Our honeymoon trip was spectacular. While planning with Nicki, we knew it was going to be wonderful, but it truly surpassed any expectations. We wanted to savour every moment. From the initial planning stage to our return home, we were so impressed with Mahlatini!
Tanzania is an incredible country with such diverse landscape, lovely people, and beautiful culture. We feel fortunate not only to have visited, but to have enjoyed conversations with many people from our guides and drivers to staff and managers - learning about Tanzania history, politics, education, infrastructure, geography and personal life journeys. We had many great conversations and oftentimes it's those connections and stories that make a trip so memorable, too.
The Arusha Coffee Lodge was a perfect overnight stop upon arriving in Tanzania and before heading out to Safari. The staff was warm and welcoming, the room was spacious, clean and modern, the grounds were lush, and the breakfast was delicious - we knew we were in good hands for the rest of the trip after a delightful first night at the Arusha Coffee Lodge. Plus! The location is a 5 min. drive to the Arusha airstrip so that was a huge advantage in the morning, allowing us some time to rest after the long trip from the US.
The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge blew us away! We had seen the gorgeous photos in advance, but it cannot compare to being there in person. We feel extremely lucky to have spent 2 nights and 2 days at the Lodge. Without a doubt, it is the most unique hotel/lodge that we have ever stayed at... and several other guests from all over the world were commenting the same to us during our stay. It seemed to be a cross between medieval luxury, Tanzanian culture and beauty and personal exclusivity. Everywhere you looked, it was breathtaking. We are especially thankful for our terrific driver/guide Aziza and our personal butler KK. They went above and beyond to provide excellent service and make us feel welcome and special on our honeymoon. We did not have a chance to meet the Chef, but the food was incredible - every meal was creative, abundant and flavorful - just delicious! The Lodge deserves more than 5 stars...it's truly exquisite!
The Serengeti Migration Camp holds a special place in our hearts. We hope to return very soon! We stayed 4 nights and 4 days during our honeymoon trip and could not be more grateful for the incredible team who took amazing care of us that week.
Upon arriving, we instantly clicked with Steven, our driver/guide and enjoyed getting to know him all week long. He was extremely knowledgeable, sharing all types of facts and tales about the Serengeti, and he knew where and when to explore, literally going the extra mile(s) - all 250 of them - to take us out into the Plains. Even after 12 hours together that day, Steven had a bright smile and excitement for our adventure. He was so personable, warm, funny and patient spending so much time with just the two of us.
Hassan, our waiter/butler, could not have been more kind, helpful, thoughtful and welcoming. From getting up at 3am to ensure we had coffee before our sunrise balloon ride, to always packing our favorite wine for lunch, helping us learn more Swahili and surprising us with a special farewell cake on our last night, we are grateful for Hassan's hard work, attention to detail and hospitality.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention Chef Massoud. Every meal was wonderful and it was such a pleasure to be greeted by him each evening - thank you, Massoud!
Somehow, we were the only 2 guests at the entire camp for more than half our stay, so we truly felt the personal touches and efforts by the whole team. We also lucked out with a tent right up close to the river so we rose with the hippos each morning and watched elephants stop by for a sip in the afternoon - how incredible! The tent itself was amazing of course, complete with a full bathroom as well as a deck overlooking the river. The Camp in general is just too cool - situated in the heart of the bush and secluded from other tourists, it really feels authentic and exclusive. Without a doubt, we'd recommend the Serengeti Migration Camp and in particular Steven & Hassan.
Zuri Zanzibar is a beautiful resort. The grounds are immaculate. Each room/bungalow/suite feels like it's in its own little jungle retreat giving each guest a sense of privacy and luxury. The white sandy beach is picturesque. What surprised us the most was the food - absolutely delicious. The seafood at the 2 main restaurants was delectable. And, we were very appreciative of the on-site Covid testing before our departing flight.
The reason we only give 4 stars for this resort is largely because of the service. This resort still has a long way to go to match the 5-star quality of other resorts. In all honesty, this was quite disappointing. Many times we had to seek out or follow up with the beach staff for drinks or food, only to wait another 30 minutes for a glass of wine. Additionally, there was often confusion on orders or another long wait to sign for the bill (even though it was an all inclusive package). We sensed this frustration from other guests, as well. The staff were lovely but there's much room for improvement.
Another reason is actually the dampness of our suite. While it was beautiful with modern amenities and cool decor, it was very damp and every single item of clothing smelled. It helped to keep the AC on (which the staff recommended too). Of course, we acknowledge this may come with the location of an island.
We'd still recommend Zuri as it appears to be one of the best, if not the best, option on Zanzibar. However, keep in mind that the service will be on the slower side - I suppose, embrace the pace of island life ;)
We are forever indebted to Nicki Wray for planning the most unique, memorable and special trip of our lives. My husband James took the lead on our end, planning this delayed honeymoon during Covid, and without a doubt it was Nicki behind the scenes hustling to make our trip as perfect and stress-free as possible. And she nailed it!
Nicki was beyond thorough and attentive to every single detail each step of the way. She worked closely with us for ~8-9 months, helping us feel assured about every decision during the uncertain time of 2020-2021.
Early on, Nicki quickly grasped what we were seeking for our honeymoon and crafted a personalized itinerary that checked every box. She often answered questions before we could even ask them. And any question we did ask, was responded to with a smile and a "not a problem, happy to make that work," etc. We must have gone through 6+ versions of an itinerary before finalizing it...I'm sure we weren't the easiest clients, so thank you Nicki for your flexibility, patience and expertise!
She shared invaluable tips and recommendations for making the most out of our time - from the sunrise balloon ride, the sailboat sundowners, extra luggage for the beach and more. She even checked in a few times while we were on our trip and took care of any slight changes behind the scenes with the lodge staff - she made everything seem like a breeze. We did not worry about a thing the whole trip thanks to Nicki. Talk about first-class service, wow!
Furthermore, Nicki is simply the sweetest person and we could sense her genuine excitement for us. We enjoyed several laughs along the way with her and hope to plan another adventure with her very soon. We could not be more grateful to Nicki and enthusiastically recommend her to anyone and everyone!!
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