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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by K & J, J & R from UK

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

7

Excursions taken

0

Don't go at the height of the rainy season!

Namibia between 22 Feb 2017 and 10 Mar 2017

Trip rating: Good
"It was a good trip, well organised and we enjoyed it. And as people who have lived in Kenya and travelled pretty extensively I accept that we were 'difficult' clients to please.

The over riding thing that went wrong was the weather. I knew it was the rainy season and had hoped that March would see something of a wind down. On the contrary, according to every single local that we met, we were at the very height of it. The outcomes varied from the inconvenient (cold showers and damp towels) to an inability to get off main roads/tracks, getting wet and cold, being sent off to Etosha at the peak of the rainy season so nothing was there, and looking at clouds instead of the sun.

I had expected Kenyan style clouds building in the afternoon, rain and then a clear sky again but everywhere north of Swakop and indeed at Windhoek as we left there was considerable and persistent cloud (but not all the time by any means), together with heavy rain.

I would have liked a MUCH clearer warning of this.

The second problem was the car which was not fit for purpose, in terms of suspension at least. A car is just a car until it doesn't work in which case it drags everything down.

With those two caveats we had a good time. The bookings that (for me) didn't cut the cake were the Strand Hotel (but I don't like hotels), Doro Nawas and Ongava. The other side of the coin was excellent visits to Hoodia, Etendeka, Mundelea and Okonjiwa."

Arranged By Sabina Hekandjo


Hoodia Desert Lodge

Hoodia Desert Lodge

"Hoodia was excellent"

3 nights Arrived 22 Feb 2017
"When we arrived after 24 hours travelling I have to admit to wondering why we had been sent to Hoodia - a row of cottages in the middle of nowhere. But I was wrong: the staff were excellent, every aspect of the accommodation had been thought through and our stay was very comfortable. The food was good too. And the changing colours of the surrounding hills were memorable.

On our first day our guide improvised a very successful expedition to some local fountains (springs), which we really enjoyed. In our time there we saw the surrounding land go from the faintest green and mainly red to green.

What wasn't so good is that the transfer from Geluk takes an hour. This plus the flying time plus the transfer time at WHD really eats into the driving time, meaning that the case for driving is enhanced; we could have driven to Hoodia that afternoon, although it would have been hard work.

Another, question mark was the Sossus Vlei excursion. Of course that's why we went to Hoodia but the fact of the matter is that there's a lot of driving, photo opportunities diminish with the angle of the sun as the day goes by and there isn't a huge amount to see and do on arrival. Finally, there's a lot of people there. Goodness knows what it's like in high season. That said, our guide (Johnnie) did a great job tracking spoor in the sand, helping us understand the geology, stopping when appropriate, etc., but despite a climb up Big Mama I felt the day was slightly padded out with the fun set piece lunch under the tree at Elim Dune, and it was great to get back to Hoodia for a siesta!"
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Strand Hotel

Strand Hotel

"If you like hotels you'll like The Strand"

2 nights Arrived 25 Feb 2017
"Following our flight up to Swakop from Geluk in the morning we were unable to check in to our rooms until 1400, which wasn't handled well.

If you like hotels then you'll like the Strand which is perfectly adequate with a very comfy room, but after too many hotel nights in a business career I would very much preferred something else, but Swakop was apparently booked out. There's no pool.

Swakop on a Sunday had little to recommend it."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Average
Facilities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Doro Nawas

Doro Nawas

"Vetry sadly, not recommended"

1 night Arrived 27 Feb 2017
"And perhaps average is being kind. Doro Nawas in undoubtedly a good cause (income and employment to the community), but without Wilderness to provide a flow of bookings it would struggle. The hard fact of the matter is that is that the market is western and that means that standards should be western too. The easy way to understand this is to compare it to Hoodia.

To be fair judgement was probably skewed by the journey from Swakop to Doro Nawas in a car that wasn't fit for the journey on dirt roads.

The two page Wilderness indemnity should be dealt with in the UK before departure, and had I been given it I would have suggested a stay elsewhere. Asking someone to sign that at the end of a long day with no option isn't a good idea.

Having a receptionist who doesn't understand eye contact or a firm handshake creates a negative impression at the outset.

There was no question of viewing the stars; it rained. Equally no walking was permitted outside the strict perimeter, but drive 5 minutes down the road and you can go where you like.

The lady who carried our bags to our room, considerably helped by me I should add, had the nerve to stand there and demand N$10.

Wheels on one bed didn't work. No plugs for the basins. By late afternoon (and I do understand that it's a difficult environment) there was a good scum on the pool at the lee end. Etc.

The rooms (and indeed the whole place) is downright gloomy. Our rooms looked straight out onto the staff camp and its lamp post. Avoid rooms 1 to 3.

The singing was very jolly, but couldn't paper over the cracks.

Obviously I haven't been to the other offers in the area but the Bradt guide suggests that Doro Nawas the most expensive in the area and I am unclear as to why it has an AE recommendation."
Average
Location
Average
Service
Average
Facilities
Average
Rooms
Poor
Food
Average
Etendeka Mountain Camp

Etendeka Mountain Camp

"Pristine wilderness, great guiding, fun camp"

3 nights Arrived 28 Feb 2017
"This was a really outstanding visit despite getting maybe 20% of the annual rainfall in the two days we were there, with associated cloud etc. One evening drive was a washout.

Tents are straightforward (but totally adequate). Loved the shower bucket. Food was very good (but straightforward). Denis is a splendid host, and we much enjoyed his company.

Our guide (Boaz) was both modest and first class. We clocked up 23 different birds and 11 different mammals. Day one is on foot and day two we went up the escarpment, which is an interesting contrast.

The setting is extreme. Pristine and starkly very beautiful. The camp area is as clean as a whistle: every item of rubbish is driven out, so there's no scavengers.

Game viewing, because there are no fences and the game is wholly wild, is all long range, but because of that in setting. There are rhinos but very few are left and one wonders for how long. We didn't see any, or elephant either, but there was so much water around they had all Namibia to wander around in. We heard lion and saw fresh evidence of leopard.

I would like to go back when the weather is better.

Allow some time to enjoy Palmwag before setting off up to Etendeka. It's a contrast!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Ongava Tented Camp

Ongava Tented Camp

"Great accommodation marred by poor service"

2 nights Arrived 3 Mar 2017
"I should start by saying that the whole western end of Ongava just about needed flippers it was so wet.

This may have resulted in being sent off to Etosha for our whole day at Ongava, which in the middle of the wet season was predictably unproductive (bar a couple of good birds and 1000 springbok). Judging by the size of the car park at Okaukuejo game viewing in the high season is going to be shared with an awful lot of people.

Side tracks in Ongava remained virtually unusable throuhout.

Our guide liked driving (a bad sign in my books) but was keen to deliver results, which thanks to a crackling radio he finally did on our second morning, surprising a rhino which promptly shot off into the bushes and then some young lions trying to hunt out in the open.

But 'wild' it isn't. Ongava is pretty small and my impression is of a high density of visitors. First of all there's the crackling radio. Then there's the hype: armed guard within the close camp precincts and a briefing prior to a hoped for walk to see rhino (which we never found) which stressed 'my 375 magnum' and 'if I shoot, I shoot to kill', etc. This may impress some, but it's over the top, as is the two page indemnity (see Doro Nawas).

The tented accommodation was gorgeous and having a personal 4 by 4 and guide equally good, but the staffing was not on the ball and the food was frankly dire at this price point.

Frankly, it's not recommended."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Average
Activities
Average
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Poor
Facilities
Average
Mundulea Reserve

Mundulea Reserve

"A real highlight of our trip"

3 nights Arrived 5 Mar 2017
"Once again the weather did not help. There was a slightly dodgy moment for the first half mile off the tarmac in the wet. Secondly, early morning starts were off because the long grass was soaking.

In the context of the location it is fair to grade everything as excellent, although the camp is not (thank goodness) luxurious..

One member of our party had not understood that once at the camp the only method of transport is walking.

The whole thing revolves around Bruno's guiding which is all encompassing. Everything from beetles and caterpillars to rhinos, vegetation and spoor is grist for the mill. Bruno's vision for Mundelea is visibly working. I particularly enjoyed our afternoon expeditions when we able to climb up a couple of local hills.

The camp is delightful, though some might find it a little basic; it overlooks a waterhole. The cooking is delicious (all prepared on an open fire) and wholesome.

This was a highlight of our trip and contains some favourite moments.

At this time of year with the grass long and with one member of the party unable to walk long distances there were some restrictions but Bruno took it all in his stride. At the right time of the year I would think that this would be breathtaking. I hope to return."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Okonjima Plains Camp

Okonjima Plains Camp

"A good visit"

2 nights Arrived 8 Mar 2017
"We were in the Plains rooms which are outstanding. Every detail has been thought through.

Meals, reception and the bar are all in a huge building which deals well with the volume of throughput although some might find it a bit lacking in ambience. But, it's efficient and the staff are attentive and keen to please. That said it's going to be very busy in high season. The pool is good.

Looking at this from an East African safari point of view there's an awful lot of gates; it just doesn't feel very wild. But, on the hand, there was a higher bird and animal count than elsewhere, so it's swings and roundabouts.

Our driver (Peter) was modest and good and found (collared) leopard and cheetah on all our game drives, and did so discreetly through a headset rather than a crackling radio. But for all visitors there were only three cheetah 'in the wild' which produces a bit of viewing pressure.

Overall, Okonjiwa worked well. It's a good last stop before leaving to go home."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent

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