OUR EXPERIENCE ON THIS NEW TOUR PART ONE
K and T and Rwanda, our experience. Part One
We took the K and T tour 13 years ago, it’s quite different now. Different accommodation. We really preferred our first tour when be stayed in all SERENA hotels. It seemed more authentic and nearer to the landscape. We also went to Samburu back then which I had entirely forgotten, I did not document the tour at all then and we didn’t even have a digital camera. On this current tour, I was really disappointed with the Four Seasons. I love to swim. Whilst all the pools in Africa apart from the One and Only tend to be cool, the Four Seasons one was bitterly bitterly cold. I am glad ALAN S warned of this, but I really thought that because it does not get so cold at night at this time of the year comparing with the summer months, that it would be Ok. I just could not get in further than my thighs, too tooo cold. For a Four Seasons hotel, it was unacceptable. It certainly makes the tour more expensive in comparison to our previous experiences. When I spoke to the hotel people they said it was being rectified—- huh, well if I am taking my grandchildren on the Bridges tour in a couple of years, I hope so. This year, the K and T stays 3 nights there. It was important for us to rely on swimming to keep our exercise up ready for the gorilla hike. The dining room was also the darkest restaurant I have ever been in, we could not make out the food or barely see each other. The hotel was very quiet and our group was reprimanded by the owners for being too noisy one evening, there were only a couple of other tables occupied, so I guess we did seem loud.
The Mount KENYA Safari Club was an elegant experience and we enjoyed staying there and there was a good choice of things to do in down time, the pool was cool but lovely and the massages cheap but excellent, shame Tauck has changed it to a one night stay going forward.
So there is my negative.
The weather has been strange in this part of Africa this past few months. We have only been to The area in the dry season before. The ‘Short Rains’ are usually diminishing by mid December, but there had been flooding and the rain continued to be an all day thing for us on a couple of days, not just short heavy down pours. But it was wonderful to see everywhere so lush and green and experience the very muddy roads and a wet green landscape that was more like the Delta area of a Botswana wet season. The days it really matters it was dry, like the balloon ride and gorilla trek were beautiful and dry. The rain and flooding on the last day and all night in the Mara made us all concerned that we would not be able to make it to the airstrip, we had already had to detour flooded roads getting there. The safari trucks were able to get over the flooded bridges and roads and the plane take off from a very wet runway. What an adventure.
Two of the highlights were in the rain. The first, a mother cheetah and six kits. We saw the mother stalk and chase and catch an antelope, seeing her run so fast, like a blur, was incredible! Even though we all knew cheetahs are the fastest land animal and we have glimpsed it on the TV, to see it live and the whole big picture was mind blowing. And then, as soon as the kill was over, to see a hyena appear from nowhere and steal the kill and run off with it, wow! A National Geo moment. We had not seen a cheetah for two entire Safari vacations, so this was even extra special.
Then there was the troupe of elephants playing in the rain, the mud and one or two of them slipping and sliding in it and trumpeting with sheer joy.
At most of the rest areas we were familiar with, brand new toilet blocks had just been built and were very pleasant. I don’t think we needed to use emergency toilet tissue or hand gel more than once. Oldupai Gorge had a brand new very good museum center and toilets.
At the beginning of the tour, we discovered that 14 of us had arrived a day early, we had the Pre tour meeting with our tour director. Two others had cancelled. She told us a family of five were arriving very late that evening. We learned it was parents with three children under the age of ten. We were all shocked, I’ve never taken a Tauck tour that had any children in it and I certainly did not expect what I believe is Tauck’s most expensive tour and the gorilla trek the most challenging, for parents to bring their kids. None would be able to do the trek. So this really changed the dynamic of the group. The family obviously had there on vehicle and I only once was truly annoyed to have a child kicking stones my way. But the most impact on a daily basis was in the evening when most dinners were around 8pm. Tauck generally had two reserved tables, and if you were not smart enough to reserve a space on the main table, we found ourselves and maybe one of the singles sitting with the family a couple of times, I don’t want to spend an evening at dinner with a family, I want to have interaction with the fun and interesting main group of people. I think no one wanted to eat with the family then. I really think Tauck should rethink who is suitable for this tour which turned out to be a very small group. I don’t really understand why there was not the full compliment of 24 people on the tour. At least two of the group had been on the waiting list. Maybe Tauck were being cautious because the One and Only was not finished when the first two groups took this tour, they had to stay at another One and Only and be helicoptered to the National Park, but were compensated and given money back. Our group were the first to stay at the One and Only—- and they told us we were the fittest looking people who had stayed at the hotel so far.😇
Additionally there was another incident. We were the first group to be offered a walk down into Oldupai Gorge, to see the actual site where Lucy had been discovered and up out the other side of the gorge. The tour director thought it was a good opportunity to keep our fitness up and for her to maybe asses our level of fitness for the gorilla trekking to come. We thought it was a great idea and we had an experienced local guide to lead us.I It was a beautiful sunny day but the trail had been somewhat damaged by the rains. It was fine for those of us who had suitable footwear. We had to watch our footing and even negotiate a little river that was there because of the rains and be lead over it by stepping stones, we enjoyed it. One lady had shoes that the tour director had said would be Ok, she fell but was fine. Another lady had lovely open toed sandals, she only had I think another pair of canvas lace up shoes with her, nothing for the upcoming gorilla trek, she did not know Mountain gorillas would be on a mountain, I loved her to bits, one of the loveliest people I have ever met. She twisted her ankle and had to be rescued. (We later stopped at a Mall in Nairobi so she could buy suitable shoes for the trek.)
The father of the children, I understand, went up to the tour director and wanted us all to go back, I believe he even threatened her. This was a group of people who were supposed to be fit to do a gorilla trek. The hike was fine for anybody to do with the correct foot ware. After this, the TD was over nice to the family. The TD was a little alarmed at the lack of suitable clothing people seemed to have for the upcoming trek, she was contemplating emailing to next group coming directly after the end of the tour and explaining the footwear and clothing that might be needed for rain.