Better late than never they say…. So here we go…
My husband and I did a 12 day safari with BaseCamp in April 2014. It was definitely the trip of a lifetime and we will definitely be back!!!
After doing a lot of reading on this forum we decided to get quotes from 10 Tour Operators. Most of the ones we received quotes from were on the list in the top questions on the right. We then narrowed them down to our top 3 and after much consideration we decided to go with Achmed due to price, service and feedback on Tripadvisor.
Day 1: Ilboru Safari Lodge (Arusha)
We arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport in the evening and stayed at this lodge based on Achmed’s recommendation. For the price we thought this was great value for money. The rooms were great and the grounds were very well maintained. Loved the palm trees! Note that driving to this lodge from the airport at night may leave you wondering what you got yourself into but once there you will be pleasantly surprised. We’ll definitely stay at this lodge again next time.
Day 2 & 3: Tarangire Safari Lodge (Tarangire National Park)
This park is really great. We saw heaps of elephants and were fortunate enough to spend lunch on our first day next to a waterhole watching the elephants swim! We also saw a few lions and two leopards in this park. The tents were very nice and had everything we needed. One more thing; the view from this lodge is superb!
Day 4: Kirurumu Manyara Camp (just outside Ngorongoro Conservation Area)
In the morning, on our way to this lodge, we went to Lake Manyara. This is a very interesting park due to its varied vegetation and it was certainly a treat seeing the blue monkeys which I haven’t seen before. Kirurumu tented lodge itself where we stayed that evening was very well appointed with really large tents and a great view from the porch.
Day 5, 6, 7 & 8 Serengeti Wilderness Camp
The Serengeti as well as this accommodation was the absolute highlight of our trip!!!! Apart from seeing the wildebeest migration which was a dream come true we were also lucky (and patient) enough to see a total of 67 lions! (No kidding). This included sighting two lionesses taking down a wildebeest and then one going to fetch her cubs to come and join. I’m afraid they did not really make a dent but I got some cute pictures of them sitting there. Then with regards to the accommodation; this was a great experience! The first night we struggled to sleep with all the noise the wildebeest and zebras were making close to our tents but this was great “music”! The last night we had a lion roaring right next to our tent which was also a great experience (afterwards when the sun was up). At that stage I will admit that I did wonder how sturdy the canvas walls were and for no money in the world would I have climbed through to the bathroom at the back (where the sidewalls are not attached to the groundsheet).
Day 9 & 10: Lake Masek Tented Camp (Ndutu)
Soon after entering the Ndutu area we saw a cheetah which we were told we had a good chance of seeing in the open plains. We were fortunate enough to see another one the next day after hours of off road driving which was great fun. At times I was just praying that Iddy our driver still knew where we were because it felt like you could quite easily get lost once off the roads! The tented lodge was definitely the ‘fanciest’ of all the accommodation we stayed at and the staff at the camp were just the nicest people.
Day 11 & 12: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Going to the crater was great although we thought that once would probably have been sufficient. We saw heaps but the most interesting was a large pack of hyenas trying to catch a buffalo calf that was a bit behind the herd walking with his mum. I was really worried but I must say it was absolutely awesome when three buffaloes from the herd then came back to chase the hyenas away!!! The accommodation was the one we liked the least simply due to the fact that it is such a large lodge with so many people. After only staying in tented camps this was quite a change.
Day 13: Hyatt Regency, The Kilimanjaro (Dar Es Salaam)
The hotel itself was great. We used this hotel as it gets good ratings on Tripadvisor and we managed to get a great deal on one of the hotel booking websites. We arranged transport from the airport through the hotel’s e concierge. Our driver, Emmanuel, was really kind to wait for us all evening after our flight with Precision Air from Kilimanjaro just got cancelled without any notification and we got bumped to the later one (the hotel also did not get our message about this delay so he waited in good faith). He also picked us up the next morning to take us back to the airport to catch our early morning flight to Johannesburg
Total count of big cat sightings for the entire trip:
Things we would do different next time or things we would take:
We would skip Lake Manyara and also stay only one night at Ngorongoro instead of two.
We would take a few fly swots for those tsetse flies!!! I lost count after the 50th bite!
And remember to take insect bite cream for the itch… I certainly missed that.
If you are big on coffee a travel mug will come in handy for those early morning coffees to take with you on your drive.
If you buy a Tinga Tinga painting, make sure they role it correctly. Ours had a few paint cracks but we managed to get it fixed.
The bumpy vehicle can be quite bad on the back so remember to take some ibuprofens