Telling you about our accommodations in Africa is going to a take a few posts. I really want to give each wonderful lodge the credit it deserves. I am going to start with telling you about our outfitter, &Beyond. My husband did hours of research trying to decide which outfitter would be the best fit for us. There are many, many outfitters in Africa. What we liked about &Beyond is that they also owned all of the lodges that we called home on our safari. If you go thru another outfitter it is quite likely you will still stay at some &Beyond lodges. Most outfitters do not own lodges, they just book you there. After hearing nothing but great things and receiving excellent customer service from our first inquiry – we booked with &Beyond. I would highly recommend them. The service was flawless. The lodges were something I can only attempt to describe. From the moment we were collected at the Mt. Kilimanjaro Airport we received the highest quality of service. I will give you a little rundown of what I think makes &Beyond special.
1. The customer service. We were treated like royalty. At each lodge we had a housekeeper and a butler at our service. These were quite possibly some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I really enjoyed listening to their stories. Our butler would see us off on each game drive, welcome us back, serve us every meal, bring us hot tea for a wakeup call, and constantly check in to make sure we had everything we needed. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for you…most of the time you didn’t even have to ask.
2. The food. To say my husband and I were worried about what would be served was an understatement. There was no need to worry. There were choices at each meal. Each time you arrived at a lodge they would make sure you liked the menu. If you didn’t they would make sure there was something you liked, no hesitation. Breakfast was a personal spread of yogurts, granola, fruit, cheese, meats. You also could order pancakes, eggs, etc from the chef. Lunch was soup, salad, sandwiches, and brick-oven pizza. Dinner was always a choice of steak, seafood, chicken – served with soup, fresh salad, vegetables, etc. There was always dessert!
3. The guides. &Beyond has two guide training programs and is known to have the best guides in the business. Our guides would frequently see something moving in the bushes hundreds of yards away and know exactly what it was…meanwhile, I had no clue what was happening! They could go on for literally hours at a time about each animal. They have a real passion for the land and animals and you can tell. We spent so much time getting to know our guides (and goofing off with them!) and I hope that I will get to see them again someday. They were amazing people and made the trip very personal and special.
4. The game drives. Each day we would do two game drives – each lasting for 3-5 hours each. Even on the few trips where we spotted nothing big we were still in awe of the beauty of the land. Before each drive our guide would say, “what do you want to see?” and he would tirelessly look for what you yelled out. We saw everything except a leopard on our trip and I started to actually feel bad because I could tell how disappointed our guides were when they knew we were leaving without seeing one. I wasn’t as sad because now I have a reason to go back!
5. Sunset cocktail hour. This was probably my favorite part of the day. Each night our guide would take us to a different location and literally out of nowhere a spread of appetizers and cocktails would be set up to watch the sunset. It was a great way to remind ourselves every day that we were on a once in a lifetime kind of trip. We spent the time watching the amazing sunsets, getting to know our guides, learning about the land and just toasting to the good life!
For more information on our outfitter, &Beyond, visit their website here. Stay tuned for more info about our lodges.