This was amazing, truly the “trip of a lifetime”! It was a showstopper!
We loved all of our accommodations. The House of Waine was a great place to land after such a long journey, and I would recommend that your other visitors do what we did, take all or part of a day to see a bit of Nairobi, jet lag permitting. Because we are all familiar with “Out of Africa”, book and movie, it was so interesting to see Karen Blixen’s house. The elephant orphanage was just delightful and of course several of us adopted a baby elephant.
Our driver was great. We did go shopping and he explained to us that &Beyond could hold our parcels for us until we returned to board our international flights home. That was a nice service, because otherwise we would have been hauling around too many heavy and bulky purchases.
All three camps were wonderful, each in different ways. I thought the order in which we did things was just right: Mark and I discussed that we had visited the camps/lodges in the correct order: a hotel in the city, a very finished and sophisticated camp with electricity and true running water as our second stop, when we were still a bit tired from travel, then third the very remote and extraordinary mobile camp.
Kichwa Tembo was exotic to our inexperienced eyes but had plenty of amenities, so a good first stop with the jet lag still going on. And the animal life was just incredible! We saw so many of every kind of animal, a lot of them just on the ride from the air strip. Our guide was superb. She was personable and knowledgeable and we learned so much from her. We liked the particular vehicle, the stadium seating gave us all a good view. As two of the three couples are the parents of daughters, we also loved that she was one of the first and few female rangers. She was a star.
The two add-ons: hot air balloon and Masai village. Both were worthwhile experiences. So interesting to see the terrain and the animals (and the hippo highways) from above so early in the morning, and the breakfast in the bush was really special. The Masai village was extremely educational. We enjoyed talking to the head man’s son, Wilson. We saw the inside of one house, watching some jumping, dancing and singing, and of course got to shop at the market the village women set up.
The small air strips and the small planes were a great experience for. We felt in good hands every time. And we were grateful that you had given such strict and explicit limits on weight and baggage.
The Serengeti under Canvas was exotic and magical and very much felt out in the wild, even though we were extremely comfortable. John and all the staff members were just lovely throughout.
As for Wilson, our Masai warrior guide, I believe every one of us was enchanted with him. He too was very knowledgeable and personable. He had excellent eyesight, was extremely fun and funny and knew amazing facts. We knew we were in the presence of a fine warrior and fine gentleman.
The Sundowner cocktail party was a delightful surprise and such a wonderful last evening. The cooking at Under Canvas by Joachim and team was really outstanding, and the service so attentive and welcoming. Compliments to the chef at every meal! I had some trepidation about the bucket showers (would I be able to wash my hair? Would they actually be warm?) And those showers were true highlights. We were so comfortable for “camping”.
In the Serengeti, our experience in seeing animals was much more about tracking and looking for them and seeing them from a distance. We did get right next to a couple of lions but we had to “work” for it a bit more. At Kichwa Tembo, they seemed to be greeting us; in the Serengeti, they were mostly a bit further.
Of course, we had come in part to see the Great Migration, and we did see herds of wildebeests, with accompanying zebras, Thomsen’s gazelles, and other antelopes as far as the eye could see. In Kenya, we had seen a brief and intense crossing of the Mara River by the wildebeests, so we were looking forward to the vast herds doing a big crossing in Tanzania. We’d seen the carcasses of those killed in prior crossings. It began to be funny how much they taunted us by starting to cross then changing their minds! We had heard that there had been thousands crossing in the two days prior! Oh, well, next time.
We had all prepared for tipping our many guides and hosts by bringing US dollars in what we hoped were correct denominations. Thank you for telling about bills newer than 2006 – we made sure when we were obtaining the cash that we had money that our hosts could use and that we could spend at stores.
Back to elegance at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. We loved the views and the eclectic decoration of the Tree Camp Lodge and our rooms were astounding. Again, wonderful food and attentive service. Since Mark had a birthday on our last night, Pascal helped me select a nice bottle of champagne to serve, but on his own he arranged for members of the choir to come and sing and dance for us. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge boasted the most musical pleasure of all the camps, although everyone was most festive and talented. Our last stop was downright luxurious.
The Crater itself was so unusual, both expansive and contained. Again, we saw so many animals close up and mini-migrations of the wildebeests. Aziza was again a wonderful guide, especially knowledgeable about the various birds, many of whom we had not seen at all before even at a distance. She drove really well over some distance on the crater rim and was alert to any animal or any question we might have. As with all our rangers, we enjoyed getting to know her a bit as well as having her share her knowledge.
I can’t say enough about the hospitality at every camp, but it was especially noticeable at Ngorongoro and at Serengeti Under Canvas. We loved being welcomed with refreshments at each airstrip, the lunch and breakfast on the go at both places were just charming and so practical.
It was a really incredible experience. We felt looked after locally and by you throughout the whole trip.
Thank you, Anika, for a most memorable trip of a lifetime. I shall be overjoyed to recommend you to others.