This review is specifically about Procell Tours (Serengeti itself would be 5* hands down).
I flew into Arusha from Zanzibar on Coastal Air (lovely airline by the way) without any idea of which tour company to use for a 4-5 day safari in the Serengeti. I knew I wanted to see at least Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and hopefully make a stop at Olduvai Gorge, but other than that, I was open. I took a taxi from the airport to Arusha Backpakers Hotel (see separate review), and immediately after existing the taxi I could tell that finding a good tour company was going to be interesting. I was bombarded by people trying to get my business. I assured them I had already aligned a tour, and made my way into the hostel. I chatted with a few guests about their experiences, then walked into town to try and find a reputable company to use. This proved challenging. I was able to find some tour businesses around town, but they all seemed shady to me and wanted to sub-contract my tour to another company (I wanted to be able to see and inspect the vehicle I was going in).
Fortunately, a couple of guests in the hotel booked with Procell and needed an extra person to complete their group. Godfrey, the manager of the company, met me at the hotel and took me to his offices. He took the time to listen to what I wanted to do, and was offered good information about his company and the quality of the tours they offered. Procell wasn’t offering the cheapest tours in town, but they promised an experience that was better than the low-end tour companies could provide. I decided to join the group for a tour of Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and added an additional day for myself in Arusha National Park.
Our driver/guide, Idi, and the chef, Habib, arrived pretty close to the time we were supposed to embark, and had all our camping gear ready to go and secured on top of the Land Rover, which was exactly the type of vehicle I had inspected the previous day. We stopped at the market and stocked up on water, snacks, then headed out of Arusha toward the parks. I was relieved when we got through the entrance of the park and our fees were paid (some companies claim the park fees are paid for but then you realize they really aren’t when you get to the gate). We arrived at camp and setup our tents (the gear was 100% complete, but we managed). All the camp sites we stayed at were very nice and organized.
Idi was a great driver, and was very knowledgeable about the wildlife (he even quizzed us to make sure we remembered the names of species). I was very impressed with the meals Habib was able to prepared with his minimal equipment. At one point, we did have to work pretty hard to persuade our guide to continue a game drive a little later in the day than he wanted to (we wanted to be the first group out, and the last back to camp), but in the end he obliged. I also mentioned I was a photographer, and that I wanted to take advantage of the sunrises/sunsets over the Serengeti, but there wasn’t really any additional accommodation made for this request other than stopping wherever we were in the jeep during sunrise (this may be due to how the park regulates the driving during certain hours in the park). On the last morning, Habib ended up having to cook for another group as well, which delayed our departure from camp a little more than we would have liked (we felt like we paid for the chef to cook for our group). But in the end it wasn’t a terrible delay and we were off to Ngorongoro Crater.
When we got back to Arusha, my accommodation at Arusha Backpackers Hotel was supposed to be arranged by Procell (so that I could get picked up for Arusha National Park the next morning), but it was not, and the hotel was full. This was frustrating because the other travelers I had befriended were staying there, and I would now have to stay somewhere else. I spoke with Godfrey about this, and reminded him that we paid more than the low-end price so we could ensure a better than average experience, and he did rectify the situation by booking another, nice hotel for me, although it was on the other side of town. He also made it up to me by arranging a ride to the Kilimanjaro Airport for a good price after I finished my Arusha National Park tour. A new driver, Anthony, arrived the next morning to take me to Arusha National Park. He was friendly and very knowledgeable about the history of Arusha.
All in all, Procell Tours did provide a wonderful safari experience, despite a few minor frustrations. The Safari itself was incredible! Most importantly, they had reliable vehicles, arranged good guides and food, and in the end worked with me to resolve the couple of problems that did arise. I would definitely use them again. Just be sure to make your expectations clear and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
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