Our guides, our accommodations and our tour not only lived up to our expectations, they exceeded them. We were a group of six. We were met at the Nairobi airport by Mark, who drove us to our hotel (Eka). In the brief time we had with him, we thought Mark was great. The next day, Rasheed picked us up and took us to the Sheldrick elephant orphanage and the giraffe center, which were really great experiences and highly recommended. We even had our own guide at the giraffe center, who spent a lot of time with us and shared a lot of his knowledge about giraffes with us. Rasheed then took us to Tamambo, a great restaurant he suggested that is on the grounds of the Karen Blixen museum. Rasheed was also excellent and very patient with us and was happy to take us to a mall to go to an ATM. The Eka Hotel was very nice and a wonderful place to stay for our first two nights in Africa. The next day we were picked up at the hotel by Frank, who took us to Amboseli NP. We really liked Frank and his knowledge
of Amboseli was impressive. He had a great sense of humor and we really enjoyed our time with him and were pleased that he was our guide again later in the trip. We stayed at Kibo Safari Camp, which was excellent, with beautiful views of Kilimanjaro. The staff was great, very friendly and efficient, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. After a couple of nights there, Frank took us to our border crossing at Namanga. Be sure you go through all the lines there - yellow card line, visa line and maybe another one - and fill out your forms if you did your visa application online, since that isn't your actual visa. They will stamp your passport for your actual visa. Then Frank transferred us to Thomas, who was our driver/guide in Tanzania. We really liked Thomas, too. Like Frank, he was very knowledgeable about the parks and the wildlife and he also had a great sense of humor. He, also like Frank, seemed to know the best way to avoid the biggest rocks and ruts and potholes in the roads, always trying to give us the best ride possible, which isn't easy on those roads.
Thomas drove us to Tarangire NP, which is a really beautiful park, with lots of elevation changes and beautiful baobab trees, and of course, wildlife. He got us to a zebra kill, just as the lions had gotten the zebra down. While watching the zebra struggle wasn't pleasant, it was an amazing sight nonetheless, as a pride of at least a dozen gathered for the feast. We were about 25 feet from them, and the pride included young adolescents as well as several adult females. We stayed at Tarangire Safari Lodge, and again, a great place to stay with a very friendly and accommodating staff, and there were great views from the dining area and patio. We wished we could have stayed there for at least another night. Next, Thomas took us to Ngorongoro, another amazing place, and found lots of animals and put us into great position for pictures. We stayed at the Rhino Lodge, which was a little different, as it is brick and mortar and not a tented camp. It is the original home of the first curator of the park. Again, it was a very enjoyable stay with another great staff, then it was on to the Serengeti Seronera area and Heritage Seronera tented camp. Thomas again put us in great position for taking great pictures and finding lots of different animals to see. There were a few problems with one of the tents and the staff quickly worked to correct them, but eventually decided it would be better to move my daughters to a different tent, so that worked out fine. We had dancers that night that were really great, including a guy who did a lot of amazing contortions and balancing acts. Again, great staff that was friendly and helpful. Thomas then took us north to the Mara section of Serengeti, where we stayed at a mobile camp, Heritage Mara. While the amenities at a mobile camp are slightly less plentiful, we really enjoyed staying here in beautiful surroundings and very comfortable tents. And again, a great staff with people you enjoy getting to know, but would like to stay longer so you can get to know them even better. After a couple of nights there and great game drives with Thomas, he took us to the border crossing at Isebania to return to Kenya. Due to a major problem with the safari truck Frank was driving to come get us, he had to have someone come with another truck to get him and his passengers he was delivering to Isebania, which caused a delay of about 3 hours. This wasn't Frank's fault or Thomas' fault or the company's fault - machines break down sometimes and stuff happens. To me, it's when unexpected problems develop that shows you what kind of company you are dealing with. In my opinion, TravelPartner came through with flying colors, making sure they got transportation there to get us and making sure we were not left or abandoned. We were very happy to once again see Frank, and off we went to Maasai Mara and Zebra Plains Mara Camp. Due to the delay, we didn't get there until after dark - although Frank did take us into the reserve where we once again saw a zebra kill, but this time, the zebra was mercifully already recently deceased! The staff at Zebra Plains greeted us warmly and escorted us to our family tent, where we all stayed in the same tent, but it was divided into 3 separate living quarters, each with it's own bedroom and bathroom. It was quite nice. The next morning, we could actually see enough to note how pretty the area is. Meals were not buffet style, but delivered by a server who is assigned to your table. He was wonderful, very friendly and engaging, as was all the staff. The game drives were, once again, amazing and Frank put us on great views of a variety of animals and in good spots for great pictures.
After a couple of nights at Zebra Plains, it was off to Lake Nakuru NP and Flamingo Hill Tented Camp. Lake Nakuru is an interesting little park with lots to see and a great chance to see rhinos, which we did. It's another beautiful park and again, Frank did a great job in putting us in great locations. We really liked Flamingo Hill. The grounds are very pretty and the lobby, bar and restaurant areas are very nice, as are the tents - roomy, nice bathrooms and nice decor. Again, like all the other places we stayed, we would have liked to have stayed longer.
The next day, it was off to Nairobi to fly back home. We had a flight leaving at almost midnight, so it was a leisurely day, to some extent. Frank took us to a couple of places to shop for last minute gifts and treasures and we had a nice dinner at the same hotel (Eka) in Nairobi where we had stayed.
All six of us were very pleased with every aspect of our trip - every day, we would see something we hadn't seen on previous game drives. In planning the trip, TravelPartner was very good at making helpful suggestions and recommendations, which is one of the main reasons I chose them in the first place. Belen was great to work with. I have to admit, it's a bit challenging to have to do all the communicating via email instead of just picking up the phone and calling your contact here in the States, in addition to the 7 hour time difference, but Belen was always good about responding and answering questions. Would I book with TravelPartner again? Absolutely, without any hesitation. Would I want Frank and Thomas to be our drivers/guides again? Absolutely. Would we want to stay at any of the places we stayed again? Absolutely, every single one of them. I highly recommend TravelPartner and am so glad we booked with them.