14 Mount Auburn Street, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
www.thomsonsafaris.com/conta… - Toll Free: 800-235-0289
Thomson Safaris Kilimanjaro Reviews
Deluxe Safari & Hike Aug 18, 2001
My friend Ed chose this company for our hike on Kilimanjaro. I'm much more cost conscious, so I wouldn't have chosen them. If you have no concerns regarding price, however, they are truly awesome. They provided a tour completely suited to us - everything we wanted (for example, a pre-hike on Mt. Meru) was no problem.
Thomson Safaris organized all aspects of our trip - our two day acclimatization hike up Mt. Meru, our 7 day hike up Kilimanjaro, and a 9 day safari throughout Tanzania. All accommodation, transport, and food was included. They would also provide equipment like walking sticks & sleeping bags if requested. All but one of our group did request equipment. The one who did not ended up not receiving his luggage with his equipment, and Thomson was able to suit him up on short notice.
For the Kili hike itself, they provided 19 porters and 3 guides for us six hikers. It was amazing to see these porters tear down our camps each day after we had left, catch up with us and pass us en route - mostly in bare feet - and be waiting for us with a fully set up camp in the afternoon. They were simply incredible.
Our 3 guides were also wonderful - we fell in love with them all. On the last day as we began our final summit, one of our group became overwhelmed by the difficulty and wanted to quit. Michael, one of the guides, came up behind her and put his arms out straight on either side of her so as she wobbled (due to the altitude and strain) he could keep her straight and prevent her from falling. He maintained that pose for at least an hour till she recovered from her weak moment. She ended up being the first to reach the summit!
The meals supplied on the mountain were surprisingly delicious - considering all supplies were 1-7 days old. Every evening we had a full, hot meal, with soup, main course and beverages. We had not imagined such good food and carried loads of energy bars - but since we didn't need them, we distributed them to the porters and staff who found them to be a special treat. Our lunches were also deluxe - the team always found a scenic spot along the route to set up a table and chairs - a funny site as you rounded a bend and came upon it.
Each night's camp was also well planned - latrines were dug freshly every night for our group alone. Many other hikers shared communal latrines. Our small, two person tents were set up for us and our bags placed inside ready for our arrival, allowing us to just flop down as soon as we reached camp. There was one meal tent where we gathered that always had boiling water for tea or coffee or water bottles.
Every morning, our guides set up a satellite radio to check in with base in Arusha and provide updates on how we were doing. This would have come in quite useful had any of us had a problem. They also carried oxygen, which none of us required, just in case.
The team for our safari portion was different and changed as we moved from spot to spot. Each guide in every area was an expert in the local wildlife and flora. In some cases we were put up in Lodges - which were deluxe, with pools and a solid foundation and gift shops and sometimes other groups. In other areas, we had canvas tents and dirt floors set in remote locations. Even the basic accommodations were fantastic though - clean, comfortable, and we were waited on hand and foot. There is something remarkably romantic about sitting in front of a canvas tent under an acacia tree and having someone bring you a bottle of chilled wine.
The hotels where we stayed in some areas were quaint and had gorgeous grounds - like a coffee plantation in Ngorongoro where we could view acres of fields from the porch.
Thomson Safaris ended our tour with the same super service we had throughout. On our final day, September 11, 2001, we were having a drink in Arusha waiting on our transport to the airport. Thomson could have just let us go - our trip was over. But they called to tell us a terrible event had happened in the US and invited us to stay in Arusha until things got sorted out. We had not seen any news and what they told us sounded so unbelievable, that we said thank you but no, and headed to the airport and boarded our plane for New York, via Amsterdam. You know the story. Our KLM plane was asked to land in Dar es Salaam and passengers who had itineraries to the US were made to disembark. So, we ended up stuck in Dar es Salaam (which does not deserve a review!) when we could have been hosted by Thomson in beautiful Arusha. Live and Learn.
If price is no object for the trip of a lifetime, take Thomson.
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