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Elaine Mickel

How would you rate your trip overall? Excellent
Comment: We loved our itinerary and most accommodations. This was our third trip to Africa to safari and it was completely different than the other two. Absolutely incredible.

What was the most important reason for choosing AFRICAN PORTFOLIO? Referral
Comment: Our prior two trips were small group tours but my brother, Karl Bongarten, recommended African Portfolio for this one. So glad we took his advice.

How many safari companies did you consider before selecting AFRICAN PORTFOLIO? One or Two

How would you rate AFRICAN PORTFOLIO’S representatives in Africa? Excellent
Comment: In particular Rwanda and Kenya experiences we exceptional.

How would you describe your accommodation, facilities and meals? Please provide the name of the hotel, lodge or camp you are describing.
Loved Virunga Lodge in Rwanda. The views were spectacular. The people incredible. Loved the massage that was included. Favorite part was sunset drinks and snacks on the veranda. Food was fine but not exceptional.
Can we give Elewana Sand River 10 stars out of five? Probably the very place we have ever stayed. Room/tents were top notch. The people, especially our guide, Alex, go above and beyond. The surprise sunset bar send off is awe inspiring. The food was fairly good but who cared that it wasn’t the ultimate because everything else was.

The Elewana Kilindi in Zanzibar would have been great for a honeymoon experience but might not have been the best choice for our family vacation. The rooms were beautiful but the bathroom was so far away. For those of us who are older, trudging up and down stairs, in the dark, through the bugs during the night isn’t great. The food was a bit hit or miss. Wish that both mangers had introduced themselves, like at Sand River, and taken an interest. One was very standoffish. We also felt our “butler” did the bare minimum.

What and where was your favorite meal of the trip?
Surprisingly, our favorite meal on the trip had to the sushi lunch that we had at Elewana Klindi. Most of us felt it was the best lunch we have ever had. Really wish that all the meals there had been close the same standard.

How would you evaluate your safari guides and staff? Please provide the name of the person you are describing.
Alex from Elewana Sand River was the very best! Our daughter got very upset by the disrespectful behavior of other guides during a crossing. It was so bad that she was actually crying. The animals tried two times to cross but the jeeps kept racing in and disrupting their natural animal behavior. We are just guests in their world we should be respectful. Alex was never one of those jeeps and we sat and watched in horror as it happened twice. When Alex saw our daughter was crying he called the rangers. They did come and arrest and ticket some. The next day, he brought us to a different park. It was much better here and we got to witness the most incredible, uninterrupted crossing. But Alex was like this about everything. He knows the animal behaviors so well. When you think nothing is really happening, he will say “just wait”. Then something remarkable with happen like an ostrich doing his mating dance or mongeese running under the jeep in a pack. We feel very lucky to have been assigned to Alex!

Was there anything you would have liked more of, less of, or done differently?
We were taken by surprise in Kigali when we were scheduled to have lunch at the Mille Colline, our guide told us that they no longer took clients there. I asked when they stopped and he told me about four months prior. Since I had spoken with Anouk about it right before we left this seemed odd. We did insist that we wanted to go there and they were able to accommodate us. I am really glad they did. It is a cool historic spot to visit. Our guide also said the food wasn’t great. He wanted to take us back to the Serena. We really thought the Serena food was hit or miss as well. We found that the Indian dishes at the Serena to be very good but not really anything else. We found the brochettes at the Mille Colline to be quite tasty. I think this is a very worthwhile stop and should be added back for future visitors.

What was your most memorable moment in Africa?
No doubt the uninterrupted crossing was the single most memorable moment. Not only was the magnitude of this animal instinct overwhelming but the camaraderie of the onlookers was surprising and comforting. Everyone there was in it together and when it was over, we were left shaking. We able to debrief by talking it over across the jeeps and passing the cameras around, sharing our raw photos.

If you could give future travelers one word of advice, what would it be?
Go! For anyone who is considering a trip to Africa, just “go”! Each time we travel here it is a life changing experience. Each time different but important.

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