Travel reviews by Mr R. from Malmesbury
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
Jan 2023 - Fantastic trip.
Kenya between 26 Jan 2023 and 7 Feb 2023
We saw some amazing game and were spoilt throughout. The Kenyan people are wonderful and the country is world leading in several areas - such as the long term ban on hunting and the high penalties for poaching which has curtailed such practices. The private conservancies provide an exclusive experience and carry out best practices in game conservation as well as getting buy in from local tribes by ensuring they are compensated and by ensuring traditional grazing can continue but subject to restrictions.
Our one negative comment on Kenya is how the departure experience (arrival is fine) at Nairobi international airport lets the country down - the queues for passport control and the four security scans are excruciatingly long and mis-managed (on airport perimeter arrival, to enter the terminal, at security and again at the gate!!). There were no queues for the BA flight check in and we had fast track status and it took us 1 hour 40 minutes of queuing to get through.
We spoke to a man traveling on a different airline (there were some huge check in queues for other airlines) and the whole process took him 4.5 hours. Our flight was delayed 40 minutes waiting for some passengers. The terminal is too small for the amount of flights and there aren't enough staff. Arrive 3 hours before flying as a minimum.
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
None - absolute first class service from beginning to end.
Arranged By Claire Scott
Four Points Nairobi Airport
"Four Points Nairobi Airport review"
"Lewa Wilderness review"
The property is immaculate and the rooms were wonderful. We were lucky enough to be given the room with the private plunge pool which was enormous, comfy, stylish and full of beautiful old furniture, whilst having all mod cons. We were able to watch game (elephants, rhino, giraffes, monkeys and buffalo) from our room terrace. The main areas have beautiful gardens with Freddy the semi-tame giraffe, and dik diks wandering around; lovely terraces with views over the gorge; and a beautiful lounge/bar area with a fire. The managers were great hosts. Food was all organic or locally sourced (we loved seeing the farm where nearly all of the eggs, milk, cheese, fruit and vegetables are grown/made) and tasty, more simple at times than at some lodges, but of fantastic quality.
The area is known for rhinos/rhino conservation and it is probably one of the best places in the world to see both white and black rhinos in significant numbers, including baby and young rhinos which proves the success of the conservation measures being taken. It was also interesting to see some animals that aren't to be seen in the Mara (the endangered grevys zebra, reticulated giraffe and Somali ostrich). We were also lucky enough to have some other wonderful game viewing including seeing lionesses trying (but failing) to kill twice and seeing one of the two reserve cheetahs who are only spotted on occasion. Our night safari was a highlight as we had baby spotted hyenas trying to eat the tires on our jeep. We combined this lodge with a trip to a Mara conservancy (which felt a lot more remote and we saw more game/predators) and it was an ideal combination.
Our guides (Danny and Tyson) were excellent and very knowledgeable. We particularly liked their adherence to the 3 jeep maximum rule even when a rare game experience (seeing the cheetah) was available and felt it better to wait our turn than crowd around. There is an amazing variety of experiences. If you are into horse riding (we're not) this would be exceptional riding country. We did ride camels which was an interesting way to view game. One stand out for us was the walking safari we did with the local pastor (who leads all the walking safaris). It is a really beautiful area for walking and we got really close to elephants, buffalo and within a couple of metres of three rhino, whilst feeling totally safe. It was one of the best walking safari experiences we have done.
We combined this lodge with a trip to a Mara conservancy (which felt a lot more remote and we saw more game/predators) and it was an ideal combination allowing us to see different game, rhino and have a great walking experience."
"Naboisho Camp review"
The camp is beautifully placed overlooking wide plains and feels very remote. The main areas are beautifully designed and the pool area is lovely and a real treat - with game viewing possible from the pool. The tented bedrooms were stylish, comfortable and spaced out. The camp is closing for 3 months in March 2023 and all bedrooms are being completely upgraded so expect a significant upgrade.
The managers, Lewis and Becky, do a fantastic job as well as being really friendly, interesting and consummate professionals. The staff are uniformly wonderful and nothing is too much trouble. There are a myriad of small touches that together combine to make the experience first rate such as the hot water bottles on your seat in the jeep every morning to keep you warm before the sun came up.
The guides are experts and work together (as well as with guides on the other conservancy lodges) to identify what game has been spotted and to ensure that guests are given the best experience possible. Our lovely guide (Karia) did an amazing job and nothing was too much trouble - we learned so much from him and saw so many wonderful things as well as laughing a lot. He was an expert at finding the absolute best place to position the land cruiser to view game. We were particularly impressed that one of the five guides is female (Evelyn) and there is a new trainee female guide as well. Other guests visited a Masai village with Evelyn and said it was wonderful to see the villagers being amazed to see a female guide and wanting to ask her questions - a real role model.
The food was top quality with a great choice and innovative menus. The bush breakfast picnics were wonderful (great range of food, beautifully presented and served in a wonderful new setting every day) and ensured that we were out at first light. Lunch was a buffet with lots of choice and wonderful salads. Dinner was smarter, usually convivial communal dining although one night we had a romantic meal in the pool area (which has a separate lounge area and fire). Bush drinks were so great that we continued wrapped up in the waterproof ponchos provided despite a downpour.
And the highlight is the game: the Mara ecosystem is amazingly rich in wildlife and birdlife. I lost count of how many lions we saw, but must be in the region of 80-100. This is the place to come to see every type of lion behavior out there at close hand from stalking/eating prey to cubs playing or suckling from their mother. We also saw cheetah and had wonderful leopard sightings including following a mother and her 17 month male son on two occasions once for about 30 minutes whilst they walked through a rocky outcrop and stalked impala. On a night drive we were lucky enough to see male lions fighting for territory and an aardwolf which even Karia was excited to see.
There are vast herds of game of all sorts, the birds are amazingly diverse and the hippo pools were full of hippo as well as some large crocodiles. I particularly enjoyed the interaction with seeing a pride of lions eating their zebra kill, with jackel, hyena and vultures trying to steal a piece of the kill. Every game drive brought something wonderful to see and on the walking safari lions were encountered safely.
Overall we can't fault anything and had an amazing time at this camp."
"Kinondo Kwetu review"
Particularly impressive was the food which was far more modern European fusion in style and lighter than on safari - e.g. lots of use of Asian style salads, together with lots of fish and shellfish. We also liked the use of the whole property for dining - we ate in several different locations from the beachfront to on an old wooden dhow, from a romantic balcony meal to outside the main lodge area.
This is a big property with lots of garden areas to chill out - room verandas, the beach (which whilst beautiful we found too windy) and two pools, one small adult one and a large lovely tropical one where children were allowed, but it was so large you hardly noticed.
The bedrooms were comfy rather than luxury, filled with wooden African furniture, with lovely verandas. The main rooms were beautifully and tastefully decorated with African paintings and artifacts, Moroccan lanterns and beautiful African fabrics were used everywhere.
Whilst there is a gym, library, tennis court, yoga deck with daily classes, sauna, spa and horse riding, we were happy to lie by the pool after 7 days of safari. A lovely place to chill."
Great: lovely lodges; perfect arrangements
Zimbabwe and 1 other country between 1 Nov 2019 and 11 Nov 2019
The combination of Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Mana Pools was ideal and we saw a huge variety of wildlife and had some amazing experiences. The lodges were great - with Nyamatusi in Mana Pools being the best - so totally luxurious and in a stunning setting.
Thank you all.
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
No - it was all great thank you."
"Ilala Lodge review"
We stayed in a standard room which was great and I would actually prefer over the deluxe rooms as these were a bit further from the main lodge (the standard rooms are under the main lodge on a lower floor). We had deer and warthogs grazing outside our balcony.
Would definitely go back."
"Nice modern camp in a great concession"
The camp is modern, stylish and efficient rather than luxurious although the manager, Renee, service and staff are very good. The rooms themselves were luxury but the lodge was a little more functional - especially the dining area and the pool area - the dining area needed more soft furnishings as it is a bit refectory style and the pool area needed some cushioned loungers and more shade, not just dappled tree shade - it was 40C and it wasn't enough. One night when the lodge was nearly full (22 guests) it didn't feel exclusive.
The food was excellent - they have a great chef(s) - but the ingredients weren't luxury - e.g. a minced beef pie rather than steak was typical.
One area we thought needed improvement was that all of the guides sit with you at every meal and have to walk you to/from your tents rather than taking turns at this as other camps do - meaning the guides have very little time off.
However, overall we had a great experience and the wildlife and quality of the guide/spotter was excellent. Thank you."
Muchenje Safari Lodge
"Lovely positioned lodge"
It is in a great position with sweeping views, friendly staff and nice pool/rooms. The main lodge itself is beautiful with lovely lounging areas which we didn't really have time to explore. The bathrooms are due to be upgraded which will make the rating 5/5 for the rooms.
We will have to go back as we would love to do the river cruise which other guests raved about. Thank you."
"Fantastic luxurious camp: stunning setting"
We actually stayed in Nyamatusi Mahogany, but the two camps are really one camp with two near identical lodges so that guests get an exclusive experience with 12 guests maximum rather than 24 in each lodge. Mahogany does have two two-bed rooms, so specify the Camp if you don't want to have children in your lodge is the only difference. On our last night the two camps combined for a memorable bush dinner that was in a truly magical setting.
The setting is stunning on the banks of the Zambezi overlooking the Zambian mountains. The lodge is extremely luxurious and the rooms are sheer luxury with wonderful outside areas and cold plunge pools - couldn't be better. Air conditioning is very welcome - it was 42C when we were there. The staff are lovely - thank you to Jason, Bee and their team. Our guide, Shingy, was fantastic - walking through the bush to approach lions and wild dog with him felt controlled and safe, but very special. He knew instinctively when to wait and have patience and we saw some special things (e.g. wild dog greeting ceremony) as a result. The canoe safari with TK was also a highlight - we saw hippos up close but his experience made us feel safe.
The food is delicious and varied with three choices including a vegetarian one at meals. Service is great and the staff really friendly and fun - you feel really welcome.
Highlights include being woken by lions roaring and strolling past just outside our room followed by breakfast in the boma watched by 3 lions; seeing the wild dogs scare off an elephant, wild dog greeting ceremonies and a wild dog kill in our headlights on the way back from sundowners. The bird life is also amazing.
Mana Pools itself is a garden of Eden - it is a long way from Victoria Falls - our flights both ways took over 4 hours in a light aircraft with three stops both ways including a refuel at Kariba. It feels at the end of the earth. The range of animals seen is not as wide as the Okavango Delta due to the migratory nature of the animals who leave the river when the rains set in for the hills - e.g. so no giraffes or cheetah, and the fact that the National Park doesn't allow night drives rules out nocturnal animals (although the lodge which is just outside the national park has requested to be allowed to do so). However the quality of the viewing experience due to the fact that you can approach on foot (not allowed in other national parks) was amazing. At this time of year (early November) when it is usually very dry just before the rains you are very likely to see both wild dogs and/or a kill. Most guests saw both.
Thank you so much to all at Nyamatusi (Mahogany) - we had a fantastic stay and would love to come back. This is a very special place and we wish you all the best."
My Oct 2018 trip
Namibia between 18 Oct 2018 and 27 Oct 2018
Josh strongly suggested Desert Homestead Outpost and it was a real highlight for us - the position and relaxing nature of the lodge were wonderful.
Overall the only negative was Hobatere lodge which was recommended and which was definitely below the standards of any other private lodge we've stayed at on two trips to Namibia."
"Hilltop Guesthouse review"
Near restaurants and supermarkets (although a taxi to nearby restaurants is advised).
Rooms/view/pool were lovely but bathrooms a bit dated."
"Desert Homestead Outpost review"
The tents were beautifully and luxuriously decorated with fantastic views from the two decks and outdoor shower (there is an indoor shower too). The lodge and pool were beautifully designed and relaxing.
Food was excellent and the staff were lovely. We had oryx walking past our tents. A convenient place to visit Sossuvlei.
We also did an evening sunset drive to see the scenery on site."
"Cornerstone Guesthouse review"
The rooms and bathrooms are lovely and clean and set around a pretty garden (except for room 7 which is next to the car park so not as good) with everything you would want. The service was excellent - they couldn't have done more for us or been nicer. We returned from a morning kayaking with seals to find that our afternoon activity (dune buggies/sandboarding combo) was all booked as well as our evening dinner reservation - we had failed to get into the Tug restaurant (book well in advance) but were recommended the Fish Deli which did lovely sushi - it was a great recommendation. Also of note are the excellent breakfasts to classical music - we all agreed these were the best breakfasts we had in Namibia.
Location is excellent - walkable to everything including dune buggies."
Kayaking with seals
"Kayaking with seals review"
22 Oct 2018 • Morning excursion
It is a unique experience to kayak with hundreds and thousands of seals - some of whom climb onto your kayak. The drive out is beautiful and gives an insight into this unique ecosystem of salt, wading birds (think 80,000 flamingoes and pelicans) and jackals. Jeanne was fantastic, informative and obviously loves her job which she has been doing for decades yet made it feel brand new.
We were lucky enough to have wonderful weather. Book well in advance - summer 19 already mostly booked up with Jeanne's company. Even if you don't kayak (although it is very easy to do) the journey there/back is worth it in itself.
Erongo Wilderness Lodge
"Erongo Wilderness Lodge review"
Although no big game the variety and number of birds (trees full of brightly coloured lovebirds), brightly coloured lizards and hyrax were wonderful.
We had heavy rain which spoiled the experience a little as we couldn't do the sundowner walk/dinner outside/campfire, but would go back to experience this wonderful lodge again."
"Hobatere Lodge review"
Rooms were sub-standard and not attractive to look at - very basic old lodge look and feel and landscaping non-existent. Dead flies on one bed, mosquito nets that don't meet so weren't effective, very small and basic bathrooms. The pool was dirty/had a slimy bottom.
We were unlucky in that we visited after heavy rain but on one afternoon drive and one night drive in the Hobatere reserve we saw only antelope, owls and a chameleon. Overall the only big game we saw in two days in the reserve was one giraffe. There was no game at all at the waterhole ever. We got the feeling that there isn't that much in the park - the waterholes at Dolomite and Okakeujo on the same days had plenty of animals. I am being a little unfair since the lodge is near hills (where the animals can hide) and the Etosha lodges are nearer larger plains, but if you go to for safari, this is a big factor to consider.
It is a long way into the proper bit of Western Etosha where you start to see animals from the lodge. It is 30 minutes to the Galton Gate and then about an hour 15 minutes to Dolomite Camp - so well over an hour until you begin to see any game at all. We spent lunch/afternoon at Dolomite Camp and the location/pool/food/service were much better than Hobatere - it has a much more luxurious feel/decor despite being NWR run. If you are choosing between the two I would go to Dolomite (although we didn't see the rooms) especially given you are right in the centre of Etosha and can start to game view immediately upon leaving the lodge."
Waterberg Guest Farm
"Waterberg Guest Farm review"
Be careful if you have special diets/allergies: our visit was marred as they had very kindly cooked two special dietary meals for us (one without egg and one without cheese) but then mixed them up (despite us checking repeatedly with the waiter) so that one of our children had an allergic reaction to the egg in his dish which we had been told had no egg in it."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
My Oct 2016 trip
Namibia between 20 Oct 2016 and 29 Oct 2016
We were particularly lucky to see so much game. The area around Nautomi in Etosha is world class for game viewing."
Arranged By Maruska AdyeRowe
Waterberg Guest Farm
"Waterberg Guest Farm review"
Lovely pool and great food. Highly recommended.
It's about 3.5 hours drive from the airport."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Mushara Bush Camp
"Mushara Bush Camp review"
We especially loved the buffet meal outside.
Room/tents were great - our only comment - it was very hot and the fans in the tents were ineffectual - they really need ceiling fans."
"Halali Camp review"
The only redeeming feature was the fantastic waterhole - we saw rhinos fighting and lions. And a large (hand-sized) scorpion in the camp site on the way that made me pleased we weren't camping."
"Okaukuejo Camp review"
The bush cabins were nicely decorated and comfortable with a lovely outdoor seating area/BBQ.
Game was concentrated around one or two waterholes as it was very dry but we saw two prides of lions."
Etendeka Mountain Camp
"Etendeka Mountain Camp review"
Dennis (the host) has been doing this for 25 years, but he is a fantastic host and makes the experience fresh for everyone. He was especially good with our children aged 12 and 10. We all particularly loved the star gazing session. The guides are excellent and knowledgable too.
There is a surprisingly large amount of game too! They have got Afrikat to tag a male lion and when we were there we saw him with 2 females and 4 (of 7) cubs. We also saw desert elephants."
"Doro Nawas review"
Only comment - this was the place where the food was hardest with our children as there was no choice and the food (although lovely), quite challenging for children - e.g. starters of beetroot soup or aubergine with moroccan spices."
Okonjima Plains Camp
"Okonjima Plains Camp review"
We were upgraded to view rooms which was nice. The pool was lovely. Food could have been better - it was the only place where portions were quite small.
Our guide was fantastic - very good at spotting the little things (e.g. owls). We went on a game drive and saw a cheetah (allowed to do the last 15m on foot despite us having children) and a leopard up really close. Both were collared, but wonderful to see them so up close."
Hotel is clean, modern, comfy and has lovely staff. The rooftop bar was nice and breakfast the next day was on a lovely terrace.