Review by: David Clemons

Overall Impressions

Since 2007 we have been traveling and we've been to well over 125 countries and islands. This trip was the big one, the one that took me the most amount of time, money, energy, you make it. My expectations were extremely high, I planned this trip 3 years ago and slowly pieced it together over the years, and divine intervention I bumped into Claire and Mahlatini and ultimately this trip exceeded all expectations by a long shot!

Countries Visited

Malawi

Malawi would have been a 5 if not for the Kaya Mawa. The host/hostess and managers were friendly, warm and super awesome people. The location of the lodge was perfect. The local village and local people were extremely warm and friendly and the unspoiled non touristy vibe was amazing. You felt like you were truly in Africa. The Kaya Mawa lodge became a full time job for me. I have photos that if I were the managers/hosts I'd be embarrassed. I had to stuff towels and rags in all the major cracks and wide gaps in door ways and windows to keep bugs out. We had spiders and massive spiders and frogs in the room and wasps and bees and just when you think you saw it all massive amounts of gnats that came right through the mosquito net even though we both sealed it obsessively tight, we would wake up covered in bugs. At the very least the managers hosts should prepare you for this. My travel partner is much more tolerant than I am and even she said it was sad the amount of energy it took me to keep the room sealed. The name Kaya Mawa became a running joke when we left in terms of storytelling to other travelers. A small glitch in the big picture of the entire trip but the nights at the Kaya Mawa became the lowlights of the trip. The flight in and out of Likoma was awesome little 6 seater planes and the pilots were super cool and friendly. The Latitude 13 Malawi was a surprise in that although almost no vegan options the food as decent and the room was super clean and bug free and the people were friendly

Zimbabwe

Beautiful and amazing. The helicopter over the Victoria falls was spectacular and the way the pilot zoomed down low to see some of the animals made us feel like David Attenborough. The Victoria Falls hotel was spectacular, super clean great food although not much in vegan options however very nice!

Kenya

The Hemingway although we were only there for part of a night, wow! The service and food and surprise birthday vegan cake, we wished we had more time there! Driving to and from the airport was no e to see some of Kenya and although we didn't stay there long it was nice to be there. We also became attached and impressed by Kenya airlines and their pilots. Our first flight solo with a woman pilot was an awesome feeling not to mention seeing so many pilots from Kenya of color made you feel a sense of pride that Kenya airlines promotes diversity and we liked that a lot. A lesson our hometown could learn from

Tanzania

My vision for this trip began with watching planet earth BBC on TV and Mr Attenborough showing the great migration. And then seeing a crocodile pull a wildebeest under the river and of course Mr Attenborough speaking in perfect harmony of the moment, that sparked the core of my vision for this trip. We began at the Angama Mara! Wow! If you factor food, location, the people, staff, management and all else, wow this was perfection. At one point we were with a group of 4 others we befriended in the Land Rover surrounded by countless animals trekking the great migration and as far as the eye could see in all directions too numerous to count zebras and wildebeest...and from there the Serengeti and although only there 2 days we actually saw up close a crocodile pull a wildebeest under! This was extremely rare we learned being we were only there for 2 days and we also saw so much more to much to list. The Serengeti bushtop camp was amazing and made us all the more scratch our heads how a tent in the middle of the Serengeti had no bugs and yet Kaya Mawa was a mess! The guides and food and really this was a super pleasant surprise! All the flights to and from each camp were amazing and thrilling for us! Finally the Ngorongoro Crater lodge! Truly unexpected luxury at the rim of the crater! Amazing food amazing staff and guides! The bushtop and Crater lodges made my travel partners birthday exceptional and the vegan options were great! The wildlife once at the bottom of the crater was a shock as far as the variety of animals elephants and zebras and hippos and wildebeest and birds and lions all in a small area was surreal and as we took in the entire Tanzania/Kenya experience we felt as if we were a part of the flow of the great migration start to finish and felt the core of the trip and my desire to feel the essence of nature at her best was met and exceeded by our stay

Seychelles

The Seychelles was amazing!

Seychelles

Accommodation Visited

Latitude 13

Pleasant surprise

Kaya Mawa

Amazing staff and hosts horrible place to sleep

The Victoria Falls Hotel

If the menu was remotely vegan friendly I'd give a 5

Hemingways Nairobi

Wish we could've been there longer

Angama Mara

The view the food the location wow!

Serengeti Bushtops

This was the biggest surprise for me i never thought a tent in the Serengeti could be so comfortable and luxurious

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Amazing vegan options and comfortable classy amenities in a natural setting

Maia Luxury Resort and Spa

The Maia resort and our butler Michelle, the food was amazing, the view was amazing, we visited multiple islands by boat and helicopter and snorkeling on a remote island, and visited the downtown, what an amazing experience! And the unique islander /African vibe was almost more like Jamaica! What an amazing experience. The two perhaps petty complaints I have about the Maia are 1-upon check out our flight was around 4pm, checkout 11 or 12 I believe. The Maia offered for us to extend our stay for those few more hours for ?700?! And during our stay there I needed sunscreen and I was shocked they charged me for it! Now, again, it may seem petty however at ?2,000 a day really? And when they apologized for my travel partners surprise birthday cake not being vegan, they said they'd redo it and never did. Now please let me be clear, this was a well needed and amazing relaxing stay and the food was great! But as you'll soon learn from my review of the Miavana, if you're going to be the best or advertise like you're the best, then I feel we should have been accommodated better. Now onto the Miavana

Relais des Plateaux

See above

Miavana

Perfection and bliss! A case study for all other resorts wanting to be the best. My obsession for staying at the best places on the planet has taken me to the Al Maha Dubai, Four Seasons Istanbul, Maia Seychelles, Heckfield UK, InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, and so many other places. We both determined the Miavana is the best place we have ever stayed. From the service to the private helicopter rides to the boat rides and snorkeling and the vegan food options and excursions and all this in a massive sea front villa and not one bug?! The friendly people and staff and chefs striving to make each vegan meal perfect and personal. The list is too long of great amazing experiences and upon checkout we were told we had plenty of time between our flight home and us waking up that we were out on a boat went to a remote island and to our surprise a personal table set up for parting goodbye lunch on a small deserted island! And the helicopter ride to the airport went the long way and showed us all the coastline! And we were GIVEN sunscreen and not charged for it! The Maia can learn a lesson because of all the places on this trip we will be going back to Miavana. Every single indulgence and every single person line our butler Nadia our pilot Simon our guide just one after the next after the next absolute perfection and for the first time in all my travels I could not conjure up one criticism!

Staff Review

I felt Claire's presence throughout this trip. I had never heard of Mahlatini prior to me taking a chance with Claire. I had actually met with another travel company 3 or so years ago and in London had lunch with the agent and was determined to use him /them eventually for this trip and then something ...just a feeling made me decide to look elsewhere and Lo and behold cake Claire! I love putting my own trips together however I could not have done what Claire did for us and Iâ??ll always go to her from here til my last trip if I need anything!