Kimkim Trip Reviews for South Africa

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4.8
(25 reviews)
Read 25 verified reviews by travelers who booked their trip on kimkim.

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Our 21 day South African “Investment Trip” · South Africa - Sep 17 - Oct 12, 2019

Traveler: Mick L. - Local specialist: Carla Ferreira

Our 21 day South African “Investment Trip” was over the top in so many ways: tailor made itinerary by Carla and Deidre @ Salty Travel with revisions, figuring out and responding to our “wants”, including:
Lodgings:
*Cape Town/Presidents Hotel @Bantry Bay - 2 bedroom 2 en-suite bath sitting room and kitchenette, delicious European & full breakfast (eggs cooked to order), delightful staff and daily chocolates!
*Hermanus/Baleens Hotel - unique in style but very comfortable and close proximity... read more

Our 21 day South African “Investment Trip” was over the top in so many ways: tailor made itinerary by Carla and Deidre @ Salty Travel with revisions, figuring out and responding to our “wants”, including:
Lodgings:
*Cape Town/Presidents Hotel @Bantry Bay - 2 bedroom 2 en-suite bath sitting room and kitchenette, delicious European & full breakfast (eggs cooked to order), delightful staff and daily chocolates!
*Hermanus/Baleens Hotel - unique in style but very comfortable and close proximity to the beautiful beach, delicious cooked to order breakfast.
*Albertinia/Garden Route Game Lodge - “posh” and lovely, 2 adventure filled Safari drives (including ‘happy hour’ adult refreshments), delicious meals served in the Lodge with well appointed tables (linens, floral centerpieces), private and comfortable ‘mini’ self contained lodges with water hole views of animals coming in for a dip or drink.
*Knysna/Belvidere Manor - European styled bungalow 2 bed 2 bath, living room, fireplace and full kitchen fronting a large lawn with a swimming pool and lawn game courts from the lagoon-bay to the east and the Belvidere Manor to the west, Spectacular Service, delicious food and delightful Pub onsite! Clearly one of our favorites!
*Addo National Elephant/Schotia Private Game Reserve - our in the bush private ‘huts’ en-suite full bath, freestanding fireplace, beverage center, and a resident wild cat that guarded our residence,.fabulous guide who shared his outstanding knowledge of animals, habitats, and made the Safaris memorable!
*Kwalucia Private Safari Retreat - the absolute “highlight” of our trip - fabulous B & B hosted by Adrian and Marie Joubert, private, secluded, restful, beautiful extra large rooms with en-suite, personalized service, incredible, delicious, traditional South African food that made our stay EXTRA SPECIAL! Adrian also suggested a whale watching boat trip that also included deep sea fishing - catching a yellow fin tuna that was then prepared and served for our breakfast -SPECTACULAR memories and adventure on the water. Incredible atmosphere, service and friendship!
*Ermelo/Ermelo Inn - a quick overnight enroute to the Panorama Route Scenic drive. Adequate but very ho-hum compared to other “stays” - please note there were very FEW choices in Ermelo.
*Graskop/Graskop Inn - traditional, historical Inn with so much character! Individually designed/decorated en-suite rooms by South African artists & designers. This stay was treasured as we enjoyed an evening ‘a cappella’ serenade by hotel staff during dinner! The warm fun loving staff made this overnight stay WONDERFUL!
*Hoedspruit-Kruger Orpen Gate/ Tremisana Safari Lodge & Marc’s Treehouse Lodge - this was the most unique and in some ways least accommodating of our wonderful stays! We ‘chose’ this Safari lodging because it sounded fun, unique and accommodating. The bottom line - unique/yes, fun/yes because of kitchen & Safari staff, unique / NOT delivered as advertised - treehouses were anything but! ALL would never pass an inspection codes in the USA! We signed a liability waiver for good reason - so many unsafe situations (unsafe tree rooted walking paths to accommodations, poor lighting, electrical issues that left several guests “shocked” while showering, etc...) MAINTENANCE issues too numerous to list! YET, this accommodation will remain a favorite in spite of its ruggedness and disrepair (that could easily be corrected with a bit of infrastructure investment) because of the wonderful staff and fellow GUESTS (from around the world) that provided many discussions and giggles in a friendship forming environment. I can’t thank the cooks enough for a very special birthday cake with candles that was baked in the tiniest of ovens!
*Johannesburg /The Capital-on Bath - Carla had booked a 2 bedroom apartment, but we were initially placed in two separate rooms far apart in the hotel... after producing our printed itinerary to the staff a correction was quickly made and our accommodations were TOP NOTCH! The service was wonderful as well.

Tours arranged for by Carla and staff:
*Cape Town - Hop-on Hop-off - great way to see the city, becoming familiar with the surroundings (would highly recommend). It would have been nice to have pre-paid vouchers for Table Mountain but now reflecting back - we were very fortunate to even get to the top due to erratic weather!
*Robben Island Museum Tour - prearranged/prepaid tickets made this MUST SEE Cape Town landmark a wonderful trip without waiting in walk-up lines.
NOT INCLUDED ON ITINERARY-Cape Point/Boulder Beach/Cape of Good Hope private tour arranged by another private tour company once we realized the time and difficulty of doing it “self drive” - highly recommended when in Cape Town! .
*Spier Wine Farm - fabulous, wonderful setting, great wines and knowledgeable staff! Thanks for the recommendation!
*Garden Route Game Lodge - absolutely “posh” but a bit contrived as far as animals in “natural” environments. Being familiar with San Diego Zoo Park - not much different but the Garden Route Game Lodge is a whole lot farther away!
*Knysna - Knysna Eco Adventure/Featherbed Eco reserve (outstanding). In spite of a rainy day, we loved this active hiking Eco Tour! The Lodge, newly rebuilt after being leveled by a wildfire in 2017 was AMAZING! The buffet style lunch was incredible offering locally sourced fresh foods, some cooked South African meats, soups, salads, and Malva pudding or ice cream sundae bar!
*Addo Elephant Park - Schotia Private Game Reserve Safari included 2 dusk drives, 2 dawn break drives and 2 nighttime after dinner drives - EXCELLENT Safari GUIDE/Naturalist. Additional Safari to Addo Elephant National Park - outstanding opportunities to see over 8,000 + elephants in their natural surroundings.
*St. Lucia - Hippo & Croc Sunset Cruise - at best “okay” crowded with boats on the estuary.
*iSimangaliso Wetland Park Tour - UNESCO World Heritage Site - absolutely WONDERFUL!
One of the best Guides we had our whole trip! We didn’t get to snorkel due to high winds/waves but were allowed to wander the beach for two hours and then stopped at several beach heads on the tour!
NOT INCLUDED ON ITINERARY: but arranged by B & B host - a pre dawn departure whale watching (migration season) and deep sea fishing tour by a private provider... breath taking, incredible, thrilling and a MUST DO tour in St. Lucia!

Rental Cars
Cape Town delivery - seamless in the pouring rain - however we didn’t notice a sizable dent as a pre-existing damage during the initial inspection. When loading our luggage we then noticed the dent and took “time and date stamped” photos - we then presented photos at drop off in Port Elizabeth with no problems and no incurred charges!
Durban - airport pickup very easy but time consuming.
Hoedspruit /Eastgate Airport - Very Easy once we found The airport!

Maps/printed directions:
Schotia Game Reserve - drove right past it! Poorly marked! We were 1/2 hour late checking in and missed part of the afternoon game drive - Schotia Reserve was very accommodating and quickly made adjustments to deliver us to the tour already underway in the bush!
Hoedspruit Airport - directions took us to the South African Air Force Airport and after several local inquiries and our own GPS locator we finally found the Eastgate Private Airport/airstrip 1 hour later than anticipated!

SIM Card: unfortunately, not being familiar with SIM card replacement on my apple iPhone we thought we had accomplished the set up when in actuality we had NOT! We did rectify the issue six days into the trip. Fortunately, we did not have the EMERGENCY of NEED to use the SIM card but we did have the USA based SIM card with us and could have used it for an expensive option if absolutely needed. Very minor detail that was easily corrected.

OVERALL - our itinerary was wonderful and the website information was easy to refer to, maps were primarily correct (our experience with Google or Garmin GPS is 95% accurate) useful and helpful. We certainly appreciated Carla’s accommodating us via Skype on several occasions - even though our emailing was equally useful - talking to and seeing who you are working with is MOST ASSURING! The importance of working with local travel specialists ie, Carla, Deidre and Shonna @ Salty Travel is ADVANTAGEOUS ! We would HIGHLY RECOMMEND others to use Kim Kim Travel and their localized selected travel specialists.

Carla Ferreira profile photo
Carla Ferreira, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Mick,

Thanks so much for the very detailed review. I'm so glad you had an amazing time in South Africa.
We will take the feedback you have given about your Kruger experience to their management.
We hope to see you again soon in Southern Africa.

See you soon
Thanks Carla

South Africa · South Africa - Aug 13 - Aug 25, 2019

Traveler: Hilary C. - Local specialist: Deborah Smook

We had a great trip to southern Africa! Deb booked everything we asked for and more. Our favorite experiences included shark cage diving in South Africa, the Chobe photographic safari with Pangolin lodge in Botswana, a great Kruger safari, and the eye opening Soweto tour in Johannesburg. Beautiful parts of the world with comfortable lodging and memorable moments. Deb took away all of the logistical issues I was stressed about when I initially started planning, and incorporated experiences I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Loved it!

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hello Hilary!

Thank you for the awesome review! You are the best. So happy you enjoyed all the experiences. We really try to match everyone with the experiences best suited to their interests and I am very happy we managed to succeed in doing it.
I hope you will carry Southern Africa in your heart for a while and find time to come back here again soon!

All the best
Deb & Tara

Dale's Birthday Trip to Southern Africa · South Africa - Jul 6 - Jul 21, 2019

Traveler: Brett J. - Local specialist: Deborah Smook

First, I need to thank Deborah and Tara from Eglin Africa Travel in Cape Town for their recommendations and for planning & arranging an amazing two week holiday in Africa. This was important as my family celebrated my wife's 60th while away.
I cannot recommend their services highly enough - real five star support right throughout the process and they even created a WhatsApp group so we could communicate while away.
Deborah recommended amazing hotels in Cape Town and Stellenbosch and three... read more

First, I need to thank Deborah and Tara from Eglin Africa Travel in Cape Town for their recommendations and for planning & arranging an amazing two week holiday in Africa. This was important as my family celebrated my wife's 60th while away.
I cannot recommend their services highly enough - real five star support right throughout the process and they even created a WhatsApp group so we could communicate while away.
Deborah recommended amazing hotels in Cape Town and Stellenbosch and three fantastic game lodges in Khwai, Chobe and Victoria Falls.
Two of the lodges were Pangolin Photo Safaris. Each guest is given a Canon 80D DSLR camera with a 150-600 telephoto lens and taught how to use it to take fantastic photos of the amazing wild animals in Africa. My entire family, none of who have photographic experience beyond an iPhone, really enjoyed the experience and we have hundreds of photos of lion, leopard, elephant, hippo and the amazing African antelope and birds.
If you travel to Africa, please contact Deborah and Tara.

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hello Brett, Dale, Ellie & Pete

Thank you again for the kind words and the really good review. It means the world to us, but it means even more to us that you had the trip of a lifetime. We knew it was important to you and a big trip for the family.

Hope to see you back here again soon.

Deborah & Tara

White water rafting · South Africa - Jun 25 - Jun 25, 2019

Traveler: Steve W. - Local specialist: Marie-Louise Kellett

The rafting trip was well organised and a great day out !

lilia

South Africa in 15 days · South Africa - May 15 - May 29, 2019

Traveler: lilia s. - Local specialist: Deborah Smook

This is the third time I’ve used kimkim to help with my travel planning. Clearly they work with the best travel specialists in the world. For my South African adventure kimkim connected me with Elgin Africa, I couldn’t have asked for a better match!

Deborah contacted me first, she got back to me right away with answers for my questions about budget and best time to visit South Africa. After couple of emails I knew I was in good hands.

Tara contacted me second, she was wonderful from the... read more

This is the third time I’ve used kimkim to help with my travel planning. Clearly they work with the best travel specialists in the world. For my South African adventure kimkim connected me with Elgin Africa, I couldn’t have asked for a better match!

Deborah contacted me first, she got back to me right away with answers for my questions about budget and best time to visit South Africa. After couple of emails I knew I was in good hands.

Tara contacted me second, she was wonderful from the start, always available to quickly and patiently answer any questions, worked around my budget and tailored the itinerary based on the list of places and experiences I wanted.

This trip was amazing largely to Tara’s impeccable planning, I never had to worry about a transfer, guide (the guides that Elgin Africa works with are wonderful), or accommodation, everything was perfect!

While traveling, Deborah and Tara checked up on me often making sure everything was running smoothly and that I was enjoying my trip.

Anybody planning to visit South Africa should contact Elgin Africa, they are the best!

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

I've asked Deborah to post my response to your beautiful review here as I was not able to.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share a bit about your experience booking with us, and for the amazing feedback. It is truly appreciated, and heart-warming to know that you enjoyed your trip so much. We could not have asked for a better result. :) Seriously, it brings us so much joy that you enjoyed your vacation in South Africa this much!

We wish we could review our clients too. You were... read more

I've asked Deborah to post my response to your beautiful review here as I was not able to.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share a bit about your experience booking with us, and for the amazing feedback. It is truly appreciated, and heart-warming to know that you enjoyed your trip so much. We could not have asked for a better result. :) Seriously, it brings us so much joy that you enjoyed your vacation in South Africa this much!

We wish we could review our clients too. You were and have been nothing but a pleasure to work with. It was also wonderful to meet you in person in Cape Town. We do hope you visit again!

Wishing you all the best,
Tara

*Hi Lilia
From my side as well, thank you for the great review. Tara is still talking about you!
And I have to compliment you on the photos you posted - they are really good!
Deb

Wine tour · South Africa - Apr 30 - May 1, 2019

Traveler: Mary P. - Local specialist: Deborah Smook

We had two tours- one with Eon and one with Lisa- and both were wonderful! Eon took us to the wine country- 3 wineries and lunch- and Lisa took us on a scenic tour of the peninsula- Cape Point, Boulders Beach- and lunch at Two Oceans. We cannot say enough about them- both guides were so knowledgeable, fun, interesting, attentive, sweet- we were so very impressed! Would definitely recommend both to our family and friends.

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hello Mary

Thank you for the positive feedback. I have been wondering how it went! Eon said you had a great time, but always good to hear it from you as well. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your stay in our beautiful country as well.

Till next time.

Deborah & Marita

South Africa Jaunt · South Africa - Apr 10 - Apr 22, 2019

Traveler: Seth J. - Local specialist: Deborah Smook

We had a truly great trip. We spoke with Deborah and Tara beforehand and they planned everything out perfectly. All great choices for accommodations, tours and guides. Also, they stayed in touch with us the whole time to make sure we had no problems or to make additional suggestions on the go. So glad we found them and KimKim!! Seth Jacobson

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Seth and Susan

Thank you for the great review (and the peanut butter cups 😉). It was a pleasure working with you and if we could rate the travelers, then we would give you a 5 too. All the best and hope to have you back one day.

Deborah and Tara

Finally made it! · South Africa - Jan 3 - Jan 20, 2019

Traveler: Rekha T. - Local specialist: Tara Gellé

We were quite apprehensive embarking on this trip due to the fear of the unknown. However, right from the onset our fears were allayed by the excellent planning by Tara and her team and the constant follow up throughout the trip. We felt assured that if we ran Into any problems, they would be taken care of by Tara.
Overall the iterarany planned between Tara and us was excellent!!! The only suggestion we would have is for the day trip to the Drakensberg should be done in two days if time... read more

We were quite apprehensive embarking on this trip due to the fear of the unknown. However, right from the onset our fears were allayed by the excellent planning by Tara and her team and the constant follow up throughout the trip. We felt assured that if we ran Into any problems, they would be taken care of by Tara.
Overall the iterarany planned between Tara and us was excellent!!! The only suggestion we would have is for the day trip to the Drakensberg should be done in two days if time allows. Otherwise you end up driving over 12 hours in a day!!!
The Earth Stompers tour was absolutely fantastic!!! Our guide Christine deserves many kudos as she dealt with everything with expertise and a constant smile!!!
Tours organizers in St. Lucia we’re also awesome. We were very happy with the game we saw and we would certainly recommend Cape Vidal. Our guide Arno was beyond amazing. His knowledge, passion for his job and again a constant smile made the tour incredibly fun.

Overall a fantastic trip!!! South Africa is beautiful and so are the people.

Tara Gellé profile photo
Tara Gellé, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Rekha and Craig,

Thank you so so much for this fantastic review! We are thrilled you had such a good trip. :) Our work is that much more worthwhile when we receive such positive feedback from our clients, it really was a pleasure to assist you in having the best possible experience of South Africa you could have had. And thank you for these beautiful photo's!

Wishing you all the best and hope we can one day plan a trip for you again.

Take care,

Tara & Deborah

Beth

A week in (and around) Cape Town · South Africa - Jan 20 - Jan 27, 2019

Traveler: Beth F. - Local specialist: Lizani Smith

Please note that this review pertains to the Elgin Africa travel agency, and is not a reflection of the small group tour we joined, which was delightful.

My boyfriend and I chose to use KimKim because of the wonderful reviews and business model – offering customized, local attention for a 5% service fee. We are economical travelers and have spent nights in modest quarters (including a tent in the desert without heating, cooling or a personal toilet). Which is why we specifically described... read more

Please note that this review pertains to the Elgin Africa travel agency, and is not a reflection of the small group tour we joined, which was delightful.

My boyfriend and I chose to use KimKim because of the wonderful reviews and business model – offering customized, local attention for a 5% service fee. We are economical travelers and have spent nights in modest quarters (including a tent in the desert without heating, cooling or a personal toilet). Which is why we specifically described our accommodation needs as “something comfortable, but it does not need to be luxurious. Comfortable and affordable will do as we do not intend to spend much time confined to a room.” However, we quickly realized while on our trip that we had been hoodwinked into needlessly extravagant lodgings. On our first night we were booked in a 5 star hotel with amenities that, since our flight was not scheduled to land until nearly 11 pm, we could not even take advantage of. In addition, during the group tour, we discovered we had been booked at completely separate and more expensive accommodations than the rest of our group. On one night we had an entire two story, two bedroom “castle” with a balcony overlooking citrus orchards completely to ourselves. Does that sound like comfortable and affordable to you? Several other couples on the tour had backpacker en suites; yet we were never even provided that option. Being separated from the group was far from ideal and required extra busing back and forth, less time with our companions, and a greater expense.

We also discovered, during the course of the trip, that none of the added activities we had scheduled were included in the final price. Why, then, was it imperative to know which activities we would participate in to finalize the bill? We presumed, since we were not given the final invoice until after we determined our full course of activities, that the activities were included in the total price. What an unpleasant surprise to discover mid-trip.

In fact, now knowing the true cost of the group trip (based on materials emailed directly from the tour company), we actually appear to have been overcharged at least ZAR6,600 given that our only extras on top of the tour were a one night hotel stay and an airport transfer. After the trip concluded, I sent a note to the specialists asking to see an itemized breakdown from the trip as well as a rationale for why we were not offered the backpackers en suite option, but have received zero response.

Using a service like KimKim I expected much better. My boyfriend and I debated greatly amongst ourselves over the cost of the trip, but we certainly did not presume we were being exploited. Since we may never have another opportunity to visit South Africa, we made sacrifices to pay for the trip only to find out after that we could have paid far less. Elgin Africa did not provide full transparency and tricked us into the most expensive accommodations package with no apparent motive beyond fattening their own wallets.

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Beth

Thank you for taking the time to write a review. In your second last paragraph you mentioned that you received zero response, but I have checked with kimkim and they confirmed that the system registered you opening up the response.

Here is what I sent you:
"Unfortunately, Lizani has left as a travel specialist, but I will answer as best I can. I am not able to advise why she did not give you the backpacker option, I'm afraid... We generally do high-end clients and perhaps that is... read more

Hi Beth

Thank you for taking the time to write a review. In your second last paragraph you mentioned that you received zero response, but I have checked with kimkim and they confirmed that the system registered you opening up the response.

Here is what I sent you:
"Unfortunately, Lizani has left as a travel specialist, but I will answer as best I can. I am not able to advise why she did not give you the backpacker option, I'm afraid... We generally do high-end clients and perhaps that is why.

With regards to the amounts, you are correct about the tour price. The Pepper Club has standard rates that they supply to us throughout the year. Normally they are fully booked over January, but not this year, so they are selling the rooms at a lower rate that we were charged when we booked. That rate was R4800. Airport transfers is R850 per person.

The total for all the above is R28900.00

We then take that amount and divide it by 12.5. This is the industry standard as our currency is super volatile, so it is to protect us against any sudden drops. Just to give you an idea, here is a link:
https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=USD&To=ZAR

So that brings you to exactly $2312 which you were quoted for.

I really do apologize that you were not offered the backpacker rate and hope that you did enjoy the trip and our country regardless. I heard that you had some great sightings in Addo."

I have since spoken to Lizani and she said that she is really sorry and she did not even think of offering you the backpacking option as most our clients simply don't want is due to having the wrong impression. I know once you see it, it is pretty awesome and I personally like to refer to it as boutique hostels.

Please accept my apology. I am glad that you did enjoy the supplier and the tour regardless of paying for the upgrade. We get such excellent feedback from them and I can assure you that the rest of the staff and myself definitely do promote the backpacker options as well. Lizani should have taken more time to establish your exact needs and the Pepper Club was not necessary for a traveler requesting something comfortable and not luxurious, especially for only a few hours and Cape Town has so many amazing places on offer.

Kind regards
Deborah

Cape town - garden route - kruger · South Africa - Dec 8 - Dec 22, 2018

Traveler: Zoe N. - Local specialist: Deborah Smook

Deborah was a fantastic tour guide and helped us to find 2 amazing once in a lifetime tours.
Kruger national park was amazing and hosted by an awesome local guide who showed us the big 5 and more. Everything went really smoothly with meeting the guide and Deborah and Tara were super helpful ensuring we were collected and happy throughout the trip.
The second part of our holiday was doing the garden route which again was a fantastic experience and showed us many of the best sights!
I'd really... read more

Deborah was a fantastic tour guide and helped us to find 2 amazing once in a lifetime tours.
Kruger national park was amazing and hosted by an awesome local guide who showed us the big 5 and more. Everything went really smoothly with meeting the guide and Deborah and Tara were super helpful ensuring we were collected and happy throughout the trip.
The second part of our holiday was doing the garden route which again was a fantastic experience and showed us many of the best sights!
I'd really recommend Deborah and Tara to anyone going to S Africa as they helped us find 2 great tours that were perfect for us and ensured we had an amazing holiday!
Thanks again!
Zoe and Rob

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Zoe and Rob

I am so happy that you enjoyed your time in SA as well as the tours we picked for you!

Thank you once again for trusting us with your travel plans.

All the best!

Deb

Garden Route highlights · South Africa - Dec 10 - Dec 16, 2018

Traveler: Shimaila A. - Local specialist: Deborah Smook

Excellent service from Deborah. She managed to find a group tour of the Garden route which suited our needs. She was always quick to respond to my messages.
Would highly recommend Kimkim!

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

HI Shimaila

Thank you for your review and I am really happy you enjoyed your time in SA!

Shout if you ever need to come back.

Deb

South Africa leg · South Africa - Oct 9 - Oct 16, 2018

Traveler: Rosie C. - Local specialist: Carla Ferreira

Carla was incredibly helpful, friendly, approachable, knowledgable, and adaptable to my changing requests. Even when I thought I was being annoying with my constant questions, I definitely never got that impression from her. I would absolutely use kimkim again, and would recommend Carla to anyone thinking of visiting South Africa.

Carla Ferreira profile photo
Carla Ferreira, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you so much for the kind words Rosie, it was just as much of a pleasure to work with you. Kaleb confirmed they had a wonderful stay here is South Africa. Until next time, take care :)

Day wine tasting tour · South Africa - Sep 17 - Sep 17, 2018

Traveler: Asya C. - Local specialist: Carla Ferreira

We started planning our trip several months before coming to South Africa. Carla was extremely responsive, she worked with us on itinerary to accommodate our interests. She worked through small issues and we had a wonderful informative tour with our guide Mark. Highly recommend.

South Africa Self-Drive · South Africa - Jul 15 - Aug 6, 2018

Traveler: AJ H. - Local specialist: Deborah Smook

This is an incredible service, and I can’t express how much I appreciate being able to visit a new place — new cultures, new languages, contested histories — and feel like I left it with something more than a superficial layer of tourist-appropriate experience.

Deborah (with help from Tara - of Elgin Africa) provided us with an incredibly thoughtful and perfectly paced itinerary for our 22-day holiday. Deborah’s understanding of us — she really listened to us — and of the options before... read more

This is an incredible service, and I can’t express how much I appreciate being able to visit a new place — new cultures, new languages, contested histories — and feel like I left it with something more than a superficial layer of tourist-appropriate experience.

Deborah (with help from Tara - of Elgin Africa) provided us with an incredibly thoughtful and perfectly paced itinerary for our 22-day holiday. Deborah’s understanding of us — she really listened to us — and of the options before us, given our interests and length of stay allowed her to guide us to choices we wouldn’t have considered or known about. The process of working with Deborah was easy — we emailed several times, and spoke on the phone once — and each ‘visit’ with her left us more and more excited about our trip.

Deborah has worked in tourism for many years, and not only knows places and people, but has an encyclopedic knowledge of how businesses are run, what their values are, and how accommodations, tours, and even key local people will suit her clients.

We loved (LOVED) this trip. We would trust KimKim with any future travel based on our experience with Deborah. She heard our desire to travel according to our values, even though it might mean risking new experiences with accommodation, local tour guides, or wildlife (!). We asked for a non-Disney version of South Africa, and that’s exactly what we got. We’ve been home for two weeks, and already we’re saving for our next holiday (with Deborah at the helm).

My husband’s primary interest was in tracing the lives and contributions of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Deborah ensured that we visited each significant location in that ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ — including the various branches of the Apartheid Museum. More than that, Deborah identified several contacts for us over the course of our holiday who we would meet and speak with to help us understand personal stories of activism during the struggle for a Democratic South Africa.

In Johannesburg, we stayed in the arts district Maboneng, and toured the city with “King,” a Soweto-born tour guide whose vibrancy and realistic portrait of the city challenged the ‘victory’ narrative. It was wonderful to have a more complex portrait of the country immediately — and with personal experiences and explanations to make that portrait more concerning.

In Qunu, the place of Mandela’s birth, Deborah paired us with an incredible local guide we’re still talking about. His activism during the struggle to end apartheid forced him out of university and into prison. Still an activist, and finished with his formal education, “Zim” allowed us to question him about his current work (defining and re-defining masculinity, and leading groups of people to experience their own power). Deborah had arranged for us to have lunch at his home, where we met his wife and ate a beautiful meal prepared with fresh vegetables grow in their garden. This sort of encounter is simply not possible without current connections and deep interest in one’s work. Wow, Deborah!

Deborah’s care throughout the trip created opportunities and connections like this for us. In Cape Town, for example, tickets to Robben Island were scarce because of ferry trouble and unforeseen closures of the museum. Deborah to the rescue. Robben Island may sound like a trip only for tourists, but I found it to be remarkably organized, insightful, and deeply moving. Need I mention that our tour of the prison/museum was led by a former political prisoner?

My primary interest in the trip was to see and experience the vast expanse of South Africa — its open skies, its languages, its people, and expressions of its cultures. Deborah consistently steered us toward places and encounters we wouldn’t have been able to have on our own. The range of people she put us in touch with ranged from shops selling the work of local people (sometimes co-owned and operated by those people), or informal locations where she was sure we would encounter local artisans selling their work. Our accommodations provided us with not just a white South African holiday. (On our flight home, we noticed that the cosmopolitan artsy 12 Decades Hotel in Johannesburg was written up as a ‘must-go’ location in the in-flight magazine!) Even before we left home, Deborah’s itinerary for us included descriptions of accommodations like this one, describing a beautifully designed backpacker lodge: “Hopefully you’ll meet one of the owners, Sal, who basically grew up at the lodge and is very knowledgeable about all the community projects in the area.” Intersperced with backpacker accommodations, Deborah planned luxurious nights for us. In another part of the itinerary she writes: “It’s 5-star accommodation at 4-star rates and includes breakfast.” She failed to mention that the staff at Falcon’s View Manor (“high above the town of Knysna”) would wash our car (!) while it was parked overnight in their covered carport. At this hotel, we got to our room and discovered that Deborah, who had passed through the area days before, left a beautiful bottle of wine for us. (Need I mention that the adjustment to routine life at home has been difficult!?)

Deborah arranged for several game drives during our holiday, including photographic safaris in Chobe National Park in Botswana. She had personally experienced these safaris, and although such an excursion wasn’t on our radar, our stay at Pangolin Lodge and experiences with drivers and our photography ‘teacher’ couldn’t have been better.

Our trip covered a true range of natural environments, cultural locations, and physical activities. Everywhere we were safe and cared for with attention to detail. Deborah put us in the path of people and encounters that moved us and enlarged our personal and political worldviews. This is the best of travel.

Deborah’s deep knowledge of her client’s desires (we wanted to support family-owned and community-supportive businesses), coupled with her vast knowledge of opportunities for tourism in South Africa, and even Zambia and Botswana, made this a trip our friends simply can’t believe we were able to take. Deborah’s itinerary for us included details about the businesses we patronized, what we should expect for food, even what to pack for day hikes in specific regions... I can’t tell you how grateful I am for her knowledge. Impressed, and grateful.

I can’t thank you enough for referring us to Deborah and to her collegue Tara at Elgin Africa. Although we’ll need to save for a bit before we travel again, I’d reach out to Deborah without hesitation. KimKim was a terrific way to get us started. I’m grateful for your expertise and for the thoughtfulness of your method in pairing travelers with local experts like Deborah.

Cheers!

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear AJ & Shannon

I can not thank you enough for the beautiful review and the opportunity to plan this trip with you. Tara and I really enjoyed doing it and felt like we were traveling with you.

Thank you for sharing the photos and your experience with us. It was really great meeting you too and hearing all about the trip. We will plan a trip with you again any day!

And you are on my to-visit list in the US soon.

Love

Deb & Tara

Garden route, South Africa · South Africa - Jun 23 - Jun 26, 2018

Traveler: Joanne J. - Local specialist: Carla Ferreira

The trip was amazing from start to finish! I had an amazing time. Carla and my tour guide, Julian were superb! Thank you.

Family vacation · South Africa - May 25 - Jun 1, 2018

Traveler: Danny S. - Local specialist: Deborah Smook

OH MY GOD, Deborah is Awesome, so nice ,patient and always answer when i call on her , sometimes 12 am . She is GREAT and the best i have ever known my whole Life . Indeed she is a Specialist. I recommend anyone going to South Africa and booking with KimKim should Chose Deborah . God this lady is Amazing , her timing , planning and service is amazing , she will make you feel like a Royal away from Home . I have decided to come go to cape town every year because of her. She is the best i have... read more

OH MY GOD, Deborah is Awesome, so nice ,patient and always answer when i call on her , sometimes 12 am . She is GREAT and the best i have ever known my whole Life . Indeed she is a Specialist. I recommend anyone going to South Africa and booking with KimKim should Chose Deborah . God this lady is Amazing , her timing , planning and service is amazing , she will make you feel like a Royal away from Home . I have decided to come go to cape town every year because of her. She is the best i have ever seen in the whole wide world . Deborah thumps up. Be proud of yourself , Thank you for the wonderful service , God bless you ..

Deborah Smook profile photo
Deborah Smook, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Danny

Thank you SO much for your very generous review! I can't wait to hear from you again and plan your trip to SA again soon!

Kind regards
Deborah

Vinita

Safari and Johannesburg City (Soweto) · South Africa - Apr 21 - Apr 26, 2018

Traveler: Vinita N. - Local specialist: Carla Ferreira

Hello,
I found the experience to be good overall. I especially enjoyed the Tremisana lodge in South America and the folks at Marc's treehouse were very accommodating. They had not received my requirement or did not accurately record my requirement for an ensuite but they switched rooms without any problems.
It happened to be a low season and the switch perhaps could not have been possible during the high season.
Initially I found Carla, my kimkim travel agent to be hard to get a hold of... read more

Hello,
I found the experience to be good overall. I especially enjoyed the Tremisana lodge in South America and the folks at Marc's treehouse were very accommodating. They had not received my requirement or did not accurately record my requirement for an ensuite but they switched rooms without any problems.
It happened to be a low season and the switch perhaps could not have been possible during the high season.
Initially I found Carla, my kimkim travel agent to be hard to get a hold of but she explained that she had been out of reach because she was at a conference. I found her colleague (who took over from Carla on the day to day details of my trip) to be very responsive and helpful.
Regards,
Vinita

safari with Sophi · South Africa - Apr 20 - Apr 20, 2018

Traveler: sanjeev k. - Local specialist: Carla Ferreira

great day trips to both cape point and the safari!!

Carla Ferreira profile photo
Carla Ferreira, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Sanjeev
Thank you for rating your tours
I hope to see you again in future
You can contact me for anything at anytime
Take care

10 Days in South Africa: Cape Town, Garden Route and Safari · South Africa - Mar 9 - Mar 16, 2018

Traveler: George M. - Local specialist: Howard Spencer-Wilson

Every part of my trip went like clockwork exactly according to plan. Both of the lodges that I went to were very good although Settlers Drift was the best. The rangers and wild life was also excellent.
All my car transfers wore on time with good drivers and my Avis hire car was good and as planned

Howard Spencer-Wilson profile photo
Howard Spencer-Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi George,
Thank you so much for your feedback.... It was great to work with you and hope to be of assistance in the near future! Until then take care and make good memories!

Table Mountain · South Africa - Dec 31 - Jan 1, 2018

Traveler: Vidya M. - Local specialist: Carla Ferreira

Thanks Carla for your guide through emails. Everything was perfect, on time and the price is reasonable. The driver also cooperative and give us lots of information about cape town. Will definitely recommend this tour.

Carla Ferreira profile photo
Carla Ferreira, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Vidya,

I'm so glad you had a great time in Cape Town. I am here to help and love showing off our lovely country :-)
Hope to see you soon!

Thanks Carla

Nick

Nick & Ruth's SA Trip · South Africa - Nov 2 - Nov 23, 2017

Traveler: Nick F. - Local specialist: Howard Spencer-Wilson

We have just returned from a quite superb trip to South Africa and will most definitely be going again! We made our way from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape ending with a Safari at Amakhala, where our amazingly knowledgeable and funny guide made every minute fascinating...it was surprisingly cold in the early mornings and evenings though (mid November), so make sure you take long sleeves and plenty of layers...they do have fleece blankets (which we used every day) but I wish I had more... read more

We have just returned from a quite superb trip to South Africa and will most definitely be going again! We made our way from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape ending with a Safari at Amakhala, where our amazingly knowledgeable and funny guide made every minute fascinating...it was surprisingly cold in the early mornings and evenings though (mid November), so make sure you take long sleeves and plenty of layers...they do have fleece blankets (which we used every day) but I wish I had more clothes!

The trip down the Garden Route was wonderful - empty roads, happy people, low prices and great wines! We particularly loved The Sands in St Francis Bay...pricy, but very special indeed.

Thanks for organising a great trip!

Howard Spencer-Wilson profile photo
Howard Spencer-Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Nick & Ruth ... Apologies for the delayed reply ... I am very glad to hear you enjoyed your time in SA .. and your points raised on the previous review have been noted - we always appreciate constructive criticism - thanks for the feedback!

Nick & Ruth's SA Trip · South Africa - Nov 2 - Nov 23, 2017

Traveler: Ruth F. - Local specialist: Howard Spencer-Wilson

Didn't really have much contact with Howard, mostly done with Lize Enderstein, who always responded to our emails quickly and efficiently.

Maybe more could be done initially to ascertain client's preferences in terms of types of hotels and budget, and maybe more questions regarding client's likes and dislikes, but overall Lize chose very good Hotels and we were very happy with Paradise Tours in Cape Town.

A little more fine details information would have been good, e.g. good idea to... read more

Didn't really have much contact with Howard, mostly done with Lize Enderstein, who always responded to our emails quickly and efficiently.

Maybe more could be done initially to ascertain client's preferences in terms of types of hotels and budget, and maybe more questions regarding client's likes and dislikes, but overall Lize chose very good Hotels and we were very happy with Paradise Tours in Cape Town.

A little more fine details information would have been good, e.g. good idea to book tickets online for Table Mountain and Cango Caves to avoid waiting in long queues. Also more information about the Amakahala itinerary would have been helpful as we didn't realise that we would get lunch and a safari drive on Day 1, and nearly missed this.

Overall very happy and will be back!

Holiday · South Africa - Oct 16 - Nov 3, 2017

Traveler: Carl P. - Local specialist: Howard Spencer-Wilson

First time we've booked on the internet. It couldn't have been easier. Great communication.

Howard was very helpful and knowledgeable. Didn't tire of answering even the daftest of my questions. Also very helpful during the holiday, not just before it.

Howard Spencer-Wilson profile photo
Howard Spencer-Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Carl,

It was a great pleasure to be of assistance to you and your wonderful family! All the best to you! Hope to hear from you again in the future... take good care until then!

8-Day Cape Town & Kruger Park Safari · South Africa - Nov 4 - Nov 8, 2017

Traveler: Maria Y. - Local specialist: Howard Spencer-Wilson

We had a tight budget and were exploring different options to see what best fit our interests and budget for our Cape Town & Kruger Park Safari. Howard was extremely patient and helpful with suitable recommendations. Overall, it was a generally fuss free and enjoyable process.

Howard Spencer-Wilson profile photo
Howard Spencer-Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Maria,

You were a star to work with and it would be great to welcome you back to SA again in the future... Take care and wishing you all the best!

Cape Town South Africa · South Africa - Aug 14 - Aug 23, 2017

Traveler: Missy G. - Local specialist: Howard Spencer-Wilson

I was very impressed with the excursion and hotel bookings. As well as it Guide Ian, with Paradise Touring. He as extremely helpful and knowledgeable about our trip. I would highly recommend Kimkim and Ian for anyone I know traveling to South Africa. Thank you!!

Very easy to work with, and accommodating no matter how many times we asked him to revise our itnerary.

Howard Spencer-Wilson profile photo
Howard Spencer-Wilson, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Missy .. so glad you had a good time in SA and was a pleasure working with you! I hope you make it back to Southern Africa again in the future !