May 16, 2017 ….We surprised a group of 4 guests Rob, Rowena, Colin and Libby after a 6 day stay at Flatdogs with special sun downers in the park. We set up special sun downers for guests to celebrate special occasions including birthdays, wedding anniversaries in addition a thank you to repeat guests and long stays. The guests head out on their usual safari at 4.00pm and have no idea that we are going to surprise them with a bottle of bubbles and a few great treats that the kitchen has made for them. A crew head out around 430pm from camp and set up a table and chairs with champagne, drinks, candles and canapés in a special spot in the park and then they hide in the bushes as the vehicle approaches. As Libby writes below they thought it was set up for some one else!
Once they are pleasantly surprised by the set up we then come out from hiding in the bushes and greet them with big smiles. They always get the biggest shock as they are never expecting anything like this and the camera’s start clicking and the champagne’s popped along with the serving of the G & T’s. It is such a buzz for Jamie and I and we had a sensational 6 days enjoying Rowena, Libby, Colin and Rob’s company so it was a very special way to end their stay with us at Flatdogs.
Here is Libby’s feedback on Tripadvisor – don’t you love the bit about Wendy and Jamie !!
Well where do I begin. Firstly it’s a winner. We have no negative comments. We were met at Mfuwe airport (International, sorry Mfuwe ! think they must have one flight a week to Blantyre or somewhere – its sweet and small!) by Geoffrey – who was our guide at all times for the whole week – very smart move this. We built up a good relationship with him, he was a superb spotter, special fascination with birds which made Libby’s day, really adventurous and also knowledgeable. One of the things I liked most about Flatdogs is the inclusiveness. You don’t have your coffee and toast and then go out and find your driver/guide, he is there having breakfast too. He is there at 3.30pm offering you tea and no calorie (joking!!) cake ahead of the 4 pm game drive. If the office staff see a table needs clearing, or the drivers, they just do it! They are doing everything right. We were met at the camp by Wendy and Jamie, the Australian Managers – taken around, shown what to do and what not to do and then they said ‘listen, you are here for a week, we would like to upgrade you to luxury tents, but they are a little bit further away from the main areas, let’s see them and then you can decide’. Well – we are SO glad they did because the tents were not far, and they had much more space to spread out your bag and actually find out what might be lurking at the bottom of it having not unpacked for over 2.5 weeks ! Much better and we really appreciated that. All tents have a safe, which is all you need, to put valuables in and then forget about them. The housekeepers are unobtrusive and if they see you are in the tent they do not come in.
Wifi – only available in the bar area and weak but what do you expect in the bush!. Found the paying for half hours a bit tedious.
Given a local mammal/bird ID tick chart to keep which was great.
There is a local handicrafts shop and a library.
No need for any cash all week !
Metal water bottle and carrier given to everyone for our game drives and to keep afterwards which is a nice touch.
Wendy and Jamie are outstanding Managers, lots of fun, they have completely immersed themselves in Mfuwe life and Wendy has thrown herself into the Project Luangwa charity with both feet ! She took us to the school and to the project shop – and anyone visiting Flatdogs for more than a couple of days should factor that in. Colin had his hair cut by George, a local in a tin shack on the main road. Wendy paid his fee, 50 Kwacha. Colin now owes Wendy a hairdo in London. We did say it might cost rather more than that here ! The relationship between them and also Jess and Ade and the staff seems businesslike but so friendly –
INCREDIBLE FOOD. Did not expect that, in fact I am still waiting in the UK for my full breakfast at 10 am, my lunch, my cake and tea at 3.30 and my pre-ordered dinner at 8.10 having come in from a game drive ! Lovely varied menu – every meal was a stunner. They make so much on site – the ice cream is to die for, Italy eat your heart out ! Colin had chips with everything, breakfast too. You can order food whenever you like and it will come !
Standard day: up at 5, wave torch at night watchman at 5.30 and he walks you up to the main area. Coffee and toast/cereal. 6 am-10 am game drive. (No more than 6 on a truck) Coffee served en route at a nice spot. 10 am whatever full breakfast you wish. Then lunch sometime (couldn’t do it – usually had a toastie at about 2!) Tea and cake at 3.30 game drive 4-8 which gives you part light part dark, with a spotter and spotlight plus sundowners (in come the G&Ts!!) . Pre-order dinner before leaving and its on the table at 8.10 ! CRASH! REPEAT!
Management (either Wendy or Jamie or Ade or Jess) meet every game truck coming in, morning and evening at the door! They have a system that the office radios through to say there are guests coming in ! and everyone beetles to be there to welcome you in and find out how your drive was. Amazing !
One fabulous thing – all laundry free of charge which after nearly 3 weeks in the dust was most welcome – SO useful. Do mention to travellers that if they take old clothes to use for safari, Wendy would welcome them as they leave and give to the Project as there is so much need there.
Our last game drive Geoffrey said we were going to be looking for a lioness and 2 cubs locally, rather than head off further – so off we went. We get to a good sundowner spot and it appears someone has beaten us to it. So we said oh well we can find another spot, and he said, no there is room here so off we got. At this point Wendy, Jamie and their driver leap out of the bushes having set up the whole thing with 7 camp chairs, champagne on ice, canapes – real ones from the kitchen – the whole works, to share our last sundowners with us! I am still smiling ! What a treat, and what a touch.”