YOU did an incredible job in helping us plan our long trip to Southern Africa and can highly recommend your services. Thanks so much to taking care of the changes for us when I was unable to travel. It was comforting to know that we were in very capable hands with your assistance in rearranging our schedule. For a while it appeared we would not be able to continue with our trip. hope we didn’t interrupt your vacation too much.
Here is a brief assessment of the Game Parks with pluses and minuses:
Zambia ~ Flatdogs was wonderful and our guide fantastic, Geofrey – weather was very warm and didn’t cool down as much at night – crystal blue skies – We were a bit early as the preparations for opening the hippo hide were still underway. We were in birder heaven and spectacular scenery. We can see why TripAdvisor rates it #1 in South Luangwa National Park. The staff was great! Couldn’t do enough to make our experience wonderful!
Kaingo Camp ~ We thoroughly enjoyed Kaingo and had another wonderful guide, Patrick – The view overlooking the river was magnificent! The renovations done to the chalets were very nice and the people were wonderful! There are a few minor issues that are being worked out but it was a great place to stay. They were working very hard to get Mwamba Bush Camp ready for occupancy and that seemed to take priority over a couple issues at Kaingo Camp. However, we loved Kaingo!!! Derek Shenton is very down-to-earth and we enjoyed meeting and talking with him. We had some heavily overcast days so clothes didn’t come back the same day. Thank goodness we did the laundry at the first of 4 days.
Jo’burg City Lodge Hotel ~ very comfortable and thankful that you talked us into a stay here. The rooms were very well layed out but I don’t like rain showers which is the “big” thing in bathrooms. One must almost get soaking wet to turn them on. However, we did enjoy our stay here. Without the stay, who knows what might have happened to the rest of the trip. Thankfully the people at the hotel were very helpful in getting the right medical attention for my ribs and back. The Doctor On Call was very good and treated the areas and gave meds to help on the rest of the journey. 2 nights worked out very well…thanks!
Little Bush Camp ~ This was our biggest disappointment. The LBC didn’t do any of the extras they had done for me, such as filling a bathtub with hot soaking water and rose petals, making sure the hot tub was warm enough (it was very cool and was never warm enough to use), plus a few other extras. Our guide was less than stellar and very difficult to understand – Bethuel was our guide and our spotter was Zulu. They didn’t seem to engage and just treated the game drives as work. We wish we had listened to your recommendation of another game park in the area. Do not wish to go back!
Rattray’s ~ What more can I say that wasn’t already said in another email to you! It was way over the top and we loved it. It was almost too grand! Theo was fabulous! A great relief after our experience at LBC. The weather was still quite warm, almost too warm so glad we didn’t go during the hotter months. However, the day we left the temperature dropped to 6*C and they were expecting very cold weather. We got to see more of the landscape of Mala Mala by going to the Boulders Area where we had our morning feast! It was fantastic! We also loved watching the animals and birds all around the Sand River.
Kanana Camp ~ A step down in what we expected. The vehicle had a top on it so was difficult to photograph birds. They did take the top off the 2nd day and it was much better. We enjoyed the food. The camp seemed very disorganized. It didn’t appear there was good communication as things just kept changing. We were told different things by different people and were actually locked in our “waiting room” from the outside the day we left. They needed our room for an incoming group with rooms “together”. Fortunately we were close enough to another tent that we could ask for help to get unlocked. The Herony was the highlight of our stay and we had a great guide for that portion, Phepo, who also did the mokoro morning trip with us. He was fabulous as we maneuvered into different positions. Would not choose this camp again.
Shinde Camp ~ We had a tent close to the main lodge so that was very helpful. By this time I had developed a sore throat, thanks to another guest at Kanana. Then I completely lost my voice…and it still isn’t completely back. More on that later. The staff was very helpful in trying to make me feel better, particularly Angie. Our guide was Solly, who seemed just to drive around and wait for others to find the wildlife. we had one vehicle breakdown and had to help them out, then our vehicle broke down. Seems that there isn’t a lot of care given to the vehicles. The game viewing was lacking and the enthusiasm was not there with our guide. The room was adequate but both Kanana and Shinde lacked light over the table where I did lots of work when downloading the day’s CF cards from my camera, etc. The mokoro ride at Shinde wasn’t anywhere near as nice as Kanana, with very limited water lilies, timing! I was feeling so rotten that I didn’t do the next 2 game drives. Wouldn’t recommend this camp. Quite frankly, I was disappointed in Ker & Downey.
Madikwe Bush House ~ Probably the best location as there was constant activity in the waterhole in front of camp. That was very fortunate as I missed 3 game drives due to my terrible cough and the sheer coldness of the drives. Our guide, Michael, had been there only 2-3 weeks and hadn’t been well trained as we later found out. He was apologetic but when you pay for a trip and guide you expect more! It most likely was a set of circumstances that we can’t blame on Sue and Gordon, owners of the Bush House. One guide left, another was on vacation but would be back for 2 weeks and then leave permanently. They had hired a guide from Kruger who was there the last day of our stay. Michael got lost 5 times on one game drive, ending up at a fence, on the wrong road, etc. He tried but didn’t have the knowledge or preparation needed to be leading 9 people in a vehicle. We drove around without a requested “marking my territory”, and didn’t even stop for sundowners. That was my last game drive. It took me 3 hours to warm up and stop coughing. We had 9 people in the vehicle and they were great! 2 adults from Jo’burg were with the group for 2 nights. The others were a family of 3 with grandparents, an anesthesiologist from Joburg. She and her family were excellent birders and she was extremely helpful with my medical situation. She likely prevented me from having full-blown pneumonia. We did like Madikwe and would recommend it if they have trained guides. I saw more animals at the waterhole and elephant hide than anyone saw on the game drives. The birding was fantastic around the Bush House so I made the most of it. We chose this place as a last minute add-on and were pleasantly surprised at the lagoon and elephant hide, a real plus!!! Thanks for your great suggestion here!!!
Transfers: Seasons in Africa – Loved Nic and he took very good care of us. Would always want them for transfers.
Maroon Safaris was not very well done. We were offered no water or anything to eat or drink. It took us 5 minutes to clear immigration in Botswana (NO FEE ever charged coming or going) and 30 minutes to go from Botswana to ZA. Friday night, one person on, large group of local people in line. Not his fault but he left us to socialize with his buddies talking in their language.
General Camp Info: This may not be what most people want but we enjoyed socializing with the others staying at the camps. In the first 3 we were usually sitting with our guide and none of the guests. We liked our guides, except for LBC, but also liked to hear about other peoples experiences in Southern Africa. At Kanana, Shinde, and Madikwe we had long tables and we could choose where to sit, leaving room for a guide. That was much preferable to us. not sure if that would be the opinion of other guests.
We so enjoyed working with you and I truly hope we can go back one more time. You will definitely be contacted. Just have to get over all the issues from this trip.
JudyView Flatdogs Camp
View Kaingo Camp
View Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp
View Kanana Camp
View Shinde Camp