Travel reviews by Mr C & Mr K from Oxon
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
Our trip to Zimbabwe October 2018
Zimbabwe and 1 other country between 29 Sep 2018 and 16 Oct 2018
We are big fans of Zambia because of the excellent walking but we liked the combination of walk and drives we experienced in Zimbabwe.
Mana Pools was busier than Hwange, which was very quiet. In Mana Pools, it is strange to see people walking in the park without guides. In Hwange it was wonderful to be away from tsetses and mosquitos."
Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport
"Convenient overnight stop in Nairobi"
Stretch Ferreira Safaris Camp
"Good experience at Goliath"
The accommodation is basic but comfortable and provides everything required. The tents are closer together than in other camps (so there is less privacy)."
"Vundu - one of our favourite African Lodges"
Hwange Bush Camp
"Hwange Bush Camp review"
We were told that it was not necessary to put "valuables" in the camp safe but as all our bags were visited by mice (although the bags were not on the floor and we carried no food - this has never happened to us before), we would not have been amused if the mice had chewed through $ and passports rather than ear plugs and tissues. We would recommend zipping all bags closed and putting money in the safe.
Although our guide was very good and we had some good sightings, it often seemed that they were struggling to think of things to do with us, due to a lack of local knowledge. As is obvious from the species list we did not see much variety of animals. It was often necessary to drive quite a long way to see anything, whereas I feel the point of a bush camp is to feel isolated but self contained. (There were even suggestions that we might drive to Camp Hwange for viewings, which seemed to defeat the object of being at the Bush Camp).Next year the location of the Bush Camp will change, which may correct some of the shortcomings."
"Excellent Camp Hwange"
Good comfortable vehicles.
In addition to the animals on the list, we saw Klipspringer, Ostrich with chicks, Serval, Honey Badger, Martial Eagle, Verraux's Eagle Owl and African Wild Cat. Although we failed to see a black rhino (on our 20km walk) we heard one....
A pangolin was seen the day before we arrived!"
"Ilala Lodge review"
Pleasant garden and nice swimming pool."
"The Emakoko review"
Staff very attentive and Rachel was an outstandingly welcoming host.
Very good food.
Very spacious and comfortable rooms. Ours was at the top so getting there was hard work but it had the best view."
Excellent return trip to Zambia
Zambia between 5 Sep 2016 and 23 Sep 2016
Tsetses were an issue, as we can both react badly to them. Much worse in South Luangwa than last time and we had one particularly bad Tsetse walk in North Luangwa. We were expecting them in Kafue - Musekese was better than expected, Busanga Plains much worse. All the camps were free of tsetses.
Disappointing that information on the Expert Africa website is inaccurate. Overall service from Expert Africa was very good, as usual. However......although the wallet is better than the old one, I still think it is daft to give people a wallet every time they travel - I won't use it again and it will join the other 2 wallets in my desk drawer. A shirt would give Expert Africa free advertising as well as being useful for the recipient (I've mentioned this before but it fell on deaf ears!).
I also think you should ask if people want a copy of Zambia before you sent it. When I got mine I thought it was a new edition but found it was identical, so it went straight to recycling."
"Very comfortable overnight stay"
Although we were leaving before the normal breakfast time they arranged for us to have a full cooked breakfast at the time we wanted. Very reasonable charges for food and drink."
There is more to do than at most other camps (driving, walking and the river) and because there are 3 guides to a maximum of 8 guests, you are guaranteed almost personal service - and you would never have to walk with more than 4 people.
The food was delicious and healthy - and not too much!
The guiding was excellent and Phil and Tyrone do everything to make your stay sensational. They were also very keen to hear and take on board feedback.We will definitely make a return trip - with no tsetses the stay would have been perfect!
Tsetse flies were present and just about bearable but the 5 hour transfer in an open vehicle to Busanga Bush Camp through a tsetse ridden forest was very unpleasant."
"Great Camp but emphasis not on guiding"
The camp itself was excellent and could not be faulted, with excellent accommodation and food and very friendly and attentive staff. The only downside, as far as we are concerned, is that you eat separately rather than together and we enjoy the social aspect - however, we did meet some German guests there who said they preferred to eat alone.
The camp is the same size as Musekese but has 1 guide, compared with Musekese's 3 and the only option is rather tedious game drives. There are a lot of animals on the plains but not much variety and the guides main interest was to show us lions. (We did see, before the guide, a clawless otter and a monitor lizard devouring eggs from a nest it had dug up).
The balloon ride was excellent - much better than a flight I had over the Masai Mara many years ago - because it flew very low.
The ride to the airstrip, through a tsetse area was very unpleasant and it was difficult to get into the plane without being accompanied by a swarm of flies!"
"Even better than last time!"
Food, accommodation and guiding all excellent and mountain biking with John is always great fun.
On the last day, we asked to do a morning walk but they were short of rangers, so they took us to Chikoko so that we could walk to Crocodile with another couple - nothing is too much trouble to ensure you have a wonderful stay."
The camp is perfect. Lovely location, good accommodation, excellent food and brilliant guiding. The ability to have a splash in the Mwaleshi river after a morning walk is a big bonus.
However, we have been spoiled on our previous trips in that all our game walks have been alone or with two other people and, unfortunately for us, the camp was full for the whole 6 days we were there and so our walks were with 4 other people, which we did not enjoy. I found being at the back of a group of 6 deeply frustrating because you knew that if the guide saw something interesting, it would be long gone before you had a chance to see it and you weren't able to ask questions till the group stopped. Fortunately (for us), one couple were getting tired of walking and missed a couple of walks and so we were able to have 2 good walks when there were only 4 of us.
This problem only arises at walking camps where walking is the only activity. For example, at Tafika, if 6 people wanted to walk we could have chosen to drive and at Musekese, with 3 guides to 8 people (and 3 activities) it is unlikely ever to happen.
Other people may be happy to walk in a group of 6 (and I understand there are sometimes 8 at other camps) but I would not go to a walking camp again unless I could guarantee walking for 4 or less - either by having a private guide or paying for 2 rooms. (Tafika guarantees a maximum of 4 per vehicle but I think a maximum of 4 is just as important for walking).
I discussed this with John when we returned to Tafika and explained that it is not a criticism of Mwaleshi, it is simply our preference, now, having been so spoilt on previous walks."
My Oct 2014 trip
Zambia between 2 Oct 2014 and 18 Oct 2014
Excellent game viewing in all camps.
Unique and unforgettable experiences in the bush camps.
Well organised by Expert Africa and Tours Africa were very helpful on arrival and departure."
Radisson Blu Hotel
Rooms large and comfortable but the shower cubicle leaked (shower also leaked in room we used on our return journey). Floor of swimming pool felt slimey as though not properly cleaned. Pool area very noisy with kids at weekends."
"Best lodge/camp in Africa!"
Excellent food which couldn't be faulted.
Best vehicles (including bikes!) in Africa.
Very helpful at tailoring activities to our needs.
Perfect in every way and we can't wait to go back.
Cycling with John was fantastic.
We liked the concept of rebuilding the camp each year with local people.
You felt throughout that the motivation was "how can I improve guests' experiences" not "how much profit can we make"."
Chikoko Tree Camp
"Chikoko Tree Camp review"
Because it was very hot, I would have preferred to have tea or coffee first thing and then set out for a walk at dawn, so that you could be back in camp about 9.00 for breakfast. It would have left a lot of time in the middle of the day but this would have been preferable to the last hour of very hot walking.
As we were by ourselves we got to know the staff really well and were totally captivated by their charm and friendliness.
Lack of charging facilities could become a problem for longer stays.
Because it was so hot, we were showering a lot. Although we were economical with water, we felt slightly uncomfortable using a shower when we knew that the tanks had to be filled by hand.
Particularly beautiful because there was a full moon. Safety rail in bedrooms in your field of view from chairs!"
Big Lagoon Camp
"Crocodile Bushcamp review"
Because we were alone for both nights it was a particularly magical experience.
Too much sun in bar area during the day"
"Kaingo Camp review"
The standard of the laundry was poor, it took us 2 days to get a new bar of soap in our room, and it was only when Derek arrived that he sat down with us and discussed the options for activities and made suggestions. Prior to that we had been given no real information as to what was on offer (or indeed that we had a bath!).
The food was disappointing. It was made worse by the pretentious announcement of what would be served at dinner. When we met for tea, invariably people said "Wasn't lunch awful?". The fruit salad was usually a mush and the coffee was always poor. We loved the porridge.
The guides were very good and very friendly, though we feel 6 per vehicle can be too many. We didn't make use of the midday activities as we did not feel they were suited to the heat of October and preferred to watch animals from our verandah. By African standards, the camp was pretty good. However, Tafika outperformed it in every way and is, I understand, a little bit cheaper"
"Mwamba Bushcamp review"
As we were alone for 2 of the 3 nights, they arrange for us to have a traditional dinner one night which was great. The rooms were very comfortable. We prefer the bush camp feel to the more barracks-like buildings at Kaingo and the shower was the best we used anywhere (including the Radisson in Lusaka).
Excellent game viewing.
I am torn between giving an overall rating of excellent or good but in the end decided to be generous. It was not as wonderful as Tafika and it's bush camps but I think it still deserves to be categorised as excellent - though there is still room for improvement!"
My Dec 2008 trip
Tanzania between 13 Dec 2008 and 29 Dec 2008
I thought the whole trip had been brilliantly organised and all the information I had been given befrehand was accurate.
Suggestions for improvement:
No particular thoughts, I`m afraid. A very satisfied customer!"
"Selous Impala Camp review"
The food was usually good, although occasionally dishes were a bit too ambitious and were not quite right. Sitting at your own table would not suit everyone, particularly someone travelling alone. I would have preferred communal eating. The breakfasts in the bush were excellent.
It was very hot when we were there, so the small pool was very welcome. I liked the fact that you kept the same waiter and guides for the entire stay as it enabled you to build a good rapport."
Mwagusi Safari Camp
"Mwagusi Camp review"
The food was excellent and the guides were the best we encountered on the trip. The rooms were very nice and very spacious but in view of the number of biting insects around it was disappointing that the bathrooms were not protected from flying insects. The bathrooms had a potentially dangerous step and the solar heating did not seem to work well for the hot water.
We arrived in a cloudburst. We had to carry our own bags from the plane and while other groups were met with waterproofs and a closed in vehicle our vehicle was completely open and we and our luggage was only protected by black plastic sheets. The assistant manager who met the vehicle was very patronising (he was on a holiday job) and did not introduce himself until we asked him who he was.
The manager had an ear infection and appeared after a day and once again failed to introduce himself and was very resistant to making conversation. No one asked us what game drives or walks we would like to do and we were just bundled into a vehicle with other people. There was no mention of a gamewalk (which we had requested before we left the UK) (and we didn`t press it, because the weather was a bit unpredictable). When we gave batteries in to be charged they were returned 24 hours later uncharged and when we left, no member of management was there to see us off or to ask if we had a good time. The vehicle arrived 20 minutes late to take us to the airstrip (but every cloud has a silver lining because on the way to the plane a leopard crossed the track right in front of us!).
Overall, we felt that the camp was not run for the benefit of the guests and we felt that we were a bit of a nuisance. Other people staying at the camp shared our disappointment and on the flight we met 2 people who stayed at Jongomero - they had stayed at Mwagusi the year before and vowed not to go back because of the unpleasant atmosphere.
The laundry did not come back very clean.
It was a pity because in many respects it was an excellent experience and Ruaha is a beautiful Park."
“We're very indeed sorry that these travellers didn't enjoy their stay with us; we take comments like this very seriously, and do our best to learn from them.
Unfortunately, their arrival coincided with our first heavy rains. As is normal all over Africa, this coincides with the hatching of lots of insects. At this time, especially, we suggest that guests switch off their lights when they come to supper. If this doesn’t happen, then they’ll often find many insects in the bathroom when they return. (Our tents, containing the beds, are separate and are sprayed every evening against insects.)
We are grateful for the comments about the bathroom step; we are now arranging to paint the edge of all of our steps for next season. The reason for a lower level in the bathroom is to prevent shower water from splashing into the dressing area.
I’m sorry that we didn’t know that the solar heating for the shower not working, as we could have explained the situation and resolved the problem immediately. We have a back-up hot water system, for any overcast days. In this instance, a calcified non-return valve interfered with the flow of hot water, and was immediately replaced.
We apologise about the situation at the airstrip. All of our staff are instructed to assist guests with their luggage whenever possible. Our driver and guide seem to have had a misunderstanding at the airstrip about which guests were coming to Mwagusi, and this confusion meant that they didn’t help as they should have.
Our vehicles do have side flaps, for times of heavy rain. We also cover the seats and luggage with plastic sheeting, and providing plastic sheeting for guests to cover themselves, if they’re unlucky enough to be caught in the rain.
These guests did arrive in heavy rain and because of this Adrian (our assistant manager) rushed them quickly to their Banda, without the usual formal introduction of himself. Once there, Adrian gave them our informative welcome speech, which emphasises safety, and perhaps they felt that this was patronising. The availability of walks is part of this talk, and these are also mentioned in the ‘welcome folders’ in each Banda. We’re sorry if somehow these travellers felt that we were rushing them, or somehow uninterested in them.
Riaan (the manager) did have a serious ear infection, and was in town seeing the Doctor when these travellers arrived. He returned the following night, but was unable join dinner. He finally introduced himself at lunch the following day, and also mentioned to guests that, due to his ear problem, he was having trouble hearing. I’m sorry if this seemed rude.
At Mwagusi we do our best to charge guests’ electrical items in camp, prioritising camera and video batteries. I think that the item that these travellers are referring to was a Nintendo DS game system. We did have trouble charging this; Adrian mentioned to them that perhaps there was a loose connection. I’m sorry that they were upset that we couldn’t charge this for them.
We greatly appreciate feedback like this from guests after their stay with us. However, it is even better for us, and for the travellers’ comfort during their stay, if issues can be mentioned to us at the time, when they occur. That way we have the opportunity to resolve them promptly, without any continuing unhappiness."
"Chada Camp review"
Our guide was a bit staid but he was very conscientious. The vehicle was the best we experienced.
The tsetse flies were appalling! I got a few bites in Ruaha but in Katavi I was eaten alive!
Food was excellent.
The tents were good but it was frustrating the number of zips you had to negotiate to get to the loo at night. The zips did not always close properly. The tents were well spread out.
It was disappointing that you always had to set off for a game drive in the same direction. The safari breakfasts were good but it was sometimes a challenge to find some shade without tsetse flies.
It was nice to have a drink with your guide in the evening before dinner."
"Greystoke Camp review"
The food was excellent without exception.
The guides were the poorest on the trip. Rather quiet and not very knowlegeable but nice enough and once again it was good that they were around for an evening drink. When guiding they tended to speak together in their own language and give no information on what was happening.
Lake Tanganyka was really lovely for swimming in and I had no idea that fishing could be so much fun. No mosquitos and few tsetse flies!
Perfect relaxing end to the holiday."