Feedback from Fernando Del Campo
Peru | 08.08.2014
I have just returned from a 5 day safari camp and could not wait any longer to write a well deserved review. I am extremely delighted with my experience, grateful both with what nature had to offer and on the excellent service from the Tanzania Experience team.
Since I am traveling solo across the world, during this trip I was accompanied solely by Tumaini, the guide, and Peter, the cook. As such, I can say I had a very intimate experience spending a lot of time with them. For starters, I have to mention that they get along really well and their great chemistry, product of knowing each other for many years since they come from the same community, was contagious during the trip. We would be smiling, joking and laughing at all times.
But don’t confuse this with informality, as their professionalism is second to none. Tumaini, having a degree in Wildlife Management from the prestigious College of African Wildlife Management (Mweka), has a vast knowledge of the region’s animals, vegetation and its history. There was not a single question I asked him that he could not provide a comprehensive answer to. Furthermore, he had an absolutely impressive ability to spot animals from afar (while driving) and even be able to tell their sex, if they were alone or with cubs / in groups, resting or ready to hunt, etc. within only a few seconds of sighting. His advise as to wether to stay waiting to get a clearer view of the animal or to part somewhere else were almost always spot on. It would be unwise to give him credit for spotting the Big 5 or the incredible amount of animals we saw just a few feet away —including the typically shy leopards and cheetahs and also a male lion eating a recently hunted buffalo!— during the trip, to which I have to thank nature, but if it had not been for Tumaini’s skills we would have missed many or have seen them from less ideal positions. I have no way of proving his talent, but I can say that it was almost always he who would spot the animals first and then many more vehicles would meet us after a few minutes (rather than the other way round). Luck or skills, I cannot say. What I can claim is that he was a cautious and respectful driver, always driving at a moderate speed and respecting all of the parks’ rules (I can’t say the same thing about some of the other vehicles around). Last, but not least, it was clear that he has absolute passion for his job as a guide. I am most thankful for having had the pleasure of spending so much time with him, I was able to learn and appreciate nature’s gifts and had a lot of fun at it.
As for Peter, I would have to say that his almost 10 years of experience —he is amongst the most seasoned cooks around— are noticeable. His cooking was superb, always providing well balanced and sorted meals, and he made sure to change the menu every day. I would always end up complaining to him that he would be feeding me too much, but it was me who could not stop eating his food! Furthermore, his experience came handy on the small details, like setting our table just beneath one of the kitchen’s few light bulbs (in order to being able to eat with proper lightning) or at taking care that my belongings were covered (to avoid getting them dusted, a big problem around Serengeti). Furthermore, he was crucial for all behind-the-scenes activities such as setting up the tents and packing everything so that we would have more time game viewing. The tough work did not go unnoticed and I am most thankful for doing an excellent job at it.
I also have to compliment Tanzania Experience’s choice of equipment and on providing everything that I could need during the trip. I was surprised how other companies missed in easy but crucial details such as providing charging plugs in their vehicles (other guests ended without access to power supply after the camp’s outlets stopped working). While our vehicle was oldish —to be fair, I did not see a single new one—, it was very comfortable and most important safe. The camp tents we used were the biggest —I even felt a bit ridiculous being in one by myself when there were whole families sleeping in tiny ones— and were very easy to set and pack away. The cooking equipment was also very appropriate, food was always served in covered pots / plates to avoid getting cold / insects in it (again, something I saw other companies ignore).
Perhaps the only negative feedback I have, which really was a misconception, is that most of my 5 day trip was spent traveling to and back from the different parks. While it by no means deterred my experience —I saw more animals than what I expected to see—, this could be a problem for someone less fortunate or who wants to spent most of the time game viewing. Despite the scenery changes were most welcomed (and animals can be seen while traveling between parks) it was a little fast paced for my taste to go back and forth so quickly. As such, I would suggest to opt for longer trips / single parks options.
Finally, the only advise I would give to the company and to travelers (to whom I hope I have helped get convinced to look no further) is to have the discussion of suggested daily tip amounts —remember that almost all of the guides’ / cooks’ earnings is derived from the variable tip we provide— prior to arriving in Tanzania. I believe it is most convenient to have this must-needed discussion before hand in order to be sure to carry at least the minimum cash amount suggested and as such avoid under-tiping due to a lack of cash on hand (this recommendation is meant particularly for longer trips where tip amounts can be quite significant).
Asante my friends Tuma and Peter, for an amazing time!