Natasha’s clients enjoyed a luxury safari adventure in Botswana and the Kruger. From the waterways of the Okavango Delta and the crunchy bushveld of the Kruger, it seems Natasha created the perfect African safari for guests Gren and Jeri King. Their journey started at Peermont Metcourt Suites in Johannesburg and they visited Kruger Lodges Simbavati Hilltop Lodge and Umkumbe Safari Lodge. Guests also enjoyed a Botswana safari at Savute Safari Lodge and Camp Xakanaxa
Here is their feedback :
We are back home and we did so enjoy the trip. You did a good job designing and executing the two week adventure. We stayed at four safari lodges. They were each different and we did enjoy them. Although we enjoyed them, there is a noticeable difference between South African lodges and those in Botswana (at least among those we stayed in). We did not meet or even notice management at the South African lodges ( all interaction was with the guides).
At the Botswana lodges, the managers and key staff met us, interacted with us several times a day, and ate with the guests as did the guides. Overall the feeling was that the Botswana lodges were better kept, cleaner, more customer focused, and with high staff morale. I’m not sure that the guides at Umkumbe actually knew our names. This is not a complaint because we did enjoy all the lodges.
The day at each place was approximately the same with morning and afternoon game drives. Tea before in South Africa; tea and continental breakfast before in Botswana. Brunch after in all 4 places. Then “down time” in midday. In South Africa there was lunch at 14:00; in Botswana there was a High Tea at 15:00.Botswana afternoon game drive was from 15:30 to 18:30 while the South African drives were from 16:30 to 19:30.No night drives in Botswana although we saw only one bachelor lion at Simbavati during their night drive. We also had an afternoon boat game drive at Xakanaxa. Dinner was usually at 20:00, a buffet of interesting and tasty food (starters served at Botswana lodges.)
Animals in these reserves have a mind of their own as to where and when they’ll be. We saw many , many elephants. But other game was sparse….one leopard at Savute, one bachelor lion at Simbavati, three prides of lionesses at Savute, three hippos at Xakanaxa, three rhinos across the river and 1 kilometer south at Umkumbe. Many impala, some kudus, some waterbuk , springbuk, two large herds of buffalo, some family groups of zebras, giraffes, wildebeest., red lechwe. We did see a pangolin at Umkumbe which is quite rare. We were not disappointed! But the several hour rides looking for the animals did get boring when the animals did not cooperate..
At Umkumbe we were nine people in the safari vehicle. We were two and guide at Xakanaxa. Four elsewhere. We enjoyed the tea breaks in the morning and the sundowners in the afternoon. All guides seemed knowledgeable, although the Botswasna guides seemed more “customer focused.”
Simbavati Hilltop was the newest and in some respects the most elegant of the safari camps/lodges we visited. The architecture is modern and beautiful but the African sun is already doing it’s work on the woodwork. Colin the manager did welcome us and show us around the property. He was present the whole time we were there but we d id not interact with him. Simbavati has someone called a Butler or Tent Steward responsible for half the rooms; who filled the room bar and hospitality tray, served drinks at meals, insured our presence at game drives, and escorted us to and from rooms. He was our point of contact with all things connected with the lodge.
Botswana lodges did have a more active presence of management and staff interaction with guests. This did make a positive impression. Savute Safari Lodge was our favorite. Well managed, well organized, best facilities ( even though it was a 1990’s lodge our “tent” was most spacious and well appointed), and best animal viewing (although that was more God’s work than the lodge’s). Xakanaxa had recent and heavy rains so many roads and tracks were still flooded. Game drives tended to be restricted to a smaller area than usual. And many of the animals had fled the high waters to locations the guides were still learning about.( Evidently some of the smaller camps in the Delta were flooded).
We plan to return to southern Africa at some as yet undetermined time. Safari camps and Victoria Falls and because of many positive comments by other travelers Capetown.
We had no preconceptions of what awaited us. And we did enjoy the trip! Thank you again for the good job you did. We are very satisfied customers.