Truly the trip of a lifetime - a Tanzanian safari!
The tour planners planned a perfect safari for us - exactly as we had wanted, and so much more. From the minute we landed in Kilimanjaro airport, until we returned to the airport at the end of the trip, every detail was planned and executed flawlessly. Everything we needed, and even that which we could not have anticipated wanting, was organized and provided.
I spoke extensively to our tour planner at the outset and explained to him that we are a family with two college-aged sons and this was our first safari. Our goal was to see the animals, and it was clear from our discussions that the tour planner has extraordinary depth of knowledge about all aspects of safari travel, as well as a deep love of Africa. All of that knowledge, as well as the experience of another tour planner, was translated into a truly wonderful trip for us, designed exactly as we had wanted. And we saw so many animals, in a truly up close and personal way!
The tour planners planned the whole trip, organized the accommodation, different locations and our fantastic guide, as well as all other details. The planning, which took us to Arusha, Ngorongoro Crater, South and North Serengeti, provided true variety of animals, scenery and accommodation. Every day was different, and brought us truly wonderful experiences, sightings and delicious food. Every aspect of the trip was one that the tour planners had personal knowledge of, and that was important to ensuring true quality. And using an independent safari organizer meant that we experienced different types of accommodation, and were not limited to one "chain" of service providers.
Probably the most important aspect of our trip was our guide. Our guide was with us from the first morning until we took off from the bush airport to return to Kilimanjaro. He was just awesome! And we know that the tour planner had been on safari with him in the prior spring, and we understood that our guide was matched to us based on the personal knowledge that the tour planner had of him and his abilities. Our guide really made the trip what it was. His knowledge, ability to spot animals, driving skills, thoughtful attention to us and sense of humor and fun was extraordinary. With him, and because of his ability to locate animals, we had time observing animals up close, when we were the only truck nearby. Our experience was not of being one of ten trucks following one lion, but of being one truck observing, for example, a cheetah mom and her baby, a leopard up a tree eating a zebra, a lion "playdate" of two lionesses and five cubs playing together and families of elephants and giraffes munching on trees and so much more! Our guide also had an artistic eye for the perfect light for the right location for a photograph, and the right timing of a sunrise and sunset. Just wonderful!
And our local agent, a long time colleague of the tour planner, was both delightful and helpful. Meeting her the evening before we set out for the Ngorongoro Crater also added to our sense of feeling completely well looked after. It was also so nice that she was willing to share her personal, interesting life story, and added to our enjoyment of the trip.
Prior to the trip, the tour planners provided us with everything we needed to prepare, and promptly and helpfully answered all of our questions. So throughout the planning and execution we were completely supported and guided and as a result were completely relaxed and able to fully enjoy and appreciate the whole awesome experience!
We wholeheartedly highly recommend this tour company and are so grateful to them for a truly memorable safari!
The most memorable aspects of our trip were the special sightings of the animals we experienced. We got to see the "Big Five," each more than once and in different situations. Some of those special sightings are set out above. We also saw parts of the great migration and now understand the vastness of the areas these animals cover as well as the extraordinary number of animals that make the trip. We watched a young group of lions set themselves up to take down a buffalo, and watched the buffalo fight back and escape. We experienced the cycle of life in seeing three small lion cubs one day, then learning that they were eaten by a leopard, and the next day saw the standoff between the lioness and that leopard. Our younger son told us that he had wanted to see a leopard since he was aged three - and it was a thrill that he was able to see three on this trip.
We were on safari over Christmas and we were impressed by the ways that the staff at the camps went about recognizing the day. At each camp or lodge, there was a unique decorated tree. On Christmas Eve, the lodge organized a small cocktail party in front of the fire pit. For Christmas day, the chef prepared a full Christmas dinner of turkey and the trimmings, and we even had Christmas crackers with great gifts of Tanzanian jewelry inside. A very different, and memorable Christmas!
One of the other truly memorable aspects of the trip were the "talking showers." At the tent lodges, the staff has to heat the water (either solar or over a fire), and bring it to the tent, and lift it into a contraption that feeds the water into the shower. When either the water runs out, or you turn it off, the house steward then "talks" to you and politely asks how the temperature was, and if you want more water. It is a truly unique experience!
Another unique experience was being escorted to dinner and back by the "security" team of the Masai who patrol the camps and lodges during the night hours. At one camp, the security team was also responsible for building and maintaining the fire pit around which the guests sat for pre-dinner cocktails.
At each of the lodges and camps, the staff were truly special and genuinely interested in making the trip as special as possible. They were delightful! We also met interesting guests from all around the world at each of the different camps, and shared stories of the day over cocktails or dinner, while also respecting each other's wish for time just with their respective families. The lodge managers handled this perfectly.
While each of our days on safari was different, each day included at least one meal while out on a game drive. We were therefore treated to some delicious food at the most breathtaking locations across northern Tanzania.
Our guide was also faced with some tricky driving situations in order to get us to the locations he wanted us to see. His superb driving skills in navigating streams, hills, deep puddles and long stretches of mud, were truly something to witness!
On our last day, we took a bush flight from the Northern Serengeti to Kilimanjaro. Having spent the previous 10 days driving through the landscape, it was fascinating to see it from the air. That added to our understanding and appreciation of the true vastness of the plain.
Truly every day and every experience was memorable and so special!
At this point, I honestly cannot think of anything that we would have done differently.
The tour planners did the most wonderful and amazing job in planning and executing every aspect of this safari and we are truly grateful! An amazing experience in every way!
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