Travel reviews

Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs LN from London


My Sep 2018 trip

On this trip, I visited Botswana & Namibia between 1-Sep-2018 and 24-Sep-2018 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

Stunning! A huge variety of memorable experiences, diverse lodges and special people made this trip everything we hoped for.

Tracy Lederer take a bow as your help, suggestions, comments and patient answers to our many questions made this trip work as well as it did. Everywhere we stayed added something special to our overall experience and your suggestions of adding a private safari and a trip down to San Camp made a great trip a spectacular experience. Our private safari with Kazuma will always be very special and you may have spoiled us for the future!

We did not know what to expect from Botswana. The old mantra was Botswana was high cost because of low vehicle numbers/tourists. In our experience that is not totally true any more. Chobe around Kisane is so busy from the land and the river that it is unpleasant in places and it looks like development is continuing at pace. Some of the companies who run river trips are aggressive and do not consider the animals or other boats. Having said all of that, seeing the hundreds of elephants on the Chobe River near Kasane and being able to watch them swim makes this still a wonderful place to visit. Moving quietly in boats is a fascinating way to see wildlife from a different perspective. Savute and Khwai are both busy with Khwai being particularly so at times. In Khwai and Savute you can, however, leave the crowds around the lions or the dogs and go off and find your own wonderful wildlife which we could do with our private guide.

The wildlife is not the wide variety of plains animals that you see in Kenya or South Africa. Botswana is not the place for a quick tick-list safari. What you do have is much more intense and lengthy experiences with the animals you see. We found most of the animals to be very relaxed and not bothered by vehicles or boats. The variety of landscapes is breathtaking. The guiding is very, very good in general.

We are used to travelling in a variety of little planes which are used like taxis so they were not a shock. The routes are not finalised until the day before you fly so be prepared for short hops to drop off and pick up other passengers from a variety of dirt air strips. You may not get to leave at a time that suits you. The small planes we took were a mixed bag but the young pilots all seemed professional. The planes could get a little bumpy but nowhere near as bumpy as the road trip would have been!

We did not expect to come away with an understanding of how the different management styles between Botswana and Namibia affected the wildlife and the land. Although explained to us several times we are still struggling with the geography of the Delta! We did not expect to learn so much about the Salt Pans and how everything managed to survive such a harsh environment. We learned so much about animal behaviour by being able to take the time to sit and watch what was going on and have everything explained by well-trained and enthusiastic guides. We listened to the calm debate about the possibility of reintroducing hunting in Botswana. We met some wonderful like-minded travellers and some that were not so pleasant but that is what happens on safaris: you learn when to speak and when to leave subjects alone! We met some really special Batswana people whose enthusiasm for their country is wonderful.

This was a special holiday for us that we had wanted to do for a long time. We have been lucky enough to travel to many African countries, some repeatedly but had never made it to Botswana before. We would llike to return!

A few hints.
- A number of tourists did not realise how cold it can get at night so take clothes you can layer, a puffer jacket or fleece and even gloves and a hat.
- Take a torch and spare batteries.
- Take a kanga or a kikoy with you so that when the temperature gets unbearable you can soak it and wrap it around your neck to keep you cool. It also helps when it is very dusty to cover your mouth and nose.
-Laundry is done almost everywhere so you do not need as many clothes as you think and it is certainly not a fashion show.
-Almost everywhere we stayed provided shampoo, conditioner, soap and mosquito spray so you can save weight on not bringing too much of these.
- Stick to the baggage size /weight recommendations if you are in small planes. They really can not take suitcases! Have something different like a bright ribbon on your handle. We saw one group of around 20 all travelling with the same bags that were just like ours!
- Cross pack with someone you are travelling with in case one bag goes missing somewhere!
- Money: Botswana Pula is not available out of the country. There is no cash machine in the new airport at Kasane. There is a cash machine at a shopping strip in Kasane town so your driver may stop for you if you ask. I do not know about Maun. We carried US dollars cash with us for tipping (with a number of small bills for porters) and we carried more than we thought we would need.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
You are streets ahead of the opposition and I recommend you to anyone and everyone. The knowledge of your staff is first-hand and they always take our likes, dislikes and experiences into account when suggesting holidays. Seems simple but not often done!

Your web site is amazing however too many of your description pages that I was browsing now say that the lodge has not been visited since ... (quite a few years ago) I know it is impossible to keep totally up to date but a lot of pages are well past their use by date so maybe time for some more visits to keep your pages up-to-date and the comments relevant. Chris and I will volunteer to help whenever you like! :D

You do not have Aardwolf or Elephants on your San animal list.

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Chobe Princesses, Botswana
3-Sep-2018 review: Chobe Princess
ExcellentExcellent
Ichingo Chobe River Lodge, Namibia
5-Sep-2018 review: Surprising stay at Ichingo
ExcellentExcellent
Muchenje Safari Lodge, Botswana
7-Sep-2018 review: Very happy with Muchenje!
ExcellentExcellent
Splash Camp, Botswana
9-Sep-2018 review: Splash Camp review
ExcellentExcellent
Private Mobile - DC
12-Sep-2018 review: Kazuma Trails exceeded our expectations.
ExcellentExcellent
San Camp, Botswana
18-Sep-2018 review: What an unexpected and special place!
ExcellentExcellent

Kenya again - Sept-Oct 2015

On this trip, I visited Kenya between 30-Sep-2015 and 11-Oct-2015 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

Richard delivered again! After looking to book with various companies I am so glad we came back to Expert Africa. Richard's in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm for Kenya is a refreshing change from those companies whose 'expert' did a flying trip of a few camps but actually know nothing about the actual country. Keep up the research and the actual trips to Kenya Richard as your knowledge is invaluable.

My husband and I lived in Kenya previously and have visited regularly but this time I took my Canadian 24 year old nephew on a safari that he had been promised since he was a child. It could not have been a more successful nor enjoyable trip!

We stayed for 2 nights at Macushla House (Nairobi), 1 night Aero-Club (Nairobi), 2 nights Elephant Bedroom (Samburu), 3 nights Governors (Masai Mara), 2 nights Encounter Mara (Naibosho Conservancy - Mara).

Nairobi traffic jams are crazy and are only going to get worse. Choosing your hotel and what you want to do needs to take this into account. We wanted to visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (please go there), the Giraffe Sanctuary (good fun) and Nairobi Game Park (much underrated) and a few shopping areas. Staying at Macushla House meant this was possible without having to deal with much traffic which suited us. We decided to use taxis for one day and then a driver for the second. In hindsight having a driver means you can really please yourselves and change your plans if you want to and I would do this in the future rather than taxis. If you want to go into the city and experience the restaurants and city life then possibly a more central hotel would suit you better.

We had a very early flight out the next morning so rather than chance the traffic and have a ridiculously early start we stayed at the Aero Club which is on Wilson Airport. This is a Nairobi institution and the bar (where we also ate our dinner) was welcoming and interesting and, best of all, was a 5 minute trip from the terminal. The accommodation is very basic but it worked for us. I do not think it would not suit most people.

Elephant Bedroom in Samburu was fantastic in every way. My only complaint is that we did not have time to spend 3 nights here as we usually do. It is one of my favorite Reserves and very different from other locations. This was my second stay at Elephant Bedroom and all of the tiny problems have been dealt with now and the welcoming and efficient staff were fantastic. The animals have the right of way through camp and that makes for wonderful experiences especially with elephants. My nephew's many questions were answered with accurate information delivered with enthusiasm from the guards through to James our guide. Because it is usually so dry you do not get the quantity of game here you get in the Mara but you get varieties of animals you can not see elsewhere and the elephant sightings are incredible. The scenery is also fantastic.

We mixed our time in the Mara between Governors (in the Reserve and a large camp) and Encounter Mara (in Naibosho Conservancy and a small camp). This was the best mixture and each offered us something different and special. If you want to see animals you can not beat the Mara and boy, did we see animals in both places. It should have been the end of the migration but there were still lots of wildebeast and we actually saw a crossing. Where there is food there are predators and we saw lots of them as well. The Mara was still busy so going to Encounter Mara meant we saw wonderful cat sightings with very few vehicles. Encounter Mara also allowed us walking safaris, night drives and a (non-commercial!) boma visit. With their lovely guides and staff we will go back there and I hope others do too as it deserves to do well.

I think the balance of Nairobi Game Park, Samburu Reserve and the two locations in the Masai Mara gave my nephew a varied glimpse of Kenyan wildlife and countryside. He has not stopped talking about it. He absolutely loved the trip but confessed that he did not realise that sitting in a vehicle and looking for animals could be so exhausting! As for me, Kenya has so much to offer that I will return again (and again and again)!

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
Macushla House, Kenya
30-Sep-2015 review: Macushla House review
GoodGood
Aero Club of East Africa, Kenya
2-Oct-2015 review: Aero Club of East Africa review
GoodGood
Elephant Bedroom, Kenya
3-Oct-2015 review: Elephant Bedroom review
ExcellentExcellent
Governors Camp, Kenya
5-Oct-2015 review: Governors Camp review
ExcellentExcellent
Encounter Mara, Kenya
8-Oct-2015 review: Encounter Mara review
ExcellentExcellent

Unexpected

On this trip, I visited Namibia between 9-Sep-2011 and 3-Oct-2011 and I travelled with 1 other person.

Overall my trip experience was:

ExcellentExcellent

This trip was one of surprises and unexpected discoveries. We loved it!

I stayed at and have reviewed:

Place Overall rating
River Crossing, Namibia
10-Sep-2011 review: Has potential
AverageAverage
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge, Namibia
11-Sep-2011 review: Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review
ExcellentExcellent
Sossus Dune Lodge, Namibia
14-Sep-2011 review: Sossus Dune Lodge review
GoodGood
The Stiltz, Namibia
16-Sep-2011 review: The Stiltz review
ExcellentExcellent
Cape Cross Lodge, Namibia
19-Sep-2011 review: Cape Cross Lodge review
ExcellentExcellent
Camp Kipwe, Namibia
20-Sep-2011 review: Camp Kipwe review
ExcellentExcellent
Etendeka Mountain Camp, Namibia
23-Sep-2011 review: Etendeka Mountain Camp review
ExcellentExcellent
Okaukuejo Camp, Namibia
25-Sep-2011 review: Okaukuejo Camp review
GoodGood
Halali Camp, Namibia
27-Sep-2011 review: Halali Camp review
AverageAverage
Onguma Tented Camp, Namibia
28-Sep-2011 review: Onguma Tented Camp review
ExcellentExcellent
Olive Grove, Namibia
1-Oct-2011 review: Olive Grove review
ExcellentExcellent