CLIENTS TRIP REPORTS EAST AFRICA – SEP-OCT 2017 (EAST AFRICA)
African Journey to Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda
We had a fantastic safari. It was perfect from beginning to end. Every location was better than the last. We didn’t think we could top the initial breathtaking view of Tortilis until we hit the Ngorongoro Crater top at Entamanu. Those tents were deceiving. They looked plain to the eye but were fantastic and personally, my favorite although the Lemala Kuria Hills were a close second. The rooms were awesome but the staff was the best of the trip and with excellent service at every stop, that is saying a lot…
…We enjoyed our lunch stops at the hotels, the ease of our travel transitions, the guides, the drinks at our camps, the food. Wow, the food was amazing. And a special thanks for the camps for the impromptu performance at Entamanu, the surprise sundowners, the breakfast under the big old tree in Amboseli. These were all wonderful experiences. We had a great time and if any future customers have any questions about this itinerary, send them my way.
Thanks for all of your work. The group tried to give me credit but I kept telling them, “It was Alison! She did all of this!” Thank you for a phenomenal trip!!!
LeAnn Coleman Nash, Oct 2017
Plains and Primates Safari to Kenya and Rwanda
We just returned from our 2 weeks in Kenya and Rwanda, and wanted to thank you and your staff so much for planning and executing a trip of a lifetime for us and the Marshalls (I should say FIRST trip of a lifetime, because we are already planning to go back!!). All your arrangements and accommodations for us were FIRST CLASS:
The House of Waine in Nairobi was very nice-we were actually UPGRADED at no charge to the suite, which was enormous and beautiful – the staff there was so nice.
Sabyinyo Lodge, our base for gorilla trekking, was amazing. Obviously, a magnificent setting, and the staff was wonderful. We were met with glasses of lemonade and wet towels when were arrived each day. They cleaned and dried our hiking boots. The accommodations and food were outstanding. It was great fun to talk with fellow “trekkers” at the cocktail hour each evening.
Our driver and guide, in Rwanda Alex was great. He was so friendly and wealth of knowledge about the country, history, people and animals and took absolutely great care of us the whole time.
Gorilla trekking– this has to be one of the unique experiences anywhere in the world. We went on two treks—each amazing and each very different. We would never have imagined we would be so close to such magnificent animals (I was actually pushed by one female gorilla as she passed by me). It is sad that they have raised the price of the permits so much that it will likely severely limit the availability of this to many.
Hemingway’s in Nairobi-this was one of our only regrets—that we could not have stayed here longer!! It is one of the nicest hotels we have ever seen anywhere in the world. We wished we had had more days to enjoy it.
Tortillis Camp (Amboseli) – what a great setting and camp all around. Candy and Graeme, the camp managers were so welcoming. As you know, it overlooks Mount Kilimanjaro and an animal watering hole on the plain. One day we saw a succession of zebras, elephants, giraffes, baboons, and gazelles come to water—that was just while we eating lunch! Our guide and safaris were great. The breakfast in the bush was wonderful. The whole camp was an amazing experience.
Governors Il Moran Camp – another amazing setting by the Mara. We awoke every day to the hippo noises. Dave Richards, was camp manager while we were there, (said he had met with your husband Mark just two weeks before in Rwanda) was delightful. He has such extensive knowledge and experience in Africa and was a treat to visit with him each day and evening…
We did do the hot air balloon ride out of the nearby Little Governors Camp – another amazing experience – gliding over the Mara River—highly recommended. (Jan Marshall has fear of heights and just loved it)
Overall it was a fabulous trip – we felt like we were treated royally every place we went—they would say “Oh, you are with AAC and Mark Nolting,” so we felt it was in large part your doing. Jim Marshall said one day that he had to keep pinching himself just to be sure it was all real and not just some dream!!
Many thanks again. We will look forward to our next trip and will be in touch when we have saved up our pennies to go.
Ray and Suzy Rhodes, Oct 2017
Iconic Safari to Tanzania, Rwanda, Botswana and Victoria Falls
Dear Mark and Team Members,
If we do an Africa trip again, we will certainly contact you for our travel plans! And we will recommend you to friends that still have Africa on their “bucket list.”
Each country we visited offered unique experiences and adventures, and all of our guides, especially Mkenda, Abu, Alex and Lips were tops. After our wildlife viewing and encounters, going to a city zoo will never be the same! The sunsets and vast expanse of the parks were unforgettable. Viewing solitary animals enjoying time “on their own” and watching the herds, the pods, the prides, the dazzles congregating together to “do their thing” was humbling, and trekking with the mountain gorillas in Rwanda was the experience of a lifetime.
Foremost on our memorable experiences was the warmth, sincerity, and smiles of the people.
As we continue to share our pictures and experiences with friends and family, we continue to re-live the wonder of a trip of a lifetime.
Thank you for arranging a trip with experiences that will bring warm smiles, gentle laughs and awesome memories for days and month and years to come!
Bill and Molly Weiler, Oct 2017
Explorer Safari to Tanzania
Elena, I had a trip of a life time. The guide picked me up at the airport and told me there would be no one else with us. Anyway I was his only client and we had a fabulous time.
Saw three lionesses take down a Cape buffalo, two one week old lion cubs nursing, lions mating, Hunting with Hadzi bushman and a wildebeest crossing, as well “big five” and “ugly five”…
Bob Billington, Sep 2017
Flying Safari to Kenya’s Maasai Mara
All I can say about Kenya and the Maasai Mara is absolutely the best place ever. The accommodations were excellent, the guide was superb (Jimmy) and the entire staff were wonderful. We saw things we never could have imagined. Tons of lions — females, adult males and cubs. We saw 11 cheetahs including cubs (all the ones you saw on safari live on National Geographic Wild). We saw 3 leopards with cubs and tons of giraffe. We never saw cheetahs or leopards the last time and only 1 giraffe in Hwange. We saw 2 river crossings of the wildebeest and zebra from the migration. We saw a croc come up and take down a zebra and a wildebeest. We saw wildebeest jumping off cliffs to get into the river. The migration in Kenya is absolutely the most incredible spectacle I’ve ever witnessed. We videotaped both of the crossings.
In conclusion, it was another great safari adventure in Kenya so thank you for helping us get there.
Lori Dumont, Sep 2017
The Best of Tanzania with Private Guiding
My son and I had a fabulous safari in Tanzania, due primarily to Mkenda, our wonderful guide who always seemed to have us in the right location at the right time! He was patient with our questions and seemed just as excited at what we were seeing as we were. Sometimes, we felt like we were tagging along on his safari, which is wonderful attitude for someone who has been guiding for years! We love Mkenda and he made this the trip of a lifetime. Each day we said it couldn’t get much better and each day it just got better and better!
The migration over the Mara River, which was our #1 priority, was an amazing sight! The urgency of thousands of running wildebeests could be felt as could the hesitation to plunge into the swift current of the Mara River. I’d seen it on TV but nothing compares to the sights and sounds of being there in person.
We saw so many other interesting and natural encounters with different animals. Early one morning we watched a magnificent lion walk along the river while his shadow was reflected in the river. My son wanted to see lions and we saw 6 lionesses slip down a hill, two by two, to surround a group of warthogs. The kill was behind bushes (and that’s OK with me) but we did get to see the 6 lionesses, lying in the grass like spokes on a wheel, chewing on the warthog.
Another time a lioness was just walking and calling, while zebras and giraffes warily watched, until she got to a pile of rocks and 8 cubs came running out of the rocks to meet their mother.
We saw wild (painted) dogs, baboons, lots of zebras (my favorite), giraffes, an ostrich doing his mating dance, two elephants having a confrontation, a leopard in a tree with his prey, cape buffalo, hippos and finally, on the last day, a rhino so we could count the “Big Five”. What I enjoyed the most was seeing the variety of animals, side by side, along the river, each doing their thing and not bothering other animals, having enough room to roam or run!
We were most surprised by Lake Manyara and the flamingos, storks, pelicans and hippos. As we arrived, the birds flew upward on air currents and looked like a tornado swirling in the air. The intense colors and various bills on the birds were amazing. I’m not considered a “birder” but may become one after that experience.
Victoria Falls was spectacular and we got a clear day to go up Table Mountain in Cape Town. Weather was great the whole trip.
We really enjoyed the people we met. Everyone was so friendly and took great care of us…Matetsi Lodge met us with drums, dance and song and also had a celebration on the last night that gave us a flavor of the local people.
We enjoyed the whole experience and hope to return to another part of Africa. This trip was so perfect, I don’t think we could repeat it, but other areas beckon.
Marsha Erickson, Sep 2017
Adventure to Kenya and Ethiopia
We had a great time in Kenya and Ethiopia!
First, our visit to Jonathan’s village was amazing – his family and friends are so warm and welcoming. They are incredible people! The Nairobi City Tour was also wonderful. As expected, the elephant orphanage was my favorite part!
I am incredibly proud of Jonathan. He’s an excellent guide – very knowledgeable and on top of everything! I was particularly impressed by the way he is greeted by other tour guides, drivers, and the staff at the tourist sites – it’s obvious he is well-liked and held in high regard…
As you are well aware, Daniel is also an excellent guide – I honestly can’t imagine seeing Ethiopia with anyone else. We felt comfortable with him immediately and I’m now going through separation anxiety because I miss him so much!
We enjoyed Bahir Dar and Lake Tana. During our tour of the lake, we stopped to attend a lovely church festival. Very interesting and colorful!
Our visit to see the Gelada baboons was fascinating. It isn’t often that we get a chance to observe wildlife so closely! An extra night there would have been nice to be able to explore the park further and see some of the other animals and birds.
The Meskel Festival was amazing. We had great seats and were able to wander amongst the priests and groups of villagers who came to perform. I stood in front of the President of Ethiopia and two of the country’s most important holy men while sharpshooters kept watch above me (needless to say, I didn’t stay long) and then cheered with the crowd as the bonfire was lit. I was so close I could feel the heat from the flames!
The palaces, tombs, and churches were beautiful – I particularly liked the churches that were carved from a single, huge rock (the Church of Saint George in Lalibela was my favorite) as well as the cave church of Yemrehane Christos. I will never understand how people from so long ago could have built such incredible structures without the aid of modern day tools, blueprints, etc…
Cheryl Hillery, Sep 2017
Luxury Safari to Kenya and Tanzania
You have definitely given us the ULTIMATE SAFARI. We loved the guides and all the camps including Chem Chem, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Sayari, Naboisho, Angama Mara and our final stay at Giraffe Manor. We had Daisy’s room and could feed the giraffes from our balcony.
The trip was completely seamless. From the time we arrived in Kilimanjaro to landing in San Francisco. We were met at every airstrip and taken through the visa process by your staff.
We did luck out as it turned out and we had a private guide at each camp. We were treated like royalty. The “tents’ were so comfortable and roomy. At Angama Mara the view from our room was breathtaking and the Out of Africa Picnic was delightful.
We saw the Big Five including 6 black rhino. We loved our guides and they made us feel like family.
The hot air balloon ride was incredible.
I would recommend AAC to anyone that wants to travel to Africa. You are definitely the best. We will cherish these memories forever.
Ken Hirsch, Sep 2017
Flying safari to Tanzania’s Serengeti, Ruaha and Selous plus Botswana’s Okavango Delta
Duma Tau and Chitabe were top flight camps. I really can not say enough about them. Service outstanding. Meals excellent. We were really fed too much. Nothing that I would have wanted for from either camp. The concentration of wildlife was amazing. Never found the rhino though. Maybe next time.
Victoria Falls Hotel was excellent. The staff also top notch. Location great. The breakfast and dinner buffets were superb. Our guide of the falls was so fun. She really seemed to act like it was the first time she had seen it. She was amazed at the rainbows as were we. Photos do not do it justice.
Our location in Serengeti was again excellent…
Azura Selous was an excellent camp with top notch staff…Overall a really excellent camp though.
Ruaha was also outstanding. It was our favorite in Tanzania. Very diverse landscape and animal viewing.
Again this was a great trip. Thanks again for you help!!
Mark Janes, Sep 2017
Private Safari to Tanzania’s Northern Circuit
Thank you for helping us with such a wonderful trip! The whole Sage family had a truly amazing experience.
– Watching a lioness come down from a tree, stalk, and kill a wildebeest in Tarangire National Park
– Being surrounded by thousands of pelicans, storks, flamingos, etc. at Lake Manyara
– Seeing two hippos in a territory squabble, then later an ostrich mating dance at Ngorongoro Crater
– Watching a mother lion with her 4 cubs eating a wildebeest in Serengeti.
We immensely enjoyed all the animals- incredible number and variety, and fabulous to see their natural behaviors.
The lodges we stayed in were very nice, however we much preferred our tent stays! They were very comfortable and offered a closer, more authentic experience- would recommend to anyone!
Our guide, Abu, was excellent- absolutely no complaints about him- he was a wealth of knowledge, friendly, and a champion in deciphering what to do with 6 different opinions coming his way!
Our guide Ephata was extraordinary and a particularity stand-out guide. His experience was evident and he was able to make our game drives better than we could have imagined as well as making the whole operation run smoothly. Can’t say enough good things about him and will campaign for him to get Guide of the Year 2017!
We enjoyed it all!
Thank you again and let us know if we can provide any further, more specific feedback.
Alli & Ben Sage, Sep 2017
AAC’s Signature “PRIMATE and PLAINS SAFARI TO UGANDA AND RWANDA”
I’m fresh back from another incredible AAC adventure.
The chimpanzee trek was also wonderful…What a beautiful creature and an incredible opportunity to see him…I’m so thankful that I was included on the trek. We had a lot more time just to observe at a respectful distance and the ability to observe the behaviors and have them explained by a wonderful guide was so helpful and educational…
The gorillas were amazing, of course. The guide and trackers were so helpful and very protective of the gorillas. After about 45 minutes, it seemed like the silverback was over it and the others followed. Rather than push them, we left a little early. It was great to see how much they respected the need for the gorillas to have some peace and quiet. It had also started thundering and I think they were concerned for our safety going downhill if there was a hard rain. I really appreciated that as well.
The trek in Rwanda was medium in difficulty… They were kind and helpful. I enjoyed walking through the terraced fields. It was beautiful. The gorillas also were amazing and we had clearer viewing. I had a few quiet minutes to sit and watch a female grooming the silverback. The gentleness brought tears to my eyes. Then after moving to get pictures of a female about 3.5 years old, she started walking past us. Before I could move aside, she tapped me with her hand and then put one of her back feet up on my leg. It was so unexpected and gentle…
This was one of my best trips ever!! From the time I got to The Boma, there was one highlight after another. My fellow travelers were amazing and I loved the small group aspect of the trip. I had enough time on my own to walk Entebbe and to visit the Wildlife Center, along with Ngamba Island. It’s clear how the right people are in the right positions when visiting so many wonderful lodges. Each person I came in contact with felt like a new friend…I am anticipating more trips to Africa and I can’t wait to work together again to make that happen.
Jennifer Steck, Sep 2017
Private Safari to the Maasai Mara, Serengeti and Ruaha Reserve
Overall, it was fantastic! The wildlife was everywhere. And as usual, some great stories unfolded. There were some sad stories as well, but that’s nature. The guides were phenomenal at all three camps; Naboisho, Namiri Plains, and Kwihala…
I only stayed two nights at the Emakoko. But it’s a great place to stay in Nairobi. It’s on the southern border of Nairobi National Park, and you can take drives in the park whenever you want. They will also take you to visit the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage on the west side of the park if you have adopted an orphan elephant. It’s a great place to spend a few days relaxing after flying into Nairobi to catch up on jet lag. We saw all kinds of things in park, including two lion prides, one of which had a lioness stalking an impala, and several black rhino, one of which had a baby.
My first camp was Naboisho (Maasai Mara), which accommodated my request to have Daniel as my guide again. We found Naboor. She is the mother cheetah that we followed two years ago for four days with her three cubs. I was happy to learn that all three cubs survived to adulthood, and left Naboor in May 2016. They remained together for another six months, during which time another male cheetah about the same age as the growing cubs, joined forces with Noboor’s three cubs. Not long after that, the female cub left the group to strike out on her own as a solitary female cheetah, while the three male cubs stuck together in a coalition but moved their territory from Naboisho to the Mara. I also learned that after my trip two years ago, the BBC spent six weeks at Naboisho following Naboor day and night for material that they used in their series, The Hunt.
There were also plenty of lion sightings, including males next to our vehicle calling at dusk. That’s a sound you never forget, as the power of their call reverberates through your body sending chills down your spine! There were also many lions with cubs, including these three from the Ilkisiusiu pride watching the sunset.
A highlight worth mentioning is The Five Boys. While I was at the Emakoko, Anthony told me that he had seen a coalition of five cheetahs in the Mara several weeks prior. So while at Naboisho, I asked Daniel about it. He said that the Five Boys were first seen in the Naboisho Conservancy in December 2016 and remained there until about three months ago. Male cheetah brothers often form coalitions. But it’s usually two, sometimes three. A coalition of four is rare, and five is unheard of. So much so that the BBC also spent time in Naboisho this year to film them. Then about three months ago, the Five Boys left the Naboisho Conservancy, and started moving through adjacent villages, causing trouble by taking livestock along the way. They made their way to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, where they have remained for the last three months; presumably because the migration had arrived and they found it fertile hunting grounds. No one knows what they will do once the migration leaves. Daniel of course is hoping that they return to the Naboisho Conservancy.
I was hesitant about taking a long shot to go to the Reserve and brave potential traffic when Naboisho Conservancy has such great stuff, and where there are almost no other vehicles, you are allowed to go off-road, and you can stay out after dark. But in the end, the prospect of possibly seeing five cheetahs together was too much for me. So on my last full day at Naboisho, we decided to go for it. We left camp before sunrise and got briefly distracted along the way by older lion cubs making a run at a herd of wildebeest and a hyena catching a baby wildebeest. But while it was still early and not too far from the border of another conservancy, there they were!! The Five Boys! It was only 7:19 am and far enough from camps in the Reserve that only a handful of vehicles also showed up. Oh my gosh!!
On to my next camp – Namiri Plains (Serengeti, Tanzania).
Namiri means ‘big cat’ in Ma. And did it ever live up to its namesake! Everyday was filled with sensational big cat sightings and action; the kind that evoke what I think of as iconic Africa. The camp is in a nice location, the staff is superb, and my guide Patena was fantastic. Every night there were lions calling around camp. One night, the trail cam that I placed to look behind my tent caught a male lion strolling by, while another guest told me at dinner one evening that he had seen a male lion walk by his tent at 6:30 in the morning before he went to breakfast.
My very first morning at Namiri was filled with action. And it just continued from there. I was thrilled with Namiri Plains and could have spent even more time there.
Chris Swindal, Sep 2017