Trip Report East Africa in February with Roy Safaris

Mar 30th, 2007, 04:46 PM
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Another good outing in the crater.

atravelynn is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 03:50 PM
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Feb 26
We had another great meal at Ndutu Lodge today. After fIlling our plates at a small buffet, the waiter brought pancakes to the table and took orders for eggs and bacon. Everything was delicious.

After breakfast, we went a game drive. We saw a huge giraffe and several smaller ones.

It had rained the night before and we ran into an area of extremely muddy, rutted roads. My husband and I had our first experience ďMuddingĒ. It was so scary but really fun too. We slid all over the road several times and almost got stuck. We almost slid into a tree. Mud flew everywhere. We made a couple of 360 degree turns. The whole experience lasted for a couple of miles. If it wasnít for Salvadoriís excellent skill at driving, Iím sure we would have become stuck.

We drove on for about three more miles and found what we thought was the migration. Wildabeasts and zebra surrounded us as far as we could see. We were amazed at the number of animals. But Sal told us we hadnít seen the migration yet. We couldnít imagine what he meant. He said we would see what he meant later.
After a while, we drove away and came across a pride of lions with cubs. We took some great pictures and drove on.

After going a ways, Sal spotted cheetahs running in the field. They ran close to us and stopped. There was a mother and two cubs.

The flies were terrible in the area of the migration. Whenever we made a stop on the drive flies landed on us and made it hard to take pictures, especially videos. We hung up some sticky fly traps in the van. Then we had a contest between the front and rear people to see which trap would catch the most flies. The flies didnít seem to be attracted to the traps . We caught about 15 out of trillions in the area. At least they werenít tsetse flies and they didnít bite.

Later we came close to the real migration. Sal said to look along the horizon. There, we saw thousands of animals, stretching for miles in both directions. We drove closer to it and were soon surrounded with zebras and wildebeests. We also saw herds of impala.

After a while, we drove back for another outstanding meal at Ndutu. We relaxed in the afternoon and at 4:30 Sal picked us up for another drive. We went by a lake and into a green scrubby area. It wasnít very pretty but it was wonderful for birding. Coming back, we saw the most beautiful sunset. We arrived back at Ndudu lodge at 7:30 for another outstanding dinner.

Ndutu Lodge rating: food 10, accommodations 9 out of 10. Our honeymoon room had cute decorations and was very comfortable. It had all we could want. The otherís rooms were small and had very small twin beds.

brbrt is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 03:57 PM
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That is some description of mudding! I've never done anything like that. So the flystrips were not a winner. Did anything work to combat them?
atravelynn is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 04:12 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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"Salvatory was our driver and guide in Tanzania

Sorry you had problems with Roys ... you were lucky to get Salvatory, he has been on two trips with us and is one of the friendliest, most happy-go-lucky guys I've ever met

Bill_H is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 10:57 AM
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To atravelynn: No we did not find anything that worked to discourage the fly problem. They were annoying but did not bite.
brbrt is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 11:17 AM
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Feb 27
We took a morning drive around a large lake near Ndutu Lodge. There was one hippo in the lake. Then we drove in a scrubby area similar to the day before. We saw a few giraffes , zebra and again, lots of birds. We came back to Ndutu for a lunch of African foods. Most of us did not care for the selection.

After lunch, we drove to the Serengeti, viewing the huge migration along the way. The migration again amazed us. Sal said there were a million and a half wildebeests and 800,000 zebra migrating. They were as far as we could see on the horizon.

After an hour and a half drive, we arrived at Kusini Camp. It is located back in the trees. The restaurant is set near a huge granite slab.
We were welcomed with cool towels so we could refresh ourselves. We were then taken to chairs in a campfire area and given delightful lime soda drinks. The manager explained some things about the camp and assigned our tents. My husband and I had the farthest tent down a long trail. Our tent was up on a platform that also served as the floor of the tent. The platform extended out from the tent and served as a porch with deck chairs and a lounge. We had a beautiful view facing a field with trees.

After settling in, we walked back to the restaurant area and climbed the slopping rocks near the restaurant. It was an easy climb. We relaxed on pillows and enjoyed drinks while watching the sun go down. Because it was cloudy, we did not see the sunset, but it was wonderful anyway. After dark we all went over to the campfire to wait until dinner was served.

Dinner was wonderful. We returned to our tents and went to sleep under down comforters and soft pillows.

brbrt is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 11:56 AM
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Feb 28
After a delicious breakfast we drove ten miles to the edge of the migration. The migration was closer to Kusini today than yesterday. This time we saw many baby wildebeests. The birthing had begun. Sal saw a group of vultures and storks and we drove to see the kill. It was a baby wildebeest. They were picking it apart.

We drove on into the migration and we were able to watch several births. Sal drove very close to one birth and the mother became frightened and ran away from the baby. Because our Land Rover was the first thing the baby saw, it thought we were itís mother. We tried to drive away but the baby quickly gained strength and ran after us. As the mother circled the area, we stopped again and the baby came to our vehicle crying instead of going to itĎs mother. The mother rejoined the herd. We were so sad because we thought the baby would never know itís mother and would probably be killed. After driving around some more with the baby following us, someone spotted the mother again. Sal then drove behind the mother so the mother and baby were both on one side of the Land Rover. Mother and baby reunited. We were all relieved at the happy ending.
After a while we returned to Kusini for a delicious lunch. We relaxed in the afternoon on our porch deck chairs.

We all enjoyed staying at Kusini so much. We decided it was our favorite lodging. The meals were all wonderful. We always had two choices on the main course. Desserts were great too. Wine was included at lunch and dinner. The tents were wonderful and a nice change from our other lodging. The camp was managed by a delightful, very friendly couple. They made our stay outstanding.

We rated the meals 9 and Lodging 10 out of 10. Our hosts deserve a rating of 10.
brbrt is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 12:26 PM
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It sounds like your time in Ndutu was similar to ours, at just about the same time, except we didn't have the problem with flies that you did. The migration was amazing.

Sunny Safaris was our operator and everything worked out quite well. We were met promptly the few times we needed transportation, all of our accommodations were as we expected, our guide Gerald was very good (although not the most talkative guy) and his vehicle was roomy, comfortable, and reliable. Ally in Arusha was our contact and he served us well, but there is a nine-hour time difference where we live so e-mail was the only reasonable way to communicate. They were among the least expensive of those I originally talked to, but our experience with them was not reflected by their economical pricing.

As far as accommodations in or near Arusha, we stayed the first two nights (after landing at Kili airport) at the Kia Lodge, which is only about five minutes from the airport. We also stayed one night later in the trip at the Kigongoni Lodge just east of Arusha. I would recommend both of them, especially the Kia if you want to be close to the airport.
hguy47 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 07:35 AM
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This message is mainly to the admistrators of this forum @ Fodors. Thank you very much for allowing the operator to speak on their own behalf. It further cements in my head what a wonderful forum this is indeed. It is also a reminder to take every trip report with a grain of salt.

To Sanjay of Roy Safaris, thank you also for taking the time out to provide your side - "I would therefore leave this up to the readers of this forum to make any judgement as they see fit on Roy Safaris now that facts are in place."

julimbo is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 08:07 AM
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I wish to clarify the posting I made on our safari with Roy Safaris. I made some comments giving my opinions about difficulties we experienced with their office. Roy Safaris has contacted me and they do not agree with my opinions and comments. At no time did I wish to do any harm to Roy Safaris. Please disregard anything I have stated about Roy Safaris previously.
The purpose of the posting was to tell others about our safari and to share our experiences. We do recommend them to anyone wanting a good safari. We had good guides and the Safari itself was wonderful and flawless. Iím sure the credit for this is due to Roy Safaris.
brbrt is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 08:24 AM
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Well, I have no clue what just went on here. He said, she said. Let's get back to the trip report!
stakerk is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 08:31 AM
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regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 08:47 AM
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Some legal wranglings I suppose which I think is best left to brbrt and Roys.
eyelaser is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 10:58 AM
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Thank you very much for returning to comment. It solidifies what you feel YOU expereinced and I think it is very good of you to report back that you would still recommned them as a whole due to their fantastic guides, etc. As others have commented, please do complete your trip report as myself and others draw greatly from the experiences of others.

julimbo is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Sorry for this interruption; thanks for the detailed report brbt.

This is just to confirm that we did delete messages posted by Roy's Safari's due to the personal information relayed in those messages.
Apr 2nd, 2007, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,881
Since the responses from Roy Safaris (Sanjay, the managing director) were deleted after a day I hope the Fodor's Editor will not object if I repeat his basic points, leaving out any personal info. Since many people will see this thread while doing research it seems fair to summarize Sanjay's responses.

Regarding the missing emails brbrt mentions, Sanjay thinks this might have been a problem with a Yahoo mail account since all the emails sent to the client's husband at a second address were received.

Regarding the delay and refund in Arusha (which was what got most of my attention when I first read it) ... apparently the lodge they were to stay at the first two nights was Swala in Tarangire and this lodge closed the night before they arrived because heavy rains had washed away a bridge, leaving the lodge inaccessible.

So the extra time spent in Arusha was spent trying to re-book the clients elsewhere, and the refund was delayed because they didn't know the amount due until a replacement lodge was booked (Swala is one of the more expensive lodges in the area so the client would be receiving a refund because the replacement lodges cost less).

Regarding the problems with YvonneM with the Serena Zanzibar employee demanding $250, Sanjay points out that Roy was only supplying transport to and from the airport and that the hotel booking went thru the client's travel agent (at least I think that's what he said).

There are always at least two sides to these stories and hopefully I remembered Sanjay's correctly.

Full disclosure ... I have used Roy Safaris for three trips, the first arranged by a professional photographer and the next two arranged by myself because I thought they did a good job. The guide that brbrt used (Salvatory) was on two of our trips and a wonderful fellow.

I'm not trying to carry water for Roys and have no business relationship with them other than as a client, though I did meet Sanjay twice in Arusha on the mornings two of our safaris started.

They have always treated us well and while I'm sure disputes like those mentioned here occur I'm certain they are the exception.

To give one example of how Roy Safaris treats clients I'll just mention that on our last trip in January we lost part of a game drive in Ngorongoro Crater when we had to try to pull out a stuck jeep, then took two of the clients with us to the rim so they could go to a different hotel and meet a new jeep the next day.

This was not a big deal to us but Roy (Sanjay) offered to not charge us for half-a-day's jeep usage when we return next year, even though I didn't ask for any compensation. They are good guys to work with in my book.

Anyway, hope this doesn't cross any lines with the editor but I thought it fair to get Sanjay's responses on the record.

One final comment is that even on the best safaris I've found that at least 2 or 3 things will go wrong. Maybe someone will get a stomach bug or luggage won't arrive or the desk clerk is asleep so you have to do the buffalo-walk in the dark alone or a cook will demand a tip because he doesn't want to get up early to fix a box breakfast for you (all things that have happened to people on our trips) ... try not to sweat the small stuff and let it detract from the overall joy of being in Africa!

Bill_H is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 03:46 PM
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March 1

We left Kusini this morning to go to the Serengeti Serena Lodge in Seonera. We did a game drive on our way. We saw so many wildebeest mothers and babies. We noticed a mother giving birth. Then were able to witness several more births.
We saw several lost calves. Several tried to follow our Land Rover. At one time we had six calves following us. Eventually they wandered off.
We drove to another part of the migration and Sal spotted three lions. One had a dead baby wildebeest lying next to her. She didnít seem interested in eating it. There were several babies wondering around the area without their mothers. It wasnít long before the lioness started stalking one of them. We watched two kills that morning. It was so hard to watch innocent, lost calves become victims to the lions. The most terrible part of witnessing these kills was when the lions toyed with the babies before killing them. Then the left the babies to hunt again.

We drove on towards the Seronera area taking a detour through the Ndutu area due to the more direct road being too wet to travel on. We saw Nobie Hills and stopped for a picnic lunch at a welcome center.

We drove on and when we neared the area of the Serena Lodge, we visited a hippo pool. There were many hippos. There was a dead hippo on the other shore of the pool. A couple of crocodiles were eating it.

We arrived at the Serina Lodge in late afternoon. We were impressed with the building and our rooms were pretty nice. Our room was in a hut shaped building with individual rooms on two levels. We had a room on the second story. The view was excellent. Dinner was very good that evening.

Rating: Food Buffet 8.5 Room 8 out of 10

brbrt is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 04:29 PM
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March 2
Sal drove us to the Seronera airport. Our plane was scheduled to leave at 10:30 am. We were amazed at the number of people at the airport. A plane landed and Sal said it was our plane. He went over to talk some pilots and found out we needed to wait for another plane coming in a hour later. We drove around the area and came across many, many giraffes.
An hour later we returned to the airport and boarded our plane. We had struggled to keep our luggage weight under the required 33 pounds but it was never weighed.

Our plane flew into Arusha, were whe had to get off for refueling. We did some shopping in the few small stores and after about 45 minutes we reboarded the plane.
We were surprised that we needed to land in Kilimanjaro airport to go through customs and immigration. We had thought we were going to fly directly to Wilson. Anyway, we arrived at Wilson airport an hour after we were expected. But OJ, our original guide for Nairobi, was there to meet us. We were so happy to see him because he was such a great guide and so much fun.

He acted as our guide again. Wild Trek also sent us a very good driver. We went back to the Intercontinental Hotel to collect our stored luggage. We asked the hotel for a room so we could re-pack some of our bags and change clothes. We were taken to the lower level of the hotel and to a spa area. It was pretty warm there but we managed fine.

OJ asked us what we wanted to do and we asked to go to the Decoratorís Den. He knew exactly where it was. We were amazed at all the selection and found most things more reasonably priced than any where else on the safari.
We stocked up on everything we wanted. Then we told OJ that we would like to go to the Mediterrano Italian Restaurant for dinner. It had been recommended by several people on this forum. Since it was still too early for dinner we stopped at a small mall near the restaurant. After briefly shopping, we were taken to the restaurant. It is located in a pretty shabby area. But, we were pleasantly surprised when we went inside. It was beautifully decorated. We had a leisurely dinner with great service. Because we were there long before we needed to leave for the airport we could really relax over great food and drinks. We all sampled each others food and it was all good except the lasagna. Servings were huge and reasonably priced. We want to thank everyone who recommended this restaurant.
It was time to go to the NBO airport. We arrived there by 9:00 and had to go through 4 screenings before we could go to a waiting room and wait to board the plane to London. our plane took off at 11:25.

This is the end of my report. We donít have our pictures ready to post yet but I will post them as soon as possible.
Thank you to all those who wrote into the forums. Your advice helped so much in the planning of this trip.

Also thank you to all those who made so many kind comments about my previous postings.

brbrt is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 09:36 AM
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Thanks for your report. Glad to hear you enjoyed your dinner at Mediterraneo. Looking forward to your photos!
Patty is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 07:09 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 369

I know you gave a 9/10 rating at Ol Tukai for the food.

But how about a rating for the Ol Tukai lodge?

And the Ol Tukai rooms?

And the Ol Tukai location?

I'm curious how it compares to the other lodges you stayed at.....

simbakubwa is offline  

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