Zanzibar: reviews from our travellers
Click below for unedited 'beach lodge by beach lodge' reviews written by our most recent travellers to Zanzibar:
"Our magical trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar"
We really feel that it is not an overreaction to say to you NOT to recommend Matermwe Bungalows until the new management have found their feet and sorted a few of the issues out (staff, stocks of drink etc). - otherwise it will only resort in more dissatisfied customers and the place getting a bad name.
Great brochure and website. Claire was most helpful. Fantastic advise given regarding the Selous Impala camp - it way exceeded our expectations, so much so that my parents and relations may be considering going out to that very camp in the autumn this year!
We were unfortunate with our stay at Matemwe Bungalows - presumably you didn't know of any plans for a change of management when we booked last November ??
Thanks though - on the whole a totally fab holiday" Read full review: 11 nights in Africa; 5 on a Tanzania safari
"Thank you for an outstanding holiday"
The holiday organisation was absolutely superb and we have nothing but praise for the team at Expert Africa. We stayed in 5 /6 different locations and every transfer was done on time with the minimum amount of holiday time being wasted.
Our 8 days safari in Southern Tanzania was by far the best element and Beho Beho will go down as one of our favourite places in the world. Your recommendations for visiting Selous was just right.
In retrospect we wish we had done a little bit more research on Zanzibar and what we were looking for in the relaxation resort. Having spent 8 nights in the bush we would have liked somewhere with some evening activity, if only some music playing or a local bar to walk to. Our fault and something we have learnt for the future. We still had a good time but this would have made it absolutely perfect.
A big thank you to everyone at Expert Africa for a great holiday. We will not hesitate in recommending you to anyone wishing to travel to Africa.
Do you cover India?" Read full review: 19 nights in Africa; 10 on a Zanzibar holiday
We did know that the third resort had not been visited by your staff at the time of booking." Read full review: 17 nights in Africa; 11 on a Tanzania safari
"Our fabulous holiday"
Everything went like clockwork - OK, there were a few times when we had to remember we were in Africa, not Aylesbury, but that's all part of the adventure (what was the acronym? TIA - This is Africa!). I'm still amazed that it all went so smoothly - but it did!
We want to go back and we will use Expert Africa!" Read full review: 13 nights in Africa; 7 on a Tanzania safari
Based on my experience, I have made comments which I hope will be accepted as constructive and assist you to improve still further your level of service.
I experienced some difficulties in getting to Heathrow for a Saturday departure. Both mainline rail and the tube often have engineering work at weekends. I spoke to some other people who also had problems. Where there is an option of a mid-week departure, I would suggest you might point out to would-be travellers that a mid-week departure would avoid snarl-ups with rail and tube.
Visa. May I say that I object to the entry “visa”, which is not really a visa, but an arrivals tax. (The fact that you can buy it on arrival at Dar indicates this is not a true visa). Most countries have a departure tax, but on arrival I would prefer to receive a warm welcome, not a poke in the eye. In terms of the overall cost of the trip, this is not a significant amount, but I do not like having to pay a tax both on arrival and on departure. I appreciate this is not under your control, but I mention this in case you ever speak to the appropriate authorities.
A general comment: All the tents/rooms were spotlessly clean.
Laundry. At Mdonya the embargo on hand washing women's underclothes also extends to men's underclothes and handkerchiefs. (Strangely, this did not seem to be an issue at Manze and Impala. Change of religious taboos??). The cost of laundry is included at Impala.
p.6 Airport departure tax. The only place in Tanzania where I had to pay a departure tax was on departure from ZNZ to DAR. USD6.00, not 5. Claire's email said, "You no longer need to pay the international departure tax out of Tanzania as this is now included on your air ticket. You will still need to pay the domestic departure tax out of Dar and Zanzibar but not out of Selous or Ruaha. We have recently amended our Notes for Travellers accordingly." I took this to mean I would be charged the tax flying Dar-Ruaha, and Dar-Znz, but this was not the case.
You state that it is essential that we reconfirm our return flight. When I eventually managed to find a computer and logged on to BA.com, I found a message saying that reconfirmation was necessary only for flights from Libya and Saudia Arabia.
Postcards are unobtainable at Mdonya and Manze. They can be bought at the shop in the domestic terminal at DAR airport - if you are awake enough to buy some whilst awaiting the connecting flight to Ruaha.
The safari vehicles in Tanzania all have an overhead awning to keep off the sun and/or rain. This is an excellent idea and one that their competitors further south (e.g. Zambia, Namibia) would do well to copy.
Both Ruaha and Selous are happily free from the accumulation of plastic bags, Coke tins and other rubbish which I found spoiling the Zambezi at Chobe last year.
My experience did not bear out your advice concerning payment of ranger fees. On no occasion was I asked to pay any fee for the services of a ranger, although it is of course customary to give them a tip.
Mobile phones: the Tanzanians are as addicted to mobile phones as we are. This was not a problem at Impala, but at Mdonya and Manze drivers and guides made and received calls when out game-viewing. When drifting peacefully across Lake Manze in a small boat with the engine stopped, or being stationary watching 40 elephants moving silently across the road in front of you, these are not ideal times to have a mobile start ringing. I look forward to the time when some of the bird mimics, such as robin chats, master the ring of a mobile and then this sound will be heard all over the park! Perhaps drivers and guides should be discouraged from taking or using their phones outside the confines of the camp – unless there is an emergency. I already mentioned this at Manze, so corrective action may have been taken already.
Compared with my experience in South Luangwa, the Tanzanian guides are less knowledgeable and they are less able to express their knowledge in clear English. Many of them do not distinguish between the letters “l” and “r”. Rilac bleasted lollers are common birds! (aka Lilac breasted roller)
At some stage in the planning process it was suggested that I split the stay in the Selous and do Manze, Mdonya, Impala. More by luck than good planning, I think I did my trip in the right order. The standard of the camps rose as I progressed, culminating in extreme pampering at Impala. I think I would have been disappointed if I had ended up at the comparatively Spartan Mdonya after I had enjoyed the luxury of Imapala. A small example, the tin wash basin to be emptied by hand at Mdonya was plumbed in at Manze, and replaced by two porcelain sinks at Impala. (This is not meant to belittle Mdonya. It is a charming place which I really liked, but if you expect every camp to be like Impala, then you may get an unpleasant surprise.)
Although I appreciated the comfort of having the wad of vouchers which you sent me, in the event I was never asked to produce even one. The pilots of Coastal Aviation did not even ask for my air ticket when flying out of Ruaha and Selous!
Fly Camping. You say in your brochure that you are not sure where this term originated. If you read the Life of Selous by J.G.Millais (1918) he makes references such as,
“horses could be no longer used and the elephants themselves must be pursued on foot in the 'fly.'”
“…mostly killed by hunting them from horseback, but even as an old man he killed many on foot in the 'fly' country.”
“Their main hunting veldt was the 'fly' country between the rivers Zambezi and Gwai.”
This suggests to me that the term fly camping means to camp in areas where there are tsetse fly. I realise this derivation is hardly likely to encourage tourists!
I found the Tanzanians universally friendly and welcoming, although the Zanzibaris I met at Unguja were not quite to cheerful as their colleagues on the mainland.
Thank you to everyone at Expert Africa and all the camps and hotels. After the hiccough last year over car hire in Namibia, this has restored my faith in Expert Africa." Read full review: 27 nights in Africa; 21 on a Tanzania safari
The transfers between camps were efficient and well timed with the exception of the transfer from Muchenje to Linyanti. We had to be out of our room by 10am and then wait around until 12.30 to drive for our flight. That left us a little short of time on arrival at Linyanti an earlier flight would have been better." Read full review: 25 nights in Africa; 13 on a Botswana safari
"Feedback on trip"
The trip also went flawlessly, much to our relief.
I noted that other visitors that we met on our travels spoke well of Expert Africa." Read full review: 13 nights in Africa; 7 on a Tanzania safari
I would however miss out on the beach experience if I did the trip again." Read full review: 13 nights in Africa; 8 on a Tanzania safari
"Tanzania - our best trip to Africa so far"
It was difficult to believe that the entire schedule, with all the internal transfers, could work. It did, so our thanks to all concerned.
The standard of accommodation and variety of locations combined to give a brilliant holiday and experience.
Initially, we found the brochure difficult to interpret. This was resolved by telephone discussions on our actual requirements, after which we found it a good point of reference.
Every single query was dealt with promptly and efficiently." Read full review: 18 nights in Africa; 9 on a Tanzania safari
"My trip to Africa"
Expert Africa's Anna Devereux Baker was exceptionally helpful when flight times changed, the Post Office went on strike and I needed a flight upgrade arranged due to back problems." Read full review: 18 nights in Africa; 9 on a Zambia safari