Review by: Mr Andrew Hanson
- Countries Visited:
- South Africa
- Holiday Type:
- Family Holiday
We started with four nights at Thanda Safari Camp in KwaZulu Natal. We arrived late due to luggage problems but from that moment on the friendly staff looked after us extremely well. We had eight safari drives through the park managed by our Ranger Sandisu who proved to be and excellent guide. He stopped regularly to give us briefings on the animals, their social and family behaviour, the local flora and fauna, birdlife and even the star configurations. We felt we really learned a lot about what we were doing and seeing. Each day we had a new experience seeing all of the big five, 14 lions, lions mating and feeding, elephants feeding and play fighting, Cheetahs, a Leopard drinking at a water hole, rhinos with their young and seeing off and unwanted admirer! We have been on safari's before but came away so much better informed, with some close up real experiences and as they limit all viewings to a maximum of two vehicles a feeling that we had had our own individual safari. We then moved to Rocktail beach camp set on the Elephant Coast over an hours four wheel drive from the nearest tarmac road. The beach runs for over 70km and consists of the most beautiful sandy coastline. We had a day on our own on the beach with a picnic drinks etc served by our guide, we took an ocean safari out to sea to watch the humpback whales migrating and a couple from our party spent some time diving on the reef with some superb sightings. Our highlight was four of our party snorkelling with humpback whales swimming some ten metres below them. A truly amazing experience for the whole family that we will never forget.
A wonderful country with a good road network and some amazing countryside and wildlife. All the staff proved so friendly and helpful. We must return soon. Watch out for baggage transfer at Johannesburg and staff who will tell lies to keep you happy rather than give you the hard truth so you build up false expectations. Budget Car Hire that don't supply the cars you have ordered and when they do they are not fit to drive. We spent two hours at Durban airport getting the cars changed to fit our luggage in when it arrived and replacing one because it had flat tire and the other because it has a brake warning light showing. They had cars there we could have switched to but they were a grade above what we had ordered.. customer service????
Thanda Camp Site was splendid, the tents were magnificent and superbly equipped and the staff were lovely and could not have been more helpful. Breakfast and high tea were superb but the evening meal could have been a bit more plentiful and although the cooking was good the meat could have been a bit more tender. I would hope this could have been improved but was perfectly adequate and we certainly did not feel it was something we could directly complain about. The bar, bomma and pool were fabulous, a bit cool but it was winter. The game drives were a massive success as described above with the most fantastic guide and experiences.
Rocktail beach camp was lovely but the accommodation was less luxurious than Thonga but perfectly adequate with some superb views. There was some night noise from small animals in the roof space which was a bit off-putting but there was no actual invasion. The welcome, food and service were great and there was nothing they would not do to make our stay enjoyable. We did trips to Lala Nec for a day on the beach and they supplied a picnic and a guide to look after us and had a fabulous day on our own on the most magnificent beach, snorkelling swimming and sun bathing. We did the trip to Sabaya Lake for the crocodiles and hippo's which proved a bit over rated as we only saw one sleeping crocodile but had drinks watching the sunset and a great trip through the local area and explanations about local life etc. We had marvellous ocean experience trip out to sea to watch and swim with the hump back whales as described above.
The welcome at Phinda was lovely, the Lodge was superb and very quiet and luxurious while the central area with its bar and restaurant overlooking the waterhole, giraffes, impala and nyala was fantastic. The food was excellent although we could not manage very meal. The game drives were good but not up to the Thonga standard probably because the park is four times the size but we did get to see Black Rhino and some lovely groups of Cheetah as well as some leopard cubs. One night there was a big bomma evening with an outside barbeque with tremendous atmosphere and excellent food and drink. We could not fault the staff or how we were looked after and all the special touches. A bottle of champagne and named glasses hanging in a lantern lit tree on one game drive. Returning to our lodge to find the bathroom candlelit with a hot bath run and a half bottle of bubbly in an ice bucket. A picnic supplied for our transport back to Durban airport.
Staff Review 5
Our family group consisted of eight adults, six from the same family and two partners. We had searched extensively for a sensibly priced safari experience and had been open to a number of different areas but were both cost and quality conscious. We had had quotations and offers from a number of the mainstream agencies until we came across Mahlatini. Jamie listened to my requirements and the details of the party and put together an offer which matched our requirements and appeared to give us good quality and value. We organised our own air travel but otherwise Mahlatini did the rest. We hit immediate problems with lost luggage on our flights which both Mahlatini and the safari camp picked up and helped us with. Unfortunately the Wilderness Safari emergency helpline was an answer machine that I don't believe ever responded to us but Mahlatini gave us some sound advice and eventually our missing luggage arrived. Our itinerary information was good but missed out a number of missing contact details such as emergency help line, phone numbers for Thonga camp which we need to warn them we were going to run late. Details of pick up times for our transport from Rocktail and Phinda were missing but were sorted by the camp staff so did not prove to be a problem but it would have been good if this had been more explicit. Thank you Jamie for giving us the most amazing trip far beyond our expectations. We would happily recommend all the locations we went to so please look at any slightly adverse comments as being helpful rather than critical.