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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Mr G & family from USA

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

8

Excursions taken

0

Overall feedback

Namibia between 14 Aug 2010 and 28 Aug 2010

Trip rating: Excellent
"Wonderful "once in a lifetime" trip. Sabina was spectacularly helpful and knowledgeable. I will wholeheartedly recommend Namibia and EA to friends and family! Some comments and constructive criticism:

Positives:

1. Self drive is easy, totally doable and a great experience. We did not have any punctures or mechanical problems but were glad to have the high clearance of the four wheel drive. That being said never engaged anything but two wheel drive the entire time but appreciated the security.

2. Very safe - people were friendly and approachable and we never felt concerned about security or safety in any way. What a relief and pleasure.

3. No health hazards - since Namibia is a very dry country most water comes from bores and hence, while flavor can vary it is very clean. We had no GI issues despite carrying an extensive armory of treatments. Also regarding malaria - prophylaxis is adviced by US health authorities but noone we met in Namibia considered the country to have any Malaria, at least below the caprivi strip and particularly in the winter months (June-August).

4. Great roads - seriously, for a country with only 1.5mm people it is remarkable how good the roads, signage etc are. We had no problems and found it easier to drive around Namibia than to drive from New York to Boston (although need to be comfortable driving on gravel surfaces).

5. Variety of activities - unlike some of the other destinations we considered, Namibia offers much more than "just wildlife". While we saw plenty of animals, birds and reptiles, we also saw many different landscapes, experienced the ocean and had some exposure to the local culture - much more enriching than just a traditional safari experience

6. Variety of travel and accomodation approaches - Namibia is approachable in many ways, from small tour buses, to camping, to self drive to fly in/fly out. This is different to other locations that require, for example, fly in.


Some suggestions, requests and comments:

1. Cash - EA should alert clients that gas/service stations don't take credit cards or atm cards in many parts of Namibia. Self drive clients should take at least N$2000 in cash with them at all times. It takes over N$1000 to fill the tank of one of the double tank self drive vehicles. Contrary to suggestions some ATM machines would also not recognize my ATM card from the US (provoking panic!) although in large cities (WH and SW) things were fine.

2. Tips - clearly guides on safaris make most of their money on tips. I had no idea how much to tip a guide for example for taking us on a two hour trip into the desert or driving us to an activity? EA could helpfully give more guidance on this matter.

2. Beef up offerings of "active" activities - Namibia seems well set up for the older couples tourist but seems light on offerings for actively minded travellers (Swapokmund and Mundulea notwithstanding). I would suggest adding to the offerings of such activities in some locations; even where "nature walks" are offered they are not very well described or promoted, perhaps because the lodges/camps don't make any money on those activities.

3. Do more at the coastline - Namibia has several thousand miles of coastline but the array of activities related to the coast seems thin. We enjoyed the kayaking from Walvis Bay very much and perhaps should have taken another day in Swakop to venture down to Sandwich Bay. The whole notion of the Benguela current, and the history of the coast and the islands in the south, seem underdeveloped to me and seems to offer more opportunities and activity. The surf around Swakop is better than anything i see except on the very best days in California and the water, despite all the hype, is warmer than california as well and wetsuits are easily rented in those places. Why not start a surfing school in Swakopmund? Or windsurfing or kiteboarding in the walvis bay lagoon? Maybe these things are already available but it would seem a missed opportunity. What Namibia offers most is "animals plus other things" rather than "just animals.." and the more of the "plus other things" there are the more people will come and the longer they will stay.

4. Connect with local populations - sometimes we felt as though we were just going from one Wilderness Camp to another and not having any interaction with the local population. We learned a lot from our guides and the staff at the camps but as noted below they mostly came from other parts of Namibia and had little to say about the history or culture of the area we were visiting. I would like to see EA and WA (see below) develop some program where visitors can interact with the locals in the vicinity of the camps, learn about their culture, history etc. I know this is possible in some locations but perhaps we missed them.

5. Balance Wilderness Adventures/Safaris experiences with other experiences - we stayed at three Wilderness Adventures properties (Ongava, Doro Nawas, Kulala) and enjoyed them very much. They offer consistently great locations, excellent design, high standard of service. Their guides are "good generalists" but sometimes don't have the attention to details and small things of other guides (one guide at Doro Nawas told us the Levine family arrived at Twyfelfontein in 1974 whereas they left in the 1960's). My standard on guides is whether they pick up poo - if so, they are really paying attention, otherwise they may be just driving and animal spotting.

Sometimes the W-A places have a bit of a corporate feel, and their activities are often limited to just game drives, with few individually directed or physically active activities and guides who just focus on finding specific "big five" animals. They have lots of European groups visiting which seems to be good business but can also constrain the options in terms of access to activities for individual travellers. I would have though EA could find other accomodations in the same areas as the WA properties that are more "idiosyncratic" and authentic and offer the same activities and aspect."

Arranged By Sabina Hekandjo


Hotel Thule

Hotel Thule

"Hotel Pension Thule review"

1 night Arrived 14 Aug 2010
"Easy first night in Windhoek, great location, safe, nice view over Windhoek. One of our rooms on the front side downstairs was a little gloomy and noisy at night with cars coming and going.

Staff were very helpful with directions and the view from the restaurant is terrific."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Average
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Mundulea Reserve

Mundulea Reserve

"Mundulea Reserve review"

3 nights Arrived 15 Aug 2010
"Wow, we visited Mundulea as the first stop on our trip to Namibia and the visit changed our lives. Visiting Mundulea first turned out to be a good thing (because we were able to absorb all the details about the country's history, geology, flora and fauna and politics at the start of our trip) and also a bad thing, because as my 13 year old son commented "after talking to Bruno for three days pretty much everything anyone else had to say was repetitive"!

Bruno's vision at Mundulea is to recreate the natural environment of Namibia's Central Highlands, including the animal and plant species endemic to the area. This remarkable project is now well advanced and the property has established herds of Eland, Kudu, Giraffe, Warthog, Blackfaced Impala, Roan Antelope, Zebra, Ostrich as well as many other ungulates and carnivores all the way up to Leopard. While the accomodations at Mundulea are not as luxurious as others. our kids voted Bruno's open-fire cooked meals the best of our destinations in Namibia.

More importantly the passion, depth of knowledge and experience he brings to the task of guiding his clients around the property are infectious and result in an extraordinary educational, environmental and scientific experience for the young and the young at heart. If your preference is to see your game from the back of a land rover with half a dozen others then this is not the destination for you; if however you prefer the surprise of a truly wild animal crossing your path as you walk through their territory, then you will find Mundulea a dream come true."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Onguma Tree Top Camp

Onguma Tree Top Camp

"Onguma Tree Top review"

1 night Arrived 18 Aug 2010
"We had a short one night stay at Onguma en route to Etosha. Our night game drive was an excellent experience, particularly tracking a group of lions in their courtship ritual, as well as sightings of many other smaller carnivores.

The elevated tents are excellent, well designed and highly functional, with an excellent view of a large active waterhole.

We enjoyed our meals very much but unfortunately arrived relatively late and left quite early to continue into Etosha so could not sample the reserve's daytime activities."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Ongava Tented Camp

Ongava Tented Camp

"Ongava Tented Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 19 Aug 2010
"OTC was our main destination on the southern side of Etosha and was one of the highlights of our visit to Namibia. We saw rhino, lion and many species of ungulates here including zebra (two kinds), giraffe, kudu etc. The tented accomodations of OTC are very comfortable and balance rustic and luxury very well. The main lodge area overlooks a very active watering hole and just watching the passing parade of visitors can be mesmerizing.

My only suggestion would be to enhance the company's offerings of walking activities. our guide Festus showed us the area adjacent to the camp and was very knowledgeable but we would have happily extended the range of such activities.

Festus also showed us the best rhino sighting of our entire trip to Namibia as well as a distant Brown Hyena; with Leon we also saw quite a few lions. We did not tour into Etosha from OTC, having spent the day before in the park."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Doro Nawas

Doro Nawas

"Doro Nawas review"

2 nights Arrived 21 Aug 2010
"Doro Nawas is a place that sneaks up on you. We arrived here thinking we had come to the end of the world. The lodge sits in an very stark landscape, with distant views but very little sign of life in the desert. During our visit we tracked the desert elephants (followed a family of a dozen or so) and also visited Twyfelfonten, both with Michael. He was friendly, very knowledgeable and also showed us some aspects of the local population and their lives. With low initial expectations on arrival at Doro Nawas we enjoyed a very interesting and busy couple of days.

The accomodations were very comfortable although guests should be aware that the climb from the tents to the communal area could be bracing! The food was excllent as well. My only suggestion would be that the lodge offer more nature-oriented activities exploring the daytime and nocturnal plant and animal biology of the desert; we were also unable to compare the lodge and its offerings to the other wilderness properties in the area such as Damaraland Camp, Palmwag Lodge and Desert Rhino camp. All three would have added several hours of driving to our trip."
Good
Food
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Villa Margherita

Villa Margherita

"Villa Margherita review"

2 nights Arrived 23 Aug 2010
"We loved Villa Margherita. Once again our expectations were quite low as we hadn't heard much about the place (we had wanted to stay at a couple of other properties but they were booked).

VM is relatively new and doesn't yet have the reviews that other places enjoy but it definitely will!! The location is terrific, just a couple of blocks away from downtown swakopmund where all the shopping, restaurants and services are located. The rooms are very comfortable, tastefully decorated and the in-room lap tops with web access are a godsend after a week in the wilderness.

The staff are very friendly and the owners are always available and extremely helpful. I would love to go back to swakop and would definitely stay here regardless of availability of any other hotels. Bravo to Elliot and Claudine!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Image alt

Kulala Wilderness Camp, Namibia (this camp has since closed)

"Kulala Wilderness Camp review"

2 nights Arrived 25 Aug 2010
"Very nice camp in a spectacular location with friendly hosts and staff. We took a morning tour to Sossusvlei and climbed "big daddy" with Moses, this was one of the highlights of our trip to Namibia. IMoses managed to get us all up and down the 660ft dune which was well worth the effort. In the afternoon the camp arranged a camel ride into the desert which was an interesting and relaxing if rather slow moving excursion. The camp has a beautiful view and the tents are very comfortable.

I would warn guests to definitely use the mosquito nets here; even though it is in the desert they still seemed pretty active! When we slept out "under the stars" several still dined on our exposed faces!! If guests are concerned about being close to Sossusvlei, which is the real attraction of the whole Namib area, they might consider Kulala's sister property, Kulala Desert Lodge. Being at the camp vs the lodge adds about 30-45 minutes to the trip into the dunes but we can't comment on how the lodge and camp accomodations compare.

We would also suggest that the camp more actively develop their walking trail options around the camp. It wasn't very clear to us how many of such options existed and how interesting they were, hence our decision to try camel riding. Apart from the trip to Sossusvlei I wondered what the preferred activities are for this lodge and area."
Good
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good
Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch

Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch

"Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch review"

1 night Arrived 27 Aug 2010
"Stayed here for one night before heading to Windhoek for departure. While the location was a convenient stopover it really added about two hours to our trip to Windhoek and I wonder if we could have used the time differently. The game ranch description is accurate and while the safari was enjoyable the guiding and wildlife experience was not comparable to other locations.

We stayed in the cabins on the "flat" rather than on the dunetop and I think the experience is pretty different between the two. The dunetop locations have great views, overlook a watering station, see the sun rise and set and could be quite special; the locations on the flat feel more like a trailer park setting. I would suggest specifying the "dunetop" location for future visitors or going elsewhere.

The ranch seems to grow springbok, wildebeest and oryx and hence these are the dominant species on the game drive. We also saw many foxes, giraffe, mongoose. Probably the best wildlife viewing is the rehabilitated cheetah in the enclosed field adjacent to the homestead and the semi-domesticated meerkat colony behind the house.

Finally, the per person charge for "cheetah viewing" in the enclosure behind the house seems unreasonable for a half hour excursion.

Overall this is a very comfortable location but for several reasons not one we would go out of our way to revisit."
Average
Location
Average
Service
Excellent
Activities
Average
Rooms
Good
Food
Good
Facilities
Good

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