Travel reviews by Harvey and Jo from Lewes
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
Back at last after nine years
Zambia between 11 Oct 2022 and 25 Oct 2022
Good to have 3 camps in different areas of the park. At 76, our 11 nights/12 days was probably slightly longer than we would do next time, if we can afford to go again and are fit enough.
All the transfers/meet and greet etc worked perfectly (as they have on all our previous 5 Expert Africa trips) - thanks.
All the staff in the camps are both very professional, and approachable and friendly, as well as flexible on various occasions.
Good to see game numbers so obviously healthy, with lots of young in evidence.
Good to hear on the ground that the suggestion of clients like us paying some extra deposit money to help the camps through covid really did help - it reached local people. Also, from Tafika we heard that rather than covid leading to more poaching, it made locals appreciate just how camps are so beneficial to the local community and economy."
"Pioneer Camp - bush camp on the edge of Lusaa"
The camp and chalets are lovely, high quality, small pool welcome in the heat, staff all very good indeed. Guiding was excellent, lots of game of all sorts on drives, a morning walk very informative on ecology etc. Will happily return if we can.
We were taken aback at the number of vehicles homing in on animals in this southern end of the park (we have been to centre and north only in the past), and actually backed off at night on one occasion when several cars from other camps were pressing in on lions."
Dining outside - since dining room went into the river a couple of years ago - was lovely. Small waterhole behind the camp drew in elephants and others to watch from the hide. Guiding was very good and willing to adopt our pace and stay and watch animals behaviour.
Driving through Nsefu sector and central Luangwa meant there were fewer cars around, very welcome after the pressure in the south. Plenty of game around, particularly leopard sightings and dogs."
Food outstanding, a step up from other camps, happy to let you look round the kitchen and laundry area. Catering staff particularly friendly and attentive.
Guiding very good indeed, with a walk across (by canoe) to one of the bush camps very informative on ecosystems. Excellent game viewing, at a pace to suit us. Village visit close by reflects the close ongoing involvement of the family with community and school, plus local football teams - we took several footballs to donate as well as school equipment.
We left by road to Mfuwe airport on what is currently a poor road, nearly two hours, but you can fly from Tafika to Mfuwe or Lusaka if you can pay....... Classic bush dining outside for dinner, elephants through the camp as well as at the waterhole and hide.
Will certainly return if possible."
My Sep 2013 trip
Zambia between 27 Sep 2013 and 12 Oct 2013
On one previous trip, local problems arose and were immediately sorted out. No problems on this trip, only a seamless transition through Lusaka airport (good assistance from local reps there) and three different camps in Luangwa - all of which said they rate Expert Africa highly for their organisation and the detailed feedback they pass back to the camps from clients, which the camps value.
Luangwa in October is hot (up to 42 degrees max) but manageable and gives great concentration of game, has lots of good dirt roads for access, includes a wide range of environments in the Nsefu sector (so we saw wild dogs for the first time) and plenty of chances to see lion and leopard. Bird life is great even if you're not a twitcher. We went on 5 walks in 12 days, all very well guided, as were the drives by day and night.
We will go back once we can afford it again and if we are not too old by then ....."
"Back to Nsefu after 42 years!"
The view from the bar and the river bank is tremendous, a huge panoramic sweep of the river in both directions, that will bear any amount of relaxed inspection. Having been on several safaris elsewhere in Zambia, we very much liked the guiding style of George who, more than most, is willing to stop and wait to see what may happen, and bring his experiences and thoughts to bear. We enjoyed our three days a great deal.
As with all camps, we would like to see some Zambian women employed in future to give local girls role models to aspire to."
"Four great days at Tena Tena"
We took two guided walks with Jason Alfonsi and learned a great deal, not just about plants and animals but also about Zambia past and present, and as former residents valued that. Good game viewing here (as at Nsefu) in the height of the dry season. The winds brought quite a few leaves and flowers into the washroom areas at times - needs careful inspection at night!
As with all camps in the park, we would like to see some Zambian women employed in future to provide role models for Zambian girls."
"The camp that has that extra something"
A short bike ride through the elephant zone near the camp costs nothing, but certainly adds spice. Back in Zambia for the third time, having worked there long ago, we would have reservations about a local village visit being a tourist show, were it not for the big support and involvement which John & Carol Coppinger have put into the school and the village: it was a lovely visit with a genuine response both ways.
The food was superb, and the direct contact with the family owning and running Tafika, and their employees who live in the village, the sense of continuity and the atmosphere it added, all gave something extra to our holiday that we valued and enjoyed, and we had a great five days."
"Lusaka school visit"
If you want to see something inspiring, go to Hope and Faith, and take something to help it. The Head, Rose Mumbi, has created a school of 500 with no government money, from scratch, in 10 years: she is a remarkable woman (age 71), and our visit meant a lot to us to see what ZOA is doing, and what she is doing. The taxi ride through Ngombe compound gives the tough context for a tender story."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Eight Reedbuck Hotel, Zambia (this camp has since closed)
"Quiet and comfortable hotel"
No road name at the end of the road so you need to know it is just off Sable Road. Shower not working due to low Lusaka water pressure when we were there, but the bath was fine."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Thanks for our third excellent trip with you
Namibia between 25 Jan 2008 and 12 Feb 2008
The driving distances were all fine to manage, the lodges and camps we stayed at were varied in style but all interesting, very comfortable, and with a very high standard of service and food.
You put us on to some ideas that we might not have pursued ourselves (e.g Sandwich Harbour), and put us off some which we were pleased that you did (e.g. driving the Skeleton Coast for any more than the run up to Cape Cross, advising us that it is not really an interesting drive, and that in the wet season we would be one of very few on the road further north in an area where flash floods could be a problem. Both right).
After 10 days on good gravel, we appreciated how much better a 4x4 sits on the road than a light saloon, but were beginning to wonder whether the extra expense was really necessary. Then the heavens opened, and on the road between Doro Nawas and Khorixas we soon understood why Sabina recommended a 4x4 so strongly.
We had a great time because it is a lovely country with great scenery and lovely people, but the fact that it went so smoothly has much to do with Expert Africa's knowledge, experience, and attention to detail in planning our trip.
Thanks again, very much. Funds permitting, we will be back in Isleworth some time in future …."
Arranged By Sabina Hekandjo
Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch
"Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch review"
It was a lovely place to start: relaxed, some interesting game viewing, and staff who were all very keen to give us the best of service and conversation, which they did. The cheetah experience with Paul taking us out of the vehicle in the large enclosure, once he had stepped out to give the 3 males their daily feed, was quite something, more than we had expected, and to get within a few metres of cheetah in the open was great. His enthusiasm and well communicated expertise, and that of other staff, was much appreciated.
The dune chalets are very good (air conditioning!) and being set up one of the Kalahari red dune ridges was nice. . In the Bradt Guide, Bagatelle is shown in the wrong place, on the M41 instead of the D1268 on page 182 3rd edition."
"Canyon Lodge review"
The sundowner climb up on the kopie, and the sunrise walk out to the quiver trees were both of them enjoyable, well guided, and gave some great photo opportunities. Nice swimming pool as well, next to the palm tree: the new one now being built is on the other side of the lodge, still nearly the same distance away, and will give a similar chance to relax in a quiet place. Again, staff were helpful, efficient and charming.
We did drive down to Ai-Ais, but wished we hadn't. It is under reconstruction currently (we were asked politely to leave the building site), was stonkingly hot, and only the last few kms on the road had any real scenery."
Sinclair Guest Farm, Namibia (this camp has since closed)
"Sinclair Guest Farm review"
The Hoffmans have now stepped back from running the guest side day to day, though we had a pleasant chat with Hannelore. It is their son in law Peter who we spoke to mostly and ate with (his wife we saw only briefly), and he was very interesting to talk to about the difficulties of farming in this climate, of what daily life involves with young children there, and a lot of useful context about Namibia's economy and recent history as well."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Sossus Dune Lodge
"Sossus Dune Lodge review"
The accommodation is very good, the situation superb at the foot of a big kopie looking out to the distant dunes, and the staff were also keen to please, and charming, with good food, and a pleasant little swimming pool.
We took the morning drive to Sossusvlei, having asked questions of the customer relations manager about the trip, because it was an expensive one (over $900) and we had our own 4x4. We decided to take the guided trip because a) we knew that the last 5km could be difficult through the sand without more 4x4 driving experience, and b) we know from experience that a guide usually adds so much to understanding and enjoyment.
Our guide Felix was very good at his job, both in terms of cheerful and excellent information and careful and skilled driving, and in most ways the trip was a very successful one. But not in one respect: we left soon after 5.30. but by sunrise at 6.40 I was very unhappy with the trip, because by then we had not even reached the viewpoint at the first red dune.
I had expected, from everything I had read in the Bradt Guide, in Expert Africa's brochure, and everywhere else, that we would head at speed for the tar road and Sossusvlei so as to get down right among the dunes, and preferably to Sossusvlei itself, for sunrise.
I have a new, expensive digital SLR, and deluded optimism about my photographic skills, so this was a real disappointment. After that, as I say, the trip was very good, but the light for photography down there was flat, as my pictures now show.
Felix was great (went and found the sunglasses I dropped a long way back at one point). The reason we were so slow was that the road taken from the lodge to the tar was out over the plain (and through the river channel below Sesriem Gorge), only joining the tar about 10km or more from the gate.
Aware that I would be among the first of your clients giving feedback to you on the new lodge, I asked to talk to Felix later, with two of the managers (including the senior one) also there, so that I could try to get across all the positives as well as explaining my disappointment/frustration, and giving them a chance to give their point of view.
We talked for half an hour, and what seemed to come out of it was that the trip had been more tuned to the other family with children than to my photography.
I made the point that the evening before I had tried to find out about leaving time and getting down to the dunes, but had not had a clear answer, and obviously there was a gap in the communication between that member of staff and Felix.
However, I still can't see for the life of me why the lodge does not, as standard practice, drive the 5 minutes round the back of the kopie to the start of the tar road, and go fast to the middle of the dunes at least, or to Sussusvlei with a really early start.
That is what Sabina (quite understandably) expected to happen, and why she recommended this lodge to us, being inside the national Park so that they don't have to wait till later for entry.
It's what I did myself the next morning at 5.30. Sadly, just as sunrise was a minute away, the cloud came down, and I never got the red dunes at dawn which I wanted …. So, at the least, I think you should tell future clients to insist that the morning trip does make speed, if that is what the client wants, and to ask very pointed questions the night before to make sure that it will."
"Sam's Giardino review"
Sam is so helpful, offering to phone for restaurant booking and trip confirmations for us.
The fish at Erich's restaurant was so good that we went back for a second evening."
Coast and Sandwich Harbour
"Coast and Sandwich Harbour"
3 Feb 2008 • All-day excursion
A very well informed and sympathetic character, who was fascinating on the evolution of the spits and bars there over the distant past, and how it is all changing rapidly now, as well as the ecology of it all and the more recent history of the settlement there.
And his driving to squeeze through just before high tide, then up and over the big dune for us to hear the roaring sands surfing down with the engine off: well, it was so impressive that one of us declined the opportunity on the grounds of vertigo.
Kayaking with seals
"Kayaking with seals"
4 Feb 2008 • Morning excursion
Not only was it a real whiz to be in among the seals leaping around, but we also had a sneakily satisfying feeling from being so much closer in to the beach than the boats could go …..
There was a swell of roughly a metre out on the sea, but it still felt manageable in the good kayaks. Jeanne, like Ernest at Turnstone, is an enthusiast with the ability to communicate well.
These two trips were among the most memorable parts of the holiday. I also took the chance to play 9 holes of golf among the hundreds of Springbok and a few new fawns at Swakopmund, where they were helpful in hiring clubs and lending balls.
"Doro Nawas review"
We have cringed a bit in the past at the cultural dancing at a hotel in Victoria Falls: the little song and dance here after each meal, being by the people we already knew from serving us food or drinks, and singing some of their own songs with such evident enjoyment and humour, was different. Great fun, and I am a huge fan of African harmony.
The long morning drive not only found the elephants, it gave us at 45 minutes or more of relaxed and absorbing watching on the way out, then another shorter session on the way back, and that was excellent, not least because there were two calves of 4 weeks and 2 weeks.
And the landscape we travelled through on the rest of that trip was so varied, and our guide very informative on bushes, trees and birds.
Expensive place to stay, but well worth it. We enjoyed the rock carvings and the guided tour at Twyfelfontain which we drove ourselves to."
Ongava Tented Camp
"Ongava Tented Camp review"
We were made to feel very welcome, and the policy there of mixing all the guests together at the table for the evening meal meant that we had some lively conversations that we would have missed otherwise.
Viewing in the conservancy was good, better than in Etosha itself now that the rains have dispersed the animals."
Erongo Wilderness Lodge
"Erongo Wilderness Lodge review"
Being able to stroll around the walks on our own fitted in with this, and we enjoyed our drive out to the rock paintings, which were just there in a cave in the hillside to be walked up to, rather than an organised place as at Twyfelfontain."