Just returned March 24th from 3 weeks of travel in Kenya and Tanzania. I booked my safari with All Seasons Safaris, of Kenya and they subcontract the Tanzania portion of the trip to Migada Adventures.
When working with Alex of All Seasons and asking him about who they work with in Tanzania, he mentioned Migada Adventures and said they were members of the Tato organization. Naturally, I looked high and low for any information or reviews I could find. The only information I could find about them was via their website (http://www.migadadventures.com/). I was a little concerned about the lack of reviews for Migada, but those worries were put to rest after being transferred to their skillful guide at the Isebania border.
After a wonderful 9 day safari with All Seasons (separate review under the Kenya Forumns), Guide Ikamba was there waiting for us at the Isebania border for the smooth transition between vehicles. I know a couple of the companies I had contacted regarding my initial plans to transfer from Kenya to Tanzania at this border had questioned it. I'm now glad I did it this way. Rather than backtracking through Kenya, this made it possible to complete a big circle loop (Nairobi to Sweetwaters to Lake Nakuru to the Mara to the Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater, to Tarangire back through Namanga to Amboseli and Tsavo West and back to Nairobi). Yes, the road from the Mara to the Serengeti was long, but not as bad as I had expected. The border crossing at Isebania is nice and easy. The border area is quite clean (concrete area as opposed to the dust and chaos I had experienced at Namanga) and documentation processing was very quick.
After a quick transfer of all of the luggage, we were on our way. We did have a box lunch with us due to the length of travel time and ate it as we drove to save time. When this was first mentioned, and after remembering all the comments about the terribly bumpy roads in this area, I was a little concerned. But the road was definitely smooth enough to be able to poke my straw into my juice box and eat my lunch with no problems. When driving this way, you pass through many of the local villages which to me, adds a degree of interest. Safari is not just about the wildlife, but it is the journey and part of that journey is getting to understand the culture.
Guide Ikamba seemed quiet at first but in no time, he was talking about what we were hoping to see, what we had seen, talking about his family and whistling tunes along the way. Our vehicle was a new Landcruiser, complete with a refrigerator box. I had not seen that before. Something I noticed early on is that I didn't see a radio hanging from the roof. My first thought was that since this was a new vehicle, perhaps it was installed in a different area. A little concerned, but more about this coming.
From the moment we crossed into the Serengeti Park, we started a game drive on the way to a one night's stay at the Seronara Wildlife Lodge. Separate review will be posted. But after arriving in my room, I was really glad it was only for one night. Immediately, Ikamba started pointing out birds and wildlife. I'm a pretty good spotter, but even when he pointed out something, I had to stare long and hard to see what he saw because it was so far away. This guy has eyes like a hawk.
Bright and early the next morning, we continued for a game drive at 6:30am. I so enjoy this time of the day - cool, great lighting, animals active. We were heading to Mbuzi Mawe. Now about that radio..... the quiet in the vehicle was a nice change, no static noise, no banter back and forth with the other drivers, just the sounds of the African birds. I asked Ikamba about the radio and he said it was going to be installed soon but the vehicle was new and that is why it wasn't there. This was never an issue. Ikamba kept spotting things on his own. The only time I saw him communicating with anyone was when the vehicle was stopped so I could take photos, and then occasionally, I saw him making a short text message. But as soon as I was ready, we forged ahead. During the course of the next 8 days, he spotted several leopards for us. All but one of these, we were the first vehicle on the scene. So I knew he had to be finding them on his own.
As our days with Ikamba continued, I had a real appreciation for his guiding skills. Not only was he an excellent spotter, but his personality style was easy going, polite, good sense of humor, always a big help carrying my camera bag, or anything else, into the front reception area from the vehicle. Some drivers just drop you in the parking lot and wish you well for the rest of the night. Not Ikamba, he's a follow through kind of guy which I really appreciated.
On our way back through Arusha and on to the Namanga border, he mentioned that some people in the office would like to meet us and ask for feedback about our safari. So we stopped at their office in downtown Arusha where we met many of the staff and were given a nice colorful brochure and fantastic polo shirt. Managing Director of Migada, Mike Ngoty, who had been traveling and was not at the office, also wanted to meet us, so we pulled into a gas station on our way out of town, where we were greeted warmly by Mike, who also asked for feedback. Always nice to put names to faces and I have a great deal of appreciation when the owners ask for feedback.
When we got to the Namanga border, we were sad to leave Ikamba behind. He thoroughly went through the vehicle to check for any left behind items, gave us big hugs and wished us well for the remainder of our safari.
Although all the bookings for this trip were handled through Kenya based All Seasons Safaris, and Migada was only contracted for the transportation part, I can see from their great guides, good vehicles, attention to details and desire for feedback, that this company is a very good one. I would not hesitate to book with them again, and I surely know who I'd be asking for as my guide! It is my pleasure to be able to post positive feedback about a local Tanzanian company that I could find next to nothing about. They are a real gem.
Further lodging reviews and photos will be posted on my website (http://laurenajenkinshoffmeyer.com/) as soon as possible. I am in the process of sorting through 6739 photos and videos. I will also be posting lodging reviews on Trip Advisor.