Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed September 2018
    Bill Cuthbert

    If you want wild .....

    ….then this is the trip for you. Our second trip to Namibia (previously "Discover Namibia" in 2008) this one has the emphasis on wild. Etosha, Okakuejo, Namutoni, some of the best-known destinations are all visited, whilst the jewel in the crown must be the Palmwag Concession: a huge area where, apart from the occasional wildlife ranger, we didn't see another person for two days. We saw no less than six rhino, including one of the dominant males - managing to get (safely) within 100 yds. As well as rhinos, we had a leopard up a tree, which we watched for 1.5 hours before she finally came down to walk past the truck! Giraffes "necking" - in a violent exchange, before trotting off together, several sightings of lions - including a magnificent male in his prime, herds of elephant, and the wealth of wildlife that makes Namibia such a special destination. First class guide in Hans, and an exceptional support crew in driver Simpson, Fritz, and the culinary expertise of Tyrone that never disappointed. (And not to mention a first-class Toyota Land-Cruiser - panoramic windows with no obstructing pillars.)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    After spotting the leopard relaxing up the tree mid-morning, returning later that afternoon and waiting patiently for her to come down and slowly walk past the truck... all with the sun in the right place to give that special photo opportunity.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hans delivered everything and more: Primarily, his skills in finding the rhinos' tracks, anticipating its movements, consideration for the wind direction etc. and getting us into the right position. Also, a broad range of knowledge covering not only the animals and birds, but the plant-life, the trees, the landscape and the history of the country. Additionally, he always went the extra mile for the photographers in making sure that the sun was behind us wherever possible, and advising on tips to get that extra-special shot. Long days driving in difficult conditions, then back to help the support crew in delivering the evening meal. And every morning - meticulously cleaning and polishing the viewing windows. Quite simply, a first class guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Palmwag is very rough going in places. Its terrain will rattle and shake every bone in your body - be prepared! The Land Cruiser will take you into (and out) of some of seemingly impossible locations.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The one thing that marred this trip? The unbelievable chaos of Windhoek Airport. A 1.5 hour queue into immigration, and virtually the same on departure. It's an airport that has expanded hugely over the years in terms of passenger traffic, but is hopelessly under-resourced. Our departure flight to Johannesburg was delayed to the extent that our Heathrow flight was already boarding as we arrived.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    David Woodhams

    The wildlife of Namibia, amazing!

    This trip with 'full service' camping was amazing. Comfortable tent with camp bed, mattress, duvet even a bedside table and lamp, luxury, coupled with the amazing places that we camped and the wonderful encounters with the incredible wildlife was superb. The food prepared and cooked by our chef Tyrone was imaginative and varied and plenty of it. The other members of the crew Simpson, truck driver and general hand, together with Fritz, also general hand worked tirelessly to provide us with a superb service erecting and taking our tents down whenever we needed to move. When wild camping in the Hoanib River area even provided hot water for the camp showers which were great after a days game viewing. There are some long journeys and days on this trip but the rewards are worth it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Spotting two Black Rhinos about 1 kilometre away, then walking downwind of them with our guide to get closer in order to get some good photographs and ending up about 70 metres away, fantastic. The best part was the fact that the Rhinos were never aware of our presence. We came, we saw and we left - great!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hans Liechti was a superb guide and group leader with excellent organisational skills and very intimate knowledge of many of the animals that we saw throughout this trip. He knew where we were most likely to find what ever we were looking for and would persist until we found. The Black Rhinos were somewhat elusive but we did find them, some of which are even named. He knew the numbers of elephants in particular groups in the Hoanib River as well as the Lions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are unsure whether camping trips are for you then this trip being 'full service' camping would be a good way to try it out. Do not expect wall to wall animals on this trip as the habitat is nothing like Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa. Having said that, what encounters you do have will be very memorable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip turned out to be as described in the trip notes and lived up to and on some days even exceeded our expectations with some very memorable animal sightings, made even better by the expert knowledge of our guide, Hans If you are thinking about taking this trip do not hesitate for too long or you will miss out as places are very limited.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    David Willatts

    A magical combination of landscapes and wildlife

    Thinking that a camping safari in the desert is not for you? Think again! This holiday combines stunning landscapes and encounters with a huge variety of wildlife, from elephants, black rhino. big cats, zebra, giraffes to an amazing number of bird species. All these can be seen from the comfort of your safari vehicle, with all members of the group in their own window seat. Your guide, who has an an encyclopaedic knowledge of the wildlife, also knows where to have the best chance of seeing the more elusive animals. In many areas, you will not see another safari vehicle all day! As for the camping, what could be more luxurious than arriving at the campsite to find your tent already erected (complete with comfortable camp bed and warm duvet), dining table in place, complete with table cloth and candles, a cup of tea and a hot shower awaiting you and a delicious dinner being cooked on an open fire? Bliss!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a mother and calf black rhino followed soon after by the sight of a heavily pregnant female. Watch a female cheetah and her two cubs playing in a tree.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader, Hans, could not have been better. His knowledge of the wildlife, his navigational skills in the more featureless areas, together with his faultless driving, sometimes for long distances, to say nothing of his cooking abilities, made him the ideal guide!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take warm clothing for the evenings and a good camera to bring back memories of what will be an unforgettable holiday.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't hesitate, just go for it!
  • Reviewed November 2017

    Knockout trip!

    A really wonderful trip, I could not find fault with it, even if I wanted to. Namibia is a fascinating place to visit, the scenery, wildlife and people make it a delightful destination. The itinerary is good and the trip is the right length.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sitting eating 'al fresco' in the evening (after a day tracking a rhino and watching a breeding herd of elephants) when we spotted a lioness and her cub passing by about 40-50 metres away! Surprised even our experienced + seasoned guides. Brilliant. The next day our guides (and us) tracked and found them again. Also the visit to a Namibian primary school was unmissable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two guides (Koos + Mathias) and they were absolutely first class. They were friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and good fun. I cannot recommend them enough.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware that the trip involves a lot of driving on Namibian gravel roads + off-road tracks, and can be a bit rough and tiring. However, if you want to go to some of the less visited spots and see wildlife that is still genuinely running wild, then for me, it is well worth it. Also it is hot in Namibia in November, typically into the mid to low 30's during the day on our trip. On the plus side the nights were cool and made sleeping comfortable. For the primary school visit you can take exercise books, pens etc to donate. but our guides also gave us an opportunity to buy some before visiting (very useful as books/paper can be heavy).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The support team (Magnes + Simson) were also first class, they were so efficient, every day we would return to camp and they would have everything set up. They made the camping a very enjoyable experience.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Nick Ward

    Beyond the usual

    The first thing you need to know about this trip is that you will be spending a long time in the back of a Land Cruiser getting an 'African Massage'. So what do you get in return? First, some wonderful, mind boggling and ever changing scenery. And second, the opportunity to see some of Africa's most iconic (and rarest ) animals in their isolated and extreme home. On our trip these included Desert Elephants, Rhino, and Desert Lions (walking past our camp and interrupting dinner, would you believe). Even if we hadn't seen these rarities there would still have been more than enough to make for an excellent trip - the best of half a dozen or so we've made to southern Africa. Fancy going beyond the usual? Then give it a go! Excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Desert Elephant!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chris - one of the best

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Absorb every moment - it'll stay with you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't go if you're just interested in seeing Africa's over-hyped 'big five'. This trip takes you much deeper than that. If you just want to go and see what's out there', then this is for you.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Penny Linemann

    Namibia 4WD and Desert Safari

    This was one of the best Exodus trips I have been on and this was largely due to the great organisational ability of Koos and his team of Andreas, Magnus and Simpson. These guys were so helpful and good natured and dealt with every situation that arose in a truly professional way. We saw the most incredible scenery, and the camping experience was amazing. It really was glamping compared to some of the trips I have been on, and our tents were up, beds made, and everything ready for us every night when we arrived back from safari. The food was fantastic and the camping areas were great, especially when we were wild camping. All the food was inclusive, even when we ate in cafes and small restaurants and there was no restriction on what we could order. All we had to pay for throughout the trip was drinks and souvenirs.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were lucky enough to see a pair of rhinos in the Palmwag Concession and could creep up to within about 50 feet of them because we were downwind. They had no idea that we were there. We also saw large groups of desert elephants in the river bed in the Concession and were able to get up very close to them without disturbing them. The waterhole at Etosha was fascinating but a little bit spoiled by people talking on their mobile phones loudly when other people were trying to concentrate on watching the elephants and rhinos which came to drink. Still a great thing to see though. I have never seen as many giraffes in such large family groups as we did in Etosha, and the amount of wildlife we saw there was wonderful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Koos Hartslief was a terrific leader and apart from having a great sense of humour and an inexhaustible supply of jokes, was unflappable in unexpected situations such as when the vehicle broke down - he was able to arrange replacement 4WDs at short notice and this was in fact a blessing as the substitute vehicles were far more roomy and comfortable than the original. He knew all the best places to camp, and he and his team provided us with such an incredible experience through their knowledge, professionalism and attention to detail. The food was varied and delicious, and even the packed lunches were great. I couldn't fault any of the team and they certainly provided one of the best camping and safari experiences I have had.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just relax and enjoy it, you will be in very good hands.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    J Wilkinson

    Enjoy ALL the animals!

    Had dreamed of going on safari for many years so made the most of this opportunity by choosing camping and 4WD so I could get as close to nature as possible. The animals arrived immediately - not many countries you encounter warthogs, baboons and rock monitor lizards transferring from airport to the only hotel on the tour! Loved being close to animals in their natural habitat with a guide who knew his stuff. Elephants, lions, cheetahs, gnus, giraffes, a variety of antelopes, 2 different types of zebras, black rhinos - yes, but our guide spotted the small stuff: over 120 different bird species; a skink; beetles; desert rat; ground squirrels; scorpions - fascinating creatures. Tents are comfy enough; the bush showers n toilets work well enough; good bush cooking. Was sad to return from the semi-desert to the game reserve campsites in Etosha. In the bush we viewed the Perseid meteor shower in the blackest sky, millions of stars I'd never seen before, the Milky Way with a bunch of jackals cackling round the hills!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were 2: 1) tracking for black rhino we spotted 2 not far from the track (in Palmwag Concession). We kept downwind and followed them on foot to get closer. In a few minutes we were standing on rocks observing these rhinos eating breakfast just 25 feet from us. 2) following a young male elephant in the dry river bed at Hoanib, the bushes stirred and more appeared. In a few minutes we were completely surrounded by 16 elephants with 2 calves and 2 juveniles. We stayed calm, quiet and the herd stayed calm with us - I blubbed! :)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our original guide was a good cook n storyteller. Due to a vehicle fault that developed on Day 1, our guide got it sorted swiftly and 2 4x4 replacements appeared, along with a 2nd guide to drive our group of 3. A bird expert and from the local tribe (Damara), his knowledge of the flora and fauna added to our enjoyment of the safari.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Water is highly precious in Namibia. Shower with less; expect cold water in the mornings; don't expect 2 showers per day so pack wet wipes for early morning starts. You're provided with juice/instant coffee/usual tea at breakfast/lunch or late afternoon. If you want different teas, juices or alcohol, the guides tell you where there are shopping opportunities, so make a list. We also bought extra fruit and dried fruit/nuts - everyone enjoyed healthy snacks on the road. Take a good camera for safaris - I did my research before going. Chose a bridge camera with max zoom so no trouble changing lenses in a very dusty environment (60x zoom). Delighted with the results - great memories. Buy 2/3 memory cards, not just 1 mahoosive memory card (if lost/stolen/damaged, you lose all pics). Take a powerbank to recharge camera/phone - recharged via USB in the 4WD. Enjoy each day for what it brings - if you wish it away hunting only to snap a leopard, then you miss all the other nature. Breathtaking landscapes too. For this trip you don't need walking boots - trainers or trekking sandals are fine for walking/ light scrambling over rocks at Twylfontein and Waterberg Plateau.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only event that marred the trip for me was the arranged visit to a school. Badly hosted, I felt uncomfortable for the children being brought out to see us, the School Principal had no idea who we were, why we were visiting, and the chap leading the visit harped on about needing funds. I felt I was being tapped for donations to a church-run school and seen as a 'benefactor'. It was not about 'meeting the locals'. Recommend Exodus vets these visits better.
  • Reviewed December 2015
    Sanna Daw

    Full service glamping

    An excellent trip going to all those places in Namibia you never knew you wanted to explore in more depth

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Trekking on foot to get a closer view of a black rhino AND 4 hours enthralled by the waterhole in Etosha, where we kept meaning to go to bed but more and more animals kept arriving. An evening I will remember for ever.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hans was a jack-of-all-trades and a master of all... he looked after us all with understated attention, was up to cook bacon for breakfast, drove all day, guided us and answered no end of questions, was excited to find the wildlife, either made lunch or kept us company at various restaurants, then jumped out and organised dinner. Then served it to us. There was nothing that was too much trouble... apart from he wouldn't let me go swimming in any of the waterholes (I checked at each and every one).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light... you don't need a sleeping bag, towel, or too many changes of clothes as you can wash at lots of places and it was so hot everything dried overnight. Take a head torch. Take spare camera batteries as we only had chance to recharge 2 things at a time (in the jeep). There is free internet in a few places, but you are totally off grid for around 4 days. Don't bother with Duty Free, it was much cheaper at the bottle store, and buy plenty of stocks at the bottle store. You can get soft drinks and snacks most days in small shops or petrol stations.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This could be seen as a trip for those who have been to the main sights in Namibia but the 6 of us had never been before and loved it. You are wild camping or in fairly exclusive camp sites most of the time, so the first night in Etosha feels a bit over-populated (but we were at the water hole most of the time anyway). Gerson and Wilson were great and our camp was always set up with the fire going when we arrived. They worked so hard for us and I must admit we didn't lift a finger. I would even go on this trip again, there's always something new to see.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Daphne Lewsley

    4wd Namibia

    Trip was well balanced building through the whole experience of wild camping in the desert to the amazing wild life in Etosha. The crew who looked after the camp and the two guides who as well as acting as drivers and guides were also very able chefs could not be faulted.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think probably coming on a herd of about 30 wild elephants thoroughly enjoying bathing in a waterhole but the floodlit waterhole in Etosha was very special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Knowledgeable , hard working and experienced.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need a South African power converter if you have anything other than the odd camera battery to charge. The camp sites have points and the inverters in the land cruisers are limited. I am glad to have done the Swakopmund extension but given the long journey in the crowded shuttle to get there and back it really needed another day and the option to book activities before you arrive.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes weren't accurate for our group but the itinerary was fine. Camp site on at Twyfelfontein was poor but would not have changed anything else.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Jo Dolan

    4WD Desert Explorer

    A fantastic trip - which more than lived upto my expectations. We covered a lot of miles, and got to see so much of this fascinating country, its wildlife and people. We travelled in Toyota Land Cruisers which had been adapted - so the roof lifts to give excellent game viewing to all passengers. The support vehicle carries all the tents and camp equipment - so space is never an issue!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's impossible to say, as there were so many, each time we thought the wildlife could not get any better, it would. However for me it had to be sitting in the middle of nowhere under the clear star filled southern hemisphere night skies, no light pollution and no "man-made" noise. We were also lucky enough to be able to view the Desert Elephants in the Hoanib river from a hill-top, which gives a totally different perspective on these fascinating creatures.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Like Graham said, Hans and Richard were just great. They did a fantastic job of looking after us, I am sure Hans could see Rhino even before they came over the horizon! nothing seemed to escape his eyes. I would also add that the support crew were fantastic, each evening when we arrived at camp, the tents had been erected, camp beds made up, fire lit, table set etc etc etc. And then each morning we moved on, the reverse, after breakfast as we headed out on our next adventure the camp crew would pack up and move on to the next site.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yep take plenty of batteries and memory - you will be amazed at the number of pictures you will take. In the group I travelled with most people took over 2000 pictures. I'm not much of a photographer so I used my binoculars most of the time. The tents, bedding, towels, toilet-rolls etc and just about all your meals are provided, so yes pack light. We travelled in September - and at times it got incredibly hot - so if you don't like the heat, choose the time of year for your trip carefully.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Some of us in the group found that we had different trip notes - so make sure you do your homework. One of the earlier reviews commented on the long drives, which yes there are some - however with frequent stops, stunning scenery, great guides, the well prepared Land Cruisers - the journeys are very much an integral and enjoyable part of the trip.
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