We booked a 14 day safari with this agency this August and everything went great. It's a small company, only few vehicles, but they have very experienced drivers, guides and trip planners. We're glad we selected them and we would do the same thing again. When you book with larger companies, you often become a number and we never felt that way with them.
This was our second safari, so we knew exactly what type of trip we wanted. This is why we booked a private safari, which was cheaper then a group safari booked at home. We were only 3, me, my wife and our 9 year old kid. The main advantage is that you can truly set the pace of the trip, the type of hotels/lodges you want, select the parks you want, etc. They were truly helpful in suggesting hotels and itineraries based on our requests and they were really quick to give us feedback. We talked with them using Skype, which gave us more confidence. We also didn't see any bad review, which helped us in our selection.
Now the trip !
We stayed there for two nights. August was apparently the best time for elephants and we saw a lot ! Temperature was rather warm and enjoyable. We came back with several good shots elephants and giraffes with the Kilimanjaro in the back scene. We went to the Sopa hotel, which we highly recommend. Expect 4* for good service and facilities.
Mt Kenya Lodge
Possibly the best food we've had during the trip, one of the rare lodge we've been to that served a la carte meals. Very old wooden hotel with a great view of a waterhole. This is a sit in safari. You just go on your balcony. Fun for one night, nice rooms but small and noisy.
Sweetwaters Tented Camp
Very nice facilities. You'll see a lot of animal directly from your luxury tent. Better than expected, we stayed two nights there and saw a lot of rhinos, lions, elephants, etc. Most people stay one night but if you travel with a kid staying there two nights and enjoying the view from your tent while relaxing was well worth it.
Lake Nakuru National Park
There again we spent two nights. By doing so you can go deeper into the park where most people don't go. The main attraction is the lake for the flamingos, but August is not the best month for this as the lake is too high and the flamingos are elsewhere. Nevertheless, I got my best zebras pictures there, nice birds shots, lions, leopards, etc. It's also very different from the other parks we went to because there are a lot more trees. The hotel was the Flamingo Hills Tented camp. Not as luxurious as the Sweetwaters, the food and the view were also average. However, the tents were comfortable ans the staff very friendly. Good for the price we paid but not the best place.
We were totally off the beaten tracks there. Most people don't go there as this is about 3 hr north of Nakuru and away from the main tourists routes. The hotel was the Soi Safari lodge, which is right next to a local village. We did a boat tour and a walking tour to see how people live and see snakes and scorpions. Both were very enjoyable and the lake itself is very nice, packed with birds, hippos and few small crocs (2m max size). The hotel is 2* at most and the food just ok. Besides us, there were 3-4 Germans and the other guests were from a Nairobi church mission. I'd recommend this place if you want to get out of luxury and get a better contact with local people. One night was enough but overall it was worth it.
Lake Naivasha and Hells Gate National Park
We were pleasantly surprised by the hotel there, we went to the Sopa Lodge. The setting is fabulous. Each bungalow has 4 rooms, all of which have views of animals walking in the field in front of them. You can go outside and walk near wild waterbucks, giraffes, etc. At night (after dinner), hippos are coming our and are walking on the same grass. We had to go back to our room with some security folks because there was an hippos eating some grass right next to our door. Was saw like 5 walking only few meters away from the room. I think it was fairly safe otherwise they would shut down the place since they come out every night apparently. Awesome experience overall. Food was good and since there is a lot of people, the buffet selection was quite large. We then did a walking tour of a small canyon in the National park with one of Natural Track guide. It was really worth the time but you need to be a bit in shape. Our 9 year old did it but there is a bit of climbing and walking in the mud to do (nothing close to being an athlete is required).
We ended the trip in Masai Mara, which is the most visited park in the country. All the roads are paved in Kenya between the parks listed above, however, there is a very bad stretch of road to reach masai mara, probably 3 hours of pain, each way. We selected the Ashnil tented camp as it was located right next to the Mara river, where the Wildebeest and Zebras crossing occur during the migration. Our driver told us it wouldn't be the best location outside of the crossing season (beginning of August), however, it went great for us. We saw several leopards, lions and were lucky enough to see the crossing itself with few crocs in action. The tented camp installations were great with huge tents, a king bed and a spotless bathroom.
Our driver Michael did a great job. He was always in contact with other drivers to find animals and to show us the best of each park. He was also a friendly guy with lots of stories. I'm sure he'll get some more tourist stories after the 2 weeks we spent with him.
We wish this small company the best of luck in the future and hope other people experience as much enjoyment as we did. It truly was a great experience for all 3 of us.