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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr K & Ms S from Roswell

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

5

Excursions taken

0

My 2017 October safari

Botswana and 1 other country between 14 Oct 2017 and 28 Oct 2017

Trip rating: Excellent
"Trip as a whole was great!

In retrospect, I would have not spent four nights at Machaba (or any probably), but as I spent a day there sick I'm glad I didn't have to fly that day as well. I was disappointed in the suggestion of Machaba, since I had specifically said I wanted to avoid the 20-cars-around-one-animal sort of safari. That only occurred around the leopards and the lions, but still... I had raised this concern specifically with Richard and he assured me that the guides would manage it, but there was no way to manage it with so many camps/lodges and individual drivers."

Feedback response

We’re really pleased that most of this trip went well, but clearly our advice on Machaba’s area – given in February 2017 when this booking was made – was out of date.

I (Richard Ball) have been going to the Khwai area for the past 20 years. Last year (2016) I visited three times, each time droving myself and staying for 3-5 days. This year (2017) I spent 5 nights there in May. I didn’t experience high volumes of traffic here. Around the most interesting sightings I only saw about 3/4 vehicles. However, thinking about this, my recent visits have mostly been in the quieter months, like February, May and November.

This year (2017), two colleagues, Chris McIntyre and Tracy Lederer, have both visited this area within the last couple of months after this trip was organised. Chris stayed at Machaba in August and Tracy in October. Both know Botswana exceedingly well; both reported numbers of vehicles around the top sightings that were high by the Okavango’s usual standards. Chris and Tracy also discussed this issue with the guys on the ground.

Now we realize that this area (NG19 – The Khwai Community Reserve) is probably being rather over-used during the busiest season. There have always been a handful of camps here, like Machaba. However, with a recent increase in the number of campsites (used by for self-driving visitors and temporary safari camps), numbers spiked during the busiest part of this year. The regulations in NG19 aren’t currently well-enforced, so when it’s busy, many safari vehicles will drive in NG19 rather than driving in Moremi itself. Hence the experience of very busy sightings during October.

At Expert Africa we try and give the accurate advice from first-hand experience. In this case – we were out of date. We’re sorry.


InterContinental O.R. Tambo

InterContinental O.R. Tambo

"Comfortable and Convenient"

1 night Arrived 14 Oct 2017
"We stayed in the InterContinental twice for overnighters - once on our arrival in J'burg from the US, and again after our safari and before flying back to the US.

The InterContinental is a full service hotel, which partly means that it is very luxurious and partly means that it is very expensive. However, it is hard to beat for convenient access to the airport without having to use taxis to get around.

We had the bed-and-breakfast package, which provides a very substantial full breakfast as part of the package. We both ordered from the menu, but I looked over the buffet as well and was amazed at the size and variety offered."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Camp Kalahari

Camp Kalahari

"Surprising amount of animal life"

2 nights Arrived 15 Oct 2017
"I didn't know for sure what to expect at Camp Kalahari in terms of wildlife. I expected meerkats, but didn't know if we would see anything else. I was pleasantly surprised by both the amount and the variety of life we saw. Three male lions sleeping, then again in the morning on a kill, surrounded by 27 jackals and innumerable vultures. A huge mixed herd of wildebeest and zebra at a waterhole. Ostrich and secretary birds and black korhaan. Most surprising were several bachelor herds of elephants.

Our guide, Bones, was great! At the beginning of the trip, I told he we would like to see some of the rarer, more nocturnal animals, such as brown hyenas, aardwolves, aardvark, and also gemsbok. Though we saw no gemsbok, he was able to give us a sighting of the aardwolf, a great view of a brown hyena (in daytime) and even a short nighttime glimpse of the aardvark and springhares. Bones even spotted a pair of cheetahs, recognizing them just by their eyeshine.

The tents were not as luxurious as some of the other tented camps - smaller and a little less fancy. Access to the bathroom area required passing through two sets of zippered openings, which was tiresome but not really a big deal.

Food was excellent. We enjoyed the bushmen visit, although we had to cut it short due to a flight out."
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Chitabe Camp

Chitabe Camp

"Chitabe revisited - excellent again"

3 nights Arrived 17 Oct 2017
"In 2009, Chitabe was the first camp we visited and was the only one we chose to visit again on this (our second) trip to Botswana. I was very happy that we visited again - it was as good as we remembered, yet provided a very different experience.

The tents are very nice - I like the ones with sliding doors as at Chitabe much better than others with zippers. Greater ventilation would have been nice on those 100 degree (F) days. The food was excellent and provided in great quantity as always. The staff was always attentive and helpful. This was all as it had been on our first visit too.

What was different this time was the wildlife experience. Our first trip saw few elephants and many buffalo - on this trip it was the opposite. Bushbuck were in camp every day, and I think an elephant came to visit every day as well.

Gordon, our guide, was excellent - he could spot animals without even looking at them. (For example, on two occasions, he backed up after passing under a tree to show a giant eagle owl that he hadn't seen "directly" - just realized after going by "wait, that wasn't a branch!")

We had numerous elephant encounters, spending time with large breeding herds, including one large group spread across the road in front of us. We saw a female leopard both in and out of the tree where she had cached her kills, and a male leopard whose path through a large thicket Gordon successfully predicted. We saw some lions. Wild dogs had been out of the concession for a few days before we arrived, but Gordon found them on our last evening drive and the next morning as well. We also spent some quality time with a trio of spotted hyenas.

Gordon informed us that there are now (sometimes) white rhinos in the concession. That was immediately high on our list, but they were apparently out of the concession during our visit. We did encounter some people who were there just after us who did see the rhinos, so the possibility exists."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Machaba Camp

Machaba Camp

"Wonderful setting, but too many cars"

4 nights Arrived 20 Oct 2017
"I would love to rate Machaba camp higher. The camp itself has the nicest setting of all the camps we were at. The tents, though zippered, were the best ventilated of all the camps we've been to. Food was great, the public areas were nice, great views from the breakfast tables.

Unfortunately, I don't go on safari for food or tents. I go to see animals, and to have a quiet, somewhat private experience with them. Both of these are difficult (not impossible) at Machaba.

The number of individual animals seemed much lower than we had seen at other camps. Long periods of driving with only birds to see. At first I blamed our guide, Kitso, thinking he was just not pointing them out to us, but I think they just weren't there. Part of the reason is that the concession is just across the river from the Moremi Game Reserve. Animals can stay on the reserve and not have to be bothered by those annoying tourists.

And there are a lot of annoying tourists - at least compared to the private concessions I've been in elsewhere. On our first night, a male leopard in a tree was spotted, and there must have been twenty vehicles surrounding the tree - exactly the kind of encounter I did NOT want to have. There are seven camps (I think) that share the concession, and numerous self-driver/campers. At the private concessions, the guides work to ensure no more than three vehicles at any sighting. Here, there's no control so it's just a free-for-all.

In spite of the above comments, we did see lions, leopards, hyenas, baboons, elephants, giraffe, and a few impala. In fact, one day I was sick in camp and four elephants came into the "front yard" of the tent and grazed for a while, then a few members of a troop of baboons trooped on past.

The government is apparently considered changing the rules to reduce the number of camps and self-driving campers in the area. I truly believe they should do this, because I feel like this experience hurts the Botswana "brand". It Machaba was the only camp I had ever visited, I'd probably have been thrilled with what we saw, but having seen what else is available, I was not satisfied."
Average
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Selinda Camp

Selinda Camp

"Great camp and the best guide"

3 nights Arrived 24 Oct 2017
"Selinda is a wonderful camp. Service and food is very good (as it was at every camp). The setting is very scenic and the Selinda Spillway provides for some water activities not available at some other camps. The tents have sliding doors (vs. a trio of zippers). Ventilation is adequate. Selinda is the only camp with a ceiling fan - which I thought would be great, but it didn't produce as much air movement as I had expected.

We were fortunate in having our guide, Donald, as our private guide for our three day stay. (There are advantages to going during the hottest time of year). Donald is a photographer, as are my wife and I, so he was usually able to get us into the best position for great shots.

Donald found a pair of cheetahs who had been absent from the concession for several months. We were able to witness a couple of hunts with them (Warthogs 2, Cheetahs 0). There was a huge breeding herd of elephants (around 50) on the shores of the spillway. Donald found some purple gallinule. We saw the dominant male lions of the area, as well as two different prides of females and cubs. We found a leopardess with whom we spent some up-close-and-personal time (she walked right under the safari car). There were many red lechwe, some impala and waterbuck and kudu, and even a lechwe/waterbuck hybrid.

A hippo was out cropping the grass right on the front yard of the tent, and there were numerous hippos in the spillway."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent

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