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Christian & Katerina   –  
United States US
Visited: April 2014 Reviewed: May 26, 2014

Email Christian & Katerina  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Amazing life experience in Kruger!

What an amazing trip. We were picked up at our hotel in Joburg and took the sightseeing drive to Hazyview. (Definitely stock up on the smoked macadamia nuts along the way!) Gods window and another great stop at a waterfall. Great sights. We arrived at Hippo Hollow and enjoyed staying in one of the garden chalets... it would have been nice to have a river view to watch the hippos at night and the elephants by day but all in all we were only 10 meters from the view so all was fine. We were picked up at 4pm for a night safari (it gets cold in April!) and actually saw a leopard eating an impala in a tree! Super rare and makes up for our not seeing a lion during the rest of our trip. The full day trips were very nice. less activity during mid-day but it was really nice to turn off the truck and soak in the sound and view from time to time. so peaceful.

What we did:
-1 night safari - Was ok but would not repeat. basically you shine a spotlight and drive slowly looking for eyes reflecting back at you. 99% are impala. we did a larger group with 10 people (strangers) and would not opt for that group size again. you lose all peaceful elements of the drive
-2 full day safari - definitely recommend a private tour or going with another couple you may know. its a long time to spend with strangers you may not care for
-1 1/2 day morning safari - this was fine as we were leaving for Joburg afterwards

What I would change...
-I would consider adding in a hike through the park with one of the trackers. This looks VERY cool!(and safe)
-I would consider staying at a camp inside the park. I actually would like to get deep into the [park and stray at one of the small camps... by camp I mean a small fenced in area with permanent tents and toilet. bare bones but very down to earth. May as well get very acquainted with the local beasts!

Ute and Roho Ya Chui did a great job and were very attentive of our needs during our trip. Its a fear that once you pay the broker is done with you but this was not the case with Ute. She is attentive and fast to respond during our trip. This is worth a lot and when we do another safari Ute will be receiving a call from us.

Enjoy your trip!

** Oh, one more thing. If you choose to do everything bay car/truck you cont need to buy all the safari gear listed on various sites. a tan shirt is more than enough. the animals cant see your legs in the truck and there are so many people moving through the park that you could have a flashing light on top of your head and the animals wouldn't care. okay, maybe that's an exaggeration but you get my point.


Christopher S.   –  
United States US
Visited: June 2018 Reviewed: Jul 12, 2018

Email Christopher S.  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

The review below is the personal opinion of Christopher S. and not that of SafariBookings.
Safari was good; Roho Ya Chui was Disappointing

This was my second safari trip and third tour in Sub-Saharan Africa and my first journey with Roho Ya Chui. We traveled to Tanzania (Ruaha, Selous and Zanzibar)

The good: Ute was very responsive throughout the booking process. I selected the parks we visited and Ute recommended the lodges. The Zanzibar hotel she selected for us at the end of the trip was a particularly good choice.

The bad: I asked for a modification of the itinerary 10 days after booking and deposits because I had done some further reading and had gotten some negative signals about one the lodges she booked us in. Her response was an immediate no as it turns out she had bought an end to end package from a local operator in Tanzania who owned both the lodges and the air carrier responsible for our transfers. She was dismissive of my concerns about the lodge, but I asked if she could humor me and at least inquire about a modification before giving me an automatic no so I could make my own decision. She investigated and informed me the change would have meant the forfiture of my deposits so I stuck with her plan.

The really bad: Before our journey I reconfirmed our arrival information and asked specifically who would be meeting us, how they would be identified and with whom would they be affiliated as I hadn't been provided that information. She furnished me with the number of the local duty manager and received no additional details other than that they would have a sign with my name. She also said I could also contact her with any issues if they arose. We arrived as scheduled at 4 am to Dar Es Salaam and no one was there to meet us. I called the local duty manager - no answer. I called, texted and emailed Ute - no response. It was left to me how to figure out ground transportation in an unfamiliar African city. I managed, but it was not the best experience after 30 hours of travel. A couple hours later Ute responded and asked me why I hadn't called her. I said I had and she said she insisted she didn't get a call from me. I sent her a screen cap of my call - and she then admitted she had missed the call. I found it a bit strange that she would intimate that I had somehow mishandled the situation considering I was the client who was needing assistance - but as I said to her - I took care of it and no harm done. The local operator did refund me the money I paid to get to our hotel.

Our first camp/lodge was great. Our third and final stop was great. Our second (the one I had been concerned about) was less so. The property was under renovation and some services that were advertised were not available (pool out of commission; bar/main lodge being re-roofed, no hot water, and no view from our accommodation). These were minor issues as for me it is really all about the animals. More concerning was that the promised animal drives (the whole point of the exercise) were not available to us on two (out of four) occasions. When this happened the second time - I had to put my foot down. The manager admitted (what I already knew from observation) that they were fully booked and didn't have enough capacity to accommodate the drives for all guests. I found this very disappointing - doubly so as this was at the location I had told Ute I was concerned about. Ute was informed but, once again, it was up to me to get the issue resolved in real time. She said she was contacting the camp manager, but I never did hear from Ute if she spoke with the manager, what the excuse was or any particular apology. Ute did offer that no one had ever complained about that particular lodge in the past which was sort of besides the point. I don't know if she was suggesting that I am particularly difficult or if other people's good experiences were supposed to make up for my bad experience. In the end, a simple apology would have sufficed.

In sum, the booking process through payment was very smooth, but I cannot say she was helpful when problems arose and rather than being helpful or at least soothing when things went wrong was strangely defensive. Based on my experience, she gets the basic job done but if you run into any problems, you are on your own.

Reply from Roho Ya Chui
Reply from Roho Ya Chui
Posted on Jul 16, 2018

It is not correct that the client selected the parks and we recommended the lodges. The client selected a packaged tour including a negotiated budget deal for a combination of Ruaha and Selous lodges/camps and a Zanzibar resort. It was not a tailored tour. After the booking was confirmed and the deposit paid to the lodge outfitter, the client wanted to change one of the lodges to a lodge from a different outfitter. It was explained to the client , that it is possible to make changes, but it would result in additional costs, as the other lodge was from a different lodge outfitter. He decided not to make changes.

It is correct that there was no driver waiting at the airport when the client arrived. We had verified several times with the ground handler that the driver would be at the airport, to make sure they do not get confused, because the client had decided to book the hotel in Dar himself online, but not to use the hotel transfers. Unfortunately it went wrong after all. It is also correct that I did not hear the phone call. It is not correct that I tried to lie or blame the client. I immediately contacted the ground handler and tried to find out what happened. By rushing to do that, I did not see that there was a missed call in the WhatsApp app. I apologised to the client and arranged a refund for the transfer the same day.

With regards to the game drives at the second lodge (the one the client wanted to change), the safari activities in Selous include game drives, boat excursions and bush walks. This had been specified in the inclusions on the booking confirmation and voucher. In Selous the camps are especially located along the river to allow a diverse activity program. All activities are standard shared activities with other guests, unless private activities at an extra cost are booked. The client had not booked private activities and was scheduled on shared game drives and boat excursions, as the other guests. They decided to do a bush walk on their last morning at the lodge, which counts as a safari activity. On the evening before departure the client requested to have also another game drive on the morning of departure after the bush walk. We were not informed at the time the request was made. Only later in the evening at 21:32 the client sent a WhatsApp message that he had to put up a fight with the manager to get his game drive the next morning, giving the impression that they would have had otherwise no activity that morning. It was instantly replied to his message and we also inquired with the lodge owner about the incident. The next morning, the departure morning, with another WhatsApp message at 08:08 the client informed about the "construction work and vegetation in front of the room". Also to this message was instantly replied and it was investigated with the lodge owner about the complaints. As we were only informed late at night before departure from the lodge and in the morning of departure from the lodge, the information from the lodge owner about the events from the evening before arrived when the client was out and on his way to Zanzibar. We decided not to bother the client during the beach stay on Zanzibar, but to contact him when he was back home. The client did not reply.

Based on the feedback from the lodge owner, it turned out that parts of the lodge were re-thatched, which causes no noise, is a cyclical process and is mainly done while guests are on safari activities and not in the camp. The vegetation cannot be cut down for better views, as park regulations prohibit that and a park ranger is staying on the property to make sure park rules are followed. There was hot water, it only takes some time to run through to the further away cottages. The pool had sprung a leak, which could not be mended, but had to be re-fibre glassed, which took a while to dry. On the evening before departure the client requested an additional game drive to the already arranged bush walk. According to the lodge manager the client used abusive language and threatened with trip advisor posting to get the extra game drive on the departure morning. The lodge decided to give the client the game drive at no extra charge.
We were only informed about the events afterwards and were not given the opportunity to assist at the time they occurred.

Pierce Smith   –  
United States US
Visited: June 2014 Reviewed: Jul 6, 2014

Email Pierce Smith  |  65+ years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

First African Experience Was Overall Good ++

Following is a review of the places we visited this past month (June 2014). Roho Ya Chui helped us plan and book the trip. It was a group of 5, with 3 of us being newbies and and the other 2 old hands at African Safaris. Ute Sonnenburg was a delight to work with, and she went the extra step for us on several occasions.

I thought I'd give you my reviews of the places we visited.

Lawhill Apartments: I think this was a good choice, though a bit spartan in amenities / furnishings. Great location at the Victoria & Albert Wharf. Dionne (spelling?) was a good guide and flexible to our suggestions. I really liked Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Next time I might do 2 nights in Stellenbosch as it is quite a nice little town.

Xigera Camp: This one was my favorite. The staff were incredibly friendly and the whole "vibe" was inclusive. When new people came we were all introduced and had a communal table for dinner. And in one of life's little coincidences there was a couple that lives 1/2 mile from where I used to live in Hermosa Beach, California. Our guides, Onx and Rider, were very personable and knowledgeable. And for our last two treks we did game drives rather than the boat. The management at Xigera, Olivia and Masha, were very accommodating. This was my very first experience at game drives/floats (?), so seeing that first elephant, or hippo, or giraffe, or Cape Buffalo was really amazing.

Getting to Victoria Falls: This was an odd experience, from the airport near the Botswana - Zambia border, being dropped off at a small boat on the river to cross over to Zambia, then the wait at the border while the guide / drive had our passports processed. It was a bit unnerving for some of us.

Royal Livingstone Hotel at Victoria Falls: This was a very deluxe place with a head doorman with his hand constantly out for tips. The service in the dining room was excruciatingly slow. There is relaxed dining, and then there is "I should have brought a book" dining. The falls were at full flow and beautiful, and we had the chance to get pictures in the evening and the ensuing morning.

Moving on to Nelspruit, it was a long drive after our flight, BUT we did see a cheetah along the side of the road when we entered the Londolozi reserve.

Londolozi: Obviously a first class 4-5 star facility. The staff that we met were very friendly and accommodating. The "vibe" here was more exclusive, no attempt was made to introduce us to other guests, nor did the other guests seem inclined to socialize. But the rooms were very nice, the meals plentiful and tasteful, and the hot water bottles in the Range Rover for the morning game drives were a much appreciated touch. Will Ford, the camp manager, and the assistant assigned to us, Jeremy (I might have this wrong), were great, as were our guides, Alfred and Chadrock. The butler, Stanick, was always there for us in the dining room. Will Ford arranged a sundowner wine tasting for just our group one night which was a special treat. And we saw the Big 5 in our very first trek! The game here was more numerous than in Xigera. A great experience all around.

Jo'burg: The guide, whose name escapes me, was a disappointment. He met us at the private general aviation lounge at the Jo'burg airport and managed to snag a bottle of water for himself, but not for us. He had a tour he was determined to make and there was no flexibility in his schedule. We probably could have used an extra day in Jo'burg, but not with this guide.

Michaelangelo Hotel: This was a very nice place with big comfortable rooms (apparently if your AC was working which it didn't for the Browns). I was a bit disappointed in the restaurant, or at least the menu. But we had a chance to meet this delightful woman who had booked our trip, oh yeah, that would be Ute. So that made the evening good all around!

Serena Lake Victoria - Entebbe / Kampala: As previously noted by Stephanie, this hotel was too far away for a one night visit, and arduous to get to. And the staff didn't seem to know how to register guests, or at least were very inefficient at check-in and check-out. The restaurant was basically a buffet cafeteria, and not very good, a big disappointment for a property this beautiful physically.

Sanctuary at Bwindi: Same comments as Steph's. I didn't think it was dirty, just more rustic than what we had experienced. The staff was pretty indifferent with the exception of our server, Barbara. And if you weren't trekking, there was not much to do, though I managed to finish a terribly written book on the day I declined the first trek. I must say I am very proud of my fellow travelers for completing that trek and then the "easy" one two days later.

And you know all about the high drama with Qatar Airways, but even that turned out okay eventually, but it was handled very poorly by the airline.

One lesson learned by me is that I don't like the one-night stands (Jo'burg, Lake Victoria, Victoria Falls) because you never really relax and unwind. I'll keep that in mind in the future.

All in all it was an enjoyable trip with delightful travel partners.

Sam and Judy K.   –  
United States US
Visited: September 2013 Reviewed: Oct 22, 2013

50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

Excellent Safari

A few years ago we went on safari, but were very disappointed, because we didn't really see anything. When we intended to plan another safari, friends told us about Ute and Roho Ya Chui. They had been very happy with their safari so we gave it a try. Ute listened very well to what we want to do and see and out came a truly amazing safari. Everything was fantastic, accommodation, routing, the animals we saw and the service provided by Ute and the lodges. It was wonderful and we want to go again! Back home we heard from others, that they didn't have the trip we had and their financials were excessive!!

Axel Viaene   –  
Belgium BE
Visited: April 2015 Reviewed: May 1, 2015

Email Axel Viaene

Our Best Vacation Ever

When we started planning our safari in South Africa we really had no idea where to begin. We found Roho Ya Chui through browsing on the internet. This greatly facilitated the planning of our trip. Everything was clearly explained and the many questions we had were answered quickly and accurately. As everything was very well arranged, our trip went smoothly and completely stress-free. We stayed at the Ngala and Kirkman's Camp lodges and loved every minute. The customer service and friendliness was of a level we had never seen during our travels. The game drives were some of the best experiences of our lives. This was also one of the few vacations when we were really looking forward to getting up at 5 am every day to join the game drive. We had a truly fantastic time and have already started thinking about planning our next safari. We can fully recommend Roho Ya Chui for helping you to plan your safari and recommend staying at the Ngala and Kirkman's Camp lodges. Suzie & Axel, April 2015.

Christine & Lothar   –  
Germany DE
Visited: November 2013 Reviewed: Nov 23, 2013

Email Christine & Lothar  |  65+ years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

It was all outstanding!!!!!

Excellent organisation, very well chosen lodges, fantastic locations, incredible landscapes, lovely staff, assisting for all our wishes, very helpful, a varied safari with lots of love, empathy and knowledge of the wildlife, time to watch the animals at the sightings, simply ingenious and created the desire to repeat the adventure!!!!

Dave   –  
United States US
Visited: September 2022 Reviewed: Oct 22, 2022

Email Dave  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

Ute is a pleasure to work with!!!

We recently returned from our second safari booked through Ute. As with our first trip in 2018 to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, Ute provided a wealth of information and wonderful recommendations for our trip to Kenya and Tanzania. Ute was always prompt and courteous when replying to our numerous emails. We would not hesitate to use Ute again!

A&C   –  
United States US
Visited: September 2018 Reviewed: Oct 13, 2018

Email A&C  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

FANTASTIC JOURNEY thanks to Ute Sonnenberg's knowledge, expertise, hard work and time

Highly recommend Royo Ya Chui and Ute Sonnenberg. Ms. Sonnenberg will put together a first class trip within your price range.

We had been working on this trip for over five months and were about to give it up (because we had already communicated with four travel operators who just didn't listen to what we were interested in seeing and doing while in Africa) when Ute was referred to us. We worked with Ute approximately six months putting the trip together, and she read all our emails carefully and listened to all our requests, ideas, and questions. She gave extremely helpful suggestions and recommendations, and delivered far above what our expectations were.
Ute always responded to emails quickly, and even followed us during our trip to make sure everything was alright - we never waited more than fifteen minutes for a response to any text while traveling and using whats app.

Ute introduced us to the Trip Plan app, which we referred to several times during our month in Africa because it had the entire itinerary with all the necessary information, and one doesn’t need internet to use it.

All the accommodations Ute suggested were excellent (Kirkman Kamp, Qorokwe Camp, Pelo Camp, Chobe Game Lodge and Victoria Falls Hotel and the Rovos Train). We did a total of 20 land, water and walking safaris during our trip, which gave great diversity, and the diversity was a great recommendation from Ute. All, but two, of the safaris were fantastic with excellent guides. We were disappointed with the guide at Chobe Game Lodge and Ute immediately texted us and offered to get us a new guide when she found out.

We booked all our flights both international and within Africa, using Ute’s suggestions assisting us with times and airlines, which made it so much easier working with the airlines.

Overall it was an incredible trip, and we felt for an incredible price. We are most grateful to Ute for all of her time, patience, knowledge, suggestions, assistance and expertise with the entire trip. Highly recommend Ute Sonnenberg and her company Roho Ya Chui.

Michelle   –  
United States US
Visited: September 2018 Reviewed: Oct 1, 2018

Email Michelle  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Ute was very professional, thorough, patient, and prompt to respond to all my questions/input.

Communication was excellent and Ute was very prompt to respond to all my questions/queries. She was also prompt to respond once we arrived in Africa. Pre-trip information packet was extremely thorough and included all aspects of our safari. The trip exceeded all expectations. The accommodations were lovely and our game viewing experiences were excellent. We were completely taken care of and directed every step of the way upon arriving in Nairobi, as well as upon returning to Nairobi for our departure home. Overall, an excellent experience. For those of you interested in more specifics regarding camps, our safari was throughout Kenya. Elsa's Kopje in Meru was excellent. Beautiful with excellent game drives. Managers George and Theresa were wonderful and our guide George was excellent! Sasaab in Samburu was beautiful and we had an excellent guide, Steve Tilas, there a well. However, we felt the manager Nikkie was very pretentious and intentionally made us feel very uneasy and uncomfortable. Bateleur in Masa Mara was nothing short of AMAZING!!! Dennis was an incredible guide as well! Little Joe our butler was excellent. Attention to detail and accommodations were superb! Management was excellent. Sand River in Masa Mara also provided an excellent game viewing experience and Javan was an excellent guide as well. Chris and Debbie, managers, were genuine and caring. However, the outdoor dining area was definitely lacking in terms of the view as well as pesky birds pooping all over the umbrella tables. Also, the pool (as seen on the website) is not yet completed. And, although the outdoor shower is lovely, there is not an indoor shower in the tent. Which could have been an issue if the temperature was any colder. And lastly, Tortilas in Amboseli was beautiful, however, it definitely was lacking in the game viewing arena. The managers, Graham and Candy were lovely and pleasant. However, as compared to all the other places we stayed at, the game drives were very short. So much so, that we even questioned why were back so early. We also seemed to stay fairly close to the camp as compared to all other places. I hope this is helpful to those seeking more detailed information.

Iwao   –  
France FR
Visited: August 2017 Reviewed: Nov 15, 2017

Email Iwao  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Once again, an unforgettable safari holiday !

We have been going for safari holidays every summer since 3 years ago, and have chosen Roho Ya Chui every time. From our first experience, Ute has been so kindly helpful, catering to our taste and responding immediately to all questions. Our destination this time was Zambia (after experiencing South Africa and Botswana in the past), and we had a little more special requests as to the itinerary and the lodges. Ute rapidly provided us with very good alternatives and options, and we are so thankful to her as our trip in South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi turned out to be another unrivaled experience of our life.

Those (including myself) who love the nature and animals never get bored of being in the African wilderness even without spectacular sightings…but our trip this time gave us the memorable chances of seeing a leopard hunting, wild dogs hunting, porcupines, honey badgers, as well as a colony of beautiful southern carmine bee-eaters, not to mention all other big popular animals (except the cheetahs which are unfortunately non-existent). The boat and walking safaris in the serene Lower Zambezi not only made us discover a new world of African nature but also was in itself very exciting with lots of animal/bird events.

Safari trips are not inexpensive but as always we felt that the actual experience was totally worth the costs. Even after coming back from the trip, Ute cares how our trips went along and is attentive to our feedback. Sharing the experience and giving her the feedback is indeed a part of our safari pleasure.

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