Travel reviews by Mrs K & 5 from Maryland
Total number of trips
Lodges stayed in
Working with Expert Africa makes it very easy and stress free.
Tanzania between 6 Aug 2022 and 16 Aug 2022
Our biggest problems were with vehicles. We had a flat tire at Lake Manze on the way to the airport, a car that wouldn't start at the airport at Mdonya and another flat tire on the way to Bagamoyo. However, all were handled quickly with limited delays. We had a mix-up on arrival in Dar with a driver at the wrong airport, but we were able to take a taxi to the Slipway and worked out reimbursement easily.
Jessica was a pleasure to work with. She was able to answer all of our questions and concerns. We knew we made some different requests, such as our day in Bagamoyo (everyone should go for the art alone!) and wanting an alternative to Zanzibar.
We look forward to planning another trip in the next few years. Working with Expert Africa makes it very easy and stress free.
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
Perhaps a questionnaire at the beginning of the booking process so we could indicate what is important to us in a safari. (Open vs pop-up vehicles, off road availability in parks, night safari availability, photographer friendly, etc.) This may have been offered on our first safari but I don't recall. I'm keeping a list of what we like in a trip, so each time should be even better."
We always encourage our travellers to share as much information as possible at the initial enquiry stage, to help us to make the best property/area suggestions. We have a section on our booking form for special requests and interests to be noted, which we send onto the camps to help them to appropriately prepare (eg. guide allocation) in advance of guest arrival.
Arranged By Jessica Plumb
"The Slipway review"
Lake Manze Adventure Camp
"Lake Manze Adventure Camp review"
Our tent was comfortable with plenty of room to organize and safely stow items in case of baboon intrusions. (Luckily, we did not have any!) The solar powered fan was much appreciated in the middle of the afternoon and at night.
The main tent was nice for relaxing with drinks before dinner. The charging station is large and able to accommodate everyone's devices. There was a very small "store" with some local crafts for sale as well as toothpaste or other essentials you may have forgotten.
Dinner was served by the water with candles and bonfires. The food was average (lunch was better than dinner), but filling. Milly was very attentive to our son's dietary requests and always made sure to check the menu with him. Dinner as a group was a nice way to end the day sharing the day's experiences with other guests."
Mdonya Old River Camp
"Mdonya Old River Camp review"
Our tent was comfortable, with plenty of hot water (almost too hot!) The solar powered light was very helpful. There were extra blankets if needed as it did get chilly.
Our guide and driver were excellent. We appreciated that the guides were in constant touch with each other sharing sightings. That led to us skipping lunch one day to drive almost an hour for a leopard, which was well worth it! Due to the drought, wildlife was noticeably less, but the guides really tried their best. A brief but very exciting serval sighting near the camp was amazing and we're still wondering how they spotted it! They were very patient with our photography requests. Early morning game drives were chilly and most guests didn't seem to be prepared for that. Layers are needed - the blankets in the vehicles are not thick. Note that while walking safaris are available, they are at the park HQ and require leaving camp at about 5 am.
The food was delicious, although on nights when camp was full, servings were not large. Lunches were excellent.
Ruaha is beautiful and we would definitely return. Hopefully they will get some rain next April and May."
Udzungwa Forest Camp
"Udzungwa Forest Camp review"
The tents were basic but having solar electricity was nice. We were able to charge electronics in our room. The staff moved the wifi to the dining area in the evening and we appreciated being able to check emails and texts after a week without it. The food was the best of any camps we stayed out. We were really impressed.
We enjoyed our morning hike to the waterfall with a knowledgeable guide. It was great to walk after days of sitting in safari vehicles. The monkey forest was an adventure. The monkeys were fun to watch leaping from tree to tree. We wished we had more time to do a bird walk and other activities. Because of the road construction, we opted to leave early in the morning and do a game drive in Mikumi so as to be sure we made our flight."
"The Slipway review"
My Aug 2019 trip
Kenya between 10 Aug 2019 and 26 Aug 2019
We did go to Karen Blixen's home and while interesting - it isn't worth a stop if under a time crunch.
One of the reasons we loved Il Ngwesi so much was because of the community involvement in the lodge. It meant a lot to us that the money was going back to the 7 villages, who sat on the board of the lodge. We spent a long time talking to the staff at Porini/Gamewatchers and while their arrangement with the company and the villages is better than most, it is still not owned by the Maasai. It would be wonderful if there were more lodges and guide services owned by native Kenyans.
We had mixed feelings about the village visits. The one at Il Ngwesi was better because it was presented as "traditional" while acknowledging that things had changed. Yes, they use matches and cell phones and dress in tshirts, etc. The one at Selenkay seemed a little more artificial. While it was really good for us to learn how the Maasai have lived traditionally, we were really interested in their lives today. How have things changed? What do they see for the future? Our guides were willing to discuss it, but it would have been nice to talk to some of the villagers about it as well. For instance - none of our guides had multiple wives and almost all of them chose their own. One didn't own any livestock. Quite a few lived in more modern homes. We felt like it was perpetuating a view of Africa that was not up to date.
Suggestions to help us improve our trips or our service:
Recommend some more trips for us!
Also, I didn't see any multi-country trips on the website. We asked everyone where to go next and some recommended Namibia, Botswana, Victoria Falls trip.
Would be lovely to see an itinerary for that."
We're delighted these travellers enjoyed their trip so much. To the best of our knowledge at Expert Africa, all our village visits in Kenya visit ordinary, inhabited village compounds. They can sometimes feel rather empty, especially if people are out during the day, with the livestock, or otherwise at work, but there's nothing artificial about them, and people with mobile phones often live in traditional dwellings, with a motorcycle parked outside. We asked the owners of the camp at Selenkay Conservancy – Porini Amboseli Camp – to confirm that their local Maasai village is indeed a normal village, and they confirmed that indeed it is. As these travellers noted, matches and t-shirts have been part of local life for many decades, but traditional clothing and cow-dung walls are still very much part of the mix. They also confirmed that villagers and Maasai staff would be very happy to discuss the way Maasai life is changing, and they would not wish in any way to perpetuate traditions that are naturally dying out. They also pointed out that in fact the Selenkay area is somewhat more traditional and rural than some of the Maasai communities in the Maasai Mara region.
On the subject of multi-country itineraries, we are delighted to book them, and often do so. An example itinerary, including 21 nights in Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls would be our Rock Hare self-drive trip, and there's an almost infinite number of other options. Please call Expert Africa to find out more.
Arranged By Richard Trillo
Four Points Nairobi Airport
"Four Points by Sheraton review"
The staff was waiting for us at the airport and quickly called for a second car when they realized we wouldn't all fit in one with our luggage. It is very close to the airport and within minutes we were checked in and relaxing in our rooms. Several enjoyed the pool for a few hours.
We ate dinner in the hotel restaurant - which was delicious and easy. A wide variety to appeal to different tastes. The following morning, the staff had packed breakfast bags to go for our early flight."
Nairobi Elephant Orphanage visit
"Nairobi Elephant Orphanage visit review"
12 Aug 2019 • Afternoon excursion
(We also happened to meet a man waiting for our Safarilink flight from Lewa who has a mentee of Daphne Sheldricks and knew her daughter. He was an anthropologist and now works for one of the conservation trusts. It was so interesting to talk to him and have him confirm how special she was.)
Selenkay Adventure Camp
"Loved Selenkay and the staff"
Meals were delicious - a nice variety, excellent soups, fresh vegetables and fruit. They did a fantastic job providing gluten-free for one of our group. We appreciated the coffee and tea and snacks on our game drives.
It was the staff that made this camp really special. Our time around the campfire at night was enlightening. They were willing to answer so many questions and we appreciated them wanting to ask us some too! Our guides Daniel and Jackson were knowledgeable but more importantly fun. They were patient when waiting for us to take lot of pictures and made sure we had the best views. We had the reputation as the "lucky Americans" around the camp because of what we were able to see, but it was all because of them.
We also really enjoyed the fellow guests - all interesting, well-traveled and fun. Great dinners discussing our day, our other trips, our homes. We were with several at two camps, so it was nice to see them twice.
Appreciated the charging stations in the main tent area. We were able to keep all batteries charged. The chargers in the safari vehicle we had did not work, but it was not a problem."
Ol Kinyei Adventure Camp
"Ol Kinyei Adventure Camp review"
Very similar to Selenkay, but we did like the solar lights hanging in our tents every evening when we came back from dinner (Selenkay should add this.) It was also shadier, so we weren't as hot in the tents napping during the day. We appreciated the buckets, soap and drying lines for laundry. The water pressure in the showers was also a little slower, so our showers lasted a little longer!
Nice big meal tent with charging table and assorted magazines and guides to read. We took full advantage of those. Meals were very good.
It was a busier camp than Selenkay with more guests coming and going, so the staff was busy. We didn't feel as connected to them as we did to the Selenkay staff. We did enjoy our time with them, but just felt like we didn't get to know them as well. However, the service, game drives, etc were all excellent.
One thing missing from Ol Kinyei - there was no village visit and no beading or anything available to buy from nearby villages. This was not a problem - just something to be aware of when planning what to buy where."
"Macushla House review"
What time we did have there was lovely - drinks in the bar shooing away the monkey, a HUGE dinner which was very good, a HUGE breakfast and a nice chat with other guests. The beds were comfortable, the bathrooms large and nice and the showers long! Just wish we had had more time to enjoy the property, the little boardwalk to watch the monkeys and the pool.
The location was not ideal if you wanted to go back out for a meal. Once we got there, we decided not to leave."
19 Aug 2019 • Afternoon excursion
We decided not to go to the Giraffe center, having seen our fill of giraffes on safari, but instead went to Kazuri Beads and Ocean Sole. Two very special places and we were happy to buy souvenirs at both places knowing that they were employing local artisans. Thanks to Ruben for making sure we saw the factory at Ocean Sole. We loved it.
Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge
"Very special place"
It is a beautiful eco-lodge, but it is the people that make it so special. Jackie, Lawrence, Sam, James and so many others were just the best staff anywhere. Our rooms were wonderful, the food was fantastic. But our chats at dinner with Jackie and sitting in the main house talking with everyone was what we loved most. Our walk to the rhinos was great - it felt good to get out and walk for awhile after sitting for so long on game drives. Our beading class was fun and gave us so much appreciation for their works for art. Another family (another Expert Africa group) asked us to join them in a goat roast. What a magical evening - the goat was delicious and the traditional dancing and singing was so special. The visit to the local village was well-done.
Because they did not get April rains, they are experiencing a drought. The number of animals in the area reflects this, but we didn't mind at all. We were ready for some downtime by the pool and a less intense schedule. The staff convinced us that the green season is the time to visit and we can't wait to go back.
Note: it is a long drive from the Lewa airport. (We did learn quickly in our trip that one hour "African" time was usually double that.) It was about 3 from the airport on our arrival day and about 2 to return. There is a private airstrip and we might have considered that! It would have meant not seeing Lewa Conservancy and some of the villages along the way, so there is a trade-off for flying right in."
We enjoyed the location and the waterfront restaurant for dinner (service was very slow, but the food was good, especially the Stone Town Fish Curry.)"