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Traveller reviews

Travel reviews by T & S from North Carolina

Review Distribution

Excellent
Good
Average
Poor
Terrible

Total number of trips

1

Countries visited

2

Lodges stayed in

6

Excursions taken

0

September 2019 Safari

Tanzania and 1 other country between 3 Sep 2019 and 25 Sep 2019

Trip rating: Excellent
"We knew this was going to be the trip of a lifetime, but nothing could have prepared us for the experience we had. By the 3rd day we had run out of superlatives and by day 8 we were tongue tied when trying to describe how remarkable the wildlife was, how fabulous the food, how gorgeous the accommodations and how well we were treated. Even now, two months later we have difficulty.

We would not hesitate to use the services of Expert Africa again, in fact we would insist on it for trip planning in that part of the world. We would also insist on having Lyndsey Marris as our personal representative. Lyndsey was outstanding from day one, asking all the right questions about our travel experiences, our wishes, making suggestions before I had a chance to even think to ask, and somehow despite her being in London and our being in the United States we never waited more than 24 hours for an email or telephone response. We don’t know how she managed to work around the time difference, but she did. Her recommendations were spot on and she was flexible with changes; nothing seemed beyond her. We met and formed a friendship with a family from greater London while in Ruaha who had also used Expert Africa and had Lyndsey as their agent and they had the same experience and praise for her as we did.

We were provided with daily itineraries including private drivers, reservations at restaurants, all flight arrangements, hotel and safari camp reservations and accurate information about all of them. In over three weeks of travel there was only one hiccup and that was minor and no doubt precipitated by a flight delay causing us to arrive in Nairobi 2 ½ hours late. The driver who was to have met our flight was not there and we were unsure on how to proceed. As it turned out, a very attentive gentleman had been observing our situation and eventually came over and asked what had happened and it turned out he worked for the same company, Southern Cross Safaris, who was to drive us that day and the next. He took over and got us transported to the hotel and put us back onto our activity schedule to see the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Center. The driver from Southern Cross Safaris was delightful and informative and we met him again the last evening of our trip when we came back to Nairobi to fly home. The only adjustment we would make to our stay in Nairobi would be to give up the convenience of an airport hotel for the apparently unique, lovely experience of staying at Giraffe Manor. We didn’t know Giraffe Manor existed so it wasn’t something we asked Lyndsey about, but we really wish it had somehow come up.

I would suggest to anyone going on Safari to stay in multiple camps in diverse geographic areas. Lyndsey gave us a perfect itinerary in the perfect order: Nairobi, Selous, Ruaha, Mara River, Grumeti and finally Mafia Island and a flight home from Nairobi. Each of the areas had its own flora and fauna and special emphasis. Selous is private, no traffic or competition to view the animals, you can go off road, but the animals are very spread out due to its size. You have the opportunity to see the rare wild dog, but fewer cats. Ruaha, on the other hand, is a national park; you cannot go off road, there are many more vehicles, but it is definitely the place for cats. Mara River is all about the wildebeest crossing. It is also a national park. Grumeti is a private paradise in the Serengeti that gives you the absolute best of the best. Mafia Island is an exquisite respite from the “always on alert” feeling of safari.

If you looked on a map you might wonder why we worked from south to north just to fly much further south at the end, but Lyndsey explained her thinking, we took her advice - she was exactly correct. The wildlife built up as did the camps as we went along. Not once did we feel we were taking a back step in the quality of anything. And going on safari is quite tiring despite the fact you are being driven everywhere, so a restful beach idyll at the end is perfect.

We will definitely return to Africa. We would repeat this trip in a heartbeat. In fact this trip was so fantastic it will be difficult to resist literally going back to the same camps, but Africa is huge with so much variety, we will most likely expand our horizons. Where ever it is, Expert Africa will help plan our trip."

Arranged By Lyndsey Marris


Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport

Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport

"Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport-Begin TZ Safari"

2 nights Arrived 4 Sep 2019
"Great service - They even packed us a substantial bagged breakfast for our last day because we had such an early flight.

Excellent restaurant - we ate dinner there twice and were happy with the service and the menu. You couldn't be in a better spot for the airport or to visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage or The Giraffe Center (provided you have a driver.) Quiet, clean rooms and a secure, gated location."
Excellent
Location
Good
Service
Excellent
Activities
Good
Rooms
Good
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Good
Beho Beho

Beho Beho

"Beho Beho - Selous Game Reserve - Perfection"

4 nights Arrived 6 Sep 2019
"Beho Beho – Selous Game Reserve

Absolutely one of the best camps, a must stop with a staff that takes care of everything that you can’t think of. Holly is the perfect hostess with a fascinating background and sharing meals with the guides, Indrissa and Godlisten, gives you more opportunity to learn about them, their country and the wildlife. You are made to feel like family. In fact, because we were the only ones there for three days, we were treated like royal family! And “No! It was never boring or too quiet.” It was a privilege.

The rustic bandas are very large with huge beds warmed by hot water bottles and hippo serenades at night, sofas and chairs, a day bed and a plunge pool all look out over a cleared area and the trees near the river. Tea and coffee and biscuits arrive at dawn. We watched a bull elephant, a lion mother with cubs and impala without leaving bed! At the waterhole you can observe huge hippo, a pride of lions, water buffalo, baboons all come to drink while you eat dinner.

The food is beyond superb! Who expects lobster thermador in the middle of the Selous? The Masai dinner served in a special location was delightful as were the guides’ recounts of their time in boarding school. Meeting the chef and his staff so we could thank them topped it off.

Finding wildlife in the Selous requires an educated guide because of the immense area of the private reserve and Beho Beho’s are the best. The fact that the reserve is private means you rarely see another vehicle and the guides don't call to each other unless a sighting is particularly rare or unusual. Wild dog, albino lion cub, elephant teaching their babies to find water under the dry sand river beds, giraffe, water buffalo, hyena, leopards, and the trip to Lake Tagalala is an experience you must have. Huge crocodile every ten feet, fleets of hippo watching you go by twenty feet away, including an albino hippo, and birds from heaven."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Ikuka

Ikuka

"Ikuka - Ruaha National Park - Magnificant"

4 nights Arrived 10 Sep 2019
"Quite a change from our last camp, Beho Beho, but it only gets better with the variety. High up on a ridge and a more casual atmosphere, Mark, the owner, and staff will greet you and make sure any accessory you didn’t contemplate you might need is at hand. Staff and guides join you which was wonderful. Lilly (Lillian) a true goddess who makes Ikuka conform to the laws of physics and humans, including knowing exactly when we needed a cold Zero Coke! And don't try to carry anything back to your cottage - you are certainly allowed to have it there, just not to carry it by yourself! Staff appear out of nowhere to accompany you.

Our guide, Festo, was a master of his guide craft for large animals and bird life. Respect that knowledge and if you have questions ask him, not your seatmate. Cats abound here and watching a young leopard move from one tree to the next to pull out his stashed kill was astonishing. We spent another morning watching a serval and the next day more leopards. Mongoose everywhere, baboons, vervet monkey, eland, serval, ostrich, buffalo, giraffe, including nursing babies, hyrax, zebra, including nursing babies, hyena, elephant, including nursing babies, black backed jackal, oribi, kudu, tiny dik dik that look like dogs and so many baobab trees (unlike Selous.) Apparently the history of low numbers of elephants allowed the baobab seeds to sprout and grow

A bush walk with Mark and his expertise is a life experience you will never forget. You can tell your friends how exciting it was even if you don’t run into a pack of starving lions; and you will be rewarded with a great bush breakfast at the end.

The food is fantastic in quantities that overwhelm. Lunch is buffet and dinner is sit down with everyone at a long table, inclusive of guests, staff and guides. (Should you prefer to eat any meal in your cottage, you only have to mention it.) We met a family from Britain that was so much fun, so intelligent, witty and diverse we wanted to adopt them!

The accommodations are huge tent - cottages overlooking the hill. The bed areas enclose at night separate from the bathroom/shower areas, patios and sitting room. Hot water bottles warm the beds and tea and coffee arrive at dawn. Taking an early morning or after dinner shower is not for the faint hearted as the breeze blows in off the ridge and makes it a bit if a challenge. “Bush Baby” hot water bottles are handed to you for your morning drives to keep you warm. There is a pool by the bar and dining area and a “loo with a view.”

We never wanted for anything at Ikuka except for more time to stay."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

"Singita Mara River Tented Lodge - Crossings"

3 nights Arrived 14 Sep 2019
"We couldn’t see how after 8 days in the Selous and Ruaha things could get better, but we were wrong! Despite it being the dry season we were amazed at the greenery over the vast plains in this part of the Serengeti. We were met by Grant (what a host – he answered and smiled and never let on as we called him “David” for a full day and night!) He and his delightful wife, Penny, could not have taken better care of us.

The accommodations were superb and felt like an old fashioned safari tent, albeit with an electric cooler filled with soft drinks, (someone must of told them of our Zero Coke preference!) wine and even cream for tea and coffee, a huge bath room with a shower and double sinks, as well as, a private outdoor shower and huge bath tub overlooking the river. There is nothing better than bathing while watching wildebeest, zebra, lions, jackals, hyena, giraffe with babies, impala, and birds. They even supplied a proper safari hat, bag and beautiful patterned wrap-around which are needed in the cold mornings. (Not to forget to mention the wooden handled toothbrush!)

Food is fantastic and a joy to eat after sitting around the huge bonfire with drinks. It is cooked to perfection and your preference and accompanied by some of the best wines one could hope for. Dining is private or shared tables – your choice. Penny and Grant are ever present and attending to things you didn’t know you were in need of.

Our guide, Stephen, was a terrific observer with a keen sense of humor, knowledge and ability to get to places at the exact right moment. He showed us one of The Seven Wonders of the World – a wildebeest crossing of the Mara River. He positioned us not 10 feet from the take off point of the animals while all the other vehicles were on the other side of the river. We could see every animal and movement of the herd. This is not for the faint of heart, it is brutal and tragic, but nonetheless something not to be missed. The blind panic of the beasts and their inability to spot a better route and the number of drowned animals is hard to watch, but it is still awesome and truly a “wonder of the world.”

We were treated to a 2nd crossing view from our tent (!) which was easier and more successful for the wildebeest and us. Grant and his staff had the chore of trying to push carcasses from everywhere caught near camp into the river current so the atmosphere smelled better. They did this with great caution as crocodiles abound.

The Serengeti is immense and you can see wildebeest for miles. One might think watching and seeing the same animals for 3 days would get boring, but it doesn’t; they are fascinating and the respect Stephen has for wildlife comes through and we never tired of the knowledge he passed on. There is much more than just the “beest;” we saw zebra (who knew they migrate, too?) and lions, elephant, hippo, giraffe, jackal, hyena, impala, antelope, Thompson Gazelle, the beautiful blue and brown Topi, baboon, monkey, ostrich, birds galore and so many more. Stephen had stories about them all."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Sabora Tented Camp

Sabora Tented Camp

"Singita Sabora, Grumeti - Life's Dream"

3 nights Arrived 17 Sep 2019
"We had already been in Tanzania for 12 days and did not think we could be more impressed, but this Camp looked exactly like Out of Africa with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford complete with vintage automobiles in the front area. The antiques continued and not just in the public areas, but in your tents also. Everything but the refrigerator and over the bed air conditioning unit was vintage. Fine crystal adorned a table with a decanter of good dry sherry. The refrige was filled with soft drinks, wine, champagne and anything else you might ask for. (In our case, once again, someone informed them of our Zero Coke desire.) We thought the air conditioner was overkill until the afternoon siesta heat set in; in opposition, safari hats and full length body capes were so welcome in the cold mornings.

Again, the Singita tradition of fine wines stood out, as well as, the menu and food preparation. We made it clear how impressed we were and received a private tour of the kitchen and a meeting with the chef, his staff and students from Grumeti Fund culinary school. Particularly wonderful was the emphasis on vegetables while never leaving you wishing for meat. The purchase of the Singita Cookbook might get us another taste of our favorites.

We were assigned John as our guide and for three days had him all to ourselves. We don’t know why – we saw other vehicles with multiple couples going out – maybe they were traveling together. All we knew was that John and we got along famously, he was an advocate of patience while viewing wildlife (as are we) and we were in heaven. We could stay as long as we wanted or move on quickly if we so wished.

Singita Sabora offers you the opportunity to visit nearby villages of Natal and Mugumu and we suggest you take advantage of that. It is so eye opening and worthwhile to meet families, see and shop the villages, visit the Eco School (EEC) and meet the students and see the fruits of their labor at the Farmers’ Market. We were so impressed with the alliance between Singita, the Grumeti Fund and the local people we came home determined to bring them a simple irrigation setup to make growing crops in Africa easier and more successful.

Bottom line, Singita Sabora is a camp you have to visit – it is the best of the Serengeti whether you are neophytes or old veterans of Africa."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent
Pole Pole

Pole Pole

"Pole Pole - A Perfect End to Safari"

4 nights Arrived 20 Sep 2019
"What a great way to wrap up after 15 days in four safari camps. Flying from the bush to Mafia Island and winding down in the comfortable, laid back and delightful atmosphere of Pole Pole resort was a blessing. You could do nothing, something or fill your days with island activities. - snorkeling, scuba, sail, cruise, explore, lie around the pool, or get expertly performed massages rejuvenating body and spirit.

Julie, the relatively new hostess/manager, already had local contacts in the community and a perfect working relationship with Mafia Island Diving who make it easy to schedule your water activities by coming each evening to the bar and meeting with all the guests individually, explaining tidal influences on timing as well as coordinating how to fit in the most experiences during your visit. Julie knew what was going on in every square foot of Pole Pole and her pleasant demeanor made everything run smoothly. She frequently gave us special "treats" simply because she is a generous, nice person.

Food was delicious and you chose your menu ahead of time. Spirits were fairly priced and the service was very good. The cottages were lovely with outside day beds and in our case we had a 2nd bedroom. The bed in the main room was strewn with flowers when we arrived and overlooked the jungle and ocean. Tea or coffee and biscuits arrived on the patio each morning at whatever time you requested. (So did a crow that wanted his share and managed to break numerous glasses and crockery making us look like the clumsiest couple in the world.)

We met people from around the world staying there and we truly did not want to go back to the states, but when we had to Pole Pole packed us lunches so we could eat them on the plane and arranged to get us to the airport with no stress or worry."
Excellent
Location
Excellent
Service
Excellent
Activities
Excellent
Rooms
Excellent
Food
Excellent
Facilities
Excellent

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