It certainly was the holiday of a lifetime! We felt spoilt from start to finish. A totally memorable holiday - for all the right reasons!
Everything ran like clockwork. The ground handling agents, Cheli & Peacock Safaris, were excellent - always punctual in pick ups and charming and courteous. We felt confident we were in capable hands. We loved the Safarilink experience and landing on airstrips in the middle of nowhere. Even when our plane from Ol Donyo to Wilson was 15 minutes late arriving, our connecting flight to the Mara waited for us. Waiting at another airstrip for refuelling, we were able to chat to the pilot and I even got to sit in his seat before take off! All the people we met were so friendly.
We only experienced Zanzibar so cannot speak for the whole of Tanzania but we were met by smiles and charming hospitality at our hotel and from our tour guide in Stone Town. The only negatives were the bureaucracy in arriving and leaving Zanzibar and waiting in the airport for our return flight to Nairobi - very poor air conditioning, no flight departure boards and a poor announcement system. However our flight was on time so no real problem!
A really good hotel for a late night arrival from the international airport (about 11pm) and early morning departure from Wilson airport (6.30am). It took us about 10 minutes each way.
I would give Ol Donyo more than 5/5 if I could! It was superb! We had our own driver/guide the whole time so we could plan what we wanted to do without being confined to set drive times. The rooms at the lodge are superb - huge living room, bedroom and bathroom with exquisite furnishings, our own outdoor plunge pool with views of the watering hole, and a star bed on a roof terrace for an amazing outdoor sleeping experience. The food was excellent and the host Shaun joined us and the other guests for meals and really made us feel welcome. The hide at the watering hole is great for close encounters with elephants and other animals passing through. Another fantastic experience was horse riding, with a bush breakfast set up under a tree in the plains after a two-and-a-half-hour ride. A real 'Out of Africa' experience! We were also really lucky that Mount Kilimanjaro was clearly visible the whole time we were there, which provided an amazing backdrop to our photos.
The game drives in the Mara were brilliant and our guide Levi was excellent at taking on a challenge to find whatever we wanted to see that day - and we saw pretty much every animal there! We shared our vehicle with another couple from England who were lovely, but it did mean we all had to be ready to leave on drives at the same time. We were really spoilt on our last evening with the staff doing a birthday dance for us (we were celebrating our joint 60th birthdays) and presenting us with a cake. We also received some lovely gifts which we shall treasure. A memorable trip out was to a Masai village and although it felt a little bit laid on for the tourists, we got a little insight into their way of life and came back with some interesting souvenirs.
A lovely stopover for lunch and although not specifically included in our package, they provided us with a fabulous room to shower and change. Top marks for hospitality.
An idyllic hotel! With only 6 villas and 60 staff you felt you were in your own private luxury residence. It is so peaceful and tranquil and the staff are so friendly. The whole place is exquisitely furnished and you have amazing views from your villa and huge secluded terrace. The beach, although small, is very private (so no bother from hawkers) and you can walk over the reef to bathe in beautiful warm turquoise waters at low tide. The food is excellent and the restaurant manager Vuai chooses wines to complement each dish. A wonderfully relaxing experience after our safari holiday. The only thing to watch is that 'all-inclusive' isn't totally so! You pay extra for espresso, cappuccino and any spirits or wines from your mini bar.
We came to Mahlatini with pretty firm ideas of where we wanted to stay but Donna was great at accommodating our requests and particularly helping with the Zanzibar choice of hotel where we simply specified "all-inclusive, adults only, able to swim in the sea"! We are already thinking of where we want to go next!