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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr C from West Sussex

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

2

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

7

Excursions taken

0

Gold Star family safari at ElKarama

Kenya between 26 Jul 2017 and 1 Aug 2017

Trip rating: Excellent
"A big thank you to Richard and all the Expert Africa team for a near perfect holiday. My aim was to introduce my son and grandson to the wonders of Africa and I delighted that this has been handsomely achieved."

Arranged By Richard Trillo


Aero Club of East Africa

Aero Club of East Africa

"Gold Star family safari at El Karamaafari"

2 nights Arrived 26 Jul 2017
"The Aero Club completely met our needs. The rooms where fine, with plenty of hot water and comfortable beds.

The general facilities were also very good and we made good use of the pool and the excellent Java restaurant.

We didn't need to use the Safarilink cafe for breakfast as we were pleased to find the Java opened for breakfast at 06.00.

In sum, while the Aero Club is not luxurious, the facilities are very good and above all it is a very convenient location, close to JK airport and even closer to the new Safarilink Departure facility."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
El Karama Eco-Lodge

El Karama Eco-Lodge

"El Karama ......better than excellent"

4 nights Arrived 28 Jul 2017
"We had studied the El Karama website and were prepared to be wowed but the reality greatly exceeded our expectations.....mega wow! The lodge location is simply stunning.

Murray, Sophie and the team have done an amazing job designing and building the lodge which thoroughly deserves its Silver ECO rating. This is topped by a professional, attentive and very kind staff team led well by Lovi.

On arrival Andrew met our taxi near the ranch boundary and made us very welcome. We met our first giraffe about 50 yards after we set off and then enjoyed a near full set of wildlife driving to the lodge......a superb start to a great 3 days / 4 nights at El Karama.

We were thoroughly briefed by Lovi and while we fully understand the need for a thorough safety briefing, perhaps mention of Buffalo incursions inside the wire might be minimized for young ears who may not understand the wider context.

Jason and I particularly appreciated the way the staff interacted with and encouraged Jack, particularly Andrew, Wanjala, Esther. and Robinson. Sophie had wisely suggested we managed Jack's expectations re his 'Save the Bushbuck' project. In the event Lovi kindly integrated the project in our programme without any prompting and Jack had a great time even though the original seedlings had not survived the drought.

The scene was set just before breakfast on Day 1 when the resident orphaned Bushbuck was seen browsing by our Rondeval.....and named 'Bushey' Then after lunch Wanjala took Jack to find and transplant some 5 natural bush seedlings close to the wire fence by the river. We then had a game drive and Andrew took us to the impressive new stone 'hide' by the dam, designed to protect trees from elephants. Andrew explained the need to replace the magnificent mature fever trees that were being 'drowned' in the dam. Jack then helped transplant a strong fever tree seedling to start the replacement process. While Esther has mentioned sending photos as the seedling matures, Jack has made several mentions of coming back to see progress for himself!

Joseph led our bush walk but this did not live up to expectations. It was a bit of a route march and most of the stops followed one of us asking Joseph a question. Perhaps I have been spoilt by the Porini guides who closely involve their guests in the natural world.

While I have no knowledge of what is involved in certifying guides, I wonder if there is merit in considering developing Andrew and perhaps Robinson, with a view to them becoming Bronze rated guides?

Finally, may I suggest that it would be helpful if there was a photo for each of the staff detailed on the website. We also noted that Esther is not currently listed and also Sophie is missing as Host? However, if space is limited, then perhaps at least a photo of Lovi could be added?"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Aero Club of East Africa

Aero Club of East Africa

"Ideal post safari day room"

0 night Arrived 1 Aug 2017
"A day room at the Aero Club was the perfect post safari solution before catching BA's late evening departure to LHR - the key word is CONVENIENT. In short, we were in our rooms minutes after leaving the Safarilink aircraft, with a short stop to collect our extra bags stored FOC with Safarilink."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good

Two very satisfied safari travellers

Tanzania between 13 Jul 2010 and 23 Jul 2010

Trip rating: Excellent
"# Please also refer to our 14 June letter to Ellie and Liz, with our Expert Africa experience to that date. [Ed: See below for extract from this letter.]

# Thank you both for arranging a faultless trip which was close to perfect. We are already looking at a future trip and will keep an eye open for further news of Coastal's new KILIMATITI Camp that we understand is currently being built near the Olduvari Gorge.

Asante,
Brian and Colin

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

# tipping safasri camp staff - please see earlier comments on Mdonya page. We feel very strongly that the tip box is the best solution so that all the camp staff share in the guests tips. Not all guests had had the benefit of Expert Africa's comprehensive literature so it is important that the camp managers gently weave in the tip box solutioin into their welcome briefings.

# we were very pleased to have arranged to overnight in Dar before going on safari. Indeed several of the Manze guests (not Expert A clients) were quite envious as even though their BA flight arrived on time, they apparently found the process of changing terminals, sorting out baggage to store etc etc somewhat stressful in order to make the 8.30 flight to Selous. Clearly there are cost implications but perhaps worth considering sowing the seed of overnighting to future clients? The point was underlined as the inbound BA flight on 23 July arrived some 45 minutes late, which meant a huge challenge for Coastal if there were any clients booked on the 8.30 Selous flight?

# day in Dar - the pre-booked car proved to be a wise decision. In particular, we were very impressed that our Kearsley driver was well briefed and had a copy of the suggested itinerary that we had shared with Liz and he was a useful mentor when buying presents. We eventually found 'Wonder Workshop' and although they had just closed, we were made very welcome - thanks for the recommendation. Also, we recommend lunch on the balcony of the Karamba Cafe, Sea Cliff Hotel - G&T's and a superb seafood platter overlooking the Indian Ocean was a great scene setter for what proved to be a superb safari."

Feedback response

The letter referred to above kindly observed:

"We have been very impressed with all aspects of Expert Africa’s operations, right from the initial telephone request for a brochure to now. In particular,

• You have both been stars and it has been refreshing to experience such excellent customer service. This stands in sharp contrast to so many travel and other companies that seem to level down to the lowest common denominator, with complex telephone menus and a ‘one size fits all’ approach to potential customers.

• We have also been impressed by the quality of information and documentation that we have received. This ranges from the inspirational brochure, nicely complimented by the user friendly website, to the ‘Notes for travellers’ booklet that focused our minds on planning ahead (visa, inoculations etc) and now your 3rd June pre-travel letter with its timely reminder of the key trip arrangements."

These travellers also wrote a superb poem about their trip:

Despite beasts and birds aplenty and many photo shots;
no, we didn’t spot Leopard, we saw no Leopard spots!
Others saw bits of one - a nose, a tail or glaring eyes.
Others saw a whole one. Oh those lucky girls and guys!

Though we saw the mat where Panthera Pardus had sat;
Selous and Ruaha offered not that elusive cat.
Leopard, Scarlet Pimpernel of family Felidae;
we sought you here; we sought you there whilst in your lair you lay.

Crocodile and hippopotamus on the big game show.
As were wild dog, giraffe, mongoose and grumpy buffalo.
With Kudu too, to a Lesser or Greater extent.
And elephant and impala just wandering by our tent.

Amusing monkey business and big baboons that holler.
Gorgeous birds like bee-eater and lilac-breasted roller.
Kingfishers, skimmer, egrets and herons by water.
Graceful bateleur and snake-eagle that soar and quarter.
Ruaha consoled us with a rare glimpse of klipspringer.
Ancient baobab trees that for thousands of years linger.
What tales these could tell with the rocks, acacia and palms;
unending geological and arboreal psalms.

Vultures came and vultures went alongside black-backed jackals,
to steal the food of Kings whist raising Simba’s hackles.
But no spotted creature of the night to rely on.
Those big cats surrounding us were exclusively lion.

So, we didn’t spot Leopard, we saw no Leopard spots!
But of the other sights there were simply many; lots.
And through all of this we remain positive and plucky.
Maybe Expert Africa could make it three times lucky!

Arranged By Elizabeth Chapman


Southern Sun Dar

Southern Sun Dar

"very good base for a southern Tanzania safari"

1 night Arrived 14 Jul 2010
"# Having seen internal photos of the old Holiday Inn, Southern Sun have done a superb renovation job. The ambiance, staff, food and facilities were all very good. In short, this is an ideal hotel for a short stay before and/or after a safari.

# Surprised but pleased to see the Kearsley office on the mezzanine next to the breakfast restaurant

#' breakfast - particularly good selection, with eggs cooked to order. If daylight when taking breakfast, strongly recommend the outside balcony overlooking the pool and Botanical Gardens.

# hot water - on our inbound / first night (14 July) we wasted loads of water before the shower ran luke warm (room 212). On our return (22 July - room 208) we wasted even more water before the shower eventually delivered very hot water.....concerned at the waste of water?"
Good
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Lake Manze Adventure Camp

Lake Manze Adventure Camp

"Great start to a superb two-centre safari"

4 nights Arrived 15 Jul 2010
"# the excellant camp fully met our expectations NB. the description in your brochure / website (& Adventure Camps of TZ) were spot-on in contrast to the overstated marketing hype that is still a feature of some operators literature.

# we appreciated the thatched 'hall' combined the bar, dining-room and lounge. Each time we entered as at least one member of staff was present and each were genuinely interested in our experiences and encouraged our attempts at Kiswahili.

# Pleasantly surprised to be bug free (in July) despite the adjacent lake.

#Vehicle tracks were often very poor and clearly very little of the Selous Reserve's income is used to maintain the infrastructure. We would certainly support any proposals to have the northern tourist blocks upgraded to National Park status.

# the boat rips were a particular feature and we enjoyed both a lake and channel trip - each time ELTON was our very experienced and truly excellant boatman.

# excellant food and being served under cover in the day in the impressive thatched 'hall' meant it was easier to interact with the staff.....and still enjoy the passing elephant or two!

# recommend the full day safari option to the hot springs, with an a delicious picnic lunch. We enjoyed the company of our guide EMMANUEL and driver OMARI MKOMA, who is fun character - promised photos of the hot springs 'team swim' will be posted shortly.

# impressed by our walking safari from the carefull briefing though to getting our proverbial dung recognition & tracking certificates!!

# Plenty of wildlife passed thought he camp but the Masai guards were pros and we felt very safe in their hands.

# Our regular landrover team was guide ADAM and driver ABUU - their combined spotting skills and knowledge was impressive and very much appreciated."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Mdonya Old River Camp

Mdonya Old River Camp

"quite different to Manze but equally supeb"

3 nights Arrived 19 Jul 2010
"# we were met by RAMADAMI who introduced himself as a newly qualified guide with only 3 months experience. His honesty was appreciated but any doubts quickly evaporated and he is clearly star material. Our driver was KNIGHT, clearly a very experienced driver and spotter / guide - great team and very good company.

# the very good National Park infrastructure was in complete contrast to Selous, with well graded tracks, viewing points, toilets at the picnic areas and Msembe airstrip ..... but still a wild and wonderful landscape and a long way short of the the tarmac roads in the Kruger.

# clearly Manze & Mdonya are different in detail but G&T's around the Mdonya log fire and superb food under the stars while overlooking lions stalking the 3 resident buffalo could not be equalled. Micol and Alex are excellant hosts.

# tips - we followed the sensible guidance in the Expert Africa and both camps literature to use the tip box so that all the camp team benefit. So we were surprised to find that some guests at Mdonya were only tipping their guides and drivers. We suggest that this point is covered in Micol's / Alex's welcome briefing, with the aim of consistency and to avoid embarrassing clients. In the event RAMADAMI received some hurried additional cash at the airstrip in addition to the intended present of my copy of Jonathan Kingdom's 'Pocket Guide to African Mammals'; similarly Colin gave KNIGHT some additional cash and his bird book as a present."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Southern Sun Dar

Southern Sun Dar

"a genuine 'welcome back'"

1 night Arrived 22 Jul 2010
"# on return we further explored Dar and bumped into a couple of ex Mdonya guests staying at the 'new' Holiday Inn - clearly they were not impressed and likekened it to a souless UK Travel Lodge.

# Accepting that some clients will want very large 5* hotels, we suggest that for most Experts clients the Southern Sun would be an deal base for a pre and / or post safari stay in Dar, with the Kearsley office as a bonus.

# we enthused about the mutton curry when the house manager asked how was our meal. Shortly after the chef joined us at our table for a pleasant general chat during which he explained it was a new recipe and warmed to us as 'foodies'. He was clearly delighted at the feedback and we were certainly impressed by the contact and the clear committment to quality and value for money."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent

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