Deborah and Jim Mills have just settled back in New Zealand after an unforgettable trip to Africa. They went on a whirlwind adventure from North Eastern Tanzania to the award-winning Londolozi. They certainly had a magical trip and plan to return in 2021. Deb and Jim have very kindly shared some of their experiences from their trip and a few tips for those visiting soon:
What was/were the highlight(s) of your trip?
“There were so many highlights! The trip to Arusha National Park was a very nice surprise. We were able to photograph the Colobus Monkeys, which was exactly what we wanted, and the birthday dinner at the Arusha Coffee Plantation was a pure delight.
The Mara River Tented Camp was wonderful. They have come very close to providing that family feeling that you get at Londolozi. It is different, being a tented experience, but the people there are special. Herman, our waiter, was a pure delight, teaching us phrases in Swahili and treating us like a member of the family. Benson was incredible and got us into the perfect position for each of the crossings.
Seeing the crossings was probably one of the most amazing experiences. We felt like we were in a National Geographic moment. Another highlight was seeing a herd of elephants crossing the Mara River. After watching the frenzied crossing of the wildebeest, the elephants were majestic and graceful, a sight that I will never forget. When we left Mara River, we took a “team photo” and commented that the staff there is truly the dream team.
Faru Faru is delightful. We would definitely like to stay there longer next time. There were two special sightings at Faru Faru, the tree-climbing lions and the zebra migration at the water hole.
Tswalu is so different. The trip on the Oppenheimer Air is a very special start – it really gives you a feeling for how the famous live. The lodge is gorgeous and the property is so different, with the rocky mountains and the red sand everywhere. Game viewing can be challenging because the density of wildlife is lower, but the chance to see pangolin, aardvark, bat-eared foxes and meerkats is unbelievable. They let you get out of the range rover and follow the pangolin and aardvark on foot. For the meerkats, you get there just as they are beginning to come out of the dens and again, get out of the range rover to wander around and photograph them. It is better to go there in winter because the nocturnal animals are out earlier and easier to find. They also have a number of wild dogs that are easy to locate because many have collars. It is not the sort of place that people should go on their first safari, but for those that want to see a pangolin or aardvark, it is fabulous.
Finally, there was Londolozi, which never disappoints. Reconnecting with Trevor, our butler was delightful. There were leopards everywhere, as usual. Pioneer Camp was amazing. It still is the best, overall wildlife viewing that we have ever experienced.”
Do you have any suggestions on safari guides for first-time safari-goers?
“Benson Mboya at the Mara River Camp is phenomenal in getting you to the right place for the crossing. He drives fast and it can be a bit nerve-racking if you get nervous in the landrover, but we loved it.
Alex Jordan at Londolozi was excellent as well. His photography skills are very strong so he is a good guide for those who want to improve their skills.
Antony Kivuko was our andBeyond guide who took us into Arusha National Park. He is delightful. When he heard that our focus was the Monkeys, he ensured that we had the best opportunity to photograph them.
Herman, our waiter at Mara River is an absolute gem.”
“Bev, thank you so much for all of your help. The trip was truly awesome. We are so thankful for your patience and expertise. We could not have had a better experience.” Deb & Jim
A big thank you to Deb and Jim – we look forward to having you back on African soil in 2021…