Clients Trip Reports – October – November 2015 (East Africa)
Flying safari to Tanzania’s Ruaha and the Selous Game Reserves
Elena, we had a fabulous time. Organizationally everything went fine, so cudos to you and your team. We were very happy with accommodations at Rufiji River Camp and Ruaha River Lodge, the guides and other services. In particular, we were very happy that we had a private safari vehicle for just us so we were able to spend as much time as we wanted on safari. We probably overdid it a bit but we came home exhausted and happy. Africa is always a profound experience and is good for senses and spirit. We saw a huge variety of animals and were able to study behavior and took lots of pictures.
Again, thank you for your help.
Friedhelm Brinkhaus, Nov 2015
Private Safari to Tanzania and Flying Safari to Botswana
I don’t know where to start!!!
That was truly a “Trip of a Lifetime”. Our time in Tanzania was so fantastic, we are almost afraid to go back! We are so thankful to have had Mkenda for our guide! I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how great he is!!! Do you remember how nervous we were about the flying and wanted to go ONLY if we could get Economy Comfort seats? Well, next time it’ll be only if we can get Economy Comfort seats AND Mkenda!!
To start at the beginning….it was so good to have someone there to help us when we arrived tired in Arusha. The following morning we left with Mkenda to drive to our first stop, the Ngorongoro Crater. The crater was like a story book; we couldn’t believe our eyes!! The highlight, if I can pick one thing, was seeing a rhino in the distance and watching it as it came TOWARD us and that it had a baby with it!! She got pretty close before she stopped to nurse! We liked Kitela Lodge; the people were great!
The Oldupai Gorge was interesting, as was the visit to the Masaai village. Our favorite part was the Serengeti! Again, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we entered the plains filled with wildebeests, zebra and antelope. WOW! We loved the camps and all the people were great! The game drives were magical (That word sounds silly but can’t think of a better one and it really fits!)
Did you hear that we saw a giraffe in labor??? We were looking for a cheetah when we saw her with two legs sticking out!!! We parked and watched but it seemed like she was too preoccupied with us so we left her alone for a while. There was no change when we came back. We were on our way from Namiri to Dunia that morning but Mkenda said we’d just stay put to see this (we really liked having that flexibility!!) Again, she seemed to be focusing on us (even though we were hiding behind a tree) so we left her alone again to go back to Namiri. Mkenda said she was a young giraffe and this was probably her first so we were kind of nervous that things weren’t going well and didn’t want to interfere. We went back again in about 20 minutes and saw the male and female standing over something on the ground and just as we got closer, the baby raised it’s head for the first time!!!! We watched it struggle to get up and take her (Mkenda named her Maxine!!) first steps and finally (less than an hour) walk away with the mom! That was worth the whole trip!!! (Mkenda said he’d never seen that in 20 years of guiding!) Dunia Camp was great…saw lots of leopards and a small cat that Mkenda said he’s only seen 4 times.
Then it was off to Botswana (which was a little grueling due to a lost suitcase). We liked both camps in Botswana and, of course, the people were great. We were disappointed (as was everyone) that the rains were late this year and there was no water at our “water” camps. (We had been “spoiled” by game viewing in the Serengeti)… We really enjoyed watching birds from our porch at Savuti and hanging out at the pool (it was 118 degrees!!) We did have some fun African experiences there (elephant snoring outside our tent!)
Thank you for all your hard work!
Maxine Cleveland, Nov 2015
Flying Safari to Botswana and Gorilla trekking in Uganda
We had a great time in Africa. All the camps were fantastic as well as all the guides. We especially liked Goodman as our guide in Savuti and DumaTau. Great service everywhere especially at Bwindi, Uganda. The Residence was impressive and our hotel on Lake Victoria had a great location. You really steered us right going to the private concessions rather than the national parks in Botswana. We got to go off road and see some amazing things…
Will put South Africa and Namibia on our list for our next African vacation. Thank you for your help and great advice.
Joe Lucas and Mary Lee Fugina, Oct-Nov 2015
The Best of East and Southern Africa
Our safaris in Botswana and Tanzania were amazing. We quickly fell short of words to describe the experiences we had and the vast numbers of animals we saw. This was truly the trip of a lifetime.
The safari in Botswana was absolutely fantastic. The itinerary was extremely well planned, starting in Nxabega in the Okavango Delta (beautiful, somewhat fewer animals), next to very hot, very dry Moremi and Savute, and ending in lovely Serondela in Chobe (amazing numbers of animals by the river)…the progression of what we saw made each day more exciting than the last.
The camps go out of their way to provide the best-ever experience…. including what they call “guest delights.” Unexpected surprises like a beautiful mokorro ride at sunset, a stop for coffee and muffins during a delta boat ride or on a game drive (they serve us a LOT of food!), arriving at a viewing blind by a lake to find hors d’oeuvres and drinks all set up, a Chobe river cruise complete with champagne to celebrate the last day of our safari… they really stood out as providing the “dreamed about” safari experience.
In Victoria Falls, The Elephant Camp was excellent….it felt like pure luxury to take a real shower and use the plunge pool after being so hot and dusty in Botswana (even though loving every minute of it). Great staff, beautiful accommodations.
Flying up to Kenya was seamless. Amboseli National Park exceeded my expectations and Tortilis Camp was lovely….very comfortable, friendly staff (and they served us a special dinner complete with champagne and cake to celebrate my birthday!). Would highly recommend Tortilis Camp.
Upon transferring across the border from Kenya to Tanzania, we were met by Wilfred Mollel, our Safari guide. Warm, funny, an amazing knowledge of animals and birds and an eagle eye! He took us on (literally) 10+ hour game drives each day in Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with him….he is a great guide. We loved Tarangire and the Crater…
Our last site was in the Serengeti…we flew to Kogatende to stay at Olakira Camp. We are so glad we had three days there, rather than two! The tents were actually somewhat nicer than those in Botswana…more room, but more appealing was the fact that the bathroom/shower area was separate but also enclosed (so no zipping to go in and out to use the facilities)…
Our guide at Olakira was Nathan, who was absolutely fantastic….he knew the Serengeti so well, knew the animals and their behavior….he kept saying we were just lucky to see all that we did in the Serengeti (we saw many lions and their cubs, a rhino and her baby, cheetahs, leopards, tons of elephants, giraffes, buffalo, all kinds of antelope, on and on….we even saw the migrating wildebeest crossing the river not once but twice!!) but I think it was his skill as a guide that made for such an amazing experience. The staff was lovely, particularly the camp manager Anna (a Maasai woman…what a role model she is), and the food delicious. I even got another birthday cake! They hit it out of the park on all accounts; we rated them 10/10 on their evaluation form we filled out on our last day in camp…
Ellen Scarr, Oct-Nov 2015
Bird and Wildlife Safari to Tanzania
I am emailing to rave about our amazing safari (and guide!) I will have to go over my travel journal and notes to remember everything as it is all such a blur! For now, though I thought I should email a quick note to say it was above and beyond our wildest expectations! (And we’ve been before with your company 6 years ago, which was also amazing).
This time, though, we did a private safari since we are such avid birders with a bird specialist guide. Ephata is the 8th wonder of the world! Not only does he spot and identify birds as we are driving, he has books and reads all the info about each bird to us as we take a zillion pictures. And by day 3 we had nicknamed him CATMAN because of his uncanny ability to spot a lion or cheetah a mile away and get us there long before any other vehicles. Keeping him with us on our last two days at Namiri Plains was also an added bonus. He became family within a day and has a terrific sense of humor, too, keeping us laughing all day. I am already ready to return and miss Tanzania intensely.
We will most definitely go on safari again, and hopefully Ephata will still be available! I will write more as I go through some notes. Thank you for your attention to all details.
Rebecca Dunn, Oct 2015
Private Safari to Tanzania and Visit to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
We had an amazing trip! It exceeded my expectations and Naida was especially happy. She had heard so much about safaris in general that she was prepared to be disappointed! However, far from it!
First special thanks to you for your guidance through the various choices and listening to what we were looking for. The combination of the personal guide initially and then the trip to the north was perfect. Also please thank Janet for the flight arrangements, especially the final one home to Vancouver, I appreciate that that was a bonus for us! We were able to make our connection and were home early in the evening which was perfect.
It was fun flying the small planes in and out of the areas. All our flights were met and everything taken care of without a hitch.
The two guides we had were excellent! Mkenda’s knowledge was excellent, and the one in the Serengeti went out of his way to maximize our experience. We saw the “big 5” and a 30 minute crossing of the wildebeest. The accommodations were all excellent, especially the one beside the crater. I loved the tenting in the Serengeti, even Naida who likes 5 stars, and not in the sky, was impressed. The food there was wonderful. The staff all over were the best and their managers were most attentive to our needs.
We would like to go back to Africa in the future for sure, if we can do it. And certainly will recommend your company to anyone thinking about a safari.
Berry Gubbins, Oct 2015
Plains of the Serengeti Private Tanzanian Safari
We would like to tell you that we had an amazing time in Africa. We liked safari very-very much and enjoyed every single day.
You were absolutely right – we didn’t need to worry about anything from the moment the plane landed in Nairobi. Your representatives, Nerryann and Dickson were wonderful. We spent a day with them; also they met us (we requested it before going to safari) when we were back in Nairobi. They tried to meet all our requests and needs at their best. We really enjoyed their company.
In Tanzania, special thanks to our guide/driver Mohamed. Again you were right: he is an excellent guide; he told us a lot about animals, plants, a little about geology. Besides nature talks we had long discussions during dinners/lunches with him about education system, health, holidays, shopping in Tanzania, his family – you name it. It was very interesting to us to talk with someone who lives in Tanzania. He had a special eye for animals, he spotted animals far from the road and quite often we were the first ones. Even when there were many cars to watch a lion or other animals he drove and found the spot for us that our car was in the front. Also he was the excellent driver – my husband is a driver with 30+ driving experience in different countries; he acknowledge his driving skills. I told him on our first day that my goal is to a cheetah; and he answered that he would do his best; and besides cheetah was his favorite animal too. We saw a cheetah having lunch, we were the first ones to find a family of mother-cheetah and 3 teenagers cheetahs; we observed their hunt. If we asked that we would like to stay and just observe animals he stopped the car and let us stay there as long as we would like and telling us stories about the animal.
We really liked all the camps we stayed: all were different but all rooms were very comfortable. People were fantastic. A crew of 12-15 people kept running a camp site. Every day at 6 in the morning we were met with friendly smiles, spotless white tablecloth, linen napkins and a nicely served table with 2 sets of forks/knives. They worked really hard to make all the guests feel very comfortable.
A very-very special thank you is for you Jessica. Probably I was a lucky one that you answered to my first email and we started working together. Thank you very much for all your work you have done for us, for all your suggestions, for being patient planning and re-planning the trip, checking and re-checking hotels, routes, etc. Every time I called and talk to you I heard smile in your voice.
Natalia Karassina, Oct 2015
Tanzania Safari and Gorilla Trekking to Rwanda
Mark and Szilvia,
Overall the safari was excellent! Well planned and executed with fine places to stay, great animals to see and people to meet. Here are a few more specific observations;
In Tanzania, Mkenda was an excellent guide, clearly knowledgeable and personable. Legendary Coffee Lodge was great for 2 nights, one day of rest, including massages.
Ngorongoro Crater was really scenic and good animals but many viewed from afar since had to stay on dirt roads… Ngorongoro Crater Lodge really distinctive and enjoyable. Service was great.
In Rwanda, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge was excellent and the gorilla treks fully lived up to the high expectations. We were fortunate to trek only about an hour each day to see the two gorilla families and got great photos.
Thanks very much for organizing a great trip.
Scott Smith, Oct 2015
Private safari to Tanzania and Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Mark & company, yes we are back and, well, it is difficult to begin describing our favorite moments. There were so many. Every day was an adventure, an opportunity to meet and associate with great and gracious people and to learn about a beautiful continent and its wildlife.
It might be best to first say that, at the beginning, you asked us what we hoped to see and do and in response I sent a somewhat lengthy description that suggested we wanted to see the animals, the different landscapes and learn more about the African people. Your itinerary accomplished all of it and more, and we will always be thankful that we connected with Africa Adventure Company. Your very professional attention to every detail, including evidently some requests for small celebrations of our 50th anniversary by our hosts at the camps and the Lodge at Ngorongoro, was remarkable. I can say without qualification that we never had a moment that we did not enjoy over the entire 3 weeks. All of the lodging sites were first class as were the hosts and all of the staff personnel and our flights came off without a single hitch.
The highlights began with our stay at the Legendary Coffee lodge although we did regret that, having arrived late in the evening, we then had to leave so early the next day. We could have spent another day at this great venue.
The game viewing at Tarangire was outstanding but some of the most memorable moments included our walk amongst the elephants, the night drive in an open car and the elephant just outside our tent at 3AM breaking limbs from a tree for his midnight snack. At Ngorongoro, we were fortunate to watch a pride of 22 lions cross the road in front of our car and saw our first black rhino, now only a leopard short of the big 5. The celebration of our anniversary with an entire choir singing and dancing around our table frankly took our breath away for a few moments. And to top off this experience, we became minor celebrities (and our guide Ephata a hero) at dinner one evening when we quite innocently said we saw (and photographed) a pangolin which, we learned only then was a rare event.
On to the Serengeti and while Oliver’s was nice, the Sayari Camp was wonderful. Best times here included finally sighting our beautiful leopard right at sunset to the west and a rainbow to the east. The next morning we witnessed not one but two crossings, thankfully without any crocs, and learned as well how smart the zebra is to always cross upriver from the gnu since the crocs usually approach from downriver. A private sundowner with the host and hostess capped off a wonderful stay that also included a private surprise anniversary dinner on our tent porch.
On to Kigali, a great city and then to perhaps the most interesting venture of all, the trek into the forest to see the gorilla. While the Serena hotel was a perfect place to regroup after the bush, the Sabyinyo Silverback lodge and the host Mike, were a nice treat. As I know you have, we walked among the gorillas for an hour and I felt especially blessed to have received not one, but two “free kicks” from one of the “teenagers” after he sneaked up from behind, a gesture the guide said was his attempt to play.
BUT, all of this said Mark, Susan and I would like to say that, forced to describe our most precious remembrance, it was the opportunity to have met and come to know our 3 guides. Ephata Lotashu is as nice a gentleman as we will ever know, knowledgeable and patient with us as first-timers, and now a new friend. We learned more from him in a few days than we could have learned in weeks or months in any other forum, I’m sure. This is also true of our guide and equally good friend now, Oredi Mzaliwa, a gracious and a humble but very capable man who had a unique talent for always putting us in exactly the right place to best watch game and the crossings. He noticed signs amongst the herds that indicated the presence of predators no one else noticed and he searched hard for and found the animal I most wanted to see, the beautiful leopard, and at sunset to boot. And then there is Theo Rutembesa, our driver/guide in Rwanda whose advice and counsel, as well as his connections with the guiding community at the trekking HQ made our gorilla visit a perfect experience.
So, you asked and now I have delivered yet another lengthy message but we want you to know how much we appreciate your company’s work to make this a memorable experience. We are already considering another trip to Africa and, of course, if we decide to do so, we will be calling on you to plan our next adventure.
Thank you and best regards,
Susan and Skip Williams, Oct 2015