We just returned from the most fantastic trip ever. You arranged a beautiful itinerary for us that was absolutely brilliant.
Let’s start with Emirates Airlines. If that is not the best airline in the world, what is? My gosh, they are absolutely wonderful and now I only want to go places where we can hub through Dubai.
Dubai, what can I say? When we got there the airport meet and greet folks were there but not the local travel agency who was supposed to take us to the hotel, as apparently they had us coming in from LA about 4 hours later. The meet and greet folks were very good, however, and the helped arrange for a car from Emirates airlines. You were totally right on putting us into Al Qasr. It has a great mix of east and west with women in shorts skirts and other women in full burkas including covering the eyes. Due to the confusion at the airport, Al Qasr promptly upgraded us to a suite. Not bad for an extra 10 minutes confusion at the hotel.
We had drinks and appetizers the second night at the Al Burj al Arab ( to the tune of about $800 US dollars) overlooking the downtown and the water. Worth every penny just to get in and see the place. The city tour was great. That is a fascinating city but I wouldn’t want to spend much time there in June/July at 106 degrees with 80% humidity. Ugh!
Then to Africa – After Dar Es Salaam we went to Tarangire Tree Tops. That was a long, bumpy drive getting there, but it was a very nice place to stay, very good service and we had a good driver who found us a leopard. They knew about our anniversary, as you presumably told them, so one night they had a group of Masai men dancing and they danced around our table and then brought us cake, outside in a Boma. Very nice.
On to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. It was first rate. We had a butler who was absolutely delightful and they served us a private dinner by the pool one night for our anniversary. Our driver there was excellent. He knew all the birds, and that park has beautiful birds. A great room among the baboons.
From there to Serengeti and Migration Camp. We ended up with the best room there (only one with a large deck) – did you manage that? It was a great place to stay and an absolutely wonderful experience. Here we had our worst driver of the trip – he was under contract to Migration Camp and not knowledgable about much of anything and he had little interest in pleasing us. In future, I would suggest if you have upscale clients to tell Migration Camp to give only drivers that are employees of the resort and/or tell them a driver is needed who knows birds. Having said all that, the Serengeti is so wonderful that we almost didn’t care and the bad driver here was the only issue with the entire trip. And the room was great since we could overlook the water where baboons, wildebeast and other assorted creatures could be seen.
Then the reason for our trip – Rwanda and the gorillas. We are very lucky travelers and in Rwanda we had the ultimate luck – our driver Eric was the absolute best. He knew very good English (almost no one does in Rwanda) and he knew the director of the National Park where the gorillas are. Where to begin? The Rwanda people are totally delightful. They are proud of what their country has accomplished since the genocide so they are always telling us how grateful they are we have come there. It was definitely worthwhile to visit the genocide museum in Kilgali – it puts the entire country in perspective.
Then Silverback Lodge – very, very nice. Our butler was great – he would clean our clothes without us having to fill out forms – and they would always appear back in our room within about 6 hours or less. And the food was great.
The gorillas. Our first trek was to a group called Titus which is a research group and only recently opened to tourists. Titus, by the way, is one of the gorillas Dian Fosse studied. We thought that was a great trek and doubted the second could be as good. Wrong. Golden Monkeys were very special and we were glad we did that.
On our second trek to the gorillas, Eric had arranged for us to get into the best group there – the Kwitonga group. They had 17 gorillas including 3 silverbacks and a 27 day old baby. Oh my gosh – that trek was absolutely amazing – we had a Silverback charge us and then pound his chest and then stop and stare at all of us from about 3 feet away. He just took our breath away. Then we saw two young ones about 1 year old playing together with their feet and hands in the air. When they were done, mom walked away with one of them on her back. Then we saw a gorilla tear down a tree with another gorilla sitting at the top of it. Then we saw the mother with the 27 day old baby holding him in one hand and feeding him with another. Our guide had been there 4 times and this was the first time he saw the baby – totally amazing and quite human looking. At the end, the #1 Silverback came crashing through the jungle near us as if to tell us it was time to go. Our guide who had been doing this for 10 years said this was one of his best gorilla shows ever. We came out and hugged our guide Eric and told him he was our absolute hero. We totally recommend him and that Silverback Lodge.
To add the final good fortune to our trip, when we got to Dubai on Emirates they were overbooked and we were then upgraded to First Class on the Dubai to SF flight – a totally wonderful way to travel. We will forever more be Emirates fans. 8 people in first class and 4 flight attendants. We slept cozily in our “suite” and ate wonderful food. The Champagne they served was Dom Perignon. Wow. We came back to SF and were ready to get back into the swing of things the next day having slept so well.
You are fabulous in arranging this totally wonderful trip for us. We will soon send you another email asking you about some suggestions for our next trip to Africa, most likely next year. Thank you for all you did for us.
Susan & Alan P., clients of Katie Cadar