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Quatermains 1920s Safari Camp
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Reviews (261)
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All reviewsno electricityunique experiencebush walkshamwari reservegame drivesstar luxurystewparaffin lampswine and cheeseopen fireleaving friendsoutdoor bathroomcomfortable tentsa hot water bottlesouth africastayed two nightsbring warm clothes
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5 - 10 of 261 reviews
Reviewed 11 March 2018 via mobile

This place was the highlight of our South Africa road trip. Only 6 guests at any one time, wonderful atmosphere and very friendly switched on hosts in Rhian and Julie. Delicious home made bread cooked on the fire.

Stayed: March 2018, travelled as a couple
Thank Elizabeth N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 February 2018

We spent 2 nights in this wonderful 1920's style camp. This camp has access to 2 reserves and although we were staying in Amakhala most of our drives were in Shamwari which probably offers the better animal experience. Only 6 people staying in the camp so a very personable ambiance. The guides are all very knowledgeable with a passion for animal conservation which shines through. We really felt as if we were leaving friends at the end of our stay. The tents are very comfortable and the bathrooms and showers work well. Ace and his team in the kitchen do a great job. The game drives were all fantastic, a special shout out to Lungi for a truly memorable drive.

  • Stayed: February 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank kjp_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 February 2018 via mobile

Camping in a very small camp designed to feel like a safari camp from bygone days. Surronded by Shamwari and Amakhala reserves
Cooking all done on open fires (best bread ever!). Great game drives. Exceeded expectations!

Stayed: February 2018, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Peter D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 February 2018

The Good:
Because this camp has access to two reserves it offers some pretty extraordinary animal sightings including of lions, which Amakhala alone does not offer. The safaris are also longer than in some other camps (~3-4 hours versus 2-3 hours, meaning you can go further although this isn’t always better if it’s uncomfortable or raining). It also offers a fun, camp-like environment and was remarkably comfortable despite its basic nature (running hot water and flushing toilets and thoughtful touches like headlamps), and Julie (a co-owner), Annabelle and the kitchen crew were all outstanding. Unfortunately for me that's where the good ends. Three weeks after this experience, the bad overshadows the good in my memory, and I wish I'd stayed one night somewhere with higher caliber guides for the price I spent on two nights at Quatermains.

The Bad:
For me the worst part of this experience was Craig. I came on safari not only to photograph animals, but to learn about them, and came with lots of questions as I haven't studied animals since secondary school and was really excited. Craig clearly has an extraordinary knowledge, but he took a disliking to me and mocked me to the point that others commented on it and asked me if I was okay. Examples of Craig's behavior included stopping the car and turning in his seat to ask if I was really that stupid, coming up to me in front of the group and miming checking my ears to make sure I could hear ok and making racist and sexist comments that I don’t want to repeat here but were memorable, as well as driving between a mother rhino and her baby, resulting in the mum running up to the back of the car as he zoomed off (much to the discomfort of the occupants). During dinner when another guest and I commented that we had heard of some settlers coming earlier than when he said they did, he slammed down his fist, shouted and stormed away from the table, furious that we were 'challenging' his knowledge of history in his own country even though it clearly just came down to a misunderstanding. He apologized, but this changed the dynamic at the dinner table and made me really uncomfortable - you're on holiday for goodness sake and shouldn't be feeling like you have to manage the HR issues of someone else's company. When the camp has so few staff and the interactions are so prolonged, Quatermains has to be better at finding staff who aren't just knowledgeable, but are personable as well. By contrast, Annabelle was a bit too much of the opposite - very personable, but not quite knowledgeable or trained enough to be leading safari drives alone (eg. Craig contradicted some of the things she said). She got us lost in a reserve after relying exclusively on other guides' tracking and didn't radio for help until we were also stuck and soaked through to the skin. While she's very hardworking and will make an exceptional guide in a few years, right now most of her knowledge still comes from books not intuition / tracking knowledge, partly as she's from the UK and has only worked at the camp for a little while, although to be fair her walking safari was more informative than the drive.

Overall I came away with stunning photos and fun memories of sleeping in a tent again, but didn't learn much and left feeling hurt and stupid, however silly it sounds to confess that as an adult. For a camp that aims to hit a lower price point ostensibly by saving on more basic lodge facilities in order to channel money into guiding I expected a more educational and certainly personable experience. See my review of the guides at Kichaka camp for a comparison - yes far more expensive, but no reason Quatermains can't get guides of this caliber as they're saving on accommodation and infrastructure.

Random Helpful Information:
There is a solar charging station in the kitchen for your devices, but only one. There is a group fridge you can use if you have anything to be refrigerated. Lunch is provided upon arrival despite what the welcome e-mail implies. Water from showers drains straight into the ground so wish we’d bought biodegradable products. It's far back from the road so unlike some other camps in this reserve there's no noise from the road. There's absolutely no hunting or selling of stock animals to hunting lodges. With advance notice they'll bake a cake for you on the fire for any special occasion. Check in is from 1-2 so you go on the afternoon game drive and you’re back from the first game drive by about 9:30am with breakfast following. Meals are large and can be made veg/vegan. All drinks are included and free flowing aside from the minibar but house wine is basic so if you care a lot bring your own. Hot water is plentiful for showers but comes from the river right now I believe although I think they’re planning boreholes (one of the many questions I didn’t get a clear answer on). Tents have 'window flaps' with mosquito netting so you can have some air flow at night. Spiders are huge if you have arachnophobia. Astrophotography opportunities are legendary – better than more built up camps.

Room Tip: Tent one is quite close to the kitchen, but they have built a privacy screen so you hear some noise but that's all.
  • Stayed: January 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Madsme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
QuatermainsCamp, Owner at Quatermains 1920s Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 19 February 2018

Dear Madeleine,

Thank you for staying at Quatermain's 1920's Safari Camp. We regret that you did not have the excellent experience that other reviewers enjoyed. We do feel it's necessary to respond to your comments regarding our camp. For a start, Amakhala Game Reserve does in fact have it's own pride of lions.You may not have seen them, but many others have. Thank you for the positive aspects of your review.

Please understand that we are in no way condoning Craig's interactions with you, but I have in my 15 years of guiding never experienced such a conflicting clash of personalities between guest and ranger. Craig has been with Quatermain's for over 5 years and the thousands of guests that we have had during that time have, by their own admission, enjoyed Craig's company. The reciprocal antagonistic exchanges between the two of you were admittedly unprofessional from Craig's side so please accept ours and Craig's apologies in this regard. However, as one example, the act of specifically researching an article on the latest theory of the reasoning behind zebra stripes, and then asking Craig a loaded question with the intention of undermining his 5 years of knowledge of the bush, in front of other guests, set up a dynamic in which he didn't trust your intentions. As I explained to you on site, there are many theories as to why zebras have stripes and despite the one article you read none of the other theories have been discredited. If you would like to know the real reason you had best ask God or a zebra! As I witnessed some of the exchanges between the two of you, I was surprised at your resultant feelings of angst as they appeared to be a lot more like friendly banter. I only wish that you had expressed your offended feelings to me personally when I spoke to you.

Regarding Annabelle, I am sure you have an understanding that everyone has to be a beginner at some stage. We have only been getting fantastic feedback about her and are happy to announce that she has managed not to get herself lost since then. In the 2 months Annabelle has been with us her knowledge and abilities have increased 10 fold, and as she has a degree in zoology we feel she is more than qualified for her role.

With reference to your comments that your experience at Kichaka Lodge was superior to your experience with us, we should hope so -we are a 3 star camp, and Kichaka, as a 5 star lodge costs more than twice our rate.

This is obviously a bit of a guest/establishment mismatch, and we wish you the best of luck in your luxury safari future.

Kindest regards

Riaan and Julie Brand.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 February 2018

This is memorable place to stay if you are looking for a fabricated 'old world' safari experience, and if you enjoy interacting (a lot) with your fellow safari goers. If you like plunge pools, private dinners, AC in rooms, quiet places to retreat, don't bother. You will not find that at Quatermains. To be fair, they don't advertise themselves as such either.

The guides were very hardworking around camp, and certainly try to ensure that your are enjoying your experience. Craig, the camp manager and guide, has a very strong personality that some will not appreciate. His 'know it all' attitude put a dark cloud over our ability to truly enjoy the safari, as he seemed to easily anger if you asked him what he perceived to be a stupid question, or if he had already answered something (hard to hear sometimes when the truck is moving). He does not seem to enjoy being challenged, especially by women. He easily shuts down and becomes less social when you engage in friendly debate with him. Annabelle was informative and patient, answering all of our questions and was the most hardworking when Craig and Rhian (the owner) would be standing around socializing. With Annabelle being new to the camp, we perhaps didn't benefit from an extremely knowledgeable guide on her safari drive, but her personality made up for what Craig's lacked. Ace the cook and his crew were lovely delivering delicious and nutritious meals.

In the days of summer, the tents are hot inside and its hard to find a quiet place of refuge to read or just be on your own, or just to be alone with your traveling partner. So much of your days here are spent with the other guests (from early morning safari drives, to lunch, to afternoon safari drive, to dinner and beyond). We were in Tent 1 beside the kitchen and the common area, and it felt hard to feel the privacy you sometimes needed when spending so much of your day surrounded by guests and staff. Tents 2 and 3 seemed to offer that privacy. The tents are clean inside, albeit small to walk around.

The experience overall was memorable, but I'm not sure I agree with other reviewers in showering praise on Rhian. I found him to be somewhat disingenuous in his interactions with guests, never really asking them questions about themselves, but instead talking about himself and his camp ad nauseum. (His wife Julie on the other hand was true to the reviews - lovely and personable and keen to learn about their guests). I further reject Rhian's efforts to go out of his way to put down the 'luxury' experience of other lodges nearby. Each lodge or camp offers its own unique experience - ultimately its the guest who chooses what they will and what they want. His demeaning of other camps to raise the intrigue of his own somewhat soured my perception of his camp.We went onwards to one of these luxury camps after Quartermains and can fairly speak to both experiences. The luxury lodge in my opinion was a far more superior experience - If for no other reason than to have knowledgeable AND friendly guides who care about your experience. If you're going to make the trek to South Africa for a safari, do it properly. Our guide at the luxury camp was exceptional - knowledgeable, personable and hardworking - the holy trinity of what a guide should be and something that we quickly came to learn would make or break your safari experience.

Bottom line - you get what you pay for. If you like roughing it, and enjoy the constant interaction with other guests, and don't mind the personality of your guide, you will enjoy this camp.

Room Tip: Tent 2 or 3
  • Stayed: January 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank stellarastenbaach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
QuatermainsCamp, Owner at Quatermains 1920s Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 19 February 2018

Dear Laura,

We are so sad that you and Madeleine (your tent partner who commented so negatively above), did not have an excellent stay at Quatermain's 1920's Safari Camp.

Regarding your comments about a lack of privacy and 'roughing it'; we do feel that our marketing as a small, intimate and rustic camp somewhat conveys the nature of what we offer.

We are sorry that our ranger manager Craig had such a challenging time with yourself and your friend Madeleine.

On a personal note (Riaan), the 45 minutes that I spent with you, Madeleine, and the other guests, around the fire, was filled with questions from Madeleine and yourself regarding how and why we set up Quatermain's 1920's Safari Camp,so your comments regarding me going on 'ad nauseam' about ourselves and the camp seem a little unfair. As in this case, as I am often asked why we set up a 1920's style camp, I explained, as always, that we believe the safari industry is fast moving towards a 'hotel in the bush' experience. At no stage did I put down luxury lodge stays, but as usual did express my concerns for the non-eco friendly and resource-demanding nature of amenity-rich (plunge pools, Jacuzzi's, gyms, air conditioners etc) bush accommodations.

I have always said that the safari industry offers accommodation to suit everyone's needs, and each to his own scenario. Clearly in this case your friend and yourself were mismatched with our camp.

Kind regards

Riaan and Julie Brand

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