East Africa Safari Guest Review – by Celeste le Roux

Celeste arranged a beautiful East African Safari for her guests. They stayed at Naboisho Camp, Rivertrees Country Inn, Escarpment Lodge, Eco Lodge Africa and Gibbs Farm. Below is their feedback:

“Hi Celeste,

I may wander around some in this review of our trip, and this might be “too much information” as some  people might say, but here goes.
The Fairview Hotel was not something you selected for us, but it has very lovely grounds and we were happy to be there. The room was fairly simple because I chose not to pay more than the basic style, since we were arriving near 9 PM and leaving at 8 AM the next morning.
Breakfast was included, and it was very good … a buffet much like our entire trip … juices being available, many different breads, some hot dishes including eggs.  Actually this breakfast was probably the most extensive on our trip, but all breakfasts were plentiful and filling.
The Naboisho Conservancy … This was a wonderful experience, as I knew it would be from all the Trip Advisor reviews I had read.  We were met at an airstrip … a patch  of grass with some dirt … by our two young guides for the first two days of our trip … Christine (age 20) and Daniel (age 26). They were wonderful. We enjoyed their company so much.
These two Masai youngsters were great fun and also great communicators. We saw many animals with Christine and Daniel, including 11 lions on a night drive. No one had seen lions for the past 10 days when we went out with our red light … but these kids found a group of lions, led by a lioness on the prowl, seeking to kill some zebra nearby. We also learned a lot about Masai customs from Daniel and Christine. We will never forget these two, and I loved their Masai clothing.
The Naboisho experience was unlike any other because we stayed in a lovely tent (number 4) that offered very pretty furniture and either indoor or outdoor shower
facilities. We took about 4 outdoor showers (over our entire trip).
I shouldn’t forget the unexpected but wonderful Hot Water Bottles left in our bed each night … and all the drinkable water that was provided us.
Naboisho was also different because Roelof and Helen as managers were always around … and in no other  facility were we mingling with people we knew to be
the managers of our experience. They are delightful, lovely people.
Michele and I took more than a three hour Walking Safari with Roelof, and that was a very educational, interesting experience. They also made numerous
foods Gluten Free as Michele had written that down as something she was concerned about. Their interest in our needs was wonderful.
We also received a bottle of Champagne from the Camp, in advance of Michele’s 70th birthday …that they knew she was celebrating later in the month.
That was very, very nice.
We ate lunches outside with whomever was attending the camp, including Helen and Roelof. That food was very good. Dinner was served candlelight in a main
dining room. Service was wonderful. We were served individually by the Masai staff. Dinners were basically gourmet adventures, and the conversations were
usually interesting.
There was no charge for any drinks that we ordered. This was in contrast to all the other places we stayed at, where drinks were an extra charge … and laundry services were provided free of charge too. In all other accommodations, we paid separately for laundry services.
Naboisho is a lovely camp. Like all the places we stayed, except for Gibbs Farm … we were not allowed to walk from or to our tent/room at night without someone from the Masai  tribe escorting us. This was obviously because of the possible danger of animals being close by. We could see footprints and/
or excrement having been left by elephants or giraffes overnight  the next morning, and we heard that a lion had made a kill nearby.
I’m going to end this review here, Celeste, and send a copy to Roelof and Helen. They had asked us to comment on our Naboisho experience. It was wonderful. It could have not have been better.
One more thing … The weather … like our entire trip, the  temperatures seemed to be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Only our last morning in the Serengeti (later) was probably cooler than this and did not warm up until the early afternoon … and there was no rain the entire trip …perfect.
Please allow me to advise you about our visit
to Tanzania …
We were picked up by Game Watchers and taken to the Wilson Airport  in Nairobi .. which reminds me all of our transfers were extremely punctual  … our transfers and the flights wherever we went on Safari Link … and then our last 6 hours back in Nairobi again. We happened to have the same person Gideon
on 3 of the 4 Game Watcher transfers, and he was a really nice man. We enjoyed his company very much.
We flew to the Kilimanjaro Airport and were escorted through security and customs by a nice woman from the airport. She located our driver/guide Peter in the parking lot, and we drove to the Rivertrees Country Inn in Arusha.
The grounds were lovely, and we had a nice two-room cottage … with a four poster type bed and the ever present mosquito netting, which always looked so pretty. On our trip, we never really needed the netting, but we used it everywhere. At night, our beds were always turned down and the netting put in place.
This cottage had a nice deck and seating outside, and a stream that ran nearby, but we were warned not to leave the door open or leave any personal articles outside on the deck. The monkeys or baboons would take or destroy anything left there.
When we visited each accommodation, someone personally welcomed us, and advised us some basic information. In most every case, we would be offered a hand towel to refresh ourselves, and would be given a welcoming drink. These were all nice touches which we appreciated.
It was mid-afternoon and Michele wanted some lunch, so we ate outdoors in a nice setting. Lunch was good, as was dinner.
We slept well, and breakfast was good the next morning … as it was everywhere we stayed. We left Rivertrees probably 8 or 8:30 AM … which was a typical time for us to leave each location, unless we were set up to go on a game drive.
That day we traveled to the Lake Manyara area andwe saw many animals along the way. We would always see lots of zebras, gazelles, giraffes, elephants, monkeys,
baboons, wildebeests, and many varieties of birds. Peter, our guide, was very experienced, and he gave us much information and insights into what we were seeing,
and how all the animals (large and small) fit into the scheme of how nature required everyone to do a particular job, even the termites.
There was considerable bumpiness in some of the roads, which we would find very common place, and we accepted this fact as the only part of the trip that was not wonderful. Michele said at one point that our uncomfortableness probably had to do with our being older, but I disagreed. I doubt 25 year olds enjoyed the bumpiness and the dirt.
On this second day in Tanzania, in the late afternoon we crossed a fairly long, especially bumpy road and came upon Paradise … the Escarpment Luxury Lodge. What a beautiful place … and what lovely accommodations we had. This was really special, and had we stayed there another day … and possibly cut short our Serengeti visit by a day, that would have been nice. This isn’t a criticism of our itinerary, just a comment. (We were in Africa, after all, to see the animals).
We went from Escarpment to the Serengeti area … again over many bumpy roads, and that will be the last time I say that … but it couldn’t be helped, and at least Peter was a good driver. We saw many animals again, which we always enjoyed. We would leave early each morning and normally get to our lodging between 4 and 6 PM in the afternoon.
We would have picnic box lunches which were fine. We always had a lot to eat, though honestly our lunches were never exciting. They filled our need to eat. Breakfasts were very good, and dinners were always the best meal of the day.
Eco Lodge Africa was our next lodging stop. Michele found it a little frustrating that the only plug in electrical outlet was under-neath a desk in our cottage, where she had to get on her hands and knees to plug her phone or camera in. She found that a nuisance, and wondered why anyone would design something
that poorly. Maybe we missed another outlet, but I doubt it.
I found the lighting inadequate in the area of the bathroom …in the area of the toilet and around the shower. My guess is that they were attempting to keep the creature comforts simpler …in keeping with the rustic decor and the fact that we were near the animals in general. We could hear the wildebeest at night.
There were hundreds of them nearby. It always sounded like one was right outside our cottage, though I don’t think that was the case.
This lodge was fine … except for the small points I have made above. The staff at Eco Lodge Africa, like at all our lodgings, couldn’t have been more pleasant. I especially liked a bartender named Peter at this location. He was especially friendly and had a really nice way about him.
I do want to comment on the extra distance away that the  Eco Lodge Africa was from the parks we were visiting. It must have been 30-45 minutes further than the signs we saw for some other lodgings, and then we always had an hour or so until we began to see the animals. Day after day … the driving became a little monotonous. I’m sorry. I’m complaining again about the driving, but it’s not comfortable.
It may have been that I overruled staying at some other locations,since I do remember saying that some locations just didn’t seem pretty enough … but I can’t remember where those locations were that I vetoed. It’s a small thing that I am commenting on. Overall our trip was fabulous, and you did a wonderful job.
In any case, Eco Lodge Africa was fine. It just lacked a little of the specialness of the other accommodations we enjoyed.
I seem to be skipping over the bulk of our visit … seeing the animals. That was wonderful. We learned a lot. We saw a lot. Zebras and gazelles were everywhere. There were many wildebeest too. We saw a lot of giraffes and elephants 12-15 times. We saw lions maybe 6-8 times, leopards 3 different times, two cheetahs just once. We saw a rhino at a distance and then again at the Elephant Orphanage. Michele took a lot of pictures which we will enjoy for a long, long time.
We saw (and smelled) hippos, monkeys and baboons, some crocodiles, warthogs, ostriches, some flamingos in one location, cape buffalo quite a bit, and many birds.
We took the 3 1/2 hour walking safari with Roelof at Naboisho, and had a night drive there also, where we were the first ones to see lions in 10 days. At one stop in the Serengeti, a beautiful male lion with a great full mane walked across the plains for  maybe 500 meters. He kept coming and coming in our direction, finally walking right across our vehicle. That was special.
At one stop where Peter (the guide) had to present some paperwork to the park we were at, Peter had just closed up the openings in our roof (where Michele would often take her pictures) … and right after that a baboon jumped on our vehicle, and he would have entered it, had not Peter just closed off our roof. They are aggressive little critters.
The weather each day was nearly perfect. The mornings could be cool, but I didn’t really miss the fleece jacket I had forgotten at home. I was comfortable with a T-shirt and maybe a long sleeve shirt in the mornings. Mid morning it would warm up, and the sun would be there until the late afternoon.
That brings me to our last real stop in our journey, Gibb’s Farm. We had a lovely three room cottage with indoor and outdoor showers, and even better … a fireplace that was located in between our bedroom and the bathroom. We used that fireplace a lot. In fact, when you went to dinner each night, the staff would ask you if you wanted the fire lit, and they would do that and also turn down your bed.
This was a lovely place which we very much enjoyed. We took a  tour of the extensive gardens when we arrived. We would heartily recommend Gibb’s Farm. It is a special place.
We drove back to Arusha where Michele (with Peter’s help) found a bank where we could get a little more money, so that small problem was solved.
We flew back to Nairobi … and the question became … Would we be stuck in some terrible Nairobi road traffic, and could we possibly visit the Giraffe Center and the Elephant Orphanage? The answer was … No, we saw a little bad traffic, but it didn’t really affect us.
We had a great visit to the Giraffe Center where we fed Daisy, the Giraffe, looked at the nice displays, took a guided walk around part of the grounds, and then Michele kissed the giraffe Ebraham three times. You stick a pellet of food between your teeth and the giraffe takes it out of your mouth … what they call kissing. That was great fun, and I like to tell people about it.
We then went over to the Elephant Orphanage (because we had the Game Watcher transfer with Gideon) … and we had a wonderful 45 minute visit there … seeing the blind rhino that they take care of  and 23 baby elephants which they are trying to get “adopted.”
We went around to the stables where all the babies stay, and where their handlers have a bunk bed where they stay with the elephants at night. We adopted a young male elephant, Lemoyien, and will attempt to adopt more … when I get around to writing the U.S. branch of the same charity. That was fun, and I’m very glad we did it. It’s fun to talk about … since how many people can say that they’ve adopted a baby elephant …
And for as much as I planned to visit both places that afternoon …and worried about making that happen, our visits were better than I could have imagined.
Gideon suggested we consider going to a Brazilian steakhouse for dinner, since it was on the way to the Jomo Kenyatta airport. We did that, but Michele and I agree it was OK. Both of us have never really liked the concept of all that different meat.  Everything is OK, but we think it is best to get one piece of great tasting meat at a regular restaurant, than have all this variety, but the tastes are nothing special. In any case, we had such a good afternoon. We just needed some food in us before we  traveled home.
That night we flew to Amsterdam, where the next morning a long time friend of mine (and his wife) picked us at 6:30 AM and took us around Amsterdam by car and by foot, and we very much enjoyed that morning. We flew home in the early afternoon, and now it’s back to our regular lives.
If this has been too much information, Celeste, I apologize. If you’d like me to comment on anything else, I would be glad to do so. I will be eternally grateful that you worked so long  and hard for us, and created a sensational trip.
When you get a chance … I’d be curious to learn about the “Garden Route” I believe it is called around Capetown …or near Capetown … which Helen at Naboisho recommended so highly … and about any beach areas in Africa that people seem to like. We have a lot of other areas of the world that we will visit first (before going back to Africa) … but we would certainly entertain the thought of going back and seeing other parts of your continent another time. Perhaps we could even
meet you in person. If you ever get to the States, and certainly to the Chicago area, please make note of my email and our phone numbers.
Thank you again. Let’s stay in touch. I hope your daughter is
well.
Best personal regards.
Larry”
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Author: Brett Thomson

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