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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Annabel from Somerset

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

5

Excursions taken

3

My Jan 2022 trip

Kenya and 1 other country between 25 Jan 2022 and 9 Feb 2022

Trip rating: Excellent
"Brilliant.

The trip had been postponed once because of Covid so I'd waited a long time and was in danger of being disappointed but, really, it was much better than I'd hoped or even imagined.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

No suggestions."

Arranged By Richard Trillo


Four Points Nairobi Airport

Four Points Nairobi Airport

"Airport stay at Four Points by Sheraton"

1 night Arrived 25 Jan 2022
"This was a short stay after a late night arrival from London. Did what it said on the tin, really.

Charming female driver collected me from the airport and took me to the door, where both the car and my luggage were scanned. Reception was welcoming and efficient.

Dinner was still available but I passed. Room was clean with black out curtains and no noise from the airport, although there was noise (from guests/housekeeping?) outside my door at 3 am.

Massive spread of breakfast options went on for about twenty feet and could be eaten indoors or out."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
The Emakoko

The Emakoko

"The Emakoko "

2 nights Arrived 26 Jan 2022
"This is the perfect place to ease yourself into a safari. It's right on the edge of the Nairobi National Park and really helps get you used to the light, the early mornings and the wildlife (and how to spot it). I would really recommend it, especially if you've never been on safari and are going into the bush proper.

The staff are well trained and eager to please and the surroundings are lovely. Some reviewers have mentioned the road. The Emakoko is built on the side of a ravine, so yes, the road is steep and bumpy but their drivers and their 4WDs are more than capable of getting you there and back in safety. Just enjoy.

I saw fantastic wildlife in the short time (two nights) I was there. Two lion brothers staking out the plain at dawn, another male lion with two females, adolescent cheetah triplets, a male black rhino, mother and calf, all together in one group; several white rhino including calves; also bushbuck, giraffe, zebra, hippo, black backed jackal and several species of antelope.

The restaurant and bar are run by charming Linus. I didn't have cocktails but the wines were good. The food seemed sometimes to be too ambitious. I had a steak which looked delicious but turned out to be chewy. On the other hand, the snapper with "custard" was so good I thanked the chef. Be prepared for company during dinner. The rooms are open to the surrounding woodland so you may be visited by the resident genets and a bushbaby (who loves to be fed with sliced banana). There are often hyrax on the bridge across the river.

The public rooms are very comfortable and stylish with big sofas and tables with piles of animal reference books. The bedrooms are well equipped and welcoming. Mine had a jug of roses on the table and petals on the bed and bath. Small touches which I really appreciated. Having a hot bubble bath both nights was a joy! Again, some reviewers have criticised the rooms, saying they look 'tired'. I'd agree to a point, but it's not as though you'd open he door and go, 'Oh my God, this is tired, get me out of here.' It's minor, certainly not enough to put anyone off or marr your stay. I just assumed that a very tough two years had tightened the refurb budget. I've since heard that an upgrade is on its way."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Nairobi Elephant Orphanage visit

Nairobi Elephant Orphanage visit

"Nairobi Elephant Orphanage"

27 Jan 2022 • Morning excursion

The work the Sheldrick Trust does is phenomenal and I appreciate their need for funds but I would rather have given the donation and stayed away. I got the feeling they felt the same.

It took an hour and a half to drive there and back from The Emakoko, and I spent half an hour there (I left early) with a hundred other people listening to a very pat speech about the rescued orphan elephants in the enclosure in front of us. Some of the stories were fascinating and I would have liked to know more, e.g. several of the calves had been rescued 'because of drought' but no further explanation was given.

I found the staff unfriendly, mechanical and slightly resentful. Not for me, but don't let that put you off, especially if you're with children and, if it does put you off, please donate.
Average
Kicheche Bush Camp

Kicheche Bush Camp

"Kicheche Bush Camp review"

4 nights Arrived 28 Jan 2022
"This is a really good camp with top class management, house staff and guides. It's not in the prettiest area but it is right out on its own in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, so its six guest tents and two mess tents really make you feel you're in the middle of nowhere although in very safe hands. Animals regularly wander into camp, especially at night, (lion, hippo and elephant whilst I was there), and there are almost always giraffe and zebra browsing the surrounding woodland.

The food was good, homely fare with some choice at lunch and more of a set (and posher) menu at dinner. Meals were usually eaten at one big table - outside at lunch, inside at dinner although you can opt to eat separately if you prefer.

The room was very comfortable with great wi-fi and lots of sockets to charge camera batteries, iPads etc. There are also newly installed 'proper' showers, rather than the bucket shower I was expecting (and secretly looking forward to).

I saw amazing wildlife - including cheetah, lion and leopard - far more often and in greater quantities than I'd imagined possible.

My only criticism would be that things sometimes felt a bit too organised. Safaris are tiring and a bombardment on the senses. I had one day when four things happened all at once - a drive to the other side of the conservancy for my PCR test, a sighting of two adolescent cheetah cubs being taught how to hunt, i.e: teasing a week-old impala fawn that was bleating for its mother, elephants outside my tent so I couldn't go to bed and then very heavy overnight rain. All good safari experiences. No complaints there, but when my tea arrived at 5 am next day, I decided I wouldn't go on that morning's drive but would try to catch up on sleep. At 7 I felt much better. It was light by then but still raining, so I used the thoughtful wellies and umbrella from my tent, ignored the distant lion roars and squelched my way to the mess tent to find some tea.

I didn't know there was never anyone there until 8 am. The place was deserted and I felt a bit abandoned and frankly, scared. I returned to my tent and blew the 'emergency' whistle. Nothing. I waited fifteen minutes and squelched back to the mess tent, then wandered down the path that I thought led to the staff tents. Blew the whistle again and the manager screeched to a halt beside me in his Jeep, clearly concerned that something dreadful had happened.

I did get breakfast but was told 'no one has ever missed a drive' (which I now know to be untrue), then left to my own devices until lunch at 1 pm. No suggestion that I might like to go for a walk with one of the staff (although I did do exactly that when a buffalo and her calf shot across the main pathway and William, who was serving breakfast, said it was being chased by a lion and he'd seen the start of the chase whilst having his tea. Lions won't come into camp in daylight, even for a buffalo calf, so William then took me fifty meters and still well within the camp boundary to point out where the lion had been).

I've written about this incident with the encouragement of Richard Trillo and because I hope Kicheche will put a contingency in place for any future guests who might decide to catch up on sleep. All that was needed was for someone to acknowledge me, stick a note through the door of my tent to say they hoped I was feeling better, and mention that the mess tent wouldn't be open until 8, after which I'd be welcomed for tea/breakfast.

Other than that one small incident, I loved my time at Kicheche Bush Camp and would definitely return were I not so intent on first visiting their Laikipia and Mara camps."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Kholle House

Kholle House

"Kholle House "

2 nights Arrived 1 Feb 2022
"Kholle House was once the home of an Omani Princess, now restored by a Frenchman whose daughter, Anna, is the current manager.

It's a really charming oasis in Stone Town. The decor combines the chic with the exotic, something hard to do and pull off, but it's been done with aplomb. There are many quiet indoor areas to read or have a drink, plus a covered area in the garden, small tables and chairs and more seats/a sofa beside the pool. It wasn't particularly hot when I was there but even so the pool was really welcome when I got home after hours of wandering and getting lost in town.

My room was long and narrow, so not much room either side of the bed but that somehow contributed to the atmosphere, as did lovely touches like the good linen, cut glass and votives. And the air-conditioning and wi-fi!

The staff were charming and very keen.

The chef is young and probably too ambitious. He has fantastic ingredients to hand, but over complicates things, particularly at dinner.

I loved Zanzibar, but realistically I'm not likely to return. If I did, I wouldn't stay anywhere else in Stone Town."
Excellent
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Excellent

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

Chef's Market Tour from Kholle House

"Chef's Market Tour from Kholle House "

2 Feb 2022 • Morning excursion

The chef's tour is no longer available, so the hotel arranged for another guide to take me to the market.

He was on his mobile phone a fair bit and keen for me to buy spices from his friend, whose price for vanilla pods was more than double what I pay in the UK. (I'd anyway recommend you buy spices outside Stone Town - they are much cheaper on the coast. I found mine at Spice Man in Paje).

The market is worth seeing but much smaller than I'd imagined.
Average
Image alt

Rooftop Dinner at Kholle House

"Rooftop Dinner at Kholle House review"

2 Feb 2022 • Afternoon excursion

This didn't happen because I was the only guest and I couldn't bear the thought of this very young chef having to carry three separate courses up five flights of stairs! I ate in the garden instead but the food was over ambitious and disappointing.

I'm sorry about this because I loved the hotel and its enthusiatic chef.
Average
Image alt

Blue Oyster Hotel

"Blue Oyster Hotel "

5 nights Arrived 3 Feb 2022
"This hotel in Jambiani is not on Expert Africa's website but it is mentioned and given a good review in M.D. Chris McIntyre's Bradt Guide to Tanzania, which is how I found it.

It's well established, German owned and very laid back. Don't go there for marble atriums, swim up bars, snappy service and evening entertainment. It has none of those things. It doesn't even have a pool, (but it does have a garden shower if you want to cool down). The hotel has won sustainability awards and there are nice touches like baskets at reception for you to take on beach walks so you can collect any rubbish and bring it back to recycle, (although the beach is pretty litter free - unlike the village beyond).

The tide goes out a long, long way - there are tidetables in reception to tell you when and also shoes to hire if you want to walk out to it (lots of urchins) and watch the women harvesting seaweed. I saw far fewer hawkers here than I did further up the coast - we had one or two regulars and that was all.

My room was on the first floor and was spacious with a large balcony to sit out on and a sea view. No air con but plenty of insect proof windows and a fan. The bathroom was fine, water was hot and there was good hanging space and ample electrical sockets. Good wi-fi, too.

Food and drinks are cheap and the staff are very smiley, some have been there since the place opened twenty years ago. Some things are done incredibly efficiently, notably by the front office, who are brilliant. Other things are slow but never without charm. One girl spent a lot of time folding two bath towels (I was alone and had been all week) into swans and then wandering the garden collecting hibiscus petals to scatter over my bed whilst ignoring my used cup, saucer and wine glass.

The food is good if you stick to basics. I had a very fresh fish carpaccio on my first night. It then disappeared from the menu but when I asked for it, it appeared. Cooked fish was always overcooked. The club sandwich was the worst I've had, ever. Two doorstops which someone had stamped on, and yet the garden salad was the best I had all holiday. Friends said the pasta was good, and I enjoyed the calamari and salad (with chips!) - a long way from Greece but it always works.

The hotel organises various tours, boat rides etc. which I didn't do.

The Blue Oyster is unpretentious and completely hassle free (as were its clientele). Its lack of some facilities and its island-style service isn't for everyone but I found it to be the perfect place to end my holiday. I would go back."
Good
Experience Report
Overall Rating:
Good

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

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