The second part of the review is here! This is by the same client (Marden Phelps) as our prior blog and was also featured on African Safari Journals! This part contains all the reviews about the accommodation, the meals and their disappointments AND highlights of the tour with Jenman Safaris. Read the unedited review below…
Pioneer Camp near Lusaka, Zambia. Nice chalet with well kept grounds. A variety of fruit trees and flowers…..
Kafue NP at confluence of Kafue and Lufupa rivers. Much of the camp was still under construction but it had showers and flush toilets and a nice reception area that was nearly finished. The crew was still learning to operate the camp and one evening built too much fire under the donkey (device used to heat water) and there was steam blowing everywhere. When I flushed the toilet boiling water came out. Thank goodness I wasn’t still seated. We pitched our tents under a tree with little fruits and by day the birds would eat and then their droppings would land on our tent and at night bats and bush-babies would do the same. We learned a good lesson about picking our shade more carefully. We saw many birds right in camp as well as warthogs and one night a hyena. We were warned not to leave our shoes outside the tent because the hyenas would carry them off.
Breezers Camp on the Zambezi River. Beautiful camp with lots of grass and trees which is right on the river bank and the scenery was stunning. Camp has a three-legged dog that they keep to impress tourists to stay away from the crocs. Showers and toilet facilities were adequate.
Islands in the Zambezi River. It was interesting to set up camp on an island and then listen to the hippo grazing around you in the dark. One morning we awoke to find an elephant had joined us during the night but fortunately the island was big enough for all. This was the most primitive camping we did with no facilities at all. We had local guides for this part of the trip and Chauntel stayed at Breezers Camp. The tents were smaller than the ones Jenman uses but they were OK and we took our Jenman sleeping bags with us. The gas stove quit working and our guides had to cook over an open campfire. They did an excellent job and then entertained us with stories while the campfire burned down to coals and the stars came out. I was surprised at the total lack of biting bugs. Even though it was winter I had expected some mosquitoes or gnats but there were none.
Zambezi Waterfront in Livingstone. We stayed here two nights in the middle of our safari and one night at the end. The rooms were not great but the beds were a welcome change from ground mats and sleeping bags. This is the only place where we were bothered by mosquitoes and with the netting they were not really a problem. Both times we stayed here my daughter and I got bites at night. My wife used her bag liner and didn’t get any so I assume there was some sort of bug in the beds. These were the only bites I got the whole safari.
Toro Camp in Botswana and near Chobe NP. The camp was sandy and not very pleasant. Toilet facilities were average and there were quite a few campers in a relatively small area.
Planet Baobab was a disappointment in most ways. The camp was hot and dusty with little shade and no grass. There was no wildlife, not much in the way of scenery. We did take a hike with a local guide who showed us a lot of plants and how they were used but other than that it was not too great. If I had the trip to do over I would skip the long loop we made to get there and spend the time in Chobe.
Camp Mankwe was my favourite area. It is a brand new camp and we were the first people to stay in it (there is an old camp with the same name). We had permanent tents on concrete slabs and the area was very scenic. Our tents looked out over a watering hole and we saw birds and antelope often. The staff was still working out the bugs in the water system and the first night our shower kept going cold but they fixed it and the second night was much better. And speaking of working out bugs, the tents had been up for a while but no one had stayed in them, so a variety of bugs had set up housekeeping and I had to collect them in an empty juice bottle and transport them to a new home before my wife and daughter felt comfortable. The game drives we had out of Mankwe were the best of the safari. One day was spent in Moremi Reserve which had a great variety of birds and animals. The staff was wonderful and did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable.
Audi Camp (just outside Maun) is a place to stay on your way to somewhere else. There is nothing there to see or do but we did stay in their luxury tents and it was nice to catch up on journals and naps.
Guma Camp is on the edge of the Okavango Delta and was a pleasant surprise. We had to drive for miles through the sand and scrub brush to reach it but then it was grassy, shady and had very nice facilities. It is on a lagoon and the scenery is magnificent. There are many different flowers, bushes and trees and the camp is very well maintained. This was our base for the mokoro rides into the delta which is one of the most awe-inspiring places I have ever been.
Tsodilo Hills was one of the worst camps we visited but the scenery more than made up for the camps shortcomings. The camp was sandy with little shade and poorly maintained. The shower had warm water but that was the best thing I can say about it. This camp heats the water with solar panels instead of fires. There is an interesting visitor’s center there with a history of the area and some artefacts. The hills themselves are breath-taking. The rocks contain many minerals that give them brilliant vibrant colours and there is a lot of rock art. We saw primitive paintings of rhino, eland, giraffe and many other animals during a two hour hike.
Mahangu Lodge in Namibia was the prettiest place we camped. It is right on the river bank and has a very nice central building with native art and handicraft decorations. The toilet facilities were very nice and very clean. This was also the coldest night we spent on safari. The temperature dipped into the mid 30’s (F) and it was very foggy at day-break.
Kwando Camp is near Mudumu NP in Namibia and it also was very nice. It was very crowded but both the staff and our guide said that is unusual. There were wall-to wall people and hardly room to walk between the tents. The camp was building a new shower and they rushed it to completion so we would have a place to shower without standing in line. We did but then there was a line for the rest of the evening. There is a “traditional village” near the camp that is worth a visit. They demonstrate many aspects of traditional native life and perform dances and songs.
Breakfast varied according to how much time we had before beginning the day’s activities. Cereal, hot chocolate and toast if we were in a hurry. Eggs, pancakes, beans, toast and hot chocolate if more time was available.
Lunch also depended on activities. Sandwiches, fruit, juice and cookies while on game drives and salads with cold cuts and vegetables when there was more time.
Dinner was often rice or pasta with a meat sauce, fresh salads, vegetables and a dessert. We learned that African sweet potatoes are white not orange but taste much like the ones in the States.
Disappointments and Highlights
Our only real regret was not seeing any big cats. They were around and others saw them but we just were never in the right place at the right time.
The other disappointment was Mudumu NP. There was simply no wildlife there. In a three hour game drive we saw four zebra, two buffalo and an impala. There were no tracks and no sign of game in this area.
Highlights were that the camping gave our trip a feeling that is much different than a lodge safari. Sleeping with the animals may not be for everyone but it was a great experience for us.
The interaction with people was also important. On the trip out of Guma camp we stopped to put air back in the trailer tires (we had to let most of the air out so they wouldn’t sink in the sand) at a village. A group of young boys came out to watch us and soon they were mimicking us and generally putting on a show.
We also enjoyed trading at the markets in Livingstone. When we were ready to come home we went to the market and traded hats, shoes, towels, bandanas, jackets and etc. for curios. It was a very interesting experience and I’m afraid we didn’t come out too well but it was worth it to interact with the people.