Review by: Alison Armstrong

Overall Impressions

Highlights: Reaching the Mt Kilimanjaros crater rim having been slogging up the slope (pole pole)towards it in the dark and cold for about 7.5 hours short of breath but there!- and thanks to the guide who got us there. Drinking kilimanjaro tea up kilimanjaro and it being good tea even over 4600m. Seeing the coffee beans growing in the fields and our guide explaining all about it. Handling animal fossils (spine and knee) in the oldivai gorge. Seeing three leopards, seeing 5 cheetah in one day(as two and three - the latter finishing a kill). Seeing that the black lump our guide said was a rhino get up and move and through the binos see it too! Watching the picnic area in the serengeti clear in a second when an elephant and calf decided to wander through! Watching the silent columns of wildebeast wander past over about 30 mins - like a silent army of soldiers going to the front - curious and wonderful to see ngorangora crater the balloon ride and the alfresco breakfast - the whole experience the luxurious hotels - far more beautiful than we have ever experienced before - locations, food and comfort

Countries Visited


really enjoyed the holiday - when we finally got there! our time with harrys cousins was very special and gave us a chance to see them, the expat life and also go on a cycle trip through the back streets of dar - fascinating. we had some good times at the beach too. Kilimanjaro was a very challenging trip - the guides/porters were fanstastic, the cook made amazing food which kept us going - the terrain was very interesting and although I really like walking "along" I really enjoyed the ascent of the mountain (though day 3 over the lava tower was a bit wet and wasnt my favourite day). I enjoyed the scrambling up the hill above barranco to barrafo. we did lots of polepole(slowly slowly). The last day up was quite tough as there is a 7 hour walk with a three - four hour rest(when I didnt sleep) and then another 7+ hour slog in the dark and cold and a bit windy up to the very top - so I was a bit tired from lack of sleep. then you have a 3-4 hour descent - 2 lovely hours in the sleeping bag and then another 3-4 hours down to mkwena camp. It suited our plans to do it like this - but may be if I had my time again i might have split the barranco-barrafo day into two which you can do - it does mean the first half is only 3-4 hours, but then on the day of the last ascent you only have 3-4 hours to walk can laze around and doze for the afternoon and then prepare for the ascent. On the ascent its cold - I had five layers on - thermals, shirt two fleece, heavy skiing jacket and I was only just warm enough - and two ski gloves and my hands were cold. - bottom half was thermals, walking trousers and overtrousers. The guides dont provide snacks on route. we had one or two each day but on the last ascent - they give you chocolate block and bisuits - but I then had a snack of some sort every two hours and a drink stop every hour to keep going - the snacks need to be taken with you. The view of mwenzi and then the crater is amazing - when you get there. Poles are very helpful - theres a LOT of descent in a day enough to test the toughest knees - the poles meant my knees remained intact! - also the guides advised us to have them for the descent because the ground is a bit stony and soft. you need a head torch that will last about 7 hours on the last day - new batteries good idea for it. then to game reserves. most Ive already said - the driver guide was excellent - very knowledgeable, a safe driver, very willing to make the little things we wanted to see happen - viz the coffee growing and buying some certain souvenirs loved the reserves, the game the hotels the experience the balloon ride is expensive but as a one off experience worth it

Accommodation Visited

Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge

amazing view of the sun rise - we were up anyway but worth getting up for. Food very good as was service, lovely atmosphere at dinner far more luxury than we would usually have but - we enjoyed it and made the most of it tea maker in the room would have been great

Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge

fantastic location the infinity pool was glorious and the view over the rift valley food excellent and accommodation very comfortable - more than we were used to but much enjoyed staff v helpful omlettes in the am freshly cooked and very good tea maker in the room would have been great

Mbuzi Mawe Serena Camp

loved the concept of the tents again very comfortable, good situation in the park - liked the fact that animals might wander through food excellent, good service, very comfortable, staff v helpful again more luxury than weve had before but we enjoyed it tea maker in the room would have been great

Snow Crest Hotel

amazing architecture - your pictures dont do it justice - the atria are stunning pool lovely room very comfortable(and tea maker but only ever one cup! - did fix this on first visit not second) all very helpful. al carte meal very good indeed - if restaurant a bit empty next time it was a buffet night - that was fine but not as good as ala carte when we arrived back for second visit we were meant to be half board but the hotel thought we were B and B - but dennis our guide sorted it out for us - and we were half board interesting hotel - really a conference centre for central africa - my husband met some interesting delegates from all over central africa which added to our experience

Staff Review

it was fine, we wandered through a few versions of the trip but after trying things out what we settled for was fine. The advice was good. Claire was busy on our day of dept as we didnt arrive on time in Nairobi because of the flight being delayed 12.5 hours - it was good she rescheduled our flights so we didnt have to queue and contacted our family in dar to let them know of our delay and then contacted our family about a flight being moved earlier in the day - so it all worked