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Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

Los Angeles...
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Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

I have just returned to the US following a 5 day safari with Allen Mnyenye through Northern Tanzania (Central Serengeti, Ndutu, Ngorongoro Crater), and I would very strongly encourage anyone serious about having an amazing safari / animal-viewing experience to get in touch with Allen and hire him.

When I planned my safari, my priority was finding an excellent guide-driver instead of finding a good safari company. We all know that when selecting a safari company -- even a high-end company -- you run the risk of being assigned a driver who is mediocre and/or not compatible with your interests/style. People focus so much on the company, when it is really the driver who makes or breaks your safari experience. As such, I didn't like the idea of hiring a safari company and being "assigned" a driver. I wanted to talk to my driver in advance and make sure we were compatible and make sure he understood what I wanted to get out of my trip. I didn't want to show up in Tanzania not knowing who my driver was and not having talked to my driver in advance.

I set out to find a driver-guide I could hire directly, and I came across Allen Mnyenye's name when doing some online searches and reading some old threads on this and other message boards. There wasn't very much information about Allen, but what I did read about him sounded very promising. So I decided to email Allen. Allen wrote back and offered to telephone me in the US. We talked on the phone, and I got the sense that he could be good for what I wanted (primary focus on good animal viewing and photography, long days getting up early and staying out late, etc.). Allen then sent me a price quote for the itinerary and accommodations I wanted, and his price was significantly cheaper than some of the prices I had received from higher-end companies (but higher than the quotes I received from the "budget" companies that were probably cutting corners).

At that point, I had a good feeling about Allen but had some concerns given that there wasn't very much info online about him. So I asked Allen for references, and the references turned out to be what convinced me to choose Allen. I talked via phone to 4 different clients (Americans) of Allen, and I was really impressed by what I heard. These people were all savvy/experienced travelers, some who had even been on multiple safaris in Tanzania. They spoke about Allen's professionalism, his outstanding game-spotting skills, his great knowledge of the animals, how hard he works when out in the bush, and what a nice and warm person he is. Allen isn't a slick "salesman" type who convinces you why you should hire him, and it ended up being his stellar references that caused me to book with Allen.

When I began my safari with Allen, I quickly realized that all the great things his references said about him were true. My 5 day safari was truly outstanding, and it was all because of Allen's abilities as a great safari driver-guide.

Allen is truly hard working. I wanted to see as much as I could (safari is expensive, after all), and also be in the bush at sunrise/sunset for photography purposes. Every day, we left the lodges at before sunrise and didn't return until after dark. For Allen, that meant working 12-13 hour days (6 or 6:15am to 6:30 or 7pm) with only a short breakfast and lunch breaks in the bush. Allen never complained about this. Rather, Allen encouraged me to be in the bush for as long as possible.

And Allen's abilities out in the bush are remarkable. Allen is a great game spotter, but I'm sure most drivers meet that requirement. What made Allen special was his patience and knowledge of animal behavior. I'm somewhat-serious with the photography, and Allen's skills in this regard really helped me get some amazing shots. When viewing a group of animals, Allen was constantly on alert to put me the in the best possible position (the way the animal was looking/moving, best lighting, least obstructions from the bush, etc.). Allen and I would sometimes spend 30-40 minutes with one group of animals just observing and enjoying and photographing. Allen would adjust the car's position anytime it would give me a better and/or different perspective. I regularly saw other drivers approach the animals, stay for 2-3 minutes while their customers snapped a few obligatory pictures, and then race off to the next spot. When these "drive-by" types left the scene, Allen and I would have the animals all to ourselves to enjoy.

Allen is also well prepared to deal with any problem that comes up. We got a flat tire (which is quite common due to the bad roads), and Allen was able to get us up and running again within 10 minutes. I've read reports of people wasting hours due to car problems, and I'm very confident that Allen knows what he's doing here. Along these lines, Allen's jeep is clean and very well maintained.

Perhaps most importantly, Allen is a nice and pleasant guy to be around. This is critical because you're in a car with your driver all day, and eat dinner with him at many of the accommodations. He has been to the US 4 times, so his English is great (he actually understands and comprehends questions about the animals, unlike some guides who can merely recite their scripts English) and he is well versed on knowing what tourists want and how to keep them happy.

I had an itinerary change, and Allen even let me spend the night (for free) after my safari at the very comfortable guest house in his Arusha home. I was fussed over by his wife and kids, and the dinner and breakfast meals that his wife cooked for me were so much more tasty than the food I ate at the camps and lodges.

In sum, I'm more than 100% thrilled with my decision to go on safari with Allen Mnyenye. I think more people should focus on hiring a driver instead of a company that will give them a mystery driver, and there can be no better man for the job than Allen. I'd like to see Allen do well and get more business since there's not a whole lot online about him, so I'm passing along his contact info:

info@allentanzaniasafaris.com

http://allentanzaniasafaris.com/

Please feel free to message me if you're considering Allen and would like to discuss more specifics. I hope you use him.

Ottawa, Canada
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1. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

Glad you found a good mesh with driver. It does make or break the trip. Also, always good to have driver recommendations. I have him bookmarked. Thanks.

Milford, NJ
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2. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

Your review of Allen is on the mark. I have been using him as my guide for the past 12 or so years both for my groups and individual clients. The summary of Allen captures all that makes Allen so special both a a guide and person.

One additional comment, He is very supportive of the local community in Karatu. Having grown up there (thoug he now lives in Arusha), Allen has worked tirelessly to help both the schools and an orphanage in Karatu.

A remarkable person indeed.

Pasadena, California
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3. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

Nice review and now of course we want to see your pix.

Plum

Nashua, New...
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4. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

I read your post regarding Allen Mnyenye and have been emailing him regarding a short safari to Tarangire in October. I am an American woman traveling alone so I want to be sure that he is reliable, knowledgeable, pleasant, and safe. Your post indicates this but I would feel better speaking to you or others who have had experience with him. He has also invited me to spend the first night at his guest home, free of charge, so that we can get an early start in the morning. I would appreciate the opportunity to contact you by phone. I also thank you for your thorough, detailed review.

Ottawa, Canada
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5. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

KM, you might also want to speak to Allen directly. Not always easy to get through to Tz, and I found it is easier for clearer reception by LAN line than cell.

Did you 'google' him and find any reviews or discussions on other sites?

Also, you might want to back up this request by sending the OP (original poster) a PM (private message) through Tripadvisor. Click on the blue name under his picture, and on the left side of the screen there is an icon for sending a message. He should receive a note in his personal email saying he has a message. Not all check their posts for activity and this one is a little old.

Have a wonderful time in Tarangire. October is a great time to visit.

Los Angeles...
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6. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

I just noticed KM's post on this old thread. I sent her a private message. If anyone else reads my review and is considering Allen, it's probably quickest to send me a private message! Also, if anyone wants to speak to me on the phone, I'd be happy to talk (and I'm sure the references Allen provided me would also be happy to talk to you as well).

Kalamazoo...
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7. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

Our family of four had a similarly fantastic experience with Allen in the summer of 2011. His knowledge, experience, and preparedness are only surpassed by his friendly demeanor. You could tell that all the other guides hold him in very high regard. As for preparedness, he not only kept our vehicle in great shape, he also had the tools and expertise to help another less prepared guide get his vehicle running when it had broken down miles out in the Serengeti. I also concur that his patience in waiting out those in for a few quick pics allowed us to enjoy close proximity to lots of cool wildlife without a lot of other tourists around. He was very attentive to our family's desires and priorities, and was able to show us everything we could have imagined and more. He was a tireless and careful driver, having us out on the road over 10 hours per day (our choice), and he always had the vehicle clean inside and out every morning--no easy task in the dusty parks we traveled. I recommend Allen without reservation to anyone.

Edited: 1:21 pm, September 02, 2012
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8. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

My wife and I would like to add to this endorsement. We recently returned from a two week safari with Allen and had the greatest vacation of our lives. Aside from the sights and sounds of Ngorogoro and the Serengeti the sound of Allen's voice and the memory of his smile (as well as those of his guides) still remain firmly etched in our minds and will so until we return. The wisdom, knowledge, humility, and experience he possesses are rarely embodied within a single soul. He and his staff are special people.

Tulsa, Oklahoma
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9. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

I just want to add my recommendation for Allen's safari. Allen is an amazing guy and I wouldn't go on safari with anyone else. I went to Tanzania with my husband and daughter and son in law. We met Allen at his hotel Eileen's Treess Inn (which was named after his youngest daughter). He was a friend to a friend we have that run an orphanage in the area. He has consistently helped our friend in so many ways. He is an honest, trustworthy gentleman and besides that really does have a comfortable vehicle and is knowledgable of the area. I highly recommend his safari tour.

Alexandria, Virginia
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10. Re: Allen Mnyenye (Allen Tanzania Safaris): Amazing Safari Guide

My husband and I participated in a Tanzania safari with Allen Mnyenye and his company Allen Tanzania Safari’s from January 4-18, 2013. We were with a group of fourteen people that was organized by one couple who had done a safari with Allen three years prior. This couple had such a great time on their first safari with Allen, they organized a second trip of 14 people through word of mouth. Most of Allen’s clients are from the United States and his business originates from recommendations of prior clients.

Allen has over 20 years of experience as a safari guide and this experience really showed with how he planned the trip schedule and accommodations. Although 14 days initially seemed like a long time for a safari, it was actually just right for the northern circuit that we covered. This amount of time ensured that we were not rushed, never had an excessively long drive, and could fit in ad hoc activities such as an unplanned afternoon hike in a park to the Elephant Caves in Karatu. Keep in mind that very few “highways” are paved and so the roads can by very bumpy, rough and dusty. Thus, travel pace and driving time are important to having a comfortable experience. We had a good mixture of upscale hotels, luxury tents (tents on platforms), and a mobile camps (tents on the ground). There was also a good mixture of days where we got up early or stayed up late. Rarely did two early days occur back to back! Allen and his staff are very talented safari guides with a sixth sense of finding animals in the parks. Not only did they have an encyclopedic knowledge of the animals, all the vehicles had multiple books for reference that the clients could read and reference during game watching. Our group of fourteen people were in three vehicles and all the vehicles had pop-up roofs for standing up in the car during game viewing (very important feature). The vehicles were cleaned nightly and were in excellent condition. Allen ensured that there was a cooler of bottled water for all passengers and constantly reminded us to drink to not get dehydrated. When several in our group began to suffer from travelers stomach, Allen took us to a pharmacy in Arusha for medicine and then later in the trip to Doctor Frank’s clinic in Karatu. Allen and his staff speak perfect English and so there were never any communication issues during the trip. The activity of game watching during safari involves lot of time in a car with the guides. Allen any staff are very pleasant, informative, and fun to be around. They truly enjoy teaching about the animals and their culture. I observed many safari operators racing around the parks like it was a NASCAR race track. Allen is not that type of guide. He is for the person that wants to take a slower pace and see wildlife. He will customize a vacation to your budget and interests. In addition to the safari, we also visited a school and orphanage in Karatu, Olduvai Gorge, and took a balloon ride in the Serengeti. Parks visited were: Mt. Kilimanjaro, Arusha National Park (Momela Lake), Tarangire Park, to Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park.

Edited: 12:29 pm, May 13, 2013