Travel reviews by Mr/Mrs E from Wisconsin US
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
Family trip June 2022
Rwanda and 1 other country between 2 Jun 2022 and 17 Jun 2022
Logistically, the connections between cities, lodges, and airlines were flawless. This was our second trip with Expert Africa (and working with Richard Trillo), and it was more complex than our last one: international, bush, and charter flights; three sites; two countries. This trip would have been impossible for us to have pulled off on our own - especially with the two-year delay forced by the pandemic! We were very happy to have these experts on our side!
Regarding the pandemic, Rwanda had the strictest protocols at the time of our trip - requiring four tests in seven days - but our driver arranged all three in-country tests and kept tabs on our results and paperwork for us. Masks were required in all airplanes, but the COVID numbers are so much lower in Africa than in the USA that we all felt very safe in the lodge settings - venues were spacious and largely open-air. We definitely had some anxiety about passing a PCR test in order to go gorilla trekking (we'd had COVID just 45 days before), but we hoped for the best and it worked out for us (and trip insurance would have come through had it not).
I would say that while COVID introduces a "wild card" into the proceedings, the travel-related requirements were well managed for us while overseas, and, in my opinion, going on safari is far safer than going to an American movie theater!"
Heaven Boutique Hotel
"Heaven Boutique Hotel review"
Kigali Tour and Genocide Memorial Visit
"Kigali Tour and Genocide Memorial Visit review"
4 Jun 2022 • All-day excursion
The city tour was underwhelming for two of us with lots of experience with African and Asian urban environments, but it was enjoyed by the young adults in our group.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
"Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge review"
A small drawback was a hard-sell from the manager regarding tips and community support (suggesting quadruple the levels recommended by Expert Africa!?), when we felt we'd been doing our part to support the community by selecting this lodge. The staff were very knowledgable about what was needed to make the treks happen (lunches, gaiters, gloves, backpacks)!"
In later emails we learned that the suggestions about larger tips than Expert Africa would normally suggest related to the national parks guides, rangers and trackers, all of whom faced economic hardship through the pandemic. We feel strongly that tips should always be discretionary and not used to subsidise the employer's payroll, but we recognise that the opportunity to earn tips is part of the attraction of these jobs, beyond the often modest salaries.
Golden Monkey Trekking
"Golden Monkey Trekking review"
7 Jun 2022 • Morning excursion
I was somewhat skeptical beforehand about this excursion, but this turned into an excellent opportunity to see golden monkeys at close range, and also to have a "dry run" of common elements with the gorilla trek: wake up and move-out, equipment, and acclimating to the altitude.
This was extremely enjoyable and we highly recommend!
Kigali Serena Hotel
"Kigali Serena Hotel review"
When going to our room, we were not told we were in a "new wing," and had to go up to the top floor, get lost, and come back to the main desk to ask for directions. The room that we were given was not cleaned after the most recent guests had left (!), prior to our arrival, and they never brought fresh towels, so we shared the one unused towel left over from the previous guest.
Food was expensive and no dairy-free options were available. We recommend that anyone with dietary restrictions present a prepared (translated) note for the staff.
Because of an early departure, we had our breakfasts boxed. For some reason they prepared 8 boxes for the five of us, and none of them were what we ordered - several items were missing, and several unordered items were present... fortunately we were able to piece together what we needed."
Gorilla Trekking Safari
"Gorilla Trekking Safari review"
8 Jun 2022 • Morning excursion
We visited the Agashya family, which had three silverbacks and several younger males and females. Unlike the monkey trekking, the gorillas were in a dense section of the forest, and so it was good that there were only 8 in our group (the maximum) - it was more difficult to always have a good sightline. (That said, over the course of an hour we all did have ample time to observe and photograph the gorillas.)
"Sarara Treehouses review"
The activities were excellent: we enjoyed beading with the local women, and also the trip to the singing wells. We also enjoyed the two hikes we were able to do - a silver lining of the very dry and sparse vegetation. We very much enjoyed the elephant sanctuary visit, too: there were a lot of "orphans" of different species, which we got to see up close.
The game viewing was fine, but the landscape is different (much drier) from the Masai Mara and so the density (flora and fauna) is much lower. The landscape is beautiful! We recommend this site for the combination of game viewing, the activities, and the unique setting.
The food was excellent, and this site did an excellent job with their vegan options and accommodating the wide range of dietary preferences in our group."
Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit
"Reteti Elephant Orphanage visit review"
11 Jun 2022 • Morning excursion
There were a lot of "orphans" of different species, which we got to see up close. We enjoyed feeding the baby giraffes and gerenook, and observing the elephant care plans (brief visit with the nutritionist). This was also a nice "link" to the singing wells, as several of the orphans had been rescued from them.
This is an excellent endeavor of the Samburu community and we highly recommend it!
"Tangulia Mara review"
Our guide was superb, and the animal sightings were numerous. We were there in June 2022 - rainy season and pre-migration - and some sites could not be accessed due to muddy terrain. Also, the tall grasses and pre-migration status meant that some sightings were harder to come by. That said, even the drive from the airstrip on the first day was fantastic!
The site is beautiful - we could view game from our porch, and if the tents were "less polished" than other sites they were still luxurious: the showers were hot, everything was clean and spacious, and service was outstanding."
Four Points Nairobi Airport
"Four Points Nairobi Airport review"
Showers were hot, and wi-fi was fast. Despite being on the airport property, our rooms (5th floor) were very quiet, even for our light sleepers.
The breakfast buffet was extensive, but the non-dairy options were very limited. Soy milk was the only non-dairy milk available."
A fantastic safari trip
Kenya between 19 Jul 2015 and 29 Jul 2015
The different parts of the trip - airport pickup with Southern Cross Safaris, the flights, the safari camps and the transfers - all worked together seamlessly.
It was an unforgettable trip, and I feel fortunate to have worked with Richard in crafting it, and am grateful to Expert Africa for having pulled it all together! I will recommend them to friends and family for future travels.
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
This is not a complaint as much as something to consider. The trip was a large expenditure - akin to buying a small car, for our family! If it made sense to gather information or provide recommendations on travel insurance, that may be worth considering adding to the Expert Africa portfolio. We ended up using SquareMouth, which worked well for us (caveat: we made no claims)."
"A great overnight before starting the safari"
It is conveniently located, the room was beautiful and comfortable and quiet. Staff were friendly and helpful with excellent English."
Lewa Safari Camp
"Great start to safari at Lewa Safari Camp"
The service and facilities here were excellent, the food was delicious, and they readily accommodated us when one more of our party switched to vegetarian meals. This was more of a lodge than the EP Camp, and had a different feel. (We enjoyed both approaches.). Dinner was served to us at multiple tables in the dining room, a party at each table, and one course at a time. Tea and coffee were always available, too. Lunches and breakfast were more open-air, and buffet-style (a very good buffet with nice presentation and grape at food). Overall, meals felt les formal to us than at EP Camp, though the EP Camp were at a common table.
Guidi was outstanding. Tom/Ngoju had an eagle eye, and was patient and really cared about impacting the animals as little as possible. In terms of wildlife - there was less here than at EPC - i.e. no gigantic herds, "just" medium-sized ones, but the location, low crowds, and unique wildlife (Grevy zebra, reticulated giraffe) made us happy to have come.
It was especially good to have started our trip here, as the animal herds that we saw still knocked our socks off. That said, if I were visiting only a single site in my lifetime in Kenya, I would select the Mara area, for the sheer ease of finding animals (especially lions). But I would gladly return here."
Elephant Pepper Camp
"Luxurious stay at EPC"
In contrast, the game drives in the Mara North Conservancy, around EPC at least, were very productive and enjoyable. Our guide, Francis, was very patient and had an eagle eye and was attentive to our wishes, which were to observe the wildlife in a "low impact" way.
I would recommend this site, and this Conservancy, very highly to anyone who wanted to visit, including my family, who have gained an interest in safaris based on our trip. The Camp truly is a "camp," with animals wandering through at night - this limited our ability to move throughout the camp, somewhat, without a guard - but that was just a minor annoyance, and an experience I'm glad that we had. Lions and hyena sounds at night!! Exciting!"
The breakfasts were excellent, with a non-dairy milk option available.
The hotel is within walking distance of other restaurants. Our family enjoyed the saltwater pool."