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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mandolin from Surrey

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

7

Excursions taken

3

The trip of a lifetime.

Tanzania and 1 other country between 25 Oct 2020 and 5 Dec 2020

Trip rating: Excellent
"For a long time we thought we wouldn't be able to have our holiday because of the Coronavirus and as it happens, we had to cancel our visit to Botswana. But with the help of Maruska at Expert Africa we were still able to visit Tanzania and Zanzibar. Everything was very fluid with plans changing almost daily right up until the date of departure (and beyond)! due to airline cancellations because of Covid. However, Maruska was incredibly patient and helpful in identifying solutions and alternatives and she also proactively (and mostly successfully) sought refunds for the parts of the holiday that we couldn't undertake (a couple of lodges in Botswana offered to postpone our bookings but were reluctant to give refunds but they succumbed to Maruska's charms eventually). And although I didn't book our international flights through Expert Africa, Maruska kept an eye on all of our travel arrangements, even whilst we were away, and alerted us when our return flight was cancelled.
The holiday itself was way beyond our expectations partly, I suspect, because there were so few other tourists about. In some of the lodges we visited we were the only guests which meant that we were treated like VIPs. And what lodges! The Lemala camps were excellent and Maruska negotiated a very good deal for us by using only Lemala for our safari accommodation and the deal included our own vehicle and guide throughout, which meant that we could go where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go, instead of being tied to a strict timetable for game viewing. As far as the game viewing was concerned, having been told by a couple of friends that their experiences included having to vie for a view of the animals with 100s of other vehicles, we instead found ourselves to be in splendid isolation with almost every animal we saw. The only downside was having to come home."

Arranged By Maruska Adye-Rowe


Image alt

Hamerkop House

"Beautiful accommodations"

1 night Arrived 11 Nov 2020
"It's a shame we had only 1 night here because we didn't have any time to explore the area. Our suite was enormous with everything we could possibly need and more. In fact it was so big that it was a bit of a challenge to check that we had packed everything before we left.
The bed was wonderfully comfortable, the food and service were excellent and the pool looked very enticing, although again, we didn't have time to use it. If we were to return I would book a stay of at least 2 nights."
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Lemala Mpingo Ridge

Lemala Mpingo Ridge

" Mpingo Ridge, Nanyukie and Kuria Hills"

3 nights Arrived 12 Nov 2020
"This review applies to Lemala camps at Mpingo Ridge, Nanyukie and Kuria Hills. It's very difficult to give feedback on each individual Lemala Camp because they were all so similar (apart from Lemala Ngorongoro). The rooms all had the same layout, the furnishings were almost identical and although the staff were all individual personalities, after spending time in Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam, by the time we returned home I couldn't remember which people worked at which lodges. What I can say is that all of them were excellent. Everyone we met went out of their way to make us welcome and they treated us like VIPs.
The suites were all lovely; spacious and comfortable with everything we could possibly need. I was especially pleased with the beds which were supremely comfortable. I had been concerned that the lack of air conditioning might make sleeping difficult but I needn't have worried; the fans were sufficient to ensure a good nights' rest.
The food was excellent in all the lodges and we both ate and drank far more than we do at home! The only (very minor) criticism would be that the picnic lunches were a little "samey".
In fact I suppose that could be said about the camps/lodges themselves. Beautifully luxurious though they all are, one felt much like all the others. Still, it's a winning formula so I can understand why they're all the same.
I will make any additional comments on the individual pages where there were any notable differences."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Lemala Ngorongoro

Lemala Ngorongoro

"Different to the other Lemala properties"

2 nights Arrived 15 Nov 2020
"I'm really torn writing this review. Although all of them are positioned in the midst of beautiful scenery and surrounded by wildlife, this Lemala property somehow felt closer to nature. We loved the location of the camp because it was so atmospheric; almost primeval. The downside of that is that it was cold and damp, in fact even with the fire on nothing really felt dry here. I don't think there's anything that can be done to address that except to completely rebuild and that would be a shame because it would lose its wonderfully dark and brooding ambiance. We enjoyed being in a more authentic tent as a contrast to the other, more luxurious Lemala properties and in spite of the damp our tent was cosy and the bed was wonderfully comfortable. The atmosphere was reminiscent of one of those old safari movies of the early 20th century. The downside was that we didn't have all the "mod cons" like a fridge or tea and coffee making facilities but really, that's such a small price to pay for staying in this delightfully quirky camp.
The food was good but perhaps not up to the quality of the other lodges we stayed in. This is no doubt due to the fact that in such a setting the chef doesn't have access to the same cooking facilities.The scores for rooms and food reflect the lack of "mod cons" but if there was a score for atmosphere it would be way beyond excellent."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Lake Manyara Safari

Lake Manyara Safari

"We didn't stay here"

15 Nov 2020 • Afternoon excursion

we didn't stay here
Excellent
Safari in Ngorongoro Crater

Safari in Ngorongoro Crater

"So few other tourists"

16 Nov 2020 • All-day excursion

The Ngorongoro was, sadly, a little disappointing because of the rain which didn't stop all day. I suspect that it was due to this that we didn't see as much wildlife as I had expected. On the other hand, there were virtually no other tourists which I understand is very unusual so what animals we did see, we had to ourselves.
Lemala Nanyukie

Lemala Nanyukie

"Lemala Nanyukie review"

3 nights Arrived 17 Nov 2020
"Very similar to the other Lemala camps/lodges with fabulous views. This one had the advantage of being lower down and we discovered that we didn't need to go on a game drive to see animals; if we sat on our verandah long enough, the animals came parading past our tent. See the Mpingo Ridge review.

General review of Lemala Nyanukie and sister camps, Mpingo Ridge and Kuria Hills: This review applies to Lemala camps at Mpingo Ridge, Nanyukie and Kuria Hills. It's very difficult to give feedback on each individual Lemala Camp because they were all so similar (apart from Lemala Ngorongoro). The rooms all had the same layout, the furnishings were almost identical and although the staff were all individual personalities, after spending time in Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam, by the time we returned home I couldn't remember which people worked at which lodges. What I can say is that all of them were excellent. Everyone we met went out of their way to make us welcome and they treated us like VIPs.
The suites were all lovely; spacious and comfortable with everything we could possibly need. I was especially pleased with the beds which were supremely comfortable. I had been concerned that the lack of air conditioning might make sleeping difficult but I needn't have worried; the fans were sufficient to ensure a good nights' rest.
The food was excellent in all the lodges and we both ate and drank far more than we do at home! The only (very minor) criticism would be that the picnic lunches were a little "samey".
In fact I suppose that could be said about the camps/lodges themselves. Beautifully luxurious though they all are, one felt much like all the others. Still, it's a winning formula so I can understand why they're all the same."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Olduvai Gorge visit

Olduvai Gorge visit

"Fabulous, fascinating and thought-provoking"

17 Nov 2020 • Morning excursion

We stopped here on the way from Lemala Ngorongoro to Lemala Nanyukie so we only stayed a couple of hours but I could have lingered all day. It was so, so interesting with lots of exhibits and everything was clearly labelled in English as well as Swahili, to show what it was, where it was found and what secrets it had revealed about our ancestors and how they developed. Highly recommended if you happen to be in the area.
Excellent
Lemala Kuria Hills

Lemala Kuria Hills

"Lemala Kuria Hills review"

3 nights Arrived 20 Nov 2020
"Kuria Hills was very similar to the other Lemala properties we stayed at with similar, first class accommodations, the same attention to detail and the same welcoming, enthusiastic staff. But there was one problem. We were there in the rainy season and because there was a gap beneath the door to our suite, when it rained the water came in and I'm not talking about a light shower. On the day we checked in a very heavy thunderstorm arrived just after we got to the suite and the water didn't just trickle, it poured beneath the door. We used all the towels in the bathroom to stem the flow but it wasn't enough. As soon as we phoned them the staff rushed over to us, in the pouring rain, to mop up the mess but Lemala really need to devise a permanent solution.

On the other hand, the staff could not have gone to more trouble for us. We were there for 3 nights and we were the only guests the entire time. Whilst it's nice to have everyone's undivided attention it did mean that there was very little atmosphere. Or did it? On the first night, instead of seating us in an empty restaurant, they set up a table in the lounge by the fire (it was chilly so the fire was welcome). The second night they set up a table beside the roaring fire of the Boma with lots of lamps and candles. On the last night the manager invited us to join him for sun-downers on the kopje which was quite magical. He then offered to escort us back to the restaurant and on the way he said he wanted to check something in the pool area. Actually he surprised us with a table set for dinner beside the pool, again with lots of lamps and a fire to keep us warm and deter the mosquitoes. All three evenings were cosy and intimate and felt very special."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Emerson Spice

Emerson Spice

"What a beautiful building"

3 nights Arrived 23 Nov 2020
"Emerson Spice was a great place to stay for a complete change after our safari. The building has been lovingly restored and is stunning; so evocative of Zanzibar's history. Although Expert Africa had booked us the Violetta room we actually ended up in Belle. I have no idea why but it, too, was gorgeous so we didn't bother to mention it. Our only complaint was the size of the bed; apparently a standard double in Zanzibar but rather small for our western tastes. We asked to move to a room with a bigger bed but it seems there's only one and it wasn't available. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that Emerson Spice offers a complimentary laundry service.
The unoccupied rooms were left open and we couldn't resist having a peek into them to see what they were like. All were unique and beautifully furnished.
The set seafood menu at the rooftop restaurant was fabulous although we thought the drinks quite pricey. We also ate in the secret garden which had a good but limited menu. In fact we could have spent hours in the garden, it was so beautiful and relaxing with all the exotic planting. As is to be expected in a hotel of this standard, the staff were welcoming and professional.
The hotel is a good 5 minute walk from anywhere that a car can park so a taxi can't take you to the door but the staff will meet you and bring you to the hotel. Unfortunately when we were leaving the heavens opened and we got utterly soaked by the time we found our taxi. The water was ankle-deep so if you're staying here in the rainy season bring some waterproof shoes (my Crocs were ideal) or be prepared to take off your shoes and paddle! On the up side, rain in Zanzibar is warm so it wasn't really a problem for us Europeans and it all added to the exotic aura of the place."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
The Residence Zanzibar

The Residence Zanzibar

"The Residence Zanzibar review"

5 nights Arrived 26 Nov 2020
"First impressions were very good. The staff were welcoming and treated us like VIPs. The villas are spread out over an extensive area so we were transported in a buggy to our villa. Bikes were provided to get around but if we didn't want to cycle, a phone call to reception brought a buggy to us within minutes.
The villa was also beautiful. It had a large, well furnished lounge area with a TV, a tea and coffee making station and a mini fridge. There were sliding doors into the bedroom which contained a huge four poster bed adorned with mosquito nets. The bed was wonderfully comfortable and we both slept well.

Both the bedroom and lounge area had sliding doors out onto the private patio which was furnished with a table and chairs and 2 loungers. Best of all was the private pool; not huge, but bigger than I would have expected for a plunge pool.

We were on a half board plan but we had considered upgrading to all inclusive but at an extra cost cost of 79U$ per person, per night we decided against it. In fact we found all the prices to be unnecessarily high. Even those who had paid for all-inclusive didn't have free access to everything e.g. only the house white and house red wines were included and a very limited selection of spirits. Everything else cost extra. They even charged an extra 10U$ on top of the cost of your order for room service.

The biggest disappointment was the food. The website mentions dining in The Pavilion but when we were there the only dining option was a buffet in The Dining Room and to be honest it was a bit of a bun-fight with the other guests. There was supposedly a different theme each evening but whilst fairly tasty, it was all rather samey. The Indian food was the best and tasted authentic. Sadly the Lebanese, Italian and International themes were less so and it seemed that some leftovers made repeat appearances. Disappointing food in a lovely hotel."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Poor

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