As I said on the phone, we all had an excellent time, and a significant element of that was the structure of the itinerary you put together, including your responsiveness to specific requests etc. It all meant we managed to fit in what felt like a huge amount and yet, remarkably, not feel rushed/hassled. Thank you again for your help and advice.
Re the specific feedback I was giving you (in the context of overall it being an excellent trip):
The 2 drivers we had were good, and knew a lot about the wildlife and other aspects of the trip. They both made a meaningful positive impact on the tips success. (Peter, in Manyara, and Halifa in Serengeti) -- that said in the first vehicle we had (only for 2 days) I had a broken seat. Fortunately this was not the vehicle we spent most of our time in, which was a custom made one with many clever features (turned out to have be customised by our driver and his brother who had a business doing this).
The lodge at Manyara is lovely, and we enjoyed the stay, but it fell a bit short in terms of the food quality, both the evening meal, but particularly the packed lunches on our day trips. That said the staff were excellent and very keen, but they felt somewhat disorganised (even allowing for "africa"!). My sense was it just needs a bit of a tweak to lift itself dramatically.
The Nomad Camp was of course the highlight of the whole trip, and one my children are desperate to do again. Of course being close to the migrating game was important, but I think the sense of stepping back in time to the days of the Empire, combined with the communal dining was what particularly appealed. It was amazing given how transient all the guest at the camp were, but this was where we engaged and has the most fun with people. Other highlights of course were the breakfast out on the plains, as well as getting right up close to the migration.
Sayari Camp was a good tonic however after living in the tents -- not least thanks to the pool. Also what really struck me about this place is the location -- whether it be on the banks of the River Mara, or on the open plans on the north side of the river approaching kenya. Saw a lot a of game here, but most time spent tracking cheetah and rhino. The new managers had arrived just a day before us, but what they lacked in knowledge (nothing that the housekeeper did not know) they more than made up for in enthusiasm and friendliness.
The Mashariki Palace was a totally different prospect -- in that it was in the middle of a bustling town -- which was a culture shock after the Serengeti. I spent some time chatting to the manger who is originally from a town near my place in Switzerland. It is apparent that whilst the emphasis of the hotel is to provide a haven from the bustle outside (which it does well), it has not yet nailed the food side of the equation -- bland at best. Of course this is a statement I would make of many of the hotels/restaurants in stone town, and interestingly we went to 236 Hurumzi to dine on the rooftop restaurant (which you will remember I considered staying at). Contrary to the concerns we discussed when setting up the trip (and we got more warnings when we were in Stone Town, but went anyway given I had been there 16 years before), we had an excellent evening with pretty good food. So I would recommend it -- although mostly for the "highest dining point in stone town" aspect -- but definately the Swahili side sitting on cushions etc -- not the modern side. (BTW the original place I stayed 16 years ago, Emersons , is now called Emersons Spice and reopened earlier this year. Had a look around, but do not know if any good).
Finally Essque Zalu -- this was an excellent ending to the holiday, enabling us to recharge / relax etc in the second half of our holiday. The hotel definitely has the "wow" factor when you walk in through towards the pool. We took full use of this pool as well as the spa facilities -- good massages -- although I wonder how crowed it would feel when it is full. Of course the centre piece, both visually and as a place to eat, is the pier out into the water. We found the quality of the dining here to be the best we had on the whole trip, and added to the very chilled out bar, was a place we enjoyed immensely. In fact the main restaurant could take a leaf out of this Jetty space for both food and ambience (not that it was poor, but just not as good...). Overall, given what else surrounds this "oasis", EZ is a standout property which I would recommend.
As I said on the phone, I have passed on your details to a couple of fiends who may be in touch at some point - having listened to me waxing lyrical!. Otherwise, thanks again for looking after us, and we will be in touch should we start to think about travelling again.
For more information on travel to Zanzibar, Safaris or Zanzibar Holidays please follow the links or call: 01227 753180