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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr & Ms B from Florida, US

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

3

Lodges stayed in

21

Excursions taken

0

Our Mar-Apr 2022 trip to Namibia and Botswana

Namibia and 1 other country between 9 Mar 2022 and 13 Apr 2022

Trip rating: Excellent
"This has been our fifth trip to Southern Africa and the second that we booked with expertafrica. We spent three weeks self-driving in Namibia and then roughly two weeks on a fly-in safari in northern Botswana. Compared to our 2021 trip, this one featured much more landscape (as can be expected of Namibia) and more interactions with humans. That’s not to say that we didn’t see any less wildlife than on previous trips.

I would like to also emphasize that this trip was the first time that we visited this region at the end of the southern summer, i.e. at the very end of the rain season. Previously we had traveled here only in October (3 times) or July (once). We were pleasantly surprised by all the greenery, and we weren’t bothered by mosquitoes in any significant way. However, I should point out that my wife was often bitten by midges, whereas I wasn’t.

Virtually all guidebooks point out that the dry season is the best time to visit Africa in order to get the best wildlife sightings. I readily admit that the tall grass sometimes impedes tracking down predators, however, as my review of the camps in Botswana shows, we were not really short-changed of lion and cheetah sightings. Overall, except perhaps for leopards (only 2 encounters in 5 weeks) the wildlife sightings were as good as in the dry season, and in some aspects they were even better: To us, the animals appeared to be more relaxed or at least less stressed, due to the availability of food and water.

Everybody we talked to said that the region had a good rainy season. However, during our whole stay, we only had one brief shower (during siesta time in Etosha Heights) and one morning game drive in Nxai Pan, during which we had to wear rain gear and protect our cameras.

All ten safari camps are, in our minds, highly recommendable. And, as it turned out repeatedly, we saved the best (Kwara Camp) for last. This is not in any way to diminish the experiences we had at other camps. They all had their special appeal. However, if asked which are the places we are most likely to revisit again, they are Okonjima, NamibRand, Tau Pan and Kwara Camps.

I would like to add a comment about the flights to the various camps in Botswana. All of them took place on time and, most importantly, got us safely from point A to point B. However, I don’t quite understand why the departure times are only given to us the day before. I understand that for the airlines it can be challenging to come up with an economic way of handling these flights, but isn’t it true that virtually all of these trips are booked months in advance? For instance, on our way from Maun to Kwara Camp, we stopped in Xaranna and then Shinde Camps, whereas on our way back to Maun, it was a direct flight of 25 minutes.

Finally, a comment about Covid-19. Entry requirements with regards to corona changed during our trip: While we had to produce a negative PCR test for our first destination Namibia (to the tune of $250 per person) they lifted that requirement one week after we arrived, and Botswana lifted its requirement for the test before we crossed into Botswana. So did South Africa. The US, on the other hand, still requires a negative PCR test, so we did that in Maun one day before our departure back home. However, no one asked us to produce the paperwork!

I would also like to commend the way the camps in Zimbabwe last year handled the seating arrangements during the meals. They provided separate tables for each party rather than having everybody sit together at one or two tables along with the guides. I sense that this is a delicate issue and that it’s really up to company policy and not expertafrica to decide what’s best. With regards to guests sitting together I much prefer the separate tables arrangement, because in our five trips to Africa so far, our experience has been that the vast majority of conversations one has at these occasions amount to not much more than small talk: Where have you been, and where are going from here? Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, we got to know one couple from Switzerland and, on another trip, a couple from the UK that we really liked to talk to, and then we simply asked the camp staff to set up a table for four instead of two.

And with regards to the guides sharing the dinner: Of course, they deserve to have a gourmet dinner just like the guests, but I would say, they can have it in the quiet of the staff quarters, because in my mind, they deserve a well-earned break because they work hard enough already as it is. Again, in our experience, we had virtually all of the stimulating and significant conversations with them during the game drives, the coffee break and the sundowners, but not during dinner time."

Feedback response

Thanks for these really interesting points, and great to read the report of of a traveller who has been to Africa at different times of the year really enjoying a trip in the 'green season', and commenting that "the wildlife sightings were as good as in the dry season, and in some aspects they were even better".

Looking at the specific point about seating for dinner at camps... there are two broad opinions on this: some travellers love share tables with other travellers at camps, to chat and exchange experiences; others much prefer to eat at separate tables with only their own companion(s), or perhaps with just one or two guests of their choosing.

For those thinking of travelling, we'd comment that if you prefer to eat separately, and not dine communally, then please let us know this as a 'special request' when you book. Then we can let the camps know, and many camps will be able to arrange this for you.

In extremis, tell the camp manager in the morning, and s/he will sometimes be able to organise this for you in the evening.

Arranged By Sabina Hekandjo


Image alt

Casa Piccolo

"Casa Piccolo review"

1 night Arrived 9 Mar 2022
"This was our third trip to Namibia, and it has become a tradition to stay at this B&B after our arrival in Windhoek. It is a very cozy place in Klein Windhoek, with a quiet courtyard, buildings painted in a very pleasant dark yellow. It provides excellent breakfast. It’s also in nearly walking distance to two grocery stores where you can stock up on food and supplies, which is particularly helpful for self-drivers, who, by the way, may also appreciate the secure and very generous parking lot. I noticed that this facility is not in expertafrica’s portfolio, but I would recommend to add it.

On our first night in Windhoek we drove a couple of kilometers to Stellenbosch Wine Bar & Bistro to have dinner with patio seating. The dinner was excellent and, if I may say so, way better than the food that we got at Olive Grove Guesthouse or the Olive Exclusive (see below)."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Safarihoek Lodge

Safarihoek Lodge

"Safarihoek Lodge review"

3 nights Arrived 10 Mar 2022
"This lodge was our first proper safari destination. Originally we had planned to go to the Ongava Reserve, but their camps were either fully booked or closed for renovation. Therefore, with the help of expertafrica we chose this one as an alternative. It is one of several private nature reserves adjacent to Etosha National Park, which we visited in 2016. That was our first game reserve on our first trip to Southern Africa, and we were enthusiastic about it at the time. However, in hindsight it was very much a mixed experience, largely due to the enormous number of self-driving tourists that, quite frequently, misbehaved at some of the waterholes.

This reserve, with a landscape that does not really resembles Etosha NP proper, was a pleasant surprise. Although the camp is easily accessible by self-drivers they do not drive through the reserve themselves but participate in the guided activities.

We came here for one major reason, namely that this park features white and black rhinos. And indeed, we saw both of these species several times, thanks largely to the perseverance of our guide Ramon. Besides seeing all the usual suspects, such as springbok, blue wildebeest, zebras and giraffes, we also had several nice encounters with a coalition of three male lions, and on our second day here, we had an experience that we never had before. On a drive to the western boundary of the reserve we encountered a pride of lions consisting of several adult females, 2 grown-up males, several subadults and 2 cubs, altogether there were like 8 or 9 lions. The males stayed pretty much in the background, but they roared ferociously. The animal closest to us was an adult female next to an adolescent male. Even we could sense that the female was not too happy to see us. She just stood there and gave us a scrutinizing look. After 3 or 4 minutes, she and then the whole rest of the pride decided to turn the tables and they started to chase us! Ramon, our guide, immediately started the engine and got us the hell out of there: First, he drove in reverse (luckily those Toyota Landcruisers appear to be much faster than regular sedans) and then did a 180 degree turn. We and the other two guests in the vehicle were quite eager to hear what he had to say about this.

Well, since he never saw this pride of lions before, he guessed that they probably just moved in from Etosha, and he assumed that they most likely had a bad experience with cars recently. To me that made sense, because according to him, there were rangers operating in the area to protect the resident rhino population. These rangers might not have shown the lions the proper respect, who knows. And now, this was their act of retribution, and Ramon was not convinced that this was just a mock charge. As scary as that might have been it did not prevent us from seeking out lions during the rest of our trip.

I would like to mention another commendable fact: Our guide Ramon consistently managed to position the vehicle in such a way that I could photograph the animals at eye level (rather than from above).

The rooms, the amenities, the service and the food in this camp were all very good if not excellent. But this is not our priority when traveling to Africa. We don’t come here for good food or luxury accommodation, but for encounters with animals and people."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Hoanib Valley Camp

Hoanib Valley Camp

"Hoanib Valley Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 13 Mar 2022
"This camp did not so much impress with its wildlife: We only had a few encounters with giraffes, one oryx sighting and one zebra sighting. Our guide Mamsy told us that a short time ago they had five black rhinos in the area, and while one died of old age, three others were poached during Covid-19, so they have one black rhino left. Very sad. Other than that, there was no sign of either desert-adapted elephants or lions, although we saw tracks of them both.

We still don’t regret coming here, because the area was all the more astounding for its otherworldly landscapes. More than once we felt like being on a different planet. Mamsy was exceptionally knowledgeable and she made sure a visit to a Himba village nearby was one of the highlights of the entire trip.

The camp was, as expected, very luxurious and provided very nice views of the Hoanib valley. On our first morning we drove to the river, and its waters were raging. In the evening of the same day, the water was nearly gone."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Etendeka Mountain Camp

Etendeka Mountain Camp

"Etendeka Mountain Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 16 Mar 2022
"If at all possible we stay at each camp for at least three nights. Due to logistic reasons, we stayed here only for two nights: otherwise we would have to reorganize the whole itinerary. As it turns out, two nights were enough.

The camp is nicely situated, and the landscape was, once more, pretty amazing, but again it came up short on wildlife. We went on a nice walking safari in the morning after our arrival the previous day, and on a game drive that afternoon we did come across a group of 5 lions dozing off in the shade. This would have been a great experience for a first-time safari traveller, but since we have seen plenty of lion action in the past, this was a little underwhelming.

Of all the camps we visited during this trip, this one was the least luxurious one. For instance, the tent was just big enough to accommodate the huge kingsize bed, and the toilet and a bucket shower were located outside. Accordingly, the price of this camp was much more reasonable than in other places. I would like to point out though that the degree of luxury in many other camps tends to be overdone. And the guiding here was of similar quality as in many other places that charge much more.

I would like to point out one more thing. Since we traveled by car, and our next destination was southeast from here, we took a little detour to drive to the rock engravings at Twyfelfontein.

These are several thousand years old, and this has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Truly impressive and very much worth it."
Average
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Average

Location
Good
Service
Average
Activities
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Good
Facilities
Average
Okonjima Villa

Okonjima Villa

"Okonjima Villa review"

3 nights Arrived 18 Mar 2022
"Although this is a fairly small nature reserve (200 km2), its wildlife is second to none. An absolute highlight was that several of the resident white rhinos visited the waterhole right in front of our camp. And we tracked on foot the next day, an experience not to be missed. In addition, we saw them on several other game drives. Moreover, we saw two leopards who were just lounging around.

The chances of seeing leopards here largely rely on the animals carrying a radio collar, which is not to everybody’s liking. When I enquired about the option to equip them with a GPS sensor our guide Opari told us that in fact they are thinking about it. Needless to say that this would enable the guides to track them much more efficiently.

We ended our stay here with a visit to the Africat Foundation where we also saw five cheetahs close up in a fenced enclosure. However, you wouldn’t know this from the gorgeous pictures I was able to take of them.

The rooms were very spacious and tastefully furnished. And the food was from out of this world."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Olive Grove

Olive Grove

"Olive Grove review"

1 night Arrived 21 Mar 2022
"The room was very much OK, except for the fact that it lacked screens behind the windows. For people who love fresh air at night, this is an absolute no-no. They also have a nice patio.

Dinner was average and nothing to write home about, but the breakfast was fine.

As far as parking is concerned, it’s easy to park your car, but as soon as there is more than one other self-driver, getting out of the premises is a nightmare."
Average
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Average

Location
Good
Service
Average
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Average
Facilities
Average
Dead Valley Lodge

Dead Valley Lodge

"Dead Valley Lodge review"

3 nights Arrived 22 Mar 2022
"This is one of only two lodges “inside” the National Park. I emphasize this because we chose this lodge because we wanted to see the sunrise at Dead Vlei, which is approximately 63 km away. And while the first sixty kilometers are on a paved road, the last 3 km are deep sand, which requires an experienced 4x4 operator. In other words, we booked a guided tour performed by the lodge. However, the lodge is located outside the second entry gate, which opened at 6 AM sharp. We argued with the guide the evening before that given the strict speed limit of 60 km/h, we will never make it in time for the sunrise, which was expected to be at around 7 AM. Well, the guy drove us there at a speed of 90 km/h, so we actually ended up being the first at a couple of minutes after 7 AM.

Anyway, I harp on about this, because there is indeed another lodge inside the second gate. It’s called Sossus Dune Lodge, where we stayed in 2018, and they can drive guests to Dead Vlei starting around 5 or 5:30 AM. Their food may not be as good as that provided by the Dead Valley Lodge, but the rooms are much nicer and provide the better views (in our opinion).

Another point I want to bring up is the way they handled the sundowner they offered us on the first evening after our arrival. Well, it consisted of a short drive to an unremarkable dune 5 minutes away, and they had the guts to charge NAD 700 per person for that endeavor. Compared to the NAD 980 p.p. they charged for the guided sunrise tour (which lasted for about 7 hours and included a lunch) this was outrageous.

Other than that our stay in Sossusvlei was really all we had hoped for. As spectacular as ever, and we’ve been here twice before. Bearing in mind what I said above, I would, however, recommend the Sossus Dune Lodge."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

Location
Average
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Wolwedans Dune Camp

Wolwedans Dune Camp

"Wolwedans Dune Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 25 Mar 2022
"Having been in Sossusvlei twice before, we were curious about the adjacent NamibRand Nature Reserve, and we were really taken in by the stunning vistas this area of the world provides.

It’s somehow similar and yet distinct from the Namib-Naukluft National Park. For one thing, there appears to be more wildlife: Besides oryx and springboks, we also saw giraffes, zebras and red hartebeest here. I would like to point out that it was here that we had the very best oryx sightings of the entire trip. And I would almost say that the landscape here is more varied than that of the neighboring National Park.

We would be very happy to return to this camp for another visit."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Olive Exclusive

Olive Exclusive

"Olive Exclusive review"

1 night Arrived 28 Mar 2022
"This is a really fancy boutique hotel, which after staying in safari camps for several weeks, feels a little unusual. As in neighboring Olive Grove Guesthouse, windows can be opened, but they are not protected by screens.

The food was better than at Olive Grove Guesthouse, but still didn’t reach the stellar quality of some local restaurants."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

Location
Good
Service
Average
Activities
Average
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Kalahari Arms Hotel

Kalahari Arms Hotel

"Kalahari Arms Hotel review"

1 night Arrived 29 Mar 2022
"We only stayed here for one night on our journey from Windhoek to Maun. For any travellers planning to drive this distance (approximately 800 km) this is one obvious place to break the journey down in to two stages.

Other than serving as a gateway to the Central Kalahari GR, I cannot speak to whether or not this location is suitable to engage in any safari activities."
Average
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Average

Location
Average
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Facilities
Good
Thamalakane River Lodge

Thamalakane River Lodge

"Thamalakane River Lodge review"

1 night Arrived 30 Mar 2022
"We stayed here one night before and one night after our fly-in safari in both the Delta and the Kalahari Desert. Other than being located a little bit too far from the town, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind. With its location on the river you get some nice views and the sounds and background noises (frogs and hippos) remind you that you are in Africa.

We knew this place from our trip last year, so we knew what to expect: It’s a perfect little place to relax and unwind. Given its location 20 km from Maun, it’s probably not the place for those interested in shopping or exploring the Maun nightlife."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Tau Pan Camp

Tau Pan Camp

"Tau Pan Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 31 Mar 2022
"This was our fourth trip to Botswana altogether, but our first visit to this area, and we were really surprised by the landscapes and the sightings. One reason to come here was that this camp, as well as the next one on our trip, belongs to Kwando Safaris, a company that we have learned to appreciate through repeated visits to the Kwara Concession in the Okavango Delta. To summarize, this camp really lived up to our expectations. Another pleasant surprise was that we saw AT again, who in 2016 during our first visit worked was our tracker and in the meantime moved up to be camp manager here.

As for the wildlife, this camp did not provide great variety. Other than herds of oryx, wildebeest, and springbok there were no other herbivores to be seen. On the other hand, this camp really excelled in its lion encounters. We ran into the Tau Pan pride (2 adult females and 6 juvenile lions) several times, twice they came drinking at the waterhole right in front of the camp, and this opportunity made a dream of mine come true, which was to photograph several lions, lined up like ducks, drinking a waterhole.

On another occasion, the same pride performed quite a show when they were agitated by a poisonous snake right next to our vehicle. I could not believe that such powerful predators could so easily be scared by an apparently much less potent animal. However, these lions showed the utmost respect for this little reptile and wandered off to “their” waterhole (see above). Other than that, we came across two male lions who were feasting over a buffalo kill, and black-backed jackals fearlessly tried to join the party.

The camp, the service and food quality leave nothing to be desired, as is expected of Kwando Safaris. We are certain to return here again at some point."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Nxai Pan Camp

Nxai Pan Camp

"Nxai Pan Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 3 Apr 2022
"This camp was most memorable for its landscapes and skies. It was here, at the eighth out of ten camps, that we saw the first elephants on the entire trip. No baby elephants though, only males traveling mostly in small groups. With the exception of seeing one angry male lion guarding his dinner there were no other big cat sightings, although our guides identified leopard tracks. On the other hand, we got a glimpse of the annual migration of what appeared to us huge springbok and zebra herds.

One big highlight was a drive to the Baines’ Baobab trees, which were immortalized by a famous 19th century painting.

It was also here that we had the only heavy rain during the entire trip of five weeks. So, one morning we were wearing rain ponchos and the cameras were protected inside plastic bags that the camp gladly provided.

The camp, the food and the service was on a par with the other camps of the same company."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Meno A Kwena

Meno A Kwena

"Meno A Kwena review"

3 nights Arrived 6 Apr 2022
"The location of this camp is phenomenal. It sits high on the banks of the Boteti River, which regularly flows since 2008. Unfortunately, for any wildlife activities we were here too early. Everybody expected the zebras and other animals to come here a month later.

We saw plenty of elephants (males only) strolling along the Boteti River, but apart from that, wildlife encounters were a little thin. No predators whatsowever, although our guide did his utmost best to track down lions (the tracks were there).

I also need to emphasize that during this time of year, we had to drive about one hour before we got into the actual National Park and see any wildlife.

The camp, on the other hand, was really to our liking. It is built in classic safari style that breathes “Out of Africa”. I should also mention that we ended up in the same tent that Harry and Meghan spent some time in. Not that it matters too much ..."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Kwara Camp

Kwara Camp

"Kwara Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 9 Apr 2022
"As mentioned elsewhere, this was our fourth trip to Botswana, and we have made it a tradition to come to one of the Kwando Safaris camps in the Kwara Concession last, and as before, we enjoyed every minute of our stay (except for one little detail, see below).

The reason for coming here repeatedly is just due to the fact that during our first visit, we saw a cheetah successfully hunting a reedbuck and, on the same day, a pack of wild dogs making a kill right in front of our the camp. These are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are hard to duplicate. Not that the other wildlife sightings we had here gave us any reason for complaints. Quite the contrary, during that same first visit we saw a mating dance of saddle-billed storks, we saw elephants crossing the rivers during a boat cruise in the Moremi GR, and we saw lions making faces. Subsequent visits to this camp were similarly spectacular: In 2018 we saw a young female leopard posing for us in a tree (we saw her again last October), and we enjoyed, for the first time, seeing a couple of lions mating (a spectacle we will never forget).

So, how did this camp stack up against the others and previous visits? In a nutshell, we were in seventh heaven, once again, despite the fact that the season was not optimal, according to all the guidebooks. We encountered elephant herds with babies (no such thing in the other camps), we saw plenty of herbivores (except cape buffalo and rhinos), and to top it all off, we met Mr. Special again, an 8-9 year old cheetah that we followed for hours on two consecutive days. On the second day we saw him scanning the neighborhood for a breakfast and plotting his next moves, but unfortunately, we missed witnessing him making the kill. We met him again a few moments after, and saw him having breakfast.

The following day was just as dazzling insofar as we ran into the resident pack of wild dogs which frolicked around a waterhole with splashing water and all that.

The food and the amenities of this camp were as phenomenal as during past visits."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Thamalakane River Lodge

Thamalakane River Lodge

"Thamalakane River Lodge review"

1 night Arrived 12 Apr 2022
"We stayed here one night before and one night after our fly-in safari in both the Delta and the Kalahari Desert. Other than being located a little bit too far from the town, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind. With its location on the river you get some nice views and the sounds and background noises (frogs and hippos) remind you that you are in Africa.

We knew this place from our trip last year, so we knew what to expect: It’s a perfect little place to relax and unwind. Given its location 20 km from Maun, it’s probably not the place for those interested in shopping or exploring the Maun nightlife."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good

My Oct 2021 trip

Botswana and 1 other country between 8 Oct 2021 and 20 Oct 2021

Trip rating: Excellent
"This has been our fourth trip to Southern Africa. The excitement of seeing animals in the wild hasn’t worn off. So, it won't be our last. We have become addicts, so to speak.

All three lodges are, in our minds, highly recommendable. But, as I said to my wife, it looks like we saved the best (Kwara Camp) for last. This is not in any way to diminish the experiences we had at Muchenje or Lebala.

It’s no secret that we had spent 12 days in Zimbabwe (organized by a different tour operator who granted us a voucher for a trip cancelled in 2020): 2 days in Harare, 2 in Kanga Camp, 3 in Nyamatusi, and 4 in Somalisa Camp. That was also very enjoyable, but I’m mentioning this here for one specific reason. In Zimbabwe, at mealtime we were always given the chance to have a table by ourselves, whereas in Botswana they followed the tradition of having the guests sit together at one big table. Well, we didn’t get sick, so everything went well, but just as an aside, we sometimes dreaded the kind of small talk we had to engage in when communicating with other guests. Maybe we were just unlucky this time.

This was the first time ever that we did an exclusive fly-in safari, which is very intense. It’s non-stop action, and thanks to the wonderful camps we did not fall victim to a sense of fatigue that we anticipated.

We chose to do it this way because we didn’t have the courage to do self-drive during the corona pandemic. But our worries were not necessary, because everywhere we went, the people dealt with the dangers of corona in impressive ways. Masks were worn by nearly everybody, shops and airports greeted you with a temperature check and hand sanitizer (!). Anyway, under normal circumstances we like to combine the fly-in with a self-drive, and that’s what we have planned on doing next year. In our experience, you get to see a bit more of the people and the land, and spending some time on the road is quite relaxing.



Not really. Everything worked quite smoothly from start to finish, which I can’t say about our daily life in the good old USA. Maybe that’s to be expected in this luxury travel segment, but still, I think it’s worth mentioning.

Since the Lebala airstrip was closed for repairs, Lucy in fact contacted us in Chobe to offer us the opportunity to switch to Kwando Lagoon Camp, since this meant that our ride from the airstrip to Lebala was going to be around 2.5 hours instead of the usual 15 minutes or so. After a short discussion among ourselves we decided to stick to Lebala."

Arranged By Lucy Copson


Batonka Guest Lodge

Batonka Guest Lodge

"Batonka Guest Lodge review"

1 night Arrived 8 Oct 2021
"We stayed here only for one night on the way from Zimbabwe to Botswana, so our insights are limited.

For instance, we didn't take part in any activities that the lodge might have offered. But the decent sized swimming pool was a highly appreciated experience."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Muchenje Safari Lodge

Muchenje Safari Lodge

"Muchenje Safari Lodge review"

3 nights Arrived 9 Oct 2021
"Overall, this lodge excels most with its magnificent location high on an escarpment on the south side of the Chobe River, providing fantastic views over the flood plains.

The game drives were great fun, and so was the cruise on the Chobe River. Due to the pandemic and the concomitant lack of guests we often enjoyed the luxury of being alone in the car or boat with our guide Ali.

One particular sighting really stood out from the rest: A group of five youngish lions showed some interest in a bunch of buffaloes, and they even launched a half-hearted attempt to attack them, but then the tables turned, and the hunters became the hunted. In a few moments, all the lions went into hiding in the bush. No-one got hurt, thankfully.

Another thing I would like to mention is that the guides are prohibited to do off-road driving, which is the rule in National Parks all over Southern Africa. However, our guide more than once disregarded this rule and thus afforded us some sightings that would not have been possible otherwise.

Also, due to the fact that this is a National Park, a small but noticeable number self-drivers were also seen. For instance, the one and only leopard sighting we had was sort of spoiled by the fact that in no time the poor animal was surrounded by 8 jeeps, and some of them actually pushed themselves in front of the queue. Of course, this was not the lodge’s or our guide’s fault.

The rooms were really pleasant, and one thing that we enjoyed very much was the fact that they had air condition, and unlike in even better hotels in the US, it made no noise.

To summarize, our stay was really enjoyable, and I would like to recommend this lodge to anyone coming to Botswana for the first time. I say this also because this lodge is much less expensive than some of the camps in the Okavango Delta."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Lebala Camp

Lebala Camp

"Lebala Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 12 Oct 2021
"Our visit to this camp started in a spectacular way: we saw one leopard on our way from the airstrip to the camp, and another one on our first game drive that afternoon. They both were doing what leopards are known for: hanging out in trees. And unlike our experience in Chobe NP, we were the only guests watching them, so our guide Elvis could drive around and provide the best possible angles for photography.

Other than that, our activities were really focused on lions, and for big cat people like us that was really a joy.

At least one tour operator in the UK rates this camp as the best for lions in all of Africa, based on long-term observations. This was one major reason to visit this camp, and the other one was that we have become fans of Kwando Safaris (see my review of Kwara Camp). While we had plenty of lion sightings, we didn't see any cubs or many females. We happened upon several lion matings, which are always a memorable sight. Our guide Elvis assured us that this camp "has too many lions". According to him there was a territorial "war" going on between competing males, which is why a large pride of females with their cubs retreated into the hinterland.

We also were lucky in meeting one male lion to perform a roar a few meters from our vehicle.

I would also like to mention that, on the morning of our departure, we sat on the veranda of our tent, and out of the blue, a lion pair showed up engaging in a lengthy rendezvous approximately 50 to 60 meters away. In between matings the lioness showed some interest in us and moved closer to the tent. That was the signal for us to retreat back behind our screens. We were in fact picked up by a staff member in a car, although the walking distance between the tent and the main area was perhaps only 100 meters. As soon as we entered the car and slowly drove away, the lioness walked towards the tent, briefly went under the veranda and sniffed it out. But it was of no particular interest to her, as she quickly returned to her loverboy.

Another thing that puts this camp and the others of Kwando Safaris in a different league is that they utilize a driver and a tracker in their cars. Based on our experience, this often increases your chance of finding predators.

The room, the food and the facilities were all exceptional, as we came to expect from Kwando Safaris.

Taken together, I would recommend this camp wholeheartedly, particularly to those with a strong interest in the big cats."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Kwara Camp

Kwara Camp

"Kwara Camp review"

3 nights Arrived 15 Oct 2021
"This was our third visit to the Kwara Concession, and we don’t regret it for one second.

A special touch of this camp is that they actually assigned the two guys to us that we had the pleasure of having as our guides twice before: Big Tom and ATee. And this time they even gave us a “private” safari, even though we hadn’t booked one. Anyway, these two are outstanding, they always went the “extra mile” in providing us the best angles and perspectives without even having to ask.

I realize that I gave the other two camps mostly 5 stars, and if I had the chance I would rank this camp’s rooms and activities with 5+ or 6 stars. The degree of luxury provided was more than we need. For example, the rooms were at least 1.5 if not 2 times larger than anything we had encountered before. And it continues to amaze us how, in the middle of the bush, they can cook such delicious lunches and 4-course dinners.

Anyhow, on to the more important aspects. Our first afternoon activity was hard to beat in terms of highlights. First there was a lioness with her one cub, and they put on quite a show for us. This was followed by a pack of wild dogs who were busy feeding on a reedbuck they stole from a leopard. We watched them for about an hour or so, until not much was left of the animal. To conclude the first day, after sunset we met a leopard “Splashgirl” at a waterhole, and it was particularly nice as we had seen her before in 2018.

In the same context I’d like to mention that we saw a male cheetah we also encountered in 2018 and a lion coalition called the “Zulu boys” that we saw for the first time in 2016!!! Back then they were like 3 or 4 years old, and now, according to our guides, they were having issues with a bunch of challengers.

On our last morning drive, shortly before we had to leave for the airstrip, we encountered a female cheetah with her two cubs who were posing for us on a termite mound.

Another memorable sighting was a tsessebe antelope with her young and another calf that she was babysitting.

I can’t praise this camp enough for the sheer variety and quality of sightings, so much so that we are planning to come back here next year."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Thamalakane River Lodge

Thamalakane River Lodge

"Thamalakane River Lodge review"

2 nights Arrived 18 Oct 2021
"We had planned to stay here only for one day, to wind down from all the excitement, but thanks to our airline we had to postpone the return flight by one day.

The rooms, the food and the service were all immaculate, and they arranged a taxi for us to take us into town. And the location on the river provided some really nice views."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good

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