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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by Ms M. from New York

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

1

Lodges stayed in

6

Excursions taken

0

My Dec 2020 trip

Kenya between 4 Dec 2020 and 19 Dec 2020

Trip rating: Excellent
"Our trip to Africa was truly a dream come true! We planned this trip two years in advance, and due to Covid needed to replan the trip again, with endless back and forth to ensure we got the itinerary to a place that met the regulations and restrictions of each country.

Our trip exceeded every expectation, and while we initially thought it was going to be a once in a lifetime trip, we are already talking about when we will return. Richard helped to organize the trip and make the endless changes for us. While he was generally patient, I couldn't help but feel like he was sick and tired of me in the final months of planning.

Perhaps there's a difference between how Americans communicate and how the British communicate, as I found that getting on the phone helped tremendously. Overall, the trip was one we will never forget and we are beyond grateful to Richard and Expert Africa for all of their assistance in planning."

Feedback response

We were delighted that these travellers, for whom we had been planning a trip for almost three years, finally got to bring their dream to life, despite the many obstacles along the way. We were especially pleased that quite an ambitious itinerary worked out so well, in the circumstances of a global pandemic. From our point of view dealing with the challenges is a key part of the job, and we actually enjoy overcoming them, so I (Richard) am very sorry if we ever came across as less than upbeat and can-do! We agree, though, that plenty of phone calls is an important part of the planning process, and we'd always encourage our travellers to call us at any time, especially if they want to go through our latest email updating them about their travel plans. It's all part of the fun - we were thrilled these travellers really caught the safari bug in Kenya!

Arranged By Richard Trillo


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Latitude 0º, Kampala

"Latitude 0º, Kampala review"

2 nights Arrived 5 Dec 2020
"Upon arrival in Entebbe, we headed straight to Latitude 0 Degrees. I wasn’t sure what to expect of this hotel, as for us it was more of a stopover on our way to visit the gorillas in Bwindi, but I was SO impressed.

The hotel is decorated impeccably with a very trendy, bohemian feel. The rooms are beautiful and all of the public areas match. We loved spending time at the pool, but were even more blown away by the incredible gym (best hotel gym we’ve ever been to in all of our travels) and were able to squeeze in a massage as well. When we first inquired about a massage appointment, the spa said they were fully booked, but they were able to move some things around and fit us in, which we were incredibly appreciative of.

My husband said it was the best massage of his life. We had breakfast and dinner here and found the food to be very good. The hotel also allowed us to pack some boxes from the buffet on the day we left, as we had a 5am departure time. All of the staff were incredible and went above and beyond to make you feel cared for. HIGHLY recommend Latitude if you need someplace to stay in Kampala/Entebbe."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
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Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

"Loved it!"

2 nights Arrived 7 Dec 2020
"We loved our stay at Sanctuary Gorilla Lodge! From the time we were picked up at the air strip by Rogers, we had the best time. Rogers was our driver for our three day stay and was such a bright light. He was both funny and knowledgable. He helped to get us acquainted with Uganda and shared a lot of great information about the community and culture. The lodge itself is perfectly located - just a few minute walk to the start of where the gorilla trek starts. It’s so beautiful as well! Located right in the midst of the forest, the views are great and the rooms feel super tranquil.

The rooms are very spacious, and the bed was probably the most comfortable bed we slept in during our two week stay in Africa. Michael took great care of our room, helped to get our laundry cleaned, and ensured our room was turned down each night and made up each morning. The staff at Sanctuary were all incredible. We had two servers - Simon was AMAZING, and there was a woman whose name is currently escaping me, but who was equally as amazing. We loved the bonfire each night before dinner and the live music by Wallen was the cherry on top. After gorilla trekking, we had amazing massages at the spa that helped to relieve our achy muscles.

We only had two nights here, as we only had one day of gorilla trekking scheduled. From an activity perspective, that was enough for us, but we were very sad to leave the people who were so kind and really ensured we had a great stay. We loved our experience with gorilla trekking and can’t imagine there being a more perfect option for a place to stay than Sanctuary!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Hemingways Nairobi

Hemingways Nairobi

"Varying experiences, but would recommend"

1 night Arrived 9 Dec 2020
"We stayed at Hemingways on two different occasions during our trip to Kenya. The first night we stayed there was immediately after arriving around 11pm from a 12+ hour day of traveling from Uganda. We were picked up from the airport by the hotel and were SO thrilled to find that our driver brought a room service menu with him and offered to call our order in to the chef. We spoke to the chef directly, who offered for us to eat either in the dining room or in our room - which was an incredible offer given the time of night.

We opted to eat in our room and were VERY happy with the food. Upon arrival, we were checked into our room which has all of the modern luxuries you would hope to find after a very long day of traveling. Anthony was our butler and helped get us acquainted with the room and brought us our dinner and promptly removed the dishes once we were done.

Anthony was amazing and we were so happy to find that he was again our butler when we came back unexpectedly for a second stay. Our first stay, we arrived super late and were picked up around 11am to go to Giraffe Manor the next day. We had breakfast at the hotel, which was very good, and spent a bit of time sitting by the pool. The hotel was very quiet and we found the service all around to be great. We ended up booking a day room on our last day in Kenya, after we ended up getting stuck in the Mara for an extra night and had a full day to kill before our international flight left in the evening.

This time we were here on a Saturday and found that there were 3 events happening (2 weddings and a luncheon), so the vibe was a lot different. It was super busy and a bit chaotic with all of the events, but we ended up using our room to sleep most of the day as we were exhausted from 12 days of going nonstop so it didn’t present a problem. We got massages before we left and found the spa experience to be very mediocre.

Overall, I would recommend Hemingways as a good place to stopover in Nairobi, but just note that the experience could potentially vary greatly depending on whether you are there on a weekend or weekday."
Good
Location
Excellent
Service
Good
Facilities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor

"Once in a Lifetime Experience!"

1 night Arrived 10 Dec 2020
"One of the main reasons we picked Kenya as our destination for our Africa trip was because I was fascinated by Giraffe Manor and really wanted to stay there. The experience was very well orchestrated, and despite how highly produced it is, it was still absolutely magical.

We had Peter as our server during lunch and he stayed with us throughout the duration of our stay. Peter was absolutely wonderful! He took great care of us and has been at Giraffe Manor 6+ years (if I’m remembering correctly), so he is a pro at taking the best photos, ensuring you get enough time with the giraffes, and overall just making the experience memorable. One night’s stay consists of lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and then the famous morning breakfast with the giraffes. The food was great, and every single meal was special.

The rooms are nice, although it’s clear you are paying for the experience, as you are in a historic home so the bathrooms could probably use a bit of updating, but it didn’t take away from the experience at all. As I mention above, the stay is very well orchestrated, but I believe it’s done to ensure that every person gets the most out of their stay. We were so grateful for the organization behind the day and to have Peter’s guidance throughout our time.

We have the most incredible memories and great pictures to match. I would highly recommend a one night stay at Giraffe Manor to anyone."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Lewa Wilderness

Lewa Wilderness

"Incredible experience!"

3 nights Arrived 11 Dec 2020
"RUN, don’t walk, to Lewa Wilderness! My husband and I spent 3 nights at Lewa in December. It was our first safari ever and we were lucky enough to have Mwangi as our guide. He was beyond knowledgable and taught us more than we ever thought we’d learn about wildlife during our time in Africa. He was not just smart, but so much fun to spend time with too. The wildlife in Lewa is abundant and we saw TONS of rhino (Black and White), elephant, giraffes, zebra, etc. While Lewa isn’t particularly known for predators, Mwangi helped us find lionesses and the next day we were able to spot their cubs plus the male lion feeding on their kill from the previous night. We also had two very close calls spotting a leopard, but she had young cubs so ultimately stayed fairly hidden (her cubs peaked their heads out a few times). The fact that Mwangi was able to even find her was so impressive!

In addition to the game drives, the Lewa property is absolutely beautiful and feels very homey. We had Room 10, which had incredible views, a small plunge pool, and more space than we would ever need. We watched elephants and giraffe outside our room every day. We were also close to the gym, which we used several times and found to be well equipped. We also spent some time at the pool, which also has incredible views.

We were really blown away by the food at Lewa. They have their own garden (you can take a tour of it - which I recommend!) so they primarily use their own produce, which we found absolutely delicious. The lunches at Lewa were some of my favorite meals in all of our travels - they were somewhat simple, but so fresh and so delicious with a ton of variety (usually 5-7 dishes each lunch). I believe they normally serve it as a big buffet, but due to Covid, each group had their own individual buffet in their own area of the property (they varied where you ate each day). Dinner was a 3 course meal and was also delicious.

I already mentioned how spectacular our guide was, but the rest of the staff was equally as amazing. Karmushu is the lodge manager and we were so grateful to get to spend so much time with him. He was generous enough to share a lot about his Maasai upbringing and culture with us, and provided a lot of wisdom about the animals we were seeing from the camp, as well as spent some time stargazing with us and identifying constellations. All of the servers and room attendants at the camp were lovely too. It was clear they just wanted to make you happy, and with their kindness and attentiveness it wasn’t hard for them to succeed. Every single person we came into contact with was absolutely wonderful. It’s also worth noting that we felt the camp did a great job taking Covid precautions and while all staff wore masks 100% of the time, it’s at the guests discretion if they would like to or not, given everything is outside.

Lewa offers camel rides, horseback rides, and nature walks as well. My husband is allergic to all animals so sadly we didn’t take advantage of the horseback riding, but I took a camel ride one morning which was a lot of fun and offered a unique perspective of the wildlife.

Overall, we absolutely LOVED Lewa Wilderness and would recommend it highly to anyone. We hope to be back to visit again sooner rather than later!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Mara Plains Camp

Mara Plains Camp

"Very Special Place!"

4 nights Arrived 14 Dec 2020
"What. An. Experience. Mara Plains has hospitality figured out! To start, the Maasai Mara is very special to experience on its own. This was our first trip to Kenya and we visited the Mara after visiting Lewa. Both experiences were VERY different, as we found Lewa to have more of an abundance of animals (minus the cats), but the action we were able to experience in the Mara was unparalleled. HUGE credit is due to our incredible guide Jackson, who always had a game plan of how we should spend our day and what to look for (although we would make changes on the fly, depending on what came our way). The guide is who you spend the most time with on safari, so they could really make or break your experience, and lucky for us Jackson really made our experience amazing! He is one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, with the most infectious laugh. You can’t help but to have a great time with him. We saw so many cheetahs, including one mom with 4 cubs about 5 weeks old, and two other adult cheetahs with 3 cubs that were a few months old. We also saw many lions, and spent several hours following a lioness one day who was clearly on the hunt for food for her cubs. She wasn’t successful, but we had a great time watching her - and spent so much time with her that the lodge drove out lunch to us so we didn’t have to make the choice between giving up and going hungry.

Now onto the camp itself. We knew once we drove up and were greeted by huge waves in the distance that we were in for a treat. Sam and Becky are the lodge managers and they are such an incredible couple. Becky has a background in wildlife photography, while Sam owned and operated one of Sun Valley’s best restaurants for many years, so they couldn’t be a better fit for running a place like Mara Plains. They are warm, welcoming, and ultimately want to ensure you have the best stay ever. We were also lucky enough to be at the camp when the owners Dereck and Beverly were there, as well as David, the manager of all of the Great Plains East Africa camps. It’s very clear that what Sam and Becky exude comes straight from the top - and trickles down to all of the staff at the camp.

Dereck, Beverly, and David were some of the kindest people we’ve ever met who spent time chatting with us and were eager to hear about our trip. On top of that, we ended up needing to spend an extra night at Mara Plains when our SafariLink flight back to Nairobi got cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather. Derek, Beverly, David, Sam, Becky and Jackson all showed great concern about how we were going to get home, whether we could sort out new flights, and very graciously and generously welcomed us back to the camp for an additional night. The concern they displayed really blew us away and sincerely moved us to know that they cared so much and were so eager to help. That gesture alone will make us loyal Great Plains guests whenever we return to Africa. However, that gesture wasn’t all that impressed us with Mara Plains.

As I mentioned above, the kindness and care clearly trickles down from the top at Mara Plains. Every person at the camp goes above and beyond to make your stay special. The servers, including Richard, Sammy, and Alex, were all incredible. They remembered your name right away, and also remembered your preferred drink and coffee order. The room attendants (special shoutout to Nelson) made sure your room was always perfect, with fresh towels, made beds, turndown service, prompt laundry delivery, etc. There was an additional level of luxury at Mara Plains, with small details like being offered a cold towel and drink upon return from game drives. Everyone made it very clear that no ask was too much. One example is that every night they have three or four dinner entrees to select from, but they made it very clear that if you wanted ANYTHING else, they would make you whatever you wanted. We didn’t take them up on that, but I think it’s an indication of just how much they are willing to do for you. Their bar is very well stocked and if there’s a specific bottle of wine you want them to open (the selection in incredible!), they will happily do so.

On the subject of food, we found the food to be delicious. Breakfast was fairly consistent each morning with a selection of fruit, breads, eggs, and bacon/sausage. Sam and Becky asked if you had and requests or tweaks you’d like to see in what they pack for you, but we were very happy every day. Lunch was a highlight. There was generally a variety of vegetable dishes and one meat dish that were served as a buffet (with the staff serving) or plated for you. The food was incredibly inventive, SO good, and as a bonus, healthy! Dinner was a three course affair, in which you picked your entree before you headed out for your evening game drive. There’s nothing to complain about from a food perspective at Mara Plains, and no shortage of food either. Despite feeling like I was constantly eating, the food was all very healthy, so I didn’t leave feeling gross - major points for that!

Mara Plains is a special place, but the people are what really make it the most special. I highly recommend a visit here - I know we are looking forward to returning to Mara Plains or at the very least another property in the Great Plains family when we return to Africa! Thank you to the entire Mara Plains family for making our stay one we will never forget!"
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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