Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs S from Cambridge
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
A thoroughly enjoyable holiday
Zambia between 10 Oct 2010 and 21 Oct 2010
Arranged By Claire Scott
"Kaingo Camp review"
"Mwamba Bushcamp review"
Chongwe River Camp
"Chongwe River Camp review"
“I’m really sorry if these travellers felt at risk, as I don’t think they ever were. Let me comment at these issues separately:
1. The evening boat trip
Two couples took this afternoon boat trip on the Zambezi River. They stopped on a sand bank for sundowners but when they were ready to leave Victor, the guide, couldn’t start the engine. It was getting dark, so Victor radioed the closest camp, Kasaka (which is also Chongwe’s sister camp) for assistance. Once that was organised, he also radioed Chongwe to tell the manager that assistance was being organised by Kasaka. At one stage, still trying to resurrect the motor, Victor pushed the boat away from the sandy island and into the current, where the water was deep enough to lower the motor into. It still wouldn’t start! Thus he paddled back to the sandy island, and jumped out into the shallow water to hold the boat from drifting. Victor is a fully-qualified guide; he knows this river very well. He’s told me clearly that at no stage did he put himself, or these travellers, in any danger.
Because Kasaka were not expecting to need a boat that afternoon, it took time for them to get one ready and launched. Whilst waiting, Victor spotted some of Kasaka’s staff fishing from the bank, and he asked them for an update on progress; the ‘rescue’ boat from Kasaka arrived shortly afterwards.
2. An unconcerned camp manager
Florence the camp manager would have appeared unconcerned as there wasn’t ever anyone in real danger. She was unaware that these travellers felt unhappy about the excursion. I’m really sorry that she didn’t realise this, as if she had then I’m sure she would have done her best to put their minds at rest. Florence would never have made light of a serious situation; she and the rest of my team at Chongwe River Camp take safety very seriously indeed, as our 16 year long track record will attest.
3. A second engine failure?
The following day, another guide (Richman) took these same travellers out on another boat trip, and reported no motor boat breakdown. Outboard engines do sometimes take a while to start – and we can completely understand why travellers might think that one was ‘broken’. However, as usual, it did start eventually. No rescue or recovery was needed; Richman returned safely to camp with his travellers in the boat with the engine running.
I deeply regret any discomfort caused to these travellers – and as the result of their comments I’ve talked with our team to encourage them to explain to our travellers more about what’s happening, so that they understand more.
However, we are confident that our guide’s safety procedures are both up to scratch, and are being followed. The safety of our travellers, and our team, has always been - and always will be - Chongwe’s top priority; I’m sorry if our lack of explanations to these travellers didn’t get these across to them.”