Travel reviews by Mr J from Hants
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
Another excellent holiday
South Africa between 22 Oct 2018 and 8 Nov 2018
Its a pity that Expert Africa do not extend their horizon to this area. It is really worth taking a 3-4 day detour north of R62 and the Garden Route. Karoo National Park was truly exceptional, Graaff-Reinet worth a visit, Prince Albert simply delightful, the Swartberg Pass unmissable.
This was my fourth holiday with Expert Africa - they continue to be my first choice"
Arranged By Claire Scott
"Third stay at Acorn House - just perfect"
Abalone Guest Lodge
"Watching whales from your balcony - wonderful"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Schoone Oordt Country House
Good food, friendly host and staff. We found Swellendam town itself not worth a 2-night stay, but would really recommend nearby Bontebok National Park - we spent nearly a whole day there, even though its a relatively small park."
Tsala Treetop Lodge
"Absolutely Fabulous !"
Be careful - the local monkeys have realised that snacks / nibbles are provided in the room for new arrivals. They're harmless, but expect to share your cheese straws.
We used both restaurants - Tsala Lodge itself and nearly Zinzi. The food wasn't quite up to the same standard as the location. But as the location was truly outstanding, I'm probably being a little unfair. In 30 years of traveling, I've found nothing that quite compares to this."
Gorah Elephant Camp
"Woken by lion roaring outside tent"
Not really accurate to call the rooms "tents" as they were so well appointed. Heavy canvas walls and roof. Main building / restaurant / viewing veranda all very good.
Everything overlooks the water hole where wildlife wanders in and out. No fences. Woken on the second morning by a lion roaring as it wandered around the camp. Food good, staff friendly and efficient. Monkeys play around the buildings in the early mornings.
Now to game viewing - I prefer Etosha: self-drive and very large numbers of animals. Gorah is a concession within Addo Elephant Park and offers game-drives twice a day. No self-drive. Animals not too plentiful, but maybe we were just unlucky."
Karoo National Park
"Got to be the highlight of the holiday!"
Restaurant supervisor was lovely with a wicked sense of humour. True sense of isolation - magical - absolute silence. Stars gazing splendid. I could go on and on. Didn't want to leave. But - as the landscape is bare and arid, the scenery might not be for everybody. Nor maybe the basic self-catering rooms. It was perfect for me.
Two small comments - restaurant menu was extensive, but the food was basic, don't expect gourmet dining here. Our room had two single beds."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
Swartberg Country Manor
"OK for an overnight stop"
Bad design - who would think that putting a communal area with large-screen TV right next to the guest rooms was a good idea? Our host warned us of a rugby match on TV that evening with potential noise. Poor breakfast. Not really 4-star.
Oudtshoorn has a couple of good restaurants but is nothing special.
However - the accommodation was right at the southern end of the Swartberg Pass. I've wanted to drive this pass for a long time and was not disappointed. Wonderful scenery."
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
"Perfect location, lovely view, good food"
Beautiful view over the valley and to Montagu. Excellent restaurant for both breakfast and dinner.
A pity the bad weather prevented walks around the estate."
Angala Boutique Hotel
Not sure bare, grey, walls add much to a room. Outside shower seemed just a little bit "public"."
Namibia and 2 other countries between 23 Sep 2016 and 7 Oct 2016
Only two small comments:
1. there was a chap from Wilderness Safaris at Windhoek airport to meet & greet us. This has never happened before, so we walked straight past him. I hope he wasn't offended, but there was nothing from Expert Africa to say that we were being met at the airport. Bit of a surprise.
2. Wild Horizons transfers. Perfect and on-time for each occasion. The problem was communication. We we not given a pick-up time for the transfer to Livingstone Airport. Our previous driver said we would be contacted and informed 24 hours before pick-up. We were not contacted, and none of the telephone numbers given in Zimbabwe was contactable either from a mobile or the hotel's phones. I even tried sending a text, but there was no reply. In the end we had to ask the Avani concierge to phone Wild Horizons local office in Zambia. If Wild Horizons has a local office, why give travellers lots of numbers in Zimbabwe ? (none of which seem to work)."
"River Crossing Windhoek"
An excellent one-night stop-over before continuing your holiday in Namibia.
Baboons roam freely around the site."
Frans Indongo Lodge
"Frans Indongo Lodge"
Pleasant, but not a place you could stay at for more than one night."
Mushara Bush Camp
"Mushara Bush Camp"
Their outdoor BBQ is a real treat."
Hakusembe River Lodge
Very nice location on the banks of the Okavango."
Ndhovu Safari Lodge
"Ndhovu Safari Lodge"
Mahangu National Park is just down the road and is highly recommended.
Much smaller than Etosha but with a very good variety of wildlife."
"Nxamaseri Island Lodge"
As the brochure says - not much big game, but the bird life is plentiful and the whole experience truly amazing.
Our best time on this trip"
Animals free to roam through the grounds, so escorts required to take you to & from your room after sunset. Lots of hippo and elephant.
Very pleasant and friendly staff."
Avani Victoria Falls
"Avant Victoria Falls"
OK - it's a 3-star tourist resort - but does it do what it says on the tin? Yes, very well except for the food which was consistently poor.
A word of warning - at the end of the dry season Victoria Falls is very diminished with only half of its length being actually a waterfall - and this part is only visible from the Zimbabwe side. The rest is just a dry rock cliff. Plan your visit according to season if you want to see the full falls in all its glory.
Seeing only half the falls wasn't a problem for us as Victoria Falls wasn't our prime destination - it was a fly-out point after our trip to the Caprivi Strip."
Once again - a perfect holiday
South Africa between 20 Aug 2015 and 4 Sep 2015
I'm already thinking about our next trip."
Arranged By Tracy Lederer
Le Must River Residence
Upington can look a little daunting when trying to find a restaurant for your evening meal, but O'Hagan's is recommended"
Kalahari Tented Camp
"Tented Camp - self-catering - perfect"
Accommodation was perfect.
The campsite is not fenced, so game do wander close by - Wildebeest in particular seem to like coming up from the valley. The view over the dry river bed is extraordinary - waking up, looking out of the window and seeing giraffe at the waterhole was memorable.
There is a small swimming pool but no other facilities. And so what? You're there for the game and the experience, not to sit by the pool.....
If I had two small suggestions for improvement, they would be : (1) a box of matches would be nice (2) the waterhole is floodlit at night, but with what appear to be a 20w bulb. A better light (on a timer to keep night-time black) might make just-after-dusk viewing better"
Ta Shebube Rooiputs
"Ta Shebube is just perfect"
When we were there, a pride of lions were close by and leopard tracks were seen each morning. No worries - the staff are very safety conscious and we were taken, and collected, from our chalet before and after sunset. This is the appeal - no fences !
Our guide ("BK") was very knowledgable, friendly and helpful.
The chalet was just delightful - one complete wall is a sliding glass door, so if you're not on an early morning drive you can let the Kalahari sunrise wake you up. Food was very good
If I had some very small comments for improvement they would be - (1) a signpost from the road would be nice. We just headed up a sand track towards the buildings on the dune ridge. If the buildings had not been visible from the road, we would have been a bit lost (2) mend the old Land Rover's gearbox (BK was constantly fighting to get it into 4 wheel drive) !!
Otherwise 5 Stars all round !"
The Falls Guest House
"A great place to stay for the Falls"
There is no evening meal, but a BBQ can be ordered, which is very good. Apart from the shower, the room was excellent, with a full kitchen if you prefer self catering.
Two small niggles, but a great place to stay, right next to the short road to Augrabies Falls National Park. Their catch-phrase is absolutely correct - More Than Just a Waterfall. The park is extensive and very beautiful.
I don't know how you'd arrange it to be there when the Orange is in full flood, but the sight and sound must be awesome. At other times, enjoy the park and the Rock Hyraxes"
Mountain View Guest House
"Perfect base for the spring wild flowers"
Mountain View Guest House is very pleasant and the owner very friendly and helpful. Rooms and breakfast were perfect.
The spring wild flowers have to be seen to be believed. Recommended - (1) Nababeep village (2) the gravel road along the north boundary of Namaqua National Park. The road is pretty grim, but you don't need a 4x4 - keep going until the end of the Wildeperdehoek Pass - the view is extraordinary. The Namaqua Information Centre at the edge of town is very good and can provide daily updates on the flowers, recommended viewing locations and maps etc"
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve
"Voted Best Hotel in the World 2009"
Beyond excellent. They even washed our car before delivering it back to us at reception on departure."
"Another excellent stay at Acorn House"
Perfect location, very friendly and helpful."
My Sep 2013 trip
Namibia and 1 other country between 8 Sep 2013 and 23 Sep 2013
1. this second trip was across two countries and Expert Africa staff seem organised by country. I was passed from one person to another and initially nobody seemed responsible for the whole trip
2. lack of answers to e-mails. On a couple of occasions I gave up waiting and had to phone
3. I booked 10 months in advance and even that far out some lodges were already fully booked. We were wait listed. A month before departure I contacted Expert Africa to make a final check of our wait list status and was somewhat surprised to find that in 10 months Expert Africa had not followed up on the bookings. By lucky chance only, we eventually got our first choice lodges, but only because I followed up"
"Acorn House review"
Akamedie Street G H
"Akamedie Street G H review"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
"Annie's Cottage review"
We booked a triple room and what we were given was really a double with an extra bed by the door. However, I doubt that there is anywhere better in this town. We came, we stopped, we left - nothing more to say. Annie's Cottage was sufficient."
"Canyon Lodge review"
We arrived with a puncture and the staff were very helpful and had it all fixed within half and hour.
At the end of our holiday we played the "what was best?" game - best sights, best day, best lodge, worst road, etc. We changed the game to "what was the 2nd best lodge?" as Canyon Lodge was in it's own universe, so far removed from anything else we experienced. Worth going all the way to Namibia just for this lodge (and Fish River canyon)"
"Eagle's Nest review"
Some comments - the Eagle's Nest chalets are 7km from the main lodge, which is a little too far to drive for breakfast. Expert Africa mention "breakfast packs" but these were not available.
Although described on the Expert Africa website as "self catering" and although bookings are done on a B&B basis only, the main lodge does have a restaurant. You do not have to be self-catering.
The BBQ packs were enormous, expect huge amounts of food. Unless you do like vast amounts of food, I would suggest ordering one fewer packs than the number in your party - you will not need all the food if you order one pack per person.
A perfect location for day-trips to Luderitz"
Tok Tokkie Trails
"Tok Tokkie Trails review"
Our guide was very good. We were in a party with 5 others - a British couple and a Swiss couple with their local guide. The party worked well, very friendly.
For those who seek something different, this is perfect. Do not expect anything better than a bucket-shower and a "long-drop" toilet - but this is what the experience is all about.
Unbelievably, on our second night it rained! Rain in the Namib, not something you see every day. The sleeping bags were water-proof and the weather did nothing to spoil the adventure - in fact, it just added to the fun.
Zebra River Lodge
"Zebra River Lodge review"
The lodge is in its own canyon, is very remote and a perfect base for walks and hikes, or just relaxing by the pool (with the tame springbok)"
Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch
"Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch review"
The chalets are good and the owners and staff very friendly and helpful (we asked about the meerkats and we were treated to our own private viewing). The tame springbok that wanders around the lobby/bar/restaurant area is cute (feed it the ginger biscuits).
We elected for just the cheetah feeding activity - this was very well organised and good value.
Perfect for a over-night stay"
Namibia between 6 Sep 2011 and 19 Sep 2011
What can I say? Absolutely wonderful holiday. Brilliant, spectacular, excellent.
Everything was very good - from the initial help and assistance with deciding on a route, through booking, and the comprehensive information provided beforehand.
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
"Haus Sonneneck review"
Breakfast was a little limited, but we were the only guests at the time, so probably only enough food was provided for four people"
"Desert Homestead review"
Setting, location, rooms all beyond expectations !
The only comment I would make would be that the "en-suite" toilet facilities were actually "in room" - as these were shared rooms, most of us preferred the privacy of the toilet facilities in the main building, with the ability to close a door when entering the toilet !"
"Cornerstone Guesthouse review"
You are given one mobile phone per room with the ability to contact the owner in case of problems - nice touch ! (although Swakopmund, like the rest of Namibia, is so safe and crime free, these were probably unnecessary)
Not all rooms were equal - we had two rooms, one was half the size of the other.. no complaints, both were OK, just one room was better. The owner did point this out and give us the choice of who had which room."
"Palmwag Lodge review"
I'm not actually sure the lodge had a reservation for us? It didn't actually matter as the lodge was only half full. This may simply be a perception as all other lodges consulted their reservation lists when we arrived - Palmwag didn't and then asked me if I had a reservation.....
One game-spotting activity taken - an evening drive with a sun-downer at the end. Very little game was actually seen, but we were not disappointed - Palmwag is not a "reserve" and covers a huge area so a bit of luck is required. The magic of the drive was in the scenery and the sunset at the end - splendid ! Beware, it is COLD at sunset !"
"Okaukuejo Camp review"
What made it special was the fact that this is a large site (104 rooms?) but almost everybody at the water-hole respected the request for silence. That total silence from a human audience of several dozen people was magical. Of course, I have to say "almost everybody" - there are morons everywhere, but they soon got bored and wandered off to the bar.
The Guide Book says the Okaukuejo has a reasonably priced restaurant (important with a family B&B booking). However, the restaurant was very expensive, so we used the self-catering facilities in the room. Having said that, the rooms are rated Excellent because of the facilities - self-catering (cooker, microwave, fridge, utensils, etc) was well provided for, with a reasonable on-site shop."
Okonjima Plains Camp
"Okonjima Main Camp review"
The two activities provided in the package were excellent, with an excellent guide. The camp was perfect and we also upgraded from Garden Room to View Room. The rooms were more than you would expect from a 5* hotel.
One small comment - dinner service was slow, but the food was very good.
A little cold after sunset, so take a thick jumper to dinner !"
My son and wife have also stayed here. Lovely place, perfect location"