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Our wonderful trip to Tanzania

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We are back from an amazing holiday in Kenya and Tanzania. Thanks to everyone for such valuable information especially Sandi and Patty.
We began in Nairobi, spent one and a half days there at the Norfolk. It was interesting to see the city, we hired a cab to Karen Blixen farm, Giraffe centre, and then visited with a friend there. I am glad to have seen Nairobi, but wouldn't be in a hurry to go there again.
We flew to Arusha where we were met by our guide Yusef Shoo from Simba. I would like to say at the beginning that he was fantastic. He was so pleasant, a sensible driver and could spot the most difficult to see animals. Our Land Rover was clean every day and he was always waiting for us no matter how early our mornings were.
Our first night was in Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge. It is quite new but quite an odd experience. We were the only ones there when we arrived in the morning, there was all kinds of staff but no one seemed to know what to to take orders for lunch, dinner or even drinks. It was quite comical really if you have a sense of humour. I must admit I wondered what we were up for the rest of the trip.
It just got better. We were to spend the next two nights at the Lake Manyara Serena, but due to a mix up we went to Gibbs Farm for the first night. We LOVED it...even though we had to back track to see Lake Manyara the next day it was so worth it. We had one of their new cottages (Cottage B) and it was incredibly pretty. The food was very good, the view from the property over the coffee plantation was gorgeous and the staff wonderful. The couple who are running it now have big plans and are very good at what they do. I would definitely return.
We spent one night at the Manyara Serena ...great view, but just OK. We got our first taste of animal sightings in the park and it whet the appetite. No tree climbing lions though.
We went from there to the Serengeti Serena..once again our opinion of the hotel was just OK. But the animal sightings were fantastic. We saw three leopards,elephants, hippos, crocs, lions,etc.etc. even 3 lions in trees !!
Then to our mobile camp was a back up camp when we arrived because the river crossing had washed out to the original spot. We were there for 2 days and then we were moved for the last day to the original sight. If I were giving advice or doing it again I would say definitely stay in a camp at least for part of the trip. It was terrific...beautiful locations, staff who couldn't do enough for us, great comraderie at meals, good food and wonderful sounds thru the night. Nothing like I remember camping days from my youth !!! We went toward Ndutu the first day and saw very large herds of zebra and wildebeest (we took our breakfast with us and had it surrounded by marching herds..truly magnificent and somewhat surreal.) We spent the next day around Gol Kopjes and saw EVERYTHING !! Lions, cheetah,gazelle (all types including eland)..just an amazing time.
We headed back to Ngorongoro for our last night..thru Olduvai where we stopped for a quick visit. We had a game drive in the crater in the afternoon and then again in the morning. I have to say that after the wide open spaces of the Serengeti the crater was a bit of a let down. I would definitely see it with Manyara at the beginning as an appetizer. We stayed at the Serena at the crater and put it in the same category as the rest..just OK. I will give credit for the architecture..lovely to look at and they really did a great job of blending the buildings into the landscape. finishing I can only say it was our favourite trip so far and we have been to many parts of the globe. We never got tired of seeing animals, our weather was perfect 75-80 every day and no rain. The only thing I might change would be..skip Arusha, see Manyara and the crater at the beginning, then on to Serengeti and fly back from there. It would decrease the backtracking on those roads ??, but then again it seemed every trip we took even the repeats, we saw something new.
Thanks again for all the info on this board..some really helpful the neck cushion for the seat, lots of handwipes, the kerchief for dust (not much of a problem until the crater) and on and on.

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