Group 'Explorer Safari' to Tanzania and Island Getaway to Zanzibar
Our Safari in Tanzania was amazing and wonderful in so many ways, we don't know where to begin.
But here are some highlights:
1. Customer service was excellent throughout. We were met at every airport and hotel as arranged, with helpful drivers and guides. We always felt like they were concerned that our needs were met and that we were happy and comfortable. All three ground operators in Tanzania were very good.
2. Our guide on Safari, Eddie Chami, was great - extremely knowledgeable, interesting, and fun, and was able to share his thoughts about life in Tanzania and the history and people of the country. His ability to find wildlife was amazing (We said he had binocular eyes!), and he helped Paul find and identify over 120 different bird species. His knowledge of animal behavior and his amazing sense of direction were very helpful.
3. The accommodations were all top notch - large rooms, clean and comfortable with more luxury than we thought we could expect in such out of the way locations.
4. The itinerary for the "Group Explorer Safari" was excellent. Starting at Tarangire was a great idea, with its abundant wildlife, and then staying at the Maramboi Tented Camp, with wildebeests, zebras, giraffes, and warthogs and various antelope all around was a thrilling way to start! And from there it was a dream come true as we went to different areas. Although the Ngorongoro Farm House did not have wildlife nearby, it was a beautiful place with luxurious rooms, so a good location to use as a base to see the nearby crater and highland areas.
5. We can’t say enough good things about our final couple days at Ras Nungwi on Zanzibar. Probably one of the nicest resorts we have ever been at - a perfect place to wind down and relax after our eventful trip!
Thank you for all of your help with our preparation. We felt like we were given very good information and were well prepared for the trip. We were joined on the safari by one other person from another travel company, and she was wonderful - but her company did not provide near the clear and detailed information that you provided us to prepare adequately for our trip!
The trip really was a dream come true!
Paul and Pamela Bosch, June 2014
Plains of the Serengeti Family Safari to Tanzania
I just wanted to drop you a short note to let you know that we had a fantastic safari adventure that you helped us plan. We saw so many animals (both number and variety) and witnessed two kills during the week or so that we were there. My daughter actually caught one of the kills on camera in a sequence of shots.
Another highlight was seeing the thousands and thousands of flamingos at Lake Manyara because our guides (George Killas and Mohammed) had the foresight to change the route that we took around the lake. It was simply amazing and we loved both of our guides. They really had a knack for putting us in the right place at the right time…
Susan Chan, June 2014
Group safari to Tanzania’s Northern Circuit
I would like to say thanks again for planning such a great trip for us. All four of us had a wonderful time and a great experience. All the pre departure information was very helpful, including the African Safari Journal & Field Guide. When we got to Tanzania everything worked according to the itinerary. The Ground Operator service was excellent, from we were picked up at the airport until our departure for home.
Naomi who first met us at the hotel and briefed us on the schedule for out time there, was very professional and warm. Seleman Mwyangala, our guide for the duration of the safari was very professional and knowledgeable about the parks, animals, birds. It was obvious that he loves his job. The hotels were beautiful with great staff and services.
A special thanks for my birthday cake which the staff at Manyara Serena Safari Lodge presented, singing "happy birthday' and other traditional welcoming song in Swahili. It was lovely.
This trip has been added to my special memories.
Maureen Fyffe, June 2014
Tanzanian Cultural and Wilderness Safari and Beach Getaway
Dear Mark, Saskia and the rest of the AAC team,
We just returned from our amazing Tanzania journey and want to thank you all for helping make a lifetime dream a reality. It was an incredible trip in all respects and looking back at it there is actually very little I would change.
The cornerstone of our trip was clearly Deo, our Tanzanian guide extraordinaire. Please consider this my nomination to make him Guide of the Year. Not only was his wildlife knowledge encyclopedic (there wasn’t a bird he couldn’t identify just by us describing it), his well-honed ability to predict animal behavior was mind-boggling, thereby always placing us at exactly the right place at the right time for optimal (i.e. 2 feet away) viewing. I felt he was always 3 steps ahead of the other guides around us.
For example, on our first full day on safari in Tarangire we had not yet seen any cats. He received a radio report of a large pride of lions crossing the road, so we sped to the spot (my daughter especially loved to stand in the Land Cruiser with top up going at high speed over the bumpy roads; “let’s go hunt lions” is the new family euphemism for driving fast with windows down). When we arrived there were just 2 male lions to be seen in the distance together with 12 other safari vehicles. Deo got the exact description of the pride and their movements from a colleague, and deduced there must be a kill over the rise. Nobody else shared this thought and all the other vehicles eventually left. Following his hunch, he waited everybody else out and then took us discreetly off-road 100 yards. There we suddenly stood, smack in the middle of 10 lions (including large males, females and cubs), devouring an impala 3 feet away, not another person in sight. What a thrill! And I could give many similar examples - our best cheetah and leopard sightings were amazing Deo finds seen just by us...
Furthermore, Deo was simply excellent company, great with the kids, and so happy to share his country and answer our million questions about culture, politics, food, language etc, although he was unsuccessful at getting us to like unagi. He took unscheduled time on our first “at leisure” day in Arusha to take us around town and was always concerned about our wellbeing. In addition, our local Datoga guide at Lake Eyasi, upon spending a day with us, complimented Deo as being one of the most approachable and respectful safari guides he had met.
So we saw the Big Five, the Ugly Five and most of the Little Five. We saw a zillion cool birds. We saw bat-eared foxes (another miraculous Deo spotting from a mile away). We sort of saw the great migration, although the herds were not giant - we were apparently in the right area at the right time, but the herds were pretty scattered this year, “confused because of the rains” per various reports. We successfully hunted a Dik Dik with the Hadzabe bushmen…We milked a cow with the Datoga who thought it was hysterical when Tyler, my son, couldn’t get any milk out (clearly boys were not meant to do that job). We drank Banana beer. I got sung Happy Birthday to in Swahili. We chatted with 4 teenage Maasai boys on top of Shifting Sands who came over just to say hello, not to sell anything. We witnessed a lioness stalk then attack a wildebeest 10 feet in front of us, then the wildebeest turn, butt and chase the lion successfully away, a turn of events Deo said he had not seen in his 14 years of guiding…We swam in the stunningly turquoise-green waters of the Indian Ocean and ate a lot of tropical fruits for the first and, in the case of durian fruit, most definitely the last time. We peeled cinnamon bark off a tree. We did not get eaten by a lion as was my daughter’s everlasting concern. And so much more. Really, it was amazing.
…Now we are recovering from jet lag, starting to sort through the more than 1500 photos and video clips and learning (very slowly) not to say Asante to everybody such as the local Vermont gas station attendant this afternoon. My children have learned innumerable lessons about not just wildlife and tribal culture, but also what it means to be a developing country and to not take our riches in the western world for granted. We will miss many things about Africa including the wonderful and hospitable Tanzanians, including their frequent and endearing but often incorrect use of “you’re welcome”…
So thanks again, we are so grateful to all of you for putting our trip-of-a lifetime together, and to you, Mark, for roping me in on the phone the first time I called AAC last Fall to inquire about family safaris. Our trip made turning 50 (while at Tarangire) very painless, and hopefully some day we will be back!
All the best,
Tacha Jager (with Tom, Tyler and Sophie), June 2014
Private Safari to Tarangire, Lake Eyasi, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti
Lynne and Team,
Thank you so much for the trip planning - we said more than once how you seemed to know EXACTLY what we wanted to do at the moment we wanted to do it. While the whole trip was amazing, there were several things that stood out and made you shine as trip planners:
- the surprise lunch overlooking Arusha (I think - I don't even know where we were!). Pulling in to see a waiter, table and hot meal just for us was unbelievable. It was a wonderful experience. Thank you for that.
- The tented camp in Serengeti! We had a hippo in the camp one morning and some of the migration one afternoon. Also the employees at the camp could give lessons in hospitality. Every one of them took their job - and our enjoyment - very seriously… Beautiful people, every single one of them.
- I'm confident in saying we had the best guide and driver in all of Tanzania. Ephata became a dear friend almost overnight. He was kind, patient and fun to be around. He was willing to go off the beaten path if he thought the kids would like something - while also being very keenly aware of our safety (my son tested that a lot!) We noticed the first day that he was able to find animals the other guides just didn't see. Not only find them, but he is clearly an experienced tracker and would anticipate where that animal might walk or come out of the bush. He had us in prime view of leopards, elephants, lions and cheetahs that other jeeps never saw (or saw too late!) He also put his heart and soul into showing us Tanzania - I know we exhausted him but he never showed it. I just can't say enough about him - I hope you will convey our deepest gratitude to him (and tell him we miss him!)…
Thank you again for everything - we have sent your name on to some friends that may be planning a trip in the next few years and will continue to refer our friends to you.
Lisa Pickard, June 2014
Plains and Primates Safari to Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania
IT WAS GREAT! THANK YOU!!!!
Edward (Uganda-Rwanda) was perfect for our first ten days. He knew his animals and where to find them. He knew the roads and, when needed, how to back up and took us to a nifty place for lunch. He was such a learned individual - much more than a fellow who could drive and recite animal facts. He and I chatted about one subject, then another: politics, history, Bible - with Edward avoiding potholes and spotting all the animals. We have made a new friend.
George (Tanzania) had a challenge! We told him up front that we had already seen this and that animal and lots of them too - and now we wanted to see animals in "action" or some new ones. Well, George already had plans. He already knew where the hard to find animals were. He knew where we would see some action. So in Tarangire he got us going early. He had heard the lions and thought he knew where they were. He was right. We found ourselves alone - as in no other vehicles! - looking down a three female lion and three cubs. We spotted some zebra, the lioness spotted them and the hunt began. The zebras disappeared but the lions didn't! The three females surrounded our vehicle and the cubs came marching playfully up the dirt road. After the lions had gone back down George took us to see oryx, eland, kudu, two different tortoises, a reedbok, hundreds of elephant, maybe a thousand buffalo and a leopard along with at least ten unique birds and some lizards too - all in one day!!
We had another great guide at Sayari Camp named Oredi. He was obviously a "head" guide - in that other guides followed his instructions. He was fun and immediately picked up on who we were and what we might want to see. He was just plain fun! He took us to see the only rhino named Julie - and some wildebeest went galloping by disturbing Julie's sleep and she (he?) jumped up and posed for us the next twenty minutes. She was the only rhino we saw - but also the only rhino anyone we met had seen!
Oredi spotted a possible wildebeest crossing and told us to "HOLD ON". He drove like a wild man, ignoring ruts and holes! He got us to just the right viewing spot. Wow what a sight. The next day he spotted some zebras, and then more and more and more zebras. He "ordered" the other two vehicles away from the river's edge - explaining to us that the zebras would not cross as long as the "unknown" vehicles remained. So we all "hid" up the field. Then the crossing began. We, of course, were cheering for the zebras.
When the excitement died down we left them behind to go view the migration. Oredi said that the blackened field accounted for about 30% of the migrating wildebeest - perhaps 750,000. Being an actuary I did some calculations. At one wildebeest per ten square meters, and covering a about ten kilometers by two kilometers would come out to 200,000 - but there were more than one per square and more than two kilometers deep! So just maybe there were 3/4 of a million! There were lots.
Oredi also made sure we saw the leopards, and lion,, giraffe - no not just big tall giraffe - but a mother with her newborn - wobbly legs, afterbirth and blood still running down the mother's leg!
Uganda was absolutely unbelievably wonderful, exciting, awesome. We had a short drive (45 minutes), a short trek (no more than 45 minutes) and an hour surrounded by the H Group of 18 members walking around us. We saw all 18! The silverback was one of the first to come out of the bush and he sat down across from us. Then one by one all the others paraded in front of us. And, as I am sure you are aware, the SEVEN METER rule had yet to be taught to these magnificent creatures. So we were all MUCH CLOSER. After about 20 minutes the black-back presented himself. He didn't look so overwhelmingly happy, but then how would we know. He checked us out one-by-one and then proceeded toward us. But when he got within about ten feet he did a 90-degree turn and sat down, grabbed a branch and pretty much "joined our group". Across from him there were two young ones putting on a playful wrestle show. At some point I was standing at the edge of our group when a mother with a baby started toward me. I just stood still (well, with my little video camera in hand) as she passed by me brushing my pants! Except for maybe seeing a live birth I don't know how this visit could have been any better!!!
We were gone a total of four hours. Upon return to the meeting point we were informed that the group that had left on foot from the meeting place had yet to reach their gorilla group. I would love to know just how we were so fortunate - a large group close by. I'm guessing we chose the right adventure company, who chose the right guide, who made the right deal. I'm also guessing it didn't hurt to reserve our space early. Seems to me more than luck - SO A BIG THANK YOU!!!
Paraa (Murchison Falls) - hey, the only place to be. Good food, swimming pool and great adventures just outside the door. I eventually got used to the idea that no one was going to have simple iced tea! We enjoyed our "private" cruise on the river. Private is the only way to do it. With Edward encouraging the boat crew and acting as an additional spotter we saw hundreds of hippo and dozens of crocs along with lizards and some small mammals and dozens of birds. By being on the private boat we got there ahead of the big boat and got in much closer. I know private cost us more - but well worth it! We also enjoyed the chimps.
Kyaninga Lodge (Kibale) - well, we loved it. I wish it were closer to home. But it is about as difficult place to get to as anywhere in the world. But worth the trip!
Mweya Lodge (Queen Elizabeth National Park) - perfect location - a bit formal… The food was good, the mongoose plentiful and the private channel boat just a short drive away. This was another wonderful excursion.
Ishasha Wilderness Camp (Ishasha) - Interesting "green" concept… We enjoyed our stay, the food was okay, but it was the elephant outside our door that was best part. But then the camp was close to all those lion in the trees and Edward found them both days - two the first day and eight the next. Edward also took us to the river so Henri and I were able to crossover to some land that had once been in the Congo.
Mahogany Springs Lodge (Bwindi). The staff treated us so very special!!! The food was great. Our room was very spacious and very comfortable with a great deck and view - although the view of the rolling mountains put a bit of fear into my heart as I contemplated the gorilla trekking scheduled for the next day! Send all your travelers to this beautiful place.
Hotel des Mille Collines (Kigali). The hotel was very nice and they cleaned our dirty boots - three pair for only $6!! (plus tip). The food was good. The rooms were comfortable. Having just watched Hotel Rwanda on TV, I enjoyed the historical aspect.
Sayari Camp (Serengeti). Well it was the place to be since the rains had come early and so had the wildebeest. The "camp" itself was beyond luxury. Great staff - met a very fun guy name Ayouba (gave him an extra tip on the side). He seem to have no specific function except to make us happy - perhaps just with his smile - but he was also attentive to our needs. Nice pool - with some of the best lizards and birds. Food was simple but delicious. The room - huge and private. And, of course, it is the home of Julie (the rhino).
Ngorongoro Farm House (Ngorongoro). Well, farm house, sort of, if you use your imagination. This place was truly special. Specious - the grounds, the dining area, the "room", The food was good. And all the while I kept thinking how much money I was saving!!! And we had already stayed on the rim of a crater!!! This place was a GOOD DEAL!
Tarangire Safari Lodge (Tarangire). The best part - it is inside the park. And it is beautifully laid out on the rim of a large valley. Animals can be seen below and heard all the night through... Location, location, location. Oh, and the animals also parade past your room.
Siwandu (Selous). A beautiful place. Nicely spaced out. The animals parade through the property with a giraffe visiting Henri and I at the pool - as long as we stayed perfectly still, she kept getting closer and closer - all the while examining us.. .some fun surprises - a morning walking safari ending with a delightful breakfast on the beach, and dinner on our room deck the last evening. The staff was well-trained and very attentive…
Air transfers. All on time (except for a brief delay departing Siwandu). All fun, with views. Good choice - especially after seeing folks who had traveled by road!
Well, that's it for now. Thanks so much.
Jeff Skinner, June 2014
Private Lodge Safari to Tanzania’s Northern Circuit
Hi Alison and Team,
We are indeed back from an amazing trip all around.
Thank you for all you did - it was quite the success! We were super pleased with all our accommodations and, in particular, with our guide, Mathey. I do wish we had stayed an extra night at the Tarangire Safari Lodge as that place and view is amazing (we heard a lion roar at night!). Also, thank you for the animal book you sent, we used it to notate all the animals and birds we saw. And we used the backpacks that you sent, as they were of great quality.
I was very much impressed by AAC and all the preparations that you helped me with. The safari was just perfect for me and my two children. I will definitely recommend your company to anyone going on safari.
Kira Tewalt, June 2014
The Best of East and Southern Africa and Seychelles Island Visit
Just a quick note to say thank you for helping us put together our fantastic, beyond belief African trip!
Schedules, camps, flights, charter flights everything was like clockwork!!!Not to mention we were greeted and welcomed everywhere and pampered and taken care of door to door!
And the land and the wild ..... Definitely beyond words.... I feel I left my heart in Africa!.... And definitely HAVE TO go back !....something mesmerizing , simple but vast and grand about Africa and we just realized we barely scratched the surface!!! So I guess you you'll be hearing from us again hopefully really soon to help us put together another amazing trip to this wonderful corner of the world!!!
Thank you again for everything and kindly forward our warmest regards to the rest of your staff who worked with us so patiently.
Fardin Zamani and Ali Vahidsafa, June 2014
Private Tanzanian Lodge Safari and Zanzibar Island Getaway
Kristina, Erica & I were relieved to finally be together to start our safari. When we arrived in the Serengeti we met Ephata. What an outstanding guide! We would like to nominate him for "Guide of the year 2014!" He could see animals that we needed binoculars to see, all while driving over bumpy roads. He even found the migration herd for us. When we drove among those hundreds of thousands, we were amazed & delighted. He knew we loved to see the baby animals & he found us a lion with triplets. One of them climbed under our vehicle for shade! He was so close we could have touched him! Ephata told us the names of all the animals, birds, trees etc., we were seeing so we could check them off in our "Safari Guide". He was a walking encyclopedia. He and Mattae worked well together to find all the animals. I could go on & on about how wonderful Ephata was....
Each of our lodges was superb. They were clean and luxurious at the end of each day… The food was good and the atmosphere at each lodge was breathtaking.
We were sad to leave the main land, but Zanzibar was waiting. We were pleased we chose the Serena in Stone Town, because there was no alcohol at Tembo House. Our driver here was Moses and he was outstanding. When we got to Mapenzie beach we booked a tour & requested Moses. We went to Prison Island, Jozani forest & swam with the dolphins. We had a room right on the beach! We went swimming under the full moon in the Indian Ocean!
In Nairobi our hotel was very luxurious (Ole Sereni). We went to the Carnivore restaurant and had crocodile, ostrich meat balls, beef, pork etc. Our tour at the giraffe center was fabulous. We all got kissed by the giraffes while feeding them! The elephant orphanage was outstanding. We just loved the babies. We adopted some and got to come back at 5pm to put them to bed. What a thrill! Their security blankets and care givers made us very happy. Our driver here was wonderful too!
So all in all you have 3 very satisfied customers, who would love to go back some day! Thank you all for doing such a fantastic job of selecting the right guides, drivers, lodges etc.
Olis Cook (Swahili nickname BiBi), Apr 2014