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Zambezi Safari Testimonials

Zambezi Safari Guest Comments

Like most good safari companies we have a long list of guests comments stretching back to the early 1990's when we first started to collect them. We've mounted only the comments from the past three years to the site but the list is still incredibly long to plough through.

Quite a number of our past guests are happy to be contacted by email or phone to chat about their experiences in Africa. If you're new to us and would like to chat to our past guests, drop us a line and we'll put you in contact with those who've given their permission.

We love your feedback especially the stories and photographs so please keep sending them through!

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Zambian Safari June 2008 - by Fabien Petitcolas

Hi John,

Zambia was great. Could have stayed there another month. Are you related to Phil Berry? We saw him briefly during a game drive.

All three lodges were very good, it turns out. The rusticity at Old Mondoro was balanced by the super friendly John and Lana.

I think I slightly preferred Lower Zambezi because of the water activities.

For driving, Old Mondoro and Bilimugwe turned out to be much better than Chiawa which had really too bumpy roads and where the bush was still very dense. Moreover Chiawa's guides were not as friendly as those at Bili or Old Mondoro.

Best wishes,

Fabien

Tanzania, October 2007 - by Craig Shearing

Hi John,

Thanks, Katavi was great - lots of animals, and the lions were active, Manie was excellent, Ruaha was a bit slow -but they said the number of buffs [and hence the other animals] had fallen up to 90% over the last 10 yrs due to the water supply in summer falling dramatically.

Thanks for recommending Katavi.

Regards,
Craig.

Tanzania, July 2007 - by Jean Gratz

Hi John,

Katavi was very good. The camp is great. My guide seemed a bit burned out. He knew a lot but gave quite a few one word answers to questions. I was with a British couple who were very nice, but perhaps plucked his nerves. Who knows? Nomad has a stellar reputation so expectations are high. We were not able to do any walks at all because the only armed scout was out on a 5 day walking safari the entire time. That was a bit of a disappointment because it is one of the parks where walking is allowed. I realize that being an active person I will seek out trips with some physical movement. Being in the land rover all day is hard. All in all had I had a really good trip and I am very glad I went.

I went to Selous about a month ago and had a fabulous time! I did a walking safari with Nomad for 4 nights; it was just me and my guide (and a trainee scout). We saw a Rhino - up close and personal. My Selous guide – Rem - has got to be one of the best in the business. He was awesome.

I do want to canoe and will before I leave Tanzania (15 months left). In December I think I am going to Jordan to hike in Wadi Rum and visit Petra.

I am always looking for 3-5 day (ie quick) trips from Moshi. Keep me in
mind!

Thanks for your help
Jean

Tanzania, February 2008 - by Eleanor Moore and Diane Goudie

To Whom It May Concern:

We have just completed a truly wonderful safari with Nomad arranged for us by Zambezi Safari Travel Company. We understand that Lulu Sem was the pivotal player in working with John on our trip. It was flawlessly organized and every detail was meticulously accounted for. We want to thank Lulu for her work in making this happen. We also wanted to say that the staff at each of our tented locations was friendly, professional and attentive to every detail. The chefs are simply amazing and certainly produce better food than anything that comes out of our kitchens.

We especially want to write to say that the two guides that were assigned to us during our trips in the Serengeti and Selous were excellent.

Halifa Sulemani was quite simply outstanding. From the moment that we met him at Ndutu Airstrip, he was so attentive to all the aspects of the safari experience in which we were interested. His knowledge of the animals, plants and birds in the areas in which we traveled with him was impeccable. His ability to put aside his own views of different areas, in order that we had each and every experience possible and could then make our own decisions was remarkable. His clear love of that beautiful land and all of its inhabitants and his sense of stewardship for each of the parks and areas that we visited was clearly evident. His understanding of human psychology is excellent and after only a few hours with us, he read well what we wanted out of this experience and engaged with us in that quest with humour, energy and pure joy. We not only enjoyed wonderful conversations about the animals, birds and plants but also discussion about the economic, social and political issues facing Tanzania. We really appreciated those conversations and his willingness to engage with us in them, as we were concerned that the safari experience would prevent us from gaining a better understanding of Tanzania and that was very important to us. As retired school principals and teachers, we were very interested in the education system in Tanzania and we engaged in some lively conversations about the differences between Canada and Tanzania as well hearing some of the real issues which Tanzania faces in education. His generosity in sharing his perspectives was a real highlight for us. He seemed to have a “maverick” quality which enabled him to take us off the beaten path so often and to find something new, to experience something new, something different or something memorable. We shall long remember those wonderful bush picnics and the stimulating conversations as well as the amazing animals that he seemed to spot out of nowhere. His attention to ensuring that our total experience on safari was an excellent one, far exceeded our own expectations. He is an exceptional guide and a wonderfully kind and generous person. You are indeed fortunate to have such an employee.

We were very sad to say goodbye to Halifa at the Lake Manyara Airstrip as after only eight days it felt like saying goodbye to a good friend.

Upon arrival at the Kibu airstrip in Selous, were greeted warmly by Masaa Kayiakon. From the moment that introductions were completed, he provided us with an incredible volume of detailed information on the zoology, ornithology and geology of the Selous. He is a self-confessed bird lover and very patiently waited whilst we, amateur photographers tried to get a Carmine bee eater in flight. His depth of knowledge was amazing. He too, ensured that our experiences in the Selous were wonderful. His working relationship with a fellow guide (whose name, we think, is Harrebert) illustrated superb team-work and we felt very lucky indeed to have both of these very knowledgeable young men along on both our river and walking safaris. On our first night at Sand River, we were the only guests and had the most remarkable and memorable dinner, one that we feel so privileged to have had, with Masaa and Hamze (not sure of spelling) in which we talked about Tanzania, families, guiding, tourism and, of course, Selous. Again, it was very important to us to go beyond the actual safari itself in our exchanges. Masaa is not only a very intelligent young man but also a wonderful thinker. Again, as he drove us to Kiba, we were very sad to say goodbye.

We have to conclude that your hiring practices and training programmes are excellent and that you work hard at ensuring that you have superb guides. Your practice of having guides mingle with guests at pre-dinner gatherings, and at the table is a wonderful one. Do not let that one go! Similarly the greetings and farewells of the entire camp team were important to us, and we hope to them. None of such events happen without tremendous work on the part of each member of a staff, and it speaks highly of your sense of equity and collaboration that you enable your guests to acknowledge the participation of each staff member. We also know, having worked in management in the service sector, that one hears of complaints routinely and rarely of the “good” things. Hence, we felt that we had to not only tell you that our safari was excellent in every way – transportation and connections, accommodation, food and drinks, service in each and every location but also to specifically praise the work of our guides without whom, while all the other aspects may be first class, our safari would not have been the enriching and outstanding experience that it was. We also know that you need to hear about excellent employees. We hope that you will have the opportunity to pass on to both of these gentlemen, our sincere thanks.

For us, this was a trip of a lifetime and although it was our first time in Africa, we hope that it will not be our only one. We will be looking in our travel guides etc for more visibility for Tanzania as it has so much to offer.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and all the very best for you company and your employees in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Eleanor Moore and Diane Goudie

Tanzania and Rwanda, February 2007 - by Eleanor Moore and Diane Goudie

Dear John,

Firstly, thank you for the message awaiting us upon our return and for the lovely hippo in the box which was also here when we walked in the door. We were very touched.

We are not sure exactly what feedback you would like but here goes:

Everything about our trip went superbly. There were no hitches and absolutely no problems at all.

As we had made all of our plans with you, we were a little confused by who Nomad was in the list of contacts but assumed that all would become clear when we got to Tanzania. And indeed it did. We did not realize previously (probably oversight on our part) that you actually acted as an agent and then reserved through a ground company. Well they are, as obviously you know, an outstanding organization. They simply did not miss a beat. From the meeting/greeting person at the airport, to the outstanding service in each and every hotel or camp site, to the wonderfully well-educated and informed guides, they provided the very best of service, care and knowledge.

As you know, the quality of service, food, accommodation at the camps is impeccable. We only wished that we could have stayed even longer in each of those camp locations. However, the most important person is the guide and we could not have been luckier. Our guide Halifa, in the Ndutu, Loliondo, Ngorogoro and Lake Manyara was quite simply outstanding. He took us off the beaten path, he was a superb "spotter", and we even managed to get the praise of "good spot" from him on a number of occasions towards the end of our week with him. He taught us a lot not only about the relationships between the animals and the environment but also about Tanzania, its strengths and its huge problems. We had the most wonderful conversations during our breakfast picnics and lunch picnics. We were not interested in amassing a tally of animals and birds but to our surprise when we looked at our list at the end of the week we were surprised, as was Halifa, that we had observed some 31 different animals and 78 birds!
It was very important to us that we had as our guide a native Tanzanian who was doing what we have done in our lives, the very best job he could do with a real sense of a love of that job as expressed in his connections with the land, the animals and that he by doing this work would be able to offer his children opportunities that he did not have.

Needless to say, we were sad when he took us to the airstrip at Lake Manyara and stayed until we were airborne. As he said I cannot leave until you are gone because what would you do if the plane did not leave? What would we have done indeed but seen it as an excuse to stay longer!

Although not huge fans of small planes we did enjoy the views that lower altitudes provide. However, there was a little bit of nail biting on the 4 seater from Dar to Selous. It was great - but certainly smaller than we had anticipated. Perhaps it was the fact the the pilot was clearly taking a test and had a senior examiner beside him that both made us nervous and secure, knowing that there was a second set of controls!!! Great fun!

The Selous was a very different experience and the Rufiji was running quite fast and higher than expected for the time of year because of more rain than usual. Again, our guide Maasa was excellent. He was a walking encyclopaedia on zoology, botany, ornithology and geology. He was totally professional and again a most interesting person. We thoroughly enjoyed our first night at Selous as the only guests, Ross was away, and so we had a wonderful dinner with superb conversation with Maasa and Hamxe (spelling not sure) who is going to managing the new camp. They were excellent conversationalists and we covered so many topics. We felt so privileged to have that opportunity. The game drives and the river safari were wonderful and our walking safari on one afternoon, (yes with Ernest in the front with the loaded rifle) was the best surprise when we reached the top of the hill and there set out was the bar and the gins and tonic facing the river one way and the sunset the other. We all enjoyed great laughter at our surprise.

So... although initially disappointed about Lamu, we had a lovely time in Zanzibar and thank you for pulling that together so fast. The Beit El Chai was wonderful and we had fun exploring Stonetown. The two days on the beach were an excellent way to reflect on our visit and to get ready to come back (which we did not want to do).

You mentioned that you were going to Uganda and to Rwanda and so we will give you some feedback on Rwanda. As you know we went there first and did not want to leave there either. It is a most interesting place. Not as developed in tourism as Tanzania, but with lots more to offer than the gorillas. We went to see the gorillas and it was a really amazing experience and so we heartily recommend that people do go. However, it is a beautiful country - superb hilly terrain. The people are very kind and very interesting. Quite quiet and we sometimes were wondering what they were thinking about. The genocide memorial in Kigali is outstanding and puts an historical perspective on what happened - although it is still beyond us how neighbours killed neighbours, friends etc. It was important for the survivors to know that the world remembers and that they are not alone. We visited schools, a hospital as well going out to Kibuye on Lake Kivu and Butare. We also visited the Akagera game park which was interesting but not as much game as Serengeti. However, worth going to. The Lodge was very nice. The hotel we stayed in Kigali BeauSejours was lovely.
We would certainly recommend the country. It is small and very doable  - we used local taxi buses to get to the other towns and got to meet the people. Our French was OK but our Kinyarwandan virtually non existent except for a few essential words. The country is very poor and is teaming with NGOs and Church groups. Kigali is bustling and easy to get around in.

If you have any specific questions, we would be happy to answer them if we can.

So - don't know if this is the type of feedback you are looking for but we think that you can sense that this was a not just a wonderful trip but also an incredibly important experience for first-timers to Africa. There is no doubt in our minds that we will want to go back - to where and how will have to be thought about.

Thank you to you and to everyone in your office and the Nomad office who made it such a memorable trip. We will write a separate letter to Nomad to thank them and most importantly to tell them how magnificent our guides were.

All the best

Eleanor and Diane

Tanzania, January 2008 - by Ben and Sally Breen

Hi John,

Sorry not to have been in touch re the Tanzania trip. It was beyond any expectation we had on all fronts. The Nomad team at each camp went way above and beyond. The wildlife experiences still eclipsed anything that Nomad could do for us… which is saying something - we are hooked and will definitely recommend you to any interested friends etc.

We have a bunch of pics – I’ll forward some once our other PC is up and running again. Thanks again for making it our most memorable travel experience to date.

Regards,

Ben and Sally Breen

Zanzibar, October 2007 - by Lyla Rogan

Hi John
I arrived back from overseas yesterday after 5 weeks in Africa. I thought I would wait til I got back to provide the feedback as internet services in Ethiopia were a bit dodgy. Sometimes took up to 40 minutes to send one email. You forget quickly how it was.

Our Tanzania trip was great. All of the on ground arrangements worked smoothly and we totally enjoyed the Safari and the Zanzibar leg. We particularly want to acknowledge George the guide and driver. We enjoyed his company which was a bonus on top of his knowledge and attention to our needs. He takes a lot of pleasure in what he does and we were impressed with his striving to learn when his considerable capacity to answer questions fell short. The other staff were also excellent and the camping was for us a great way to do it. Being a family of four doing our own thing meant we did not feel so much on the tourist train. The only regret I had was that we couldn’t spend more time in Tanzania (girls had to get back to Uni).

Thank you for your help with planning and booking the trip. We would ask that you let the company on the ground know we were also pleased with their services.

Lyla and family   

Tanzania, September 2007 - by Vincent Moore

It is my last morning and the sun is about to rise. I am sitting in front of my tent and looking over the Chada Plains. A lone bull elephant is slowly moving across the plains. He stops at an old elephant skull and his trunk goes down and then he raises his trunk high above his head and makes a slow circle. He then moves on towards the tree line on the far side...............
 
Hi John
 
KATAVI - THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY
 
THE GOOD
 
We were met by Mohammed at the airport and all the logistical arrangements by your company were faultless. The Coffee Lodge was good and River Trees very special. The flight arrangements were flawless and we were always just looked after - thanks.
 
We just had the most awesome time imaginable. The camp was just great, the staff amazing and the guides brilliant. Chada's setting is wonderful and the views over the plains are great because there are always animals of some sort to be seen. We had elephants in the camp and even walked past as we were sitting at the fire and once around the tents at night. We also had visits from hippo and hyena.
 
Game drives were something else - elephants, lions, buffalo, leopard, Lichtenstein Hartebeest, hyena, civet, genet, roan antelope etc etc and wonderful birds.  We saw lions kill a baby hartebeest (a scarce buck) but unfortunately did not kill it immediately but tore it apart alive which was very ugly to experience and again showed how cruel life can be. More than a thousand hippos in one pool was just crazy and the largest crocs I have ever seen. Baby lions left under a low palm tree while mommy was out hunting was fantastic. David and Silvano are great guides and Silvano has built-in binoculars! Never seen so many African Fish Eagles! The tsetse flies took a liking to the men but fortunately the ladies escaped mostly unscathed.  Only one of us, Sieg, got reaction from the bites but for the rest of us it was just sore and then OK.  Not nearly as bad as we thought.
 
Food at Chada was beautiful, well served, tasty and lots of it. Could not believe they can produce such food in the Wilderness! Showers were fine and generally the camp well run and efficient. We had a great time, drank a lot of Gin and joked and laughed a lot. Great being with old friends and again brought home to me how precious friends are and how one must always try to be as unselfish and accommodating so that all can enjoy. Richard and Anna were helpful and friendly and contributed to our enjoyment in no uncertain way. Understand Richard is leaving which is sad as he is a dedicated wildlife preserver.
 
Great time!

THE BAD (NOT REALLY)
 
If I have to highlight minor gripes which all of us shared they are:
 
The very smelly toilet and then in the same tent as the basin. To brush your teeth in that stink just is not good. We suggested they move the basin unit into the tent with the beds and have the toilet alone and then also next to the shower so you don't have to go through to shower. The ideal is to get eco-toilets of which there are now many on the market which are not chemical at all. Next season?
 
The major problem we had was the lack of ice in any sort of quantity - perhaps we as South African are used to excessive amounts but we hardly got more than one small piece per drink. An ice machine can produce vast quantities in one day and one small dedicated deep freeze can produce and store lots of ice. Just some thoughts.
 
THE UGLY
 
The ugly is just very ugly.  Katavi is a reserve under siege. There is very obviously VERY SERIOUS Poaching going on. I hardly saw an elephant with tusks, and saw only small breeding herds with no matriarch being led by small female elephants. I saw some very skittish elephant behaviour and Chada Plains are littered with skulls of elephants with obvious signs that tusks had been hacked out. The largest herd of buffalo was about 600 to 800, nowhere near the 3000 and 5000 I heard about. Some buffalos showed obvious stress when the vehicle approached which shows me that the vehicles are a threat - there is obvious poaching off vehicles. There were also too many small groups and here I don't include the lone bulls (dagha boys).
 
I am very very concerned and the type of people I saw in official vehicles gave me serious thought that these officials (and their shady passengers) are involved in the poaching - these are just observations as I have no proof. Also there are just too many vehicle tracks going off into the bush and just too much vehicular activity after dark.
 
Ii is extremely difficult to make official complaints without proof except the large number of elephant skulls lying about, but I believe correspondence from tour operators like yourself and certainly Nomad Safaris should take it up with authorities higher up. Everybody at Chada is aware of the poaching so it is not my imagination. My questions were prompted by my observations. Kitasunga Plains appears to have less of a problem and there the animals are calmer and less edgy.
 
Katavi must be saved now and not later!
 
John, I must congratulate you for perfect arrangements and Nomad for a great adventure - I speak for all of us when I say we have an unforgettable experience and enjoyed the trip. There is no doubt that I will use you for future trips.
 
Thank you very much
 
Kind Regards
 
Vincent Moore and friends

..as the lone bull elephant disappears into the trees I cannot but help to wonder will I ever see you again or will you just be another skull on the plains?


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