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We had an absolutely fantastic time, thank you! My comments here contain just very minor things which could have improved it - please don’t take it as any criticism of the holiday which we absolutely loved, but small tweaks which could have improved it even further!
Arrival and transfer were superb - lovely to be met straight off the plane and smoothly transferred straight to the waterfront.
You should note that Lawhill no longer has a dedicated reception - this caused a couple of issues getting into the accommodation and meeting our guide. Just worth letting people know as nothing which wasn’t overcome with a couple of calls to the complex reception.
The accommodation itself was ideal for us - spacious, clean and a great base to relax and go out to dinner.
Our guide from AWOL, Bevan, was first class - really friendly knowledgeable and great with the kids. 10/10!
The tours were a perfect balance for us of interesting stuff for adults and children
If I could change anything from our holiday, I’d have had an extra day at leisure in Cape Town, so much to do in the city itself.
Also worth noting the cable car to Table Mountain seems to be closed during August - just worth noting in advance as we had planned to do that. The aquarium was a good second best though which the kids probably enjoyed more!
Departure was a pain - our car didn’t turn up at 4.00 as per the schedule which was a pain, particularly that early in the morning. On contacting them, they said it has been booked at 4.45 - an extra 45 mins sleep would have been good - just worth double checking those in future.
Transfer to Madikwe was superb again and really easy
Accommodation was good - I guess this might be because we originally booked a couple of years ago, but the bed for the kids was a bit small for a 9 and 11 year old. Our bed was so big however that Chloe just bunked down with us so no problem at all. Food and service was first class.
Our safari guide, Pride, was amazing. I’d recommend a private safari to anyone - we were able to be flexible with times and destinations (for example on one day he picked us up a couple of hours early to we could drive much further into the reserve which was rewarded with some cheetahs, another day we went on an all-dayer rather than morning and evening) - mixing things up to see more made a great experience even better.
Transfer back to Johannesburg was just as easy
Johannesburg hotel was ok - nothing special but for a transfer hotel it did what we needed!
Transfer to and from the resort was seamless
The resort is lovely - food, accommodation and facilities all great. After such a busy start to the holiday we didn’t really take full advantage of all the water sports but anything we did do was really easy and great fun. Would definitely recommend it to others!
For a family like ours the drinks package wouldn’t have been good value so pleased we just went full board (having a few drinks during the day and a bottle of wine with dinner our bill came to about £450)
Just to note a specific plus from the resort: I has some issues with my banking whilst away - the resort waived the fees on my phone call back to the UK to sort it out. Little things like that really make a great impression and reflect so well on the management.
Thank you again for all your work helping us get there in such difficult times. Great memories of a superb holiday for all the family!
Matt W reviewing South Africa Madikwe Safari and Mauritius on 31 August 2022
I don’t know if you collect feedback but thought it might be useful for you! Happy for you to use any of my comments in testimonials etc.
We had an utterly amazing holiday and firstly I want to thank you for your patience during what was a very frustrating process for all of us / my procrastination, then covid, date changes, flight cancellations / I can’t quite believe we got there in the end and the trip lived up to all our expectations. Our itinerary felt pretty much perfect so thank you for all the advice and steering in the right direction.
Thank you also for your flexibility in terms of allowing us to book certain aspects of our trip independently (Cape Town) and then adding flights at a later date. The flexibility to do this and change dates etc was brilliant.
Originally we intended to self drive, mainly to save cost and then I got nervous about it and we had transfers for the whole trip. Once we were there I was aware that pretty much everyone one was self driving and that the N2 route was actually quite straightforward. In retrospect we could have done self drive however my husband and I both agreed that for us the transfer option was probably best. Although a straightforward route, the N2 is quite a hairy road with lots of trucks and there was a definite etiquette for driving and overtaking. Our son is quite anxious and I think he would have found the driving stressful and so we feel we made the right choice.
It obviously meant that we were not able to do any self drive safari but this did not matter, I would not have wanted to the advantages of being taken with someone who can spot things we would never have seen, imparting huge amounts of knowledge and having the right vehicles for going off road were worth every penny.
St Lucia, this was a great place to start our safari, we did a night drive (highly recommend), a day safari up to Cape Vidal and also a boat trip on the estuary. Would recommend all of it. Our accommodation at Lidiko Lodge was comfortable and they do a lovely breakfast on a gorgeous terrace. The rooms are quite dark and although there was nothing wrong with it, it was probably our least favourite accommodation on our trip.
Ghost Mountain Inn, we arrived here after 4 full on days in Cape Town and then 2 days in St Lucia so were ready for a bit of a rest and it really was lovely. We had lovely rooms, enjoyed the pool, food and did a fantastic trip to visit the local Zulu village and then a morning game drive into Mkhuze park (they have hides here and it was wonderful to watch the animals come to the waterhole to drink) it felt slightly more intimate than watching them from a vehicle.
Rhino River Lodge, undoubtedly the highlight of the trip. It was a wonderful experience from start to finish. The food was lovely, the level of service was amazing (little touches like hot water bottles on your seat at dinner and hot flannels and an aperitif handed to us as we returned from our evening game drive. It was 3/4 star rather than 5 star and the rooms were quite rustic (very comfy beds) but we really liked that (not 5 star people) and felt very comfortable with the children who were made very welcome and there were food options to suit them (although mostly they ate the adult food but nice to have an alternative, simpler option). The ONLY downside is that you can hear the N2 from the lodge and initially it bothered me a bit but actually it was such a fabulous place it didn’t really matter in the end but maybe something to flag to other clients.
Fairlight Beach House – I’m glad we only had 1 night here as actually the weather at this point was not great but it was a great place to gather ourselves before the flight home (I would NOT have wanted to go straight from Rhino River to the airport to fly home). Lovely, super comfortable place to stay and we spent the morning watching dolphins and whales breaching less than 100m from the shore line.
My only regret is that we didn’t make it to Drakensburg Mountains (Rorkes or Fugitives Drift). If I was planning the trip again I probably would just do 2 nights (instead of 3) at Ghost Mountain and add one extra day to give another 2 nights to get to the mountains.
Thank you Lisa and I really hope that we will have the opportunity to do another 'Big Trip' at some point soon and book through you!
Josine B reviewing Value KZN Bush & Beach Safari For Families on 30 August 2022
The trip was great. Thank you!
Summary of key points below. If there is anything else that would be helpful to know please do get in touch again.
Dubai part 1
Airport transfers all ok.
Palace Downtown - really lovely hotel. Very central location. Tastefully decorated. Great pool etc. Direct access to amenities eg mall/fountains etc. We ate lunch there by the pool and the food quality was very good, but we went elsewhere for dinner.
Transfer by Ilios from airport to hotel - really Excellent
Oyster Box - best service I have ever had in a hotel, excellent, food great, rooms great, location great, but only so much to do.
Transfer by Ilios from hotel to Safari - really Excellent
Amakhosi Lodge - excellent. Facilities excellent. Food all fantastic. Very helpful staff. The house we stayed in was really lovely. Spacious, own splash pool, amazing views etc
Safari guides and trackers - excellent - lovely people, could not have done more to be friendly and helpful. Our boys got a sickness bug for 24 hours and they were as helpful as possible about that and so kind and caring
Really hardworking staff - made sure we saw all the key animals. Safari was suitable for children and adults. As we had the house you automatically get your own private Safari vehicle with that which was nice to have.
Transfer by Ilios from Safari to hotel - really excellent.
Oyster Box second time - again - best service I have ever had in a hotel, excellent, food great, rooms great, location great. However I would say that 3 days was probably slightly too much - I think 2 days would be a more suitable amount as beyond the hotel there's not loads to do very locally and although there is lots of security in the town everywhere which is great you do feel a little conscious with guns etc around. Maybe if you had a younger family 3 days would work if by the pool the whole time. But that aside I cannot fault the excellent hotel.
Transfer oyster box to airport - really excellent
Transfer Dubai to Sofitel Downtown - not great. The driver was late so I had to ask an agent from TUI if he had seen him and he ended up calling him for me. Once he found us he didn't really apologise and was very rushed/driving fast etc so ok but not great.
Sofitel Downtown - a good hotel but I would say had a bit more of a corporate feel - so I preferred the Palace one. Breakfast was very good - lots of choice and the staff were all helpful. The pool area was very good. We didn't eat dinner here. It's location was a little further from the mall so not quite as convenient - you could walk along a tunnel for 10/15 mins to get there but we used a taxi.
Emirates flights - all went well. Good flights. Good staff. Airports all ran smoothly in Dubai and South Africa. Only airport that ran less well was Heathrow! Baggage took ages and on the way out check in was long!
Overall though the whole trip worked really well and felt like a good mix of adventure time and relaxation time. I also think having to stop in Dubai anyway added something more to the trip as we saw that city as well as South Africa. For the first Dubai part we stayed in the newer areas and for the second Dubai part we went to the creek and the historical areas and souk areas so that was interesting to see the two sides of the city.
I hope that covers all.
Thanks for your help and I look forward to planning another adventure in the future.
Louise C reviewing Value KZN Bush & Beach Safari For Families on 30 August 2022
The safari trip was excellent! The stay, the food and the people were all very nice. We were happy to have Ryan and Stanley as our game drive guides they brought us up close to the animals and Ryan gave very good information throughout.
Would definitely recommend to friends who are interested in safaris :)
Also, thanks much for your help, particularly keeping the room for my Brother and his wife they’ve enjoyed the safari very much too!
Woan Chyi L reviewing Cape Town & Kruger Safari on 16 October 2019
We had a fantastic time and all the arrangements worked perfectly.
We were very impressed with the quality and service levels of all 4 locations visited and it was truly a holiday of a lifetime.
Thank you to you and to Lisa for giving us this experience.
Particular highlights for us – really the whole experience, but of particular impact:
Breathtaking scenery at Cathedral Peak Hotel
Rhino Ridge game drives incredible, thanks to guide (we had their head guide, Hala, who’s knowledge, enthusiasm, kindness, interaction, ability to spot wildlife was out of this world)
Luxury of Rhino Ridge (shower, food, views, service)
Immersion in nature, torch lit meal on last night and beach trip at Kosi Forest Lodge
Level of service, quality of food throughout
Catherine F reviewing South Africa Safari, Beach and Wetlands on 04 September 2019
We had a fantastic time. Thank you and it went smoothly in the main except for British Airways!
The trip had the right degree of luxury and relaxation (for me) and adventure (all of us).
A few points:
Driving directions to Umlunghi Lodge were slightly wrong. The driving directions should read at the 4th roundabout take the first exit and turn right over the railway. We loved it there. Anton, Bianca and her son and Harriet were very informative and entertaining. The snake talk and handling, night walks and seeing scorpions and the walk in the bush and "bumping" into a giraffe were really special. The kayak trip to Makuzi pan that the lodge organised was good and Tomaz was very informative and kept a respectful distance from the hippos.3 nights was plenty.
Rhino River Lodge game reserve was incredibly luxurious and we felt very looked after. The lion siting in camp the day we arrived sent an extra frisson of excitement down our spines. It was easy to forget there were predators that could attack us with all that luxury. The staff and guides (Karl) were knowledgeable and invested in their set up. We saw rhinos with baby, cheetahs with young, porcupine, Genet, wildebeast, Impala, Lion with young, buffalo, a puff adder, ostrich, zebra and giraffes. 4 nights was also plenty.
They all served great food but I felt Ghost Mountain Inn topped the lot. The variety was amazing. We arrived at 10.30 but could not get into our room until 2 ish. The service was not so personal I guess because it is larger (far more than 50 rooms). We had been a bit spoilt at Rhino River! My daughter and I had some treatments at the Spa and loved it. We also went on a large boat trip on Jonzi and had a closer encounter with a large bull hippo and also a hike up Ghost Mountain with Patrick who was very informative and passionate about his people and his country. Isaac the other guide there took us on the boat trip and pointed out the sugar cane harvest on the way. he was very informative also.
Lastly, Lalaria Lodge was fabulous and we all piled into the surf of the Indian Ocean. There was hardly anyone on the beach. It was "too cold" according to the landlady. The view from her terrace was of the ocean and whales breaching in the distance. I could have sat there all day. She very kindly provided us with a Scrabble board of her own for us to play. We took a Microlight ride from Ballito over the coastline in the hope of seeing whales and dolphins but no luck. If we had stayed longer we might have gone on a boat trip from Durban. We had a meal at a restaurant called Mozambique which was great fun with vast portions, plenty of carbs and fresh seafood!
The value of the Rand to the Pound was excellent and therefore we felt that we got excellent value which also played a large part!
Katrina P reviewing Value KZN Bush & Beach Safari For Families on 02 September 2019
Hi, just back home now as stayed in London last night. It was fab! We loved it! Amazing all round- Thankyou. Best holiday ever!!!
Accommodation great at both places, guides lovely, staff great. We saw more animals than ever expected: giraffes, lion, elephants, water hog, wilder beast, impala, white rhino, crocodiles, hippos in lake Sybia, monkeys in trees at Tonga.
Beach beautiful, but a bit windy, waves v rough but didn’t deter my boys. We snorkeled which was fab but too rough on day we booked to do ocean experience.
My boys swam in all pools!!!
Weather better than we expected!
Must go and do some laundry, but hope that helps?
Nicola B reviewing Luxury KwaZulu Natal Safari & Beach Holiday on 24 July 2019
We had an amazing holiday.
Everything was fantastic.
The transport wa spot on, great drivers, all on time, vans really comfortable and water supplied, a really nice way to travel, and you also get to hear all about the local area. Both companies were excellent.
Virgin - was a brilliant airline, not sure why I haven't used them before, SO much better than BA.
Rhino ridge was amazing from start to finish. We has a great female safari guide, who we got very fond of. The wildlife is more sparse but as its more challenging to find we enjoyed this, the surrounding are spectacular. Our guide had great knowledge of the birds. walking safari was excellent and highly recommend. The rooms were superb, very comfortable.
Thonga beach lodge staff were brilliant, the whole place was amazing, the range of activities excellent and again out guides excellent. The food was wonderful. Again the bird guiding and general guiding was brilliant. We really enjoyed the cultural side of our visit, seeing the local communities and church etc. My only comment on thonga for future guests would be if they can afford it maybe to go for a lodge with a ocean view, our lodge was great , the childrens was quite cramped and low down with a very damp musty smell - not that they noticed it, but I think if people were expecting luxury they might not get what they wanted... saying that it was fantastic for us. The lodge staff were amazing and went out of their way for us.
Oyster box was a phenomenal hotel and quite a shock to be back in the world after Thonga - but really worth the stay - we loved it, they Kindly gave us a room for the next day as we had a late flight.
The whole experience was brilliant and really well organised- thank you. We ALL loved everything!
we loved having transport rather than driving, it meant we could relax , sleep and find out about the country from the driver.
If we changed anything, I might spend a little less time at the beach and maybe take in another safari region also. We were repeatedly recommended the Phinda private game reserve (andBeyond) so maybe we would have spent a couple of nights there, in addition, local guides and the tour people said it would give good variety to the Rhino ridge.
However we were 100% happy with what we did, we really look forward to our next safari !!!
Alison D reviewing Luxury KwaZulu Natal Safari & Beach Holiday on 23 July 2019
Really brilliant being met in the airport off the plane. It got the holiday off to the right start and driver really chatty and knowledgeable. Great transfers to and from the camps with drivers that were like guides - pointing out animals and full of interesting facts. All really friendly.
4 Rosmead in Cape Town; We loved it here. Just the right side of plush and a lovely warm, friendly welcome. Breakfast were delicious. It was a real haven to come back to and even though it was small it didn’t feel intrusive. They were also really helpful with great places to eat.
Tours in Cape Town; Our guide, Bevan, gave us an incredible insight into the history of South Africa whilst also being really knowledgeable on wild life and nature. No question was too hard and his answers honest. He had an intern with him from a township and this allowed us a different perspective. Bevan was brilliant with my daughter. The Cape Point trip was a full on day with lots packed in. Our highlight was the penguins but we also really enjoyed seeing Cape Point and getting our first taste of the wild life to come! Our stand out experience in Cape Town had to be the tour of Masiphumelele. We’re so pleased that we did this as it gave us an insight of the lives of so many people in SA. The visibility of such poverty was tough going at times and we learned much about the harsh realities of living in a township such as how dwellings regularly burn down, TB & HIV incidence but equally we saw the resilience, warmth and resourcefulness of the residents. We loved being shown around the nursery and the library and the chance to have a very different experience. Being in someone’s home for lunch was a real privilege. We got such a lovely welcome there and the food was really delicious. The tribal dance routine felt a little forced and I wasn’t convinced there was much pride in the display. I think being shown a little more of the craft workshop or the older people’s group might have worked better. Although I can see how this allowed us have a purpose to go into the unofficial part of the township. All in all a moving experience that will stay with us both for years to come.
Getting around Cape Town; We quickly learnt from local people it’s not actually that safe walking around Cape Town except for in the Waterfront. Uber is the best way to travel - much safer and cheaper than the local cabs. The fares are ridiculously cheap.
Food/Going Out; There are so many great places to eat in Cape Town. The indoor food market at the Waterfront is an absolute must. A huge variety of food that is great quality. Also a great place to hang out for a while as there is always bands playing. The Waterfront overall was a pleasant way to do a bit of shopping. We got some great township art there. We ate at the Cod Father in Camp Bay. It was night so we couldn’t benefit from the incredible views. The food was incredible and really fresh. Really warm service too. The Nelson Eye? was also gorgeous for meat eaters. A slightly retro steak house but with the best meat (nor for vegetarians!). We had great steak, ribs and a divine mint crisp local dessert. We also found a lovely place on Kloof Street called the Dark Horse (its sister restaurant the Black Sheep was closed). Really excellent small plates and great selection of wines.
Moswari Game Reserve; This part of the holiday blew us away. The safari was spectacular. From our first game drive we saw and learnt so much about the incredible bush. We saw the Big Five within 24 hours (although we appreciate that must be unusual) but it wasn’t just that we saw them we saw them in amazingly dynamic situations - lion cubs suckling the lioness, rhino doing a strange greeting, a herd of 40 elephants at almost touching distance, a leopard eating its kill in a bush and then majestically descending. I could just go on. It wasn’t just these but also the wonderful giraffe sightings, all types of buck and antelope, a rainbow of different coloured birds. This was an unforgettable experience.
Our guide and tracker, Weinond and Bricks, were perfect. Weinond was a lovely gentle and sensitive man with an encyclopaedic knowledge for wildlife and nature. Bricks was a skilled tracker and I am certain that without him we would not have seen half of what we did. You could feel their passion for the animals and they seemed to take as much joy from a spot as we did. Whilst driving Weinond filled us with information about life in the bush. This meant we learnt so much about the habits and habitats of the magnificent animals and birds we were seeing.
The camp and rooms were top class. It was a small intimate camp with nicely spaced lodges for privacy. The view from our lodge was stunning. The room was large, beautifully furnished and with the best bathroom ever. If there was one thing that could be added it would be would be access to drinks in your room. Sometimes you want a beer or a nightcap without having to go all the way to the main camp.
The food was luscious. There was something for everyone and it was all of a really high standard and cooked to perfection. It was definitely restaurant standard. My only complaint is how much weight I’ve put in because I couldn’t resist!
The service throughout was warm, friendly and appropriate. Very professional.
We stayed for a night in the Giraffes Nest. This was a special, magical experience. The setting was fabulous and ‘nest’ itself beautifully decorated. It was winter so it was a cold night but they gave you lots of blankets and a cosy robe to help with that. Once in the best you we’re in your own but with radio connection back to the camp. Whilst we only spotted 2 animals during the night it was a special experience sleeping under a blanket of stars. It was a bit overpriced I think for what it is and I think in the winter it should be possible might to stay a bit longer in the morning ( we were collected 6 am to join our drive group) as this might mean you would see animals in the light.
Finally, I cannot recommend this camp enough to people. A truly spectacular holiday that we will never forget. I’ve definitely been bitten by the Africa bug!
Dara d reviewing Cape Town & Kruger Safari on 02 July 2019
Thanks for all your help in making the arrangements, everything went so smoothly from landing in Jo’burg to departing a week later.
We all had a fantastic time, Kirsty (our youngest) was able to go on all the game drives and we were very well looked after both on the drives and back at the lodge. The food was great, staff were all very friendly & nothing was too much trouble for them (e.g. providing hot milk for Kirsty at bedtime). The kids all enjoyed the rock pool during the day and we all loved the game drives.
We were lucky enough to see all the big 5, with the additions of Cheetah & Wild Dogs. I think it was the second to last day before we managed to see some Hippo (and finally I’ve been able to take some photos of them - I have only ever seen them at night before). We had the adventure of being caught up with some Lionesses stalking a herd of Zebra (one of the younger Lionesses went a bit early & scattered the herd).
We’re certainly aiming to go on safari again although it will be a while before we save enough to go again (maybe the kids will be taking us next time!)
Jeff W reviewing South Africa Madikwe Safari and Mauritius on 13 May 2019
I can not recommend Tourdust and the wonderful Lisa highly enough. I had been searching for a family holiday to South Africa and could never quite seem to find the right combination. I eventually found one that seemed to fit the bill on the Tourdust website and sent off an e-mail to make a general enquiry. Within a few days, following a Sunday 'phone conversation with Lisa, I ended up with a different itinerary that was even better, including things that I wanted to do that I thought the kids would hate (Gourmet Foodie day tour to South Africa's winelands anyone?) but that Lisa assured me wouldn't bore the kids (she was right). The service I received was knowledgeable, smooth, efficient and friendly. Looking forward to booking again with them. Thank you Lisa and Tourdust!
Neil B reviewing Best of South Africa for Families on 14 October 2015