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confusedbride2b Nov 28th, 2006 01:18 PM

Trip Report: Botswana, Zambia & Mozambique
Hi All,

I used this excellent forum about six months ago to help me plan my honeymoon to southern africa. I hope to continue adding to this thread a bit a day as I'm already back at work and also busy editing the 1000 photographs I took!! We had not gone on a safari before & now having done it would consider doing it again in a few years but unfortunatly there are too many other places in the world we would like to visit to justify going on every trip from now on. Thats not to say we did not enjoy it before anyone gets upset, it was the trip of a lifetime. I hope my report appeals to others like us who are first timers or unsure if they are "hardcore" enough to enjoy it!
After our wedding in Hermanus SA our schedule was as follows:

1 night JNB Intercontinental Airport
3 Nights Little Kawara, Botswana
3 nights Xaxanaxa, Moremi, Botswana
2 nights Tongabezi, Zambia
1 night JNB Intercontinental
7 nights Benguerra lodge, Mozambique

I hope to post the first part up tomorrow - but couldn't resist coming to have a look tonight at the website before I went to bed!

Good -night!

bat Nov 28th, 2006 01:40 PM

congrats on your nuptials and honeymoon--glad that you had a good time and looking forward to details.

atravelynn Nov 28th, 2006 03:46 PM

Welcome home. I got a laugh about your comment of "before anyone gets upset..." You're right there are a lot of very enthusiastic fans here that eat, sleep, and breathe Africa, their #1 destination.

So you are no longer a bride2b. Hope you're no longer confused either.

Your Mozambique stay will be informative. Not that many posts on it.

santharamhari Nov 28th, 2006 08:27 PM

Hello. Welcome back....look forward to your game sightings from Little Kwara. I'm sure you had some amazing sightings and had fun interacting with the super team of people they have there....


confusedbride2b Nov 29th, 2006 11:29 AM

Thank you for all kind comments anticipating this report - I hope I don't dissapoint and you are correct I am no longer confused or a Bride to be! I am however struggling to concentrate at work after having 4 weeks off and hating the cold!

Okay - here we go with part one. I won't bore you all with the details of the Intercontinental JNB Airport, except to say it does exactly what it says on the tin. We left Cape Town airport late the day after the wedding and arrived at 10pm. Room was luxurious and of course it was convenient to stay somewhere were we could wheel the luggage trolly to the door without having to leave the airport - and also be ready for our 10am flight to Maun. Another advantage to staying here was that we were able to store our main luggage free of charge whilst setting off with our soft bags for Maun. We had a sandwich platter each for dinner & this, by SA standards was more than usual but not exhorbitant - about R65 and very large & good quality. We did not take breakfast here the next morning.

Flight to Maun was uneventful and so was immigration. We were met with our bags and ushered back onto our small plane to fly to Little Kwara.

Little Kwara, Botswana

We were met from the airstrip by Steve & his guide Martin who were to be our guides over the next few days. On arrival at the camp we were met by Jonah & Blue - who I understand is the manager of all camps. We were shown to our "tent" , number one I understand is the honeymoon tent - but due to location rather than any difference in standard. We were the only ones who turned left from the main eating / bar area, all others turned right. We were also the only ones who overlooked the last of a lagoon, that I gather is in front of the main Kwara camp. You cannot see the other camp from anywhere in little Kwara.
The tent was amazing & much more spacious than I had been led to expect & seen pictures of at Kwara. No zips - we had sliding patio doors to the deck with screening in - making for lots of light. We had a huge king bed and approx 5ft of room either side of the bed, that was positioned facing the sliding doors. Behind the bed was the toilet, double basins & claw foot bath, all inside. Behind all this was a screened off outdoor shower. All of this spoiled us slightly when we got to Xaxanaxa, but I'll get to that later.
We gathered for the late lunch of pasta bake and set off on our first game drive.
I will not give a blow by blow account of all the drives but rather our highlights from 3 afternoon / evening drives, 1 walking trip and three morning trips.
So, our highlights as first timers: Watching three cheetah brothers in the late afternoon prowl around marking out their territory. Watching a mother & cub leapord climbing around in the trees. Hundreds of Zebras gathering on the plains for as far as you could see - Steve estimated 500 were there. Also lots of elephant sightings, giraffe - funny babies stumbling along.
Waking up & thinking there must be a fire because the atmosphere was thick - but then seeing it was because a huge heard of buffalo had moved in through the night. Watching Mum & cub lions playing around in the late afternoon.
I'm not sure what is rare & what is not but we were happy first timers to see as much as we did.
I think our driver & guide were good but then again I had nothing to compare it to. They found us plenty of people look for anything else as a quality?
We felt that sometimes staying out much past sunset was not worth it (please all don't scream at me)- perhaps at different times of the year? We would have been happy to head back earlier - say 7.30pm (sunset was 6.30) and get dinner earlier & an early bed time. I have got to confess to falling asleep in the back of the truck one night!
The vehicles were comfortable & we never had more than five in the vehicle.
The trucks do cover the same land as Kwara & so this had plus & negative points. All the vehicles set off in different directions each morning / afternoon so more area is covered, resulting in more chance of something amazing being found & radiod through. However conversley that can mean 7 or 8 vehicles trying to get a look at the amazing thing someone has found. The guides do try & move on if another truck turns up but often the guests hold them back wanting to stay longer.

I liked the atmosphere in camp & all staff felt like equals, encouraged where possible interaction with the guests. This coupled with the size of the camp (10 tents) made for a very homely atmosphere. The food was plentiful, fresh & wholesome. I would describe it as home cooking rather than anything fancy. I struggled to eat at every meal & often used to leave the lunch meal at 3.30pm after the cooked breakfast around 11am. I liked the fact at this camp that it felt as if the guests were in charge, it was always quite relaxed about what time you left camp for the drives & the same for heading home.

Tune in tomorrow for Xaxanaxa! Any questions please ask.

africaanxious Nov 29th, 2006 07:14 PM

I'm most interested in hearing about your impression of Benguerra as I'm deciding between spending 4 versus 6 nights there in Mar 07.

Did you consider other resorts in Mozambique and why did you settle on Benguerra?


santharamhari Nov 29th, 2006 07:17 PM

Thanks for sharing.....glad you had a good trip. Super luck with those 3 cheetah brothers. They have a HUGE home range and can be anywhere on a given day. The female leopard and cub continues to make their presence known.....some awesome luck!!!


santharamhari Nov 29th, 2006 07:24 PM

The cub lions you many? We saw two in August. If they are the same two (we never know) i'm happy they are doing well......


Roccco Nov 30th, 2006 02:29 AM

Just a minor correction...Little Kwara only has 5 tents, not 10 tents (capacity for 10 guests, but certainly not 10 tents).

I found the camp to be similarly beautiful and thought it enjoyed excellent management under Bleu (she spells it the french way) with a great supporting staff.

santharamhari Nov 30th, 2006 09:45 AM

Never met Bleu yet......she is probably new. But, Jonah is one of the most FANTASTIC people i have EVER met in my entire life.


confusedbride2b Nov 30th, 2006 01:56 PM

Okay, First of all to answer some of the responses - thanks Rocco for correcting me on the 5 tents / 10 guests situation at little Kwara. Also an update on the game viewing, I've spent the first part of this evening again trying to edit the photographs. We counted 2 lion cubs with three females on Kwara. I've also got my hands back on my Wildlife of the Okavango book (remember we are first timers!!) and identified some of the other things on the pictures again.
We got good pictures of Serval at sunset and a Civet. Also we had a group of six elephants wander right in front of the tent one early afternoon whilst we were having a sleep. That was exciting.
Our last morning in camp we took the walking option with Doctor, we liked this and we learned more about the tracks of the animals. We were able to get downwind of a large elephant which was amazing. Just being so quiet, with no vehicle, we could here him breathing & snorting. My word it was hot though.
After returning to camp we got cleaned up and embarked on our boat transfer to Xaxanaxa camp in Moremi game reserve.
The transfer was done by Kwara on their double decker boat they use to take people down to the heronry and it took about 45 minutes including being driven to the mooring spot in Kwara.

Xaxanaxa Camp, Moremi Game Reserve

We were greeted at our second camp by Flo the general manager of Xaxanaxa. It was a bit scary being met by a woman with perfectly coiffed hair in the miffle of Africa! Immediatly we sensed a shift in atmosphere, we were required to register at a reception area and they actually wanted the reservation voucher we were carrying. Anyway as it was lunchtime we were shown to our tent and advised when to come back up to the main area ready for the drives.
Anyway - after our tent in Little Kwara which was a tent in name only, this realy was a tent with a zip and everything. We were a little disapointed and felt the standard wasn't the same. It was the lack of space that was the worse thing especially as it was getting hotter by the day - no sign of any rain we had anticiapted. Anyway - the same "help yourself" service prevailed in this camp too & after getting ourselves some cold drinks we prepared for our first drive. At 4pm on the button we headed out - times were quite strict, as I said a complete shift of atmosphere from Little Kwara. Also lots more people! Anyway (with the help of photos reminding me) our wildlife highlights were as follows:
Day 1 - Adolescent leopard wandering around on a fallen tree brach - in full view of the happy photographers! We still stopped for Sundowners - but with us now being in the game reserve we were on a night curfew. That first game drive was conducted by a guide who's name I cannot remember (how rude) but the next day we switched to Waters truck so we only had the one drive with him. The trucks were different too - at times I liked the canvas top on it because of the shade it gave you, on the downside trying to keep the supporting bars out of photographs became a nuisance.
Day 2: Another day, another leopard - and no it was not the same one we saw the daybefore. The guides all said we kept it in our pocket & let it out wherever we went - this was our third day & third different leopard encounter! This time the leopard was high in a tree and it had a dead baby impala up there with it! The pace of the drives with Water was different. It felt less manic, we shared the truck with another couple of guests and they were pretty laid back too, so we felt we could stay and watch for as long as we wanted. Switching the truck engine off was a regular occurance and in retrospect, after charging around like nutters in Kwara, this felt more relaxing. Also it was becoming a mission to get closer pictures of Warthogs as they all ran away before we could get close enough. This was realised on day two! Our closest encounter so far came in the middle of that night, when a hungry hippo reversed its rear end into the side of our tent. Now that was seriously exciting! Later on, whilst heading back to camp our guide was very excited to see a huge herd of buffalo moving in to the open plain, we didn't understand his excitement as we had also seen this spectacle, amazing though it is, at Kwara.
Day 3 & straigt back out to the buffalo. Only this time we got there in time to see a pride of 7 lions catching up with them! The pride, we were told was made up of 6 related females and a none dominant male relation. The lions were almost like models, wandering about, posing on fallen tree trunks, play fighting etc. We sat with them all morning.
In the afternoon drive, our two fellow guests had a wish to see a boabab tree - as we had seen so many things we did not mind heading off in a different direction to everyone else to find one of the few boababs in moremi. Little did we know it was going to spark a chain of events!
These started by us chatting away on our way to the tree. We were on a long straigt sand track & the first we knew was Water cutting the engine on the truck and asking us to be quiet. Up ahead of us - wandering along the same track was our fourth leopard! 4 days, four leopards! We followed as a distance for some time before we watched it settle under a tree in the shade. Only once we had seen it settle & observd it for a while did the guide radio through to the other trucks. By the time the others came we had had this magical experience to ourselves for at least 20 minutes! Gloatingly we left the other trucks to him & continued on route to the boabab tree. Our luck was not to end there, we got to the boabab & once the guide had checked it was alright to get out of the vehicle we walked around it to get a good look, as we were doing so a huge commotion of birds was heard in a neighboring tree - we got back in the truck and approached with caution - binoculars armed to see what was happening. It was a black mamba snake edging up the trunk - that felt special. Our trip finished up that night with a lovely vista of an elephant with calf passing in front of us. We felt that day was very special -especially as it was also my birthday and the day was rounded off by being presented with a huge birthday cake after dinner.

So what else of Xaxanaxa.....
Well as I've mentioned a couple of times it was very regimented - trucks went out at 6.30 sharp in the morning and 4pm sharp in the afternoon. Dinner was served at 8pm sharp as was the brunch at 11am. The food was more restaurant food than homely but the staff did not appear to be encouraged to mix with the guests as much - much more them & us. However this camp gave us the best wildlife, without staying out late - is that luck or down to the guides etc? Who can tell....we felt ultimatly however that it's biggest downfall was the tents after Little Kwawa. The public areas were lovely & we have heard that they are upgrading the accommodation next year. I wasn't looking for anything special - but a bit more space in the tents & between the tents would have been nice. We liked having more down time here - probably frustrating to other guests, but we were only a week after our wedding by now & we were seriously starting to tire.

Again I look forward to comments and hope you are enjoying so far.
Next installment will be Tongabezi, Zambia & Victoria Falls.

PredatorBiologist Nov 30th, 2006 02:22 PM

Bride: Glad you had a very happy birthday in the bush. Great report thus far, you had very good sightings at both camps.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your beach time too.

Kavey Nov 30th, 2006 03:08 PM

I think that the honeymoon tent does differ to the other tents by more than just location - the claw foot bath in the bathroom is, I believe, in that tent only. There may be other changes also, but I couldn't find much on that.

Sounds like a great trip and can't wait to read more of the report...

atravelynn Nov 30th, 2006 03:13 PM

No problem that you were ready to wrap up some of the night drives a little early. After all you were on a honeymoon and might want to spend some quality time together!

The hippo backing into the tent was exciting. Four good views of leopards is fantastic. A black mamba and a birthday cake all in one day is an exceptional day in the bush. Your comments on Xaxanaxa are encouraging. Did you see any birds, hippos, or other interesting sights on the boat transfer?

santharamhari Nov 30th, 2006 07:14 PM

Hello....thanks for the continuation of the report. Some fantastic sightings!!! you must bear in mind, that you have had extraordinary luck on this trip and savour every moment.......many different leopards, serval and civet, black mamba. I didnt see a Civet until this past August (My 7th Safari trip)

Heard a lot about Xaxanaxa camp, but i have never been there personally....but sounds very good from your sightings. In terms of being regimented.......would they allow you to stay out on drive longer, if you wished? or would they strictly get you back to camp in time for dinner or lunch?


santharamhari Nov 30th, 2006 07:28 PM

Another come you opted to just do the two Okavango delta area camps (in Bots) and none in the greater Linyanti area?


confusedbride2b Dec 3rd, 2006 01:59 PM

Okay - I've caught up this weekend on some sleep & finally found the time to open wedding presents & start on thank you cards!
So here is my next installment & I'm going to try & do it all in one go.
First of all to answer some of the questions;
The boat transfer - yes saw lots of bird life and also some hippo - but only in the side channels, apparently the channel we were in has quite a lot of motor traffic so the hippos stay away in the day. We also came across a family of elephants bathing in a side channel - we were almost upon them before we saw them & it was a little too close for comfort but we extracted ourselves carefully and watched for a minute from a distance.
Re the question of regimented timings - we would not have been able to stay out ( at this time of year ) much longer - as its the game reserve all vehicles need to be off the road by the time it's dark anyway, in the morning - perhaps we could have pushed another half hour if we saw something amazing but no way would we have been out past 11am when breakfast was served. Also another point I failed to mention - a lot had been made of not going "off road" in Moremi. In reality this did not cause any issue at all. The tracks are criss crossed all over the place and for instance when we saw our first leopard in Moremi we were technically off road anyway - I think the licenced vehicles have some degree of leaway in deciding what is acceptable.
Lastly - why two delta camps? Well that was down to a number of things, we only wanted to do 6 nights safari and prefereably 3 nights in two camps. A lot had to do with availability and cost was the other factor - the water transfer was much cheaper. We first wanted to do Kwara and Kwando Lagoon or Lebala - but neither, either way round, could fit us in for three nights. As first timers we were not too troubled by this but perhaps variety would have been good. That said the landscape around Xaxanaxa was much more forested than the open plains of Kwara.

So on to Zambia....

Our transfer was from Xaxanaxa airstrip to Kasane and then by road to Tongabezi - which is upstream from Victoria falls, Livingstone on the Zambia side. We went through boarder control in Zambia with no hitches - the immigration person did not even look for our visa waiver paperwork - our driver said once he knew we were staying at one of the more upmarket places it would be in order (??!!). Anyway - happily stamped into Zambia after crossing the great Zambizi an easy transfer took place. It was realy strange to be on a tarmac road again!
We were welcomed into Tongabezi nicely & taken to our room. We had opted to take one of the speciality rooms they have the tree house and the setting was stunning. We had full electricity for lights etc but no walls on about have of the circular room. The room was built into a cliff side - and this formed the only wall, the front of the room was open to the elements. We had a huge bathroom downstairs with a tub that would have fitted about 10 people in and the most poerful shower I have ever experienced anywhere! We were introduced to our valet who explained he would cater to our every whim. I have massive problems sometimes with this level of service - I just don't know what to do with these people! However being on honeymoon it was quite easy to say we'd just like some peace and quiet thanks. Quite simply the room was outstanding - it was so different and after the cramped quarters at Xaxanaxa the space we had to move about was amazing.
Tongabezi includes various activities but here there are a lot of extras you can blow a small fortune on. Of the included activities we did we did a small boat trip from the lodge along the river (nothing much to look at but pleasant enough) and obviously the trip to the falls. The extra trips we paid for where the Livingstone Island trip and a 15 minute helicopter flight. Time was not on our side with only two nights here but to be honest with more time I don't know how much of the free activities we would have taken, but I would have been tempted by more of the additional activities.
Tongabezi has a very nice decked area with sunbeds if you want a relaxing morning or afternoon and a nice looking pool. Food here was similar to camp food although mealtimes were much more staggered and tables were set out in twos / fours etc rather than communal dining.
So, are Victoria Falls worth seeing at the end of the fry season? Well, it's not the vast amounts of water of course - but it was good to see what we saw, you can see the extent of the gorge that would be full of spray and water in the wet season and of course Livingstone Island is open when the water is not at full flow. This was our highlight, although had I known what was involved I may not have done it! Now I have the dilema of completely letting the cat out of the bag and spoiling for others or confessing all.....I think I'll leave it to say that yes we all know you get in the water at the lip of the falls but getting their is more exhilerating than I thought it would be - we were petrified at our guide for the trip skipping across the falls with our camera, with a weeks worth of safari photos in it. Convinced he would drop it/loose it/get it wet our hearts were in our mouths - but of course he's taken the most amazing pictures of us with it. We didn't ever feel in in any personal danger - although my new husband regressed to age 10 and could not and would not wait for the guide to show him where was safe to go next. He just got too excited much to my horror - I though I may loose him at some stage. I kept having to hold him back & wait for the guide to show us the next bit.
Also the launch pad for the trip was the Royal Livingstone hotel - that was interesting! I suppose it may appeal to some, but not me. Another couple on our Livingstone island trip, whilst waiting, bought a fruit juice and it cost her $7!! We at Tongabezi were still on nice all inclusive basis.
To some up - I'm glad we took this little side trip - but would also like to see the falls in full flow - was I dissapointed ? No, but I think the Tongabezi lodge experience made up for it.
Now I'm realy sorry, I did intend to get onto Benguerra tonight, but I'm too tired. I'll try & complete tommorrow!


atravelynn Dec 3rd, 2006 02:10 PM

Thanks for the installment you were able to complete. Glad Tongabezi was a hit.

santharamhari Dec 3rd, 2006 04:34 PM

Thanks for the answers to my questions. Appreciate it.


confusedbride2b Dec 6th, 2006 01:26 PM

Okay, At long last the Mozambique bit....Sorry about the delay but other things have taken over my life for a few days.

We flew from Livingstone Zambia back to Johannesburg and another night in the Intercontinental JNB. We retrieved our very clean clothes from our main luggage and enjoyed our rather large corner suite! We repacked all the dirty safari clothes and left them free of charge again in the hard sided luggage at the hotel for pick up on our return.
Newly refreshed we had a good nights sleep and checked in for Pelican airs flight to Vilanculos and onto the Benguerra airstrip. We were advised once on board that there was no fuel available for the plane at Vilanculos so we would be stopping for about half an hour at Huidspruit (sp?). Again the timetable seemed a bit flexible to say the least - we left JNB late & never realy kept to a schedule after then. Our immigration formalities at Vilanculos were just that - the anticipated price hike mentioned on this forum did not materialise & we paid $25 each to enter - then when we were ushered back into the "lounge" to get on the smaller plane for the island we had to pay another $8 each domestic air tax or something. All was as we had expected. We were waiting around for a while in Vilanculos waiting for the smaller plane to take us to the airstrip. This smaller plane was not very pleasent with a strong smell of fuel pervading - something not noticable in the small planes we had taken in Botswana. The plane stopped first for us at Benguerra and had subsequent stops at Indigo and Bazaruto airstrips. As a result I did not get a glimpse of how the other islands looked.
It took about 10 minutes to get over to our airstrip where we were met and transfered by jeep a small distance to Benguerra lodge. We finally arrived around 4.30pm against an anticipated time of 2.30pm. I was not worried outbound - but knowing we had to do the journey in reverse and then connect with our BA flight to London it did stick in my mind we would have to be sharp to get checked in for that one.....Anyway, that was a week away yet. We were greeted and given the introductory chat by Leanne who told us what complimentary activities we had and what other activities were available. I'm sorry to all those who would love to know what the fishing / diving / snorkling was like - but we did nothing at all for the full week. I would have to go by what other guests were talking about to say they all raved about all of the above.

We had booked one of two honeymoon villas for the week - for surprisingly little extra - I think its everything else rather than the standard of accomodation that makes Benguerra as pricy as it is, such as the staff to guest ratio, food and logistics of being in the middle of no-where.
First let me describe the honeymoon villa, both are at the end of the resort furthest way from the main eating areas etc. We liked this as we liked the privacy. We did not have open walls as such but more like colonial wooden shutters along the whole length of the wall, these could be opened in slats to allow the breeze through or closed to keep the room cool in the day. We were provided with a fridge in the room that was generically stocked, however our preferences were noted and we could request anything to be put in there. By the way, all drinks are now included in the rate at Benguerra. A nice touch was that after our first night a note had been made of the wine I had chosen and a bottle placed in our fridge. Our room was very Moroccan in decor with beautiful bed throws & cushions. Outside we had a large deck with a plunge pool that also had jacuzzi functions if you wanted. I would say the pool was about 6 foot by three and the pool boy came daily to clean out any fallen leaves and check the chemical levels. We also had outside a hammock, one wooden bench and a couple of chairs under the porch with comfortable cushions. We were set back from the beach about 10 foot where we had our own personal umbrella and two full sunbeds.
Inside the room, apart from the huge king bed the main room was quite sparten. The bathroom area was open to the bedroom wath a large clawfoot bath, wet room style shower, double basins and the wc screened with a sliding door. We also, through a back door had a outdoor shower. We had simple shelves and a hanging rail / hangers built into one wall and an electronic safe.
The room had constant electricity powered by two generaters, we had been warned we would sometimes get a break in power early evening as they swapped from one generator to the other - but this was only ever for seconds at a time. The room was very comfortable with the slats open at night and a subtle breeze coming through. Being in November we had expected to see some rain - but we had none although we did see thunder showers hit the mainland late in the afternoon a few times. Everything was very clean and well maintained. We woke to no hot water one morning - but the pilot light had just gone out in the boiler round the back of the villa, we didn't bother reporting it but just re-lit it ourselves....
Anyway, we settled ourselves in & to be honest we were starving - but had missed lunch. Leanne on our introduction talk had said she would send someone up with a plate from the lunch and my word did they! I hate to say it but after having so much quite stodgy food on safari - this was a delight. This first lunch plated for us had a lovely lentil salad, cold slices of beef, pasta salad and cold marinated prawns, all washed down with a second plate of passion fruit mousse. It was just what we wanted.
I guess on that point it would be good to talk about the food - of which there has been much critisism on the internet & of which I would like to put right. The quality of the food is high. Is it gourmet? No Is there fast amounts of choice ? No But I am a fussy eater and always ate well, how that would be if you had dietary requirements rather than just plain fussy like me I wouldn't like to say.
Breakfast - there was the standard offering of cereals (three) fruit salad and yoghurt, plain fresh fruit that rotated each day but would usually have three or four of melon, passionfruit, grapefruit, pineapple, orange segmants. The bakery section next had both sweet and savoury things, muffins, cakes and savory pies or mini quiches. Lastly there would be the continental selection of cold meats & cheeses.
There was also a hot breakfast made to order along with good tea & coffee and the most delicious bread ever toasted.
Lunch: Lunch was always set out in a grassy area in front of the main building but behind the beach, with the guest tables set out in the shade of the trees. Lunch was always a cold buffet and usually consisted of around six or seven salads, usually a rice or pasta salad, perhaps cous-cous with prawns or a bean salad, always cold fish or seafood dishes, prawns, crayfish or calamari and usually one cold meat dish such as chicken wings with thai dip or cold sliced beef. There was more of the delicious bread and a dessert - different for every day we were there of a week. Was it repetative? No, some dishes were repeated - but for everyday we were there we saw at least one dish every day that we hadn't seen before. To be honest it would only get repetative if you ate a huge amount - after the first couple of days we started to only take a portion of one or two dishes instead of a little bit of everything.
Dinner was a plated affair - the menu would be posted in the bar from around 7pm. There were two choices of starter and two of main. Only one night did I think to myself which is the lesser of two evils and that is because I dont eat lamb and didn't want calamari again - but had to have it. For the main meals - yes fish & seafood were prominant - but if my memory is right there was not a night where the main courses were a choice of fish or seafood. It was always a meat & a fish dish. The quality of the beef in particular was excellent, the main meats seemed to be beef and lamb with fish, crayfish and calamari popular choices also. Two of our seven nights they set up a braai on the beach so then you had choice of everything anyway.
Service: The service in the bar and restaurant / eating areas was excellent, quick, friendly and discrete, with a real "can do" attitude. Also all the hosts we met in the bar area at night were very can do.
We had a couple of minor niggles that took a couple of times asking before they were sorted out but these in no way detracted from the overall ambience of the place.

The location and setting was excellent from what we saw, pristine beach and low key setting of the accomodations along the beach. Perhaps we had a false sense of space from our honeymoon villa - but the standard rooms did not seem too close together either.
I would say my biggest "complaint" if you can call it that was the amount of time the room cleaners took! Perhaps because we were not out and active, we tended to hang out on our deck in the pool in the am and moved to the beach in the afternoon when the tide came back in and the wind had died down again.
So, was this five star? For us yes - we appreciated the homely atmosphere and the peace and quiet. We realised we were paying a premium for the isolation and loved the pampered sensation without any of the pretense we had encountered in other beach resorts in the Maldives, Thailand or Mauritius. Where is it written that the higher prices you pay must then equte to dressing for dinner & designer sunglasses? I hate it. I like my luxury understated and relaxed, and think that atmosphere is worth more than marble bathrooms, a top spa facility or any other of the numerous five star extras you may expect. In short it was perfect for us and we went with gut instinct in choosing this place, after a lot of research and in my mind it was money worth spent even though we probably didn't get, in some peoples eyes our moneys worth.....

Hope this helps and once again, any questions I would be glad to help out.

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