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Back from Kiliwarrior Safari in Tanzania

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I used this forum for narrowing down our tour operator and ultimately chose Kiliwarrior so thought it would be nice to provide feedback. Although the firm seemed smaller and newer than other firms, Eben put together a great itinerary and we were extremely pleased from begining to end. I may also add that the cost at the end of the day was less expensive with better accomodations than other quotes we had received.
It is so important that you deal with an operator who can plan your trip around where the animals are during that particualr time of year. While this may seem basic, we met people who had visited different parts of Tanzania and were nowhere near the migration. The grass in the wrong parts can be tall and you can't underestimate how much harder it can be to spot the animals and many of the animals just aren't there at all. Suffice it to say, we saw more animals than we could have anticipated and learned a tremendous amount about the ecosystem.
During our 10 day safari, we were the ONLY vehicle with open sided plastic windows that rolled up (jeep style) to allow for maximum viewing. The Land Cruiser we had was extremely comfortable with an electric frige - another perk. Our guide was Giliad who is Wilbert's (Eben's Tanzania partner) brother. He was easy to understand, smart and friendly. Having traveled much in the past, you just can't take for granted when everything goes smoothly. A good tour guide makes everything seem this way.
We arrived JRO late evening; Eben was in Tanzania at the time so he met us at the airport which was very nice. We had about an hour drive to Hatari Lodge situated in Arusha National Park which would be our home for 2 nights. We loved the lodge; nice room and bathroom - kind of funky. Food was good. They had dinner waiting for us at 11:00 at night. Stepped out our first morning to see giraffe and cape buffalo right outside the room. Our first day was spent in Arusah NP taking a canoe ride and seeing the park. We used the Hatari vehicle and guide for this portion of the trip. While the cars are Mercedes - they needed new shocks badly and were most uncomfortable since the roads are extremely bumpy. Looking back, the lodge was a great place to start our trip, but we could have done without the day in the park - it was the most boring of all our days.
Giliad then picked us up and we headed off for 2 nights at Lake Manyara, lodging at Kirurumu. This is a tented lodge with very basic furnishings - not luxurious, but clean and adequate; we barely spent any time at the lodge. Food here was the least favorite of anywhere.
Next 2 nights were spent at Sopa Lodge at Ngorongoro. Along the way, we stopped at Gibbs Farm which has a lovely lunch buffet ($27pp). Very beautiful and scenic stop. The first room they provided at Sopa was on the lower level and the windowed terrace was full of ants. We requested another room and they kept insisiting that had nothing and would move us the next day. We just stood there at the reception and miraculousy they found us a room on the upper level. Request a room on the upper level if you stay here. Furnishing were threadbare. My least favorite of all the places, but you couldn't beat the location since it was so easy to get in and out the crater. The dining room here is quite pretty and the food is good - you actually get a choice of entress. Giliad and my husband took a hike the first morning at NC and came upon some Masai women (Giliad speaks Masai - helpful along the way)who were doing a rain dance.
After 2 days at the crater, we headed off to Suyan camp for 2 nights. The camp had 6 tents and are beautifully furnished. Dinner is served so all guests eat together which was fun.
Next 2 nights were at Olakira camp -again a camp of 6 tents - wonderful food. Last night was at Sayari (south) camp - our favorite of all the tented camps. Beautiful location and great food.
We flew back from the Serengeti - as opposed to the 10 hour car ride and spent our last night just outside Arusha at Kigongoni - rooms were large - nice bathroom. Food was good - service is very slow. Beautifully landscaped with a small pool.
Eben and his wife Carol met us our last day at the hotel and spent about 2 hours with us - just talking safari and climbing. Carol had just finished climbing the mountain. We met some people who had used Kiliwarrior the climb and they raved about the service/porters/food etc.

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