with many groups of elephants frolicking in the spring feeding the waterhole everyday. The social weaver nests in the trees at the viewing area were worth the visit in themselves."
Average
Location
Average
Service
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Waterberg Camp

Waterberg Camp

"Lovely setting with Baboon issues"

2 nights Arrived 30 Oct 2016
"The lodging at Waterberg was the most spacious of all the places we stayed. the palteaus itself is a lovely setting and we had some of the best walks here of anyplace we stayed. Unfortunately there is no AC and the ceiling fans are not very effective. To compound the problem, the baboons have become very intrusive, having learned that all the humans in the buildings and the campsites equates to easy food.

The staff is very good overall, but in particular they were good about warning you to keep you blinds drawn and windows closed (unless you are in the room) and food hidden in cupboards and not visible from the windows as the baboons have been known to break windows to get in. A couple times a day you can hear a ruckus from the campgrounds, presumably humans chasing away baboons. While we had no room intrusions, the baboon restrictions made it hard to get any circulation in the room and temperatures were well in the 40s the day we were there.

The pool is like most of the other pools in Etosha and NP camps with minimal chemical treatment and an opaque green color. I would prefer to see all the lodges just get rid of their pools in the name of water conservation and just not have that fetid looking pool in otherwise gorgeous settings. We did have a close encounter with a zebra snake (highly venomous with no effective anti-venom we found out later) so we would just caution people to check under the outdoor patio tables before using them!"
Average
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Erongo Wilderness Lodge

Erongo Wilderness Lodge

"Beautiful setting, knowlegable guides"

2 nights Arrived 1 Nov 2016
"Erongo wilderness Lodge was probably our favorite place to stay in Nambia and a nice ending point to an exciting trip. The tent cabins nestled in the hills are charming, with stunning outdoor bathrooms and showers. The food in the dining room was the best we had in a whole month of visiting Namibia, with unique types of food and courses and lovely presentations of the food for dinner and breakfast. The management team is quire professional but the guides for the walks were fabulous.

We did 3 guided walks with 2 different guides and learned so much about the geology, ecology, wildlife, baboon behavior, local cultural insights and just generally thoughtful good company. We were one of the few groups to stay multiple nights and were glad we did, but the staff was very accommodating to those overnighters to maximize their experience in those shorter times. We would definitely recommend this to anyone.

The rooms are warm without any AC but the fans help and they cool down nicely in the evening. the dining room bar provide a well ventilated relaxing area in the heat of the day and they are generous in providing snacks and cool beverages for the course of the day."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Villa Violet

Villa Violet

"A nice oasis in Windhoek on way to airport"

1 night Arrived 3 Nov 2016
"Villa Violet is a little green oasis with private garden and open commons areas for relaxing and breakfast.

Parking is secure and convenient, and rooms are small but well equipped. The staff is helpful in dinner arrangements and providing advice on taxis and getting around Windhoek.

The location is in a nicely upscale neighborhoods, which means everything is behind electric fences and barbed wire, but it is conveniently located on a fairly quiet street."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good

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