Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs W-J from UK
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
Valentine's at the cricket!
South Africa between 30 Jan 2016 and 17 Feb 2016
We had a good range of accommodation and the exchange rate meant that everything was extremely good value once we got there. We'd chosen our own accommodation at Oudtshoorn which we suggest Expert Africa look at for future travellers.
Cape Town was, as always, lovely!
Already booked to go back next year!"
Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge
"Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge review"
Samara Karoo Lodge
"Samara Karoo Lodge review"
Our room was comfortable, staff friendly and the food we had was good. However in spite of confirming they knew of Jane’s cheese allergy there was no attempt to provide any alternatives to dishes containing cheese which we thought disappointing. Grounds were well maintained and the pool looked inviting.
Jan was a good guide who we concluded must be part gazelle the way he scrambled up and down kopjes trying to track cheetah! We didn’t get to see any cheetah but we did have an excellent sighting of black rhino, though why a male rhino is named Beatrice is a mystery! A trip up the mountain provided some lovely views and new species of antelope but the drive up is very steep and close to the edge at some points. We had planned to go out late one evening in search of aardvark but in the end we had heavy rain that day and agreed to cancel it."
"The Plettenberg review"
General Manager Annemie was an excellent hostess who even helped with breakfast service. She was also happy to book restaurants and arrange taxis; although the hotel is only a short distance from the centre of town it is up quite a steep hill and it recommended that guests used taxis at night for safety.
Food at both breakfast and dinner was excellent though we understand the lunchtime menu is the same as that for dinner and the dinner menu did not change during our stay.
There are lots of activities in the area and the travel desk staff are happy to book any of them for guests. We took the river cruise which was excellent. We had driven down from the Karoo and came into Plettenberg Bay via Prince Alfred’s pass – a very scenic drive but not for the faint-hearted! We even met a snake on the way!"
De Zeekoe Guest Farm
"De Zeekoe Guest Farm review"
Our room was comfortable with possibly the best shower we had all trip. The one disappointment was dinner which was a buffet, meaning you were in and out rather quickly. We also thought it was expensive, particularly compared to the meals we’d eaten in Plettenberg.
There were plenty of activities in the area but we chose to leave quite early to make a start on our next drive.
Particularly for those wanting to visit the meerkats we think this would make a worthwhile addition to Expert Africa’s choice of accommodations."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
"Rothman Manor review"
Andreas was an excellent host, very willing to sort out restaurant reservations etc. We will be going back next year and will contact him in advance as places book up very quickly.
The pool looked inviting, though we didn’t try it – next time maybe!
Swellendam is a very pretty town/village which has everything you need – from high-end restaurants to the ubiquitous Spar and lots of other shops. We liked it a lot.
It is a very quick drive to Bontebok NP where we had our first sighting of Rhebok and not too far to visit De Hoop reserve for the day."
De Hoop Opstal
"De Hoop Opstal review"
Staff were generally pleasant and helpful, with two exceptions. Firstly the receptionist who insisted we had to eat at 9pm as dinner was served in two sittings; as we discovered it is actually FROM 7 to 9 not AT 7 or 9. Secondly the waitress who told us we could sit anywhere but, when we chose a table, told us we couldn’t sit there as it was a table for four. When we pointed out that they didn’t have any tables for two she seemed totally confused! She then insisted on presenting our bill before we were ready, ignoring the fact that another staff member was in the process of fixing drinks! The bill was then presented again before we had asked for it even though we hadn’t finished and had just ordered coffee. TIA (This Is Africa)! The manager then took care of us, and we spent some time with him over coffee talking about the history of the place and the plans for future development which was really interesting.
While our room was close to the main building some are quite a distance away (800m plus) and, whilst they have self-catering facilities it seemed as if most people wanted to eat in the restaurant which was quite a walk in the dark so a torch is a necessity.
The reserve is lovely with a variety of habitats, ranging from beaches and dunes to fynbos. The wildlife seems very calm; we have never seen so many eland – and so close to the roads; they didn’t seem bothered at all.
We took an afternoon boat trip which was good value and entertaining with good bird sightings and even a Cape Cobra sunning itself on a rock – as long as it stays on its rock we have no objection!"
The Last Word Franschhoek
"The Last Word Franschhoek review"
The room was huge, with absolutely everything we needed and bathroom enormous. It was extremely comfortable, though we weren’t quite sure about returning from dinner to find pots of crème brulee waiting for us! Breakfast was an extensive spread with cooked available if required.
Franschhoek gets very busy in the South African summer so it is well worth investigating and booking restaurants and/or the Wine Tram beforehand. It’s a lovely little town but there are a lot of tourists so be prepared for queues if you haven’t pre-booked.
This is another place we’re returning to next year!"
Victoria & Alfred Hotel
"Victoria & Alfred Hotel review"
We arrived early but they were fully geared up for storing our luggage and transport was ready to take us to the England v South Africa cricket match where Jane confused everybody in her Proteas shirt while singing God Save The Queen!
The room was excellent with views over the harbour towards Table Mountain – highly entertaining watching the boats pootling to and forth. We only ate breakfast in the hotel but this was excellent with a large variety from which to choose.
We never used our car during our stay, instead buying two-day passes on the sightseeing bus which not only took us everywhere we wanted to go but also included free harbour cruises and a discount on the Cape Wheel. We went on this twice, once during the day and once at night and highly recommend it. The open-top bus is brilliant; there are several routes taking you anywhere from Table Mountain to Camps Bay to wineries to a tour of the harbour where you can see seals on wheels! It’s incredibly good value and a great way to get around the city.
We can’t get into the V&A on our next trip but look forward to trying its little sister Dock House."
Migration on the hoof - and a very large fish
Tanzania and 1 other country between 23 Feb 2015 and 9 Mar 2015
The migration wasn't where it was supposed to be but we still saw it. Rubondo island is very different but we highly recommend it. Cheetahs abounded in southern Serengeti.
Travellers to Tanzania should be aware that all timings of Coastal flights are subject to change and that lodges should be asked to check them for you - every one of ours was changed. Also that if flying from Nairobi your point of immigration may be different from that on your ticket - we were told Tarime but ended up going through Musoma.
Thanks Ellie - you will not be surprised that we have ideas for our next trip!
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
All staff are always friendly and helpful even though we are, to quote Chris 'particular' about our travels. However that means we have always had wonderful trips and is why we keep coming back again, and again, and again!
For first-time Africa travellers more information on the vagaries of internal flights might have been helpful."
"Peaceful retreat in Nairobi"
The staff, especially Peter, were very friendly and helpful and owner Caroline made a point of introducing herself to guests. When she discovered we were cat lovers she also invited us to help with feeding time for some of her six feline friends. Her dog was also about.
We spent a day at Macushla just relaxing in the garden by the pool and watching the antics of the resident vervet monkeys and then enjoyed a delicious and very good value dinner.
Whilst Macushla is further from the airport than some hotels the major part of the transfer time was taken up with getting out of the car park at the airport. It is obviously not practicable if you just need somewhere for a few hours before flights but if you have most of a day or can even stay two nights we think it is excellent. Karen is one of the nicer areas of Nairobi and the surroundings of Macushla are very quiet and peaceful. Our transfers with Southern Cross all went smoothly and the drivers were friendly and polite. We particularly appreciated our driver staying with us at Wilson airport until he was sure were going to get the right flight as the Coastal paperwork was unclear to us. We were flying into Tanzania and the point of immigration had been changed.
Whilst we just relaxed the Giraffe centre or Karen Blixen’s house were within walking or short trip away."
Grumeti River Camp
"Want to go back!"
The drive to the camp was long (Coastal timetables had meant we had to land at Seronera rather than the airstrip next to camp) but very rewarding. Within the first hour we had seen four bat-eared foxes playing in full daylight, hyenas and the three cats – lion, leopard and cheetah. These were followed by thousands of wildebeest as the migration had started early.
Arriving at camp we were greeted by singing staff and welcomed by manager Mussa who could not do too much for us. We were the only guests for the duration of our stay and were spoilt rotten! They even switched the wifi on early for us one day so that we could book flights for our next trip to Africa.
Rooms have changed substantially since Expert Africa’s last visit and are now decorated in peaceful colours of brown and cream. The big wooden headboards have gone and have been replaced with a modern, minimalist unit housing a fridge and safe. Entrance to the rooms is now through what used to be the shower, providing a useful ante-room including a butler’s cupboard where early morning tea of coffee can be left. We thought this was one of the best rooms we have had anywhere on safari (and we’ve had quite a lot!)
The room was taken care of by Tanu who kept it immaculate and amused us with his little notes wishing us Lala Salaama. We were very impressed when, after discovering we’re wine rather than beer drinkers, our fridge was restocked with wine.
Jackson’s food was delicious though our appetites could not cope with the quantity available – we are simply not used to three big meals a day plus nibbles! I hope my request for two of his recipes went some way to show our appreciation even though we couldn’t eat everything! Dinner was served in a variety of locations, from the main dining area to the lawn by the river (surrounded by lanterns which must have taken ages to set up) to the deck outside our room with champagne – sorry we didn’t fall for the story about the monkeys having wrecked the place to get us back there! John was a wonderful butler who provided excellent service without obsequiousness and was chatty and friendly without being pushy; he struck just the right balance for us.
Although this was supposedly not the best time to visit this area of the Serengeti we saw an amazing amount on our drives with Waziri. Vast numbers of wildebeest, huge, huge herds of topi, big prides of lions, elephants in a strop, a gazelle being born and loads of the usual suspects. Waziri was a great companion and guide and proved an excellent barman for sundowners too! It’s not often you find yourself discussing the future of the EU in the middle of the Serengeti! The one minor downside to Grumeti was that there are a lot of biting insects around, including tsetses, but the fly whisks in the vehicle did help to keep them off.
We would return to Grumeti without a doubt and give it six paws in all categories if the website allowed it!!
Jane awarded it the ultimate accolade by bursting into tears when we had to leave, much to Waziri's consternation!"
Rubondo Island Camp
Rooms here are spacious and simply furnished. You have everything you need but it is a little minimalist. Jane was not convinced about storing clothes in the bathroom. Beds are comfy, showers hot and towels fluffy. The tin roofs are now thatch so no need to worry about rain noise! There is also a new tree-house where guests can spend a night. This looked lovely but would have been a bit risky as the rains were starting.
The main area is lovely, with plenty of space and comfy chairs to sit in. Loved the light shades made from old wine bottles. Lucas and Ester provided bar and waiting services and were excellent. Afternoon drinks appeared at the pool as if by magic!
Your guide shares dinner with you on your first evening and we found Habibu very good company. The next night we were served drinks on the beach and then dinner by the pool. The food at all meals was excellent (particularly the Nile perch which Martin had caught on our morning boat trip!!). We were surprised and impressed when, having discovered neither of us likes nuts after they were offered as canapes, alternative nibbles appeared a few minutes later.
The birding here is excellent and we saw lots both on the water and on an afternoon drive/walk. At this time of year forest walks were not being stressed but it is clear both the chimps and elephants can be very hard to see. Contrary to what we had read there are still giraffe on the island but it is a full day trip to get to the area where they live. We concentrated our activities on boat trips, where, as well as catching the aforementioned fish (at 15kg, bigger than the one caught by Robson Green on his TV programme) we saw lots of birds, crocs and even a few hippos.
The rains were just starting and the staff were, justifiably, wary of the weather; our first trip was delayed until a storm had passed and on our second day (post fish!) we got caught in a storm which blew up out of nowhere. The trip back to camp was rough and somewhat scary but our skipper knew exactly what he was doing and we arrived back safely, though very wet! Cue hot showers all round! It’s a good thing neither of us suffers from seasickness!"
Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp
"Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp review"
Tents here are fairly basic as they have to be moveable; to quote manager Joseph ‘you have everything you need but nothing you don’t’. Beds are comfortable, towels fluffy and the eco – loo fine for a few days. Water for the bucket shower arrives just the right temperature and the quantity is fine. Be prepared to be awoken by the chomping of zebras outside the tent and the occasional swish of a tail against the canvas. The camp aims not to disturb the environment but we did think it might be a good idea to remove the zebra droppings from the path to the tents, especially as you have to negotiate it by torchlight.
Paul was a pleasant guide with excellent spotting skills. We had excellent cheetah viewings, at one of which we were the only vehicle. Despite knowing we were interested in birds we stopped for few and there was little attempt at detailed identification. However, when we found a baby wildebeest stuck in some mud he did get out and rescue it which endeared him to us!
Food here was OK but nothing special – the best thing was some fish cakes we had for lunch one day. An exception to this was the bush breakfasts which were excellent – bacon and egg sandwiches, good meaty sausages, cereal, muesli, fruit etc. Yes, the food is coming from a bush kitchen but we have enough experience of Africa to know what CAN be produced under these circumstances and it can be a lot better than what we got here.
On our last night we were the only guests in camp. However some senior managers from Nomad were visiting. Most of these were polite and introduced themselves. Mark made a point of sitting at the fire with us and discussing our experiences in Africa and our views of the camp. He also made a point of coming to say goodbye as we were leaving for our drive the following morning. However the Operations Director, Serena, turned her back on us as we arrived for pre-dinner drinks, did not introduce herself, made a point of wishing the manager goodnight and totally ignoring the fact that we were sitting at a table with him and generally behaved as if we were beneath her notice. We found this disdain for the guests whose money pays her salary an absolute disgrace. Subsequently we discovered that Nomad’s website describes her as ‘a people person’!!!!!"
My Aug 2014 trip
Namibia and 1 other country between 10 Aug 2014 and 30 Aug 2014
Can we go back please?"
"Omatozu - a great discovery"
The comfortable bed had plenty of fluffy pillows and a warm duvet – necessary as it got very cold at night.
We enjoyed an excellent home cooked hearty dinner and very good breakfast the next morning served by the very professional Chris. A lovely place if you want to get out of the city and have a gentle bush experience on your first night – we saw three porcupines heading in the direction of the campsite as we were returning from dinner.
Drives and walks are available on the property but we didi not have time to try them."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
"Huab Lodge review"
Morning and afternoon drives did not produce large numbers of game though there were plenty of oryx about but the scenery and atmosphere were worth it. If you choose to take an early morning walk you will be accompanied by at least one of the dogs, but don’t be late as they will be chomping at the bit as departure time approaches!
We had a problem with a malfunctioning shower head which was replaced promptly while we were on our morning drive - amazing that previous guests had not reported it!
We followed the route from Outjo advised on the lodge’s website which saved us about 70km compared to the C39 and was on good gravel roads.
The usual board basis includes activities but, as we were arriving late afternoon and would be departing in the early morning we opted to pay for them separately. This may also be a good option for those not wishing to walk at 6am or go on two drives per day which did have an element of repetition."
"Dolomite Camp review"
Both rooms were well equipped (even a hairdryer) though the first was a little small. Food was very good though sauces lacked imagination (3 meats all came with the same sauce served on the side). It might be helpful to tell guests which dining room their room was allocated on check in – you do not have a free choice of which to use. There was a reasonable wine list but virtually none was in stock.
Throughout our stay we couldn’t fault the friendly, helpful staff (the buggy driver even ran to fetch our key from reception to save us having to go up and down the steps). This was in marked contrast to our previous stays at NWR camps.
Dolomite would be very difficult for anyone with walking difficulties as even the closest room to the main facilities is up a steep and uneven slope. To get to the furthest rooms took a good 10 to 15 minutes which, in the heat of the afternoon, along uneven, undulating paths was something of a pain.
There was good game at the waterholes both morning and afternoon though it is a shame that so many of the waterholes at this end of Etosha are still closed off. If these were opened up we would very happily stay for three nights next time and hope for room 13 despite the hike to get there!
In fact we might well simply spend the day on the deck watching the waterhole - wonder if the buggy driver could be persuaded to deliver drinks and lunch????"
"Okaukuejo Camp review"
Our first room (a waterhole chalet) was fine and it was great to be able to see what was going on at the waterhole from our terrace. We then moved to a bush chalet which had many problems; no latch to hold the screen door open, window latches wrongly fitted so they could be opened from the outside, a shower shelf which tipped up when anything was put on it and a broken braai – staff must have known about this as it had been cleared out. If it wasn’t for the waterhole at Okaukeujo faults like this, and the administrative errors, would make us refuse to ever return.
On the positive side, staff were much more polite and friendly than on previous visits. Special thanks to the cleaner who, on hearing a crash and some colourful language from our kitchen, appeared and insisted on clearing up the mess made when a wine bottle fell out of the fridge.
Food, though not anything special, was fine – you can’t expect too much from a buffet for 200+ people for £10 a head. As always the waterhole was excellent with eight black rhino being seen one evening. We spent an entire day at the waterhole with very few other people around most of the time which was lovely."
Mushara Bush Camp
"Mushara Bush Camp review"
Activities were available and the staff were keen to explain them to us, but we had no time."
Ndhovu Safari Lodge
"Welcomed like old friends!"
Johann took us for an excellent trip into the park across the river (we set off about 8am and didn’t return until after 2pm.) We saw a lot of game, including sable. If you want to do this trip it is good idea to ask Expert Africa to pre book it for you before you go as it can easily be fully booked – we were lucky on this occasion to have Johann and the vehicle to ourselves but a couple of days later he was going to have 10 people on a trip. In the late afternoon a boat trip with Michael produced lots of birds for the list.
As always, hospitality was excellent, food good, plentiful and wholesome and the communal table usually makes for interesting meal times.
As the Expert Africa page says, Ndhovu is a simple camp – you carry your own bags, drop your own mozzie nets, are trusted to serve yourself from the honesty bar and investigate the curio shop – but this is part of its charm and it is also good value. Tents are clean and comfortable with enough storage to put things away. The elderly front zips have been replaced by smart new sliding doors which is a great improvement.
Whilst credit cards are accepted there is a 5% surcharge to cover bank costs."
"Lianshulu Lodge review"
Annetta and her staff met us with cool towels and cold drinks and our bags were whisked away to our room. The main area has lovely seating areas overlooking the river and benefits from a cool breeze. The decking could, however, do with a few hours attention from a handyman with a hammer and bag of nails, being uneven in places.
Our room was enormous with sitting area and full bathroom (with bath and indoor and outside showers) and a loo with a door for privacy. Two grey louries (go away birds) visited our terrace every day at 2pm. We discovered that two of our lights were not working and these were fixed immediately. Stanley looked after us on our activities with great humour and professionalism and was as delighted as us when we drove around a corner to find eight roan antelopes by the side of the road.
The food at Lianshulu was delicious and service excellent, though dissecting unfilleted fish when it has been battered and covered in sauce was not the easiest job, particularly in poor lighting! We particularly enjoyed the samosa starter and the pork fillet we had on our last evening.
Comments have previously been made about the cost of activities at Lianshulu; we had asked Sabina if she could organise a full board and activities tariff for us which, given that it included all non-premium drinks (not that we needed any as the house wine was very good), gave us good value. Annetta seemed to think this was a very good idea though it would not work for guests who do not want to take part in activities. Being ‘all inclusive’ didn’t mean any skimping either – we were sent off after dinner each evening with nightcaps to enjoy on our deck!
It can be cold on a morning game drive (particularly if you opt for the 6.30 start!) so it would be nice to have the option of a hot cup of tea or coffee when you stop to stretch your legs rather than cold drinks from the cool box. Having gone out early we returned to the lodge to a substantial brunch after which a 15 minute sit in the sunshine by the pool soon warmed us up. Martin also enjoyed a swim in the (very clean) pool one afternoon and commented that the pool towels were even fluffier than the ones in the room!"
Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge
"Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge review"
Arriving at our tent we found it stiflingly hot, particularly the bathroom, but next day we discovered that this could be prevented by leaving the tent flaps down so that a breeze could flow through. As the tents are mostly very private they could also be left down at night if it is not too cold. We found there to be little storage space in the tent – just a few hangers on a pole in one corner. This meant that we were effectively living out of our bags for the 3 nights we were there. There would easily be room for a small set of drawers in the corner of the tent. In addition the lighting in the tent was very poor (this was a major topic of conversation at the communal dining table one evening) which meant that a torch was required to find anything in your bags after dark. It would be a relatively small job to move the main light from the front of the tent to the back of the bed where it could illuminate the shelf where bags are placed. We fully understand the eco-friendly ethos of Nkasa Lupala but solar powered lighting does not mean having to grope around in the dark!
Moving to the positives, the bed was comfy, towels great and it was delightful sitting outside the tent watching the world, especially a large herd of eles passing by. We loved the ‘Combo’ activity, combining a game drive and boat cruise followed by lunch in the bush. Unfortunately the water was too low for boat trips to run from the lodge itself but we took two game drives on which we were lucky enough to spot the lions.
The food at the lodge was very good, particularly the oryx steak and there was a good wine list of mainly South African wines. Simon was an excellent host and we very much enjoyed chatting to him in the bar after dinner – and even gave him our dead batteries for recycling. Erika was delightful and we very much enjoyed talking to Laura about her plans for the village kindergarten.
On our second day we discovered a very useful leaflet in the bar which, among other things, revealed that each tent had a 12v charger which could be used for charging mobile phones (or Kindles!); if this was publicised it would free up the charging station in the bar for charging camera batteries rather than it being clogged up with mobiles; why not put a copy of the leaflet in each tent?
Nkasa Lupala grew on us over the three days and we were sorry to leave."
"Ichobezi Houseboats review"
After negotiating 4 border crossings and adding to the collection of stamps in our passports we arrived at the boat in time for lunch. It swiftly became apparent that information regarding Jane’s allergy to cheese had not been passed on as the chef had to quickly rustle up an alternative to the prepared meal – this turned out to be delicious!
Our cabin was comfortable although a bit cramped but then we didn’t spend much time in it other than for sleeping! Communal areas were comfortable and we had plenty of space even when all cabins were occupied. I even tried out the plunge pool which was bliss on my tired, dusty feet!
The atmosphere is very much that of a floating house party with communal lounging and eating so it was fortunate that we hit it off virtually immediately with our travelling companions, a group of wonderful Australian ladies. So much so that individual tender boats were abandoned and the groups joined up.
We noticed that there were quite a few houseboats on the river, in contrast to our previous trip, when only those from Ichobezi were seen. However, this is still a wonderfully relaxing way to see the animals and birds around the river – where else could we hope to watch a water monitor devouring lilac-breasted roller eggs from the nest while being dive-bombed by the parents and a passing kingfisher? The monitor, that is, not us!
We also glimpsed a leopard that morning who was still hiding in his bush when we moored up directly opposite him in the afternoon; perfect positioning! Ben, Patrick and the team took excellent care of us and the food the chef produced from his tiny kitchen was excellent.
A point to note is that any laundry has to be sent to Ichingo for washing so it is not practicable to get laundry done unless you are able to pick it up from the lodge or possibly staying on the boat for three or more nights."
Ichingo Chobe River Lodge
"Ichingo Chobe River Lodge review"
Tents were spacious and very comfortable with enough storage space; bathroom was large and well designed though a lick of paint wouldn’t go amiss. We only did one activity; an afternoon boat trip on which we didn’t see a huge amount but just being out on the river is a pleasure.
The fish for dinner was delicious and we really enjoyed chatting after dinner with owner Dawn and another couple – so much so that our accustomed 9pm bedtime stretched to 11.30! Unfortunately we hadn’t been told that tea and coffee would be brought to the tent in the morning so only found the tray when we set off for breakfast!"
Zambian River Journeys
Zambia between 16 Mar 2014 and 24 Mar 2014
Getting to Zambia is now something of a real long-haul as the direct BA flight has gone - perhaps we will explore other options next time."
Arranged By Megan Green
Luangwa River Camp
Our room was very comfortable though some aspects were looking a little tired. The sunken bath is an impressive feature but unfortunately the water system is not up to filling it! We understand that the rooms are to undergo a full redesign and refurbishment and if Polly's description is anything to go by will be lovely when this is complete.
Food was excellent (particularly some fantastic beef fillet) and service impeccable."
"Mud, mud, glorious mud!"
After a heavy rain shower we set off on a boat trip on which we saw our one and only lion of the trip. Next morning we set off for a lovely walk to the stork colony, returning with 2-3kg of mud attached to each boot - no need for ankle weights here! Our boots were whisked away and returned later that afternoon cleaner than we'd ever seen them!
After more rain in the night the ladies declined to wade through the mud the next morning and enjoyed a leisurely boat trip whilst the gents went walkabout (or should that be splashabout??). Whilst we had rain every day here it never prevented us from doing some sort of activity.
Daudi and Braston were great hosts and guides and our little gang enjoyed much merriment around the dining table. Sadly the aardvark failed to put in an appearance!"
Rooms remain comfortable though lighting could be better. We were moved from room 1 to room 3 after we discovered that it was impossible to open our safe and that our fan squeaked incessantly; however this move was not effected until we were out on our afternoon drive meaning we were unable to unpack anything until we got back at nearly 8pm, having arrived well before lunch. To be fair we didn't protest about this at the time but did rather feel it was done for the convenience of staff rather than guests.
Thanks for arranging for us to visit Project Luangwa, especially Njambe for driving us there in the heat of the afternoon.
Also thanks for the stop at Tribal Textiles on the way to the airport - new cushion covers duly purchased having admired them at the camp.
We will definitely be back!"
Liuwa to Luangwa
Zambia between 3 Jun 2013 and 15 Jun 2013
South Luangwa was excellent as usual with some fantastic sightings including a leopard taking her three (!) tiny cubs out for the first time.
All ground arrangements went smoothly as usual though, for us, we found Tours Africa a little too attentive – we really don’t need somebody to shepherd us to the lounge once we’ve passed passport control. And we’re perfectly capable of paying our own departure tax."
"Matamanene Camp review"
The camp is simple but perfectly in keeping with the surroundings – high end ‘safari luxury’ wouldn’t seem right at all here. Beds were comfortable, water hot (though a little smelly!) and the food Alfred and his team conjured from their limited facilities amazing. Wendy was a delightful hostess, even having brought special cake decorations from her native Belgium. We didn’t get to see Lady Liuwa the famous lonely lioness though hearing her and her companions calling from the parking area whilst ‘enthroned’ in the middle of the night was little un-nerving.
Jason was a superb companion and guide whose company we enjoyed enormously. Thanks for sharing your office with us, Jason. We now know to salute lone wildebeest after noon and talk to hyenas! Robin managed to pop up for a few days and was, as always, charming enthusiastic and informative. Game was not plentiful but the scenery was fantastic and the amazing birding more than made up for the shortage of four-pawed creatures. The exceptions were the hyenas who were numerous and in wonderful condition as they have little competition for food.
It was Jane’s 50th birthday while we were there; the best ever with bush breakfast with bubbles and Pimms (and lions in the ‘bathroom’), chocolate cake and singing staff at tea and more champagne at bedtime.
We also enjoyed the bush dinner; how all the vehicles managed to co-ordinate their arrival at the dinner spot with no radios or even, in Jason’s case, a watch, remains a mystery.
We understand Matamanene is reverting to a pure research camp and therefore RPS may not be running these trips in future – if you can get on one of the last few in May/June do it!"
Eight Reedbuck Hotel, Zambia (this camp has since closed)
"Eight Reedbuck Hotel review"
The food was very good and the portions huge (recommend the Nile Perch) but service in the dining room was slow and many items on the menu, both food and wine, were unavailable when we stayed."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Rooms remained little changed since our last visit, (in fact we were in the same one as last time) but it is now possible to open out the front to sit on small patio area which we liked. There had been some changes to the camp, most notably the moving of the swimming pool. We thought the new pool was much less inviting than the old one although it does have the advantage that guests are not required to be accompanied to the pool and back. Food was as good as ever; on our second night we were the only guests so had a private dinner on the deck.
Fred took us out on our drives; sadly the cats were hiding but we saw fascinating elephant and giraffe activity and lots of the usual suspects as well as some good birds. There were a lot more tsetses than we remembered at this time of year."
We enjoyed wonderful drives with Bertram including a fabulous day which started with rescuing the transfer vehicle from the hole left by the demolition of the dining room at the old Tena site. We then spent most of the morning following and watching a lion hunting buffalo; he caught a calf but was chased off by the herd. He didn’t give up though and continued to stalk the herd for several hours. Our day concluded with several leopard sitings including three tiny cubs with their mother and a very relaxed civet who let us watch her for about 20 minutes. This even got us on RPS’s It’s Monday newsletter- issue on 19th August – the Power of Paws!
Jess was a great hostess and even let us raid the camp recipe book for meals we’d enjoyed. The food was excellent and enjoyed in different locations around camp."
Eight Reedbuck Hotel, Zambia (this camp has since closed)
"Eight Reedbuck Hotel review"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
My Dec 2012 trip
Tanzania between 27 Dec 2012 and 6 Jan 2013
Although Mwagusi lost one paw in the marking for the temperature of the food it was definitely our favourite of the two camps - to the extent that Jane cried on having to leave!
Trip 13 is booked and 14 in the planning stages!
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
Keep going - we even toyed with the idea of trip 15 tonight."
Mwagusi Safari Camp
"Mwagusi Safari Camp review"
We were delighted to be picked up at the airstrip by Geofrey who'd been our guide on our previous visit. He and Moses the driver made a good double act and it was interesting to have one of the trainee guides with us on most drives – extra pair of eyes is always handy!
We were a little disappointed not to see Riaan and Kimberley who'd been the managers on our previous visit, but Connie and Sylvia were equally excellent hosts and virtually every member of staff greeted us with a 'welcome back'. Bandas are still excellent and now have hot water to the wash basin. Our banda was perfectly looked after by arch-perfectionist Kanu- wish we could have taken him home to unpack for us!
Food was plentiful and tasty (cinnamon bread as good as ever, thank you Meru!); however due to it being a fair distance from kitchen to table it was often lukewarm at best. As the river was full and lots of insects in the bush we couldn't have the outdoor buffet with coals from the fire keeping the food warm. It was amazing to watch the river rise and fall visibly in just an hour or so after rain.
Game drives were productive with elephants and giraffe everywhere, lions mating all over the place, an excellent cheetah who we followed for some time as he called for his brothers. Finally on our last afternoon we saw THE leopard - the one we’d seen two and a half years ago as a little cub left up a tree while Mum went hunting - Safi (as we named her- because she is beautiful) is now all grown up and looking for a boyfriend. Thank you Geofrey. However we didn't fall for the one about the warthog having to shut his eyes when elevating his tail so running about blind because his skin was too tight to have both eyes open and tail up!!!!!
We were the only guests on New Year's Eve which concerned us a little at first. However we were met in the bush with champagne sundowners after leaving Safi, followed by an exhilarating drive back to camp trying (successfully) to skirt round a thunderstorm. The staff had laid on a brilliant barbecue by the river which we, Connie and Sylvia thoroughly enjoyed. This was followed by the staff wading across the river singing and carrying lanterns. Dancing round the fire and even a bit of fire-leaping (not by us) came next followed by more champagne at midnight. Next morning as we drove to the airstrip all the animals must have had hangovers as we didn't see a single thing except a few impala - who knew they were teetotal???
This must be one of our favourite camps in Africa and we will be back to see Safi's cubs!"
"Selous Impala Camp review"
Even after acclimatising in Ruaha, Selous seemed very, very hot and humid though this was alleviated by heavy rain one afternoon which made the roads 'interesting' to say the least! On the downside, the rain did bring out the insects in droves.
The camp was well designed and very comfortable; the ¼ mile walk each way to and from our tent did at least make sure we got a little exercise! The ability to charge batteries in the tent was very welcome.
Gerard was a superb guide who shared our warped sense of humour. He also selected some lovely spots for bush breakfasts; one morning we even had to move the chairs out of the way of an industrious dung beetle transporting giraffe droppings! Our one quibble about the breakfasts was that, having said one morning that neither of us liked guava juice, we were given it again the next day. Gerard was happy to drive great distances in search of animals and to spend plenty of time with them - the tree-climbing lion was a highlight! We were on the way back for lunch one day when he suddenly became very excited – ‘a jackal, a jackal!’ he cried; we thought he'd lost the plot until he explained that they were very rare in Selous and this was only his second sighting in 13 years. Later that same drive we indulged in a little anti-poaching activity when we ran off some men fishing illegally in the lake; Gerard then waded in to remove the nets which already had a fair few fish - good thing the crocs were looking the other way!
Food was excellent and beautifully served; we particularly liked the boards and individual dishes at lunchtime which allowed you to have as much or little as you wanted. The fact that it is served at individual tables can be a little isolating but when the staff realised we knew another couple we'd been at Mwagusi with they offered to combine the tables which made for a very sociable evening.
Activities were very flexible and, in particular, on your last day can be tailored to be as long or short as you wish to allow for packing and getting to the airstrip. Having tent no 1 we threatened to declare UDI and raise the drawbridge (literally) to our little strip of riverbank."
Southern Sun Dar
"Southern Sun Dar review"
Room was spacious and comfortable, shower excellent, food very good (and reasonably priced) and staff friendly and helpful. Very helpful to have the transfer company in the hotel to arrange pick up for the next morning.
Would not hesitate to stay here again."
Kasane to Cape Town – 3000 miles in 3 weeks
Namibia and 2 other countries between 8 Aug 2011 and 28 Aug 2011
We had a FANTASTIC time!!!! Whilst some drives were long they were perfectly manageable with two drivers, a flask of coffee and our trusty MP3 player to entertain us. The roadside picnic stations provided good places to stop and eat a bit of lunch – there are plenty of supermarkets in the towns to buy provisions, including a 5 litre bottle of water. Most lodges charge for water (about N$13 for a small bottle) so it makes sense to buy a big one in a supermarket (about N$20) and top up your little bottles from it. There seemed to be far fewer parking guards about than on our previous trips and, we were surprised to see, even petrol station attendants don't seem to expect tips any more.
Garden Lodge provided a gentle start to our marathon trip with good company, tasty food, an excellent boat trip and lots of cats and dogs to play with. Kasane is an interesting little frontier town, buzzing with activity though not the place to stock up for a long trip. Don't be surprised to see a warthog trotting across the road in the middle of town.
The brand new Ngoma lodge is excellent (see review) with loads of animals to see, excellent food and great staff. We highly recommend it. It is one of the few places that provides free water – we promised to take our Ngoma bottles all the way to Cape Town; after many refills they finally met their demise at security in Cape Town airport!
We returned to Garden Lodge to have our car delivered and set off for the border next morning. Crossing the border into Namibia is no problem at all and after stocking up at a supermarket in Katima Mulilo we set off across the Caprivi strip. Roads in the Caprivi are, as Chris's book says, long, straight and can be quite tedious though you need to keep an eye out for wandering cows, goats and dogs (and the occasional human).
Arriving at Ndhovu in the early afternoon, we spent a couple of hours on our deck on the river bird-spotting. Next day we took a trip across to Buffalo (suggest pre-booking if you want to do this) and then drove ourselves to Mahango in the afternoon.
It was a long drive to Ghaub the next day but switching from 'Caprivi time' meant we gained an hour; we had been debating whether the hour was going backwards or forwards and it was only when the guard at the vetinary gate greeted us with a cheery 'Good Morning' that we were certain! After two nights peaceful rest we set off to Okaukeujo. We arrived at Etosha in good time and managed to visit several good waterholes on the drive across the park.
We spent most of the next day in the park and then moved on to the big surprise of the trip; Taleni. We'd wanted to spend two nights at Okaukeujo but had been unable to get a room despite booking very early. Taleni is just outside Etosha and we loved it. It does attract some large groups but the staff use the different dining areas to give couples or family groups privacy and peace.
A comfortable morning's drive brought us to Gocheganas, just south of Windhoek, which proved an unexpected pleasure. We had been booked to stay at Elegant Farmstead but they had cancelled our booking at the very last minute (after we arrived in Namibia). As it turned out Gocheganas fitted in with our itinerary much better and we thought the place was excellent. Thanks to Sabina for organising the change for us; in the days before BlackBerrys and the internet this could have been a major problem but in this case was (almost) painless.
The drive to Bagatelle, for some reason, took longer than anticipated; the roads were good and we'd calculated the distance but it just took longer! However we arrived in comfortable time and enjoyed watching the waterhole, excellent food and company and, of course, the meerkats!
Next, off to Fish River Canyon. Until Keetmanshoop the B1 is a good tar road but you then have to venture onto gravel. The road is bumpy and undulates with the landscape, which is beautiful, and you may even meet a train! The canyon itself is fantastic and there are few people about; such a contrast to its rival in the USA!
We left Canon Lodge in the sunshine and headed for the border with South Africa. The crossing itself was painless though there was a notable diminishment in friendliness of immigration staff on the South African side. Heading down the N7 the weather turned and we found ourselves in rain and/or cloud. As we had plenty of time we went down to Skilpad to see the flowers with which we were disappointed. However, driving back over the mountains they were lovely.
It absolutely tipped it down overnight (not ideal in a room with an iron roof!) and we set off for the marathon drive to Cape Town with some trepidation. Driving over the mountain passes in heavy cloud was 'entertaining' to say the least (particularly when we were held up by major roadworks – waiting time at least 20 minutes). We stopped off in Clanwilliam which we thought a lovely town.
The sun came out as we arrived in Camps Bay. We'd arranged our own accommodation here; there are lots of good guest houses .
The place has clearly been spruced up since the World Cup and there are some excellent new restaurants. We ate at The Codfather – excellent but shellfish is very expensive, Ocean Blue – just as excellent but less pricey, and The Kove – best steak Martin had all trip and great staff. Tuscany Beach was also highly recommended by our guest house.
We did the tourist bit – open top bus tour (don't forget to use the vouchers printed on the back of the ticket!) boat trip and lunch at the V&A – recommend The Greek Fisherman and City Grill Steakhouse – then the bus back to Camps Bay. The following day we drove (yes we hadn't had quite enough!) down to Cape Point where there seemed to be bonteboks around every corner (even on the beach) and few other visitors about.
Finally off to Hermanus and the whales. You really can see them from the coastal path, though the boat trip out to sea is well worthwhile too. The town is lovely and there are some excellent wineries to visit nearby.
Overall, a wonderful trip which we'd wanted to do for years. What's next???????
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
If only travel to Africa was less expensiver!
The name says it all - you are the Africa Experts and although we do shop around we come back time and time again.
Perhaps a minor point is that you should consider regular travellers' previous trips before saying they can't do something"
Chobe River Lodge
"Kasane to Cape Town Day 1"
Staff at the lodge could not have done more to help with resolving the problems caused by Elegant Farmstead having 'bumped' us at the very last minute. They were also happy to allow us to leave a bag at Garden Lodge pending our return in two days time and there was no problem in agreeing we would settle our bill for both stays on our second departure.
All staff were smiling and friendly and we were welcomed back after two nights elsewhere like long lost friends; our spare bag was already awaiting us in our new room. Everybody was so helpful on the last morning when our car key was mislaid – much appreciated!
Rooms at Garden Lodge are rustic in style but have everything necessary including A/C and a hairdryer; they're very comfortable but not fussy. Food is wholesome, well cooked and tasty but not fancy and you eat at communal tables including some of the staff which leads to some fascinating conversation over dinner.
There is an attractive pool, lovely gardens complete with family of warthogs and the owners' dogs and cats about."
Ngoma Safari Lodge
"Kasane to Cape Town Days 2 and 3"
Rooms were superbly appointed with individual terraces overlooking the river below. These have very comfortable loungers for a snooze or sunbathe, though the loungers might get in the way if you wanted to use the outdoor shower. Loved the spooky kudu lights! There are wonderful views and lots of game to watch from rooms and terraces (personal or communal). Lunch took much longer than intended as we kept running off to peer at animals through the spotting scope!
Food was delicious and beautifully presented; 'the prettiest scrambled eggs I've ever seen' as one fellow guest remarked.
Nothing was too much trouble for the staff who, without exception, gave great service with a smile.
We enjoyed excellent game drives (sable all over the place!!) in quiet areas of Chobe and around the lodge with Bevam in his spanking new vehicle and a great boat trip with Kevin. We had met Bevam before as he had worked at Garden Lodge on our previous visit – he remembered us but, sorry to say, it took a little while before we worked out where we'd met before.
Ngoma is a fantastic new option around Chobe and will give the established operations a run for their money."
Chobe River Lodge
"Kasane to Cape Town Day 4"
Ndhovu Safari Lodge
"Kasane to cape Town Days 5 and 6"
We really like Ndhovu but have to say the tents are looking a little 'tired'; we were in the floating river tent which was fun but a little sprucing-up would make a good lodge an excellent one. We still rate our overall experience as excellent.
We had stayed here two years ago; since then Horst has become less hands-on and Chris has had to return to South Africa. The lodge was in the safe hands of Johann and Monica, helped/hindered by their gorgeous Great Dane puppy, Keira. Johann is a very good guide but having a closed-in cab on the game vehicle makes it difficult for him to interact with all his guests. As we had a full vehicle I (Jane) was sitting up front with Johann – while I didn't have quite such a good view of the animals I learnt lots about all sorts of aspects of life at the lodge and Namibia in general."
Ghaub Guest Farm
"Kasane to Cape Town Days 7 and 8"
Since our last stay two years ago (we loved it then but it's better now!) buildings have been spruced up, rooms redecorated and quality of bedding improved. Rooms remain large and cool with big bathrooms and excellent showers. We had the 'honeymoon suite' which has the only double bed. Food is good farm cooking (often featuring game meat). Whilst you may not get the same variety at breakfast as at some lodges the quality of the food on offer is superb. Mika is an excellent manager for whom nothing seems too much trouble – he seemed delighted to welcome repeat visitors. He also recommended an Aladdin's cave of a shop in Tsumeb which managed to sell us a gizmo to do the job of the camcorder recharger we'd left at home.
We enjoyed a morning walk on our own and then an evening drive around the farm with Klaus; we didn't see much game but learnt a lot about Ghaub and the farm.
Our one quibble is that, compared to other lodges, accompanied activities are rather expensive"
"Kasane to Cape Town Day 9"
Reception staff were surly and unhelpful, preferring to take phone calls about booking game drives days in advance instead of serving the increasingly frustrated queue of customers in front of them. Check in took 45 minutes but could easily have been longer if we had not insisted on being served rather than join the end of another queue whilst she handled calls. Doreen was actually very efficient when giving you her attention; management need to sort out priorities for front-line staff.
The system of asking for a N$500 deposit against breakages is pointless, given that nobody checks the accommodation before the deposit is returned. It becomes even more farcical when the inventory in your room is for the wrong type of accommodation!
The problems are epitomised by the camp's own feedback questionnaire which is all about how your reservation was taken and what you think of management ie: all about NWR head office and nothing about the people guests actually interact with."
Taleni Etosha Village
"Kasane to Cape Town Day 10"
We thought this was an excellent place just outside the park; we'd definitely go back again and have already recommended it to a couple we met later in the trip who were hoping to book Etosha accommodation at very short notice"
"Unwanted at the Elegant Farmstead"
You will be greeted at the gate to the property by the friendliest gate-keeper we have ever met and he will wave you off frantically when you leave. Gocheganas is set on the top of a hill 5km from the gate; you leave your car at the bottom and are driven up to the top. Suites are beautiful with enormous bed, sitting area with TV (Martin found the rugby immediately) and huge bathroom with a ‘bath with a view’. Private decks provide wonderful views of the valley and hills around.
Food was excellent as were all staff we encountered.
We took an evening game drive with Ambrosius. Whilst the reserve is not huge it holds a good number of animals and we were fortunate enough to get a great Mummy and Baby rhino sighting. Compared to other lodges the drive was very good value.
Gocheganas would make a good first or last night stop as, if you turn right on leaving the gate, ther’s a quick back way to the airport."
Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch
"Kasane to Cape Town Day 12"
We had a friendly welcome from Paul, accompanied by Spencer and Pula the dogs and Rusty and Ferdie the cats – Spike made an appearance later and demanded lap space; if you don't like pets this isn't the place for you!
Our Dune Chalet was very comfortable though it did get cold at night – nowhere near as cold as previous feedback had led us to think however. Staff were all friendly , helpful and professional. Food was good and drinks at a reasonable price.
Paul took us on a short (free) walk in the morning to watch the meerkats emerging from their burrows and setting off to forage – a magical experience!"
"Kasane to Cape Town days 13 and 14"
Beds were comfy, towels fluffy and showers hot. The swimming pool area is lovely but not particularly warm if the breeze is blowing – even Martin only braved the water for a few seconds. Breakfast and dinner were fine though there was a limited choice of vegetables. The main meat option each evening was a game meat. The best meal we had, however, was an impromptu lunch of hake after returning from the canyon – absolutely delicious! There is no set lunch menu – you get whatever the chef has and feels like cooking.
Staff were all professional and friendly – special mention for Symon – guide, barman, waiter, host, anything that needs doing!
We opted to drive ourselves to the canyon rather than taking the organised trip from the lodge. This saved us quite a lot of N$ and the guided tour visited no more viewpoints than we did independently. We were the only people at the Sulphur Springs viewpoint for a while until another car appeared in the distance wanting to look at 'our' canyon."
Mountain View Guest House
"Kasane to Cape Town Day 15"
We ate dinner at the Grazdak steak ranch; about a 15 minute walk from Mountain View. Excellent food, HUGE portions, wonderful staff and the chef even drove us 'home' as it was raining hard and refused to accept any payment.
We visited the flowers at Skilpad but found it disappointing – the sea of orange was spectacular but we saw more interesting and varied blooms by the roadside – but then we did take a very 'interesting' out-of -the-way route over the mountains back to the N7! Not quite the short cut we'd envisioned but much more fun than the main road."
under own arrangements
"Kasane to cape Town Days 16 to 19"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
"Kasane to Cape Town Days 20 and 21"
A lovely comfy room with complimentary sherry, port and nibbles. Excellent breakfast with lots of variety – so nice to get proper scrambled eggs rather than microwaved.
It was wonderful to watch whales directly below the guest house; we didn't need to do a boat trip though we did and enjoyed it.
Hermanus is a really friendly town – had we stayed longer we're sure we'd have become regulars at Fisherman's Cottage. As it was we had a great dinner and Antony, our host, recommended a lovely winery to visit the next day. We returned to Fisherman's Cottage for a tasty and economical lunch. Fabio's Italian is also good – it prides itself on being the only authentic Italian in town!"
We finally made it to Selous!
Tanzania and 1 other country between 14 Aug 2010 and 5 Sep 2010
Thank you to all at Expert Africa who have had input to this over the years - Chris, Claire, Penny, Liz and Ellie.
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
The trips are excellent, service very good and, despite trying, we cannot better you on price."
Mdonya Old River Camp
"Living with eles at Mdonya"
The camp is Italian-dominated and English-speakers were definitely in the minority. On one evening there would have been 22 Italians plus us for dinner so Alex offered us a private dinner on our deck (private from the other guests, that is, not the elephants and buffalo!)
Food was good, with particularly excellent breakfasts, both in camp and in the bush. Tea and coffee is always available in the lounge area and included in the price. Drinks prices were reasonable – cheapest all trip. Service in camp was consistently excellent and provided with smiles all round. Ask politely and they will even provide room service for sundowner drinks. Alternatively the bar made from a tree destroyed by termites is great fun.
Tents are comfortable but with no frills, with the best designed bathroom area we had all trip – the only one where privacy was possible on the loo – from humans if not the occasional curious elephant. The game really does live in camp, with the eles, buffalo and impalas virtually permanent residents and giraffes, jackals and lions visiting on occasion. Because of this, the camp staff are extremely security conscious and there are plenty of Maasai around to ensure you move safely from your tent to the public areas and back again. It's strange how safe you feel when protected by a small tree and an even smaller man with a stick! We really liked this feeling of wildness to the place and the camp rates among our favourites.
We were less enthralled with the guiding. We had a guide, driver and trainee guide with us and we always felt they had their own agenda. They seemed keener on travelling huge distances rather than allowing us time to watch the animals in peace. Kahimba was an excellent spotter of animals and birds but we'd have liked a bit less rushing about. They were much keener on chatting to one another in Swahili than interacting with us.
This is epitomised by the fact that we were 'Sir' and 'Madam' for the whole time – everything else about Mdonya is so laid back this seemed very strange. It's perfectly possible this was a one – off but we don't think so – other guests who moved on to Mwagusi also commented on the contrast in quality and attitude of guides at the two camps.
To be fair, however, we also met other travellers who were delighted with their guide at Mdonya, so perhaps we should return and give it another go. In fact we'd be delighted to do so; the excellence of the camp outweighed our reservations about the guiding experience!!"
Mwagusi Safari Camp
"Mwagusi Safari Camp review"
Martin particularly liked the squashy sofas in the sandy area outside the tent, though he was somewhat disconcerted one afternoon on peering round the corner and coming nose to leg with a giraffe! Animals really do come through camp, though generally not as closely as at Mdonya. Guides are provided to take you to and from your banda at night – especially valuable on the evening when the return from dinner was interrupted by the low growl of a lioness on the path. Our guide led us around and through lots of buildings until we arrived safely 'home'. Next morning we discovered the lioness had had three small cubs with her so was definitely in protective mode.
Riaan and Kimberley were excellent hosts and very attentive to their guests. When Riaan discovered we travel around with a hand-held GPS unit we were enlisted in his campaign to show that there are far more cats in the park than shown in official figures. Lions, leopards and cheetah are no longer just watched, photographed and videoed – they get waypointed too now! It was great to feel we were being involved in the life of the park and making a contribution.
Drinks were about twice the price of Mdonya but there was always plenty of water available at no cost. A nice idea was being able to order a bottle of wine, have a couple of glasses and then have the rest kept for later by the staff – much more economical than paying by the glass. Breakfasts in the bush were excellent, lunch very good (I was almost embarrassed by how much effort they'd gone to in accommodating my cheese allergy) and dinner in the bush or riverbed great fun.
Loved the idea of keeping the food hot using a shovelful of coals from the fire as a brazier! However, due the distance between 'brazier' and table food was not that hot when you actually got to eat it. Excellent puddings, though when we had chocolate and cinnamon tart I was a bit concerned about the next day's cinnamon bread – no need to worry!
Our guide, Geoffrey, and driver, Christian were excellent and took great pains to ensure we got the best sightings. A magnificent Martial eagle was a highlight, only beaten by a day in which we saw 29 different lions in 5 sightings plus a cheetah PLUS a beautiful leopard cub left up a tree whilst Mum went hunting – definitely worth risking few Tsetse bites! Oh, and a hyena and some klipspringers as a bonus as well as all the usual suspects.
We discovered after a day or so that not only were our team willing to go out early in the morning, they actively wanted to and would be disappointed if we didn't – that suited us fine! Particularly on the day when we'd been watching a male leopard for 40 minutes before our fellow guests were out of bed! It really was worth the pain of getting up in the dark to see some wonderful sights.
On our last morning we did the bird walk – about 1-1.5k gentle toddle in the bush around camp which produced a surprising number of new species for the list."
"Excellent time at SSC"
The outdoor shower was excellent with plenty of power and hot water. It was also nice to have hot water to the basins (only cold tap at Mdonya and Mwagusi) and the lotions and potions provided were very welcome and of excellent quality.
The pool was scrupulously clean and very welcome after a morning walk. The food was consistently excellent and drinks prices not unreasonable for this quality of camp. One couple were on a drinks included deal; Lana, the manager, said she was surprised more people didn't go for this as it was not expensive. The answer may be that nobody knows about it; Expert Africa never mentioned it to us and it's not even on the Camp's own website! What is on the website is the Camp's support for a local school and a request for guests to bring a few supplies if possible. We'd taken a few pens, pencils etc plus a football which were received with much appreciation.
Mashaka was determined to show his guests as many animals as possible and got nearly as excited as us at our second, unexpected, sighting of the wild dogs! He was less impressed by the rain one evening (not supposed to happen at this time of year).
We also had a very interesting walk led by Mtambo one morning and now know more than we could ever wish to about 'poo'!
An afternoon pootling about the lake on a boat was lovely and we saw lots of birds and dozens of crocs lus a lot of animals coming down to drink.
All the staff were excellent; Lana was a very friendly and bubbly hostess/manager who did a superb job, even willing to change dinner arrangements when her guests all decided they'd rather eat together than at separate tables. Alphonce was a superb butler with a beaming smile and Suliemon kept the tent immaculate. If necessary there is even a clothes repair service – minor items repaired by the room attendant, more major ones sent to the tailor in the local village who did an excellent job on Martin's shorts.
We'd love to go back, particularly when the rivers are in full flow.
Our one small criticism is that guests' activities for each day were arranged before the previous night's dinner in such a way that guests were fitted into the activities available not activities flexed to guests' wishes. For example during our transfer to Beho Beho Mashaka mentioned something he'd seen on a full-day game drive – the possibility of doing this had never been raised."
"Beho Beho review"
We arrived to welcoming smiles from Sacha and Tamlyn and cool drinks and towels provided by Mr Simba. We were a little surprised to have been asked to arrive so early as our room was not going to be available until after lunch. However, shortly after Tam's introduction Sacha bounded in and pulled us outside to see a rare Scop's owl perched in a nearby tree. It was very obliging and posed perfectly while we, Sacha and Salum photographed it. It was great to see how enthusiastic they were at this sighting.
Tamlyn said she had not been informed of my cheese allergy so had to make some amendments to lunch but was really careful thereafter, even standing guard over my personal loaf of bread so that it didn't disappear before I could have some. Lunches and dinners were excellent (even better than SSC) and accompanied by very good South African wines. The quality of the food would be exceptional in a major hotel but considering it's cooked in the bush it's incredible - huge prawns and crab for lunch, varied salads, very good meat at dinner, the best snapper we've ever eaten and lobster thermidor on the last evening! Plus delicious puddings. The variety was wonderful.
We were less impressed with breakfasts in the bush but clearly these are designed to be carried by a walking guide so cannot be as extensive as those planned for driving expeditions. Breakfast in camp was very good on our last morning.
Hospitality was excellent – nothing too much trouble – and there were some little touches which made it clear how much thought had been given to our comfort. For example the squirrel-proof box in the bathroom to save our toiletries from any more nibbling. We loved the spotting scope on each balcony too. Bandas were comfortable, bathroom well equipped and spacious and even a washing line and hairdryer provided.
There is a very high emphasis on walking trips here, led by Sacha or Ian. These are varied to guests requirements, from a gentle wander to a mixed driving/walking morning to a 6 hour yomp through the forest.
Most game drives head towards Lake Manze but I (Jane) also shared an excellent final evening drive with another lady through the sandy riverbeds around camp, seeing some new birds as well as loads of elephants, giraffes and even colobus monkeys. Meanwhile Martin and the other walkers were trying to find their way around buffalos.
Beho Beho is a class act and deserving of its great reputation."
"Pole Pole review"
Rooms were very comfortable and bathrooms well equipped. Plenty of bottled water available free. The food was excellent though we felt the 3 course lunch and 4 course dinner was too much for us. In particular, there must be huge wastage of the pasta second course at dinner. Meals were dominated by fish which was great for us but must have been something of a problem for a fellow guest who didn't eat fish or shellfish.
Private sundowners on your balcony were a nice touch – the rain accompaniment was less welcome one evening!
Service was erratic – very good in the restaurant/bar but wake-up calls poor. Morning 1 the attendant turned up half an hour late and didn't know what we'd ordered, morning 2 no wake up was offered and he didn't turn up on morning 3.
Plenty of diving and other trips were available – we went to see turtles hatching on Juani island. Guests should be advised to take water with them on these trips as little is provided.
Unless you are a keen diver 3 nights is probably enough here; we missed having a pool particularly as the sea from the beach was not very swimmer-friendly being clogged with seaweed. A good-value massage went a long way to relaxing muscles suffering from bouncing around in safari vehicles and squeezing into small planes."
Fumba Beach Lodge
"Fumba Beach Lodge review"
We were unable to make use of the upstairs terrace due to heavy rain each morning which meant the beds got wet. The rain in the mornings was disappointing but it cleared by lunchtime both days and we enjoyed the lovely pool.
Spa facilities were expensive (3 times the price of my massage at Pole Pole) as were the trips on offer. However we should perhaps have been more proactive in discussing possibilities as we realised on the last day that the diving centre in particular were willing to tailor trips to requirements. They are also happy to hire snorkelling gear for a quiet pootle off the beach.
Our first night was the weekly Swahili evening which we thought was excellent – very good food and service and good entertainment. One of the chefs was delighted when we said how much we enjoyed his banana soup and I even have the recipe to try at home. It would be shame to miss this evening so perhaps, as most people only stay 3 or 4 nights it could be done twice a week?
Food was generally very good though choice was lacking a bit if you were late-ish to breakfast. We had lunch one day which was delicious. Service was always efficient and friendly though a little formal – with so many people going through the staff have little opportunity to get to know individuals. We had to leave very early on our last morning and arrived at reception to find not just the promised flask of coffee but plates of breads and pastries too – thank you!"
Another excellent trip
Namibia and 2 other countries between 14 Aug 2009 and 4 Sep 2009
Our feedback reflects what we have come to expect from Expert Africa – a minimum 4-paw grading for everything – therefore 5 paws are very hard to achieve and reflect something exceptional.
We were very annoyed by the cancellation of the direct Air Namibia flights; this caused us significant inconvenience. We met so many people who shared our views – from fellow travellers to lodge owners to guides – everybody was unhappy about it. Having been forced to fly via Frankfurt we thought Frankfurt airport was very poor – lack of signage, few shops, little seating and even a mouse in the Business Class lounge. Toilets were dirty. The process will make us think twice before going back to Namibia.
However........ arriving at Windhoek in the morning we found the drive up to Etosha no problem – there were 2 of us to share the driving and we stopped off for shopping and lunch on the way – we definitely prefer to get straight on the road rather than spending a night in Windhoek and effectively wasting a day. We'd recommend buying a Namibian SIM for your mobile at the airport (took 5 mins and cost around £10) – others tend not to work, even with Global Roaming enabled – and we did use it when we discovered we'd left Ghaub with the room key in a pocket!
We'd always thought the road signs on the B1 warning of warthogs rather amusing but we saw dozens on the side of the road this time! Our trip was mostly on tar roads this time, which is great in some ways but they can be very straight and boring – in particular the roads through the Caprivi. We were glad we had booked a 4X2 vehicle for driving some of the tracks in Etosha and Mahango – no need for 4x4 at this time of year.
We were so pleased we were doing a one-way trip; we met many people who had found the driving tiring and were not looking forward to the drive back to Windhoek from the Caprivi. We had tried to slow things down and space them out so that most of our drives were less than 4 hours and, where possible, we spent at least 2 nights in accommodation. This gave us the chance to take advantage of the activities on offer and relax (eg at Hakusembe).
Many lodges do not provide drinking water (or at cost) so we suggest buying a 5 litre bottle in a supermarket (about N$15) and taking it with you.
We would happily repeat our holiday and revisit any of our accommodation with the exception of Namutoni – no way!
Suggestions for improvements:
We have travelled with EA so many times it must be a recommendation in itself! We did do some market testing on this trip and found competitors more expensive. We're already organised for next summer's trip.
However, on rare occasions accuracy of quotations is somewhat sacrificed in the interests of getting them to clients quickly. This is obviously partly due to the complexity of trips but can be frustrating."
"Much better than expected"
We were very pleasantly surprised by Okaukeujo, having read reports of poor food and surly staff. From check-in to check-out all staff were friendly and helpful and the food from the restaurant was good (and good value) with both dinner and breakfast cooked to order. We thought the wine prices were particularly good value. Having said that, we used the braai at our Bush Chalet on our second night – wood and firelighters from the shop (plenty for two braais) were fine but you do need to take your own utensils and crockery – you can buy these in the supermarkets in Okajandia and Otjiwarongo. It's best to buy food there too as the selection in camp is restricted. If you braai you are likely to be visited by the local jackals and foxes – not a problem – they're cute and curious but not insistent.
Our Bush Chalet was very comfortable with comfy beds and fluffy pillows. Either no duvet or very thick though! Efficient air-conditioning but shower dripped during the night.
We didn't eat at the camp at lunchtime but picnicked on food bought outside Etosha – recommend the sausage rolls from the bakery in Outjo!! Delicious!
The waterhole was excellent – we saw 7 rhino (5 white , 2 black one evening). It's a shame so many people stay 1 night and leave first thing in the morning – spend an hour between 8.30 to 10 ish and you should have excellent animal viewing – after all the camps outside the park bring their guests there at that time because they think it's the best waterhole in the park! Why rush to leave??
Fill up with fuel before entering Etosha – the restcamps are 5% dearer than anywhere else."
"Halali Camp review"
A mini – bar is now provided but there is no bottle opener.
The pool looked very inviting.
We saw little at the waterhole, though we only visited during daylight hours.
This was the only camp at which we had to wait for someone to check the room before we got our deposit back.
Again we used the braai provided (this time crockery and cutlery were provided) so cannot comment on dinner. Breakfast was fine, though the chef wasn't as outgoing and entertaining as his colleague at Okaukeujo."
"What a disappointment!"
On arrival you are told to drive round the back of the fort to a car park where (if you're lucky) you will be picked up in a golf cart and driven 100m round the corner where you have to get off and walk to your room. This is a pointless gimmick.
At first glance our Bush Chalet looked lovely but within a few minutes we realised that, while, as we understand, trying to compete with the high quality accommodation outside the park, and charging comparable prices, the refurbishment appeared to have been done on the cheap. Window blinds were broken, the sink chipped, fascias missing from furniture, drawers stuck, glasses etc listed on the inventory were missing. However, indoor and outdoor showers were excellent and beds comfortable. The rooms should deserve 5 paws but the tackiness and poor quality leads to our downgrading.
Two restaurants were advertised, Steakhouse and African Fusion. Only the location of the 'Steakhouse' was open but that was only serving a very poorly cooked buffet, not a restaurant meal. Food had obviously been cooked hours before and left to stand in warmers – and we ate at 6.30pm – pity any poor folks coming along later! Staff were friendly and tried to be helpful. As we stated in our feedback at the time we think this is tantamount to misrepresentation.
Next morning the cold breakfast was fine – no hot breakfast was offered though a cook lurked in the background of the kitchen by a burner so it might have been possible.
Rooms at Namutoni are only available on a full board basis; in our opinion this is a rip-off as the vast majority of guests arrive in the late afternoon and leave in the morning, having no chance of lunch. No alternative was offered, in fact we asked about the possibility of a packed lunch but it was quite clear this would only be available at extra charge. We would definitely not stay here again.
However, there are some very good waterholes in the area – and we had good sightings at the one in the camp after breakfast – so if you're willing to pay the price and tolerate the service for the sake of the location you might consider it."
Ghaub Guest Farm
"Ghaub Guest Farm review"
Beds were comfy, rooms cool, towels soft and fluffy (best we had all trip.) We had an excellent home-cooked dinner (eland) accompanied by good-value wine.
A lovely afternoon by the (very cold!) pool, then saw over 30 kudu at the waterhole plus duikers and warthogs on the lawn.
Gerry was an excellent host (ably assisted by Bano the dog and Zorro and Hutch the cats), and we spent lots of time discussing his plans for Ghaub. We wish him all the best and really hope he can make it work. We'll be back one day!
We'd have happily stayed another night and taken one of the farm tours or other trips available.
Whilst Ghaub is a bit 'out of the way' it's definitely worth the trip (visit the lovely town of Tsumeb on the way). On leaving we recommend taking the Kombat road – may take longer than other routes but scenery is lovely and we saw lots of wildlife on the way. Also, if time permits, visit the Hoba Meteorite – the largest in the world – well worth a few minutes stop with cold drinks and clean loos available."
Hakusembe River Lodge
"Hakusembe Lodge review"
We were given the two –tier 'honeymoon chalet' which also serves as the owners' residence when on site. This is the problem. The downstairs living room and upstairs bedroom with balcony overlooking the river were lovely but the kitchen looked as if someone had just abandoned it (half used washing-up liquid, fridge not clean) and the bathroom had part used cakes of soap and the owners' wash puff hanging in the shower. The under-sink cupboard was full of their toiletries – drawers in the living room contained papers left behind. It felt a bit like camping out in someone's home which had been grudgingly lent to us. We'd have been so disappointed if we'd been on honeymoon; as it was we just felt a bit uncomfortable.
The grounds were very pretty and other accommodation all looked good, despite the fact there was still some post-flood clearing up ongoing- this appeared to be carried out to a very high standard, despite Sally's attempts to add paw-prints in the cement!
Food was good, but despite them knowing about my cheese allergy I was told 'tonight you'll enjoy Steak Cordon Bleu' – I don't think so – in the event a plain steak was provided – however this was what they'd served me for lunch too. Perhaps because so many people only stay one night there seemed to be little attempt to co-ordinate meals.
Evening champagne cruises were excellent (free if staying more than one night) and the lunch time boat trip with food cooked on the boat is very highly recommended – it's a shame so many people only stay 1 night and miss the opportunity to do this; seeing life (human and animal) on the river was fantastic. We saw excellent wildlife, including Otters, and loads of great birds, and learnt a lot about how people in this area (in both countries) live.
Thanks to Eddie for everything, including returning our room key to Ghaub."
Ndhovu Safari Lodge
"Ndhovu Safari Lodge review"
We liked Ndhovu a lot but we had a number of niggles which prevent us giving it a 'Excellent' rating.
The track to the lodge was fairly rough and signage could be improved – basically follow the signs for Mahangu Lodge until you pick up ones for Ndhovu. On arrival we were greeted by South African Chris, so laid back he's horizontal. There was no real explanation of the activities available and no price list was ever seen. We always had to ask to do activities – there was little proactivity. We had checked on the internet before leaving but our trip to the park across the river turned out to be at significantly higher cost than expected; although we'd still have done it, the cost should have been pointed out. A drive in Mahango NP was very good but we'd recommend anyone with the appropriate vehicle (4X2 plus) to drive yourself – the cost is N$90 rather than N$600 for two – and you can spend all day if you like, which we did on our last day.
Tents were adequate – comfortable but smallish – plenty of blankets provided for cold nights- and our first night was very cold – tents 1-5 are close together so, unless your neighbours lower their voices every word is audible. Only 1 small bottle of water per person was provided no matter how many nights you were staying.
They claimed they had not been informed of my cheese allergy – unfortunate as the first night's dinner was lasagne – but an excellent alternative was quickly provided and everybody was very careful thereafter. Accepting that, the food was generally excellent, particularly given the open-air kitchen and windy conditions!
The laundry service was efficient and good value."
Susuwe Island Lodge
"Susuwe Island Lodge review"
Everything about the lodge was excellent, professional and friendly. This is a high quality operation. Rooms are huge – we were in no 5 (the warthog room). Loved the carved doors which pivoted in the centre. Very comfortable with fluffy pillows and duvets, hot showers and a bath already drawn for you when you return from the afternoon activity. Daily laundry service was excellent and included in the price.
Food was generally very good, though every main course arrived accompanied by an army of peppers. We spent several meals with Campbell, one of the owners, who was very informative about the building and future of the lodge and great company when he came on a game drive with us.
This is the only place we have been where, not only is a choice of wine for sundowners offered at the lodge, but Phourie invites you to taste it on your sundowner in the middle of the park- surreal!! Wonder what he'd have done if we didn't like it??
Activities are based in Bwabwata NP and on the Kwando river – it's a large park but animals are skittish due to previous poaching. However, we saw roan, sable, eland (rare in this park), lots of eles, kudus and impalas, lion and leopard tracks (not the animals but it was fun tracking them). An excellent evening boat trip on which we saw sitatunga as well as loads of hippos. Excellent for birds. Phourie was an excellent and very informative guide. We had been led to believe there was overlap with Mudumu NP but when we enquired about the possibility of a drive in this park the cost was prohibitive.
We recommend staying at least 2 nights to take advantage of the activities available. Four might have been one too many."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Chobe River Lodge
"The Garden Lodge review"
We took an excellent afternoon boat trip and good drive in Chobe NP the following morning. We could have happily stayed 2 nights or more as many guests were doing."
"Ichobezi Houseboats review"
Although the boat can take 8 guests, this might be a bit crowded as there are only a couple of sunloungers and deck chairs.
Cabins were spacious and comfortable, though bathrooms were small (not surprising on a boat). Food was generally excellent and the self-service bar open all day.
Ernest and his crew took excellent care of us and we enjoyed both the slow cruising on the houseboat along Chobe NP and individual game-viewing trips on the tender boats. These also take you back to Kasane via some very 'interesting' immigration posts.
A lovely experience towards the end of our trip – highly recommended!
We thought 2 days was ideal though 3 might be nice – any more and you'll be repeating the experience."
Islands of Siankaba
"Islands of Siankaba review"
The Islands are beautiful and rooms very comfortable but the suspension bridges had been re-built following this year's floods and, in our opinion (and that of some other guests), the safety of one was questionable.
The food and beverage manager has changed and a choice is no longer offered at lunch and dinner. This is consistent with the approach of many safari lodges, but breakfast is also now a set menu with choice only for 'cooked' – we were very disappointed by this. Not everybody loves muesli and yogurt (combined). The food is still generally good but there is less choice than there used to be.
We had an enjoyable trip to Vic Falls and an excellent lunchtime River Safari (no longer offered by the lodge (why?) but we'd pre-booked with the owner by email). A good range of activities is offered but they are expensive, partly due to the charge per person for transfers if not combined with the trip to Vic Falls included in the room rate – for a family this could be prohibitive.
Sundowner cruises on the Zambezi remain a highlight.
Siankaba is still an excellent way to end a holiday and relax but for us it has lost its sparkle and we're sad to say it's unlikely we'll return.
NB our grading for Facilities relates to our hot water problem."
Where was the rain?
Namibia between 1 Jan 2009 and 11 Jan 2009
Damaraland had been beautiful in the dry season but after the rains it was stunning with river beds full of flowers - and even some water!
After much debate in the UK we decided when in Namibia to drive the Skeleton Coast road (after taking local advice) and had no problems at all - it was a fascinating, though long, drive and we're really glad we did it; however we probably wouldn't choose to do it again. Local advice is crucial if you want to do this drive.
We saw no rain at all - apparently it had all come early this year.
Thanks to Tracy, Sabina and Chris for their help in organising the trip at pretty short notice - think they surprised themselves in finding availabilities!"
Okonjima Bush Camp
"Much improved Okonjima"
Rooms and food remain excellent, drinks prices are much more reasonable. Staff were all friendly and helpful. and seemed far more relaxed and comfortable in their roles than previously. We spent an excellent afternoon tracking two leopards and were very impressed by the improvements at Africat the next morning. It was wonderful to see the wild dogs looking so healthy - they are HUGE - much bigger than those we've seen in the wild - they'll surely love their new large enclosure - not sure the antelopes will be so keen !
We were sad to discover that they no longer offer cheetah-tracking on foot, and even sadder to discover that Athena (the cheetah we'd seen previously) had been killed by TJ the leopard. Although we mentioned on arrival that we'd like to go cheetah-tracking again, it wasn't until our second day that they told us this was no longer an option - point for improvement.
Johann and Richard were excellent guides - many thanks to Richard and the guys behind the scenes for assistance with our flat tyre!"
"Doro Nawas review"
Lester, our guide, took us on an excellent trip to see the elephants - Oscar got a little too close for comfort, attempting to stick his head in the vehicle! We even got to see meerkats!
Our room (no 9) was large, bright and airy - even so we wheeled the bed out onto the balcony on our second night - amazing experience to wake at 3am and see the Milky Way overhead - it was by far the coollest (in both senses of the word) place to sleep and we'll remember it for a long time.
Food was plentiful and wholesome though service of cooked breakfasts was slow, delaying some people on their morning activity.
Activitied are rated as 'good' rather than 'excellent' as we thought some were overpriced.
We would return without hesitation"
Cape Cross Lodge
"Cape Cross Lodge review"
a) going north but not wanting to leave Swakop first thing in the morning or
b) coming from Damaraland and driving the coast road.
We liked it a lot (sorry Chris!)
However, there is a considerable amount of building work going on which may be obtrusive to guests not in the sea-facing rooms."
"Cornerstone Guesthouse review"
Secure parking was excellent.
The location is good, within easy walking distance of the town centre, and felt very safe.
We'd definitely stay here again - we'd originally planned to stay at The Stiltz but are now glad we ended up at Cornerstone.
Desert & coast guided day trip - A wonderful day with the aging hippy Wayne. He was superb company, very informative and entertaining. The tides allowed us to get to Sandwich Harbour this time - an exhilarating drive with a beautiful destination. We'd recommend this trip to anyone- that's why we've been twice!
Harbour cruise - A thoroughly enjoyable morning. Seals on the boat were great fun - especially when one decided to sit on Martin's lap! The highlights for us however were the pelicans flying alongside the boat and Fritz the cormorant perching on the rail, allowing us to see just how beautiful he was.
An entire separate platter of food had been prepared for me to take my cheese allergy into account - many thanks to Mola Mola for their thoughtfulness. Throughout the trip the quality of food and drink available was excellent."
Coast and Sandwich Harbour
"Fabulous Turnstone Tours"
8 Jan 2009 • All-day excursion
He was superb company, very informative and entertaining. The tides allowed us to get to Sandwich Harbour this time - an exhilarating drive with a beautiful destination. We'd recommend Turnstone to anyone- that's why we've been twice!
Dolphin and seal cruise
9 Jan 2009 • All-day excursion
An entire separate platter of food had been prepared for me to take my cheese allergy into account - many thanks to Mola Mola for their thoughtfulness. Throughout the trip the quality of food and drink available was excellent.
My Aug 2008 trip
Tanzania between 23 Aug 2008 and 5 Sep 2008
E Unoto Retreat, Tanzania (this camp has since closed)
"E Unoto Retreat review"
Paths around the resort were uneven and badly lit - no torches were provided in the room - we had our own which were particularly useful when the generator did not work one morning.
The road to the lodge was very poor - our driver complained about certain areas - this needs to be addressed if, as stated, E Unoto is looking to attract the conference trade.
E Unoto seems to be geared up for 1 night business - the majority of people only stayed 1 night, plus the food menu was designed for that. It was the same for lunch and dinner- staff obviously recognised this as they offered us alternative main courses on our last night. Whilst the wine list was extensive few bottles were stocked in the bar and were not sufficiently chilled - yes they only have electricity by generator but we have stayed at places in Africa which do far better with the same facilities.
Whilst it is possible to do a day trip to Ngorongoro from E Unoto (we did it) it does make for a very long and tiring day."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Serengeti Migration Camp
"Serengeti Migration Camp review"
Rooms were extremely comforatble, staff friendly and helpful (Jackson and Julius get special mention) and food excellent. Rather than being bland and overcooked we found it excellently cooked, varied and well presented. Picnic lunches were particularly excellent, well above the usual sandwich, boiled egg, fruit and yogurt. We got meats , salads, cheese & biscuits, quiche, drinks and chocolote brownies to die for.
Guides were great - we drove with 2 - but a negative is the 18k road you have to drive every time to enter or leave camp - whilst we saw some excellent game on this road it did get a bit monotonous. Moses looked after us most of the time and was brilliant - he was determined to get us the best sightings!
2 minor negatives;
All laundry is tumble dried - if you don't want your T shirts to shrink you need to wash them by hand in your roon. Also the loo is not private from the bathroom."
"Sayari Camp review"
Water was usable though not what you might consider clean.
On 2 afternoons we had major rain - if this is likely to continue the camp needs to provide rain ponchos given that vehicles are open to the elements.
However, we have been told that the permit for the existing Sayari camp has been revoked and a new permananent camp is under construction. This is 15k upstream and will have 15 tents on wooden platforms"
Serena Hotel Dar
"Royal Palm Hotel review"
We were upgraded to a Junior Suite - very nice but perhaps unnecessary - a bottle of bubbles might have been more welcome!"
New Year Trip to Cape Town
South Africa between 29 Dec 2007 and 6 Jan 2008
"Finchley House Camps Bay"
Nothing was too much trouble - the attitude was very much ' this is your home here - do as you like as long as nothing gets broken!' - breakfast on the deck if wanted, coffee taken to husbands feeling poorly in the morning (not mine!), restaurants booked in advance before arrival etc.
Rooms very comfortable, well equipped, good value laundry service, superb views of the ocesn and the Twelve Apostles.
Definitely worth another visit"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
"Ocean Eleven review"
Rooms very comfortable, staff very friendly and helpful, breakfasts excellent. Two minor criticisms - staff told us whales were still about when this wasn't the case, and we had to share the bed with quite a few ants on the second night - this wouldn't be all that surprising in the bush but a bit of a shock in Hermanus! Staff were horrified when we told them in the morning so we suspect this is a very unusual occurrence!!
There is no laundry facility- however many guests only stay one night so there is probably not much demand for it."
Bishops' Court, South Africa (this camp has since closed)
"Bishops' Court Wonderful As Ever!"
The change of ownership has given it a more professional feel (ie there was 'the manager whose name was Thomas' rather than 'your friend Thomas, who happens to be in charge') but this is still a wonderful home from home (wish our home was like this!).
Suites are extremely spacious and comfortable, breakfasts extensive and varied, and Daniel's chauffeur service available to take you anywhere - even to the cricket! Fantastic views of Table Mountain from rooms and the pool.
Eighteen months since our first visit and the ladies who look after the kitchen and cleaning remembered us - wonderful to be greeted by Connie's beaming smile when we emerged in the morning.
The only (minor) criticism is that laundry is expensive - £2.50 for a T shirt."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
After a short drive through the bush we arrived at the lodge where we were given a good briefing and shown to our beautiful room – quite stunning; our one quibble was that, while the air con kept the bathroom area lovely and cool it didn’t seem to have a lot of effect in the bedroom. Housekeeping was immaculate and it seemed as if the room was cleaned every time we left it. The plunge pool was most welcome on the hot afternoons.
Service overall was excellent with nothing being too much trouble; however we did notice that cleaning of the main area could have been better – drinks can from the afternoon was still there at breakfast and the decking was not cleaned of bird droppings regularly.
The food that we ate was very good but, despite both the management and chef having confirmed they knew of Jane’s allergy, we still had to return food when it came with cheese.
We chose not to go out on our first afternoon but still managed to see game from our deck – kudu, baboons, impala, bushbuck and scrub hare. As Jane wasn’t feeling too good, having picked up a cold on the plane, she didn’t feel like eating that evening but we went up to the main lodge where the staff were happy to keep offering drinks and we met our fellow travellers and guide, Ivan. The lodge has a small shop (more at main reception) which we thought offered very good value.
Our guide, Ivan and tracker, Sibo, were excellent. Very good with both us experienced safari-goers and the Danes we shared the vehicle with, some of whom had never been to Africa before. On our last morning we had them to ourselves when they became positively chatty. Yes, Ivan, we did pop into your Dad’s place in Swellendam – ideal for a visiting rugby club says Martin! He just needs to persuade them to pay for the flights!
The Expert Africa page for Kwandwe states that it is broadly on the flat; we didn’t find this to be the case. There is a significant flight of steps between the parking area and the main building, steps along the boardwalk and steps approaching each room.
Despite our minor quibbles we’ve already booked to go back next year! Find that aardvark Ivan, please!!!"