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Safari Infinity Trip Review

San Francisco...
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Safari Infinity Trip Review

My friends and I recently returned home after a fantastic two week visit to Tanzania & Zanzibar (Sep ’14). We selected Safari Infinity as our tour operator and couldn’t have been happier with our choice. If what you are looking for in a tour operator is one who is as enthusiastic as you are during the planning stages, is super responsive to every question asked (no matter how trivial), and has the local knowledge and experience to assist you in putting together an extraordinary and memorable experience, then I would highly recommend Safari Infinity!

As I had been on safari in Tanzania once before, my three friends were happy to leave the planning of this safari up to me. I had a general idea of the areas I wanted to visit. In addition, my preference was to work directly with a Tanzanian based tour operator (TO). Other than that, I didn’t know quite where to start. I started researching the web and found Trip Advisor to be a wealth of information. I spent hours on Trip Advisor’s Tanzania forum reading Tanzania/Zanzibar related posts. I truly appreciate the reviews, advice, and other helpful information people have taken the time to submit. Based on recommendations found on TA, I narrowed it down to an initial set of 10 tour operators to whom I sent a request for a quote based on the outline of the itinerary I provided. I received responses from 8 of them. I eliminated a few of them immediately based on their responses. The remaining ones I dropped into a spreadsheet and did a side-by-side comparison of the criteria that was important to me. In the end, I selected Safari Infinity (SI) as our TO.

I worked directly with Lucia Lee-Kombe, co-owner of SI. I can’t say enough about how responsive Lucia was to each and every one of our emails. Honestly, I don’t think she ever sleeps! Based on what I was looking for in terms of an itinerary, we came up with a route and accommodations (combination of tent camps and lodges) that worked perfectly for us. Following is the itinerary we settled on.

Day 1 – Arusha – African Tulip

Day 2/3 – Tarangire National Park – Tarangire Safari Lodge

Day 4 – Ngorongoro Crater – Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

Day 5/6 – Central Serengeti – Lemala Ewanjan Tent Camp

Day 7-9 – Northern Serengeti – Lemala Kuria Hill Tent Camp

Day 10 – Depart by air to Zanzibar

Day 10-12 – Zanzibar – Hideaway Nungwi

Day 13 – Zanzibar Stone Town – Emerson Spice

Day 14 – Return to Arusha and travel home

It is not often that you can finish a trip like this and not have a single glitch. Everything was exactly as promised by SI. The vehicle they provided us was nice and clean. We had a lot of room for the four of us to spread out. SI provided us with a cell phone with numbers programmed that we could use to contact them at any time (though we never had any use for it, it was nice to know it was there).

In the end, we found all of our accommodation choices to be excellent, though our favorite place, without a doubt was the Lemala Ewanjan Tent Camp. One experiences the true feeling of being out in the African Bush in this traditional tented camp. (Being woken up by the sound of lions roaring in the distance was a highlight; it makes you appreciative of how close you are to nature). The staff was wonderful, the food was excellent and the tent accommodations were clean and comfortable. They serve meals family style which I prefer; what better way to share experiences from that day’s game drive. We loved the ‘Talking Showers’ whereby a bucket filled with heated water is lifted with a rope and pulley system to an overhead catch basin. You ‘talk’ through the tent wall if you need more hot water. There is no better feeling than a nice, hot shower to rinse off the day’s inevitable layer of dust.

I have to say something about our amazing driver/guide Robert! He took care of us from the time he picked us up from the airport until he dropped us back off again. There is no doubt Robert is a patient man! We must have asked him a million questions but he never tired of answering them. Robert is super knowledgeable about everything we came across in our game drives, animals, birds, plants, etc. He understood the behaviors of the wildlife and was able to predict many times what we should be watching for. He was great at pointing out unique photo opportunities and parking the vehicle so that we had the best vantage point. Once he knew what we liked to drink, he made sure the cooler was full with our favorites each day. However, I think what most impressed me about Robert was the passion he has for the Bush. It is immediately evident that this is not just a job to him, this is his life. I loved the fact that we always stopped to pick up a piece of trash if we came across it (while other vehicles drove right on by). I really can’t say enough good words about Robert. By the end of the safari, we felt like he was a good friend. If you are lucky enough one day to have him as your driver/guide, you will understand what I mean. I can assure you, there were a few wet eyes when we had to say our goodbyes!

Zanzibar was a wonderful way to wrap up our visit to Tanzania. I would highly recommend staying at least one night at the Emerson Spice in Stone Town. Emerson Spice is located right in the middle of the old part of town, a great location to set foot out the door and explore. Take the cell phone they provide in each room with you. It would be very easy to get lost in the narrow, twisting streets. Each room is unique in design. They leave the doors open when the rooms are vacant so sneak a peek into the other rooms if you can. They had an issue with water for a few hours after we checked in but not surprising as this is a very old building. The manager was very apologetic and bought us a round of cocktails to make up for the inconvenience.

Lastly, I wanted to mention a conversation we had with one of the bush pilots who flew us from the Northern Serengeti back to Arusha. This was not a non-stop flight, we had to stop a few times dropping off and picking up others along the way. We had been advised prior to arriving that for the domestic flights, our luggage would be restricted to 15 kgs. We took that to heart and stayed within the weight restriction by traveling with soft-sided duffle bags and backpacks. We were amazed at the size of the luggage some of the people brought out to the plane. The pilot just shook his head and said that the only reason he was allowing the larger suitcases on the plane was because the four of us were traveling light. He said he had been known to make people dump their belongings in a plastic bag and leave the hard-sided suitcases behind. Who knows if there was any truth to it but why push it. Besides, travelling light is so much easier when you are moving to a new location every other day or so, not to mention the fact that duffels pack easily into the back of the 4x4.

After months of planning, not to mention the expense, you can’t help but be a little bit nervous hoping you made the right choice of TO, itinerary, flights, etc. What a great feeling it is to look back and find everything happened exactly as planned. Asante Sana Simon & Lucia, Robert and the Safari Infinity Team!

Some pics from our safari: share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome…

Some pics from Zanzibar: share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome…

Ottawa, Canada
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1. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

Glad you had a great time. Nice feview for SI. But you know, we are now going to be curious as to the actual trip report such as where you saw the rhinos so close and the wild dogs. Lucia must hsve envyed you those. The photos are great, but I expect there are some good comments you could add. I like the shot of the fish eagle and stork in fligt. Was the eagle chasing the stork?

melbourne
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2. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

loved the photos can't wait to go back now to Tanzania after reading all these reports this past month.

The wild dogs beautiful looks like the Serengeti somewhere..........

Isle of Man, United...
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3. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

Great review and good to hear Lucia can still deliver. Dogs are a bonus as were the two Rhino. I can guess the location of the latter. An African Wildcat has to be special too. Normally you get fleeting glimpse. I am not a fan of Lions but I had to love the sleeper (#2) and the cub getting tap from mum.

QM. If you ever want a good picture of a Ruppell's Griffon, look no further.

thanks for sharing your trip with us.

San Francisco...
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4. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

I could have written a books' worth of comments and feedback but held myself back! But if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask away, I'll do my best.

We saw the 4 African Wild Dogs, right at the Serengeti Gate, driving in from Ngorongoro Crater. Not the official gate where you check in but the arch that says you are entering the Serengeti. It was amazing! We felt very fortunate.

The rhino and child were spotted in the Northern Serengeti. I couldn't tell you the exact location but about 20 km from where we were staying Lemala Kuria Hill. Just not sure which direction.

I know the African Wild Cat may not be as impressive as the larger cats, but felt pretty lucky to come across her in the early morning.

If you look closely at the picture of the lion stretched out in a charge, you will she was going after a leopard who is mostly covered in the weeds on the left hand side of the pic. It was no contest, the leopard was up a tree in seconds flat!

San Francisco...
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5. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

Quilting Mama - The African Fish Eagle was chasing the Yellow Billed Stork out of its territory!

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

Thanks, Shirley W. If you have been lurking lately, you will see one poster has been writing daily volumes, which we love to read. No need to hold back on our account.

Thanks for clarifying locations and the bird 'dogfight'.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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7. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

Thank you for sharing. Your pictures are wonderful, but made me very "homesick" for Tanzania and sad that I don't have another trip planned to there.

Los Angeles
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8. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

Thanks for the terrific Safari Infinity review. I was also glad to hear that you enjoyed Lemala Ewanjan, as we'll be staying there in August next year. We'll also be staying at all three of the other lodges you visited -- not going to Zanzibar, but to Saadani instead, and will also be at Ndutu for three nights.

When you get some time, perhaps you'd like to tell us a little more about what you saw and experienced on your safari. We who are between safaris -- and those anticipating their first safaris -- live for red-blooded, down-to-earth trip reports which enumerate every elephant and lion, each single superb starling and bare-faced go-away bird and precisely how many wildebeest you managed to find during the migration. A list of babies and cubs would be welcome, as well.

I'm about to get to your photos -- but narration is every bit as important here, as you must remember from your planning stages. Show us some mercy, please!! We'll be hanging on your every word.

Los Angeles
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9. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

Okay, that mother lioness seemingly attempting to discipline her cub (#13, first link) is a real keeper. Had I taken it, it would be enlarged and framed and on the wall in my office. You have either a very good eye, a very good camera, very good luck, or all three. That African Wild Cat shot is also gorgeous (#44, first link). And the Ruppell's.

I'm off to check out link #2. I'm really hoping for a detailed report -- your photos are superb, and I suspect your report would be, as well.

Los Angeles
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10. Re: Safari Infinity Trip Review

Ah. Zanzibar. Pretty pictures. No elephants. Sigh.