I feel a bit of a miser writing this review as a pretty much lone dissenting voice amongst so much positive feedback but we booked Mosetlha on the strength of the Trip Advisor reviews and were a bit disappointed so I thought it only right to add our experiences.
My biggest gripe with Mosetlha is the price. At almost £170/R1700 per person per night, it was right, right at the top of our budget but we went for it on the basis of the great reviews. On the rare occasion that I have spent a similar amount of money on accommodation in South Africa, I have always come away feeling it was value for money but sadly, with Mosetlha this was not the case. Of course we were not expecting luxurious accommodation, and in many ways the comfy beds, hot showers and relatively pleasant toilets were a surprise but when you think about it, there can’t be many places where you spend £170 per night and don’t have an ensuite and are expected to use a potty at night! However, the accommodation is not the real issue here as the literature definitely prepared us for the realities of that and I have had much, much more basic bush experiences. It was just that no aspect of the place was exceptional or even close to excellent and for that money, I would expect that.
We stayed at the end of May/June and it was, literally, freezing. Of course I can’t blame the lodge for the weather but I think more could have been done to ease things a little. Try getting dressed/undressed in an open-sided cabin (or sitting in a game vehicle for 3 hours) when it is minus 4 degrees and it is not fun. Even cheap and cheerful places I have stayed in South Africa provide hot water bottles in winter and this would have been so welcome but sadly this was not the case here. Or it would have been nice to have been woken with a bucket of hot water so we could at least have washed and warmed our hands and face before going out – just simple gestures which would have made such a difference. Whilst the literature does recommend bringing a winter coat, gloves and hat, it doesn’t really emphasise heavily enough just how cold it can be. We had come pretty well equipped but we had only come from Joburg whilst some international visitors who were at the Camp during our stay were woefully unprepared for the cold. The response of the staff to this just seemed to be to push the Mosetlha branded fleeces, gloves etc. they had for sale which I thought a bit cheeky. Surely a small supply of clothing to be loaned to people who needed it wouldn’t have been too much to ask?
Again on the subject of the pre-arrival literature, we got to the Reserve and found the entry fees had tripled from that which we had been led to expect. Now the literature does say that the entry fee may change without prior notice which is fair enough if the price has increased a little, but if it has tripled, I would expect an email forewarning me of this. It is also the only place I have ever been to that “advises” how much you should tip the staff which again I thought was cheeky, especially as the recommendation was very much on the high side.
In other areas, the food was actually very good for what it was - simple, hearty South African fare (boboties, potjies, etc.) and cooked well and certainly welcome in the cold weather. However, again I couldn’t help feeling it was lacking a bit, given the price we were paying. I was also surprised by the lack of space and facilities in Camp. It was absolutely fine for us as there were only 6 people in total but I would have thought that when the Camp is full, the number of toilets, showers, seating etc must be a bit inadequate especially as everyone is going to want to use facilities at the same time (i.e. when returning from game drives.)
Now to the game drives themselves. First, the good - Madikwe is famed for its wildlife viewing and I can’t fault it in this regard. A much longed for sighting of wild dogs was memorable, plus we saw a leopard with a fresh kill and the most amazing sighting of a pack of lions (including cubs) trying to dig a warthog out of its burrow (thankfully for us they were unsuccessful!) Together with sightings of elephant, rhino, jackals, genets, civets, African wild cats plus all the usual suspects, it certainly ticked all the boxes.
Whilst the game viewing was unsurpassed, our guide sadly was not. All the best wildlife encounters were as the result of finds by guides from other lodges (they are in radio contact with each other). Now I may be doing him a disservice and he may be the most knowledgeable game ranger in the country but we wouldn’t know as he hardly ever spoke to us let alone shared any facts, history of the park etc. Any jokes we made were met with stony silence and his attitude bordered on the surly at points. I think he was suffering severely from the cold but, sorry, tough – it’s his job, we were paying lots of money to be there and we were flipping freezing too! (Plus he did game drives with a hot water bottle on his lap, a luxury we were not afforded!)
I apologise if this review seems a bit damning, it is not meant to be. We had a perfectly fine time at Mosetlha and had I been paying £100 pounds a night, I would have been happy. However, Mosetlha is in the lucky position of being the cheapest lodge in Madikwe by a long way and as such, can charge whatever it likes - as long as it remains the cheapest, people will come. However, cheapest does not necessarily equal good value and, for me, that was the problem.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
September 4, 2011
We have responded in detail to Pink Elephant (PE) on three separate occasions and received answers thanking us for friendly explanations as to each complaint/concern/criticism. PE told us in private correspondence that the reason they wrote on TripAdvisor was because they “had not been offered the chance to put their comments in writing to us” (which we don’t really understand as they had booked directly with us, and had all our contact details).
Report response as inappropriate
PE’s review seems to be doing us considerable damage (despite the fact that they “apologise if this review seems a bit damning, it is not meant to be”!) and, as they have decided to leave their complaint on the site, we feel it only fair that we also post our responses here.
First of all, PE complained of our rate. We promote ourselves as the only eco lodge and bush camp in Madikwe. (We do not promote ourselves as the Reserve’s cheap and cheerful budget option.) We find that the majority of guests come to us for precisely this reason – for the real wilderness experience - and not to save a few rands when they would prefer to be at a luxury lodge. We charge the price we do because we believe this to be the value of your Mosetlha Experience. We do not try to be the lowest price lodge in the reserve – we just are. (Our rate is R1695 pppn sharing fully inclusive of comfy accommodation, all meals and snacks and twice daily game drives throughout the Reserve.)
The weather: As PE quite rightly said, we can hardly be blamed for the weather! We do try to make it as comfortable as possible for guests – winter weight duvets, big camel blankets and hot water bottles are provided in the beds at night. We have apologised profusely for PE not receiving a hot water bottle (the termites had got in and destroyed all the plastic bottles – an inadequate excuse – and this problem was rectified immediately). We are sorry that PE was not able to understand just how cold it is in Madikwe – we are pretty explicit in our literature and really try our best to emphasise the necessity for proper winter clothing.
The Park Entrance fees, charged by the North West Parks Board, were increased (without notice or warning to us) from R50 to R150 as of 1 May 2011. An astronomical increase indeed and we have apologised for not letting PE know beforehand.
We provide a guideline for tipping which most of our international guests appreciate as they either come from a non tipping culture or don't want to over or under tip, and thus offend. We make it very clear in our pre booking literature that this is obviously just a guideline and that leaving a gratuity is absolutely at the guests’ discretion. Again, we are sorry that PE felt offended by this. We are also sorry that PE felt our guidelines to be on the high side – the amounts we suggest are well below 10% of our daily rate.
The Field Guide who PE complained about, after seeing this review and the complaints about him, resigned from his position and is no longer with us at Mosetlha.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.