Harvard Business School's Africa Trek 2014 to Tanzania
Sadly, after a truly fantastic trip, we are now back on the Bostonian tundra. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I wish we were still in Tanzania! We had a great time, and we are so grateful for all the hard work you put in to make our travels go smoothly.
I can tell you that several people have come up to me telling me that this was “the trip of the lifetime,” and I’m already seeing some amazing pictures and commentary on Facebook.
It has been such a pleasure working with you – and getting to know you – these last few months. I’m looking forward to a phone catch-up again soon once all the reviews come in.
Thanks again, Sarah – and please also pass on my gratitude on behalf of the entire group to Mark, Janet, and the rest of the team. Looking forward to being in touch again soon.
Greg Lamontagne, March 2014
AAC’s Signature ‘Plains & Primate” Safari to Uganda and Rwanda
We are back home from our adventure in Africa. The trip was everything we expected and more! Of course for me (Bev), the ultimate highlight of the trip was the gorillas in both Uganda and Rwanda. I loved everything connected to the gorillas which included the trekking to find them, the information about them as well as just observing them in their natural habitat.
The highlight for Jim was observing the chimpanzees first in the high trees and then up close and personal on the ground. The chimpanzees were a pleasant surprise for us....neither one of us thought much about the chimpanzees before signing up for the trip...for us, it was pretty much all about the gorillas and anything else was just a bonus. Well, for Jim, that chimpanzee bonus turned out to be his favorite thing. Albeit, his cold which developed in Uganda kept him from taking his second Gorilla trek in Rwanda...had he been able to take this gorilla trek, who knows, maybe he would change his favorite thing to the gorillas as well.
We both thoroughly enjoyed the private cruise on Kazinga Channel. We were pleasantly surprised at how much wildlife we saw along the banks of the channel while relaxing with our beer and wine on the boat. The Mweya Lodge was an acceptable accommodation for us...
We loved the Ishasha Wilderness Camp as well as the Gorilla Forest Camp and we both were a bit sad to have been told we had to leave the Gorilla Forest camp a day early due to a reason unknown to us. As it turns out, we believe the camp was hosting the American ambassador to Uganda. That said, our night at Mahogany Springs Lodge was very nice and we also loved our accommodations at this site…
When I take adventure trips such as this one, I'm always ready for the surprises that may come our way during the trip. Again, we were pleasantly surprised that the trip went according to plan! Someone was always where they were supposed to be to meet us....that's a very reassuring feeling when traveling in a foreign country.
Thanks again for showing us a wonderful time through Africa Adventure Company. I won't hesitate to recommend you to other adventure travelers.Bev Erickson & Jim Moen, Feb 2014
Private Chimp and Gorilla Safari to Uganda
Elena & Team,
Andrea & Andrew Krohnberg, Feb 2014
“African Journeys” Safari to Kenya and Tanzania
Elena, Mark & Alison
Thank you thank you, thank you for the most unbelievable trip/vacation we have ever had!! Having been on some short ‘safari’ day trips on a cruise in South Africa we knew that we would enjoy our trip to East Africa but never in our wildest dreams did we think it would be as fabulous as it was.
We saw everything game wise (almost) and saw it in large quantities. We got amazing pictures and videos that will help us to relive the two weeks for the rest of our lives. Our private guide in Tanzania, George Mollel, was super! He was personable, knowledgeable, informative and a great spotter.
The first drive we did (in the Ngorongoro Crater) set the tone when we were lucky enough to see a wildebeest give birth (photo attached) only to have the newborn attacked by jackals who were unable to actually kill it. We watched in horror (caught on video) as the baby kept trying to stand only to be pulled down by the two jackals. Then much to our surprise a hyena ran in, killed the little wildebeest and ran off with the carcass. We had wanted to see a birth and kill but not all at the same time.
George proved to be very good at planning and finding the game we were most interested in – lions. We drove to the back on Manyara directly and then worked out way out to avoid any crowds. We saw a pride of 4 females & 3 babies with no one anywhere near us. One of the females chased a porcupine towards our truck and then laid in the road in front of us pulling quills out of its paw. In Tarangire we once again saw a pride that posed for us on a tree branch – talk about a photo op.
The camps we stayed in were all nice but kudos to Oliver’s whose location allowed us to be first in and last out of the areas deep within the Tarangire. We also enjoyed the other people at the camp especially Justin & Jacky the managers. We loved being at the fire pit for wine & sharing every evening.
Mara Explorers was an unbelievable camp also – same fire pit experiences and although we were doing shared drives the camp was very empty (5 people besides us). The manager, George knew we had been in Tanzania for a week so put the other first timers in one truck and gave us our own driver!
We also are so thankful for The Africa Adventure Company taking all the stress out of the travel, connections, etc. Elena and the final itinerary made us feel comfortable that we would be well handled but we were not prepared for how well it would be…
The day we flew back from Arusha to Wilson, Kenya Air cancelled our flight (not enough people) and we were put on a SafariLink flight. We were running late and of course I worried about our connecting flight and wondered if the person meeting us even knew about the cancelled flight or what flight we were actually on. Silly me – we were met at the bottom of the stairs and escorted across the tarmac to our flight to the Mara – they were holding the plane for us – too cool.
I’m not sure what day it was – probably the second day in the Mara when after our morning drive Suzy looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “You know we’ll be back.” To which I answered simply, “I know.”
We are already working with Elena on next year’s safari!!!
Thank you for the most amazing adventure one could ever have. Like I said to Elena a couple of weeks ago after you’ve been to Africa where else is there?Suzy & Ewald Wiberg, Feb 2014
AAC’s Signature Private Safari to Tanzania
We were delighted with our safari as planned and managed by Africa Adventure Company, your ground operator and guided by Emmanuel Mkenda.
This was Scott’s sixth safari in Africa and Adelaide’s seventh, including a group tour in Kenya, a private safari in Tanzania, and visits to camps in Botswana and to several private game parks in South Africa. AAC and your ground operator don’t take a back seat to any safari company based on our Tanzania experience. All arrangements were flawless, the vehicle was in excellent shape, the guide was outstanding and the preliminary planning assistance was excellent.
Arusha: Your representative met us at the airport walked us through visas and passport control quickly and the trip to the lodge went just as well. Mountain Village Serena Lodge was an excellent choice — comfortable, well managed, excellent food. The decision to stay at the lodge for two nights was good. It allowed an extra day and night to recover from the trip to Arusha and the half-day in Arusha National Park was excellent. We went there with Mkenda and saw the crater, Momella lakes and colobus monkeys we’d only glimpsed before in Kenya.
Tarangire: …At Tarangire we got our first exposure to Mkenda’s exceptional ability and experience. One morning, we and others observed a leopard cub in a tree near the road and the mother perhaps 100 yards away in a tree by the marsh. We went back in the afternoon and saw the cub sleeping on the ground near the marsh but the mother was not in sight. Other vehicles stopped for brief photos and left. Mkenda said, “I’m going to find the leopard, I know she’s nearby.”
We drove up and down the road, scanning the marsh edge with binoculars. Suddenly, there was an outbreak of guinea fowl alarm calls. Mkenda spotted the leopard moving through the marsh toward the cub. The cub joined her and they picked up a second cub behind some bushes. The three leopards angled toward the road while we kept pace.
A dead tree snag beside the road was perhaps 20 feet tall with a horizontal branch about 10 feet up. The mother leopard climbed it and lay down on the branch stub. The two cubs played, climbed up and lay on top of her…15 feet from us in the vehicle. We watched them for 45 minutes until sunset in perfect light with no other vehicles present.
Mkenda was as thrilled as we were…in 18 years of guiding he hadn’t had an experience like that! Just the leopards and us. At Tarangire we also watched three cheetah cubs wait while their mother went through the bush to make a kill, then we followed them as they caught up with her and the four of them began to feast on the kill.
Lake Manyara: You were absolutely right to encourage us to go to the south end of the park for two days. The Lake Manyara Tree Lodge was comfortable and a good base. One day our butler set a lunch table for us at poolside because an elephant was feeding perhaps 50 feet away; but by the time we got there the elephant had moved on, still a nice gesture on his part. The game viewing alongside the lake was excellent with good diversity and huge numbers of flamingos. We’re glad we went there.
Gibb’s Farm: This was a pleasant break mid-way with lovely rooms, beautiful gardens, and excellent food. I took the walk with Mkenda and a local ranger to the elephant cave and waterfall and it was an interesting 4-5 mile round trip on the ground. With my forestry background we had a lot of good conversation about the trees along the way. While I did that, Adelaide was with the artist in residence.
Ngorongoro: We spent 10 hours in the crater the first day, arriving at 7 am and leaving in late afternoon. It wasn’t overly crowded and vehicle roads were in good shape. We saw a diversity of animals and birds and were reminded of the uniqueness of the crater and its habitat. Often we were alone except when lions were found. In late afternoon we had an experience with lions reminiscent of our first time there in 2000 when lions lay alongside our vehicle and cubs lay under another vehicle in its shade. This time we found a group of lions beside the road doing what lions do best: sleeping. A large male got up and walked to our vehicle and lay down against the rear wheel for a snooze. Then, he got up and walked around the other vehicles lie down in the road under the front bumper of the vehicle next to us and went to sleep again.
Explorean is a beautiful lodge facility — elegant, huge bedroom/living room/deck, excellent staff and food. The first night a German tour group of 20 people and their leader made the dining room lively. The second night there were only three tables of guests.
Ndutu: Lamala Camp: The drive from the main road SW to the lake was across a dry, dusty. When we arrived at the camp, guides had discovered a leopard in a tree 100 yards from the camp just as a rain began. So, we took more good photos of a leopard and saw her call her cub, climb down and the two of them walk off. Buffalo and wildebeest and zebras grazed through the camp at night while lions roared in the distance. The open acacia forest by the lake had lots of giraffes. The camp facilities were fine, food was very good, and staff was outgoing and friendly. It wasn’t crowded…only three tents were in use, and two were single ladies on safaris. It rained during the nights we were there which made the grass green up immediately.
Serengeti Shared Safari Camp: The mobile camp was fine; very basic but good beds and good food served “home style”. We were the only guests in camp so we got full staff attention. The game drives were outstanding. We were in the midst of the migration, so on the plain we were surrounded by wildebeests and zebras and gazelles with lots of new babies as far as the eye could see. We saw long columns of them crossing the lake bed or wading across the shallow parts of the lake. We went NW across the plain completely alone to the Hidden Valley water hole where we found lions. On the plain we also saw warthogs, jackals, hyenas, bat eared foxes and vultures of all kinds.
In the Serengeti we saw numerous cheetahs, including one with five cubs that we watched for perhaps an hour. We followed a cheetah across the plain where she was hunting — the prey animals were some distance off and after an hour we broke off. We saw another cheetah catch and eat a scrub hare and another stalked a dikdik that got away in the bush. We saw lions eating a zebra that was freshly killed.
On the morning drive north from Ndutu to Seronera airstrip, we saw a cheetah lying beside the road just east of the Naabi Gate and another on the plain north of Naabi Hill. When we passed the Simba koepies, a lioness was lying atop the tallest rock. The Regional Air plane was on time. Ironically, after we took off the plane flew to Ndutu to pick up two passengers a mile from our camp, then on to Arusha!
Scott and Adelaide Wallinger, Jan-Feb 2014
AAC’s Signature Plains and Primates Safari to Uganda and Rwanda
Hi, Szilvia! Sorry to be so late in responding, but we're really just now getting our heads above water after returning from the trip....seems the older we get the longer it takes us to recover from the long flights.
The trip was wonderful and even exceeded my expectations, especially our time spent with the gorillas! Our first trek in Bwindi was VERY challenging because it took us 7 hours to find the family...ugh! Betty became extremely fatigued and needed a lot of help from our two porters to help her down the mountain. We treked the family all he way to the top of a mountain and then all the way back to the bottom of the mountain....the family was initially at the top of the mountain, but a rouge silverback infiltrated the family and scared them back down to the bottom! Nonetheless, once we found the family it was awesome.
We enjoyed the gorilla trek in Rwanda the most for a couple of reasons....first, it was a much easier trek to find the gorillas; second, we were able to see the entire family in a much less vegetated areas; and finally, we saw three silverbacks and two 4-6 month old babies in the family. Wow, did Betty enjoy seeing the babies.
Habib was superb. He went out of his way to make our safari the best it could possibly be. So, thanks so much for helping to set us up with him. The accommodations were excellent, especially after seeing how limited accommodations can be in both Uganda and Rwanda. We particularly enjoyed staying at the Jack Hannah cottage....we had no idea how special that place is especially after realizing that so many famous people have stayed there (eg, Bill Gates; Bill Clinton; Jack Nicklaus; the creator of Google; etc.). The entire staff treated us like royalty there. It was an experience we will never forget…
Thanks again for setting us up with such a marvelous trip, Szilvia!Bill and Betty Campbell, Jan 2014
Private Explorer Safari to Kenya and Tanzania
Good morning Lynne,
Thank you, thank you so much for a trip of a lifetime! All 7 of us had a wonderful, exceptional trip. We were so well taken care of each step of the way. The lodges are beautiful with such attentive staff! All logistics were smooth as silk. Not one glitch!
And the guides! Alex in Kenya and James in Tanzania are superb guides! We all fell in love with them both. They each made our safaris far superior and more satisfying that we dreamed it could be. We felt so lucky with the vast numbers of animals we saw, very up close and personal! I think the average of photos we each came back with is 4000!
Your name is spoken with gratitude and respect by this set of 7 African Adventurers!
Thank you so much,
Kris and Frank Matarrese, Jan 2014
Private Safari to Tanzania and Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
John and I returned yesterday (just suffering from a bit of jet lag!), and although we are happy to be back home, we are missing Africa! We had an AMAZING trip and we want to thank you and everyone else at Africa Adventure Company for helping us to plan the trip.
I speak on behalf of the Gregg's also in saying that the trip was more than we could have imagined. Everything went off without a hitch (no flight delays, no illnesses, no injuries, etc.).
We all fell in love with Mkenda and I was close to tears when we had to say good-bye to him at the airstrip near Olakira to board our plane for Rwanda. I really felt like I was saying farewell to a family member, not knowing when I would see him again. He is such a fabulous guide and provided us with some amazing game viewing. He is so passionate about his job and connects so well with his clients. We just can't praise him enough! If he ever returns to the US, please let us know so we can fly him to Seattle for a visit.
We enjoyed all of our lodging experiences in Tanzania, but especially LOVED Oliver's Camp (and how lucky for us that Paul Oliver was visiting while we were there so we had the opportunity to chat with him over dinner). What an interesting person! Jackee and Justin are the greatest host and hostess, which only added to the perfect experience at Oliver's.
We all fell in love with Rwanda! What a gorgeous country and how amazing to see how they continue to heal from the Genocide. We loved our guide, Theo, and miss him already also.
Gorilla trekking was beyond words, and we were lucky to get Francois as one of our guides. It is amazing to watch him around the gorillas!
Needless to say, we would highly recommend Africa Adventure Co. to anyone planning travel to Africa. Thanks again for ALL your help!
Sincerely,Lisa and John Russell, Jan 2014