S. Dyer, Canada. 2011.
We had a really fantastic time, exceeded all my wildest expectations. Nothing can beat the feeling of being in the African wilderness!
All the lodges were good … I think it was a really good combination as some animals that weren’t plentiful in one area were in another … we felt like we ended up seeing everything by the end of the trip.
Siwandu (Selous) – 5 stars, amazing food and service. Really appreciated the pool when dealing with the hottest afternoons I think I’ve ever had to deal with! And there were no annoying insects at all which was amazing. We had our first game drive after getting picked up from the airstrip and I couldn’t believe all the animals we saw in 2 hours. Loved all the giraffe and baboons. Saw elephants once, guides found us lions close up 3 times which was also great.
Ikuka (Ruaha) – 5 stars for the food, service and amazing view. Pool was also great for the hot afternoons. I was a bit disappointed at first at the lack of wildlife around compared to the Selous, but I really wanted to see elephants and there certainly were a lot of them! After a while I did appreciate the beauty of the area especially around sunset, the sunrises and sunsets were amazing. The only hiccup was our first guide was not very good at all, his English was poor and I thought his driving and attitude was rather reckless and he did not communicate very well with us about where he was driving us to (he was trying to find the big cats , he did find us a leopard eventually). On our 3rd drive he tried to drive close to a group of elephants in the dry river bed and got the car stuck in the sand, near 40 elephants and 1 hour before sunset! I was very stressed for 45 minutes, another guest thought it was a great adventure and was trying to help him get the car unstuck. I was worried he was not calling for backup because he was worried about getting in trouble. Finally he called for back up and I felt fine once other people came … they walked us out and called in a car to tow it out. Mark (the manager) was extremely apologetic (I shared my other concerns about him) and took us out for the game drives after that (also we had one drive with another guide who was much better). Mark gave us a walking tour for free as well. We didn’t see that guide after that so I’m not sure if he was suspended for a bit or worse … but I do think he was a very bad guide. So I think Ikuka is 5 stars as long as they have quality guides!
Alex Walker Serian (Serengeti) – 5 stars for the location and guides … obviously a bit more rustic that the others and the food, although good, isn’t as gourmet as the other places. The bucket showers were fine and the water was actually hotter than the other places… nice to have the toilet within your tent rather than unzipping the tent in the middle of the night! Our guides were really amazing and showed us the value of being patient … our guide got us waiting near a couple of lions and we saw them mate, and also the lioness tried to “cheat” on the alpha male … amazing, and we were the only jeep there. We also saw baby lions and baby leopards, which was great. We caught a wildebeast crossing without having to wait for it, just being at the right place and the right time! (We did try to catch another one but no luck with the indecisive wildebeest.) Only in the last 2 days of our trip I started to get a lot of insect bites (delayed reaction?) I would advise guests to bring earplugs for if the wildebeest are nearby they are very noisy at night!
Thanks for all your help planning, all my neurotic worries about my stomach getting sick and giant scary insects did not come true!
D. Jeans, UK. 2011.
As Matthew has said, it was a great trip and many thanks for organising it for us.
The internal flights all went very smoothly and dovetailed well – the 4 hour wait at Jo’burg on arrival did not seem to matter too much as we were whisked off for an evening game drive on arrival at Kwara.
Kwara was a good place to start off. We were fortunate in having George as our driver/guide – mature, very well informed about all the wildlife and with a good sense of humour. As there were four of us we mostly went on drives on our own with George and a spotter, although the camp was full. The rest of the staff were very helpful and friendly. The accommodation was very adequate and certainly a far cry from our first safari experience in 1985, with electric light, running water and flushing loos now! The food was fine – although the Christmas turkey was the size of an average chicken and meant to feed about 20 of us! Plentiful wine and all sorts of spirits though.
We enjoyed the dance/singing routine before dinner (twice), which was just as much for the staff’s benefit as the punters’.
There were plenty of animals to see – lots of lion, elephants, giraffe etc. at close range to the camp and, of course, loads of birds. The river safari was good once they had got the boat working and fortunately the punters at little Kwara (friends of Matthew’s) came to our rescue several times when the boat stalled!
Duba Plains was definitely a step up from Kwara. Smaller – only 6 rooms all well spaced out – and the last night we were the only guests and received star treatment with dinner laid out under the stars. Martin stood out as being an excellent camp leader. We spent a lot of time in our two days there watching a potential lion kill which eventually happened hours after we had left! On the last morning the ‘boys’ all went on a slightly scary speedboat trip looking or hippos, which were plentiful. Probably not as much variety of game as at Kwara but great to see the lions at close range. We were all sad to leave.
Just for the record, the Franschhoek House and Villas Hotel was just right for a family stay – with very good food.
Hope this gives you some idea of our experience. Although I consult it, I am not a great believer in Trip advisor as everyone is after something different on holiday.
J. Kibbey, UK. 2011.
Just a quick note to say how much we enjoyed our holiday. Everything worked perfectly and all three Selous properties were excellent and provided great diversity. Jongomero was probably our favourite due to its remoteness and Molly and Noelle but we loved Selous and Ras Kutani as well. The trip was a perfect length, a day more or less at any of the places would not have been as good!
Many thanks for requesting an upgrade at Ras Kutani, we were absolutely thrilled to be in a beautiful suite, it made the last two days even more special.
In all three camps they spoke very warmly of you and Tanzanian Odyssey’s professionalism so we certainly felt we had chosen the right company to go with.
Once again, many thanks.
With very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
M. Young, Berlin. 2011.
Now back in Berlin, we just wanted to give feedback for our unforgettable Christmas safari to Tanzania. Everything was flawless and highly enjoyable. All transfers worked perfectly (not to be taken for granted), and all the guides were very knowledgeable, but also very empathetic and focused on what we were looking for. Truly a superb performance.
We especially liked the Tree Lodge, Oyster Bay and Shooting Star. Special thanks to Tom McGail for pointing us to those early on.
Lets keep in touch!
A & K. Isacson, USA. 2011.
We had a fantastic adventure through Tanzania Odyssey.
Our favorite experience was at Alex Walker’s Serian. The private game viewing had us in a vehicle virtually from sun up to sun down, with breakfast and lunch served during the game drive, overlooking the Serengeti. Thanks to both our terrific driver, Tumba, and guide, Jololo, we witnessed a crossing, which was amazing, and saw ostrich, zebra, warthogs and monkeys. We viewed a dozen lions (some mating), elephants, giraffe, plus a beautiful leopard. One highlight was a black rhino and her calf alone on a grassy plain. We were able to get quite close and, as with most all our sightings, we were the only vehicle around. It allowed for some amazing photographs. Although a mobile camp, without the benefit of running water, the accommodations were luxurious. The sound of elephants right outside our tent and the roar of lions at night was thrilling.
We also enjoyed the Selous and the completely different experience of viewing animals from the water.
In both camps the food was delicious and the service friendly and efficient.
We must commend you on assembling a trip that exceeded our expectations. You listened to our requests and gave us exactly what we wanted. The entire trip was seamless, with all transfers, flights and accommodations handled efficiently.
We will be contacting you for future African trips.
Brian J, USA. 2011.
I’ve had a note on my desk since Sunday reminding me to call you. Yes, managed to avboid the pirates, Al Shabaab – even a buffalo running like Usain Bolt across our path on the way back to our Grumeti River Tent one night. And had a fantastic safari all the way. Highlights too numerous to mention but included a leopard strolling past while we had a bush breakfast with Richard Knocker, tracking another leopard by following the sounds of alarming jackals for 3 km, seeing the most spectacular (1 hour-long) wildebeest river crossing and enjoying the best-ever time with three families of small lion cubs. Great accommodation and terrific people wherever we stayed – and even managed to blag our way into the executive lounge at JKA on the way home! Everything went like clockwork – even the (very African) transfers with Coastal from the Mara to Kogatende by way of Migori and Tarime! Wouldn’t send first-timers that way yet – but it was fine and it worked and it was on time. I could go on but I have a couple of stories to write, so it just remains for me to thank you once again for putting together a fabulous trip.
G Reynolds, USA. 2011.
Greetings Julian The trip was excellent in every respect. As to Onsea. No real major complaints except the first night the dining and drinking area was just outside our windows which was noisy for some time, the return 2 nights we had no electric and had to be moved to another room which shared a common living room and kitchen with others. Despite that , we adapted and had a pleasant stay. What we liked about Rivertrees was the spaciousness of the grounds which gave a greater sense of privacy. Plantation Lodge was fantastic, with lots of attention to detail. You might tell clients beforehand that it is a long dirt road off the main road to ease any concerns since both Cindy and I and other clients were a bit concerned where we were going and if to the lodge. Sopa is very unique with great views. Food at both places was good .The view at Sopa of the Crater was spectacular. Norgorongro Crater was very dry and dusty with OK , but not great game viewing , likely due to conditions. Whereas, the Mara River area was fantastic. Alex Walker’s camp was everything you said it would be. Grass was green and lush , saw three crossings and lots of game. All in all , we were very satisfied and pleased. Glad to refer anyone. You planned a great trip. Thanks and hope to plan another one soon. Be Well, Do Good Work, and Stay in touch. Gene
C. Monksfield, UK. 2011.
So sorry for the late reply, I’ve been a bit manic since being back from our amazing trip, then I just found this email …
I think it will be hard to take an exception to any one guide or chef, they were all good in their own way, all the guides were good as was the food etc.
Ras Kutani – A perfect start to the holiday, just sheer relaxation! The suite was amazing with a lovely plunge pool, staff were very helpful and polite in every manner. The beach is nice to stroll on and the service was quick and efficient, having some spa treatments available also was a bonus.
Mwagusi – Certainly a rustic camp, a real feeling of being out in the middle of the Ruaha game reserve. Lots of good game viewing here, we were so lucky to see some amazing cats also including a pride of Lions taking on a Giraffe, a leopard chilling in a tree and a Cheetah from a distance. There was a nice camp feel in the evening chilling by a fire with tales of the day and the food was excellent again. Lovely accommodation given location and friendly staff.
Beho Beho – We absolutely loved this place, a family home come base camp in a Jurassic feeling Selous game reserve. This was a real step in luxury and service, all the staff were very friendly and professional with a real team feeling. There is a good feeling of remoteness with no manicured roads and specific tracks to follow. The walking safari’s were a great experience. The game a little less common than in the Ruaha but mainly down to the dense landscape not because it wasn’t there. Some real treats to a different style of safari with a trip to the lakes to see a variety of different wildlife. It has to be said the stay was enhanced by the great people we met whilst staying in Beho Beho in a very social gathering, not to be said that it can’t be private though it can be as social as you like.
Mnemba – I guess this has to be the perfect ending, the pictures pretty much sum it up as a lost Maldivian Island and that’s exactly as it is. A luxurious stay with everything you’d expect from a 5 star experience. Friendly staff intent on making the feel of a private Island as private as you want it to be. Superb diving and private dining.
The Serena Inn Stone town is what it is really, probably the best hotel around there but not got much of a chance after all the other locations being so great … despite us not arriving til about 4pm our room still wasn’t ready. Only complaint to be honest.
Thanks for all your advice and efforts in arranging the trip as well as possible.
D. Hyman, UK. 2011.
As discussed earlier today, thanks again for your help and recommendations in planning our honeymoon to Tanzania. A perfect combination of safari camp and resort / beach. Lake Manze was excellent, exceeded our expectations and included all the right elements as first time safari goers. Ras Nungwi was amazing too, such a great atmosphere and we certainly took advantage of the beach / pool / lounging that it offers. Great food too….
Thanks again, let us know if you would like other or more detailed feedback.
B & T. Rhyason, 2011.
We really wanted to thank you for your excellent knowledge and help in planning our trip. We were talking to a few different travel companies initially and you were definitely the most up front and informative person we dealt with. You responded very quickly and we definitely chose your company specifically because of how helpful you were. We wanted to recognize you for the great job.
Our first camp was Selous Safari Camp. We felt like royalty there. They looked after us very well and were very helpful and knowledgable. They sounded genuinely excited when you were going out on safari or just coming back with all your stories from the day. Our highlight at this camp was the boat tours which included a fishing excursion. It involved us catching 4 catfish while watching 26 giraffes lining up to cross a little creek, not to mention tons of hippos and crocodiles all during an amazing sunset. I think this may have been the highlight of our safari.
Also the walking safari was amazing in Selous. We really got to connect with nature and the walk ended at our fly camp. Fly camping was enjoyable, the accommodations were better than expected and it definitely wouldn’t be considered roughing it. We had a toilette and a shower inside our tent. The game viewing was exceptional at Selous and the only things we didn’t see where leopards and hyena. Jenny and Emiel were amazing hosts and had so many of their own stories to share. We would highly recommend this camp.
Our next stop was at Jongomero. The camp was beautiful and it was really neat watching the elephants and baboon cross the dry riverbed right in front of us while we were eating meals. Not to mention the few herds of elephants we could watch from our tent. A really neat experience there was getting to have dinner on the dry river bed under the stars at night. Our highlight at this camp was the walking tour with Molly. His knowledge of not only the wildlife but also the local politics as wells as the history of the game reserves and national parks was tremendous and made our stay very enjoyable. Molly and Noel always joined us for lunch everyday and made us feel really at home.
There was a definite difference in game viewing here. It was far more remote and you rarely saw another vehicle but with the bushy landscape it was harder to find game. There were a lot of elephants in this park so we got to have a few intimate experiences with them. If you do see wildlife in this park, you can stay and watch them for as long as you want because chances are nobody else will come along to join you. After talking to others that stayed in the same park but at the other end where there were multiple camps, our individual jeep viewing experience seemed really unique compared to their own experience.
The only recommendation we have is that if you had the chance to do both parks we would do Jongomero first as the game viewing is more sparse but intimate while Selous definitely seemed to be more exciting and varied with the combination of walking, driving and boat safaris.
Anybody who has an interest in crocodiles should definitely go to Selous and do the boat safari because the shear number of them was astounding and you could get up close enough to pretty much pet them, not that you would want to 🙂
Zanzibar was very beautiful. Ras Nungwi was really nice. While it was beautiful and we enjoyed it, it was similar to our vacation spots in the Caribbean and we were shocked by cost of things associated with the hotel. It was comparable to prices we were paying in Europe or North America. We really enjoyed our stay and didn’t miss out on anything due to price, we were just not expecting it.
Thanks again for arranging such an amazing adventure!
A Parker, USA. 2011.
Thank you for organising our holiday. Everything worked like clockwork and it was great to be met by someone and told where we needed to go. The Nomad Lamai and Crater Lodge were both great – the kids really enjoyed having our own butler at the Crater. The game drives were really good and we saw just about everything possible including wildebeests crossing the river (all got over safely and the crocs were nowhere to be seen), mating ostriches, rhinos and even a leopard tortoise!
We got back exhausted after a great time.
D Neuerman, USA. 2011.
Everything went very well. We were timely met in Nairobi and hotel accommodations were very good. The transfer from the Mara to Serengeti went smoothly and without issues. Serian in the Mara was great. The entire staff was as helpful as possible. Guides were knowledgeable. I liked that Serian Mara is secluded and away from most of the crowds. The staff was great, as everyone went out of their way to make our adventure special. The guides were very knowledgeable. The camp is located just above the river and I liked that we could hear the sounds of hippos all night long. The wildlife in the Mara is exceptional. Lions are everywhere. Plus we saw leopards, cheetahs, elephants, hyenas, zebras, crocs, and thousands of wildebeest. The river crossing is truly a special event. The living areas at Serian are spacious with a deck that connects to the bath area. They are not mobile tents but permanent structures. Beds were very comfortable and there was plenty of hot water. I highly recommend Serian to any one who is traveling to the Mara. I think the only misunderstanding was that we could have spent some of our 5 nights at the mobile camp by the river. We didn’t know that this was an option. We probably would have stayed 3 nights at Serian and 2 nights at the mobile site. That being said, it was not a real big issue. The 5 nights in the Serengeti were equally as good. If one is planning to go to either the Mara or northern Serengeti, I would strongly recommend either camp. I am glad I went and experienced the Mara River crossing. It is a once in a lifetime experience. Thanks for all your planning, advise, and overall help! I’ll contact you for future African adventures.
K. Kirk, UK. 2011.
Our honeymoon to Selous Safari Camp was absolutely incredible. The service, the camp, the staff, and the animals was just superb and we couldn’t have been happier.
We wanted something a bit special as it was our honeymoon and Selous Safari Camp was definitely that and beyond, from start to finish we loved every moment and felt so spoilt and cared for. Jenny the manager is amazing and has a wonderful team that are friendly, caring and so knowledgeable. My husband and I both have the Safari bug now and we will definitely use Tanzania Odyssey to help advise us in the future as you offered such great & expert service – professional throughout.
At sunset we watched a herd of elephants walking along the bank to drink water which was just magical. The following day we watched a pride of lions and the cubs playing and then drinking milk their mother which was amazing to experience.
Our fabulous driver then followed a group of vultures to find them eating from a dead buffalo!!!!!! It was lovely as we saw something different everyday and the driver knew the answer to any animal or wildlife question we asked. It was an incredible experience – Selous Safari Camp is a fabulous and beautiful way to do a safari.
D & J. Collis, USA. 2011.
We both agreed that we had to write to you and let you know just how great our trip was!
Echo Beach hotel was fantastic. The owners and all the staff made us feel very welcome and it was the perfect hotel for us. Small, quiet, on the beach, fantastic food, clean rooms and great service. They were extremely helpful in organising trips for us and in particular the diving was very good. We are both keen scuba divers and so having an instructor on-site was really helpful. We did dives from the hotel in their own dive boat as well as a trip to the other side of the island organised and led by the Echo Beach instructor and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.The hotel even managed to organise for me to watch England play in the world cup at a nearby bar!
Next came the Safari in the south (Ngorongoro Crater & Lake Manyara). This was our first safari and so both of these experiences were amazing to us (despite being warned that these areas are closer to zoos than Safaris). A private jeep was definitely worth-while so thanks for the advice with regard to that. Plantation Lodge was lovely too: beautiful rooms, more great food and very helpful staff.
The grand finale was of course the trip to the Northern Serengeti and to Alex Walker’s Serian camp. This was definitely one of if not the best wildlife experiences we’ve ever had on our travels (and having backpacked all over the world – including places such as the Amazon and the Galapagos, hopefully this is saying a lot). The camp is extremely well organised with fancy plumbed “tents”, great food and great service. However, the real reason this camp is so great is of course Alex himself. As well as making every evening meal memorable with his stories and general wildlife knowledge, he clearly cares a great deal about the experience that every one of his guests has. He works as hard as he can with your guides (who are also excellent) to get you to the right places at the right times and to make sure you are enjoying yourself. Consequently, we got to see all of the big five within about 10m from our car. An intimidating site when one of those big five is a massive Rhino.
Of course, ticking off the big five wasn’t even the biggest highlight wildlife-wise – that had to be being in the middle of The Great Migration – and again we have you to thank for convincing us that this was the best idea for us and the best use of our money. I think in fact, our only negative point for the entire trip would be that we wanted more time at this camp. It was that good and every extra day is definitely worth it.
So, finally, we can fully recommend everything that you organised for us on the trip. Every hotel, trip and even connections were perfect.
And of course that means that we can fully recommend yourself also. Being backpackers and used to organising our own trips, we weren’t really sure what to expect. We are so used to having to sort out
transport and connections ourselves that we found it hard to believe it could all work so smoothly; which it definitely did. Our stay at the Serian camp convinced us we have to return to it when it moves
South and so we will no doubt be requiring your services again in the future.
Many thanks for all your help and advice and for booking us a fantastic and memorable honeymoon.
B. Casilis, USA. 2011.
Our trip to Alex Walker’s Serian was unforgettable! The camp was picturesque and just blended in with the bush to make you really feel part of nature – so much so that we had a herd of elephants roam through our site one night!
Our guide Geoffrey taught us so many fascinating facts about the wildlife and the Serengeti and we were even lucky enough to see two (yes two!) leopards on our last day! Our spotter, Pius was incredible – you’ve never known eyesight like it! He could spot a lizard from 300 feet away! We had so many laughs with them both and we were sad to leave! We hope to go back again in the future and would recommend Alex Walker and his team to everyone.
C. King, UK. 2011.
I had been meaning to write to you and say thank you for organising the most amazing honeymoon! It couldn’t have gone better! From all the connections being seamlessly organised to recommendations for the best accommodation we couldn’t have asked for more.
We stayed at Selous Safari Camp for 4 nights – the lodge was beautiful, rooms spectacular, service immaculate and the food was amazing (and I am a fussy eater – so that is high praise indeed!). They made you feel at home from the moment you arrived and the actual safaris were so exciting – jeep, boat and walking.
In Zanzibar we first stayed at Ras Nungwi – this was the hotel we chose before the real splashing out on luxury – it was WAY above my expectations. The rooms were so beautiful and the pool, beach and restaurant area stunning. We then moved to Baraza – this is probably the best hotel I have ever stayed in. Amazing. The villas are GIGANTIC and beautifully furnished – with our own plunge pool and reserved beds on the beach. The beach service was excellent and the restaurant lovely. The pool area was great and selection of water sports excellent. I really couldn’t fault it. They gave us some vouchers to enjoy some of the different facilities including the spa and water sports which was a lovely touch.
Over all it was an amazing trip and we were so sad to come home. Each of the places went out of their way to make us feel special on our honeymoon, leaving champagne and arranging for private dining.
K. Lord-Brennan, UK. 2011.
We’re back from getting married in Zanzibar and our honeymoon safari in the Selous and had a truly amazing, incredible experience. When we first spoke about our itinerary, I told you we wanted a holiday of a lifetime, and it truly was. We spoke to a lot of other couples during our trip and we seemed to have the best itinerary each time- the perfect balance between exciting safari and relaxing. We stayed at Shooting Star, Beyt-Al-Chai, Impala Camp and Ras Kutani and loved every minute. The safari was mind blowing and we loved Impala Camp – great people and facilities, that’s the way to do safari in style. The team at Shooting Star put together a beautiful beach wedding ceremony for us. We had a local band, went out in a Dhow, had a beach BBQ for our wedding meal, then sat by a campfire on the beach guarded by masaii, it was amazingly romantic.
All the travel connections were great and it was brilliant not having to worry about a thing.
A huge thank you for a truly out of this world experience, and for guiding us to such excellent accommodation choices. It is hard to put into words how wonderful it was.
We would not hesitate to recommend Africa Odyssey and Tanzania, and we will be returning someday!
I. Wardenaar, Netherlands. 2011.
First of all Tanzania Odyssey is a fantastic travel agent !
From Dar es Salaam to Selous Safari Camp is ony a flight of 45 minutes and you arrive in a wonderful serene area. The camp is absolutely great and the tents are above expectations, all very, very nice and comfortable, also the staff and management is very friendly and the food is excellent. Good guides who take the time for everything.
Jongomero in Ruaha is even more fantastic because it is so isolated from everything and you feel as if you are in paradise. Camp is fantastic and each tent is also very comfortable and has a beautiful view from where you can spot many animals. At night you hear the lions roaring and the elephants eat from the trees just beside your tent. Staff and management are fantastic and very enthousiastic and the game drives are great because you never see any car, just the animals. Food is also perfect. We had a fantastic guide called Kim who told us many interesting things about the animals.
It was my 8th safari holiday and I am sure that I will go back to Jongomero again.
And then Greystoke at Mahale, something you must experience. To see the chimpansees is just as if you are looking in a mirror, they look so just like us. It was an aboslutely fantastic experience to see these primates. I felt very humble and emotional but also I felt very fortunate that I could be with them so close. Greystoke camp is also stunning and so is the lake. I have never seen such a beautiful lake with such clear water. The lodges ar also very nice and the food is also excellent. Staff and management are very friendly and informative and even though it is a very long way to get there it is all worth it and I hope I can return again to that magnificant and very special place.
N. Windle, UK. 2011.
Got back from Tanzania on Sunday evening, and just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for organising what is probably the best trip we have ever taken!!! We had an absolutely amazing time and never have I been so emotional leaving a place. We’ll send you a couple of photos when we’ve got them all sorted – Rob got obsessed with the camera – or probably more accurately the fantastic place we were in – and we have over 2000!!
The entire itinerary worked like clockwork – from the Coastal Aviation guy meeting us when we landed to all our wonderful guides and all the internal flights we took which went without a hitch. Gibbs Farm was stunning and Alex Walker’s camp was truly memorable. Everyone was so lovely and we were spoilt with two guides our entire Serengeti trip! I would highly recommend his camp to anyone!! We also managed to see a crossing and find the elusive rhino, in addition to a very angry, but beautiful leopard (think we interrupted his hunt), and mating giraffes!
Can’t tell you what an amazing trip we had. So thank you so much for all your work in putting this together for us, it could not have gone better. We will definitely be back!
L. Chen, Singapore. 2011.
We’ve returned from our trip to Tanzania and I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you for planning the perfect safari for us. It was everything that I had expected and more. We saw a super huge herd of elephants in Tarangire that our guide estimated to be near 1000, and the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is the most charming place ever! I felt like I was living in a fairy tale. Serengeti Under Canvas was a little rougher than I expected, but while there, on my husband’s birthday we were able to see two lions, four cheetachs, including one who devoured its prey in front of us, two leopards, and a herd of wildebeest crossing the Mara river that lasted almost half an hour. That made everything worthwhile, bucket shower and all! And Faru Faru was the perfect last stop for the trip. My husband stayed in the resort and got pampering massage treatments while I went to Sasakwa to ride. The riding was simply out of this world, and I can’t t hink of anything that can ever top the feeling of cantering along with zebras and topis and giraffes. FYI, they have started doing 3-6 day riding safaris this year so guests can start from Sasakwa and ride to Faru Faru or a mobile camp. I am already dreaming of going back for that one in the near future!
Anyway, can’t thank you enough for your help and I’m telling all my friends to go to Tanzania
N Hanley, USA. 2011.
Ted and Ed,
We’ve returned safe and sound from our wonderful safari in Tanzania and want to thank you both very much for all of your assistance and advice in helping us plan this unique adventure. Everything went smoothly once our late arriving flights reached Arusha. Accomodations were all exceptional, comfortable with some of the best personal service I’ve seen in all my travels. All camp and lodge staffs were warm and friendly and adept at anticipating our needs. Our guides (George, Alex, Fred and Madebe and John) were all very knowledgeable, attentive, prompt, courteous, witty and handled all the logistics efficiently and with seeming ease.
I especially appreciate your patience in answering our myriad questions so promptly. I must apologize for questioning your wisdom in recommending the flight from Arusha to Tarangire. It allowed to have a full day of game viewing with Alex on the clearest day weather-wise on our trip. Our thanks also to Ed for suggesting Tarangire at this time of year. The quality and variety of game was terrific and Oliver’s was a wonderful place.
Thank you again. Karibu!
J & D. D’Alessandro, Canada. 2011.
We returned to New York yesterday and just want to express our gratitude for the wonderful safari you put together for us. Everything went smoothly, and was beyond our best expectations. And to top it off, we saw a wildebeest river crossing on our last day.
We will definitely recommend you to our friends and again, thank you for a wonderful job.
Mr & Mrs S. Gannon, Ireland. 2011.
We’re home and just can’t believe all our planning has come and gone!!! We have to say a huge thank you to you, it turned out to be absolutely fantastic from start to finish!!!!
Firstly, it was marvelous to be met at every stop and escorted to the next each time. The first camp in Selous, Lake Manze was lovely, very casual, very romantic by candle light and a great start. It was a good start to a first timer going on safari as it’s all so overwhelming to see all the animals, it was better to see them so active in the second lodge we went too. The food was very good and Sarah and Phil run a good camp there, and very nice and friendly themselves, the other staff was really nice and friendly too. It was as described in all the reviews, don’t expect something you won’t get. Our very first evening at dinner an elephant came to the edge of the tent, elephants were walking through the camp daily. The park its self was “quiet” because it was warmer there the animals slept more but it was wonderful to watch and see them. We went on a full day safari the very first day and up to the hot springs, beautiful. Then early mornings, 6am starts after that where we saw the animals move much more and small cubs playing with their mother.
The second camp, Kwihala was even nicer, the decor made it very homely and the game drives here were even better. The food was excellent too. Our very first evening here we almost saw a “kill”. We saw the stalking and chase however, the lioness couldn’t make the jump to the giraffe and help came too late to her from the others. We were then on watch every day with them cause we knew they were hungry but in 4 days that we were there they never ate. Because it was cooler in this park the animals were much more active and we saw loads of different animals playing with each other.
Our guides in both camps were excellent and would highly recommend both places to anyone looking for a safari trip. We couldn’t fault the camps themselves or the game, which is the reason for going!!!
Then off to Zanzibar for our final few days, this was just stunning. It took us an hour to get their from the airport and this wasn’t the best of drives cause the country is so poor but once inside the gates you wouldn’t even realise that’s outside. Our room was overlooking the beach and on our arrival their was a bottle of champagne waiting in our room. The staff were really nice and helpful, the food was also beautiful here. The pool is lovely and it was a wonderful way to end our holiday.
Thank you again for putting together such a great honeymoon for us. We were delighted with everything you recommended and have taken so many good memories with us (as well as thousands of photo’s by the way)…….!!!!!!!
C. Diaz, Canada. 2011.
We are back home! The two weeks we spent in Tanzania went by faster than I wished!! And we absolutely loved every minute of it, thanks a lot for your help putting this trip together! I have a co-worker who is now interested in doing this same trip and I will most definitely recommend Tanzania Odyssey
The trip was fantastic though! We really had an amazing time and got really lucky with our game viewing, we saw everything! Including the ‘big 5’ the highlight was the leopard and lions eating their pray, we saw 2 massive river crossings, no croc kill though, our guide said by this time the crocs are so well fed they don’t bother hunting.
In terms of accommodations Oliver’s Camp and Serian’s were definitely the highlight of our trip, Plantation and Rivertrees are also very charming properties. I would happily stay at the same places again.
J Johnston, USA. 2011.
TANZANIA – September 2011
Going on safari has been a dream of mine for some time, and it was with great excitement that my friend Laura and I set off for Tanzania in September 2011 for a safari trip, with three days on the romantic-sounding island of Zanzibar afterwards to recover.
We had chosen two adventure camps, both in the south of Tanzania, and the first was at Lake Manze in the Selous area. We got there in a small aeroplane from Dar-es-Salaam and it was exciting to look at the countryside from the air, knowing that we would be enjoying being in the bush very shortly.
We arrived at 9.30 am and set out straight away on a game drive on our way to the camp. We immediately saw impala, giraffe and elephants. We marvelled at the many birds and animals which seemed so plentiful. The beautiful spinosa terminalia trees decorated the bush with bright green foliage spreading out in a flattish form like so many umbrellas.
Arriving at the camp we were greeted by Sally and the other staff, and taken to our tent, which although basic and without electricity, had the luxury of a flush toilet and shower (with water heated by solar power) in open air underneath the sky – wonderful!
Lake Manze camp is near Lake Zerrakerra, so we saw a lot of hippos on our boat trips on the lake and nearby channel. At night they came out of the water and we could hear them chomping away on the grass very close to our tent, which was very exciting.
Having breakfast the next morning in the open sided covered area, we were thrilled to see an elephant amble by just a few yards away. There were no fences round the camp and when we walked between our tent and the main covered area we were always escorted by a Maasai guard, who made sure we came to no harm, especially when it was dark – lots of animals about!
We saw so many animals and birds that I have made a list of these at the end of this little account.
One morning early in our visit we went on a nature walk. This was really interesting – we learnt a lot about animal tracks, and especially the dung that was lying about, which could tell the experienced guides what had been about, and how long ago. Various trees were pointed out to us for example the ‘toothbrush tree’ which had flowers which looked just like red toothbrushes, and apparently the fresh light branches could be chewed to use as a toothbrush. The fruit of a desert date tree (an acacia) could be used to cure intestinal worms. The long pod cassia trees had beautiful yellow blossoms, and pods that were about 20 cm long. The greater kudu eat the leaves and flowers, and the roots and bark were boiled and used to cure malaria. Weaver bird nests abounded – built on the downwind side for shelter; different weaver birds using different kinds of architecture, so again the experienced guides could say which variety was nesting in which tree.
We learnt that the ‘big five’ of game animals have their counterpart in the ’small five’: elephant shrew, lion ant, leopard tortoise, red billed buffalo weaver and rhino beetle.
Our trips on the water were very special – we saw so many crocodiles and hippo that it was tempting to become blase, but it was wonderful to see all the animals in their natural habitat, just going about their ordinary business.
On our first trip on the lake we quickly saw a malachite kingfisher, a beautiful bird with bright blue plumage and a red beak. Soon afterwards we were joined by three pied kingfishers which followed our boat for several minutes. As a brilliant finish, we also saw a giant kingfisher sitting on a branch in a tree with a monitor lizard close by.
Another day we were driving past a large baobab tree with a hole in the trunk – the guide excitedly pointed out a porcupine in the hole. Laura and I looked and looked but could see nothing. In the end we got out of the truck and approached to just a few feet away, and in the end conceded that we could see a few white stripes moving in the darkness of the hole. To say we saw a porcupine is perhaps stretching the facts a bit!
One of the highlights of the trip for me was when we were parked up near the lake for one of our ‘bush breakfasts’ when two hippos were squaring up for a fight. Their massive jaws were wide open and they were each trying to overcome the other. We were too far away to take a photo on our somewhat limited equipment, but it was super just to watch through the binoculars. It went on for some 20 minutes, which our guide assured us meant a serious fight.
We wanted to make the most of our trip, so we were up every morning before 6 am – in the dark – and usually went out for a long morning drive, and then an afternoon drive, but the best days were when we went for a full day, involving bush breakfasts, and bush lunches, when wonderful hot food was produced like magic by our guide and driver. The ability to drive far away from anywhere, and just soak up the isolation, the heat, and the silence, especially in the heat of the day, was thrilling.
After four nights at Lake Manze, we took the short flight to Mdonya Camp in the Ruaha area. A similar camp, but perhaps even more basic as even the main areas for eating were just tented canopies. Each night we would all sit round a big camp fire, enjoying our drinks and swapping stories of the day with the other guests before gathering round a big table underneath the stars, to eat the delicious food that was provided.
There had hardly been any mosquitos or flies at Lake Manze, although there were tiny little midges which had a vicious bite, to which Laura can attest. Although there were no mosquitos at Mdonya either, there were many flies, including the notorious tse-tse fly. All these flies could bite. To try and keep them away from the truck when we were out in the bush, the guides had an old tin can on the back of the truck, in which they burnt elephant dung. I have to say it was a most aromatic smell, which the guides said was because the elephant eat acacia trees and other trees used for medicinal purposes by the Africans, and as the elephants only digest 44% of the food they eat, the end result was far more pleasant than we would have imagined.
The Ruaha region was much more arid than the Selous, but that meant that all the game collected round the waterholes. We were able each evening, at sunset, to watch baboons, impala and elephants enjoying themselves in the water, except for the one night when three thirsty lionesses gathered to drink, and all the other animals were extremely wary. Sitting there with our ‘sundowner’ drinks, and nibbling at the popcorn which appeared as if by magic, somebody remarked that it was just like being at the movies!!
We had the excitement of being shown a python which had swallowed an impala three months ago, and had been sleeping up a tree ever since to digest the enormous meal.
We saw many lion, mostly asleep under the trees in the middle of the day, but on one occasion when the evening was approaching, there were four lionesses prowling about, with a prey obviously in mind, but after spending a little while somewhat desultorily wandering around, they gave it up and turned in the opposite direction.
Among the many giraffe we saw, once there was a mother giraffe suckling a very young foal, and also a zebra which was really close to giving birth – we stayed a while but nothing happened.
One day just as the light was getting stronger, we saw five
carmine bee-eaters sitting on a branch, taking turns to fly off to catch insects. The low sunlight caught the reddish-bronze of their plumage. The guide said it was unusual to see these birds in the dry season.
There were so many birds we saw, some exceptionally beautiful. My own favourite was the lilac crested roller, which when flying was a flash of bright turquoise. We saw it fairly often but not so much that it ever failed to be an excitement. I also liked the starlings, so much more attractive than the British variety. These were also bright blue and were especially attractive in flight.
On one of our long days out we had just seen a pride of lion asleep, and then another single lion watching the world from a rock, when our truck developed a puncture, which was slightly alarming. Our driver limped down the road until we were out of sight, and we three in the back of the truck had to get out while they jacked the truck up. Fortunately there was another truck from our camp fairly near, and they came to help and we watched from the safety of the other truck while the wheel was changed in double quick time, and we were off again.
Naturally we were particularly keen to see leopard and cheetah, which are much more difficult to find, but we were lucky enough to see both: a leopard sleeping up a tree, and another one just disappearing into the bush, and the cheetah we came across was walking across a clearing and we got a very good and close view of that.
When our magical time came to an end we flew off to Zanzibar, where we stayed in a comfortable but laid-back hotel right on the beach. The safari viewing is exciting, and we made the very most of our time, but we were tired after seven very full days, and were glad to relax on the beach before the long flight home.
Ed and the team at Tanzanian Odyssey created a wonderful trip for us that lived up to all the expectations, and we can’t thank them enough for their attention to detail and for their friendly and knowledgeable help which was so invaluable at the planning stage.
Animals we saw:
Wildebeest (common, and blue (the ‘gnu’)
A selection of Birds we saw (so many, and some which were indistinguishable or unidentifiable. We were told by birding visitors to the camp that they had seen over 60 different birds, including four they had never spotted before – great excitement!)
African harrier hawk
African sea eagle (fish eagle)
American black crake
Eagle (Bateleur, Brown snake)
Black winged stilt
Brown necked parrot
Egret (Great white)
Heron (grey, and goliath)
Jacana (often known as Jesus birds, as they appear to walk on water!)
Kingfishers (Malachite, Pied and Giant)
Lapwing (spur winged)
Owls (eagle) (Verreaux)
Oxpeckers (who take the fleas off the buffalo)
Starling (Greater blue-eared)
Weaver birds, (white, sparrow, red billed buffalo,Africa golden)
Vultures (White backed, palm nut, hooded
Stork (Yellow billed, open-billed, maribou)
And to finish the lists, the Trees:
Acacia (including desert date tree, whistling white, and many others)
Cassia, long pod
Milk berry tree
and many others
M. Mioni, USA. 2011.
Thanks to all the great staff at Tanzania Odyssey for our fabulous trip to Tanzania. We just returned home late Thursday night, are currently getting are brain cells back on Los Angeles time, but we wanted immediately to let you know the trip was a smashing A+++++ success. The entire itinerary worked seamlessly with arrivals and pickups perfectly coordinated. In a few days, I will follow up with a more detailed e-mail sharing some of the places we really liked and some of the special touches that were truly appreciated. We also have 1 or 2 minor suggestions for you that might prove helpful as you plan for other clients, but, trust me, they are minor suggestions that in no way detracted fom our 5 star vacation — just ideas for you.
Until my follow up e-mail, we send good wishes and many thanks to everyone involved in planning our wonderful trip to Tanzania.
R. James, UK. 2011.
Beho Beho was as expected wonderful. I have just submitted a review to TripAdvisor about it. The location, bandas, staff, food etc were excellent. We particularly liked the communal dining with the guides and fellow guests, which led to some lively discussions. I gather that Cheryl Cole opted out of that when she was staying there. It will be interesting to see how the single exclusive banda being constructed which will offer the services of a personal butler, chef and guide will alter the dynamic of the camp. Three young male lions who have moved into the Beho Beho area recently who killed a buffalo not far from camp. We saw one of them who had climbed a tree to rest after the kill, whilst another wandered about 50 yards in front of our banda the next day.
We were just amazed at the large herds of buffalo, zebra, impala moving towards Lake Manze for water.
I think that the only significant animal we did not see were leopard and rhino. We were lucky to see wild dogs with cubs on our first day. The Hippo pool is disgusting (to a microbiologist) but amazing. I took over 600 photos during the four nights there.
The safari on foot in the bush in front of Beho Beho was scary knowing that there were elephants/lions in there.
Ras Kutani was also very good. The staff are really friendly and helpful. My wife and I are not great beach lovers so did a few walks whilst we were there. Our daughter and son in law in contrast just lay on the beach or beside the pool. It is a good break after a safari.
R. Rainey, USA. 2011.
Echo Beach was great, small and intimate and the staff was wonderful. The Safara was also great. The only thing that was a little bit of a hassel was the extra trip from, Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam, but that was not that bad. On the whole everything was fantastic!!!
C. McKechnie, USA. 2011.
When I came to see you in the snow in January, I asked you to come up with a plan to suit 2 adults and 3 teenagers. I told you I wanted lots of wildlife, lots of fun, excellent guides and to see the real Africa. We did not want large impersonal hotels, coach parties, fois gras, fat americans, to be surrounded by honeymoon couples (for their sakes not ours) and to be bankrupted. However, we do like our food and dont like slumming it. You came up with Kwihala, Impala, Ras Nungwi and Zanzibar Serena for the last night.
Kwihala: The camp is very comfortable with large tents well spread out in the bush. It really is in the middle of no where. Although there are no luxuries, it is very comfortable and clean and we all felt totally safe and happy in our tents at night. They produce a three course lunch and dinner from God knows where. The food is not 5 star restaurant standard, but good hearty fare which we had no trouble downing. Breakfast is a joy taken from the bonnet of the landrover during the morning drive. Why is Kwihala so special? The wildlife and the guides.
The wildlife we saw was extraordinary. We saw 4 leopards, a cheetah, too many elephants, lions and girafes and birds etc to count. We saw a leopard dragging a baboon up a tree to eat it whilst hissing at another leopard in the same tree to keep away. We saw a pride of lions dripping in blood trying to pull a giraffe into the shade which had got lodged between two trees. We saw a lion stalking and chasing a zebra. We followed it and whilst doing so hit a ditch which 4 lions jumped out of right infront of our noses! We were watching some impala a couple of feet away from us when suddenly a leopard jumped on the back of one (even our guides had never seen that). We saw side striped jackals (guides hadn’t seen those for 5 years). A black mamba passed us twice on the road in front of us.
We slowly followed a cheetah for ages while all the monkeys and birds around gave alarm cries. We sat for ages watching a herd of elephants taking water in the river and then baboons playing. (I know that doesn’t sound very unusual, but it was massively entertaining.) We had elephants walking through our camp at night and during dinner (Pietro managed to get them to move on by speaking to them gently in Swahili). We could hear the lions roaring in the distance while we tried to sleep at night. The animals are much less timid in Ruaha than in Selous. You get much closer and there are more of them. It was magical.
The guides at Kwihala are fantastic. Pietro, our first guide, was extraordinarily knowledgable and very entertaining. He had us in fits of laughter. He had our eyes popping and our jaws on the ground and he had us all mesmerised. He drives like an Italian (which is half the fun) from one side of the park to another to find something special. We then had a new guide called Mika who is fresh out of the course they all go on in South Africa but Tanzanian born and raised as his parents run a camp in Arusha. He was very charming and (as far as my children were concerned) the coolest man in Tanzania with his long blond dredlocks. We had a great time with both of them and felt sad to leave.
Impala: was all rather sedate compared with Kwihala. It is beautiful and very different and it took us a bit to come down from the high of Ruaha. The camp is lovely. Very pretty tents on raised wooden platforms. Beautifully done. Very elegant. You have to get a Masaai to take you to and from your tent at night (how cool is that!?).The food is better than at Ruaha but it is a much bigger set up and less remote.The people who run it are charming and couldn’t be nicer but there are less animals and the animals seem to be more timid. The highlight was going fishing which was the greatest fun. We saw African dogs which were amazing too.
Ras Nungwi: in Zanzibar was really nice. We had lovely huts overlooking the sea. The food is really good. It is big compared to the camps but not an enormous impersonal hotel. The watersport place is brilliant but expensive. We went diving which was fantastic but we decided to skip the dhow sunset cruise as it was going to cost so much for 5 of us. The swimming in the sea is lovely: beautiful turquoise milky warm water. It was bliss! They have a nice pool too and a spa but the nicest thing is to lie in a hammock under a palm tree and watch the dhows go by.
Zanzibar Serena: was a very elegant hotel in Stone Town. It is a beautiful building with a lovely pool. The food was not as good as at Ras Nungwi. We liked Stone Town and had fun walking around and doing some shopping. Sadly no Tanzanite was bought for me.
All in all, the most memorable, fabulous holiday. It will be impossible to top. Thank you Ed.
Any complaints? Yes. British Airways’s lunch on c. 10 hour flight was a miserable cheese sandwich!
K. Hooker, USA. 2011.
Our trip was amazing! You would have heard from me sooner, but we were hit by Hurricane Irene the day after we landed and haven’t had electricity for 6 days as a result. We just got our electricity back last night. Our return to Connecticut wasn’t much different from Africa! Good thing we were already used to it! We loved our trip. Your advice and recommendations were so fantastic. I cannot thank you enough! I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I can’t wait to plan our next one with you!
The accommodations at both of those places were fantastic. Our rooms at Borana were above and beyond our expectations just given the size of the rooms, how nice the rooms and bathrooms were, the lovely fires that were lit in each of our rooms every night and then connecting our room with our daughters’ room was an outdoor living room area with a large comfortable couch, great chairs and a fire pit that they also lit for us every night. The view from the living room and our rooms was the watering hole down below where baboons, elephants, giraffes and lions drank. After dinner (which was always an incredible experience with superb hosting by Sam and Flick) we would then go to our own “living room” with my parents and daughters and play charades or just hang out.
There was a bar in the living room that was well stocked with things for everyone. Borana was probably everyone’s favorite, which is saying a lot given that the other places were fantastic. Ngare Serian was definitely a close second. The tents and the dining tent were beautiful. Adrian, Rogine, Joel and all of the others there were so great. The best game viewing was clearly from Rekero, and their location probably can’t be beat. All in all, if we were to go back again, we would probably repeat the whole experience just as it was laid out.
Oh, and another enormous highlight to our trip (actually there were quite a few – the Serian entertainment being way up there on that list too) was Giraffe Manor. I know you thinks it’s a gimmick, but it was also probably one of our most favorite stops – especially for Anna and Lily (and my mom). That was an absolute highlight and a good way to end the trip. The Manor is stunning, the food was out of this world and I would call it a must stop if one is going through Kenya (especially with children.) It probably meant more to me as well because I read the book “Raising Daisy Rothschild.” It was really expensive, but totally worth it. My mom wants to go back to Kenya just to go there. We really loved it.
I’m trying to decide if our next safari will be in South Africa, Botswana or Tanzania……?
Tove, Norway. 2011.
We are back to reality after 17 fantastic days in Tanzania.
On the practical side of things, everything worked impressively smoothly – and it was quite a trip with lot’s of misunderstandings that could have happened. But – no… At every new place we were met by polite people helping 4 slightly confused norwegians with our transfers and guiding us to the right location. Everything on time and as planned. To me this was a very important issue – saving us from spending lot of energy on logistics or safety.
Then to the point of it all – the safari bit. Fantastic! Both selous and ruaha where great, and both camps brilliant. I found the description on your web of both camps very precise. Good expectation management! 3 days in each place was good; I was glad it was not shorter, and I would have enjoyed a few more days….
Lake Manze; charming, good food, nice people – and interesting with elephants and hippo in the camp. Waking up to the birds in the morning was fantastic. A baboon spider in one of our back-packs was less charming… Definetely added to the authenticity… The camp staff helped us get it out, and we kept our bags closed…
The safari drives and boat trips were great; good guides and lot’s to see.
Jongomero – I keep coming back to the fantastic atmosphere in the camp and the nature of the park. I would have loved to spend more time there. The food, the place, the people… Very interesting drives, even if it is more bush and search for the animals.
We have seen lot’s of elephants, Lions, giraffes, Zebra, hippo’s, wild dogs, impala’s, one Bush Pig ( which we understand is a rare sight ), a hyena, dick dick’s, croc’s… Fantastic birds…
We missed the Leopard – which we think is a good excuse to go back.
Zanzibar – ras nungwi was good. Great food, beach and people. We relaxed a lot.
Driving through the island, walking through Nungwi village and Stone Town added to the experience – observing a broader part of the country than is obvious in the very nice bush camps.
One day in Stone Town was interesting, and enough…
Regarding pictures… We are 4 people with photo being a common hobby. We had 4 SLR’s and a number of lenses… so we have a lot of pictures. Some are good (not on a proffessional level, though) and if you are interested we would love to share a few.
Pooja, UK. 2011.
So sorry I was unable to email you till now. The trip was amazing! I really don’t think any of us could describe the trip accurately. We really had such a great time the whole trip. We saw sooo many animals and beautiful scenery. We took so many photos. We are just unable to filter them!
J. Marshall, USA. 2011.
After a very long trip from the Midwest USA, we were tired but excited to finally be at our first destination. We were greeted by friendly staff who knew exactly what we would feel like (tired) and you could tell the resort was set up to help us recover from the long trip.
This was our honeymoon, but we had no idea the degree that this resort would go to to make our first stay special. The first night they had a special lagoon-side dinner set up complete with candle-lit walkway to the dock.
Even better was that my wife thought I had something to do with setting up our special meal, of course I couldn’t take the credit. We had our own server, champagne and a special evening that we thoroughly enjoyed. The only thing we didn’t anticipate was that we were up in the middle of the night due to the time change. The suite we had, which was one of higher units with a view, was well worth the extra expense with our own plunge pool and a view unmatched by any of the other units. To give you an idea of the degree of service, the staff just happened to find out during our stay that both my wife and I were having our birthdays one day a part. Unprovoked, that evening a cake with candles along with staff to sing happy birthday were at our table side. We had fun checking out the nature trail, did a tour into the local village (well worth the trip) and in general enjoyed getting acclimated to the time change and ready for our safari. Everyone was friendly and don’t forget to make a donation to the school n the local village which was part of the village tour.
Kwihala Tented Camp
This was our first safari and of course “camping” trip as a married couple.
The pictures on the website did not do justice as portraying how luxurious the accommodations really were and the uniqueness of the camp site in relation to the reserve. The caption for our picture of our tent was “roughing it, not really” as the staff ratio was about three people for every guest for that particular stay. The bucket shower might test your limits as to how fast you can bath each evening, but it was a funny story we enjoy telling people when they ask about our trip. We could hear the lions roar every night and the sounds alone are something you never forget. Our days of safari were worth every minute, with a knowledgeable guide who was also enjoyable to spend many hours with. As our guide shared, you never know if you will see something special or if you will time things and not see much. Of course we saw several amazing wildlife and took pictures we will never forget. We both uploaded our pictures from the safari to an electronic picture frame in our offices and probably look at them weekly, even two years later. The meals, fireside some nights, along with the entire package were definitely worth the long trip to get to the camp. This part of Tanzania had an entirely different flavor from Selous where we did our other three-day safari. Both were unique in their own way. If your bride, much like mine, is not a big camping type of person the time frame for the tented camp of three days is perfect in our opinion.
It is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been on a safari as to how nice the accommodations and service are when you go on a trip like this, especially when you live in the Midwest USA where most have and never will even visit Africa. Beho Beho has to be one of the most luxurious and unique places we will ever stay. The layout of the resort, the staff and the people we met that were also guests were enjoyable and each day had a unique set of events that made it special. Our guide, Onesma, was fun to hang out with and we recommend the half-day hike if you have the athletic ability to walk ten miles or more. You get an entirely different perspective hiking versus riding in a vehicle all day. For the days we spent in our range rover, we viewed a leopard, several lions and came up on an impala that had just given birth. One day when we visited where the crocodiles were they even had a nice breakfast set up right by the lake. We were impressed with the creativity and the little things this resort did to make us feel special and our room was one of the neatest set-ups for a resort we could ever imagine. The other thing we didn’t expect but was very helpful was that our guide was also the equivalent of a professional photographer. He knew how to use our camera better than we did, so we got several amazing pictures that we turned into a slide show we posted on snapfish for our friends to see. Our plan someday is to re-visit this camp and bring our children as we think the educational value alone for them would be worth the trip. Our perspective on the world and the “animal kingdom” is forever changed after our honeymoon to Africa, but the Beho Beho resort was definitely our most enjoyable spot during our trip which was an already high benchmark to beat.
We kept a few postcards that we got at this resort and use them as bookmarks for the current book we are usually reading. They are just a few pictures of this resort, but every time I open my book I have a positive memory of our time at Ras Nungwi. This was after a week of safari, so we were ready to relax and do our “beach time” for part of our honeymoon. We went scuba diving, took a few trips into the local town and in general enjoyed hanging out and enjoying the clear waters and friendly staff/service. If you are a scuba diver, we felt very comfortable with the guides located at the resort for our diving excursion and the only thing we would say is don’t forget bottled water (we did). Last but not least, the resort set up a special beach side meal for us one evening which was yet another thing my wife thought I planned but didn’t! We would recommend coupling this stop with a safari if you can make it work, it complimented the safari portion of our tour well.
F. Cina, UK. 2011.
I am just playing a bit a catch up with work and other things since we returned and I did not get a chance to write back to you, my apologies.
We had a wonderful time on our honeymoon all thanks to Africa Odyssey. All the lodges that you selected were wonderful with exceptional service, rooms, food and scenery. The trip went exactly as our itinerary layed it out. There was always someone waiting for us when we stepped off a plane to greet us and take us to our next destination. We were a bit nervous about booking with a company that was not local, but you guys came through above expectations. Next time we come to Africa we will definitely use Africa Odyssey again and will recommend Africa Odyssey to all of our friends and family.
Rivertrees was a beautiful resort. The staff greeted us after our long flight with freshly squeezed juice and offered us a very late dinner which we refused as we just wanted to rest. The staff put us in the River House as it was our honeymoon which was beautiful and is large enough for two families and more than enough for two people. Breakfast contained freshly cooked eggs made to order, fresh juices and an assortment of other well prepared foods. Lunch and Dinner were amazing as well with all food well prepared and fresh. Wish we could have stayed longer but we had to get on with our trip. This was a great location to rest after our flight and before we started our safari. Would definitely visit again and recommended to friends and family.
Plantation Lodge had very nice rooms and contained exceptional service with well prepared and fresh food. The grounds were very well kept and offered good views as well. The atmosphere at dinner was very romantic with dimmed lights perfect for a honeymoon. The lodge contained a vast wine collection and a very nice common area for people to enjoy drinks or coffee after dinner. The afternoon tea or coffee was also a nice touch. Would definitely visit again and recommended to friends and family.
Alex Walker’s Serian was amazing. I wasn’t sure what to expect of a tented camp literally in the middle of the Serenghetti, but we were definitely more than pleased with Serian. The tent’s were spacious and beautifully decorated. The service at the camp was beyond exceptional, coffee or tea when you wake up in your tent along with hot water for a shower whenever you liked. The staff at Serian worked hard to prepare exceptional meals including picnic lunch and breakfast while on Safari. Our guide was Alex Walker himself who took us on a great safari and made sure we saw what we wanted in terms of animals. Alex was very knowledgeable and friendly. One of the best parts about Serian was dinner. It was a community dinner where all guest sit at a large round table and can share their stories from the day while on Safari. This truly creates a friendly atmosphere where great stories are shared. As it was our honeymoon, Alex and his staff set-up a private outdoor bath for us so we could enjoy a warm bath under the stars of which there were plenty. Would definitely visit again and recommended to friends and family.
The Palms was a perfect place to end our trip. After long safari days, it was nice to relax by the beach. I have heard complaints that the grounds at Palms are small, but with only 6 villas, there is plenty of room and beachfront to go around. The villas were beautiful and exceeded expectations. The service was exceptional. The staff would always seem to find you with a nice surprise such as freshly prepared drink or some type of snack. When we arrived, we had not eaten all day and we asked the staff for a snack; they quickly prepared a great meal for use even though it was outside of lunch hours. At Palms, the staff catered to your every need with no questions, if you wanted breakfast in your villa it was no problems, or if you wanted lunch a bit earlier or later, it was not an issue and they performed all duties with a smile on their face. I enjoyed that every night staff would come to your room and show you the dinner menu so you could decide what you wanted, if you did not like what you had to choose from, then they would prepare something else of your choosing, However, we never did change the menu as everything that was prepared was so good and fresh.
The manager even took the time to show us how to play Bao, a board game that was in the lobby, he sat there for close to an hour showing us the rules and going over strategy. The staff also prepared a bubble bath one night for us while we were at dinner. Would definitely visit again and recommended to friends and family. Palms also arranged a great Spice Tour and a great tour of Stone town.
Tour guide Fred from Asilia was amazing. Very friendly and knowledgeable and helped us out when we needed to see a doctor while on safari. Fred took us to a local clinic and our medical problems were fixed all in less than one hour.
Very good trip with absolutely no complaints.
I will go to trip advisor and write reviews for all the lodges as well.
Thank you again for the wonderful trip.
C. Davis, UK. 2011.
The four of us had a great trip to Tanzania in July and have some wonderful photographs from all the camps.
We had good food (& too much of it) at all the camps. All guides were knowledgeable, with the guiding being excellent at Katavi (we had the camp manager, Richard, since another small group had arrived a day earlier and had the regular guide); the guiding was equally fine at Beho Beho for the two of us who went on to Selous; and for the two returning home through Arusha the Arusha Park day guide went out of his way to provide them with a wonderful final experience, including an orphanage visit and meeting some of his family.
The guiding at Serian and at Mwagusi in Ruaha was almost on a par with these top three, and was certainly good at Lake Manze. At Ruaha where we had the “Village Visit” we were pleased with our time with the Masai villagers and at our brief school visit. Chris Fox, Mwagusi’s owner and our host, was very interested in our input since this visit had not been done before. We made some suggestions for minor changes. He is a most interesting man; I had briefly met two of his brothers on a trip in 2009, and had hoped he would be at Mwagusi while were there. He is very attentive to all the guests, which makes his camp especially inviting.
We saw more lions & cubs at these five camps than in all my previous African trips combined…just phenomenal…a few in trees, plus an actual chase & kill by one at Beho. Had a couple of exciting up close elephant encounters by “resident” elephants in Mwagusi (I came around a bend in the path & there he was…with hands shaking a bit I got some pix as “Rudi” posed for me); and in Katavi their “Fred” shook a marula tree outside the dining room. At Lake Manze we had elephants who came around our tent just off the deck each morning and ignored my snapping camera.
Would rate Beho, of course, as the must comfortable with outstanding staff…which I expected.
However, Ruaha being my favorite place in all of Africa, I believe Mwagusi is the most “atmospheric”.
Katavi is superb and worth the effort to get there.
Would give these three 5 stars all things considered. Serian would score 4, and Lake Manze 3+.
My daughters, granddaughter and I thank you for arranging such a fabulous Tanzanian Trek for us.
T. Chan, Singapore. 2011.
Regarding our visit, overall the entire trip was amazing and very memorable.
Faru Faru was absolutely amazing and words can’t even describe the experience we had. The service, food, people, animals were all just amazing and beyond 5 stars. Our guide Eugen, was amazing knowledgeable and nice. We had even recommended him to our friends who are going again. It is maybe nice to even spend a day or two at one of Singita’s other lodges if possible.
Plantation Lodge & the place we stayed at the first nice was very nice and good food.
Thank you for your help arranging our honeymoon! Hope this helps.
S. Haniff, UK. 2011.
We had a great time and writing some lines on the lodges and you guys is definitely on my list of things to do.
In the mean time thanks for the great recommendations and organising the trip – everything went super-smooth and the whole family had a brilliant time – the one draw back was the holiday wasn’t long enough!
J. Capell, UK. 2011.
Please see below a brief review on behalf of Claire and myself. In short we had an amazing time and would definitely go back to everywhere again!
Ras Kutani – was pretty much perfect. Everything we could possibly need was on hand and to a really high standard. Really nice, friendly and informative staff as well. Food was amazing throughout and there were some really nice personal touches, like welcome notes with our first meal, a candlelit dinner on the beach on the first night and by the pool on our second night and our names written in the sand outside our lodge. If anything staff were too attentive as we were the only guests there being right at the start of the season!
Lake Manze camp – we enjoyed our time here. It was very well organised and the guides were really knowledgeable. We saw everything we could have wished for including a whole family of lions and hunting dogs. We particularly liked the boat and walking safaris which made a nice change from the drives. Food was simple but well cooked and filling.
Echo Beach – we had a great time here, and it was really relaxing. Our lodge was very nice, and the food throughout was excellent. The staff were all really friendly although some of them were quite new and their English wasn’t too good.
Beyt al Chai, Stone Town – we were only here for one night but really liked it. Although we were leaving at 5am they still arranged a breakfast for us which we picked up when we left which was a nice touch.
All in all we had an amazing time though, so thanks for your great advice on where to stay and making our honeymoon truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
A. Downs, UK. 2011.
I was meaning to write to you.
Firstly, we really had a wonderful time, it was the perfect trip. Thanks again for your help putting it together. Couple of quick things that you might find helpful
– River Club, good way to start the trip
– Lebala was great. The staff, experience, everything was great. We had an amazing guide (Kanowee) and tracker (Borman). Game viewing was good, saw a lot of cats including cheetah eating zebra, lions eating zebra and a leopard on the last morning – so we felt quite lucky. Based on our experience and others we spoke to, Kwando camps seem to be a bit more special than Wilderness
– Jacana was good, but didn’t seem as special. You suggested two nights and I wanted to go for three, as much for pace as anything. On balance I think your approach was best. There is alot of water which was wonderful to see. I would really recommend not expecting much in terms of game viewing as the island where you drive is very small & cut off given the amount of water (especially if you have done a land safari before). All the water activities were very good, boat rides, dug out, fishing etc very enjoyable. Guide wasn’t as good as Lebala.
– Vamizi, impossible to leave. Absolutely incredible. Can’t recommend it highly enough. Staff, diving, food, accommodation all fantastic. We just want to go back
D. Fenn, UK. 2011.
I have used Tanzania Odyssey twice now for holidays combining Safaari, a beach holiday and some time in Stone Town and Dar Es Salaam. Both times I have consulted with TO over my probable travel plans, and both times TO have suggested some amendments such as an extra night in one place at the sacrafice of a night somewhere else, or a different hotel to that which I have seen on the internet. Both times I went with TO suggested changes and both times I have subsequently been very happy I did this. I have always been hugely impressed with the personable and flexible way in which TO do business. They are hugley knowledeable and I would thoroughly reccommend them and take their advice in the future.
Selous Safaari Camp – December 2009
This was a tented Safaari that combined the luxury of a fixed camp (and therefore bar and dining area) with a definite feeling that you are still in Africa and still living in basic accommodation. When I visited a person called Richard ran the camp who was very pleasant and spent a lot of time with his guests at meal times. He also encouraged, unless for some reason just during our visit, (will be interesting as to what other people say) that we all sit together in the evening for dinner. This would probably suit better those people who do want to meet other guests and listen to some of Richard’s stories from his time in Africa, rather than couples on honeymoon. The food was good but relatively basic. We had elephant right outside our tent in the night, literally eating a bush that touched the tent!!!
Beyt Al Chai – December 2009
A great centrally located authentic guest house in Stone Town. Excellent food. Has a residents lounge with cold beer in the fridge and an honesty bar. Only has a curtain dividing the loo and bath from the rest of the room so not ideal if you are not comfortable with sharing such matters with your room mate!!!
Echo Beach – December 2009
A lovely resort that size wise is small enough to feel very special but not so small that you can’t find a spot to sunbathe away from others. The owners are quirky and fun and will provide a good bit of banter at the bar if you want it. Excellent food and a wide choice on the menu.
Beach Resort – February 2011
A gem of a place that is literally a piece of heaven in what can only be described as something resembling a war zone on approach. I say this only because I was seriously worried I was being abducted on the way to the hotel because the terraine got worse and worse, more remote and I thought there was no way a hotel can be at the end of this road, but, I was wrong and it is just a very undeveloped part of Zanzibar! I chose this hotel because it looked like it combined simplicity with the standards of cleanliness you would expect in a hotel and I was not disappointed. It is a great option for someone who wants a wow factor on a budget. With only 8 rooms the place can never be crowded and the beach was always deserted. I loved the fact that the floor of the restaurant and bar is all sand so I did not wear shoes for the 4 days I was there. The food is good local seafood with a choice in the evening and a good lunch time menu as well. Ideal for those that want to completely relax with only the worry of whether to play scrabble or sleep to think about. The downsides are that there is nothing to do outside the hotel so wandering off down the beach is not something I would feel happy about doing and you are confined to the hotel which is small whilst you are there. This is however exactly what I wanted.
Safaari – February 2011
WOW WOW WOW. This was the 5 star treatment. Beautiful location, beautiful big rooms with verandars overlooking the water, amazing food, with tea and coffee bought to the tent in the morning, afternoon tea served, as well as snacks on safaari drives etc. The highest level of customer service. The manageress is wonderful, clearly looks after her staff with dignity and respect and goes the extra mile for you. I cannot praise this place enough. The only downside is unless we go back, anywhere else just won’t live up to the standards of this place so I’m going to be disappointed.
F. Carli, Italy. 2011.
Our trip was fantastic. Everything worked out as planned. Starting from the first lodge: the Tree Lodge in Tarangire, overnight. Beautiful room, traditional dinner under the stars with a very good BBQ style.
Oliver’s Camp was as hospitable as it could be. Excellent food from breakfast to dinner. Accomodation is also comfortable and stylish. The lady manager very friendly and so the crew. Sadiq, our tour guide was knowledgable and courteous all through the journey to Ngorongoro and Mynyara lake.
Olakira Camp, Serengeti, well it’s Serengeti. The camp is well managed, good food, very nice people, comfortable accomodation for the price. Our two guides were so friendly they made you feel very welcome. Fadhil Deo and Francis, thanks again, brothers.
We concluded our vacation in Zanzibar at Kono Kono which is a wonderful resort. I just wish they could improve the dirt road to the resort [20 minutes of bumps] but when you get there and you see your villa… WOW! The beach and see are fantastic and so their food.
S. Kirby, UK. 2011.
Firstly, a belated huge thank you to Julian who organised our honeymoon – it was fantastic and we felt that he had really listened to what we wanted and booked us the places that suited our time and budget, as well as our competing desires for adventure and relaxation.
We first stayed at Onsea House in Arusha for two nights. This was very relaxing after a long flight from New Zealand with a beautiful pool and fantastic food. The staff were also really helpful. We had the family suite upstairs on the top floor of the main building. I have seen it commented that that suite’s bedroom gets a little bit of noise from the kitchen below, and this was true, but it wasn’t excessive and didn’t stop us sleeping soundly. If I had my choice (we got the last room available) I’d probably book the rooms down by the pool, as they are probably more relaxing.
Next we stayed at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge. This accommodation is a little dated, but we were aware before going that the best part of staying there is the view and the relatively quiet access to the crater which were in fact great. When we arrived they did try and put us into a room with no view (it looked into some scrub), but after pointing out how unsatisfactory that was they were happy to change our room and we then got a view out over the crater.
From Ngorongoro we went to stay at Alex Walker’s Serian Maswa mobile camp for three nights. This was excellent. The personal service was outstanding, nothing was too much trouble and it was completely up to us what we did. Staying here is not like staying at a permanent lodge (as some of the other guests seem to have expected) – it is a camp where hot water is carried to your tent for you to shower and food is cooked in a mobile kitchen – but that is what makes it so great. During the days we went on walking as well as driving safaris, visited local villages and relaxed with a stunning view out over the plains. We cannot recommend this place highly enough, especially in contrast to the zoo like atmosphere of the Ngorongoro crater – at Alex’s we didn’t see anyone else on safari until we drove to the airstrip to fly out on our last day!
From Serian Maswa we took a series of flights to Zanzibar and Pongwe Beach Hotel. Pongwe was stunning and a perfect place to laze about for a few days. We had a “garden view” room (the beach front rooms were all taken when we booked) and while it was set back from the beach that didn’t matter at all as we still had a view of the beach from our front porch and we spent all of our time on the beach, by the pool or in the restaurant anyway. Pongwe is a low key beach resort, where you decide your own pace, it’s not a big Club Med style resort, but more like some of the beach resorts in Thailand, where the thrill of the place is relaxing and deciding what you do rather than having activities thrown at you (although they were available if you wanted them).
Our last stop was Ras Kutani on the mainland. We stayed in one of the suites up on the ridgeline which was outstanding and felt like we had our own private getaway (although it was only 2 or 3 minutes walk from the main restaurant). Monkeys would regularly swing through the trees in front of the suite and our view along the coast was stunning. Before going we were slightly concerned about whether the beach would be good for swimming, however we needn’t have worried as when we could drag ourselves away from the excellent food and drinks, the sea was great and there’s even a wreck close by that was perfect for snorkelling around. This is the perfect place to relax after a safari and we’ve already recommended that others go.
Thanks and kind regards,
S. Hearn, UK. 2011.
Herewith some comment on the places we stayed at:
Onsea House. Two really fun Belgiques run this extraordinary hotel with very high quality food. We eat and drank to a very high standard in fun surroundings. We will certainly go there again. It is handy for Kilimanjaro airport and Arusha airfield.
Ngorongoro Serena – a little tired but did the job. It is well positioned for a one or half day safari in the crater and you would not want more than that. Friendly and does the trick.
The Serengeti Serena – this is a gem tucked away in the middle of the Serengeti – that is far better that it would seem at the outset. High quality management and loyal staff make this place in our view. The food and accommodation is good without being exceptional but is great value. Well positioned for safari. We always go back to this Serena – and they know us and recognise us.
Ras Kutani – this is an exceptional venue on the coast. They should make it easier for guests to get there – but once you have arrived it is a superb place for quiet beach and lagoon time. Very good food, outstanding staff and certainly a place we will go back to. Our second son worked at Ras Kutani four years ago and little has changed; well run and high quality.
I hope this is helpful. We will be back! Regards to Marc.
J. Lineham, USA. 2011.
Thanks for all of your help with our trip to Kenya which was excellent. all went very well, guides were generally very good, game excellent and goal of seeing cheetahs achieved.
Thoughts on things.
Lakes . Lolida nice place to stay, Staff and food excellent (esp Manager Peter) and good place to chill out for first couple of days. Lake Nakuru park good (least good of all the places – but you had said that and our expectations were lowish) but felt a bit like longleat, guide there was less good than others but all things are relative.
Joys Camp. Really lovely camp, enjoyed the lack of people and sense of isolation. Reminded us a little of camps in Namibia. Had great leopard sightings, including a kill, but just generally really enjoyed the camp. It was really beautiful, camp was gorgeous, facilities excellent. Guides Musa and Eric very good indeed. Had a great day trip into Buffalo Springs Rekero. Great Tented camp. Obviously not as luxurious as Joys, but excellent position in Mara. Guides excellent. Loads of game and saw loads of lions , few cheetah and lots of leopards (6 different ones!). Lions etc almost too easy and just too many other vehicles for us. Not sure what it must be like at migration time -must be mad!
All in all a great trip. However if we return (can’t believe we won’t) it will probably be to southern Africa perhaps throwing in somewhere new eg Zambia as well as our favourite Botswana. Perhaps we have just been spoilt!
Anyway thanks so much we did love it, great experience, great people, and have taken some good photos.
Perhaps India next before we get back to you about further trips.
Best wishes to all
J. Roake, UK. 2011.
Very happy to provide feedback:
Lake Manze. Really great rustic camp where due to the more basic style you really felt part of it all and very close to the nature around you. The tents were basic but had all you needed and the outdoor shower and toilet was an experience! The camp is situated in beautiful surroundings and it was a joy to witness so closely the elephants who wandered through camp on a regular basis. Food was not fine dining, but extremely tasty and enjoyable. We particularly enjoyed the packed breakfast for morning safaris and the lunches. All staff at the camp were courteous and helpful and always tried to accommodate guest requests. Rangers and drivers were extremely knowledgeable which allowed excellent game viewing. All in all we found Lake Manze a very special camp where the lack of pure luxury (and electricity) found at some lodges, actually added to the experience – we would definitely recommend it and would love to return! This is a place not to be missed.
Jongomero. Pure luxury but done in a really understated way. The reserve is very wild and remote which creates an extremely special safari experience. Whilst it is not as easy to find game here as in other places (partly due to the terrain and size) when you do find game, it is extremely rewarding. The Rangers are extremely knowledgeable and always able to impart useful information about flora and fauna. The lodge itself is extremely luxurious. The accommodation is beautiful with wonderful views. And the service from all the staff working at Jongomero is second to none. Some of the best I have ever experienced – whilst you get very attentive service you never feel uncomfortable with all the attention. All the staff are friendly and interested and interesting and there were some real special touches throughout the stay which we really appreciated. The food was exquisite – some of the best food I have eaten. In summary this lodge is absolutely luxurious but not at the expense of making you feel uncomfortable or sacrificing on game viewing quality. Magical lodge and worth the money.
J. Ainley, UK. 2011.
We just wanted to say Thank you for organising an outstanding holiday for us.
Nomads and Ras Kutani stand out as being the most memorable, Mark at Ras Kutani was a wonderful host, Plantation lodge was also very good.
The only accommodation we would not recommend was Rivertrees in Arusha…poor accommodation.
We have already decided to return in 2012, and are toying with Selous, Zanzibar town, Nomads new property in the north of the Serengeti and a return to RAs Kutani.
Thanks, you did a great job
T. Monroe, UK. 2011.
Lion kill at 4 in the morning 300 meters from our tent in the Ruaha…walking safari in the Selous Safari Camp and trying to remain quiet while a herd of elephants passed by 30 meters away. Both camps were extremely hospitable and we enjoyed the mix. Selous Safari Camp was truly luxurious for a bush camp and made us feel like royals as we lived amongst the animals.
Also, echo beach and stonetown were a great way to end the trip. The food at echo was excellent and we were able to join in a wedding celebration during our stay.
We made some excellent friends…3 other couples on their honeymoons…at Selous and we were all staying at Echo and the resort next door, so we were able to get together each night.
Last, being in stonetown during the end of Ramadan Celebrations was a fantastic cultural experience. We ventured out each night to observe the celebrations and dine at fabulous local restaurants.
We cannot say enough good things about our total experience and we have many pictures to help us reflect on the trip.
C. Lozare, UK. 2011.
We loved Mombo Camp in Botswana. It was the first camp we went to and probably spoiled us for life in terms of game viewing. On our very first day ever on safari we saw lions, the one wild dog of the area which had just had his kill appropriated by a hyena, and a white Rhino. And, of course, we saw herds of elephants, towers of giraffe, and a bloat of hippos and on and on. In addition to the bounty of animals, the accommodations at Mombo were heavenly. Hot water bottles in our beds at night, liquor to our heart’s content, food every time we turned around, and a wonderful staff everywhere we turned. It truly was heaven.
Beho, Beho in the Selous in Tanzania offered a different animal viewing experience. Here we could go on a walking safari which we couldn’t do at Mombo. And here we saw lions mating while having sundowners. Honestly, what more could one ask for? The rooms were glorious – first time I’ve slept in a room with just three walls. The fourth was open (but protected by an invisible fence) with a view of beautiful hills and a valley. The lodge was also open on one side and gorgeous. At night people dressed up a bit more here than anywhere else we stayed. And as in Mombo it was lovely to have some of the staff eat with the guests. And a man made water hole allowed us to view some animals as they came to drink and we ate. One morning we had a full delicious breakfast for two by Lake Tagalala and then the two of us went on the lake where we saw lots of crocodiles, birds, hippos, and more. Divine.
Faru, Faru in Tanzania was a perfect end to a dream trip. What could be better than cantering on the plains of the Serengeti up to a dazzle of zebra and herd of Topi? We had a guide to ourselves during our stay. Elephants were in camp when we left to go on a game ride one morning (sometimes I wondered why we ever bothered to leave these camps as animals constantly came around) and provided a bit of excitement. The plains were glorious and we saw a leopard and a cheetah as well as herds of Cape buffalo, and huge amounts of animals of every kind. And lunch up at Sasakwa Lodge was like a dream. The view of the Serengeti stretches for literally miles. The food was amazing (club sandwich of my life) and the setting; we ate outside, perhaps the best ever. And for those who love to ride, I can’t imagine a more perfect place. 18 horses, the wonderful staff helps outfit you with boots, chaps, helmets, whatever you need and want. And so long as you are able to ride and handle a horse, off you go with at least one in staff (I had two all to myself) to guide you. Be still my heart.
J. Merton, UK. 2011.
just to let you know we had a great time in Tanzania….your suggested itinerary was perfect.
Alex Walker’s camp was pretty special.
R. Hussey, UK. 2011.
Hi Julian and the team,
Just a quick note to say thanks for organising our honeymoon, Sara and I had a truly amazing time. Especially at Beho Beho, it’s truly spectacular. Wish we could live like that all the time!
And thanks for your help reorganising stuff following the snow delays.
J. Ansbaugh, UK. 2011.
Happy New Year – Hope that all is well with you. We truly had the time of our lives on our 3 week African holiday. We’d both go back in a heartbeat; given the opportunity. J Thank you for the incredible itinerary that you helped us put together. Your expertise and patience helping us design this trip made this our ultimate dream trip. Everything went perfectly (after our late arrival in Nairobi due to the snow in Amsterdam J). What an incredible trip! You truly suggested some of the most amazing places to stay and the timing of our stay in each location was perfect.
To summarize our trip, here is a brief recap of our thoughts on each place we went on our trip….
Masai Mara, Kenya @ Naibor Camp
Loved our guides! Loved that they wear their native Samburu tribe clothing.
Naibor Camp was the most well run place that we stayed….and that is due to the outstanding camp managers and staff. They made us feel right at home.
Loved the food….it was the best we ate on the trip. And we had a lot of great food.
Loved our Askari – they were all so very personable and service oriented. I also love that they are dressed in African clothing.
Had our best animal sightings at the Mara without a doubt. Had incredible sightings and it was really so unique that you can get as close to the animals as you can in the Mara.
Loved the bird sightings and the bird tour that Adam, one of the camp managers, provided. So cool.
A wonderful, wonderful experience! We can’t say enough how much we enjoyed our stay.
Love telling folks about how we’d hear the hippos slipping back into the river in the wee hours of the morning after their evening grazing. Loved our story telling and discussions at the dinner table. Lots of fun!
Arusha, [email protected] OnSea
A beautiful property, loved the view of the lush vegetation around the property
Loved cleaning up after our time in the bush and taking a nice swim in the pool
Excellent food at the restaurant
Serengetti, [email protected] Dunia Camp
Loved the scenery of the Serengetti. I thought it was the most scenic of all the places we went.
Had a wonderful guide from the Chagga tribe
The camp was nice and we met a lot of wonderful people.
Had a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration where the camp staff performed different songs and dance from their various tribes which was a lot of fun. Christmas Day we had a special brunch which was a lot of fun.
Had a very different landscape and view from camp looking out into the fields from our tent but was very beautiful as well
Lots of great animal sightings – giraffes with the landscape of the Acacia trees was wonderful, a great lion sighting of a large pride of lions, had a couple of cheetah sightings and loved the wildebeast sightings with the larger groups running (had an awesome viewing as we flew into the Serengetti). One really good leopard spotting too. Was surprised that we saw very few elephants though.
Met a lot of nice people – especially a family from the UK who we later saw again at the Plantation Lodge.
They called campfire there “Bush TV” which we thought was pretty cute.
Lake Manyara, [email protected] Plantation Lodge
Beautiful scenery around the lake and driving down into the lake area
Lots of fun sightings of baboons and blue monkeys
Some great elephant sightings
Saw a different type of wildebeast there
Saw a few new birds and a monitor lizard which was fun.
The Plantation Lodge was a beautiful place with a very different feel – lush gardens, an older colonial style to the lodge and rooms, great food, a swimming pool. Nice for a little pampering after being out in the bush.
Ngorongoro Crater, [email protected] the Serenna Crater Lodge
The crater is absolutely magical and it was so incredible that we saw 7 different black rhinos on the first day!
A microcosm of animals all within a smaller space so it was great to see them all together
An incredible view of the crater from our hotel room and fun to see the different lush vegetation of the highlands
The lodge was a very different feel since it was much larger than any of the other places we stayed so while it was very nice, it didn’t have quite as personal a feel (we admit we’d gottn a little spoiled by the previous two places J)
Our guide there was nice, but had been working in the business a lot longer so he wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as our guides at Naibor and Dunia Camps.
Zanzibar, [email protected] Ras Nungwi
A beautiful place and a great way to unwind at the end of the trip with 5 nights at the beach
Loved our waterfront bungalow and were very impressed by the resort staff and resort. Great food as well (as you can see….a common theme – we ate a lot of great food on the trip!)
Had fun festivities and entertainment – live music for the New Year
Did a day trip to the Jozani Forest where we had amazing sightings of the Red Colobus monkeys up close on a walking tour then went to a Spice Farm and saw how many spices grow. Both were excellent and we had a really good guide for the trip. Got to see more of the island which was beautiful.
Had a wonderful tour of Stone Town where we saw the open markets, walked along the narrow streets and looked at the beautiful Arabic and Indian doors, saw the slave market site and the church there now
Zanzibar is a beautiful and an exotic blend of cultures and we got a lot of nice and hot weather
We were struck at times by some of the staggering poverty in the towns – that was sobering. Had noticed that in other parts of the trip as well – especially in Tanzanian towns (around Arusha and near the crater)
Jeff really got into learning Swahili in Zanzibar and it was a lot of fun to watch him interacting with the folks at the resort. J
We both felt that this trip was the trip of a lifetime and managed to even surpass all of our hopes! That is hard to do because we had so many high hopes for the trip….and still we were completely blown away. We feel so incredibly fortunate for the opportunity. Back in our day to day lives, we often comment on memories of Africa and recall the incredible colors, sounds and landscapes. We are left in awe by the beauty and the vast landscapes and will do everything within our power to give back and ensure that we preserve the incredible treasure that it is.
We dream of returning some day soon.
J. Hudson, USA. 2011.
We have been back nearly a month and I just wanted to say Thank You for recommending Lake Manze camp for our family. This was a great switch sell as you actually found what we were looking for. Having been to a number of safari destinations over the years this was a fantastic place to introduce our children to the African experience.
The tented camp is comfortable and there are in fact two family tents which work very well. We just loved everything about the place. The kitchen dealt well with the fussy eater in the family and the menu was discussed each day so that we could ensure there was something for my daughter to eat. I had taken some items with us that were useful in keeping an 11 year old happily fed!
The duration of four nights was just right. We managed the Lake safari, the backwater safari, a day safari, a morning drive, an evening drive and Richard arranged for us to go for the walking safari. I think he realised that our children were able for it and we all had walking boots. As the camp was not that busy we had a fantastic guide in Calson, who stayed with us the whole time. We can’t fault his level of information nor his interest, the girls learnt so much from him. Our driver Salum certainly knew the area. The two worked so well together we had great viewing including Lion and we could see that they were desperately trying to find us the Leopard, but to no avail!
I am just glad that we were there at a time when it was mostly dry. We got the rains on the last day. This was an adventure in itself. We were on a day drive and heading back. The rains came down and just soaked us, then the wind, then the rains again, short & sharp. It all makes for an adventure. We certainly got that, as the car slewed around and finally came to a holt on a crossing. We were three hours out in the bush at dusk as night approached. With Hyenas watching us from a distance, the girls really did get an adventure! We got back to camp around 8:30 and straight into dinner and a nightmare for all concerned. The rain brought out the insects that you had mentioned. I don’t think anybody enjoyed the meal as things flew at us all night. The girls sat there in fear with their feet up off the ground. My husband had to clear the tent of very large spiders, millipedes, scorpions etc….. Well it was good for them to see the other side of camping! We missed a week of our holiday due to the snow and chaos at airports so we were lucky that we had only been able to book the safari for January. We were due to go out on the 23 December but didn’t go until the 30th. So in all a great holiday and we may be back to you for the next suggestion if this job keeps my husband out in Tanzania.
J. O’Keefe, UK. 2011.
There were so many great memories. The Ngorongoro Crater itself was amazing. We saw a lion eating a zebra he just killed. We saw a cheetah and here two cubs playing around a number of vehicles for about 15 minutes. We saw thousands of wildebeests and zebras migrating from place to place right in front of us.
And I should not forget what we thought were a couple of elephants were going to attach he vehicle we were in.
Lastly, when we visited Stone Town we walked through the big market and saw a stingray being cut up on the ground.
Again a great trip. We will send you are edited pictures when they are ready.
M & J. Oglesby, UK. 2011.
I felt I had to sent you a short email just to say how much we had enjoyed Fundu Lagoon and the words ‘paradise’ and ‘idyllic’ immediately spring to mind when recalling our stay.
I Sivachenko, UK. 2011.
Thanks Ted – I think your team was absolutely the best. I never worked with such knowledgeable, professional and fun people before. I am very sad we did not get to travel as we planned this year… The dates kept changing and with work, wedding to attend and little kids it just did not fit together… But I have you on speed dial now and as soon as we can make it (this year or in the nearest future), I will call you right away. And I promise to have few or no questions 😉
Thanks for your patience with me! I cannot recommend you enough to my friends.
E. Purnell, UK. 2011.
Hi Marc & Team,
Sorry it’s taken me so long to write feedback on our wonderful honeymoon, which we booked through Tanzania Odyssey. We literally had the most amazing time. Everything was planned perfectly and the entire itinerary ran seamlessly.
Ras Kutani is the single most amazing place we have ever stayed in our lives (and probably will remain that way)!. The team at Selous Safari Camp was sensational – warm, friendly and knowledgeable, we really felt at total ease in the game reserve and saw some truly wonderful sightings of animals, flora and fauna.
Ras Nungwi was also idyllic for the final week – total relaxation and beautiful beach with a laid back feeling throughout.
I suppose my one bit of advice would be to put Ras Kutani on the end of a 2-week trip to be closer to Dar for the flight home – the 4am wake up call in Stone Town seemed a little avoidable!
Anyway, Christina and I just wanted to thank you personally for making our honeymoon truly spectacular.
L. Ramsay, USA. 2011.
I have been very remiss in not contacting you since our return from Botswana.
We had a fabulous time – thanks so much for recommending a marvellous itinerary and such good places to stay. We loved all of it, without exception, and saw so much wildlife. My favourites, there always are, were Tau Pan, for its bleached grassy landscapes and its lions ( we watched a female lion move her tiny cubs to a new and safer den.) and Little Vumbura where we took part in a wild dog hunt, and then later, watched the aftermath of a wild dog kill and a fight with a scavenging hyena. We had a marvellous guide in Little Vumbura too – easily the best of the trip. Nxai Pan perhaps had the least to offer – the animals all to be in the centre of the pan – and of course, as a reserve, the vehicles couldn’t leave the roads. But we did see leopard! I remember you told me your mother is a keen birder. Tell her we saw a pair of Pel’s Fishing Eagle in Little Vumbura. (I confess I hadn’t heard of it before we arrived – but it seems to be the bird of all birds to have seen.) See if she is impressed!
Thanks again for your help.
S. Ward, UK. 2011.
I have just ridden a five day safari with Okavango Horse Safaris in northern Botswana. It was absolutely FANTASTIC. There is a young, enthusiastic team of helpers, some of whom were recruited from the “escapethecity” website, and of course PJ and Barney Bestelink, the owners. The horses are amazingly well behaved and quiet around the game. We rode through the beautiful delta flood water about 50% of the time and saw masses of game and I counted one hundred and two species of birds. On almost every ride we saw elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, roan antelope, impala, kudu, tssesebe, red lechwe, reedbuck, wildebeest, duiker, steenbok, warthog, side striped jackal, baboon and monkey. We rode through a variety of outstanding scenery crossing dry islands to vast floodplains and open grassy pans. One day we were standing horse belly deep in water with a breeding herd of elephant on one side, a herd of buffalo on the other and giraffe, zebra and impala in front of us. We spent some nights in the comfortable base camp and also spent two nights in a fly camp where we heard the lion roaring and the hyena laughing all through the night. We saw a wild dog kill and every sunrise and sunset was dramatic and stunning. This is the ultimate, unforgettable bush experience.
N. Godfrey, UK. 2011.
I hope you are well.
I know it’s been several months since our trip to Tanzania last October that you organised for us, but I wanted to drop you a belated note to tell you what a great trip we had……….our best holiday ever !
Despite the complicated itinerary, everything ran like clockwork with no hitches at all, so many thanks for getting the organisation absolutely spot on. Everything that we expereienced was exactly as you had described – this is such a great help when trying to organise a trip to somewhere that you haven’t been before and it’s rare for travel companies to have such detailed and accurate knowledge.
I know you take a pride in your knowledge of the places that you recommend, and put a lot of work into recommending the best combination for our trip, so we took some notes at the time to give our views and observations on each location and hopefully help add to your knowledge base of these venues, for the benefit of your future clients.
Despite the informal, chaotic and haphazard outward appearance, they actually run a very efficient and enjoyable service. Our name was on the clipboard for every flight, so no problems. I like the way that once everyone is there…….they just go, and don’t stick rigidly to their timetable slot !
I can confirm what you said to me before we went (and contrary to what it says on the itinerary and on their own website), they only weigh hold bags and never hand luggage, so as long as the hold bags are below 15kg, you are good to go………….and they only weighed these once at Dar on the first outbound flight, never on subsequent flights.
Ngorongoro &Beyond Crater Lodge
Great greeting at Manyara airport by our driver Davis with tea and a packed lunch. Very welcome after 18 hours of travelling! Watch out for the baboons at the entrance to the Ngorongoro Crater park………..they broke into our car in a flash when our backs were turned (Davis had left a window open!) and stole our unfinished lunch!
Fantastic location on the rim of the crater with great views. South camp definitely the best location with the best views. Tree Camp is closer to the edge, but the rooms are smaller and surrounded by trees so no view. North Camp’s view is blocked by South Camp.
Resident tame Zebra herd nice to see, grazing on the grass around the camps. Also saw Buffalo at night.
Unique room styles that fit well with the location. Very comfy beds. Great views from every room……….even the toilet! Scalding hot water! (watch out!) and nice to have a real fire waiting for you when you get back from dinner. Food was of a good standard for the isolated location………and seconds offered if first serving not enough!
Good butler system here to attend to your every need during your stay. Safari was our butler. Very helpful without being unnecessarily over attentive.
We had a slight problem as we left with a miscommunication on our arranged departure time which kept us hanging around in the sun for half an hour. We made our annoyance known to Albin, the South Camp manager who is very nice, but was out of his depth and unable to resolve the problem. In the end, we spoke to Beatha, the Lodge manager who apologised and made amends with a nice bottle of bubbly waiting for us at Mnemba !
One slight gripe is that they should get better organised so that you keep the same driver throughout your stay: airstrip pick up, game drives and return to airstrip. We had 3 different drivers (and a fourth at one stage who got reallocated prior to Azeeza taking over). Also, they should clean the dust out of the window seals so you can open the windows during game drives to take photos and get air (although once in the crater, the roof is opened)
Great experience and great wildlife, but frustrating to see so many vehicles, be restricted to staying on the roads, and all having to mob together at allocated picnic areas (only 2 in the crater) with crowded, dirty toilets. It’s a bit like a Safari Park experience sometimes. You were right to say that one day is enough in the crater. We’re very glad we did it, but were then ready to move on. Our guide in the crater was Azeeza who I would highly recommend. She was the first woman guide to qualify in Tanzania, is great fun, very intelligent and very knowledgeable. We had a good day with her……….and great picnic lunch including wine and cold beer! (despite the crowded location)
This was a great recommendation so thanks for that. We are so glad we went here as we had the best experience of our holiday and met some good people (including Usha, Bernice and Lyn who had also booked through you – we had great fun with them and flew to Zanzibar with them after our stay at Singita). Even though it was the least luxurious stay of our trip, the character of the place and the experience more than made up for this. We loved the informality of the camp which sat well with an underlying commitment to good service.
The food here was sometimes an eccentric mix, but all absolutely delicious – the best of our holiday……..including Alex’s special chilli sauce ! It was a great experience to meet the rest of the group each evening and share a cold beer around the camp fire and then dinner and lots of wine and Amarula together around a big round table.
Alex is a fantastic host and we were fortunate enough to have him as our guide for the whole of our stay. I suspected this may be something you had helped influence as I know he usually charges extra for this, so thank you if that was the case. He’s very down to earth and relaxed but with a great sense of humour and strong propensity for banter which we enjoyed. He has a good attention to detail without being over dramatic when things go wrong……just takes everything in his stride. Alex has great enthusiasm for the wildlife and photography (a hobby of mine too………..but not to his standard!) and was always prepared to let us lead the agenda on what we wanted to see and for how long, there were no rigid timetables. His loyalty to his staff is good to see as well, including to Singi, his elderly tracker who came on game drives with us and was still a good spotter despite his failing eyesight.
One unfortunate situation during our game drives was that the radios never seemed to work properly between the three cars that were operating, so we weren’t able to find out about the good stuff that our fellow guests were witnessing, and vice versa. Consequently, we never actually saw a river crossing during our time there………..the one thing that we’d gone there to see ! This was a real disappointment………even though we saw lots of other fantastic sights. Our fellow guests all saw several crossings……….and we almost saw one on our last morning after a 3 hour wait, but had to leave before it actually happened to catch our plane to Grumeti ! Alex needs to get those radios fixed.
During our stay, it became apparent that the future for this unspoilt area of the Northern Serengeti may be in jeopardy. Apparently a new road is planned into the area which will bring many more game vehicles (we only saw a handful each day while we were there……..a pleasant contrast to the Ngorongoro Crater). It was rumoured that the Tanzania government may even look to block the migration into Kenya so they can steal tourists from their great rivals !
There was a particularly obstructive new warden who had recently started patrolling on Alex’s patch and seemed set on making his life hell, preventing any driving off track and imposing heavy spot fines and bans if he caught drivers doing this. It was apparent that Alex is singled out more than local indigenous drivers, and has even had to move the location of his camp once for no good reason.
One of the attractions of this area was the freedom to roam anywhere and stop anywhere for meal breaks……..but on our last morning, the new warden decided that he was going to impose two or three demarcated picnic areas and not allow parking up anywhere else. He even put signs up and moved everyone on as we were parked waiting for a river crossing to happen as herds were gathering on the far bank of the river.
I hope this area isn’t ruined by mass game drives in the future. That’s where it looks like it may be headed.
Singita Lodges – Grumeti Reserve
It was always going to be difficult to match the density and variety of wildlife in the Northern Serengeti, so our stay at Faru Faru lodge was a bit of a disappointment by comparison, despite the lodge being a higher level of luxury.
Faru Faru lodge is in a great location, but we found it a bit soulless and lacking in character. It’s difficult to explain why as the architecture and design is impressive, but the huge suites were a bit sterile and had the feel of a locker room because of their stark furnishings and design ! We weren’t impressed that the only shower was outside which is a bit off putting when it’s raining or dark. The huge electric opening feature windows also broke down in the rain.
We concluded that the thing that really lets down Faru Faru is the poor quality of staff. They all seemed to be poorly trained and over attentive but mostly useless. We were introduced to a number of them, but never really worked out what their roles were supposed to be, including Zedi, who was supposed to be our butler, but only ever waited on us at meals and did no more. We felt constantly pestered and rushed, particularly around buggy pick ups to take us to dinner as they have an obsession with not allowing guests to walk along the paths alone after dark (no such restrictions at Alex’s camp!). The irony was that they drove the buggies so painfully slowly (again a safety obsession no doubt) that it was quicker to walk !
Other problems encountered were an impressive looking but freezing cold swimming pool, a small and unimpressive spa (I didn’t even bother taking advantage of the free massage that we’d agreed as part of our package).
We got the impression that they have problems attracting and retaining good staff in this isolated area. Bjorn, the very pleasant young manager told us he had been drafted in from Sabora to try and resolve the issues at Faru. He certainly has his work cut out for him………..and he appeared he might be slightly out of his depth (this may be unfair as he’d only recently come across and looked after us very well).
Fortunately, we had some really good game drives with our guide, Braya. Although young and recently qualified, he was intelligent and had good knowledge and found some good stuff for us to see. This was helped to some extent by the good radio communication between vehicles from all three Singita lodges and the central radio station at Sasakwa. This meant that all sightings were quickly shared, but it did mean there was a constant radio babble all through each game drive which got irritating. Fortunately, they carefully manage how many Singita vehicles gather round each game sighting and restrict it to a maximum of two. Because they own the land, Singita vehicles can also drive wherever they like and are not restricted to tracks as in the Crater (and increasingly in Northern Serengeti).
Braya found some truly wonderful locations for us to stop for breakfast and sundowners. These were a highlight……….as was the birth of a giraffe that we witnessed (after 2 hours waiting and lots of photos !). There is a good variety of game in Grumeti, particularly birdlife, but the wildlife isn’t as numerous as in Northern Serengeti. Good to see that Singita have a black rhino introduction programme in operation here, to help replace what was whiped out when Grumeti was exclusively hunting territory.
We wanted to see the other two Singita lodges for comparison during our stay at Faru Faru, so Braya took us to visit Sabora for lunch and Sasakwa for breakfast.
We were absolutely enchanted by Sabora camp. A real Out of Africa style location and feel. The whole place, including the huge tented accommodation is beautifully furnished and has bags of character. We had a fabulous lunch there and peaceful, relaxing afternoon. Also, the calibre of the staff were head and shoulders above those at Faru. We received a genuinely warm welcome from Florida (Acting Manager) and Apollo (Head Waiter I think). We really enjoyed the short time we spent there and wished we could have stayed longer instead of having to return to Faru Faru.
We would highly recommend Sabora to anyone thinking of staying there, particularly in July when the migration goes right through there. One caution is that we noticed a lot of bush mice scampering around………not a problem for us (the camp is after all set in a wild area), but potentially off putting for others. The best tent locations for privacy are Nos. 1, 8 & 9.
Sasakwa is in a very different but equally spectacular setting, high up overlooking the plains below. It’s a lovely place with hand manicured (literally!) lawns and a real colonial manor house feel, but we found it a bit stuffy and unwelcoming. This would no doubt appeal to many, particularly the numerous rich Americans in residence, but we preferred the more informal and homely feel of Sabora.
Mnemba Island, Zanzibar
Staying on Mnemba was the perfect way to end our holiday. Even though it’s probably over priced for the standard of the accommodation (I’m glad we got two free nights in our deal !) you’re paying for the peace, isolation and privacy. We were looked after very well by the island manager, Peter and had a truly delightful butler, Tunaimi who was permanently cheerful and nothing was ever too much trouble for him……….he would actively look for things to do for us. I would highly recommend people to ask for him if staying at Mnemba. He was clearly the best butler.
Getting to Mnemba is even more challenging than all descriptions that we’d read before going. The road is not just bumpy (far worse than any game drive track)……….it’s like sitting in a washing machine for nearly an hour ! Peter did make a valid point when we arrived that it helps discourage other hotels from opening up on the coast opposite Mnemba. We did find out from our driver on the return trip though that there is actually a smoother route, but they don’t tend to use it as it’s longer…….but we asked to try it and although it was longer, it was quicker as he could drive faster ! I also don’t understand why they don’t just do the boat pick up at the start of the rough road rather than at the end of it and make the sea crossing longer. It may be because of tides or reefs. I know the owners of Mnemba have tried to negotiate with the Tanzanian government to improve the road, even offering to contribute to the cost, but with no success yet.
The bandas on Mnemba are well equipped but quite rustic and open (no air conditioning, doors or windows, just optional blinds to cover the holes at night) but full of character, homely, and perfectly suited to the natural environment of the island and relaxed lifestyle that they are encouraging there. Our shoes were taken off us as we arrived and we never wore them again for the whole time we were there. The bandas are however a bit too close together in relation to the cost of the accommodation. Fortunately, all other guests that we met were quiet and discrete……….except a wealthy Texan family who arrived with their own pilots and guides after an extensive flying safari all around Africa. Luckily they were located at the other end of the island and although fairly loud, they were good fun.
The location of our Banda, No.8 was on a great section of the beach right in front of the house reef which was excellent for snorkelling…….just a few steps into the sea. The best snorkelling is actually on the far edge of the reef where the coral is cleaner and more varied. The beach is soft, clean white sand, right into the sea, so no sharp rocks or coral to stand on (no need for reef shoes). I can recommend Bandas 8-10 for location in relation to the reef, but no bandas are in a poor location, although we were told that at certain times of the year that side of the island gets very windy – the dive centre relocates to the eastern side at that time of year.
The bandas are regularly visited by the small, introduced Suni Antelope. They are quite tame and seemed constantly thirsty ! – so we put water out for them and suggested to Peter that water bowls be provided for guests to use. It’s nice to have these charming little antelope around, unlike the crows that we were told they are quietly trying to eradicate. We were also very fortunate to witness a turtle hatching on our last evening which was a real highlight and great to see the turtle conservation programme that they have on Mnemba, run by one of their longest serving staff members who’s been there over 20 years.
One downside of having a good reef so near to shore is that, even though Mnemba’s territorial waters stretch 200m out to sea with the intention of keeping outsiders away, every morning several boatloads of loud Italian snorkellers would appear from Zanzibar. They often intruded within the 200m limit, and were frequently having to be driven back by Mnemba staff in boats. They have occasionally been known to set foot on the island and have even been discovered using the toilets in the bandas !! Fortunately the boatloads always disappeared again by lunchtime but were a regular nuisance that shattered the peace of the island for a couple of hours each morning.
We had great food on Mnemba, cooked by the English chef, Richie. You are shown the suggested menu for lunch and dinner when you go to breakfast each day and choose what you went to eat, or change it to something else if required…….there was complete flexibility. He cooked us a great curry one night. Dinner on the beach under the stars each evening was a great way to end each day. One exception was the beach BBQ which was quite limited in its food choice.
We did initially have an issue with the complimentary house wine and brought this to Peter’s attention. He was a bit defensive initially but then addressed it well by allowing us to order anything off the full wine list for one day, and then brought in wines of our choice from Zanzibar the next day. These were made available to us as our house wine for the rest of our stay. A good solution. Unfortunately, cocktails were not the barman’s forte and these were the worst that we’d ever tasted………so we stuck to beer and wine !
Also, we took a sunset dhow trip one evening. This however was a waste of time. The local two man crew were miserable for the whole trip and returned us to the shore half an hour before the sun set !
There is an excellent complimentary watersports service on Mnemba run by husband and wife team Jason and Karen. They make a great team and are extremely accommodating and helpful to all guests, even non-divers. They took us on a couple of great snorkelling trips on the reef off the south eastern side of the island and we also had the opportunity to swim closely with dolphins……..until the Italians scared them away !! Karen said the dolphins are showing signs of stress from all of the boats that pursue them. The dive centre is well equipped and snorkelling equipment is available to loan to all guests, including prescription masks for the short sighted.
Stone Town, Zanzibar
We spent our last night here at the Serena Inn which was much better than we were expecting and we would recommend it. It’s in a nice quiet location and the staff are welcoming and friendly. We were upgraded to a suite which was very well appointed. Stone Town was interesting to walk around on our last evening and a real contrast to Mnemba……….but one night was enough. We didn’t manage to find a decent restaurant for our last meal in Tanzania. Richie had recommended an Italian restaurant which we went to, but they were running a set price buffet as it was their anniversary that night which was popular with the locals but disappointing food quality. It would be useful to have a Stone Town good restaurant guide
Thanks again Julian for your recommendations and help in organising a really fantastic holiday. I’m sorry it’s taken so long to send you this feedback, but there was quite a lot of detail to get down as you can see, so it’s been difficult to find the time ! We will be in touch again when we are planning our next safari (probably Botswana/Namibia) so please keep sending us e mail updates of your latest travel offerings and developments.