Thanks for a great trip to Tanzania.
You are correct that Solomon (Solly) is a great guide. We have worked with a number of guides and would rate him at the top. And now we feel like we know his family too.
Many times, he found things to do, wildlife to see, and interesting places to go, and we were not in crowds. Numbers of times he was the one that found a siting and others showed up. We went to the rhino research centre in the Serengeti because he knew of my interest and work with rhinos.
From the pick up at the airport to the drop off at the airstrip, we knew we were in good hands. I like remote and interesting places and we found a bunch of them, but he did not take chances, we always felt safe.
One day in the southern Serengeti, we did not see another vehicle or person for about three hours, just tens of thousands of animals in the migration. It was flat, we could see the horizon and only wildlife – quite an experience. Actually, we went back the next day for more. Only Solomon knows how to get there.
Some of the guides we met at the camps were not as comfortable as he is going to outlying places.
He got us up early; for the trip into the Crater, and we were one of the first and immediately he found 18 lions feeding on a buffalo. Another vehicle came along and then another – and hour later there were a dozen vehicles – we were first before it got crowded. The crater was fantastic, was on my bucket list for many years.
Every evening we decided on a time to take off in the morning and he was always willing to stay out as long as we wanted to – he never rushed us. Toward the end we actually shortened the days a little and went back to the camp for lunch instead of picnic boxes.
Timing is difficult – the rain season got there a month early – and the weather was much like summer weather here in Colorado; late afternoon thunder storms, short heavy rain, and in the serengeti, lots of puddles and mud.
The camps – all were fine. However, we had never done a camp with bucket shower before this trip and I’m not sure I want to do it again.
Maramboi Tented Camp was fine, tent was comfortable, lots of room, well designed and lots of hot water and electricity. Did not like their dining approach. It is all outdoors on a patio and they have large flocks of birds that attacked the food while we were eating it. It’s cute, but birds carry a lot of germs and it just isn’t smart to share food with birds: starlings and weavers.
Their management while we were there was not real good. They didn’t like that I asked Solomon to have dinner with us the first night and he wasn’t willing to push it the next evening. Most other tented camps we have had dinner with our guides. Staff was three star.
Sanctuary Ngorongoro Camp: was OK. Excellent location making it easy to be first into the crater in the morning. They do not have their act together relative to the bucket showers, no water, no pressure, it was hard to get wet. Most people there had the same impression. A group of Germans were really annoyed. And the mud and overgrown shrubs, trees, hard to find the path to the tent. Food was excellent. Wonder why they need teak wood platforms? Should have put some of that money into their water system. Again, management was not real involved or responsive. The setting is beautiful, lush trees and shrubs – staff said it always rains and is always cold. Bush babies was a nice touch.
Sanctuary Kusini Camp: I could live her for a year. Beautiful setting. Excellent and involved management: a young coupe from South Africa – Esmeralda and Van Heerden. They had only been there for six months so it will get better. Tent was great, well designed, lots of water and plug ins for cameras. This is built on a kopje and there is a camp buffalo that wonders around. Food was excellent – served plated from the kitchen at night. Looking back I wish we had 4 nights here. This is an older camp, in good condition and well run. That is much better than Lemala, which is newer and poorly managed. Staff was 4 star.
We do not recommend Lemala. Their bucket showers worked better, good flow of water but the scheduling of them was a pain in the ass.
Because of low water pressure – their holding tank is not on a very tall tower, it takes between 10 and 12 minutes between toilet flushes – that’s also a pain in the ass, especially when two are living in the same place. Their bathroom in the public area was never open.
The Italian camp next door had the water tanks on much higher platforms, that should mean better water pressure.
This camp has an occupancy issue and they have cut back on services (breakfast) because of it. Twelve tents for 24 people and one night there were only six of us, plus the guides, who ate with us – nice! The most people at the camp were 12 one night – hospitality can not survive on 25% and 50% occupancy.
There beer selection was very good!!! Staff here is five star.
Again, here they did nothing to accommodate their guests with all of the mud and water. We were lucky to have the tent next to dining, short walk, those farther out were walking in mud and water and not happy about it. Charging was in the main tent and with the rain and mud, that was also a pain in the ass.
Mt Meru Hotel was perfect for our situation, two nights and a day of leisure – it’s large, there are beautiful grounds, friendly people, peace talks for Burundi, a couple of weddings, good food and good beer selection. It was suggested by Solomon and the staff that we not walk around the neighborhood.
Glad we went to Olduvai Gorge, rain kept us out of the Gorge but the museum was very interesting.
Tarangire is excellent – also on my list for many years.
Glad we went to Lake Manyara, but not as interesting as Tarangire, the crater or the serengeti.
On this trip we met a lot of wonderful, interesting, friendly, smart people.
You did a great job of putting it together and we’ll let you know when we decide to travel to Africa again.
Best to you – I have had the chance to recommend you a couple of times.
View Maramboi Tented Camp
View Sanctuary Kusini Camp
View Mount Meru Game Lodge