Travel reviews by Mr & Mrs LN from London
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
A mixed bag indeed
Kenya between 8 Jan 2020 and 27 Jan 2020
Kicheche Valley in Naboisho Conservancy and Il Moran in the Mara Reserve were wonderful places to stay. The welcome, the location, the staff, the food and the guiding were all very professional and we would certainly go back to both of them.
Satao Elerai is in a beautiful location especially if you are lucky enough to see Kilimanjaro. Satao Camp is tired and would benefit from some energy from management.
The guiding problems we had with Southern Cross definitely affected our safari in both Amboseli and Tsavo East. Guides are vital to the enjoyment of these wonderful places and make a huge difference to what you see, learn and enjoy. If they are not of a suitably trained standard, temperament or not enthusiastic about all wildlife, long-anticipated (and expensive) trips will be spoiled. Quick fixes, such as offers of treats or bottles of wines, do not detract from the very bad taste of having to complain and try to get someone to take us seriously.
As travellers are told to do, we complained to the management and sent emails with our concerns and experiences to Expert Africa. Although Richard was liaising with Southern Cross what he was being told was often not what we were experiencing on the ground. In fact, he was being given false information. Six of the last 7 days on safari had problems. Julius at Satao Elerai did discuss things with us and try to sort out a solution. The problem with that is that the low standards should not have been acceptable to the Lodge or Southern Cross in the first place. During the last 4 days with the final guide, neither camp management nor Southern Cross management dealt with us directly. We are left feeling frustrated, angry and disappointed with a reasonable part of our trip."
While we were pleased these travellers enjoyed their stays at Kicheche Valley Camp and Governors’ Il Moran Camp, we were extremely unhappy with their experience with their private driver-guide. Southern Cross were deeply apologetic for his exceptionally poor performance and offered a substantial refund to these travellers for the very poorly conducted latter part of their safari. We agreed entirely with these travellers that such poor standards should never have been allowed to happen. Southern Cross told us that they had never experienced such feedback before. This driver-guide was suspended and the company is examining its training methods in light of this complaint to ensure a repeat episode never occurs.
Aero Club of East Africa
"Convenient stay at Aero Club"
" Lovely Kicheche Valley"
The camp is unfenced so you are escorted by guards in the evening and early morning. One of the guards found a lion dozing between two of the tents on his early rounds and encouraged him to leave!
The camp tents have recently been replaced. We thought the tents were lovely although there are a few finishing touches that are still going on. A lot of the tents have hyrax in and around them which are entertaining.
Our driver, Benjy, was a knowledgeable, kind guide and a great driver. He was aware of where to place the vehicle for the best photographs. The morning drive began early and usually lasted until 11-12 The evening drive began at 3:30 and back at camp by 7.
Coffee/tea/snacks were provided for pre-drive. Packed breakfast was tasty and varied. Lunch and evening meals were served with all guests at a shared, hosted table. For lunch there was usually a served first course, a delicious salad buffet and then dessert. Dinner was a 3 course plated meal with no choice unless you were a vegetarian or had special requirements. The evening food was tasty but not refined and it would not take much to change this.
We did not take part in any of any of the other activities. We know others enjoyed the walk. The night game drive takes place after dinner which is unusual in our experience and a great idea but ours was, unfortunately, rained off.
The staff were lovely and went our of their way to help with any problems and questions. Andy was a wonderful host.
There was a mix of people: honeymooners, visitors who were new to safaris, experienced travellers, solo travellers and returning clients
We would gladly return!"
Governors' Il Moran Camp
"Another wonderful visit at Il Moran"
A very unseasonably wet stay did not spoil our experience. We became experts at putting up and taking down the canvas windows in the vehicle when the rain came and stayed dry and toasty warm at all times. The sun was out quite a lot of the time too!
The camp is unfenced. The tents are spread around the riverbank. They are large and very comfortable with wonderful, heavy wooden furniture. Toiletries are included as was a mini-bar. They will be relocating one of the tents in the near future due to the recent high waters causing subsidence on the cliff and rendering one of the tents uninhabitable. If you are used to booking certain tent numbers then it will be worth checking out the changes. The new layout of the bar, restaurant and deck is a great improvement
We were hosted by the wonderful Trix who could not have been more helpful or welcoming. All of the staff were wonderful. I was sick when we arrived and a visit from the Governor's medic, organised by Trix, was very welcome.
We took a breakfast picnic with us every morning which allowed us to travel a little further and stay out longer. It was delicious!
There were several choices for lunch and dinner and the food was superb and varied. It was always beautifully presented and delicious. Meals were at your own table although, on one night when there were few guests, we had a communal table hosted by Trix which was very enjoyable.
The weather had been and still was unseasonably wet. The rain often happened at night or in short bursts on drives - it was not continuous and could be very localised. We still had sunshine. This meant that the marsh area was very wet as was a lot of the surrounding areas so tough decisions had to be made and game drives were very different from previous visits and the areas that could be visited were limited. The roads were in terrible condition (mud) and required skillful driving.
Due to the abundant rain the grass was very long so there were not as many plains animals as we had seen previously when we visited at this time of the year. Our wonderful guide worked hard though and we still had many superb sightings. He was a good guide and dealt with the driving conditions very well. At one crossing he decided it was unsafe to cross the high water and rocky base but we sat and watched while numerous drivers risked it. It made for tense moments!
We had to drive out of the park and along the edge to get to the dryer parts of the reserve. Once it was explained why we were having to start the same way on most drives this route made more sense. Everyone was frustrated by the conditions but nothing could be done as it was still raining so the roads could not dry out. This meant that hundreds and hundreds of Masai cattle, sheep and goats were encountered every time with most grazing just in the reserve even though there was so much grass around outside the boundary. This was off-putting and does destroy the illusion of being in the wilderness but is a reality that has to be dealt with. We could not understand why the cattle were being grazed in the reserve and nothing seemingly done about it by the authorities. It is an obvious on-going cause of frustration for many.
Il Moran is a superb camp in a lovely location, with the most professional management.
We will visit here again."
"Could have been so much better."
Again, the unseasonable and heavy rains had affected the area causing flooding. We arrived at a different air strip due to the flooding. We did not find the road up to the Lodge anywhere near as bad as previous reviews have stated. The Lodge is beautifully nestled in a little Conservancy. We encountered giraffes, dik diks and various other animals and birds on the drive to and from the Lodge.
The tents are divided into those that face Kilimanjaro and those that face Amboseli. We stayed in an Amboseli facing one and prayed that the clouds would lift from Kilimanjaro at some point (it did for a fleeting 30 minutes early on our last morning). Sleep with the front canvas windows open so you can see if the mountain has appeared through the mosquito netted window. The tent was nice, clean and comfortable with an amazing bathroom. There is a little pool with a lovely view in the central area.
There were impressive seating areas with dramatic woodwork everywhere. There is also a waterhole away from the communal area which is lit at night. Due to the availability of water everywhere we did not see any game there during our stay.
The guests are from a variety of nationalities with tour groups, overnight guests and guests who stay for longer periods. Some are self-drivers, some are transferred from the train and some fly in. It made for a nice mix of people.
You are seated at your own table for meals. We took breakfast before our game drives and a packed lunch for our longer game drive. There is a cereal / fruit / yogurt buffet with cooked breakfast to order. Lunch is your choice of several courses from a menu as is dinner. We found most of the food was tasty but the packed lunch sandwiches were very dry and did not match what we ordered. There is no expresso machine as one man was demanding!!
The serving staff were very friendly and helpful with the barman fantastic. He even created a special drink to help soothe my cough. Make sure you know what drinks are included in your package.
The Lodge is quite a way out of the park (up to an hour) so game drives are longer than usual. The entry into the Park is painfully slow.
The park had flooded areas so we were not able to visit some parts. In Amboseli you are not allowed off of the roads at all so some sightings are at a distance. We enjoyed what we saw and the elephants and birds were fabulous.
Now on to the difficult part.
We have travelled on a lot of safaris and the most important thing is the guide. You spend a lot of time with them and we ask a lot of questions to which we expect a reasonable answer or an honest answer that they do not know but will find out.
We were met at the air strip by a very casually dressed man and a dirty vehicle with side windows that did not easily open. He laid out tea and coffee on the hood and then went to talk to his friends - strange. He did not introduce himself as our guide so we decided he was just a transfer driver.
He was not at all talkative although he did explain why we were at that airstrip rather than the expected one. In a 45 minute drive he pointed out a gerenuk and a giraffe but gave no other details which is why we declined a strange offer of an extended drive around the conservancy.
When arrived at the lodge we saw several open-sided Elerai vehicles with professionally dressed drivers. We assumed that this was what we would be getting however, at our introduction talk we found out that the non-communicative, transfer driver was to be our guide throughout our 3 night stay and drives would take place in his vehicle. We immediately expressed our dismay and said that was not acceptable. Sammy, the Assistant Manager said he would look into it and get back to us in the evening.
When we also asked about our well-planned transfer to Tsavo East on our final day he looked confused and thought we were flying out but said he would look into that as well. We were very unsettled. We contacted Expert Africa at this point.
When we arrived in the evening we asked for Sammy. He told us that the driver would continue to drive us in that same vehicle but they would put a guide in as well (was the original man not a guide?). We could not imagine what that atmosphere would be like! When we said we were not happy with that option the Manager, Julius, appeared from the back office and took over. He came back to us with the option of another 'guide' for the next day in a similar vehicle and then a proper camp guide with the camp vehicle on our final day. Apparently one of the camp vehicles was in for repair so they had to hire a temporary vehicle and driver/guide. He had also confirmed our transfer to Tsave East by vehicle.
The second driver was enthusiastic about elephants and pleasant enough. His other knowledge was limited. His radio was crackling and his telephone was constantly ringing which was annoying. We were frustrated.
On the final day we had a guide called Benson who was amazing and just what a trained, professional guide should be! He was kind. fun and very knowledgeable about the area. He made our day really wonderful even though the cats were hiding. He found a lot of interesting animals and birds to watch and tried to navigate around the flooded areas although that was difficult at times.
To his credit Julius, the manager, went out of his way to try to make up for the disappointment in many ways but if we would have had a guide such as Benson and a clean vehicle throughout our whole stay there would have been no complaints from us. Considering that Southern Cross run a large nationwide transfer and guiding company as well as this camp and Satao in East Tsavo we found the poor organisation very confusing and disappointing. If the camp/company can not organise and guarantee the standard of their guides and vehicles consistantly then other guests may well be very disappointed also.
A further concern was getting water for our transfer, which was a full day drive from Amboseli, through Tsavo West and on to Tsavo East. We were told that the new rules about returning glass bottles means that providing water for guests on an all-day transfer caused concern. We were allowed some in the end but it should not be a problem that guests need to organise! We have discussed this with Expert Africa."
The owners of Satao Elerai, Southern Cross, sent us their sincere apologies to pass on to these travellers for the poor quality of their initial transfer from the airstrip. They explained that having a vehicle out of action had led to a shortage of lodge vehicles and the need to bring in a contracted vehicle and driver for their transfer, which they agreed was sub-standard and promised us was a one-off, not to be repeated.
At Expert Africa, we were very unhappy with the impression given to these clients while in camp that their needs and wishes were only being met when they kicked up a fuss instead of (as we would expect with such a close Kenyan partner), anticipating exactly what any guest would look forward to and providing it professionally and as booked by Expert Africa. Southern Cross were very sorry indeed that these clients did not feel their compliant was taken seriously: they emphasised how seriously they did take it and that their deep concern was reflected in the refund passed on to these travellers.
We were happy to hear that their last guide Benson and the camp’s manager Julius made every effort to make these travellers’ stay enjoyable and rewarding, but we were very sorry and felt let down on their behalf that this wasn’t the attitude throughout their stay. On the question of drinking water, the policy at Southern Cross is for every guest to be provided with one litre per day while driving in vehicles. There was no explanation for why that had not happened in the case of these clients, and Southern Cross has promised they will ensure this lapse never happens again.
"Mixed time at Satao Camp"
The camp is in a nice location in front of a waterhole. It is larger than most camps we visited. Due to local flooding the waterhole did not have many visitors while we were there.
The tents are scattered all over the site. If a view of the waterhole is important to you then make sure you ask for the right one. The named rather than numbered tents are closest to the waterhole, and are bigger. The inside of the tent was nice and there was a small fridge in it. The bathroom was the same as at Satao Elerai which was lovely. The tents themselves are looking very tired and probably in need of renewal. The mosquito netting in the front of the tent has many holes and you could see daylight through the roof over the bathroom
The communal area is split into sitting and dining areas separated by the bar. Some people were smoking in the sitting area while we were there. The dining tables are under trees so be prepared for some of the leaves to land on the table. Breakfast has cold choices, fruit is cut to order which causes delays (it is usually already prepared in the buffet), a cooked buffet is available and eggs can be made to order. For lunch and dinner the starters and desserts are served to your table and the main meals are served buffet style. There are several choices for each meal. We had packed lunches which were absolutely awful. Our food was not in the cooler so was in boxes in the heat from the time you left (and however long before that it had been prepared) to the time you ate. The bread for the sandwich was dry with a few bits of grated cheese in it. There was cooked chicken in foil that was not chilled. There was also unchilled yogurt. This lack of concern over food poisoning was a health risk and made you wonder what hygiene was like elsewhere. There was a small bottle of water included in the lunch box which was also warm.
We had to arrange for all of our water on our trip (including the transfer from Amboseli) as neither our Guide nor the camps did. One day we asked for ice and our guide put a frozen bottle of water in the cooler but it did not last for long. The lack of water provided, let alone chilled water was inexcusable and we still do not know what should have happened but it should not have been our responsibility!
The staff were very pleasant with our waiter and the barman very good. The management were not as visible as at other camps. More energy and enthusiasm would benefit the lodge as the atmosphere feels a little tired.
We had a Sundowner trip provided which was very nice.
Our major complaint was our unprofessional guide: He was a driver/guide supplied by Southern Cross to transfer us from Amboseli, guide us in Tsavo West and East and then a final transfer to Watamu over a 4 day period.
This was the worst part of our entire trip and caused us to contact Expert Africa immediately. Due to problems with some of the guiding at Satao Elerai we were promised a good guide for the next stage at Satao. This was certainly not the case!
- The transfer did not go as planned. We had discussed with Expert Africa how the transfer should go from Amboseli to Tsavo West and then into the nearby gate into Tsavo East. However, when we got to the closest Tsavo East Gate he did not enter and continued along the highway to Voi which we had specifically said we did not want to do. We were given no explanation as to why the changes occured but our guide did stop to pick up a package in Voi which he said was for the camp and which we can only assume was the reason for going to Voi..
- Our guide frequently drove at very high speeds well above the speed limit (50 kph) in the park. There is no way a guide can drive at 70 - 90km per hour in a park while watching for potholes and also spotting animals. We could not spot anything at that speed either and sat in our seat holding on. Over the course of the next few days we asked him to slow down which he did for a while then sped up again. We were so frustrated with his behaviour that we told the Assistant Manager at the Lodge but he laughed at us and said he would get the Manager to talk to him. No-one got back to us. The next day, our now very sulky driver then drove at 20 km looking straight ahead without pointing out any animals and ignoring the other vehicles and radio which were talking about a cheetah and cub. We eventually saw the mother for 2 minutes before she moved off.
In addition to the above there were a number of further issues with the driver/guide:
- Due to the speed at which he was driving we hit 3 birds (on separate occasions) which could not get out of the road fast enough. One actually ended up in the vehicle having bounced off of the windscreen.
- We had to organise/provide our own water although he should have done this.
- His routes were unusual and never discussed with us.
- At an owl sighting he started making loud noises in an attempt to get the owl to look our way- no respect and very unprofessional.
- He frequently drove away from a sighting without warning us or asking if we were finished leaving us lurching. We were still taking photos!
- At one point we hit a pothole at such speed and with such force the cooler went up in the air landing and breaking a bottle on the inside. Never any apologies or concern for us
- We did speak to him numerous times as well keeping Expert Africa in the loop.
- The management of the camp must have known the situation, the main management of Southern Cross certainly did but no-one bothered to discuss anything with us to help improve the situation. This part of our trip was spoiled."
Shortly after these guests stayed at the camp the owners sent a senior staff member to give the camp a thorough inspection and to review staff standards and management style in order to improve communication between the management and guests and upgrade standards throughout the camp. They agreed that poorly prepared and unsuitably stored packed lunches are completely unacceptable. They also confirmed that a litre of drinking water per client, stored in an ice chest, should be provided as standard on every day’s drive. There was no explanation from Southern Cross as to why this didn’t happen in the case of these clients and they sincerely apologised for this inexplicable lapse of care.
The Charming Lonno Lodge
"'Charming' is the word!"
The Lodge is outside of Watamu and was designed and mostly built by Aldo. It is quirky but delightful. There is no beach in front but the stairs down to the coral reef at low tide let you walk along to the beach or you can take a tuktuk instead. Sylvia will arrange whatever you want and has lots of suggestions to suit everyone.
The customers varied in age and interests but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, We certainly did.
We stayed in the first floor of the Tower. It has a lovely balcony, comfortable bed with mosquito net, dressing area, intriguing bathroom and an entrance area with a water cooler and small fridge. Liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided.
Breakfast is the usual cereal, fruit, yogurt, muffins and hot breakfast made to order. You are shown the set menu for lunch and dinner although there is a 'snack menu' for lunch available which we usually had. We found the food delicious. Dinner is served at 8pm.
Sylvia is in charge of the guests and is delightful. Her staff are well trained, professional and very pleasant. They have 4 full grown, very well-trained ridgebacks and one young puppy. The puppy is being trained as quickly as possible but hasn't quite grasped the rules as yet. As he is so cute it does not really matter! Sylvia and Aldo are very aware that many people do not enjoy dogs which is why they are not allowed in the public areas at all. We found the dogs chilled and never in the way.
There is a lovely, large salt-water pool with a jacuzzi section. Sun beds and umbrellas surround the pool. There are also two day beds. One has a wonderful view over the water which allowed us to watch the fisherman as well as distant bottlenose dolphins. The other is by the pool and catches the sea breeze.
There are spa treatments available if organised in advance.
We had a wonderful relaxing time recovering from our safari and can not recommend Lonno Lodge highly enough. It is extremely well run, and an oasis of tranquility.
Excursion: We had a dhow excursion which we recommend you arrange in advance. The trip was not cheap but is private and you are out for a full day. We were transferred to Mida creek and set off to find dolphins (please take wet bags for your camera / binoculars in case of rogue waves). We found some bottlenose dolphins and watched them for a while until the busy tourist boats came out. We then went into the Marine Park and snorkelled with our guide pointing out various fish and coral. We then proceeded to a deserted beach where we walked and looked at the coral cliffs and crabs. Offered lunch on the boat or in a waterside restaurant we chose the boat so they went and brought a chef with lots of coolers on board. He proceeded to cook our 4 course meal which included fresh lobster - it was so delicious! After the wine and that lunch the crew went off to have their lunch on the shore to let us have a little nap. After all of that we cruised down the creek and then sailed back watching the setting sun. A perfect day with a lovely crew!"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
My Sep 2018 trip
Botswana and 1 other country between 1 Sep 2018 and 24 Sep 2018
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."
Arranged By Tracy Lederer
The 3 Princesses slowly cruise down the river to set moorings against the river bank and they move to another spot every day. They do not travel huge distances so do not expect that. They are also not allowed to moor or go on the Batswanan side of the river. The only excursions offered were the village visit or tender trips: fishing was not offered to our boat. These limited activities did not bother us at all but might disappoint others.
From the Princess you get in tenders which cruise down the river spotting whatever you can along the way. Each trip was different. We saw many birds, kudu, impala, crocodiles, hippos etc from the water. The highlight was watching many elephants walking along the riverbank at sunset and then swimming across the river for better feeding. Taking advice from previous reviews I had requested, and received, the photographic boat which has 6 fixed spaces for cameras although several were not working. We had a lovely trip the afternoon we joined and we stayed out for sunset. The next day we had an early morning trip, back for breakfast and then another trip afterwards with a further trip in the afternoon/evening. On the morning of departure the Princess slowly cruised back to the home mooring and we were off the boat at around 10am.
The guides were knowledgeable and respectful of the wildlife (unlike some others on the river!). The boat staff were lovely and around when needed but not obtrusive. The food was very tasty indeed and wine and beer plentiful.
The Princess has a small plunge pool on the front deck which was wonderful for dangling our toes in to cool down. There is a generous seating area inside as well as on the outside deck. Numerous books and games were available.
We really enjoyed our stay, it was relaxing, it suited us and was a great way to begin this holiday."
Ichingo Chobe River Lodge
"Surprising stay at Ichingo"
We arrived and were warmly welcomed by the ever-smiling Kennedy who seems to be an institution at this lodge. The tents are classic, generously sized, large bathroom with a lovely hot shower and (bizarre but welcome) air conditioning. The tents and central area overlook the trees and then the river/rapids and there is abundant, comfortable seating in the lounge and a large dining area.
Our gentle guide, Felix, was full of information when asked about something.
The staff are all lovely and hard-working but the staff behind the bar and serving the drinks at dinner kept disappearing which caused obvious concern to many guests. On our second night a manageress appeared, poured a few glasses of wine at dinner and was not seen again. Guests on the first night dined at various tables spread around the area while on the second night everyone dined at one table. The guests ended up getting the wine from the sideboard and helping themselves which was not really a problem.
There is a problem with insects being drawn to the lights so the lights above the table are turned off and lanterns put on the balcony railings so the bugs are drawn there. We thought this worked well but upset some who wanted a close look at what they were eating. We found the food delicious. The guests were a mixture of people about to go on the Queen, those who had come for the renowned fishing and people like us who were there for the wildlife. There was one loud and difficult man who managed to upset many with his comments. No guides or management were at the dining table to help the conversation move along or deflect his comments.
Breakfast is at 8 and then you go out for a morning activity. The activities on offer are wildlife viewing from a tender, fishing, and village visit. A road trip in Chobe Park can be arranged. We tried fishing (having never done it before) by cruising up and down some of the channels: pretty and peaceful (apart from protesting hippos) but unproductive. The sunset on the water was superb. In the morning we did the wildlife boat trip which resulted in seeing more fantastic swimming elephants as well as many other animals. The tender can be slowly moved up to the animals on the river bank without disturbing them which results in some wonderful sightings (and photographic opportunities). In the afternoon we asked to go up to the Zambezi and then did more fishing on the way back which resulted in the surprise catch and release of two Tigerfish and much laughter. Sally won bragging rights!
The following morning we were taken from the lodge and through the customs procedures into Botswana and onto a Chobe Park safari which we enjoyed although that part of Chobe is very busy.
We trusted that all of the transfers would work and, apart from a minor timing hiccup, they did.
We enjoyed our stay at Ichingo as we had the chance to try different activities and enjoyed the rustic setting."
Muchenje Safari Lodge
"Very happy with Muchenje!"
The interior central area is beautifully organised and decorated with comfortable over-sized furniture. There are many external seating areas and a small pool with a terrace area all overlooking the distant river. The camp is open so wild animals can and do roam through. The dining area is communal seating with your guides and either Kitty or Toff spread throughout the guests. The food is buffet style, tasty and plentiful. The bar is extensive and everything plentiful. The wine with dinner was very nice too.
The trips are organised with military precision which is a little scary at first but then you quickly grow to appreciate it. Our first trip was into the West side of the park. Although wildlife is a little more sparse than on the Kasane side it is not as crowded and there was still lots to see. The evening safari was fun. Again, not a lot of wildlife but elephants at night and wild cats and jackals were found which gave you a different view of the surrounding area.
Our guide was good. He drove most of our trips and the boat too. He was older and very, very knowledgeable but not as forthcoming with chat, smiles and volunteering information as the other guides we saw/had. Everyone is different!
The following day was a long one. We started out with an early morning safari with a different guide who was quite young and enthusiastic who readily shared information which we enjoyed. A walking safari was also offered. We headed back along the long road to Kasane spotting wildlife along the way before joining our boat for a water safari. This was the only time we had cause to complain a little. The boat had folding chairs opened up and put around the outside and a very large folding table in the middle. We all moved our chairs so that we were facing outwards and at an angle but it was cramped. With the number of people we had on it it felt very over-crowded (but still safe) and thankfully, everyone was very considerate of everyone else so that all could get photos. We went down the Botswana channel which was less busy than the main channel. We saw lots of wildlife and had a very enjoyable lunch by the riverbank. The game drive back through the park was good too. We also chose to go on the evening drive which we enjoyed.
The next morning we had been offered a game drive or a walk but chose to stay in camp in our lovely room before our transfer to the airport.
We always felt welcome and well looked after at Muchenje and would gladly return to this lovely lodge!"
"Splash Camp review"
The concession is large, varied and interesting. At the time of our visit the area around the camp was dry as the water had not arrived this year. There was still water in the area in some of the waterholes. This did affect the game viewing a bit but made the wonderful sightings so much more special.
The central area has comfortable sofas, rows of long, high seating and chairs around the campfire. There is a self-service bar with a wide choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The dining section needs a bit more character as it looks a little austere at the moment.
There is the main camp and then an area with further accommodation that can be private. We did not really understand the layout but it did not matter. The buildings are wooden and raised off of the ground. The rooms are huge and have a balcony. The front is netting and has a lovely view out to the waterhole. There is a large bathroom with inside and outside showers. The toilets have a view too!
Your guide works hard! They wake you up in the morning, eat breakfast, brunch and dinner with you, drive you around and then take you to your room at the end of the day. Our guide, G was lovely and full of information but could, perhaps, deliver a little more of the life stories about the animals which all of the guides know intimately. Nothing like telling a story about a pride of lions or a cheetah to get guests really involved! He very kindly organised with another vehicle to add us 2 to their group of 4 as only 3 vehicles are allowed at a sighting and we were the fourth and would have missed out. They were following wild dogs who were hunting and we saw so much because of his decision. G then used the time to go searching and found a cheetah for us to see after we had finished with the dogs.
The meals are served buffet style and everyone sits at a communal table for lunch and dinner. You have a morning bowl of porridge or cereal and fruit around the campfire and then go out until around 11 when you come back for a substantial brunch. At about 4 you have high tea and are then out until you come back for drinks and dinner. The bar is open and self-serve and wine is served with dinner.
One of the trips was a visit to a heronry which was fascinating but so cold to start with! That morning we had a cold snap come through from South Africa and it was around 6 degrees first thing, very unseasonably cold and this lasted for a few days. On our trip we saw that other camps had warm ponchos to help with the cold which would have been very, very welcome in the vehicle and on the boat. The blankets we had just did not keep out the wind and cold. Ponchos are worth considering for the future I think.
For some reason at the camp when we were there we had a lot of hunters who kept on deliberately bringing up the subject rather than avoiding it when realising how uncomfortable it made others. This caused a lot of polarisation and discomfort. Worth going on safari knowing what to avoid and accepting what you might come across!
While we were at Splash there was a medical emergency which was handled extremely well by the management. They went well out of their way to help the gentleman affected and deserve praise and lots of credit.
Lovely camp, nice staff, beautiful area and some wonderful wildlife sightings with a knowlegeable guide. Great stay!"
Private Mobile - DC
"Kazuma Trails exceeded our expectations."
David of Kazuma Trails gave us a special adventure! With this private safari we could do what we wanted and spend as much time as we wanted when we saw something that interested us. He gave us choices as to what to follow or look for. Dave took us out for extended hours so we often saw animals when the other vehicles had left to get back to camp. Dave is a wonderful guide who can answer any question with a straight face even if some of the questions were ridiculous in hindsight! His tracking skills, which he explained as we went along, led us to some wonderful, private sightings. He has lots of patience and is willing to wait for ages and try to analyse and predict behaviour so that we could get that special photograph. He is also a wonderful photographer who readily shares his knowledge. He is from Zimbabwe but all of the drivers we met knew him and he knew the two parks intimately. I think he has convinced us that Zimbabwe is the next country for us to visit!
With this private safari we spent 3 nights in Savute and 3 nights in Khwai on private sites.
Dave had a wonderful crew of 4. One gentleman named Kinesis (sorry for the spelling) was in overall charge. kept everything running smoothly and poured a very mean gin and tonic! There were 2 men who looked after the tents, erected and pulled down the camps, got the water and a wonderful lady who was a superb chef.
Our tent was kindly upgraded and was roomy with two very comfortable and warm camp beds, bedside tables, a storage unit and a large zipped bathroom section with an ash toilet and a bucket shower. Water was refilled whever you requested it and was lovely and warm. We had a minor problem when the local bees came for water and drowned thereby blocking the shower head. The team figured it out and fixed it immediately and developed work-arounds so it did not happen again. Not their usual plumbing problem! Solar panels provided lighting in the tent. Our camp also had a tent that held the dining table, chairs and bar. We always had a campfire with comfy chairs. There was a cook tent and tents for the staff and one for Dave. The tents were well spaced out and we felt quite private.
Food was always varied, hearty, delicious and plentiful with fresh vegetables and fruit. Beer, gin and tonics and wine were available too as well as non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of chilled water.
Laundry was done on the days we did not move.
The vehicle was very roomy, quite comfortable and had a fridge plugged in so there was always cold wather and other drinks at hand. Batteries could be charged in the vehicle each day.
Savute and Khwai were very different and we liked the contrast between the two.
Savute was extremely dry and waterhole based. Our campsite at Savute was a fairly new one, extremely private with no-one around for miles. The shrubs were very short there and the area was dry. We did not see any wildlife ourselves around camp although the kitchen tent was visited by honey badgers and we heard lions and jackals every night. We saw amazing and lengthy sightings of lions, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, a hyena den and so much else in the park.
Camp was pulled down very efficiently and they drove on to set up in Khwai. Our drive to Khwai was very sandy and bumpy and must have been hard driving for Dave but was interesting for us sitting in the back!
Khwai had lots of water and the river too. Our campsite at Khwai had water on two sides with resident, noisy and territorial hippos who decided to have a battle on one of the nights. They also did not like one of our access routes to the camp which resulted in an amusing standoff on two occasions. We saw so many animals but it was the stories behind them that made this trip special. Dave tracked a family of 2 lionesses and 3 tiny cubs for over 2 hours one morning before we found them. This included a river crossing! It was fascinating to watch and we learned so much We were the only people watching them for ages which was so special. We found them again in the afternoon and continued to watch them which ended in a sunset/evening soap opera moment of the lioness trying to decide whether to cross again with the cubs when there was a hippo and a crocodile waiting. It was tense!
This was not a tick-list safari but one where we learned about behaviours and really spent time with the animals. We loved it.
Khwai does have a very high number of vehicles. Beside those from the lodges in the concession as well as the private safaris there are numerous vehicles from lodges in the adjacent concession that come in as well and also self-drivers. The lodges use radios so that as soon as one sees something 4 vehicles at least come screaming up. The private guides have a network to share information as well. There are no limits to vehicles at a viewing and it can be very off-putting although most drivers are aware and leave room for the animals to move. We often left and found something else to watch.
We loved our private safari with Dave and would recommend the experience heartily!"
Lodge not featured by Expert Africa
"What an unexpected and special place!"
The camp had a number of people on the first night but then it was only us for the rest of our stay.
Firstly and most importantly were the fabulous people who work at the camp. Our guide BK was absolutely excellent. He was enthusiastic, a natural story-teller, a great guide and the best driver we had. Ogirl was the manageress of the camp at the time we were there. She was absolutely lovely! She oversaw everything and made sure we were happy and also shared our meals with us (as well as BK). We enjoyed her company very much and she made our stay even more special. She also became engaged the night before we arrived - congratulations!!
After 6 nights of a long drop toilet and camping, the sight of the luxurious furniture in our beautiful white tent with a 'proper' bathroom and throne toilet was very much appreciated! The 4-poster beds were very comfortable and the shower lovely. The toiletries were superb as well. The tents are widely set apart and the furthest tent is quite a trek to the central area. Request a lower number tent if you do not want to trek too far in the heat. The furniture in the tents and throughout the camp is stunning as are the exhibits!
The huge central tent houses numerous sitting areas, the generously stocked self-serve bar, the dining room and a beautiful Arabian area with low cushions and lovely Persian carpets where you have tea before setting out on your afternoon adventure. There is another tent which is beside the small, but very welcome, swimming pool.
You have breakfast first thing before you go out on your first activity. Around 11 you have lunch and then the afternoon is yours to rest and relax. At 4 you have tea and a snack and then out until you get back for drinks and dinner. The food was fine but I think that the option of salad or a lighter lunch would be welcome. The full lunch was too much for me in the intense heat.
Everywhere you look you see the flat salt pans where you often see lines of zebra and wildebeast crossing in front of wonderful mirages. We had not expected the sheer number of birds, elephants, lions, zebras, wildebeast, impala etc in an area that looked so bleak and harsh from the air.
The activities are well-organised, varied and interesting. We had a visit with habituated (but still totally wild) meercats, we searched (and found) brown hyenas, we went out in the vehicle looking for wildlife and stayed out for a nocturnal safari where we found an aardwolf, spring hares (or Kalahari kangaroo), cape hare, jackals and many other species. We walked with some San people which was enlightening and lots of fun as well. Through all of the activities we learned about the area and how everything survives in this very harsh environment.
It was very hot in the day and cool at night and first thing in the morning. You will need layers of clothing. Ogirl told us the best way to survive the heat is by wearing a kikoy (they supplied them) that has been soaked in water, wrung out and wrapped around your neck. It really helped to deal with the dry heat.
We were the only people in camp for the last two nights of our stay which was quiet and enjoyable with no drop in standards. It can get windy at times in the night but you are wrapped up warm in your duvet in your tent and it just adds to the atmosphere as do the roaring lions and barking jackals.
We really enjoyed our stay and would definitely recommend it if you are prepared for a different experience."
Kenya again - Sept-Oct 2015
Kenya between 30 Sep 2015 and 11 Oct 2015
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)!"
"Macushla House review"
The staff we talked to had not even been to the Orphanage or giraffe sanctuary so they could not provide information for us of what to expect. (Please take a bottle of water when you go!) Neither could they discuss things to do and places to go in and around the area. This could be easily rectified by taking the staff to these places and providing more leaflets in the information stand.
We stayed in the cottage rooms. They were clean and nice - great for people travelling together or for a family. Could use a mosquito net over the bed and possibly a fan.
Restaurant food was nice and was cooked to order so took a while which left time for a nice drink at the bar.. Picnic lunch was very basic - could be a lot more interesting.
If you get a taxi from the hotel make sure you find out from the owner the usual rate before you book and make sure that rate is agreed with the taxi driver. Personally, we would rather have booked a vehicle for the day and had the freedom that would have allowed us. There was a wedding shoot around the pool so we did not use it."
Aero Club of East Africa
"Aero Club of East Africa review"
The rooms are not sound-proof and the linen could use an upgrade but everything was clean and tidy.
It's location within the boundary of Wilson Airport means it is a good stop to make early morning flights without having to worry about the horrendous Nairobi traffic jams. The front desk organised a taxi to pick us up early in the morning for the 5 minute drive to the terminal.
The staff at the front desk and in the bar and were friendly and efficient."
"Elephant Bedroom review"
Our tent was on a raised platform and was spacious, well-decorated and had a fantastic view. The plunge pool on the deck is a wonderful idea and is perfect for just dangling your feet in or sitting in watching the world happen around you. Laundry is done on request.
The camp is unfenced and open to whatever happens to want to visit. The very friendly and relaxed guards around the camp made sure to point out anything interesting and kept us safely out of the visiting elephants way. Sam, (one of the elephants that likes the camp) came by daily and we watched him with great interest from our deck as he ate the fruit from the tree that the monkeys had knocked down. He was calm and peaceful and not worried by us at all.
In camp is also an observation platform near a small waterhole the camp has created. The guard took us up there when we requested it.
The staff were all wonderful and so welcoming. Everyone embraced my nephew's enthusiasm for his first trip in Kenya and made our stay an absolute delight. Our guide (James) and trainee (John) were enthusiastic, funny and so kind.
The food was always delicious. How they manage to cater so well so far from everything is amazing! For lunch and dinner you are presented with a blackboard menu with several choices to choose your meal from. Breakfast is a buffet with eggs cooked to order.
We will return!"
"Governors Camp review"
This large camp as well as many others in and around the Reserve means lots of people in a large number of vehicles which can result in overcrowding around the animals sometimes. Most of the drivers are sensitive to this and monitor their movements. Being within the Reserve means that night drives are not allowed and off-road driving is limited to certain sightings. Governors itself may not suit some people but we mixed our stay at Governors with a small camp outside the reserve and the combination worked well for us.
Governors camp is unfenced so animals can and do come through. Hearing a hippo or elephant munch on grass outside your tent is wonderful! There are guards throughout the camp who are always on the lookout. At night you are escorted to and from your tent. There is nothing like deciding to go to bed but being stopped by the guards because an elephant was on the path. Back to the bar we went until the path was clear - not really a hardship!
The tents are comfortable and clean. Most of the tents follow the winding river bed so, with the hippos, birds and other animals there was usually something to watch from your deck. Some tents look out onto the plains. If you have any walking difficulties it would be worth mentioning this when you book as some of the tents are a walk away from the centre.
The food was delicious with several choices for each meal. Our waiter, Philip was with us the whole time and was so lovely he deserves a special mention. A cold breakfast could be taken out with you on a long morning game drive (highly recommended) or you could have a full breakfast buffet between your shorter morning game drives. The two bartenders we dealt with were wonderful with one spending time exchanging recipes with my bartender nephew. A lot of laughter (and great cocktails) resulted. I think that Dawa will be on the menu in Canada very soon!
Our game drives were always interesting and Philip, our driver, excellent, informative and funny. The long morning drives enabled us time to search out fabulous sightings and also allowed us to wait until a crossing took place. Amazing!
With the two Philips we were well looked after. Both gentlemen had worked at Governors for a long time and their experience shone through. The bar staff provided us with a great deal of fun (and great cocktails!) The management staff were always pleasant, kind and efficient. We had a problem with our initial driver at Governors (something that we had never come across before). As soon as we discussed this with management they acted on it immediately and very professionally and thereafter our stay was wonderful."
"Encounter Mara review"
I was travelling with my adult nephew on his first trip to Kenya and wanted him to have the experience of bush walking and night drives. Richard suggested Encounter Mara and I am so glad that he did.
Our Masai guide Senchura picked us up and never let us down. He was gentle and so knowledgeable and patient. Staying on the conservancy allows you to view at your own pace and with limited other vehicles (if any). I think the limit was a maximum of 4 which was a huge and pleasant change from inside the Reserve itself. Among many sightings, watching a cheetah family for an hour when they were playing and relaxing was amazing and then finding them again the next day getting prepared for a hunt was even more special.
My nephew did a lovely walk with Senchura and an armed guide one morning while I did a game drive. We then combined to complete our morning drive.
We also visited a local boma to learn about the way the Masai live. It was a totally uncommercial visit and we learned so much. The way that the Conservancy balances the needs of the Masai with those of the tourists was an eye-opener and seems to work very well for all.
The night drive we combined with our evening game drive and saw a pride of over 13 lions, elephants and hundreds of wildebeast walking along getting ready to cross over to Tanzania. We also saw a bushbaby and numerous other animals. Night drives give you a different perspective of the bush and I highly recommend them.
The camp is enclosed by an electric fence which only prevents buffalo and elephant from coming in. There are guards to take you to and from your tents. The large tents were fabulous with each having a wonderful view, comfortable beds. The 'bucket' shower worked very well indeed.
There is a large dining tent where you can dine as a group or individually hosted by Andrew or one of the other lovely managers which we thought was a great idea. The food was very nice but the desserts could use a little refinement. The packed picnic breakfasts were tasty.
The other tent is full of sofas and is a perfect place to relax with a book or chat. This is where there are charging stations for you to charge all of your electrical gadgets and batteries. No Wifi which I loved!
There is a little hide down by a natural salt/mineral lick (take water with you) . I spent a long peaceful time down there and saw many wonderful animals behaving naturally.
All of the staff were wonderful and welcoming - our thanks to them all. We loved our stay here and I will definitely return.
ps The 'loo with a view' has to be experienced!"
Namibia between 9 Sep 2011 and 3 Oct 2011
Staffing seemed a little confused in that barman checked us in and helped carry bags to our room (no paved paths to wheel cases on) and it all seemed a little uncomfortable. For some reason they thought we were a honeymoon couple which also resulted in awkwardness but a nicely decorated bed!
Cabins are nice but the room we were placed in did not have air conditioning even though we were told it did. The cabins either side of us did though - confusing! We asked and were allowed to change rooms.
Food was fine but, as there were few guests the atmosphere was slightly lacking. Staff were pleasant but could have been more engaging.
With a little more experience this Lodge will provide a lovely alternative to staying in Windhoek itself."
Wolwedans Desert Lodge
"Wolwedans Dunes Lodge review"
You drive in to the main centre and are then transported up to the Lodge. Your car is left securely behind in the main parking lot.
The lounge area and dining area are beautifully organised, furnished and decorated. Our room was luxurious and having the canvas down to enjoy the sunrise and the night noises was delightful.
The food was delicious and the evening presentation of it memorable.
Our excursions were all wonderful and our driver entertaining and knowledgeable."
Sossus Dune Lodge
"Sossus Dune Lodge review"
The huts are on raised platforms and are surprisingly lovely with views over the open plain with the dunes in the distance.
The bar and sitting area are spacious; the pool very welcoming. The large dining room lacks atmosphere and can be very stuffy and hot. It is a shame you are not allowed to eat at the tables out on the deck surrounding the dining room.
The staff are efficient and most are friendly although a little reserved.."
"The Stiltz review"
We had room 7 and a lovely view over the reeds and out to the ocean. The room and hotel was quirky and comfortable with all of the staff very pleasant and friendly. The breakfast room / lounge was surprisingly large and the breakfast delicious."
Coast and Sandwich Harbour
"Sandwich Harbour trip"
17 Sep 2011 • All-day excursion
Lunch was very nice as well.
Kayaking with seals
18 Sep 2011 • Morning excursion
Francoise unloaded the vehicle and explained what we were going to do and where we were going to go. He efficiently got us all into the double kayaks and off on our adventures. We had a fantastic trip with loads of dolphins and seals surrounding us throughout the trip. It was incredible!
Cape Cross Lodge
"Cape Cross Lodge review"
We went for a walk along the ridge, returned along the beach and watched a lovely sunset before having a nice drink and dinner.
The seal colony was short drive away although the visiting hours are limited there so don't expect to go early in the morning."
"Camp Kipwe review"
Most people seemed to stay for only 1 or 2 nights. We really enjoyed our three nights here as it allowed us some relaxation time by the pool as well as our excursions.
On our full board and activity basis we were entitled to one excursion a day so we did the elephant trip twice and visited the rock carvings one afternoon. Our guide was good but could afford to learn and spend more time discussing the geology, the plant life and be better about positioning for photos/observations. He could also be more confident about striking out by himself to find the elephants. Following other vehicles all of the time results in a lot of dust and not the best photo opportunities!
As an aside, the guide needing to stop for cigarette breaks on a regular basis was annoying."
Etendeka Mountain Camp
"Etendeka Mountain Camp review"
Due to the dot on the map we were expecting Palmwag to be a town of some size - ha ha ha! The fence preventing the transport of farm animals was a surprise but the guards were pleasant and let us across to Palmwag Lodge for a drink as we arrived early. We filled up with petrol at the filling pumps.
Bonnie was at the collection spot when we returned so we parked in the secure parking and transferred over to his vehicle for the 1 1/2 hour trip to the Lodge. This drive turned out to be a lovely bonus game drive. The camp is really in the middle of nowhere with some lovely scenery surrounding it. The basic tents have been renewed and are larger than previously with comfortable beds and an outdoor bucket shower that works very well and is great fun besides!
Beer, wine and soft drinks are included and the supplied water is drinkable. You are given water bottles to keep for the duration of your visit that you fill up from the chilled water dispenser in the dining area.
The dining area lacks a little character but is due to be upgraded in the near future. The food was simple and delicious.
We went on a walk with Bonnie in the morning which was very enjoyable. I had been worried about this due to a recent knee replacement but the walk was interesting and relatively gentle. Everyone is given a walking stick just to aid with stability on some of the rockier parts.
The game drive in the afternoon with Dennis was informative and fascinating even though the elephants were not in the area. We saw a wide variety of game and heard lions and hyaena during the night as well as having zebra and Springbok around our tent. We saw a variety of game on the way out as well.
Dennis and Bonnie are laid-back gentlemen and provide a relaxed, informative stay with no frills but ample comfort and delightful conversation.
A truly wonderful experience that I am so glad Tracey suggested so strongly. It would have been a poorer trip if we missed this stop."
"Okaukuejo Camp review"
Checking-in takes a while, there can be queues and nothing is rushed. Patience is a virtue in this situation! Remember to have your key cash ($500) available. You get this back when you check out. While you are in the office you can pay your park fees at a separate desk. This takes time too! You pay for each 24 hour period in the park and the clerk will write the time and day that you must leave on your ticket. We saw someone being sent back from the main gate because they overstayed so be careful!
It is a big place with lots of rooms of varying sorts and a campground. The pool was large and lovely but definitely needs more sunbeds. There is a tourist shop and a food shop (surprisingly badly stocked given the number of campers and people needing supplies for packed lunches).
The waterhole is large and has a row of seats available so you can sit and watch the comings and goings. While we were there everyone was respectful of the wildlife and quietly spoken. A variety of wildlife came throughout the day and night with rhinos appearing during the evening. Everyone needs to be aware of the fact that there are rabid animals in the area so just keep your distance and do not feed any of the animals. Jackals do pass through the camp during the evening especially.
Meals are an interesting experience. You book in for your dinner time when you register and then at breakfast each day after that. Look out for the list by the cashier. When you turn up you go to the cashier who has a list with your assigned table on it. Your waiter/waitress will take you to it although the numbers are not really organised so finding the table can take a while. If you are lucky your server will take a drinks order and if you are even more lucky they will bring it to you.
The service varies very much from waiter to waiter. Food is self-service although, for the main course there is freshly grilled meat available. The queues can get quite long especially if a tour group (or two) arrives at the same time. We found the food tasty and interesting. They have introduced a system where you pay for your drinks after every meal. This can take a little while if the cashier is busy but it does mean that any mistakes can be rectified then and there. Due to some credit card problems in the past the staff do not touch your cards at all - you run them through the machine yourself. This system works and provides card security.
Breakfast is a little more painful with only 1 chef preparing the eggs for everyone. Bacon and sausage is cooked but only in limited amounts and you often have to wait for it. The buffet breakfast often runs out of cups or teaspoons or coffee etc. It will turn up eventually if you ask politely.
The staff were not rude but just not really enthusiastic or organised. The exception was the jovial chef who often appeared and spoke to everyone."
"Halali Camp review"
The accommodation is spread out over a large area. The chalets are large and okay but are looking tired and characterless . Ensure that all of the sliding doors/windows are locked as we found ours to be unlocked.
The mini-bar in the rooms is a cause for concern. Luckily I read the advice about checking the inventory. It is located in the Introduction booklet in the rooms and you are not informed about this at the desk when you arrive. Our mini-bar was not correctly stocked so I went back to the desk and she changed the information but it was all very casual. I noticed checking out the next day that the 3 people had problems with their inventories as well. It strikes me that the stocked mini-bars shouldn't be and that they should be left empty to avoid these difficulties and the bad feelings that arise (not to mention the queues).
The waterhole is a walk or a drive away (depending on where you are) The campground (which can be lively!) is closer to the waterhole than the chalets. Once you get to the waterhole sign it is a short climb to get to the seating. Some of the rocks are slippery and loose so trainers would be useful. Take a torch with you too. A lot of people go up with a bottle of wine or other drinks. We made the mistake of taking some snacks in a bag as well only to find that a field mouse was as interested in them as we were:)) The waterhole is not constantly busy but do not give up. Several people left only for 25 elephants to tiptoe in around 7pm and provide lots of entertainment. They were followed by a rhino and baby.
We were there at the time of an extremely large, fast-moving fire which we could see on the crest of the hill. A lot of the area around Halali and towards Numatoni was burnt at this time but should recover after the first rains. I did not have a lot of confidence in the way the staff were handling the guests concerns nor in how an evacuation would take place should it be needed."
Onguma Tented Camp
"Onguma Tented Camp review"
Onguma has a nice sitting area, restaurant area and a small but welcome pool all with a great view of the waterhole. The small waterhole had a variety of game that visited during the day and the night. Keep an eye out for the honey badgers!
The staff were lovely especially Alphaeus who was kind, gentle and efficient.
The tents are large, nicely appointed and very comfortable indeed. The outdoor showers are a lovely touch although the indoor shower and bath are great too. There is a coffee/tea station in each tent and electricity sockets available. There are no mosquito nets here which might be useful and reassuring.
We went on one game drive into Etosha with the guide. The drive was good as the guides share information so you see things you may have missed by yourself. We found the drive too short for our enthusiastic selves. You left at 7:30 and returned by 10:30/11:00. By the time you had done the 2 X 1/2 hr drives to the gate and completed the formalities at Naumutoni on returning you only had 2 hours in the park so we drove ourselves in after that. Having said that you do see game on the way into and out of the park and we did see 5 lions on Onguma property."
"Olive Grove review"
Mike and Carol were very welcoming and the hotel is gorgeous! The hotel is full of stone, wood and lovely, subtle colours with many beautiful photos and sculptures in the lounge and in the suites. The massive granite coffee-table has to be admired!
The suite has a supremely comfortable (and huge) bed. sofas, dining table and small desk with laptop and internet access provided. It also has a Nespresso coffee/tea station and a well-supplied mini-bar with prices that are the same as those that are the main bar. There is a large balcony that overlooks the hills. I recommend the wicker chair for reading in.
The small pool and sunbeds are comfortable and secluded.
We had already booked dinner at Joe's so Mike arranged a taxi for us.
The dinner / lunch menu looked lovely and the breakfast has to be seen to be believed. After the first course which you have to see to understand there are a variety of choices for your cooked breakfast. We had the scrambled egg with avocado and bacon which was perfect.
Mike and Carol manage this delightful boutique hotel with charm, humour and skill. I can not think of a better way to finish a trip in this extraordinary country!"
Our late arrival and early morning departure means all we needed was a place to sleep. We stayed in a room that was right by the airfield. It was very comfortable and clean.
We did have a drink at the bar but there was no food available at that time. Breakfast is served in the mornings but we did not have this."