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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by D & S from NZ

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

12

Excursions taken

3

Safari in Zambia

Zambia between 3 Jul 2019 and 23 Jul 2019

Trip rating: Excellent
"Our entire time in Zambia was on safaris, walking as much as possible. We were very happy with the choice of camps , and we had a brilliant time.

We particularly enjoyed the small camps, especially when their atmosphere is informal. We were very happy at Kutali to see Luke speaking Nyanja with the staff.

We are uncomfortable with the post-colonial formality and unnecessary sophistication of food and lodging in wilderness situations; to us they feel like a perpetuation of psychological exploitation. But we love the skill and enthusiasm of the guides and the observation of all features of the environment.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

I used the website and Bradt books a great deal in research."

Pioneer Camp

Pioneer Camp

"Pioneer Camp review"

1 night Arrived 3 Jul 2019
"We were only there for about 3 hours (~3-6am) between flights, trying to sleep, so nothing relevant to write.

Phegan, who picked us up and dropped us back at the airport, was friendly and helpful."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Kutali Camp

Kutali Camp

"Very special low-key wilderness camp"

1 night Arrived 4 Jul 2019
"We spent 1 night at Kutali Camp beside the Lower Zambezi river and 2 nights at Tusk and Mane's other camp on Chula Island. Luke Evans, one of the camp's two founders, accompanied us at both camps.

Location:
Kutali has a beautiful location in a winter-thorn forest, with the scent of the trees coming into flower, beside the peaceful Zambezi River. It is small and personal and we loved it. It is ideally situated for water activities - we had some lovely boat trips, with plenty of hippos and birds, and atmospheric sundowners on the river.

Accommodation:
The tents have mesh walls giving maximum sense of the outdoors, and open-air bathrooms with excellent hot bucket showers and flush toilets. The camps are carefully designed to be as environmentally sustainable and unobtrusive as possible, and the atmosphere is relaxed, personal and friendly. This is supported by Luke's speaking Nyanja (the local language) from boyhood.

Activities:
An afternoon game drive with James at Kutali yielded many elephants, impala, zebra, waterbuck and a leopard, followed by spot-lit white-tailed mongoose, genet and another leopard on the way back to dinner.On a brief morning drive before walking the next day we also saw kudu, warthog and baboons, as well of course as many birds.

We loved the walking safaris at both camps with Jakob, particularly enjoying his explanation of small details of tracking and the environment, and appreciating his care around approaching and avoiding buffalo and elephants. We saw many lion footprints, and the other campers at Kutali saw the group of resident lions, one up a tree, beside the river."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Tafika

Tafika

"A charming institution"

2 nights Arrived 7 Jul 2019
"The drive in to Tafika, through the Game Reserve and then the National Park, was depressing because of the amount of burnt land, and then the numbers of dead mopane trees standing. But Tafika itself is a vibrant and attractive camp, obviously an institution of long standing. It glories in the fresh food from its gardens and the obvious long-term family care it embodies, and has many very happy repeat visitors, though for us it felt a little large and busy,

Location:
Tafika's gardens are possible because it is not actually in the National Park, but it feels as if it is, with a beautiful site on the bank of the Luangwa River and immediate access to the wildlife world.

Accommodation:
The rooms are solid, beautifully detailed and comfortable, though a little enclosed at night for our taste.

Activities;
The game drives were very good, with plenty of sightings of birds, elephant, bushbuck, hippos, crocodiles, baboons, leopards, big herds of buffalo, giraffes, zebra. Night drives showed us hyenas ( in pairs rather than groups, as they apparently focus on stealing leopard kills rather than hunting in that area), genets, elephant shrews, scrub hares and a chameleon. Lloyd's guiding was excellent.

David went for a bicycle ride with founder John Coppinger and a few others - an interesting variation.

As our next few camps would be walking ones we didn't do walking from here."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Crocodile Bushcamp

Crocodile Bushcamp

"Peaceful bush camp"

2 nights Arrived 9 Jul 2019
"We walked to and at Crocodile and Chikoko Bushcamps, so the game-sighting experience was less dense but more intense because of the experience of walking through the environment and all the information this supplies.

We enjoyed the walk to the camp, with guide Stephen and plenty of wildlife sightings(elephants, buffalo, impala, zebra, puku, baboons) and some interesting tracks (lion, hyena, civet , genet). We actually reached the camp mid-morning, after a half- hour tea break en route, so we would have been happy to have spent longer getting there, perhaps by being able to spend time waiting and watching the behaviour of the family of elephants we passed for example.

Other walks from the camp were similarly interesting, and the more local wildlife also. There was a hyena at the camp after dinner, and a little house snake under the table after lunch the next day. Moffat was our very cheerful and competent guide at Crocodile and Chikoko - we really enjoyed the quiet away-from-it-all nature of these walking camps."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Chikoko Tree Camp

Chikoko Tree Camp

"Enticing walking camp"

2 nights Arrived 11 Jul 2019
"We enjoyed the walks from Chikoko in the same way as we had from Crocodile, with guides Moffat and then Amon. It was fun avoiding being right in the path of elephants; we enjoyed the combination of the detailed appreciation of the environment and the necessary awareness of larger issues. Amongst the normal sightings of baboons, birds, warthogs and bushbuck we had the rarer pleasures of a Pel's fishing owl and a bushpig.

The accommodation at Chikoko particularly appealed to us with its upstairs bedroom: we had closeup observation of a bushbuck and more distant views of elephant and impala and warthogs from our room.

A lioness whose tracks had been evident around the camp slept outside our door one night - we heard her moving away when going down to the toilet, and could clearly see where she'd been lying in the dust. A hippo was also around at night.

On our walk out to the river on our last morning we saw a wild dog by itself - very exciting."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Mwaleshi Camp

Mwaleshi Camp

"Riverside retreat"

3 nights Arrived 13 Jul 2019
"Mwaleshi has the distinction of being able/required to walk across the river to the camp, though they were expecting a truck to be able to cross soon. It was pleasant to be able to access the river as well as overlook it, as that section lacked the normal wildlife that prevents such behaviour.

Again we enjoyed the walking safaris, seeing kudu, warthog, impala, puku, buffalo, Cookson's wildebeest, numerous birds and keeping out of the way of elephants we'd watched crossing the river. We saw some rhino dung near the camp, but it wasn't fresh.

We particularly enjoyed a couple of occasions of sitting quietly at waterholes, just watching the normal interactions of mongooses, impala, squirrels, hippos and various birds."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Musekese Camp

Musekese Camp

"Cool camp in Kafue"

3 nights Arrived 16 Jul 2019
"It was quite a long drive from Lusaka to Musekese - a lovely camp with a genuinely remote feel. Nearing the camp, in the dark, a lioness with a couple of half-grown cubs strolled along the road in front of us. We didn't see her again but heard lions at night, and leopards left regular overnight tracks in the camp. A young leopard had just starred on a guest's camera trap lying on the lounge area sofa chewing cushions.

Location:
The camp sits under large trees beside a long permanent lagoon, so there are always various antelopes and vervet monkeys to watch. A hippo plodded past our room in the night. Kafue National Park is very large and mostly very attractive with a combination of plains and a variety of trees, There are some inevitable burnt patches, some firebreaks and some from poachers or other sources. The accommodation is in large comfortable chalets with decks overlooking the lagoon.

Activities:
Our first morning we had a boat trip with Phil Jeffery, one of Musekese's founders, on the beautiful (large, clear and tree-lined) Kafue river. Numerous birds, hippos, monkeys and then a group of elephants snorkelling their way across. Then the wind got up so we returned to the vehicle and found a kill - a male puku covered in vultures - dramatic watching their speedy targeted descents. An evening drive with guide Ephie found scrub hares and black-backed jackals.

On the following morning's game drive Ephie used various alarm calls to discover a pair of young leopards high up adjacent trees, presumably hunting the vervets in them, and then found their mother on a nearby termite mound, calling to them. Great to see the interactions involved. We saw a single roan antelope on the way back to camp. On our afternoon game drive with Tyrone McKeith (the other founder) we had our sundowners across the swamp from 2 leopards and a large grazing elephant.

Our final morning consisted of a very enjoyable walk with Tyrone and 2 other guests - more interesting information on environmental details and sightings of impala, puku, kudu, elephants. In the afternoon we drove to Ntemwa Busanga camp.

Overall a great experience."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Ntemwa Busanga Camp

Ntemwa Busanga Camp

"Remote gem in Kafue"

2 nights Arrived 19 Jul 2019
"Location and accommodation:
Our drive to Ntemwa Busanga from Musekese went through a wooded area well-inhabited by tsetse flies - the only time they actually bothered us in Kafue. Ntemwa Camp itself, though pleasantly situated against trees, had no problem. The camp's attractive minimalist design particularly appealed to us, with its elegant fly over the lounge area, its lunch table/bar on a raised platform and flowering cassia beside the meshed tents. We loved the small size of the camp (just 3 or 4 tents and a resident staff of 4).

Activities:
These consisted of game drives on the spacious Busanga Plains, or around the wooded edges near the camp, and observations at some local lagoons. We saw buffalo, roan and sable antelopes, wildebeest, hartebeest, duiker, puku, impala, oribi and reed buck then a large herd of red lechwe at the further end of the plains. Also of course hippos, crocodiles, warthogs, zebras, elephants and numerous birds, including the attractive wattled cranes, open-billed storks and African skimmers.

A lovely finale to our safari."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Pioneer Camp

Pioneer Camp

"Convenient finale"

1 night Arrived 22 Jul 2019
"We stayed a final night at Pioneer before our flight from Lusaka airport. It was convenient and appropriate.

The staff was pleasant, the shower and food were fine, we caught up on wi-fi - all the necessaries in a pleasant low-key environment.

Transport to and from the airport was seamless."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good

My Jun 2019 trip

Tanzania between 22 Jun 2019 and 29 Jun 2019

Trip rating: Excellent
"We thoroughly enjoyed the part of our Tanzania jaunt organized by Expert Africa.

I had intended to do these bookings myself, but it was much easier, and very pleasant, to have Olivia's expertise!

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

We were very happy to have chosen Expert Africa. I can't make comparative comment about quotations as I didn't seek alternatives.

Likewise the feedback form, as we have no similar experiences to compare. It's certainly long, but I was forewarned by Trip Advisor-type comments!"

Tarangire Safari Lodge

Tarangire Safari Lodge

"Big lodge - great river view "

2 nights Arrived 22 Jun 2019
"Accommodation:
We had the end tent in the row, so felt closer to the "real world" of wildlife. The view down to the river outside was great; when we arrived late morning it was full of elephants, and in the afternoon it was full of buffalo, though the next day it was quiet. During the first night David woke to find a giraffe feeding just outside our tent, and a resident pair of duikers popped in and out of the bushes nearby.

Lodge:
Definitely bulk safari territory; hotel-style stacks of luggage as large groups came and went. Pleasant but impersonal - it was good to have our own guide travelling with us, though he didn't eat with us here as he did elsewhere. Plenty of places to look over the river, though it felt very "drive-in" public just outside the restaurant.

Tarangire NP:
Plenty of sightings in the park, particularly of elephants (as expected), giraffe, zebra and buffalo. a couple of sightings each of spotted hyena, eland and wildebeest, and one of hartebeest. Also jackals, banded mongooses, lots of birds, other antelopes. On the night drive, which we ordered separately but which was very expensive, we saw bat-eared foxes and springtail hares."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Rhino Lodge

Rhino Lodge

"Cosy lodge in the mist"

3 nights Arrived 24 Jun 2019
"Location:
On the Ngorongoro Crater rim without the expense of a "view" over the crater, which at this season is perpetually foggy. Waterbuck on the "lawn" beside our deck. A relaxed and rustic feel.

Lodge:
Cosy fires in the lounge/dining area, and in your room if desired. Our guide ate with us, which was good.

Wildlife:
Good access to Ngorongoro - first car down there I think. Some really interesting behavioural wildlife watching; a standoff/hunt between a large herd of buffalo with an attacked calf, 5 male lions and 12 hyenas.
Also did a half-day walk on crater rim; had intended a walk up Mt Makarot but grass too long for safety, and this season apparently habitually too foggy for views. Alternative well-organised for us by our guide Aminiel."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Lake Manyara Safari

Lake Manyara Safari

"Lake Manyara pleasant en route"

24 Jun 2019 • All-day excursion

The treetop walk was pleasant.

The bird-life on the lake (pelicans, yellow-billed storks) was dense, and the most interesting part was probably really good observation of behaviour of the numerous baboons.
Safari in Ngorongoro Crater

Safari in Ngorongoro Crater

"Fascinating interactions around a kill"

25 Jun 2019 • All-day excursion

It was good to get down early to the crater, as overall it mostly didn't feel crowded, though obviously vehicles gathered at any very specific sighting. A fascinating location, with plenty of game, though not at all with the sense that they were all available or on display.

There were assorted herds of wildebeest, zebra and buffalo, plenty of Thomsons and Grants gazelles, both black-backed and golden jackals, a few elephants, 7 rhino in the distance (in 3 separate groups), hyenas, hippo and interesting birds, including kori bustards, martial eagle, marsh harrier.

A fascinating scenario, which we observed for several hours, was a stand-off between 5 male lions, 12 hyenas and a large herd of buffalo with a calf that had been injured, presumably by the hyenas. We were particularly impressed by the buffaloes' continued attacking of the lions even after the calf was definitely dead and mostly eaten by them. At one stage 3 of the young male lions came and lay against the wheel of our vehicle to avoid the buffalo charges.
Excellent
Kati Kati Camp

Kati Kati Camp

"Good central Serengeti camp."

2 nights Arrived 27 Jun 2019
"Arrived in pouring rain, so muddy, but later on and next day fine. Tent with mesh sides - a favourite style - at the end of the row so good open feeling. Took quite a while to drive in with the state of the road after the rain, but good central location.

On our second night, after a nearby lion roar, a "horse-race" sound of zebra galloped between our tent and the next. Apparently lions slept overnight near the campfire area, but no-one had seen a kill when we left.

We had a good sighting of a female leopard, though not of her cub which we'd seen briefly the previous day, on our way out of the park.

We were glad to be in the company of our driver guide, and sad to see the jam-packed crowd of cars around the koppie where the leopard and cub were. Regulations about the number of vehicles clustering round a particular animal are obviously widely ignored. We also were disturbed to see 3 vehicles from 1 company leave the road and drive right up to a magnificent lion sitting in the grass, previously undisturbed by several vehicles photographing it from the road. The lion was forced to move.

This situation is apparently common, usually caused by tourists pressuring their driver to disobey the rules, either by offering bribes, or to pay any fines, or by threatening to with-hold tips or complain to the company if the driver tries to stick to the rules. Consequently the authorities apparently now, instead of imposing fines (which they know will be paid by the tourists), attack the driver by banning him from entering the park again. The driver thus risks his job and his livelihood if he succumbs to the tourists' demands, causing extreme stress for him.

We think it is important that Safari Tour Operators stress to their clients the importance of not pressuring their guide to disobey rules. The "entitled" selfishness of this behaviour is obviously hugely detrimental to both the guides and the animals on which safaris depend."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Balloon Safari over the Serengeti

Balloon Safari over the Serengeti

"Sliding with the wind"

28 Jun 2019 • Morning excursion

An early morning start gave a little night drive en route to the balloon site: the occasional animal including a hippo crossing the road.
Interesting watching the preparation of the balloons - 6 of them! There were 14 passengers in our balloon, 3 or 4 in each compartment of the basket. It was entertaining to be lying on your back to start then being lifted upright by the balloon.

It was a lovely alternative view of the scenery, and a very pleasant gentle motion, surprisingly fast when you tried to take photos of a particular animal below. The animals did not like the sudden hiss of the gas being turned on: herd animals fled and lions sought shelter against bushes or each other. The gazelles were very impressively camouflaged.

The wind took us along the trajectory of a river - very interesting to see the foliage from above and all the hippos in the pools. We flew over a couple of prides of lions, one with a kill, and up to a tawny eagle on top of a tree - obviously a regular perch. It was fun to see an eagle from above.

When we landed there were hyenas just in front, running from us, and a large herd of zebra on the slopes of the hill in front.

The breakfast was welcome, though the champagne (supposedly "traditional") and colonial dress were rather weird and gratuitous.
Excellent

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