Review by: Tamra Depina

Overall Impressions

Our trip was phenomenal. We especially loved our time at Ol Seki. The setting was spectacular. We watched elephants drink and play in a watering hole below the dining area. The tents were great. We especially enjoyed the hot water bottles at night and the coffee and cookies in the morning. Staff made sure you were taken care of every second. The moment you walked out of your tent in the dark, someone was there to guide you with a flash light and keep and eye out for animals. Debbie, the manager was wonderful. She kept us informed and made sure everything was perfect. I truly appreciated her help getting our QR codes to go to Tanzania. (It was quite a process but they never asked for them.) Isaac, our guide, made the experience! He was incredible. He knew so much, made sure we saw everything, was kind, answered all our questions, shared so much about Kenya and the Masai people. He took care of us from landing to taking off at the airstrip.

Countries Visited

Kenya

We appreciated how well we were guided through Kenya. There was a glitch with out QR codes coming in which I still don't understand. As we disembarked we were told I had the exit QR codes despite them saying Boston to Nairobi but the woman at the airport said it looks like I tried so she let us in. From there we were met with someone to guide us through to the hotel which was so helpful. It was very late and still very busy. The next morning we were brought to Wilson airport and were guided through to get us to Ol Seki. This was so helpful and not truly appreciated until our next experience at Wilson airport which was quite anxiety provoking. Being in the conservancy was so amazing and we learned after going to the Masai Mara how incredibly lucky we were to have Mahlatini choose this for our trip. The guides all talk to each other through the day and share where animals are spotted. Isaac would ask our daughter what she wanted to see and he would find the animals she requested. We literally drank wine 10 feet from a lioness and her cubs. It was interesting to travel to the Masai Mara reserve and see the towns along the way but after staying in the conservancy, it would have been fine not to go. We saw many wildebeest and zebras but it wasn't the same as the conservancy. We took a hot air balloon ride that was amazing. Over the course of the week we saw every animal but a rhino (actually my son got a glimpse). Everything was AWESOME. An FYI about Wilson airport. We flew back from Ol Seki and landed there to travel on to Zanzibar. It felt very chaotic but in the end, we got on our plane and our luggage came with us. Quite literally we were walked in and around the airport three times (from the landing area, out to the street and back into different parts of the airport.) Different people accompanied us and we ended up where we were supposed be every time but felt busy and chaotic. They also just write your names on a piece of paper on the luggage and leave it out so we were wary it would go with us. I think my message would be that it really is all OK and they know what they're doing through the process so don't be anxious but not knowing this we were. We also visited a Masai village. Our daughter played soccer with some of the kids with a rope ball. It was a tremendous but very sad experience.(We're sending some soccer balls and shoes -Isaac got us a PO box so if people are visiting they might want to bring some stuff for the kids if they have room in our bags). Everyone we met was wonderful!!

Tanzania

The resort was beautiful and our rooms were fantastic. The one day we left the resort honestly was quite a disappointment especially for the money we spent. I would not recommend the snorkel, turtle etc day up north. It is a long drive and our driver really didn't speak much English so we didn't get to ask many questions. The boat we were put on was in a mass of other boats. The driver spent the whole time yelling on his phone and when they talk about swimming with the dolphins what happens is the boat you're in chases the dolphins and then tells you to jump off before the dolphins swim away. Our son was the only one who jumped off in time and we felt terrible for the poor dolphins being chased by all these boats. When we were snorkelling my husband was (lightly) hit by another boat. We also went to their well known beach which was busy and touristy. It was interesting to drive through the towns and see all the kids on their way to and from school. This trip was arranged by the hotel and I would advise not going on. Arriving at the airport was also a little tough. When going through immigration I could not hear the immigration officer behind the glass and because the doors were open to where the planes land, I couldn't follow his instructions and he got very angry with me. A woman next to me was able to explain that we needed to be finger printed. Luckily I speak some Spanish because she spoke in both Spanish and English. This was a little nerve wracking. Also we were told to have yellow fever vaccines and they never asked for them. We also were never asked to do the antigen test at the airport which was fine with us and they never asked for the travel QR code from Kenya which had taken an hour and half to do with slow internet. They did require our COVID PCR. I am not really complaining, the whole trip overall was amazing but wanted to mention some things that might help other travellers.

Accommodation Visited

Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport

Great quick stop over. Rooms great and breakfast wonderful. We were picked up early and taken to Wilson airport. Would recommend you ask how the lights work before the bellman leaves your room. Not at all a big deal since they came right back up but it was quite funny to try to figure out how to put the lights on.

Ol Seki Hemingways Mara

Would give 10 stars if we could. Please see comments above. Highlight of our trip. In addition to above, meals were great. They prepared something special for our vegan daughter every night. Meals were also a chance to meet other guests which was so nice. We exchanged addresses with a mom and daughter originally from Kenya but living in Spain who were looking for college in the US. We met very few Americans during our trip yet a couple on their honeymoon arrived and the wife worked for the same organization that I do and they live the next town over. Couldn't believe that.

The Residence Zanzibar

Overall had a great time. Rooms were amazing with their own pool. Grounds gorgeous. Staff very nice and we were served by the same wonderful women each meal. Had an amazing massage. We are not really pool people and love the ocean. One thing to know is that you can't swim when the tide is out. For us it meant that we could only go in the ocean after 2 or 3 in the afternoon. The water was warm and beautiful. Lunch was from the menu and was the best meal of the day. Breakfast and dinner were buffet. This was a little disappointing especially because of COVID. The food was good but nothing too special. Everyone serves themselves and stands on top of each other. Dishes would look picked over. While we were there, there were a group of families who ate together with small children who constantly ran around the dining area. Our waitress recognized this and tried to give us table away which was very nice of her. We love kids but they really were running up and down the entire dining area. Not really that big a deal to us but if you're looking for a more quiet resort, this probably isn't for you. The entertainment during dinner was great. The thing that really bothered me was that people smoke during meals. This is no longer allowed in the US. I personally can't enjoy eating when others are smoking. When I asked about being away from smoking when we were seated night, I was told "everyone smokes everywhere". I mention this because others might want to consider this when choosing where to go. As above the only other disappointment was the day trip arranged by the hotel. Overall was a relaxing time after the safari.

Staff Review

Caroline was awesome. I truly appreciated our phone call where she answered all my questions and anticipated others I didn't even know I would have. Everything ran so smoothly and she checked up on us along the way. Will definitely recommend her, Mahlatini and the Naboisho Conservancy with Ol Seki to anyone who will listen and wants to go to Kenya.