Honestly, if I could get closer to 5/5 I would, perhaps somewhere in the 4.5/5 range, close to perfect, with some hiccups.
We really appreciated how much Mahlatini did setting up this crazy adventure we went on, the sights, the experiences, etc.
We visited to spots in South Africa: Cape Town, and the Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
Overall, both were fantastic. Cape Town, especially where we stayed and visited, was beautiful, inviting, and a great experience.
Where we went in Zimbabwe was beautiful, the Victoria Falls are amazing and we couldn't have asked for a better experience at seeing the waterfalls. We also did skydiving here, which was incredible, and white water rafting, which was awesome, but would have been better in Summer.
That being said, while those locals were great, the overall poverty of the country was apparent from the moment you crossed in. Large amounts of begging, peddling, etc just outside the gates of our hotel. It did not cause us any issues, but did show the issues the country is facing.
To be fair, we did not visit the mainland Tanzania, rather just the island of Zanzibar.
The airport was the most strict we visited, and also the worst we visited. Akin to more of a shack than an actual airport. After that was mostly dirt roads and poverty, right until you reached the gates of the resort.
The country was beautiful though, and the people, as far as we could tell, were nice.
We absolutely loved the V&A Hotel. It had good security, good staffing, located in a beautiful area with access to a lot of different activities nearby.
We only ate breakfast at the hotel, and it was decent, maybe a 3.5/5, but I won't fault them that, and there were plenty of food varieties offered along the beach that were amazing. I will recommend trying Ostrich to anyone who will listen.
The facilities were nice, the people were great, especially our game driver and tracker. The food offered was generally good tasting and had a decent variety, Breakfast and lunch felt lacking and dinner was usually very late and took longer to be served than I, personally, would have liked.
With 2 three hour game drives a day, one early in the morning, the other late afternoon, we often a little rushed, but we wouldn't change that as we saw a lot of great animals and experiences.
As far as the animal variety is concerned, they had the big 5 and lots of other animals to view, but it was less of what I was expecting. The reserve felt a little sparse: no great herds, no cheetahs (led to believe both would be here), and even the game driver said that this area only got the smallest and sickliest of lions.
We did see a variety of animals, including 4/5 big 5 babys. Overall, it was an amazing experience, and while I will definitely recommend everyone go on a game drive, I would probably suggest alternative areas.
The Hotel was great, old-fashioned, in a sense and, overall, very nice. It was clean, the staff was friendly, and helpful, and we had a good time here.
My complaints would be the lack of food options, we were limited to restaurants at the hotel (of which they had 2, the third was on a path that closed at night), both of which were over-priced (partially as they knew they were the only options). One was for lunch and a light dinner, and the other was for a buffet for breakfast and dinner.
The food was good, and had plentiful variety to their credit and it was a beautiful location, with a far view of the falls, and wild elephants walking around the outskirts
A good hotel to stay at, not much more to say about it.
I'll give Zuri a 2 because the location was beautiful. It had a beautiful beach and beautiful, new facilities.
Zuri loses a lot, partially because of how new it was, there was construction going on the whole time, a lot of facilities weren't open yet, a lot of systems weren't in place yet, etc.
The biggest issue with Zuri was the food. And I can't stress how poor this was enough. There were 2 restaurants located on site, with no other alternatives nearby. One restaurant was open for lunch, the other for breakfast and dinner. In our package, breakfast and dinner were included, lunch was not. The one restaurant that offered lunch was a little cabana style place that was often full even when the resort is not at peak capacity. The food is overpriced, for minuscule portions. Be prepared to spend at least an hour here.
The breakfast was always buffet, it was not a large variety of options, and it didn't change day to day.
Dinner was the main issue. Dinner alternated between buffet and assigned meals (never both on the same night due to the resort being new). Buffet nights were generally good, with a variety of food offered. Assigned meal nights were bad. It consisted of a 6-7 course meal, from appetizer to main to dessert. Offerings were limited, you had 1 or 2 choices throughout, but most was assigned. If you don't like something, too bad. Portion sizes were tiny, and you were waiting for food for well over 2 hours. It was not unusual to go hungry, which is unacceptable at a a resort like that.
In summary, the country was beautiful, we went snorkeling, and generally had a good time. But I will never recommend this facility to anyone.
Claire was good. She was patient when working with me and my attempt to get a variety of offerings onto the package. At times, she would disappear from messages, due to being out of office for whatever reason, and the time difference between where she was and my location of the United States only complicated things more, especially during rush or crunch times (though that was no fault of hers).
I did speak with a previous employee of Mahlatini originally, but she dropped communications with me. Claire, to her credit, did not!
Thank you Claire for an amazing trip.