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We have just arrived back after our 10 days in Kenya and Zanzibar.
Pongwe Beach is an absolute little gem. Far exceeded our expectations after the standard of accommodation we experienced in Kenya and from the pictures on the hotel's website.
However, perhaps I should talk about Kenya first. We felt absolutely secure, safe and relaxed. There was no hint of anything untoward. There were security guards at Nairobi Airport and searches when going into shopping malls etc., but that was very low key. We were the only guests at Rock House and at Plantation Lodge. At Lake Naivasha Resort there was one other European guest, a German tourist. At the Mara Springs Camp it was busy because of the Migration, but there were no other English guests. Plenty of Australians, Americans and other Europeans, French, Belgian, German etc. All the hoteliers commented on the affect the British media reports have had on UK tourists visiting any part of Kenya. It is a great shame. Other nationalities seem not to have taken fright!
I was afraid we would not see much wildlife in the Mara with so many vehicles swarming the park. However, we were amazed, not just by the number of Wildebeest, Zebra , Thomson's Gazelle etc, but by the variety of other animals we came across. Our team were wonderful. Samuel, our driver had a great sense of humour, knowledge of wildlife and the country, as well as being a very safe and careful driver. Elijah, our guide, had an incredible knowledge of all the flora and fauna and our cook, also Samuel, managed to conjure up very wholesome and plentiful meals with the limited facilities and provisions available to him at the Wilderness camp and at Mara Springs Camp.
After early morning starts, it was great to get to Pongwe Beach and completely relax for a few days. If you are going to promote the property in place of Lamu, we would have no hesitation in recommending it. It is English owned and well managed. The rooms are spotless, the gardens and pool well maintained and the beach swept every day. Despite being full there were plenty of loungers and hammocks hidden away, so it always felt intimate, never busy. The cuisine is excellent too and great attention is given to presentation and variety.
Thank you, Ben, for all your help and patience when we were jittery about whether to continue with Kenya. I am very glad we did as we had a great time and have many happy memories. I do hope the media coverage is not causing you too much loss of business and that the message can be spread that the Nakuru Park, Lake Naivasha and the Mara are quite safe areas.
Jennifer Cole reviewing 6 Day Maasai Mara and Rift Valley Safari
My guide, Duncan Kingori, was fantastic. In the three days we were with him I don't think I ever asked him a question, on any topic, which he couldn't answer in detail. He was a fountain of information about the mating habits, gestation periods, family practices, hunting strategies etc. of every animal we encountered, but never in an intrusive way. He also appears to be an excellent driver and mechanic, and in a dozen hours or so we seem to have seen pretty much everything Maasai Mara can offer - not least all of the Big Five.
I was also very impressed by the two Mountain Rock camps, and think the new temporary camp inside the park is particularly fine. It was exactly what I wanted: comfortable, but not featherbedded or faux-colonial. I can't say I am a big fan of the Rock House in Karen - the staff were friendly enough and the food was OK, but all the tortured wood and fake (fibreglass) rock gives the place a heavy, gloomy air!
Meals, service & advice and overall impression was great. It would have been good to know that the last two hours of the drive to Maasai Mara are over an extremely uncomfortable unpaved (and washboarded) road; people might want to consider flying from the local airstrip to their next destination if the costs of doing so aren't prohibitive.
Andrew Joncus reviewing 3 Day Budget Private Masai Mara Safari
Having Tourdust as our partner and being able to communicate with the British office gave us confidence (no offense to our African brothers and sisters, it is just an European thing - we think we can better understand each other having the same mindset and mentality, so easier to communicate). The communication as expected, went very well and smooth - both by e-mail and phone. We were told what can we expect for the price we agreed on, and there were only positive suprises during the trip: the 4WD Land Rover that came to pick us up was at the meeting point at the right time (which should not be a surprise, but we were far from Nairobi on Rusinga Island and the meeting was at 6 AM) and the driver even made the extra 2 km-s to pick us up from our mountain cabin. The car was very comfortable for 6 people (I would not recommend though to use it for 7 people plus bags - could be a little tight, but for 6 was great). We had an excellent driver - kind and knowledgable, ready to 'satisfy' the 'strange' requests of the tourist: 'check that bush on the right', 'lets look what is under that tree', etc. This was my first safari (out of 3 so far) where we saw the 'BIG 5': and much of the credit goes to our driver, who kept beleiving that we will find the animals, and kept looking for them. On the last day of our safari - which was a morning drive we still missed the rhino, having not seen any in the previous two days. We only had about one hour before we had to leave the park. the group was ready to give up, but our driver and guide - Samuel - kept saying, do not give up, we will find one. He was driving on roads where we were the only group/car, and suddenly we saw in the middle of the grass a beautiful black rhino, just waiting us to shoot - some pictures of course... We were the first ones, we found it! those who have been to safari know what I mean when I say, we found it! It feels special when you find an animal and not going there because you got through the radio the location of the animal found by somebody else. We of course announced it, and in 10 minutes there were like 12 cars and vans to see 'our' rhino. You can ask anybody: this was on February 22, 8.30 in the morning in Masai Mara, when Samuel with a group of 6 from Romania found THE RHINO…
Attila Daray reviewing 3 Day Budget Private Masai Mara Safari