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trip report tanzania-kenya June 06

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hi everyone, just arrived this morning from our 20 day trip to East-Africa.. so while it's still lively in my memory, some peaks, some downs, some memories, some annoyances, some amazing moments, some smiles..

first, especially for the people still planning their trip, my experience of the lodges we went to (just keep in mind that the lodges/camps in Tanzania were chosen for their prime wildlife location, and those in Kenya were chosen for their last-days-of-luxury-and-just-enjoy-our-honeymoon atmosphere):
Tanzania: Karama Lodge (Arusha) left us a little bit with mixed feelings. The huts are in a lovely green setting on the slope of a hill, so it's somewhat more cooler than in arusha town. The huts look very good and are very clean, great to relax as a starting or ending point of your safari. However, some rooms have showers heated with boilers going on wood, and of the 4 nights we spent there (2 before, 2 after safari) one night was really bad, with smoke out of the 'chimney' of such a boiler blown straight in our room, making me go complain at 1.30 am to please put out that fire. Having grown up with a father who smokes seriously, i'm sure i was not making a fuss about nothing. The next morning i requested another hut, and the friendly girl at the reception immediately helped me. So summarizing, if you can avoid hut 21 and 11 (to a lesser extent), Karama still is a very nice place to hang around. Ngorongoro Sopa was great. Just gives you an extra edge as it's the only one on the Eastern side with another entrance, which means that if you leave early in the morning, you might have the Crater an hour 'to yourself' like we had). We expected it to be more 'basic' but actually we found the service, the rooms and the view rather good. Serengeti Sopa we found less interesting, but primarily because of the location at that time and we were rather bugged by many tse tse flies not that far from the lodge on arrival (in fact i had my first bite by a fly at the reception). However, the room we were given (right on the corner) had an amazing view. Serengeti Wildlife is prime prime prime location right smak in the Seronera. The pictures we had found on the net don't do it justice at all. In pictures i find it seems a bit fakey, but in real, it really is a lovely lodge. With all the striped mongooses and hyrax running around, and being woken up at 11 pm to go see a hippo that came grazing by :-) i really liked the architecture of this place, even if the rooms to some people's standards may seem a little bit basic. To us however, it was more that comfortabel... and very very clean (actually this was in most of the places) Next came Ikoma Bush Camp, which was the one single place we didn't like (see later). The room was okay, but the toilet just put us off, made of wood rotting... It made us feel so relieved to spend the next night in Lake Manyara hotel (part of the wildlife hotel chain), where we just awed at all we previously had found rather 'normal' standard :-)This hotel by the way has a lovely swimming pool with view of lake manyara. The next night we spent at Kisima Ngeda (lake eyasi) which was soooooooo wonderfull!!!! We were so sorry to leave this place, really !! This is a small place with only 7 tents and with service non-comparable to other. When we arrived there the lodge owner passed by personally to welcome us. Followingly I asked if it was possible to make me a snack before dinner, and they made me the bacon sandwich i had been craving for... and when i asked them for the bill, they said it was complimentary (of course i did give them a good tip :-) but it was just their overall kindness). And the tents.. they were just so nice, beautifully decorated. This lodge was slightly more expensive, but believe me, it's sooooo worth it... you'll leave a better person :-)lastly in our Tanzania part, we stayed at Tarangire Safari Lodge. The tents are quite close to eachother, but it didn't bother me as sitting in front of my tent i had a straight vieuw over a river and a beautiful landscape. The bathroom by the way was tiled with warm water all day long. The sitting area is nice to sit down and play some chess :-)

Kenya: The Stanley hotel (Nairobi) has a great breakfast buffet. People cutting the fruit freshly in front of you, fresh eggs being baked, ... I thought the rooms would be more worn out, but to my surprise i thought it really had a lot of charm and even a certain class.. i felt so colonial :-) The Nairobi Serena then again is one step further up... just felt like pure luxury to us (with not only a swimming pool, a private mini parc in a parc, but also steam bath and sauna complimentary.. ) And then we spent 2 nights in our dream lodge.. Shompole.. i'm not even going to try desribing it, google it, look at the photo's and know it's even better in real life... the perfect combination of pure beauty (of architecture) with yet a very laid back atmosphere, with white cushions inviting you to just crawl up in the sitting area, or stretch out or whatever, and soak up the great views.. no formality, no musts, but on the contrary, the most unobtrusive, yet always-there-when-you-need-it service... Finally, Olonana Camp which is also a very beatiful camp where we had great views of a Cheetah and her cubs (later more), with very competent drivers, and beautiful tents, lying at a hippo river...

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