1 independent reviews for South Africa Scenic Route small group camping safari

Reviews for South Africa Scenic Route small group camping safari

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review 2 Dec 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The animals! We had lots of opportunity to see them up close.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

It can be challenging. It is real camping where you have to set up and take down tents. To see the animals and also to cover the great distances that we did (over 3500 km), we had to get up early many mornings. Some days we ate breakfast standing up. Even at the best of times, we sat on small fold up canvass chairs. Some days involved sitting most of the day in a mini bus. The hikes were also often challenging and sometimes long- trekking through steep trip; there were only 3 of us over the age of 40 (my husband and I are 65). Although we generally kept up ( I think we impressed them), the conversation is different with the age spread.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I am not sure. I was disappointed that there was little to no recycling done- whether cans and bottles or plastic bags when shopping. We shopped for groceries at large supermarkets instead of stopping to buy local produce and, in fact, did not visit any markets, except for one craft market in Swaziland. Our main guide was from Zimbabwe, although we did use a couple of local guides in Soweto and also in Lesotho. The guest houses/lodges were run by white South Africans. I wonder if any effort was made to use local community coops run by black South Africans.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I would rate it as an 8/10. My main disappointment was that we tended to drive too quickly through areas (even when I suggested detours) so that we made no effort to visit things that were historical or to see culturally significant things- only one small museum and it was a coal mining exhibit for the most part. I understand that it was described as a camping safari and that is what we mostly did, but it was a shame to not be exposed to more of the culture and history which is so rich in South Africa.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Lee Thank you so much for taking the time to give us and fellow travellers feedback on our tour. I am pleased that you had a great experience overall and rated the tour 8/10. We value the time taken to give us constructive criticism and so please see my response to you feedback. The South Africa camping tour is an exciting tour visiting wonderful highlights of South Africa. You are correct, the tour does cover large distances but in order to see all of the highlights there need to be some long days of travel. In creating the itinerary we try and take this into account as much as possible and punctuate longer days of travel with two nights in one location. When staying two nights we also try and include a walk to get clients out and active. I see you found the walks quite challenging. As an adventure holiday we try and include activities that are suitable for clients of all ages. There are two guides on each tour to ensure that when you do walks, one takes the lead with the faster walkers and the other takes the back with those clients who prefer to take things a little more slowly. I’m pleased you managed the walks and I am sure you felt like it was quite an accomplishment. We keep a record of comments made on tour and I have made a note of the difficulty level. The chairs used on this tour are standard safari camping chairs. They are compact to allow for easy packing and they should be available to be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If they were not made available I would like to apologise and I will most certainly take this up with the guides. I have addressed your concern with your regards to question 3 on how the holiday benefited local people and supported conservation. I have addressed your feedback below. We firmly believe in Responsible Tourism and this includes staying in National Parks and community run projects. There are few privately run establishments on this tour, the majority are public or community run. While it may not have been obvious at the time of stay we take great care and consideration into the areas in which we stay to ensure we are supporting locals. I have made a note of your comments as perhaps this was not communicated clearly by the guides. I will give the guides feedback and ensure that all guides communicate with clients with regards to the community projects by explaining how each campsite/project works or where you are staying. Below I have listed the different places you stayed and whether they are a National Park campsite or community project accommodation. •Pilgrims Rest - municipal public campsite •Kruger NP – SANParks (South African National Parks) public campsite •Swaziland - Malolotja - Community project and part of Swaziland Cultural Trust •MKuzi - KZN Wildlife (Provincial) public campsite •Drakensberg – KZN (Privincial) Wildlife Mahai public campsite •Lesotho - Malealea forest hut - Community project •Cradock - Tuis Huise. While this is a private the family that owns these homes has been living in Cradock and have owned these homes in their family for over 100 years. •Addo – SANParks (South African National Parks), public campsite •Tsitsikamma – SANParks (South African National Parks), public campsite •Swellendam, Kambati campsite - Private •Cape Town - Sweetest Guest Houses - Private •Cape Town - Sweetest Guest Houses – Private For recycling we use the facilities/accommodation recycling rather than our own on the vehicle. As you will know space on the truck is limited, to a degree, and you will find that there is a recycling project associated with all the accommodation we use. Many properties in South Africa recycle and while they may not have visibly separate bins, they separate the rubbish out and then recycle. You also commented that you guide was Zimbabwean. We employ guides from all over Southern Africa because we run tours throughout Southern Africa. We however use local guides out of communities we visit along the way. This applies to all the countries we travel to. Unfortunately shopping at local markets is quite difficult as we have had conflicting feedback from clients with regards to hygiene and a number of other matters. So we now shop at local supermarkets. However in every way, whether shopping at local stores or markets, we are investing in the economy of South Africa and helping support the jobs of those working for the larger supermarkets. Then, I am sorry that you were disappointed that the tour could not visit your suggested detours. The tour is a brochure tour with a standard itinerary that is carefully worked out with highlights and timing. While suggested detours are taken into consideration when we do the planning of our tours and updating, during the tour they are not possible. We have to take into consideration the expectations of all the clients on the tour and while a detour might seem logical and would enhance your experience, another client might not feel the same way. I will however keep your notes and if you would like to email me directly with your suggestion of additions to the itinerary, they will be welcome. We will then take them into consideration for future changes to the tour. Finally, in addressing your last comment, the focus of our tours is environmental more than historical as we are an adventure holiday company/operator and so while we do visit some historical features on the tour, we focus more on natural history. There is unfortunately not enough time on this tour to do both the adventure holiday (our speciality) and also include a large amount of historical visits. Our guides have varied and in-depth knowledge of both natural history and general history of the countries they visit. There is an intercom system in the truck and while we travel through areas the guides chat to the clients about topics of interest in those areas. I will be passing on your feedback to our HR manager who is involved in training and maintaining our high standard of guide and request that that the use of the intercom is focused on in future training. Once again, I would like to thank you for the time you have taken to give us the feedback and I hope my response puts your concerns at rest. I do hope you will travel with us again in the future. Kind regards Jayne Harley Marketing Manager

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