Review by: Robert Birman & Jennifer Forman

Overall Impressions

This trip was everything we could have possibly imagined. The crew at Mahlatini ensured we were taken care of every step of the way, on this, our first international trip together. The beauty of the land and the lodges we stayed were breathtaking.

Countries Visited

Tanzania

Tanzania as a country? I saw much more deep poverty than I expected to see. The people were lovely and quite friendly. The landscape where we stayed was amazing and the animal sightings were everything we hoped for. The only reason I don't give 5/5 is the shock of our beautiful accommodations in contrast with how so much of the country lives.

Kenya

I saw much more deep poverty than I expected to see. The people were lovely and quite friendly. The landscape where we stayed was amazing and the animal sightings were everything we hoped for. The only reason I don't give 5/5 is the shock of our beautiful accommodations in contrast with how so much of the country lives.

Accommodation Visited

Arusha Coffee Lodge

We didn't love Arusha. Perhaps it was the shock of jet-lag, or perhaps it was the volume of mosquito bites we both got (even while wearing bug spray and mosquito repellent bands). The food was just OK. But I do have to say our room was lovely and the bed was quite comfortable.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

This is the first lodge we stayed at while on the safari portion of our trip. Driving into the lodge, it looked like a gnome village in the trees. I don't know how else to describe it. But I mean that in a cute way, not in a negative way. The dining and lounge areas were quite comfortable and the staff was very attentive. This was a good place for us to start. The drive into the Crater was our first in the Land Rovers, and it took a little getting used to it. Also, this was our first exposure to all the animals that we would see here, and later on the trip. It was quite exciting. The staff at the lodge took good care of us, and did a little something extra, knowing it was our honeymoon.

Serengeti Under Canvas

This was our favorite lodge/camp. The staff was so attentive and friendly. Our ranger, Solomon, was extremely knowledgeable and did his best to give us an amazing experience. We were very lucky to have a private safari, if you will, as we didn't share our vehicle with other guests at the lodge. The camp staff went above & beyond to provide us with an unplanned lunch in the field so that we could stay out longer and not miss any possible sightings. The tents were luxurious and very comfortable. I wish we were able to stay here longer. The staff at the lodge took good care of us, and did a little something extra, knowing it was our honeymoon. Given the location and temporary nature of this camp, I'm so impressed with the tents, food, etc. If I could give more than 5/5 I would.

Bateleur Camp

The lodge itself, and the staff were spot on. Luxurious accommodations, lovely & friendly staff, yummy food. We saw the largest variety of animals here which made every outing different. My only complaint, and this is not about the camp but about the Masai Mara itself, is that we weren't able to get as close to the animals as we were in the Serengeti. We had to stay on the "roads" and not drive "offroad". The staff at the lodge took good care of us, and did a little something extra, knowing it was our honeymoon.

Zuri Zanzibar

I had to think carefully about this score. We were coming off a week of safari in very intimate lodges and this hotel was very populated, comparatively speaking. However, while the beach was beautiful and walks yielded much starfish sightings and so forth, the water was quite cold and the beach very rocky. I have to say, though, the views were absolutely beautiful - the stuff of postcards and such. Also, the food was not very good. I know we didn't come to Zanzibar for the food, but we had better food from a camp kitchen in the middle of the Serengeti desert. Also, it was very hot and humid, which can be expected but was still not enjoyable. And the location of the hotel made it unattractive for excursions into Stone Town, etc.. as they would be more than an hour each way in the car. I had the hardest time here reconciling the extreme poverty that we drove through to reach this beautiful, luxury hotel with gorgeous landscaping and plenty of running water. I can't fault the hotel for this, but it did affect my relaxation. The hotel was aware it was our honeymoon and had a little package of extras for us - romantic couples massage discount, lunch on the beach, cocktails at sunset. All lovely, except I got food poisoning from our beach lunch. Not a great way to end the trip - but better at the end than the beginning.

Staff Review

Donna was amazing. As first time travelers to Africa, Donna was so patient with all our questions. She provided us with a few different itineraries to start, and we went through a process to create our own specific itinerary. Donna listened to what was most important for us and found the camps/lodges that best met our wishes. We were accompanied every step of the way and didn't have to navigate transit, visas, airfields, etc. on our own, as we saw some others having to do. We will definitely work with Mahlatini again for our next trips!