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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs Delta from Spain

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

6

Excursions taken

0

Fantastic!

Botswana and 1 other country between 10 Aug 2008 and 23 Aug 2008

Trip rating: Excellent
"We had a fantastic trip. All the logistics worked out perfectly, our flights from camp to camp were all in the middle of the day so we didn't miss any activities and all the flights except the last one were without any stops and we were the only passengers. The only incident came on the trip back home, when our BA flight from joburg to heathrow had a 4 hour delay, so we missed our connection to Madrid and had to take a later flight. At least they didn't lose our bags!

We really liked the lodges & camps, most of them met or exceeded our expectations, and we will recommend them to friends, except perhaps Jack's Camp, which we didn't like that much: it's too stuffy and snobbish for our taste, the people there need to loosen up a bit. Also, we didn't like that they plan all the activities for you and don't tell you what the plan is when you arrive, it's like they want everything to be a big secret surprise, a bit childish and condescending.

All the rest were fine, our favorite was Duma Tau. I also loved Mapula because of its very relaxed and laid-back atmosphere and its focus on game viewing; my wife also liked it though she found it too rustic and less tidy than the others.

Expert Africa did an excellent job in organizing this trip, keeping us informed of changes (e.g., when NationWide Air went bankrupt and the flight was changed to BA), submitting all the info, etc. I especially liked the "camp availability chart" they sent us so we could figure out how to fit our preferred camps in the itinerary, that was a most useful tool for urs."

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


Royal Livingstone Hotel

Royal Livingstone Hotel

"Best location in the area"

3 nights Arrived 10 Aug 2008
"The Royal Livingstone is a very nice hotel, luxurious and well kept. It is very big (170 rooms), so it is rather impersonal and touristy, but that was expected. The best thing about it is its location: on the eastern bank of the Zambezi, within walking distance (10 min) of the falls, we could see the spray from our very comfortable second-floor room (though we couldn't see the river because of the trees…).

The garden is big and full of large trees, and also plenty of vervet monkeys and some baboons, which are fun to watch for a while but then become a nuisance as they are very bold, you really need to keep your room well shut. We also saw zebra, impala and giraffe in the hotel grounds.

The service is generally very good, though it has many small glitches typical of big hotels in third world countries: one day they took the towels without putting new ones, another they didn't refill the minibar, didn't put more toilet paper, etc, no big deal really, and every time we called our butler he quickly came to fix whatever hadn't been done right.

The food in the restaurant is excellent and served pompously, which is kind of funny. The sunset bar is great, though it only opens from 5 to 7 and it's small, so you have to be there early to get a good seat as it quickly fills up for the sunset. Watch out for the monkeys: while I was enjoying a Dry Martini looking at the sunset, a vervet monkey jumped on the table, snatched the olive out and ate it! at least I reacted fast enough to give the little bstrd a slap in the back, and the good thing is that they gave me another drink.

On the day of arrival we had a 45 min swedish massage, which was great to recover from the long flight from Europe. They give the massage in outdoor gazebos overlooking the river, very relaxing (except when you hear the occasional hippo grunt nearby!)

We stayed 3 nights, which I think is perfect for exploring the falls from both sides (Zambian and Zimbabwean) and doing the 3 key activities: Livingstone island, river safari, helicopter. You can probably cram everything in with just 2 nights, but it would be very tiring unless you leave something out. I strongly recommend going to Zimbabwe to see the falls from there, the views are much better and it is perfectly safe.

We also did an elephant-back safari, which was great but there are other places in Africa where you can do it, so I don't think it is a “must” here. The activity I recommend the most is Livingstone Island, it's incredible how close you get to the falls, don't go if you suffer from vertigo. The heli ride is also awesome, breathtaking views over the falls. The river safari is very recommendable (certainly better than the bigger “booze cruise” in the African Queen), but not that unique (e.g., the one in Chobe is much better)"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Garden Lodge

Garden Lodge

"Great Value"

2 nights Arrived 13 Aug 2008
"We liked The Garden Lodge a lot. It has a family atmosphere, like you're staying at a friend's house; it's a small 8-room lodge run by a German couple (well, she's really Swedish), really nice people, they made us feel very welcome. It's located right on the bank of the Chobe river, it has a nice garden with a jetty from where you leave for the sunset cruise. The price is very appealing compared to the more popular lodges in town.

Don't expect extravagant luxuries here, but the basics are very well covered: clean room with flush en-suite toilet, hot water, balcony, electricity to recharge batteries, even AC (not necessary this time of year). There's also a plunge pool. The food is good, nothing fancy but home made. The decoration is simple, non-pretentious, African-inspired.

The room size is adequate (we were in #4, second floor), with two levels: the main one has the bathroom, balcony and a big comfortable bed with mosquito net, and then there are two small twins on the second level (also with mosquito nets), so it's a great place to go if you have kids. A funny thing is that there are two mirrors in the shower, not sure what they're for...

Standard activities are game drives in the morning (either 6 to 9 or 9 to 12) and sunset cruises (3 to 6), but they are flexible. We did a “full day” game drive (6:30 to 12:30) one day, and an early morning game drive (6-9) on the day of departure, plus sunset cruises on both evenings. Since the “full day” drive counts as 2 activities, we had to pay extra for it.

On both game drives we had the vehicle all to ourselves. The cars are Landcruisers with a canvass roof, they have three benches that seat 3 people each, plus two seats up front. We did all activities with the same guide, Calvin, he's great, has an amazing ability to spot game (eg., spotted a malachite kingfisher sitting on a branch from across the Chobe), he's very experienced and has a bit of a swagger, in a cool way.

In terms of game viewing, we had some good sightings: saw four lions (a big male and 3 lionesses), herd of 15 sable antelope (first time we've seen sable), big herd of over 100 buffalo, many elephant –including a baby less than a month old-, puku (also first time for us), many birds. It was good to do a long drive, as it allowed us to get further inside the park and leave the crowds behind. Example: when we say the lions, close to the gate, we counted 16 vehicles around them, but we were all alone where we saw the sable, which was near Ihaha. On our way out of the park we had to help another lodge's vehicle that had gotten stuck in the sand, their guide seemed clueless and Calvin took charge and pulled them out.

The sunset cruises were great, better than the drives. The garden lodge's boat seats 18, 6 rows with 3 seats each, which may seem a lot but was actually one of the smallest boats we saw in the river- and there were many. The first day we were 12 guests on the boat, the 2nd 13. The river banks are teeming with wildlife, you are constantly seeing animals: elephant drinking, hippos, crocs, water monitors, red lechwe (another first), baboons, plenty of birds (many fish eagle, king fishes, black heron doing the “umbrella thing”, jacana, storks, etc). The sunsets in the Chobe were probably the best in the trip.

The second night after dinner we had an interesting surprise: 2 hippos and a waterbuck came into the garden (which is not that big) and were grazing there for 10-15 minutes. Apparently, one of the hippos does that almost every night, but the managers where shocked to see two of them. Also during the day a family of warthogs visited the garden several times."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Jack's Camp

Jack's Camp

"Pluses and Minuses"

2 nights Arrived 15 Aug 2008
"We have mixed feelings about this place, some things we really liked, others we hated.

We liked: The activities are all very interesting and very different from the other camps. The landscape is beautiful and out of this world, so vast and quiet, it's worth the visit just for this. The food, excellent, without a doubt the best of the 5 camps we stayed at.

We disliked: the somewhat snobbish and arrogant attitude. They treat guests in a condescending way, was the only place where a manager or guide didn't sit down with us upon arrival to inform us of the activities and make a tentative plan. They make the plan for you, don't tell you about it -the place is all about surprises, a bit childish-, expect you to love it and get defensive if you suggest changes. Also, it was the only camp that didn't give us a feed-back form upon departure.

The tent was spacious but uncomfortable. We didn't like the decoration, too stuffy, the 1930-40s style feels completely out of place. There is really nowhere to put your clothes (eg, 2 hooks were the only hangers). The beds are very short: I'm not a tall person (1.8 m) and didn't fit in the bed, which is a pain because at night it gets so cold you really have to tuck yourself in completely, so I couldn't really sleep much.

Not having electricity in the tent was more of a problem than I expected. Thankfully, I brought a flashlight from home (strongly recommended if you come here), which came in handy to find things in the semi-darkness. Also this no-electricity thing is a bit phoney, because they do have a generator for the water pump and the kitchen, they just choose not to put lights in the tents for “a more authentic experience”. By the way, the first morning there was no water in the tent because the pump broke down during the night. No light, no water, no good.

I recommend a 2-night stay here, which gives you plenty of time to do the key excursions: meerkats, walk with the bushmen, quadbiking, walking in the pan. There's not much more to do, but if you stay a third night they guarantee a suprise activity. More on that later. There used to be another interesting activity: visiting the brown hyena, but apparently these animals disappeared 3 weeks before our arrival so we couldn't do it, maybe they'll come back... ask before you go if this interests you.

(Now comes the spoiler, so don't read on if you like surprises)

At Jack's they make a huge deal about their “surprise activity”, which consists in sleeping out on the pan. Looks like they do it every 3 nights, so you are only guaranteed to do it if you stay 3 nights. We only stayed 2 nights but were lucky and had the surprise. Too bad it was a surprise, because we weren't prepared for a night out and had to go back to camp. If they had told us instead of making this big secret about it, then we would have stayed. Again, this is all a bit childish. But it was very nice having dinner in the pan, it was a beautiful night (with a lunar eclipse!).

Honestly, I think the “3rd night surprise” is just a marketing gimmick to make people book for 3 nights, otherwise no one would, given that the camp is so expensive and you can cover the key things in 2 days. There are other places in Africa where they give you the chance to sleep under the stars and don't make such a big fuss about it."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Average
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Poor
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Mapula Lodge

Mapula Lodge

"Great for game-viewing fans"

2 nights Arrived 17 Aug 2008
"Mapula is a place for serious game viewers. Everything revolves around game viewing and they are very flexible with schedules, provided that everyone in your group agrees to the changes. Lunch time and dinner time are never excuses for cutting short a good sighting here. The “standard” drives are a little longer than at other places: 4.5 hours instead of the more usual 3-4 hrs, but you can do them even longer (we did a 6-hr one). You can also do mokoro rides and bush walks.

This was the only place -of 5 camps- where we had a tracker in addition to a guide/driver, and we found it really helps you see more things. Also, the car has no roof at all which is much better for seeing birds and animals on trees. Our guide and tracker made a great team, they are both very familiar with the area and have an incredible eye for game spotting. Josiah, the guide, also has a fine sense of humor that makes the long game drives even more enjoyable.

We had some very good sightings here: during the drive to camp we saw a pride of lions eating a warthog, and then on the morning of departure we saw 10 different lions at different sites, one of them eating the remains of a baby elephant carcass. But the main attraction here are the wild dogs, there is a pack that has denned close to camp for the second season in a row, so we spent most of our game drives with them. The pack has 7 adults and 13 pups.

What I liked the best about this lodge is the atmosphere: very relaxed, completely laid-back and nonchalant. Totally “Hakuna Matata” style. Doctor's (the manager) personality contributes to this for sure, he is such a character, always joking, and has a contagious laughter, we immensely enjoyed our conversations with him by the fire. Like in other camps, the manager and guides sit with the guests at dinner, but here it really seems they do it not just because they're following the rules but because they actually enjoy it. There's a strong feeling of community in this place. I also loved the “24hr self-service bar”, you just go behind the bar and fix yourself a drink anytime.

The food is probably the clearest area for improvement at Mapula. I think it wasn't bad at all (I really enjoyed the Ox tail the first night), but my wife didn't like it, and I agree the food here is one or two levels below the average at other camps in the area.

The chalets at Mapula are cool. Rustic and a bit basic, definitely no luxuries at this lodge, but comfortable. We liked the decoration, simple but looks very African, the whole chalet vaguely resembles a hut in an African village. Ours even had a tree branch going through it! The front part of the chalet, which overlooks the lagoon, is open (i.e., no wall), just has a mosquito net separating the room from the wild. The bed was big and comfortable, a tad short though. The bathroom is nice, it has an tin-like bathtub inside and an outdoor shower, has two wash basins, which look like tin buckets. We had problems with the toilet flush, it kept running, they had to come in and fix it several times. The hot water normally works well but we had to take a cold shower once because none was coming out, we told Doctor and when he came into the room to check, the hot water was back.

Another area for improvement is the cleanliness of the room. I mean, it's not really dirty or anything, but it is less tidy than in other places, and there are more bugs. This didn't bother me at all, though my wife found they have to put more effort into cleaning. Anyway, It's true that this lodge is a little rougher than the typical camp, not a place to expect lots of pampering and luxury.

The area around Mapula is beautiful –most places in the delta are-, feels very remote even though they told us there are a few villages not too far from the lodge. The terrain is very rugged and they frequently drive off-road, which is fun but very bumpy (specially in the back row) and you have to watch out for branches (no roof). The lodge itself has very nice views over a lagoon, you can see hippos and birds. One night we were awoken by an elephant eating right next to our chalet, they later told us that a herd of 8 visited the lodge that night."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Average
Facilities
Good
Camp Moremi

Camp Moremi

"Very well managed"

2 nights Arrived 19 Aug 2008
"This camp is very well maintained, everything looks brand new even though it is one of the oldest in the delta. The camp is right on the Xakanaxa lagoon inside the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, it has a viewing deck with very nice views over the lagoon.

The tents are smallish but comfortable, the cleanest and tidiest of the 5 camps we visited in Botswana, decoration is simple but tasteful. The bed was also the most comfortable: adequate size, perfect mattress consistency, we slept so well here. Even though it is a tent, it has a proper door which makes it more practical to get in and out and allows to lock it and avoid baboons or squirrels getting in (there are many around camp). The tent is underneath a higher canvass roof which gives permanent shade to the tent, making the temperature inside pleasant all day, but there's also a fan inside if it gets warm.

The bathroom is in a separate smaller tent, on the same elevated platform, like 2-3 meters from the main tent. They provide you with a flashlight in case you need to use the bathroom at night, but it is so close it isn't really necessary. Having the bathroom separated from the main room is not ideal, but it wasn't a problem either. The bathroom itself is big, great shower, one side is open (no wall, just mosquito net). The tents are a bit too close to each other, our neighbors could probably see us in the bathroom from their deck if they wanted to.

The food here is very good, and the dining room nicely decorated and, like the whole camp, shiny. The waiters & kitchen staff sing a welcome song every night before dinner, it's entertaining (great voices) but looks too touristy. One night after dinner there was a hippo grazing in the camp grounds, the managers said this happens frequently, they also explained that a week before they had a leopard walking around at night!

Our guide, Mod, was excellent: extremely knowledgeable, great guiding skills, good sense of humor, talks just the right amount. I recommend you ask for him if you come here. His knowledge of Moremi's roads became invaluable, as he took shortcuts and detours when mini-traffic jams formed at key sightings, which allowed us to have a good view of the animals in spite of the congestion.

That is the main downside of this area: Moremi Game Reserve is accessible by road from Maun, so there are many private cars in addition to the ones from the 3 camps here. Also, no nightdriving, no walking and no off-roading. The upside is that this area is clearly the one with the largest concentration of animals of the ones we visited, here you are almost constantly seeing something, good sightings are never too far apart. Also animals are very relaxed around vehicles so you can get close.

We saw 11 lion, a leopard, a pair of honey badgers, many elephants (including herd of 30+), impala fighting, dwarf mongoose, hippos, crocs, giraffe, red lechwe, kudu, zebra, etc

You can also do boat rides around the Xakanaxa lagoon and adjacent channels (it's a motor boat, no mokoro here), I highly recommend it. In addition to great views of the channels and islands around the lagoon, we saw two elephants bathing, many hippo, red lechwe, and immensely enjoyed the visit to the heronry. The place is bustling with birds, there were more than 100 yellow-billed storks (with the pink plumage they have in mating season), dozens of cormorants, several marabu storks, white egrets, grey heron, black capped night heron. There was a lot of noise and activity with birds coming and going, bringing small branches for their nests. We enjoyed a gin & tonic while watching the bird action, and then another spectacular sunset."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
DumaTau Camp

DumaTau Camp

"Wonderful"

2 nights Arrived 21 Aug 2008
"Duma Tau was our favorite of the 5 camps/lodges we visited In Botswana. It scores very high in all the “key categories”: food, service, accommodation, staff attitude, game viewing focus, guiding skills, etc and we didn't find any major flaw worth mentioning.

The camp has 9 tents, accessible by elevated wooden walkways. The tents are spacious and comfortable, very clean and nicely decorated, and there is a combination safe. The bed is huge, king size. The bathroom is en-suite, quite big, has indoor and outdoor shower and very nice toiletries. The tents have a thatched roof and canvass walls; the front of the tent is open (no walls: sliding doors with just a net) so you can see the lagoon from bed and hear the noises of the bush at night. We were awoken by hippos a couple of times in the middle of the night. The tents are a bit too close to each other, but not too much.

The main activity here is game drives, which happen in the morning (6:30 to 10:30) and afteronn ( 4 to 7:30). You can have nightdrives upon request (we did one from 10pm to 12am). They also do boat rides around the lagoon in front of camp (ours was 1hr long, right after lunch) and bush walks, which I strongly recommend.

The staff & managers are well trained, very friendly and take good care of the guests. One of the nights they prepared BBQ dinner outside, in an enclosure they use for this, it was very pleasant and the meat really good. Another day they surprised us serving lunch in the bush, right by the water under the shade of several huge african mangosteens.

The landscape in this area is outstandingly beautiful and feels very remote. The Savuti channel was flowing (it hadn't since like 1985) and had an eerie feel about it, like it doesn't belong there, with its banks full of wildlife in contrast to the dry and deserted interior.

We saw plenty of wildlife: 12 lions, a leopard, 5 hyenas, in addition to elephants, hippos, crocs, all sorts of antelopes, dozens of exotic birds, etc"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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