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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mrs & Mr K from Florida

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

3

Lodges stayed in

4

Excursions taken

0

Overall pretty good experience

Zambia and 2 other countries between 18 Jun 2019 and 6 Jul 2019

Trip rating: Good
"In planning this big trip for five people, I enjoyed working with Maruska, who was patient, responsive and knowledgeable over the course of a year. The time zone difference was a minor inconvenience for communication.

We loved Anabezi, really enjoyed Somalisa Acacia, were disappointed by Lion Camp, and appalled by Splash Camp. We paid a lot of money for four nights at Splash and felt it was largely a waste of money, except for seeing painted dog pups.

While much information was supplied, some of it was unclear or inaccurate and I found myself doing research instead of asking Expert Africa again (i.e. WiFi at each camp; what kind of plugs were needed; what are the current baggage requirements). I would have liked more precision about logistics (i.e. there are multiple vehicles involved in some transfers). I also made myself a map of camps and airstrips that would be a nice touch from you.

The little gift of luggage tag and passport holder was thoughtful but not very well designed!"

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


Lion Camp

Lion Camp

"Great game/setting; customer care needs work"

3 nights Arrived 18 Jun 2019
"Lion camp was very good except for customer care and food, which greatly detracted from the experience. The new management brought in a year ago seems out to cut corners.

On our arrival, we were directed to the lunch "buffet," which was one dish and one salad that looked pathetic on the table. Optimistically, we thought, well, we’re at the end of lunch, so maybe other dishes ran out. Nope. We would learn that each meal had only one option. No “seconds” are offered. Our vegan companion had one particularly dreadful meal: basically all veggies, which is not enough fuel without protein. She asked for more to eat and Vicky returned from the kitchen to say there wasn't any more, and walked away without attempting any solution. We couldn't believe it. About 15-20 minutes later, they did bring out more food. But the encounter left a very bitter taste.

Vicky told us they work hard to avoid waste (which we applaud) and guests like her smaller portions; now she knows Laura needs more to eat. And indeed, Laura was provided with a double helping of quiche the next day. But on at least one day, they simply put out the same breakfast dish at lunch. What is promoted as around the clock coffee and tea is two thermal flasks of hot water and instant coffee and tea bags. I will say that the boma meal was great for three of the five of us, and the desserts were always excellent.

The staff was nice but passive, ineffective and inconsistent. For example, they didn’t always offer each person coffee at breakfast. Our friends did not have shampoo in their room upon arrival. When they asked Oscar, the head guy, he called housekeeping, then told them the shampoo was in their room. Which it wasn’t. It was a wasted 10 minutes or so questioning the guest instead of simply providing them with shampoo. In contrast, the bartenders were very good.

The room was comfortable and modern, with good lighting by the bed, and an attached sitting area. Surprisingly, there were no drawers or shelves, though the bathroom had lots of counter space. The deck was great, with a view to the river with hippos and elephants and more. But just a year after refurbish and our room had a very sticky door to the deck; the shower splashed all over the room beyond the small wooden frame; the toilet flush was sticky; the safe did not work electronically.

Their washer had a problem so they were reluctant to take our laundry but I insisted. “Just put it in a pile by the toilet,” Oscar said. Later we were told there was no washer problem—yet both Oscar and Dottie spoke about it (Dottie attempted to explain the problem!), discouraging laundry.

We really liked being able to come and go without a guide on the raised platform although we had a close encounter with an elephant in camp that was a little precarious. The pool at the lodge looked in need of cleaning but the view to the creatures at the river and bank was great. Lion Camp says they have WiFi everywhere, but it seems to be overstretched, resulting in poor service throughout the camp.

We met at 5:30 for coffee/tea, oatmeal and muffins before leaving at 6. Upon our return breakfast was offered with one entrée. Lunch was a “buffet” of one entrée and one salad. Dinner was plated with one entrée (except for one boma night). Sundowners were fine, with real glasses.

Our guide, Meyam, was very good. He worked hard for us, drove well, and was very knowledgeable if a little too serious. We had excellent game viewing, including being the only jeep to watch a mom leopard play with her cub for about 30 minutes, and sitting with a pride of lions as they patiently prepped for a hunt, which was unsuccessful.

On our last night, Meyam asked what time we would like breakfast before departing at 7. We said 6:15. The morning of departure, there was no breakfast. When I asked, they pointed to the usual minimal continental items! After I grumbled to Meyam and Oscar, we were served eggs and bacon around 6:40. It seemed clear to us they had no intention of providing a real breakfast for our departure.

In conclusion: We loved the game and the setting but were quite disappointed by the customer care."
Average
Location
Excellent
Service
Average
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Poor
Facilities
Average
Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp

Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp

"Anabezi was perfect in every way"

3 nights Arrived 21 Jun 2019
"This was our second camp, following Lion Camp, and it was fantastic.

The staff was enthusiastic, energetic and engaging. This was the only camp of four that had studied up on our preferences and fully provided both food and drinks as requested (specifically, rum and pineapple juice; a carton of milk for Randy’s coffee; oodles of choices for our vegan as well as soy milk). Like all the camps, they greeted us as we came and went, but it wasn’t just fulfilling a requirement: they sincerely wanted to know about our day and very conscientious about anything we might need.

Upon arrival, they directed us to the late lunch buffet, which was a bevy of delicious choices. At 3:30 tea, they showed us a menu of choices to order for dinner! There were about items including veggie/vegan salads. They had cappuccino all day!

The room was spacious and lovely, with a separate sitting area, ample shelving, a mini bar and kettle. Bush babies were in our beds when we returned in the evening. The bathroom, with only a tub, could use more counter space-we just pulled in a small table. There is only an outdoor shower—but that included a sink and a toilet. The deck was gorgeous and vast with a private dipping pool. They had yoga mats for your use in the rooms!

Walkways went nearly a half mile from one end to the other, where there was another lounge with a full bar. There were numerous animals coming and going in the camp, with a few resident elephants as well. Hippo grunts were our bedtime lullaby. Wifi was limited to the main tent and it was excellent there.

Breakfast was at a civilized 6:30 with a fresh cooked egg option (and did I mention cappuccino?) with the game drive at 7. Noon lunch had about three entrée options and two salad options plus fresh bread and fruit. Tea at 3:30 was a yummy dessert cake. And dinner was plated based on your menu choice, except for one offsite boma that was delicious.

Our guide Mwila was the best of our trip. He was highly engaging with excellent communication, knowledge, driving skills, curiosity and sense of humor.

Anabezi highlights water activities and the sunset cruise was fantastic with elephants crossing the river at sunset. We arrived on a little island for our sundowner, and there was a full bar with glasses on a white table, and two elephants to greet us! Magical. (We opted not to do a sunset cruise at Victoria Falls because of this wonderful experience.)

We did two cruises, one canoeing and one nature walk. They were great though obviously reduced our number of full game drives (which were less spectacular than elsewhere--it seemed to me the animals were a little more skittish here).

We hated to leave this lovely camp: but to send us off en route to the airstrip was a gorgeous young leopard posing in a tree.

In conclusion: Anabezi is a world-class lodge with spectacular river setting"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Somalisa Acacia

Somalisa Acacia

"Somalisa Acacia: Fantastic watering hole"

3 nights Arrived 26 Jun 2019
"Somalisa Acacia’s highlights were excellent game and an amazing watering hole that drew a bevy of creatures all day right to our doorstep, especially elephants.

This small enclave is around the corner from the main Somalisa, which looked nearly identical. It had a larger watering hole where elephants liked to swim, but our watering hole is where they come to drink. When I think of our 13 nights on safari, the image I keep coming back to is lying on a lounge chair and watching the elephants large and small at my feet, herds of buffalo trooping through, smaller groups of kudu cautiously sipping, zebras frolicking, species ignoring or battling each other.

Somalisa started as a bush camp with bucket showers and is still somewhat rustic. The canvas tents are not designed that well, with light switches and plugs in odd places; and a bathroom with a draw curtain for the toilet but not for the shower (though it had a huge lovely tub and an outdoor shower, too). There is good shelving behind the bed and adequate counter space in the bath. It is warmed by a small wood stove, which is stoked for you at night, but did not last through the early morning, making it very challenging to get out of bed. You’re awaken by a knock and a pot of coffee accessed through a pass-through cabinet.
(The family room is two connecting rooms; the smaller one has its own door but no wood stove or outdoor shower.)

The deck was generous with a comfy hammock. The lounge had a small bar, sitting area, dining area, pretty pool, great deck, two fire pits. There is no WiFi.

Any discomfort with our lodging was forgiven and forgotten as we basked in intimate animal encounters.

Dining was relatively simple but tasty: choose your own items for a stir fry was our first dinner; choose your own toppings for pizza was one lunch. Breakfast was light, with porridge and cereals and toast by the fire; tea and snacks were pretty weak. They did a nice job catering to our preferences (vegan, etc.), and brought in a sparkling wine the day after I asked for it.

Our stay was enhanced by new, young manager Phindile, who helped solve a room problem creatively and quickly. Our guide Albert was good, with excellent language and knowledge. He said he plans to retire in two years so perhaps he wasn’t quite as energetic or conscientious as he could have been.

We had some terrific game viewing, including “hunting” with a pack of painted dogs, enjoying a pride of lions with six cubs, and watching a cheetah gnaw at his supper. Somalisa provides warm, lined ponchos instead of blankets, and we appreciated the windproofing and the hood.

I would return for that watering hole; I’d just bring more warm clothes in the winter!

In conclusion: Very memorable location/game/experience"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Average
Food
Good
Facilities
Average
Splash Camp

Splash Camp

"Splash camp: good game, tepid customer care"

4 nights Arrived 29 Jun 2019
"This was our final camp of four, and was unfortunately a disappointing one.

We chose the Okavango Delta for its water experience and while the water activities were still offered, the landscape was parched as this was the second year of drought. The view from the lodge and rooms was dull, dry and flat, a stark contrast to the lively visual excitement of our other camps.

We experienced poor staff interaction/knowledge here: maybe it was cultural but there was little warmth, enthusiasm, or initiative. This is a very large camp, holding up to 28 people, and I’m sure that creates a challenge to staff appropriately. We were disheartened by the tepid environment and the quality of the guides/trackers considering the price point, the well-known Kwando brand and our previous camps.

There was a bar cabinet, but no bartender. Meals were in one long table that can hold 28 guests plus guides. And yet they only had 2 salt/pepper shakers (and two butters and two water jugs) for the whole table! Unlike other camps, we did not get personalized water bottles—they provided glass bottles--and you had to pick up your own bush baby for the night.

Our room was modern, with an attached sitting area, good shelving in the bathroom area, a small deck (though the room is clearly designed to have a longer deck). It was the only camp without universal plugs or USB ports. And they never changed our towels over four nights. As cold as it was, they could have drawn the exterior canvas awnings over the screens to provide more shelter, but they didn’t. We were surprised by what seemed to be unfiltered water that came out yellow and weak. Splash did not seem focused on sustainability as the showers emptied straight onto the ground beneath the chalet. Somalisa, by comparison, has an entire system to recycle “grey water” for the watering hole.

Dining was good and they did well with our requests for no vinegar, mayonnaise or mustard, setting aside special plates for us. Breakfast was porridge, toast, muffins, cereal sitting around the fire pit. Most lunches/dinners were buffets with a starter soup and dessert. Tea was very good with yummy desserts.

The staff seemed dispirited and passive. While some greeted us, others did not. They often spoke to each other in their native tongue while guests were standing there, which felt uncomfortable. It seemed as if they had never been taught about hospitality and customer care.

One night there was a boma dinner. It was very cold. Splash is the only camp of four that didn’t had blankets on the chairs for a boma. I asked for one and was given a disbelieving look and questioned about what camps in Botswana provided blankets. They finally brought two (one for me and one for my daughter) but it was done very begrudgingly.

There was a persistent attitude at Splash of “that’s how it’s done in Botswana”, with requests outside of that standard viewed as annoying and demanding—which is obviously unacceptable at that price point. Notably, our first guide boasted of Botswana as “high cost, low volume,” with apparent disregard for value. We chatted with many guests who were fans of Kwando, and they also said this staff was not quite up to par despite this being Kwando’s premiere lodge.

We struggled with our first guide. We found him to be ponderous, unengaged, uncommunicative. He really liked lecturing AT us: we learned his first aspiration was to be a teacher and we were shocked to hear he’s been a guide for 14 years. During a sundowner, where we could hear another jeep laughing nearby, he attempted to give us a review of Botswana history, with many uncertain dates and details. On the morning of the second day, he was rushing us to see mating lions and slammed into a huge rut that nearly tossed me out, jarring my back so badly it made me nauseous. I was in tears and feared it was serious. Fortunately it wasn’t. My daughter got hit by a branch that almost hit her eye.

We were placed with a group of four travellers with whom we could not build rapport. Since they were seated in the front, we took the third row, where I had comfortably ridden in our other three camps. But this jeep had two large coolers at the base of the third row so you had nowhere for your feet, making it awkward and a little precarious as you weren’t quite stable. One time, I noticed they shoved one cooler under the second row, which helped a lot. But when I asked them to do it again, they were resistant (“this is a bigger cooler; it won’t fit”) instead of eager to please.

Upon our arrival, Charles had (a little reluctantly) developed a plan to give us another guide for a day to do a game walk and a cruise. That plan changed because there was a cheetah on the hunt and we chose to forego the private guide. After the jarring drive, Charles was very attentive and supportive, and provided us another guide for our last day and morning. This made a huge difference.

David was so much friendlier and enthusiastic—he was one of the few who introduced himself to us at the beginning with warmth. Our final days were immensely better: even though we had three flat tires in one day! (Another example of inferior services: I asked my fellow guests who wanted to use my hand sanitizer and David said he did—it was provided in all the other camps!)

The game was pretty good though we never saw a leopard. The best part for us was being around a large pack of rare, endangered painted dogs, including seeing a dozen pups emerge from the den and frolic and feed. We had a nice sunset boat cruise in a channel (very few animals nearby but hippos and an enormous crocodile), and a nice mokoro canoe outing around a pond.

Splash is the only camp in which we felt a little unsafe. There is only a dirt walkway between spread-out chalets, with minimal lighting. At least twice, guests couldn’t get to their rooms in the evening as elephants were all about (this happened to us!). Staff had no weapons and our guide told us about helplessly running away from baboons the day before. While we were walked to our rooms at night, we were unescorted in the wee hours to breakfast, when it was just as dark and unlit as at night, and when lions, hyenas and elephants had just been walking through camp.

(Interesting note: their guides had to work harder and longer than in other camps. They wakened guests, ate with guests, and accompanied guests back to their rooms at night. Other camps had other staff to walk guest, and guides did not always dine with their guests, which is a nice break for everyone.)

Compared to Anabezi in Zambia, which was the same price point, Anabezi was a 10 and Splash a 4.

In conclusion: This Botswana safari was not worth the time, money and frustration."
Average
Location
Good
Service
Poor
Activities
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Facilities
Average

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