PANDEMIC TRAVEL Dan and team planned an amazing trip to Kenya and Rwanda for my husband and me. Their choice of destinations – three very different but equally wonderful Kenya camps plus a great lodge in Kenya – all offered us incredible stays with excellent food and service. The Kenya game drives were amazing as was our up close and personal visit with the silverback gorillas in Rwanda. Taking this trip during COVID could have been a challenge, but Dan anticipated all of our needs and arranged Covid testing as well as guides and transfers, which made our great adventure worry-free. The team knows Africa very well and were able to personalize our trip to meet our specific wants and needs. Well Done!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Going on safari in Kenya, from the 19th to the 30th of September, 2021.
When we started planning our trip to Kenya over two years ago, we knew from our experience with an earlier trip to Botswana that we would benefit from working with an expert knowledgeable about Kenya. We contacted Dan and, after listening carefully to what we wanted, he put together a well thought out itinerary. At this point, he had already proven his value to us. Then COVID struck and his services became even more important. Dan walked us through the preparation of all the additional paperwork necessary to enter Kenya in the middle of the COVID pandemic. The staff at the safari camps Dan had selected for us were fully vaccinated. In addition, they wore masks at all times, even though almost all our activities were outdoors, including our meals. Knowing that we needed a negative PCR test to return to the US, Dan arranged to have COVID testers come directly to our last camp. Taking everything together, we felt perfectly safe throughout our trip.
Dan’s value was proved to us in other ways as well. Included in our original itinerary was a visit to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, where we had adopted an elephant. COVID forced the orphanage to change the hours they were open to the public. As a result our plan to visit after returning from the safari camps was no longer possible. When we learned this less than a week before the start of the trip, Dan was able to rework the itinerary to allow us to instead make the visit upon our initial arrival in Nairobi. This included getting us on the approved visitors list and arranging a car and driver to take us there.
In short, our trip to Kenya was everything we could have hoped. The logistics were carefully planned and everything came off without a hitch. Dan and his team put together an itinerary that perfectly met our expectations. We visited three safari camps, spending 3 nights at each. The three camps were quite different, but each was special in its own way and provided a wonderful experience.
The most beautiful camp was Sarara with its 6 tents. The setting is spectacular and we had the best tent (number 6) from which to enjoy our stay. One unexpected feature of our tent was the elephant path just behind it. On several occasions we just looked through the screen in our bathroom and enjoyed the sight of elephants crashing through the brush, probably on their way to the watering hole visible from the lodge. One particularly pleasant surprise was getting met at the Air Kenya airstrip by Jeremy, the owner, who flew us the rest of the way to the camp in his private plane, thereby avoiding a two hour drive. At the end of our stay, he then flew us directly to our next camp, bypassing the three hour drive that we had expected.
Sirikoi was our overall favorite camp. Sirikoi is a small camp, with just 4 tents and 2 cottages, but it has the best combination of location, game viewing, wonderful dining, and attentive service. Sue, the owner, has done a spectacular job of creating a little bit of heaven on earth. We were quite impressed by the degree to which the camp is self-sufficient. During our ‘Back of the House’ tour we saw how the camp is able to grow most of its own food, build its own furniture, power everything with solar, and even make its own charcoal to be used in the tent fireplaces. The camp’s location in the Lewa Conservancy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is superb. Close in viewing of dozens of both white and black rhinoceroses with their babies was quite special. We could have easily spent a week at Sirikoi.
The Mara Bushtops camp wins the award for best game viewing. Our guide asked us what we wanted to see and we answered: as much as possible. He was happy to comply. During our two full days there we took two game drives in the Masai Mara. The first was 8 ½ hours long, the second was 9 ½ hours. We were reluctant to stop since we kept seeing remarkable things. We started at 5:45 each morning and enjoyed breakfast on the drive, eating at a table set up for us in a particularly scenic location. The last drive was best of our trip. On that one drive, we saw all of the Big Five, plus cheetahs feasting on a kill, as well as the tail end of the Great Migration featuring a large herd of zebras crossing the Mara River into the Serengeti. In addition, we managed to pay a short visit to Tanzania. It was a wonderful way to end our trip.
Mara Bushtops is a luxury camp with all the amenities that implies. During our three night stay we were the only guests in the 12 tent camp and were treated royally. Even though travel in the age of COVID can be challenging, there are certainly benefits to going at this time. Being able to avoid the crowds normally associated with visits during the high season is special.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband Kenn and I waited and planned a long time for our African dream trip and had very high expectations. Thanks to Nina, Dan, and their team, the reality exceeded ALL of our expectations. While my comments only add to the long list of their delighted clients, we treasured the amazing itinerary that Nina Wennersten and Dan Saperstein put together for us. We visited Rwanda and Kenya, leaving Los Angeles on September 7th and returning home September 22nd. We flew business class on Qatar which is an airline experience every traveler should have at least once in their lifetime. We enjoyed unparalleled service and comfort between two flights and 22 hours of travel plus a layover in Doha, Qatar, understandably selected recently as the number one airport in the world.
Nina did an amazing job re-shuffling all of our dates and plans when Covid forced us to wait a year-plus to begin our African adventure. She managed to fit everything on my bucket list into our new itinerary plus a few incredible add-ons. We loved every camp and lodge that she sent us to– each one unique and wonderful in their own way from the magnificent beauty and luxury of Singita Kwitanda Lodge in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda (the only lodge minutes away from the gorilla trekking), to the intimacy of Sirikoi Lodge in the Lewa Conservancy in Kenya, to Bushtops and Salas Camp in the jaw-dropping expanse of the Masai Mara, Kenn and I realized early on that the best view rooms, guides and services were not coming to us by accident. It was clearly the benefit of being with Nina and all the good will her team has built up over the years. To end our trip with the wonder of the Masai Mara was a magical finale to the trip of a lifetime.
All of Dan’s notes were enormously helpful and understandable, especially during the pandemic when each country’s required Covid testing paperwork and qr code uploads would otherwise have been daunting. The ground teams in Rwanda and Kenya were indispensable. When we went through customs in Rwanda, I made sure to ask for the East Africa Visa, but whether it was the mask or the fact that my customs agent was a trainee, he gave me the visa only for Rwanda which I failed to pick up on. But our ground agent immediately recognized the error and went to great lengths to fix it. What a nightmare that could have been without the necessary added visa to let us enter Kenya!
Giraffe Manor was on my bucket list. Because Giraffe Manor is now familiar due to extensive publicizing, I was afraid it might come off as kitschy and more of a Disneyland experience than something out of Africa. Actually, neither was the case. Delightfully, Giraffe Manor is instead an authentic re-creation of a Scottish hunting lodge with the incredible inclusion of 12 giraffes. Nina made sure we had a “view room” at Giraffe Manor which made all the difference in the morning. We were on the second floor and had the joy of waking up to giraffes at our window. Giraffes don’t like to bend down because it causes them light-headedness, so those people with rooms on the first floor didn’t have this memorable experience. Who knew this giraffe ephemera? Well, Nina did, thankfully for us.
We learned firsthand the value and importance of having a well respected and trusted travel agency behind us. There were, simply, no snaffoos, no problems and only wonderful treatment, lodgings and unforgetable experiences everywhere we visited. Many WOW reviews have already talked in detail about the impeccable quality of the guides, trekkers, drivers, staff at all of the lodges Nina and Dan endorse, and we concur. Truly, there was not one experience or moment we would have traded throughout our entire two week trip. Personal safety was felt at every stop along the way with tremendous care and caution taken at every lodge to ensure nothing was sacrificed in the name of cleanliness and Covid protocols.
How Kenn and I can possibly add to all of the other African WOW reviews might be our reflections and suggestions after returning home: This is not a trip to economize on. We heard from other travelers tremendous differences in their experiences based upon the camps they stayed at. This might seem like a small item, but when you’re on a safari drive for 8-10 hours, you don’t want to be in an overcrowded van with closed windows leaving Nairobi at 4 am with a driver who is not familiar with the Masai Mara the way the local, incredibly knowledgeable guides are. Kenn and I had an open-air Range Rover to ourselves with a Masai trekker and expert guide. We saw every animal on our wish list plus many unexpected surprise viewings.
Also, plan tipping as part of your overall trip budget. We allocated $50-$100 daily which proved accurate for all of the wonderful service people who made our trip so memorable on a daily basis, from the safari guides and trackers– whether on hikes or in vehicles– to the dining staff, the housekeeping team, the daily laundry service, etc. These people could not be more helpful or gracious, and tips are their bread and butter. Now is the time to visit Africa. It is uncrowded, and the tourist industry is only beginning to re-open after over a year of Covid-related cancelations. None of the lodges we stayed at were full, and we experienced none of the traffic jams at any view site throughout our trip. We were also able to see some of the Great Migration without being bumper-to-bumper with competing vehicles.
We also realized that Africa may be a bucket list trip, but it requires a certain level of fitness and the ability to hike in somewhat challenging terrain if one wants to trek with the gorillas or venture into jungle-like settings. This is not the trip for anyone with a bad back or prone to car sickness. The daily drives often begin at 6 am to see the sun rise and can extend an entire day, 8-10 hours of very bumpy driving conditions on muddy roads– I use the word “roads” with an eye roll–up and down riverbanks like a roller coaster and no restrooms or comfort stops, period. There’s simply too much to see, as each drive is a completely different, magical experience. Finally, I can’t emphasize enough the value and importance that one’s travel agency brings to a trip like this. For my husband and I with a very limited knowledge of Africa outside of the few “musts” I had envisioned as part of my first African experience, we placed ourselves completely in the hands of Nina and Dan, in large part because I so trusted Wendy’s WOW List from our initial travel experience with them to Tahiti several years ago. That decision ended up guaranteeing the trip we had. Thank you beyond words for everything that Nina, Dan and their team in the U.S., Rwanda and Kenya did to make our Africa trip a milestone memory that we’ll always cherish.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We recently returned from a magical African Safari Adventure in Kenya with private safari camps, private game drives, and private flights (more on that later). In the spring of 2019, we completed the Get a Personalized Recommendation questionnaire on Wendy Perrin’s website and were connected with Dan. We were scheduled to travel for twelve days in August 2020. Instead, we spent the summer of 2020 at home due to COVID-19. We rescheduled our safari adventure for August 2021.
Dan and his team worked tirelessly to reshuffle the four safari camps in an effort to match the schedule of the only airline that had limited direct flights to/from New York and Nairobi.
Dan walked us through all the COVID-19 requirements to ensure smooth travel. Dan also scheduled our COVID-19 test at the last Safari camp 48 hours before leaving Kenya.
Our magical trip began at the airport in Nairobi and from the moment we landed through our very last day we were in paradise. We joked that for 12 days we did not have to think about anything but the beauty around us. Everyone we came in contact with took care of us to ensure that our trip was flawless.
We were greeted at the Nairobi airport by a local liaison who escorted us through COVID-19 verification, passport control and customs. We were out of the terminal within 15 minutes! A local liaison was waiting for us outside with the driver, Sammy, and after a few minutes of introduction we were on our way to the first safari camp, Emakoko, Nairobi National Park. After one night at Emakoko we flew to Sirikoi Lodge, Lewa Conservancy. We were the only passengers on the flight to Sirikoi. Upon landing at the airstrip, we were greeted by James from the Masai tribe who was our guide and driver for the next three days. At the camp, we were greeted by Caroline and Emily who co-manage the lodge. We were one of three couples at the lodge and we enjoyed first class service. Our luxurious tent was our home for the next three days. Sirikoi has a water hole on its outskirts so we saw animals throughout the day – zebras, buffalos, giraffes, gazelles, impalas, and numerous birds. At sundown, the animals move into the grounds for the night as a safe heaven. We loved getting to know James and the Masai’s traditions. We had a private game-drive and the freedom to go on sunrise or sunset game drives, take a bush walk with a local ranger, and explore the Lewa Conservancy. On one of the sunrise game-drives we were surprised with tables loaded with fresh breakfast and we enjoyed being watched by curious giraffes. After three nights at Sirikoi we flew north, on a private flight, to the Sarara Tree Camp, Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, at the foothills of the Mathews Range, or Ol Donyo Lenkiyieu.
We were greeted by Resin from the Samburu tribe who was our guide and driver for the next three days. At Sarara, we were greeted by Kim, Philip and Shchandra (sp?). We built our itinerary with Resin and enjoyed sunrise and sunset private game-drives, a visit to the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, a drive to a river bed where we ate breakfast and saw the Samburu men dig wells and sing, and a visit to a Samburu village. On our last day, we were the only guests at the camp and enjoyed getting full attention from the staff. The next day, at a breakfast next to the pool, Kim informed us that were being transported by private plane to our next stop. We enjoyed a low altitude flight so we could see the beautiful landscape and animals.
Upon landing, we were greeted by Alex, our guide, and Dennis, our spotter from the Masai tribe. At Mara Bushtops, we were greeted by Thomas and his staff. The Mara Bushtops is a very luxurious camp. It is situated near a salt lick that attracts zebras, buffalos, giraffes, gazelles, impalas, baboons, and elephants throughout the day. We enjoyed meals with the animals!
We built a unique itinerary with Alex and Dennis. We learned that the best game-drives are early mornings. So, for three days, we woke up before sunrise, and enjoyed private game-drives. Alex and Dennis were extremely knowledgeable about the animals and their behavior, and the Masai Mara landscape. We saw the Big-5, Ugly-5, and everything in between. Alex and Dennis arranged a visit to a Masai village, where we were greeted by Masai men and women singing and dancing, and a family opened their home to us. On the final day of our adventure, we went to the House of Waine, a lovely boutique hotel in the upscale Karen suburb of Nairobi, so we could relax before our flight back to the US. By then, we were exhausted!
The selected safari camps were excellent!!! We were educated and pampered throughout our stay and got to know great people.
This trip exceeded our already high expectations. We never worried about anything. If one flight was slightly delayed, the staff on the ground was informed. We never had to wait for anyone, nor did we worry about being left “alone”. The food was incredible. Never once did we feel hungry because food was always available. Daily, hot coffee and cookies were delivered to our tent! Laundry was washed daily and delivered later in the day like magic! We felt like royalty!
Asante Sana, Dan.
We wanted this trip to be special as it was our 70th Birthdays. We wanted it to be “a trip of a lifetime”. Nina and Dan far exceeded our expectations in South Africa.
Nina and Dan planned our trip after discussing what we would like to see and do. We wanted to go to Cape Town and a safari to see Leopards and hopefully the Big Five.
It’s difficult to put into words how fantastic our trip was. We had asked for a special room at The Silo hotel and they made sure we got it! The two Safari camps also exceeded our expectations.
The people at all of the places we went were so fabulous. We were hugged and fussed over and made to feel so at home at all three accommodations. We did see all of the animals and witnessed a lion kill which was extremely rare. The guides and trackers that we spent 6 hours a day with are now friends. They were amazing as well. We will have these wonderful memories for our lifetime and yes, it was “a trip of a lifetime ” thanks to Nina and Dan and Wendy Perrin’s Wow list.
I traveled to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana with my twin 18-year old daughters this August. I had taken a similar trip 30 years prior, and I wanted to give my girls the combined experience of being on safari, seeing Victoria falls and day-tripping in / out of Cape Town, while not having them feel that it was also bonding with dad time. Dan executed seamlessly on all fronts. All flights, meet and greets, transfers, etc… went smoothly. The camps delivered in both South Africa (Tanda Tula) and Botswana (Duba Explorers)… we had tremendous guides and spotters and saw the big 5 at both camps, walked, drove, boated, and “mokoroed,” as circumstances permitted… and it only got better from there. Did I mention that the tents, food and drink were consistently great! I already miss the bush breakfasts. Victoria Falls delivered as well… so impressive even in the “dry” season, and a throw back to Colonial Times at the Victoria Falls Hotel. Unfortunately, due to several unfortunate tourist run-ins with elephants, the path from the hotel to the falls is no longer available as an option for guests to view the falls. The sunset cruise on the Zambezi was also a good diversion. Ending our trip in Cape Town was icing, as we explored, shopped, toured cape point, the penguin sanctuary, botanic gardens, aquarium, and of course the wine lands, where we had separate wine and cheese, wine and wine, and wine and chocolate tastings. Dan also arranged for our lunch at the “Little Farm” in Stellenbosch. We elected not to go up Table Mountain, as the potential for fast moving clouds and high winds, is always a factor. In total, the trip provided a great experience for me and my daughters beyond just the sights and sounds of Africa. We had the luxury of unplugging (almost) and reconnecting in a setting that we will always remember.
Nina and Daniel planned the most unforgettable trip to East Africa for my family. Our logistics were complicated as my daughter and I would already be in Kenya on a mission trip. My husband and son joined us later in Tanzania. Nina flawlessly created and executed an itinerary that allowed us to connect in Kilimanjaro and continue on our luxury safari after our mission work. The lodges that she selected for us were unique and luxurious with the highest level of customer service and attention I have ever experienced. We collectively gasped as we took in the view for the first time at Lemala Mpingo Ridge in the Tarangire National Park. Our pictures did not do it justice. Our “tented” rooms were quite unique and more luxurious than many 5 star hotel rooms we have enjoyed elsewhere. The game drives were everything I had hoped for and more. Our guides were wonderful and accommodating. We hated to leave them. The hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti was quite a special moment for us. It was so peaceful and exciting to see the animals from that vantage point. The champagne bush breakfast that followed was lovely and a great opportunity to talk to our fellow travelers. The grand finale of our trip was the private sundowner and bush dinner that Nina arranged for us as a WOW moment. How majestic! We will not soon forget our African safari. My expectations were high but they were exceeded at every turn. I highly recommend Nina and Daniel to anyone planning a safari. I am already dreaming of my next trip to Africa and getting to work with them again.
Marguerite, with Dan and Nina’s team, did a fantastic job helping us plan our trip to South Africa. Our family of 4 (kids are 12 & 10) couldn’t have had a better time! We spent the first half of our trip in Cape Town & Franschhoek doing lots of sightseeing & she did a great job of finding activities that we all enjoyed. The highlight was a guided kayak tour by Simonstown with African Penguins & even a humpback whale swimming right underneath us! It was thrilling! Then we flew to Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge for 5 days of incredible Safari. The lodge is breathtaking & the staff is kind and thoughtful. The Safari drives were so much fun for everyone – we saw more animals than we could have dreamed of. Marguerite planned all of our transfers too, which made things so easy. She even planned a birthday celebration for our daughter’s 10th birthday! She thought of everything.
Thank you for making this trip so special!
When planning a family trip of a lifetime to Africa (to include my 5 year old grandson, his parents and my travel companion), your first recommendation was to contact Nina Wennersten. True to your advice, Nina proved the perfect travel expert to craft an itinerary with special attention to my grandson. Having made several safaris over the last 40 years, I was unsure about what would be the best choice for this one which included 3 generations.
Nina’s recommendation of Kenya, with its colorful and fascinating cultural aspects in addition to the wealth of wildlife, proved spot on. She thoughtfully listened to my interests as well as always keeping in mind the most appropriate activities for the little one. Finally, our conversations led to a superb itinerary which was exciting for each and every one of us.
Our trip began with Nina and her son/partner, Dan, arranging for a warm welcome as soon as the airplane door opened. We were whisked through customs, setting the stage for a seamless continuum of travel logistics with all plane and ground transfers. The camps Nina recommended were all welcoming and without exception went out of their way to entertain my grandson. At Sirikoi in the Lewa Conservancy, my grandson was as entertained by the camp’s chickens and vegetable garden as the the game drives in search of African wildlife! At our final stop, Mara Bushtops, my grandson joined the Maasai while they performed their ‘adumu’ or jumping dance. I will forever carry the memory of him jumping with the Maasai beside the campfire with the African sunset on the horizon.
Finally, thank you for a very special WOW moment! I’d arranged a drive especially for birding, and was thrilled to suddenly come upon a beautifully set table and full staff on hand to provide us with a fabulous bush breakfast. A wonderful keepsake presented to me was a personalized East African bird book.
Thanks to Nina, Dan, and you, Wendy, the trip exceeded our dreams. Asante sana!
For my first visit to sub-Saharan Africa I chose Nina & Marguerite. They crafted an exquisite three week trip encompassing Cape Town, three safari lodges, a couple of hotels in the Winelands, and a hotel right on the beach on the Indian Ocean. All their arrangements were impeccable. In Cape Town: a wonderful art guide one day, restaurant reservations, a coveted theatre ticket. Each safari lodge was unique with diverse landscapes and an abundance of animals. The Winelands and beach experiences afterwards were such a relaxing way to gently wind down from those wonderful safari drives. While planning the trip, my questions were always answered promptly and their advice was very helpful. I am looking forward to planning another trip to southern Africa next year and cannot think of any better company to work with!
Great choices of lodgings for us. Seamless internal transfers. 5 star
Nina and Dan assisted my wife and me in organizing an almost 3 week trip to South Africa in September. The trip was terrific and Nina’s and Dan’s guidance was spot-on and invaluable. The hotels in Capetown, Hermanus and Franschhoek were exactly to our liking…..smallish boutique well-appointed properties, well located for easy walking to town/sights, with exceptional service by the respective staffs. We could not have identified these perfect fit accommodations without Ninas and Dan’s knowledge and help. Their experience was also invaluable in choosing our 2 safari camp locations. Nina and Dan fit put us into 2 camps that fit our budget yet were luxurious and provided us with 2 different experiences in Timbavati and Sabi Sabi. Again, we would never have been able to make such an excellent choice by ourselves. Our in-country logistics were flawless and Ninas and Dan’s recommendation for a South Cape tour was perfect…it cost a bit more than the standard offering, but the guide was excellent and the experience superb. The guide had even arranged for us to have a penguin expert from the local association to accompany us on our visit to the penguins which added tremendous value to that segment of the trip. Lastly, we were concerned over baggage restrictions when flying out of safari back to Joburg on Federal Air. This concern was quickly dispelled by switching that flight to SAAirkink which had no such restrictions. This required a short transfer from our camp to a local airport but was well worth the small inconvenience so that we could pack what we desired for a 3-week multi-faceted trip. I would certainly recommend Nina and Dan to anyone wanting to plan a trip to South Africa.
I wanted to write you about an absolutely amazing trip to Africa that we experienced through you and Nina Wennersten. Nina was great to work with through the many versions of the trip that we imagined. From start to finish everything went smoothly; we were met at each juncture and spirited to each of our destinations and accommodations fairly seamlessly.
First of all, we are very grateful that we had the opportunity to experience Mara Bushtops Luxury Camp. From the time we were met at the small airport by our Maasai guide, Jacob, and Maasai tracker, Albert, until they saw us off when we flew away a few days later we could not believe how special Bushtops and their staff made us feel. We loved the tented suites and even my husband, who was not at all interested in staying in tents, was very content the entire stay, & even wants another similar type of experience when we return! I am very pleased that we opted to visit Kenya and the Masai Mara because the ecosystem is so very different than what we had experienced 20 years before on our first and only safari which was to South Africa. We had the rare opportunity to see a lioness kill a wildebeest near the Sand River where the migration was occurring and two opportunities to see cheetahs, including a mother with her 2 older children right on the Bushtops conservancy grounds! Jacob was so very engaging and helped us to understand the Maasai culture. I was so taken by the beadwork done by the Maasai local women that I made certain to load up on bracelets for myself and my nieces.
We loved the Signature Wing room at the Victoria Falls Hotel and were very happy that we had opted to stay there instead of Tongabezi in Zambia, where Nina first suggested. Having days to ourselves in a totally unstructured atmosphere where we had the ability to walk to dinner in town or to see the falls on our own time was refreshing after the hustle bustle of days on safari in Kenya. Victoria Falls Hotel has a long storied history and we are glad that we were able to experience several aspects of just the hotel itself, its 5 star plus experience, and its lovely grounds. Nina arranged a memorable sunset Zambezi River cruise on the Ra-Ikane. What an intimate lovely wooden boat! And the drinks and appetizers were delicious and certainly plentiful! The sunset we saw was amazing as it was a crystal clear evening and the reflection in the river was magical.
As for Singita Boulders, what can one say other than mind blowing! It was even more than we had ever imagined and dreamt of for 20 years! We had the opportunity to have lunch at Ebony and were very happy that we had chosen Boulders over Ebony. Paul our guide and Golden our tracker were astonishing in how they tracked down a pack of rare wild dogs for us to see the 9 new pups! They persisted in looking and staying in the area they suspected the den of the dogs would be for over an hour and we were rewarded with bouncing puppies! On another occasion we were able to see 4 lion cubs of 3 months old who were suckling their mom and yet getting an occasional taste of a wildebeest kill!
As for Azura on Benguerra in Mozambique, it was a welcome relief after many early morning starts and late nights at Singita! Azura was really lovely and our Luxury Beach Villa was beautiful.
What a truly an amazing trip & we can’t wait for our next trip to Africa all because of Nina!
Nina was fabulous. We can’t say enough. Our trip was perfectly planned and executed. In planning, Nina got to know us and fully understood what we were looking for. As a result, she chose properties and experiences that were just what we were looking for. We celebrated our 30th anniversary on this trip and Nina made sure that every property did something special to help us celebrate. She also made sure we had the best rooms and on safari the best guides.
While we were in Africa, Nina checked up on us to make sure everything was going smoothly and that we were enjoying ourselves.
We could not have planned this trip without Nina’s help. We highly recommend Nina and her team.
From the minute I contacted Nina and Dan they were incredibly giving of their expertise and time. I had already spoken to several tour operators specializing in Africa and was completely confused about itineraries and accommodations in my target area of Tanzania. They helped me make sense of the choices and ultimately suggested Kenya as the best fit for my needs. It was an incredible trip!! They selected beautiful lodges in 3 different conservancies, each with its own unique animals, topography and cultural exchange opportunities. I believe they have great relationships with the properties they select such that we got what seemed like extra special treatment, great rooms, great guides and a few surprises like special birthday wishes Maasai style! I can’t recommend them highly enough!
Hi Wendy! Thank you to you and your team for suggesting Nina and Dan. Leslie and I had a beautiful trip and we are now in love with Kenya. Dan and Nina were very responsive to our needs and set up a seamless trip. The lodges were gorgeous and the staff and guides were both knowledgeable and accommodating. We are grateful for the expertise of everyone involved.
You really learn the value of a seasoned travel planner when there is a hiccup during your trip, in this case, weather-related.
We have been to Africa on safari a couple of times during the dry seasons, this time we opted to see Kenya in East Africa when it was Green.
This is our second trip arranged by Nina and Dan and they frankly nailed it – from the moment we landed – when the door of our Airbus 330 opened in Nairobi there was someone from the ground handler to meet us – not in the terminal but at the top of the airplane’s steps! Who does that!
The three lodges we stayed in were all excellent, each unique, each providing a different experience and matched our desires of comfort and activities perfectly. The hosts/managers in each were long in experience, provided excellent to over-the-top notch facilities, impossibly courteous and knowledgeable staff, seriously good and locally sourced food, fantastic views and plenty of game activities.
Highlights in each included: Three leopards in 3 days at Saruni Samburu; at Sirikoi, seeing dozens of Rhinos and sharing a few meals with the owner whose family goes back several generations in Kenya as safari leaders and conservationists; the staff, the Cheetahs and unreal views at Angama Mara
But there were weather-related hiccups and this is when Hippo shined.
The first occurred one month before we left when we learned from Nina that our final and top lodge was literally washed away in a flash flood. When she called she had already arranged for a replacement lodge, one that is now considered the best in the Mara, and for the same price! This one was above our budget and proved to be extraordinary.
The second weather-related hiccup occurred mid-trip when fog delayed our flight from taking off in time to get to the next lodge, forcing us to spend an unplanned night back in Nairobi. By the time we landed in Nairobi, The team, was not only aware but had already arranged with the local airline for ground handlers to meet us, provided an excellent hotel plus dinner, arranged for next day flight, all at no cost to us.
This fast and nearly seamless fix to the situation could not have happened unless you have a travel planner with dozens of years in East Africa, has relationships with the air transporters and one that has stayed at every lodge they recommend.
I highly recommend Nina and Dan.
An excellent trip. Nina and her team work closely with their ground operator, who doubled checked on transfers and sent emails to be sure I was doing ok. They knew I would be arriving late to the game ride and had the manager arrange for me to be driven out to meet the Land Rover already on its afternoon game ride.
Wendy, thank you for creating and maintaining The WOW List. We have used your recommended experts four times now, and I’m sure we never would have enjoyed the wonderful experiences that we have without these amazing professionals. Our latest trip, a safari in the Serengeti, was a bucket list trip for both myself and my husband. Now that it’s over, I’m not sure there will be one better — until, of course, we visit Africa again.
Dan Saperstein quickly reached out to discuss all aspects of our safari, guiding us, if you will, to the best possible itinerary. As my husband abhors small planes, Dan recommended a driving safari throughout different sections of the Serengeti region. Furthermore, based on our preliminary conversations, he also thought we’d really enjoy the tented camp experience. He was absolutely right on both counts.
Our driver/guide was nothing short of amazing. In addition to sharing his seemingly boundless knowledge of all things safari, we appreciated hearing him talk about what everyday life is like in Tanzania.
All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend Dan & his team.
Again, thank you—many of our travels have no doubt been elevated from good to extraordinary because of The WOW List. I know when we are ready to go on our next adventure we will turn to a WOW expert.
They gave us good advice about when to plan the safari part of the time in order to avoid the rainy season. Literally, the rains stopped in the safari area about one week before we arrived. During our time on safari, we had beautiful weather. Also, their recommendations about which safari reserves to use turned out to be top notch.
They created several very detailed itineraries for us until we settled on one; they provided very thorough pre-trip notes so we were fully prepared; all the people who were supposed to meet us did so; all the internal flights we were supposed to be on were there; before the trip the planners were available to answer any questions; they even prepared a special rundown for me of suggested tips. I really have nothing negative to say about them and would certainly use them again.
This is our second trip using Hippo Creek Safaris and again and again they are phenomenal in their execution of a perfect vacation. I took my entire family this time (6 people) and even with multiple people and with multiple needs every request was no problem and without a hitch. Their recommendations are first class and their experience is second to none. The most important thing to me is in the planning and execution, their communication level is outstanding. They are always available and always accessible to discuss a change or suggestion or concern. They respond almost immediately with a detailed and thoughtful email. The customized and detailed itineraries are beautifully done with pictures and timelines and detailed information or every step of the trip. I am an experienced traveler and have been to Africa several times and I would use them again and again and again. Whether it is your first trip or you have been there before, these people are first rate, first class and the first I would call. Highly, highly recommend.
We really didn’t know what to expect when we planned our safari trip this year. Our must haves were animal viewing, noteworthy accommodations, Victoria Falls, and Cape Town. The experience Dan of Hippo Creek Safaris planned for us surpassed any expectations we might have had.
Everything about Leopard Hills was remarkable. The guides made sure we saw as much as possible in our time there. When we left, after 3 days, it felt like we were leaving family. Dan listened to our needs and really took care of us with very little back and forth.
We have many photos of our cottage at Tongabezi because it was indescribably beautiful. Our deck was literally right above the river.
The service was exceptional everywhere and by everyone, from the lodging to the guides, to the transfers. Dan truly planned for us a trip that will be forever in our hearts and memories. Because of his efforts, we were able to experience the best of the best.
Wendy, we have used your recommended experts a couple of times now, and they have provided us with excellent service and spectacular experiences.
Nina Wennersten and the whole team at Hippo Creek Safaris were awesome! Extremely knowledgeable, responsive and friendly. I am a savvy, experienced traveler but was having trouble sorting through all the game lodge options in South Africa. Nina recommended and booked us at Lion Sands in the Sabi Sand private game reserve, and the whole experience was beyond spectacular.
Nina also helped recommend touring options in Johannesburg, as well as a great layover hotel there. And while we were looking for a luxury experience, and she totally delivered, she was super helpful in managing the cost. I would definitely recommend Nina and Hippo Creek Safaris (and Lion Sands) to anyone looking to book a South African Safari.
Our trip was the best we have ever taken. It was hard to top last year, but I believe that it did. I have used many of your WOW List travel experts but I believe one of the things that separates Dan and Hippo Creek from others is the premium level of communication they provide. Every question is met with a thoughtful, well-considered and prompt response. They really get to know the client and are incredibly attuned to their needs. They listen, which is a real skill, and they really came through. Big time. Their on-the-ground team has a real presence so there is always someone available in Africa to make sure that all of your needs are met. The service that we received was first class and reliable in every aspect. There were no glitches anywhere. Every guide at their disposal was knowledgeable and personable. The camps that were recommended were all outstanding. Dan and Nina also seem to have close relationships with the best camps and the red carpet was rolled out for us at all of these camps. It really makes the experience of being so far from home much more comforting.
All in all, I cannot recommend anyone higher than what we have experienced with Hippo Creek. I would use them again without hesitation and I would recommend them again with the highest possible praise.
A visit to Africa has been on our must-see list for many years and this past December my husband and I, with our 2 college-age sons, finally traveled to Tanzania. I contacted Hippo Creek Safaris based on Wendy’s recommendation and could not have been happier with the outcome. Everything was spot-on: the itinerary, the pre-trip instructions, the accommodations and our local driver/guide were beyond our expectations. Nina and her staff planned the most amazing trip for us. My husband and I are planning to return to Africa in a few years and will definitely use Hippo Creek Safari for this next trip.
I contacted Hippo Creek Safaris based on Wendy’s recommendation. Nina called me back within an hour of my email and from our first phone call, she felt like an old friend. I had not done any research prior to calling and simply knew that I wanted to go on safari to Kenya and Tanzania. Nina gave me all kinds of great ideas based on my interests and immediately put together a few possible itineraries, complete with beautiful pictures. She is infinitely patient and will talk through all of your decisions. Any time I called, she picked up the phone and always had time for me. Such personal service! The trip was beyond my wildest dreams. Nina and Dan took care of everything, from a detailed list of everything we needed to bring, to instructions and form letters to submit to the embassies to get our visas. Once we arrived in Africa, our every need was met by people on the ground with Nina and Dan’s partner agencies in Kenya and Tanzania. We even had people meet us in the airport to give us lunch boxes, find our luggage, get us checked in to the local flights to get from camp to camp. The lodges they use are intimate and mostly on private conservancies which allow you to go off road in Kenya. Our safari vehicles never had more than two couples (in Tanzania, we had our own driver and vehicle for five days) and our guides were the warmest, most knowledgeable people I have ever met. Everything I read about a safari planned by Nina and Dan was true–absolutely stress free (even for novices) yet filled with surprises such as private dinner on the porch of our tent cabin in Kenya or a suite in a hotel upon arrival in Nairobi complete with wine, cheese and fruit after a long flight. I thought that our trip to Africa would be a once in a lifetime trip, but after working with Nina and having such a fabulous trip, we immediately began thinking about when we could go again. Look no further than Hippo Creek Safaris–they are the best.
Dan and Hippo Creek Safaris provided an above-and-beyond experience! Aside from the stunning accommodations and unique game drives we enjoyed, Dan made our travel seamless! Their kindness is only matched by their attention to detail. We will definitely work with Hippo Creek Safaris again!