Simba Safaris Review
by Katharine Sterry
Entry to the Masai village
I did a trip to a Masai village which was very interesting and would say that it was the highlight of the safari apart from the actual landscape and animals.
Safari Operator Performance
I booked my trip with Tourcan and they used a couple of smaller operators based in Tanzania for the land portion.
The safari company used was Simba Safaris.
I heard about Tourcan through my travel agent who I use for all my travel requirements.
They came highly recommended.
The service was excellent.
I was lucky enough to be the only person on the tour so I had the safari vehicle to myself and the undivided attention of the guide.
He was very informative and due to the fact that I was the only person we were able to adjust plans each day to suit my requirements.
Being the only person on the tour also allowed me the opportunity to have in-depth conversations with the tour guide which provided me with a unique insight to the culture and people of the area.
Arusha – The Serena Mountain Lodge had a very colonial atmosphere, service was good, pleasant grounds. I had two separate rooms, the first was a little old and worn, however the second room on my return was in much better condition and had a few niceties.
Ngorogoro Crater – The Serena Crater Lodge was amazing. Location, location, location. I liked the fact that the materials used were local and that it melded with the environment. Again the service was good. My room was well appointed and had a fabulous view, but was a little bland.
Lake Manyara – The Serena Lake Manyara Lodge was ok, the one saving grace was that it had a swimming pool, but I didn't enjoy the architecture or the grounds of the hotel as much as the others.
All the Serena Lodges had great views or grounds and excellent shopping, but lacked other amenities such as a pool or spa for those that wanted a day off.
Pemba – Fundu Lagoon was amazing. Fabulous grounds and facilities. Beautifully designed and great atmosphere. The service was excellent as well as the amenities such as the diving, a pool, spa and shop as well as a variety of local/eco tours available. I went primarily for the scuba diving and to relax at the end of the safari.
Zanzibar – Matemwe Bungalos was a small and peaceful resort off the beaten track (north-east of the island). The rooms were spacious and very well appointed. Service was good and the amenities satisfactory. The hotel shop left a little to be desired, but as Stone Town was reasonably close this was not an issue. This was my last port of call and was chosen so that I could relax before heading home as well as seeing Stone Town – a UNESCO World Heritage site... Matemwe provide a variety of tours, such as a tour to Stone Town.
Dar Es Salaam – The Southern Sun is a modern well equipped business hotel in the centre of Dar. I highly recommend this hotel. The staff were incredible and the service provided was excellent.
The Serena Lodges were all buffet breakfast with a lot of variety.
I was usually on the road for lunch and this was not provided in my tour package, so I ate locally.
Dinners at the Serena Lodges were again buffet, but you could also order from a menu at the Arusha Serena Lodge.
On the whole I was disappointed by food on safari – I would have liked more indigenous fare – not the usual tourist safety net type food. I felt the food was middle-of-of-the-road fare and could have been much better.
Fundu Lagoon had a full menu for all meals – the food was spectacular at Fundu Lagoon. I was also amazed at the freshness of the food at Fundu as compared to the mainland. A lot of attention was paid to the unique menu, plating of the food and the setting – i.e. BBQ on the beach.
Matemwe Bungalos provided both buffet/menu items for breakfast, lunch and then a full menu for dinner. They also had a beach BBQ which was the best meal that I had at the hotel.
I was also a little disappointed by the imagination of the kitchen. I also got food poisoning on my last day at the hotel, so perhaps a little biased.
I would like to start by saying that when I started planning my trip, I was much more interested in the landscape rather than the animals.
Having said that I was completely blown away by the entire experience… The landscape had amazing saturated colours and a sense of fecundity I have never experienced before.
I viewed the wildlife in an entirely new perspective and wanted to get closer and closer… to be absorbed into the environment, to be part of it!
I saw numerous animals – ranging from Lions, Water Buffalo, Giraffes, Rhino, Water Buffalo, Hyena through to birdlife and Chameleons, but took particular delight in the Zebras, Flamingos, Elephants and Hippos. Could have spent an entire day at the water's edge!
My day started at a reasonable hour – after having breakfast I was usually on the road by 8.30AM, heading to whichever location was planned.
As I was the only person, this gave me a lot of flexibility to stay in one spot for a long time or move on when something didn't interest me.
The mornings were usually a pretty relaxed pace and by about 11.30 we would start thinking about lunch and the tour guide often suggested a local place to eat.
Lunch was usually about 1.5 hours and gave me plenty of time to explore or relax. Then we'd be on the road again.
Most days I was out until the park closed and then headed back to the lodge. I usually relaxed for a couple of hours, had dinner and then to my room to write postcards, journal etc.
As I was travelling alone and in some instances spent only one night at a hotel, the meals (particularly evening meals) were quiet and uneventful.
Would have like to do the hot air balloon ride, however it was not available where I was and very expensive.
The second part of my trip was spent on the islands and I did a lot of diving from Pemba and Misali Island.
In hindsight, I would have liked to do a tented safari for a portion of the trip and the major disappointment was that I was unable to get close to any bodies of water and see the wildlife in that arena.
The free wildlife photography e-book
was very useful – particularly the information on equipment.
Perhaps a little more information about the problems encountered with taking pictures in a safari environment i.e. the vast number of other photographers.
Perhaps some comments about restrictions of accessibility in some areas perhaps due to weather conditions (for instance getting closer to the water – hippos and flamingos were very difficult to get close enough to shoot).
Tips & Advice
Research… Make sure you understand the scope of your undertaking and have a clear idea of what you want to see.
Make sure that you have a relaxed schedule and to leave preconceptions at home. Embrace the culture, habits and the lifestyle of the people.
Try and speak to other people that have been on a similar trip as you are planning.
During my research I found a whole range of accommodations available on safari. I would add that unless you are a seasoned traveller I would go for the more upscale properties – mainly for your comfort and the services that they offer.
The most useful items in my luggage were my safari jacket
|Katharine's Safari Details:|
Safari company used: Simba Safaris (make an enquiry)
Parks visited: Arusha, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Pemba & Zanzibar in Tanzania
Date of safari: Feb 17 – Mar 5 for 17 days
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