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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Carol M from Illinois

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

3

Lodges stayed in

7

Excursions taken

0

Unbeatable Itinerary Even With the Road Trips

Zambia and 2 other countries between 23 Oct 2018 and 30 Nov 2018

Trip rating: Excellent
"This was my third African safari adventure and – aside from the fact that I still have not crossed the Aardvark, Pangolin or Pel's Fishing Owl off my "must see" list – the trip exceeded my expectations in many ways. I liked the wide range and variety of camps and the mixture of air and road transfers, even if two of the latter were, to put it mildly, arduous. I don't regret having experienced the long drive from Amalinda to Somalisa or the one from Mkulumadzi to Pumulani, but I wouldn't want to do either of them again.

I'm happy I returned to Zimbabwe and Zambia – two outstanding wildlife countries with exceptionally skilled guides – and I very much enjoyed my introduction to Malawi. The Majete Wildlife Reserve is still in its infancy but holds great promise, and I found Lake Malawi breathtaking to look at and fascinating to explore.

Working with the Expert Africa team – and particularly with Freddie Sutton – to plan my month-long itinerary was great fun and very rewarding. Freddie is experienced, knowledgeable, patient and, above all, flexible. He responded quickly to all of my requests for changes and updates, and he always found an attractive alternative where one was needed. Even when a slight glitch arose during my time away, he immediately resolved it and all went well."

Amalinda Lodge

Amalinda Lodge

"Amalinda is Amazing!"

3 nights Arrived 1 Nov 2018
"The highlights of my three-night stay at Amalinda were the two Rhino treks and the visit to Bambata Cave to see the San hunter-gatherer rock art with my wonderful guide Kevin. On each Rhino trek we saw a mother and baby as well as a male White Rhino, and the hike up to the cave was nearly as stupendous as the rock art itself. Kevin is a bright, conscientious, hard-working guide who continues to study even as he is teaching his guests about the flora and fauna of Matobo National Park. It was a pleasure to ride, walk and talk with him as we looked for wildlife and as I learned about the history of the area.

We saw many birds I had never encountered before, and my favorite was the imposing Black (Verreaux's) Eagle. Among the mammals, an entire herd of Sable Antelope was the standout .

My "thatched suite" (No. 1) was well-equipped, comfortable and, luckily, the one closest to the reception and dining areas. The entire staff was pleasant and ever helpful, and the food was excellent. My only regret at Amalinda was not having time to go for a dip in its enormous swimming pool, which is situated in an indescribably beautiful setting."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Somalisa Camp

Somalisa Camp

""Home Sweet Home" Somalisa"

8 nights Arrived 4 Nov 2018
"I had stayed at Somalisa for four days in 2016 and loved it so much I returned there for eight days in 2018. I enjoyed seeing old friends such as Chefs Sandy and Adam and guides Albert and Mike and making new friends including the charming hostess Tary and talented guide-in-training Carina. My own guide for the entire eight days was Babusi ("Bee"), who never gave up looking for the Cheetah and the Leopard I absolutely had to see. And did!

Bee also found the previously elusive Secretary Birds and a pack of Wild Dogs for me to photograph, and we enjoyed a half dozen close-up sightings of Sable Antelope and two Lion prides.

My tent (No. 1) was the one farthest from the reception/dining area, so it seemed like a pretty long walk back there late at night. However, during the day I liked being far removed from the crowd, and each afternoon I enjoyed sitting out on my back deck "alone" with the Elephants, Kudus and Zebras as they paraded by (oblivious to me) on their way for a drink at the Somalisa waterhole.

The food, as during my previous stay, was very good and there were many new and quite interesting additions to the menu. One evening at dinnertime we were given a very special treat when members of the staff performed a short program of traditional songs and dances for us. Outstanding!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Thorntree River Lodge

Thorntree River Lodge

"Elegance Personified -- That's Thorntree!"

3 nights Arrived 12 Nov 2018
"Everything about Thorntree is so polished and, to me, seemed just right. My stylish villa (No. 2), the exquisite food, the well-trained staff, the perfect setting, amenities galore, the activities on offer.... To put it mildly, the three days I spent there couldn't have been more relaxing, more comfortable or more fun.

Kudos, first of all, to the designer of the villas, which feature plenty of storage space, stunning original artwork and views to die for. I greatly appreciated the well-stocked fridge, the splendid private infinity pool, the lounge/sitting area in its own little alcove set off from my sleeping quarters and the immense deck overlooking the mighty Zambezi River.

Meals are served "private dining" style rather than at a large, common table for all the guests and, as I was travelling by myself, I might have felt pretty lonely having three meals a day for three days without company. That didn't happen at Thorntree because members of the staff kindly asked if they could join me for lunch and dinner, and I very much enjoyed talking and spending time with them.

The sunset cruises on the river were glorious, and I also did a morning cruise in search of Skimmers, which we did indeed find. I had two fantastic guides: Quentino, who took me around Livingstone and to visit friends I have there, and Obby One, who piloted me up and down the Zambezi and accompanied me on a nature walk. Many thanks to both of these talented men and to the entire Thorntree staff, in particular lodge hostess Victoria and the incomparable lodge manager Dumi."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Musekese Camp

Musekese Camp

"Musekese Camp -- Well Worth a Visit"

3 nights Arrived 15 Nov 2018
"Musekese Camp lies pretty much off the beaten path and requires a pretty high dose of patience and perseverance to reach. it's certainly a long road trip away from Lusaka, and flying there from Livingstone can be a budget-breaker. However, I'm so very glad I made the effort, as I met some extraordinary people at Musekese and learned an immense amount about anti-poaching efforts in Kafue National Park.

Perhaps because Kafue is not yet as heavily trafficked as the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi regions of Zambia, most guests there tend to be extremely well-travelled and serious, experienced safari-goers. Often they are "repeat" visitors who already know the ropes and one or both of Musekese Camp's owners, Phil Jeffery and Tyrone McKeith. I met Phil, an exceptionally warm and welcoming guy with a ready smile and unbounded enthusiasm for the new anti-poaching project with which he and Tyrone are involved. In fact, one of the high points of my stay at Musekese was a tour of the construction site of a new camp that will host a specially trained anti-poaching team.

My guide at Musekese was Ephy, who is the epitome of enthusiasm and a very hard worker. We spent a lot of time on the Kafue River looking for (and locating) particular birds including the African Finfoot. On land I was treated to two lengthy visits with members of the Musekese Lion pride, among them two 11-month-old cubs. No Leopards or Wild Dogs, but I did encounter my first ever Defassa Waterbuck, some Lichtenstein Hartebeests and an incredible number of Pukus.

It was fun inhabiting my rustic little tent (Acacia/No. 2) with its traditional bucket shower and solar lamps, and the only drawbacks were a shortage of storage space and, early in the morning, of light. On the other hand, my bed was very comfortable and I loved being situated at the edge of a vast gathering/drinking/feeding place for wildlife of all kinds. My favorite guest outside my tent each day at lunchtime was an inquisitive and truly engaging female Bushbuck.

Two final notes: Hats off to Musekese Camp’s effervescent manager Kolo, who does her best to make every guest – no matter how “needy” or demanding he or she may be – feel at home. And lastly, Tsetse flies do exist."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Nkwali

Nkwali

"Meet Wildlife Galore at Nkwali"

4 nights Arrived 18 Nov 2018
"Certainly a sojourn at Nkwali is a lesson in luxury. The chalets are spacious, well-equipped and beautifully situated along the Luangwa River, and they boast huge patios which are open to the outside but can be closed off at night and/or during inclement weather. All of the furniture and fixtures are of excellent quality, and there's plenty of storage space. I particularly liked having a desk and comfortable chair at which to write in my journal and on which to use my laptop for editing photos at the end of each day.

Breakfast was abundant, and lunch overlooking the lagoon (where Humphrey the Hippo resides) was always delicious and great fun. Dinners were diverse and excellent as well.

All members of the Nkwali staff whom I encountered were cheerful and ever responsive to the needs of the guests. No favor seemed too large to grant, and I was very grateful for the opportunity I was given to get a message from the camp to my family, with whom I'd been out of touch for far too many days.

Best of all was the wildlife I saw, thanks to the knowledge and determination of my guide, John. He made certain another guest and I found the Wild Dogs we were after and did everything but climb the tree himself to make sure I got good pictures of a Leopard ensconced on an upper limb. The list of animals -- including an incredible number of different birds -- I met up with at Nkwali is indeed long and largely due to John's experience, patience and skill.

A note of caution: The Baboons on the property are rambunctious and overly curious. It's best to keep all personal property well concealed and protected inside zipped-up bags."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Mkulumadzi Lodge

Mkulumadzi Lodge

"Close Encounters with the Nyala at Mkulumadzi"

4 nights Arrived 22 Nov 2018
"I wanted to visit Mkulumadzi because of its location in the Majete Wildlife Reserve and the chance I’d be given there to encounter not only the stately Nyala but the entire Big Five as well. Of the latter, only an occasional Elephant showed up, but Nyalas were absolutely everywhere and they are indeed spectacular. Best of all, they roam freely in and out the camp and it was thrilling to be able to study them on such an “up close and personal” basis.

Mkulumadzi Camp is a beguiling property in a fairytale setting, and both the main reception/dining area and the "bush chalets" are classy, well-equipped and comfortable. Given all the right circumstances, this would be a dream-come-true camp.

Certainly the food is out of this world. One day we had a salad so delicious that I absolutely had to know its secrets, and Chef Thomas willingly obliged. As for my guides, both Michael and Mali were outstanding.

However, during my four days at Mkulumadzi the regular camp managers were away on leave, and several of the staff members seemed to be new on the job and unsure of their responsibilities. The situation gradually improved, but mealtime was particularly problematic for a person dining alone.

To further complicate matters, periodic – and at times torrential – rains made navigating the paths through the camp’s sloping terrain a definite challenge and obviously necessitated the cancellation of all boating activities. Moreover, much to my dismay, the roof over my bed leaked. A final disconcerting development was the arrival of a Bushbaby – and perhaps more than one – whose exact location in the rafters of my chalet was often unascertainable. (She – or they – stayed with me for two days.)

On a happier note, I thoroughly enjoyed hiking across the famous footbridge (suspended high above the Mkulumadzi River) every time we went out on a game drive and again when returning to camp."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Pumulani

Pumulani

"Pumulani -- The Next Best Thing to Paradise "

3 nights Arrived 26 Nov 2018
"While not your typical “safari camp,” Pumulani is the perfect place to end a safari experience. In fact, I came here after a month out in the bush and found the serenity I needed to reflect on all I had just seen and done, to restore my energies and to prepare for my long trip home. As I did so I was treated to breathtaking views of Lake Malawi from wall to wall windows throughout my villa, even those in the bathroom.

The villa was comprised of a long entryway leading to a kitchen area (complete with well-stocked fridge) and then to a huge and amply furnished living room. A comfortable writing desk was one of my favorite features in the bedroom, but the absolute best one was the air-conditioning provided there. (Late November can be very hot in Malawi, and the AC was a much appreciated surprise.) The bathroom had all the expected trimmings plus the lake views. And doors from both the living room and the bedroom opened onto enormous balconies.

Most of the time I stayed at Pumulani I was the only guest in residence. I could wander the property at leisure, swim in the two beautiful pools, descend the 140+ stairs leading to the beach and even have lunch there. All of the meals prepared at the lodge were exceptional, but they tasted even better at the beach.

With Ganizan and Black, both of whom are expert guides, I had the opportunity to explore the colorful shoreline by boat on four separate occasions, each time discovering something new and interesting about the lives of the fishermen who live and work in the area. Feeding and photographing the Fish Eagles close up further enhanced my Lake Malawi experience, as did a birding walk around the Pumulani grounds.

I was told that in the Chichewa language Pumulani means "rest well," and I can’t imagine a more appropriate name for this enchanting establishment."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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