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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by The M family from Michigan

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

4

Excursions taken

0

My Aug 2015 trip

Kenya between 21 Aug 2015 and 4 Sep 2015

Trip rating: Excellent
"Kenya has left an imprint on our souls. 20 years ago I came to Kenya, and have been dreaming about returning ever since. Being able to return with my husband and children in tow, is truly a dream come true. Any and all expectations I had, or we had as a family, were shattered. We were amazed by the beauty, the wildlife, the people of Kenya, and we will never be the same. We are truly better for it. The education my children received on this adventure is beyond anything we could have provided in books, and they will never forget it.

Richard Trillo is fantastic, knowledgeable, and worked hard for us to build us an itinerary that would fit our young family and our budget, not to mention putting it all together very last minute. He also worked behind the scenes with my mom to surprise me on my birthday for a spectacular Champagne bush breakfast, and went out of his way to secure little things like car seats in Nairobi, and I am sure many other things I am unaware of. There was not a single hiccup with all of the flights, transfers, cabs, drivers, hotels, camps, etc. Everything ran smoothly, we felt extremely well taken care of, and never had to worry about a thing. I would definitely recommend Expert Africa, and Richard Trillo, to anyone wanting to plan something truly special.

Special Thanks to Sweetwaters Serena Camp, Offbeat Mara and Pinewood Beach Resort for being the lead roles in our trip of a lifetime.

My only regret is having to come home. You will fall in love with Kenya, your heart and soul changed forever. We only hope to be able to visit again, and not 20 years from now. We wish to inspire others to travel to Africa, Kenya in particular, thru our stories and our photos on our website www.diagnosiswanderlust.com. We met solo travelers, honeymooners, couples, and families and it is a wonderful destination for all of the above. If you have been dreaming of an experience like this, don't wait, make a plan, and just do it. You will never regret it.

Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:

I honestly cannot think of anything.

I promise to let you know if I think of anything. Everything was professional, complete, and fantastic."

Arranged By Richard Trillo


Aero Club of East Africa

Aero Club of East Africa

"Location Location Location"

1 night Arrived 22 Aug 2015
"Aero Club of East Africa was a quick 8 hr stopover for us. Hot showers, a warm bed, and location. The towels may have been a bit scratchy, but this hotel/motel served our need of a convenient and affordable stay close to Wilson Airport for late arrival and an early morning transfer.

It could not have been more convenient to Wilson Airport, with less than 2 minute drive. We easily could have walked, but with luggage and two kids it was nice to have a car take us the short distance. On arrival, staff was expecting us, and we were promptly checked in and escorted to our room. There appeared to be a lively night scene in the lobby bar with a decent size crowd and music playing. The rooms were unaffected by the noise and we slept soundly.

We sat outside on the patio lounge for breakfast and watched the planes from Wilson take off and land, and the kids played on the outside play set.

We would use them again if we needed to."
Average
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Rooms
Average
Food
Average
Sweetwaters Serena Camp

Sweetwaters Serena Camp

"Sensational Sweetwaters Serena"

3 nights Arrived 23 Aug 2015
"June of 1995, 20 long years ago, I stayed at Sweetwaters Serena Camp. There was something magical about this place that has stayed with me all these years, and I couldn't wait to return. Fast forward to 2015, and Sweetwaters shattered and exceeded any expectations I had for my return visit. The views of Mt. Kenya every morning were breathtaking. The wildlife activity at the watering hole was phenomenal, all day and all night long. We were amazed at how busy the watering hole was, and the variety of animals we saw.

The game drives with Alex in Ol Pejeta Conservancy were spectacular, and there was something new around every corner. In addition to the wildlife, Ol Pejeta offered many other highlights such as the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, meeting and feeding Baraka the black Rhino at the Rhino Sanctuary, and viewing the last few Northern White Rhinos on earth. These were great experiences for all of us, the kids included, and a great addition to the game drives. Alex was an excellent guide and we were so fortunate to see an abundance of wildlife including an incredible amount of Rhino, Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Lions, Hyena, Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Birds, Cape Buffalo, gazelle, impala, water buck, warthogs, eagles, jackals, and the list goes on.

Our "tent" was luxurious. Tiled showers with glass doors, double vanity, and a separate water closet, robes and slippers. The beds were dreamy with soft sheets, fluffy pillows, and cozy mattresses. There was plenty of storage, electrical outlets, bottled water, and a room steward to address any needs. Hot water bottles brought in at night to keep the beds warm was a lovely touch and a real treat for the kids. The "tent" had a tiled porch and sitting area to view the comings and goings of the watering hole and phenomenal views of Mt. Kenya. The stuff dreams are made of.

There is quite a variety of activities to choose from in addition to game drives, and we went camel riding, opted for a night game drive, and took a dip in the pool one afternoon. The pool with a view of the watering hole and Mt. Kenya all in one - WOW!

The staff was fantastic. I honestly cannot think of one negative thing to say. We were celebrating an anniversary and a big birthday on this trip, and everyone at Sweetwaters seemed to go out of there way to make it special. We were surprised on our anniversary with song and cake by what felt like the entire kitchen and wait staff, the chef included. It was beautiful. Then, my parents arranged for a surprise Champagne bush breakfast for my birthday with Expert Africa and Sweetwaters. The whole staff was in on it, and I was beyond surprised. Their service, their smiles, their dedication, and their attention to the kids was remarkable. Huge shout out goes to Alex, Phillip, James, Michelle, Abdul, and everyone behind the scenes to make our stay a dream come true."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Offbeat Mara

Offbeat Mara

"A True African Safari Experience"

3 nights Arrived 26 Aug 2015
"Wildlife Paradise. Seconds after touching down at the Mara North Conservancy Airstrip the animal sitings began and the landscape was abound with lions, hyenas, ostrich, wildebeest and giraffe, and we had not been in the Mara for half an hour. We had to pinch ourselves to make sure it wasn't a dream. The camp was nestled right into a heavenly landscape, and barely noticeable until we were right on top of it. A huge welcome from Kyle, Lara and Ponto (the dog) and the staff at Offbeat Mara, all lined up and waiting for us as our car pulled in the drive with hot towels an refreshments. We were welcomed like family coming home after a long journey, and were treated as such throughout our stay. We were escorted down a stone lined path and thru grassy plains to our tents with a view of zebra in the plains before us. The tents were well equipped with gorgeous beds, working toilet, and bucket sinks and showers. The four of us had plenty of space, and each bed had a spectacular view. It was so peaceful and quiet, only interrupted by the sounds of nature.

The communal tent and dining area invited you in with comfy cozy lounges and pillows, bar, games, and books, and a variety of animal skulls for the kids to investigate. Drinks and snacks around the campfire in the evenings to share game drive stories and highlights of the day, and communal dinners by candle light and lantern in the open air dining was fantastic, with a special visit from a little bush baby friend. Food was excellent and varied and dietary needs for finicky eaters (3 and 6 year old) were met. We arrived on my birthday, and the chef and staff surprised us with song and a gorgeous birthday cake to help us celebrate. It was lovely. When it was time to retire, the night watchman walked us back to our tents and stood guard all night long. Kyle walked with us as well, because our youngest wouldn't let him out of her sights. ;-) We felt very safe and well looked after.

Massai Mara is a wildlife wonderland, and this visit did not disappoint. We saw so many amazing things and any expectations we may have had were shattered. We witnessed The Great Wildebeest Migration, one of the seven wonders of the world, with our very own eyes and it was more than we ever could have imagined. Thousands and thousands of wildebeest and zebra nervously gathering at the river banks to drink, cautiously pressing forward and then retreating until one takes a leap of faith and the rest follow. What surprised me the most was that the animals go back and forth, at one point wildebeest crossing one way, and zebra crossing the other. It was hilarious and confusing and wonderful. Hungry crocodiles circling and waiting for opportunity to strike. Hippos grunting and nudging and positioning for the best spot. We were watching a National Geographic special live, with our own eyes, and I do not think anything will compare to this experience.

We saw lions, lots and lots of lions and cubs too, a rare black rhino, leopards, elephants and elephant babies, zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, topi, hyena, giraffe, eagles and birds, cheetah, hippos fighting and more. I could not get over the abundance of animals we saw, and the experiences we had in three short days. David and Kapen were our Massai game driver and spotter, and I cannot stop telling people about them and how wonderful they were. They were fantastic, period, and especially with our two girls, and so very knowledgeable and personable and fun. We had an exceptionally hard time saying goodbye, and I tear up writing this just thinking about it. This was a dream, a trip of a lifetime, and a dream come true.

We hope to inspire people to visit Kenya by sharing our stories and our photos, because this place is truly special, truly magical, and everyone should experience it at least once in their lifetime, and Offbeat Mara should be part of the plan."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Pinewood Beach Resort

Pinewood Beach Resort

"Crystal Clear Waters of the Indian Ocean"

5 nights Arrived 29 Aug 2015
"After a week on safari, this was the perfect place to dust ourselves off, cannonball into the pool, soak in the sun, and splash in the Indian Ocean. That water! Those pictures in the magazines are not enhanced. The water is really that beautiful, and the most spectacular I have ever seen, the color indescribable, the clarity like crystal, the beaches pure white.

The Pinewood was adorned with unique and abundant plants and flowers and trees and provided a lush entrance and oasis for birds and monkeys and lizards and geckos. The bar and lobby area were inviting and comfortable and a great spot to read a book, use the internet or watch the television, drink tea or coffee or order a cocktail, and watch the birds over the koi pond and water features. Food was excellent and varied and there were plenty of options for the most finicky eaters. The staff and chefs went out of there way to accommodate requests, and make sure we were all happy and comfortable.

We spent most of our time at the pool because our two young children wanted to do nothing but swim. The pool was beautiful, clean, and refreshing with plenty of lounges. The pool swim up bar was perfect for the girls daily chocolate shake, daddy's local Kenyan brew, and momma's Kenyan Sling. Moses served them all up with a smile, and a bit of fun with the girls. The beach side bar and grill served up fantastic wood fired pizzas, and a large menu to choose from with traditional dishes, fresh seafood, and burgers. Eat on the patio, on the beach, or in the cozy beach couches.

The weather was a bit strange for this time of year due to El Nino, and we received rain in the afternoon on a daily basis. It did not really effect us too much because the mornings were wonderful and sunny. We had breakfast, we went swimming, and enjoyed a good chunk of the day before the rains came. The rains came late afternoon when it was typically time to rest and get cleaned up for dinner. The rains sort of worked on schedule, came and went quickly, and nights were clear for late afternoon and dinner.

This strange weather pattern, however, brought in an out of the ordinary amount of seaweed up and down the coast of Diani Beach and very low tide, which we were told was very uncommon, and a bit unfortunate timing for us, as we did not swim in the ocean or walk the beach as much at the resort. This was not a resort issue, and simply nature at work. The resort staff worked hard to rake up the seaweed and clean the beach daily, so it was always beautiful. We would not let a silly thing like seaweed stop us anyway, and signed up for a snorkeling tour on a glass bottom boat that took us to a gorgeous atoll where there was no seaweed and the most magnificent white beach and clear water, and a gorgeous snorkeling spot, and a perfect place to swim and splash and play in the ocean. I could have stayed on that little beach atoll for days, it was gorgeous. They had many other water activities to choose from like kite surfing, diving, fishing and more, but because our kids are so young we were happy doing the snorkeling and hanging at the pool.

The rooms were very spacious, clean and comfortable beds with absolutely no complaints. The staff was very friendly and went out of their way to make our stay happy and comfortable and always went out of their way to engage with the kids and joke with them. Pamela, the office manager, was exceptional and spent a lot of time with me talking about Kenya, her love for her country and for Diani Beach, and why everyone should come to the coast. I would return and I would recommend others to as well. It is a perfect place to rest and relax after an action packed safari."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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