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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by J Family from Washington

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

8

Excursions taken

0

Great August 2017 family trip around Namibia

Namibia between 31 Jul 2017 and 14 Aug 2017

Trip rating: Excellent
"The trip met our very high expectations and did so, impressively, for every member of the family. EA provided excellent guidance on trip planning and the lodge recommendations were all terrific. Car selection was just right for the family, though we were lucky to get and would recommend the 4x4 version of the XTrail.

The highlights were Etosha and Okonjima, along with the desert scenery in the south. Our reactions to Twyfelfontein were mixed: The rock carvings were great, but the hotel was so-so, and we all would have preferred an additional night at Erongo (vice one there and two in Twyfelfontein). One of us would have skipped it altogether in favor of a day in Swakop. Windhoek was a real disappointment -- not at all quaint and not an inviting place to walk around in -- though we all loved dinner at Joe's Beer House.

EA also gave excellent advice on dividing our Etosha stay between the central and eastern ends. Two nights in each was just right. Driving and navigating went fine. A couple of recommendations: the Main Street Cafe in Omaruru is a great place to stop for lunch. And the Neurias Winery served us a superb lunch (and gave a great tour) on our way from Bullsport to Kulala.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

The map EA provided was the best of the 3 we had in terms of accuracy. But the route someone at EA highlighted for our drive was not always the best route. We suggest that EA encourage travelers to check with each lodge about the best route for their onward travel to take advantage of local knowledge about road conditions. That said, we were advised by the Kulala lodge to skip the shortcut indicated on our map (on a D road) and drive all the way to Swakop to pick up a paved road on our long drive to Omaruru, but the drive was brutal because the road conditions most of the way to Walvis Bay were the worst we encountered, and we barely made it to Erongo by sunset (even though we ate lunch in the car). It may be useful to tell travelers that whether a road is designated a C or a D isn't really material -- its all about how recently it was graded.

We also appreciated the steps EA took to address a booking mishap. The upgrade at Mushara was lovely and Kulala was almost certainly a better option than the govt. lodge we had initially favored. Many thanks Tom and we look forward to traveling with EA again on a future trip."

Arranged By Tom Morris


River Crossing

River Crossing

"River Crossing review"

1 night Arrived 31 Jul 2017
"This was an excellent recommendation from EA.

Just the right place after a long overnight trip, and both the facility and out of town location were very welcome. We even returned there on our departure date for a lunch before heading to the airport.

Friendly, super food, nicely situated, and welcoming."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
BullsPort Lodge & Farm

BullsPort Lodge & Farm

"Bullsport Guest Farm review"

2 nights Arrived 1 Aug 2017
"We enjoyed our time at Bullsport. The accomodations were clean and fine. The food was fine as well -- better than what we had at the govt lodges and twyfelfontain but not as good as that in most of the other private lodges.

We enjoyed an afternoon hike in the hills behind Bullsport and had a great hike the following day on the 10 km Olive trails in Naukluft park. Johanna is a character and a great host. She gave us some good leads and advice. They run a bit of tight ship there - there was only one dispenser of liquid soap that we had to keep moving between the shower room and toilet room, and when we asked for a bar of soap they steered us to the farm store (which was closed).

We were also asked about the length of the shower time in our kids room -- they had taken a series of showers in a row. Anyway, these were minor points that did not undercut a satisfying stay. I would just note that if you're not a horse rider, there isn't a lot to do on the farm. As with other pools during our stay, the one here wasn't heated and too cold in August for more than a very quick dip.

Because of the drought over the past several years there was also almost no wildlife. Hiking is the only real option, and for us that worked well because our family enjoys hiking."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Average
Kulala Desert Lodge

Kulala Desert Lodge

"Kulala Desert Lodge review"

2 nights Arrived 3 Aug 2017
"This is a great lodge! The site on the edge of the desert is isolated and fantastic. The main lodge is beautifully designed and has fabulous outdoor lounging areas.

The chalets/tents were well built and equipped and they have a fantastic option of sleeping under the stars in a small roof area. If you tell the staff you'd like to do it, they set up a mattress on the roof space with a comforter, and hot water bottle. We all did it and loved the incredibly starry night and woke up at sunrise to see a balloon rising in the distance. The staff was very friendly and the food was excellent.

We took advantage of Kulala's private entry way to the park and took one of their guided tours into the desert. While we could have done it ourselves, we saved a great deal of time by going through their entry way, particularly because the regular road from Kulala to the park is long and on some of the worst gravel roads we ran across in Namibia. Also, there are some parts once you are in the desert near deadvlie that are on sand and if you don't know what you're doing and lack a 4x4, there is a risk of getting stuck. Two nights was just right for a desert visit.

As for the balloon, we didn't take it because the cost was ridiculously high. It would have cost our family of 5 over 2K USD for a 45 minute experience. From watching the balloons, we also noticed that they didn't actually go over the desert -- they rise up near the lodge on the edge of the desert, don't go very high, and hardly move. I"m sure its a great experience, but hard to see it being worthwhile for a family. My wife and teen signed up for the eco-bike excursion and had a great time with it."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Erongo Wilderness Lodge

Erongo Wilderness Lodge

"Erongo Wilderness Lodge review"

1 night Arrived 5 Aug 2017
"This was the best lodge of our trip. Its setting, nestled among and around huge granite boulders in the hills, is stunning and the entire construction of the place is a real work of love. Each cabin is individually sited among the boulders and trees and they are connected by swiss family robinson kind of walkways. It is very private and marvelously integrated with nature and the landscape. The bathrooms were literally built into the rocks adjacent to the tent chalets and you had a great sense of showering in private but half outdoors.

On top of that, the food was superb -- among the very best of our trip -- and the manager (Doe) was friendly, funny, welcoming and informative. His advice about a newly graded D road to Twyfelfontain was on the mark and probably saved us close to two hours of driving. As a general piece of advice to travellors, I would always recommend consulting with lodges about the best onward route -- we found that the best routes were often not those highlighted on the EA provided map. (That map, by the way, was a great resource. We had bought two other road maps and the EA one was consistently the most up to date and accurate).

Because we had only booked one night, we just had time for a morning hike on the Eagle Trail, which took us up a nearby mesa for some great 360 degree views and was one of the best hikes of our trip. Staff was also welcoming and friendly. If we were redoing our trip, the only significant change we would make would be to add a night at Erongo and reduce Twyfelfontain from 2 nights to 1.

Omaruru is a charming small town and there is a fantastic outdoor art garden if you can find a contact to let you in. Our lunch at the Main Street Cafe, run by a photographer and expat from Boston was excellent and highly recommended."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Twyfelfontein Country Lodge

Twyfelfontein Country Lodge

"Twyfelfontein Country Lodge review"

2 nights Arrived 6 Aug 2017
"The lodge was fine, but because it was considerably larger than most of the other lodges we stayed at, it lacked their level of personal service and quality of food.

The situation of the lodge is impressive -- it is built along a red sandstone cliff and the entrance is dramatic and features a walk by its own rock carvings and paintings. The pool was the best we experienced, mostly because it had the warmest water and had a nice man-made waterfall where the water fell along the rocks into the pool The rooms were fine, though not particularly memorable. The food was an average somewhat tired buffet.

Location was exceptional -- very close to the rock carvings and other sites. Also, the grounds had a nice 3 km nature walk, though about half way through it was overgrown and difficult to find the trail. The service was fairly indifferent.

Finally, and maybe this sums it up, we were there during a partial lunar eclipse but, incredibly, they failed to deploy their two large telescopes that were sitting behind the reception desk."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Average
Okaukuejo Camp

Okaukuejo Camp

"Okaukuejo Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 8 Aug 2017
"On the positive side, the waterhole at the camp is tremendous and easily outweighs the various downsides of this Camp. We saw wildlife day and night, including 37 elephants cavorting in late afternoon, 5 rhinos in the evening, troops of giraffes and much more. It was a constant show and the setting and lighting was much more integrated into the natural scene that various write-ups had led us to believe.

The Bush Chalet we stayed at was a good choice for our family, clean, and very functional even if it lacked much character. We were glad we had not paid the premium for a premium or water hole chalet because it is only a one minute walk from the bush chalets to the watering hole and the premium ones aren't actually close enough to the hole to get the best view. Plus you get the constant traffic from folks visiting the watering hole. Also, the Camp seems to have addressed the concerns EA had warned about previously.

The reception staff was helpful, check-out was a breeze and did not involve an inventory check, and the staff was consistently scrupulous about letting patrons handle credit cards. Also, the watering holes near Okaukuejo were better and more productive than the ones we visited in the middle and on the eastern side of the camp. The main downside was medicore and overpriced food. The buffet was tired and the lines were long -- it didn't help that one night they ran out of clean plates. For lunch you're forced to eat an expensive and even worse buffet. The pool was empty and being painted for our entire visit and the fumes made us move our table to the edge of the restaurant at lunch - leading to the "poor" facilities rating below.

So there are some clear tradeoffs, but it was absolutely the right recommendation of EA to stay here for two nights for the many wildlife experiences."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Facilities
Poor
Rooms
Good
Food
Average
Mushara Lodge

Mushara Lodge

"Mushara Lodge review"

2 nights Arrived 10 Aug 2017
"This lodge was near perfect and one of our favorites. The grounds are beautiful and the chalets are decorated with taste and character and well spaced out for privacy. The main lodge itself is a glorious large wood and thatch building that is comfortable and stylish. Dinner outside on the patio is lovely. There are even numerous interesting birds and animals one can spot on the grounds. The location, just 8 km outside the park is excellent. And the food was probably the best of our trip; incredibly well prepared, interesting, and creative. The chef is skilled and cares, and it shows.

The only weakness of the place, surprisingly, was the reticence of the staff. The staff was polite and professional, but quite reserved. We're not an especially talkative bunch, but we were consistently the ones to greet staff members we encountered during our stay. Everyone was quite serious and we didn't see many smiles or get the welcoming warmth we found at a number of the other lodges. None of this would be very noticeable except that they do everything else so well here. For example, for my wife's birthday we found a beautiful bouganvillia arrangement around her place setting and a nice note -- but the staff never actually wished her a happy birthday or said anything at all to her about it. Also, both nights the server broke the cork trying to take it out of the wine bottle. Not a big deal, but a better cork screw and perhaps some additional training would have prevented that. And when we checked in, we were left standing at the desk for nearly ten minutes with the staff unable to find our reservation and going off to seek help. But when I glanced down at the reception table, I could see the paper listing our names and rooms. These are all small things and hardly worth mentioning but they were noticeable because the quality level here was otherwise so high. One last suggestion would be to create a walking or driving trail for guests. Or even a guided walk or drive if there is a wildlife concern.

Mushara was also the only lodge we visited where we were told at check in that the activities for the next morning were already booked and full."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Okonjima Plains Camp

Okonjima Plains Camp

"Okonjima Plains Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 12 Aug 2017
"This ended up being a surprise highlight of our trip. Our kids (two older teens and 9 year old) absolutely loved it and voted it their favorite lodge. And it was great for the parents as well. The plains camp is a great choice for families -- the place is new, with a stylish retro modern camp vibe. Our adjoining rooms were perfect and we had a great view of the reserve and wildlife from our bedroom even though it was a standard rather than "view" room. Despite the relative size of the camp, the food was excellent: interesting and well prepared.

The activities were the best of our trip. We took three excursions -- leopard tracking (we saw a mom and cub from 5 meters), cheetah tracking (we saw two), and a night drive (a caracal and other animals we'd never seen) -- and the guide was knowledgeable, highly skilled, and funny. We especially appreciated that he arranged for us to bring our 9 year old on the cheetah tracking (ordinarily there is a 12 year minimum) by keeping her in the vehicle and ensuring that she had a great view of the cheetahs. And to top it all off, the staff was warmest and most welcoming of our trip. They were very skilled but also relaxed, engaging, funny, and able to build a personal rapport with the guests.

Coming here after Etosha was perfect as it enable us to see cats that one can't expect to see in Etosha and do so in a learning environment that helps conservation efforts. Highly recommended."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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