Namibia exceeded high expecations at the Wilderness Safaris camps of Little Kulala, Damaraland Camp, Serra Cafema and Little Ongava
Christine, Detlef, Marzena and Tristram headed back to Africa in October, this time to Namibia. They stayed at the Wilderness Safari’s camps of Little Kulala, Sossusvlei, Damaraland Camp in Damaraland, Serra Cafema in the north near the Kunene River, and Little Ongava camp in the Etosha Park. This epic safari was put together by Liselle, and we so enjoyed reading their feedback. Having travelled all over the world, and into Southern Africa a few times as well, Namibia exceeded high expectations and they loved every minute of their safari!
( Note : concerns were raised by Christine about Little Kulala, which were sent to management team at Wilderness Safaris who have already made the changes to improve life at the lodge)
Here is an amazing Video that Christine has sent us!
Dear Brett, Liselle and Michelle,
The trip was amazing and well exceeded our high expectations!
The itinerary was very well thought out and we really enjoyed staying the extra nights in each place, as we got a good feel for the atmosphere of each location. We were impressed with the diversity of landscapes, which were just stunning. And we certainly did not expect to see as much wildlife as we did. The animal sightings were incredible, not only in Etosha, but especially in the Ongava private reserve. In fact, it topped our two previous trips to Botswana, if you can believe it!
Highlights were (Little Ongava) walking with white rhinos, seeing 12 rhinos, including juveniles at waterhole while in the hide on the very first night, a pride of lions, with juveniles challenging each other and trying to climb a tree, and then to top it all a pride of 14, including 4 cubs, 2 months old, and gay giraffes humping (really!); not to forget young elephants cavorting and playing in Damaraland.
The guides, with the noticeable exception of little Kulala were fantastic (Teek in Damaraland, Stewart in Serra Cafema and Willy in Little Ongava).
In little Kulala, the guide, Simon, was totally unmotivated, had poor social skills and was not communicative, nor informative. For example, we asked several times, which way would be best to climb Big Daddy and never understood the alternatives. We climbed (3 of us, as Detlef had a bad knee) by ourselves, as Simon, much to our surprise, told us once we were in Dead Vlei that he could not accompany us, due to his asthma.
Review of individual lodges:
Stunning location and beautiful camp but very badly managed. It was not clear to us over the three day period who was in charge of what and the staff gave us the sense that they themselves struggled to figure out their respective responsibilities. As a result, it showed simply everywhere from big issues (example: two groups of clients, leaving on same plane were given different departure times resulting in a delay for our group) to small issues (not getting the food orders right, nobody bothering seeing us off at our departure). Little Kulala clearly needs better management and would be a job for somebody like Agnes, the efficient visiting manager whom we met at Serra Cafema.
The highlights were climbing big Daddy, seeing Dead Vlei very early (thanks to our insistence and the private gate), sleeping outside on the roof gazing at stars,
“hunting” for the most photogenic S-curved dunes and a very sporty landing after a beautiful hot air balloon ride.
Apparently, we missed the helicopter ride across the dunes. I wonder why you did not tell us about it, possibly as an alternative to the balloon ride.
What a contrast, Maggie is a great and motivating manager and her enthusiasm rubs off on her energetic, efficient and fun team. We loved the landscapes of the area, the desert elephants and black rhinos. The highlights were the surprise breakfast on the hill, the Boma, the hikes, the elephants in the river valley, the welcome and goodbye songs performed by the staff and a great guide (Teek) and, the very funny Desert Rose! And, last but not least, the good sense of humor of the entire staff. The food was the least interesting of the 4 lodges, they could make simple changes to improve the meals. For ex: choice of meal before you go out, as was the case in Serra Cafema and Little Ongava.
Wow! What a stunning location and diverse landscape. We were blown away.
The manager Denzel was very effective and Alice always available, smiling and anticipating our needs. The rooms are incredible and we could have stayed forever! The river was nice after the dry landscapes of Damaraland and Trist loved the opportunity to fish. He caught 8 (!) catfish and 4 tilapias in 2 days and the staff was very happy to prepare it for us, as well as eat it themselves. Our wonderful guide, Stewart was the funniest guide we ever had and his good humor was contagious. He also gave me the confidence not only to go on the quad but trusted me on one of the steepest hill, a really fun experience.
Highlights were the very first night dinner with candle lights all around the open fire pit, the always changing, surprising and breathtaking locations where sun-downers and meals were served (a lot of extra work for the staff), the beautiful hikes, the quad ride in the dunes, the Himba village visit, the bird life as well as the river cruise. In summary: FANTASTIC!
We thought we could not top the experience and then..
The flight to Little Ongava was a bit long (3.5 hours with 4 (!) stops) and would have been more pleasant, if shorter especially as it was incredibly hot. But then we were pleasantly surprised: the beautiful location on the hill, the rooms, the birdlife right outside our bedroom and the elusive hyrax ( which we had looked for without success in Damaraland), right at the lodge! Looking down at the waterhole from the terrace was definitively a highlight. The food at Little Ongava was the best of the 4 lodges and we wondered how they do it, given that we were told, they have the same suppliers as the other camps. In particular the meat, which was fatty and chewy in Damarland, was melting in our mouth, in Little Ongava!
Michael and George are great managers, attentive to every detail and the waitress twin sisters are very efficient and friendly. The staff at Little Ongava was also particularly flexible, for meal and activities time. Willy, our outstanding guide, put in very long hours from 5.30 am wake up calls to 11pm in the hide!
We could not get enough and were amazed by the diversity of the wildlife in the Ongava private reserve! In Etosha, it was great to have a full day (with picnic) instead of having to go back for lunch and to experience life in the park in the afternoon, with fewer cars.
Highlight at Little Ongava: wildlife behavior seen while on drives in the private reserve, incredible sightings and nobody around! The hide is fantastic with activity virtually all day long, and the evenings were magical, watching the rhinos at the waterhole from the hide or the terrace.
In summary a GREAT trip, thank you so much!
Here are some more of their amazing pictures – it was hard to chose which to share, they are all so amazing!