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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs H from Avon

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

6

Excursions taken

0

Long awaited dream

Botswana between 16 Jul 2010 and 2 Aug 2010

Trip rating: Excellent
"For many years we have waited to visit Botswana & after reading the brochure & researching the comprehensive website, it was obvious that Expert Africa could fulfil the dream.

The timing of the holiday & the camps we chose with help from Chris & his knowledgeable staff would hopefully maximise our chances of realising our ambitions. Within days of our final selection all the bookings had been confirmed & helpful informative literature followed in due course.

Apart from the unnecessary holdup at Jo burg airport, where the number of manned desks was quite incapable of processing the amount of passengers in transit, all arrangements went like clockwork.

Our main ambitions for the trip were to see & hopefully take good photographs of sable antelope, cheetah, a leopard in daylight & wild dogs. Due to the expertise of our guides at all six camps we fulfilled these ambitions beyond all expectation with many magic moments, the highlights being the leopard draped along a horizontal branch in bright sunlight - the classic pose & the interaction between the wild dogs at their den.

We found the food & accommodation to be good to excellent, staff & guides friendly & ever ready to help. Apart from what we felt was undue harassment of a leopard at Kwara & the irresponsible use of fishing tackle at Lagoon, our wildlife experience was an utter delight. Our many special memories will last forever.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

No, as the service was excellent & trip exceeded expectations."

Arranged By Lucy Copson


Kwara Camp

Kwara Camp

"Cheetah - first target acheived"

2 nights Arrived 17 Jul 2010
"Our first camp on this trip to Botswana (see also Duba Plains, Little Vumbura, Mapula, Lagoon, & Duma Tau). We asked for a high number tent & were pleased to find we were in no. 7 with good views across the lagoon& opposite shore. From our tent we saw warthog, baboon, hippo, giraffe & impala & fish eagle & hoopoe - the pick of the birds.

On our game dries we saw impala, tsessebe, zebra, giraffe, elephant, steenbock, warthog, & baboon as well as many bird species.
In previous visits to Zambia & South Africa we had never seen cheetah, so they were high on the wish list. Within 4 hours of our arrival, on our first game drive Balli & Justice found us the coalition of 3 males resting on a mound.

The following morning, after much tracking, we caught up with a mature lion, one of seven brothers, completely relaxed at the roadside. In the afternoon we caught up with the cheetahs again, relaxing on a grassy mound in the evening sunshine - magic. Another vehicle nearby had been watching two lionesses, so we swapped over for the last half hour.

The camp had a very relaxed feel & all the staff were cheery & friendly. Our tent was comfortable & adequate & the food excellent. The need to be escorted to our tent after dark was brought home to us as there were two elephants feeding noisily between tents 5 & 6 after dinner one evening & another sleeping noisily beside our shower decking in the early hours. The noises seemed to be coming from both ends, plus lots of rumblings from the tummy.

We did have one serious concern at this camp. Returning after dark one evening we caught up with three other vehicles from Kwara & Little Kwara, spotlighting a leopard walking along the track. They weer leapfrogging each other crashing through the bushes on either side in order to get ahead or abreast of the animal for photos. Our diver joined in the general melee, but after a short while my wife asked Balli if we could leave as she thought the leopard was being harassed. The other couple in the vehicle agreed, but Balli ignored the request & continued the pursuit.

On one occasion the animal tried to leave the track, but was cut off & 'herded' back into view. This sort of behaviour by guides & drivers is totally unacceptable & unethical. A leopard moving at night is hunting & should never be subjected to such harassment. In the 15 days spent at six camps this was the only occasion when animals were not treated with the utmost respect by guides."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Good
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Duba Plains Camp

Duba Plains Camp

"Lions Large & small"

2 nights Arrived 19 Jul 2010
"We were welcomed at Duba Plains by Ishmael who proved to be an excellent host with a ready sense of humour who seemed to relish contact with the guests. The whole atmosphere at the camp was relaxed & happy. The rooms & service were excellent & the food superb, especially the home made soups & bread. Tents are reached by a raised boardwalk & judging by the huge footprints & piles of elephant dung below, the after dark escorts are a necessary precaution.

Duba Plains has a reputation for conflict between the buffalo herds & the lion prides, but this is unfair. There is so much else to see & the landscape is much more scenic than some other areas, with wide open plains, interspersed with palm islands & tree bordered river channels.

Our guide Spike was excellent & seemed to know just where the lions & buffalo might be at any given time. He also found for us herds of red lechwe & elephant, jackal; & bush buck as well as the usual game. We had good views of a pair of Martial eagles mating in the top of a tree & an adult bateleur eagle perched in bright sunlight. We saw lions on every game drive either at a kill or relaxing as lions do. A special sighting was of four lionesses crossing a flooded channel while a solitary cub stood on the bank crying pitifully. Eventually he plucked up courage & half waded, half swam after the adults & arrived safely on the other side.

Our main a abiding memory was of the huge male lion that rules the area & commutes across the river between two prides of females & cubs. we found him shortly after sunrise, roaring. When he started to move, Spike guessed his intention & positioned the vehicle on the open partly flooded plain between him & the bridge that crosses the deep channel. We sat in awe as he approached, heading directly towards us, passing within feet - truly awesome. Later we watched him cross the bridge to join his second pride - lucky lion!

We were sorry to leave Duba as there is so much more than lion & buffalo & all in a beautiful scenic location."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Little Vumbura

Little Vumbura

"Close encounters wanted & unwanted"

2 nights Arrived 21 Jul 2010
"We arrived at little Vumbura by helicopter - a new experience for us. Due to the exceptionally high water levels the vehicles had to be parked a considerable distance from the camp itself with a 25 minute boat trip along a narrow channel in the reeds. this was quite exhilarating at first, but became a bit tiresome when undertaken four times a day for morning & afternoon game drives. It also meant that night drives were unavailable as the lightweight aluminium boat couldn't be safely negotiated along the channel due to he presence of hippos.

The camp itself was beautifully situated & well appointed, but somehow lacked the happy atmosphere of the other two caps already visited. The accommodation was very comfortable & the food excellent.

Sam, our guide, was every bit as good as the guides we'd met so far, but let us down by forgetting to bring glasses for our first evenings sun downers & bring navy rum the second evening instead of the brandy we had requested. However his skills at finding game made up for this.

In addition to the usual, we saw ostrich, ground horn bill (our favourite birds) water buck & black backed jackals. He demonstrated superb driving skills when driving at speed before it became too dark to reach a reported leopard on a kill & in avoiding the unwanted attentions of a female elephant ("one crazy lady" - Sam) who decided to turn a mock charge into the real thing in thick bush & later pursued us down the track for 200/300 yards.

We achieved two more of our targets with, firstly, a group of beautiful sable antelope & secondly, in the last hour of our stay before the transfer to Mapula, a stunning female leopard in bright sunlight lying along a horizontal branch, just above us. The photos & video footage we obtained will be one of the highlights of the holiday. thank you Sam - all is forgiven."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Average
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Mapula Lodge

Mapula Lodge

"Rustic retreat"

3 nights Arrived 23 Jul 2010
"Mapula is approached by the notorious bridge over a deep channel. Don't worry! It's due to be rebuilt soon. The camp had a charmingly rustic feel about it & the management is very 'hands-on'. All the staff were polite & friendly. The room was simple, but comfortable. Food was adequate & plentiful.

Our guide here was Joe, with tracker Mike. There was a large number of giraffe in the area, along with the usual game species & birds. We particularly enjoyed a large herd of buffalo, a pair of blacked back jackals, saddle billed stork & a tawny eagle being mobbed by a blacksmith plover on the ground.

Unfortunately the wild dogs that usually den near the camp had moved elsewhere due to the extremely high water levels. The guides suspected that they had relocated to an area that the vehicles could not reach due to deep water channels. (the main road through the area resembled a river) We spent a whole morning prospecting an area beyond the old buffalo fence looking for signs but to no avail, although we found plenty of other game.

Shortly after brunch Joe rushed to our room & informed us that 3 guides had been out on the camp tractor looking for dog tracks, without success, but had found three adult lions. Would we like to spend an afternoon with them - would we!! We met up with the tractor crew, who directed us in the right direction. We were able to spend an hour or so in a small clearing parked alongside 3 magnificent male lions, totally relaxed.

Although Joe & Mike had been out since 6am that morning they were still prepared to do another game drive after the lions, be we declined the offer in order to give them a well deserved rest.

We were due to leave the following morning, so Joe suggested a late call (7am), leisurely breakfast & a couple of hours fishing. A very relaxing way to end our stay."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Average
Facilities
Good
Lagoon Camp

Lagoon Camp

"30 year ambition realized"

3 nights Arrived 26 Jul 2010
"Again, a very friendly camp, beautifully situated by the Kwando River. The food & accommodation were satisfactory & the guiding excellent.

For 30+ years my wife had nurtured an ambition to see wild dogs & within an hour of setting out with Vundi & Lester on our first drive we found ourselves at the nearby den site, surrounded by 15 relaxing adults. The pups were hidden in the den, but the following evening we arrived early & found all six romping around with the adults, closely watched by the alpha female to ensure they came to no harm. Later that evening the whole pack set off on a hunt across the open plain. We managed to keep up until they entered thick bush & we lost contact.

On our last evening we spotted a leopard descending a tree while driving to the den, & were later radioed that the dogs were away from the den & had also come across the leopard. It had been found up a tree & we arrived in time to see the last two dogs wandering off & a very disgruntled leopard scowling down from the topmost branches.

There was a hyena den in the area as well & we enjoyed great views of the cubs there, frolicking with their 'minder' - a young male who had been left to oversee the cubs & den while the rest of the clan were off hunting.

Vundi & Lester were excellent at finding & following animal tracks along the road. In this way we found a huge male lion & sat about 5 yards away from him until he tired of our company. Also two lionesses after a 30 minute search & a lone male cheetah who had mislaid his two brothers , climbing every termite mound & calling pitifully.

There was plenty more common game in the area, plus two separate large herds of buffalo, ground hornbill, ostrich & four magnificent Kudu bulls. We had coffee & sun downers in some really beautiful settings.

There was one really serious complaint about the camp which Kwando need to address. A fellow guest & myself mentioned that we would like to do an hours fishing during siesta time from the camp deck. Unfortunately the tackle provided was totally inadequate - fishing rods, tiny reels & thick wiry line which sprang off the spool in tangled coils, making it impossible to cast spinners more than a few yards. We gave up in disgust after 15 minutes, but later a member of the camp staff took over the rods & baited the spinners with raw meat & cats out using a ut & bolt for weight. He soon hooked a large (20lb) catfish which he dragged in & attempted to lift dead weight on to the decking, the hooks tore out & the fish fell back in to the water.

Soon after a managed to land a nice talapia & went off to the kitchen with , leaving a second baited rod propped up against the deckrail. Minutes later the rod bent double & before we could reach it, hurtled over the rail like a javelin & was last seen heading across the river towards Namibia, before it eventually sank from view.

Leaving baited tackle unattended is both stupid & irresponsible. The hooked fish will probably become tethered to a snag & die of exhaustion or starvation, but there is also 50-100 yards of wiry line, which doesn't rot, lying in the river. When the water levels drop this could easily ensnare any bird or animal which comes into contact with it causing suffering & probable death.

There are obviously large fish to be caught here, but if Kwando wishes to advertise fishing as one of the activities available, they should consult an experienced angler who could recommend the purchase of suitable tackle & advise on some common sense ethical rules. At Duma Tau, our next camp the tackle provided was of excellent quality & they operated a 'catch & release' policy - all very well organised."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
DumaTau Camp

DumaTau Camp

"Saved the best till last"

3 nights Arrived 29 Jul 2010
"Duma Tau turned out to be our favourite camp on many counts. The management Anton & Martin were extremely friendly & helpful. (How can you leave beautiful Botswana to move to Leeds Anton?) After initial formalities Martin escorted us to our chalet (the honeymoon suite - rather wasted on a couple of senior citizens like us - especially as a couple of genuine honeymooners arrived the next day). Here we were introduced to George the camps resident elephant.

Accommodation & food were excellent & the staff friendly & efficient. In general the area, especially near the Savuti Channel & Linyanti Swamp was extremely scenic.

On our first game drive with our guide Ron we watched a herd of red lechwe bounding through shallow water & later tracked lion, finding a female & her two 2 year old male cubs beside the channel. The two boys engaged in lengthy stalking & play fighting rough & tumble beside our vehicle & mum actually joined in for a while - a joy to watch.

The following morning as we were finishing breakfast Ron rushed in & informed us that he had heard alarm calls nearby & suspected a leopard was the cause. Sure enough we were soon following a large male (well known at camp for being very tolerant of vehicles). When we stopped he approached & rolled around in the grass like a playful kitten.

With Ron's expert guidance we saw usual game in beautiful surroundings. Special moments were - elephants at a mud bath, the male lion & two lionesses at a giraffe kill (with one lioness heavily pregnant & a birth imminent) an African wildcat, an eagle owl in the spotlight, a hunting party of 10 wild dogs along the channel, four species of mongoose (dwarf, slender,yellow & banded) another leopard ( son of the first one) in the spotlight, a second sighting of the lioness & her two sons wading & dashing across a river channel & an hour or so fishing with Ron at his favourite spot.

On our last brief morning drive before departure we intercepted 3 wild dogs bellies bulging with food from a warthog kill, running along the banks of the channel looking for a safe place (no crocs) to swim across to the far bank & their cubs waiting at the den. Then it was off to the airfield & our last memory - chasing a herd of zebra off the strip to allow the plane to land."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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