Written on: June 08, 2016
I visited in May 2016
As an initial matter, Paul (whom I believe is the owner and operator of KETS), is one of the most responsive people on e-mail I've met - which is saying a lot given that I'm an attorney in NYC. This was very much appreciated as my wife and I planned our honeymoon and constantly changed the accommodation and route we wanted to take.
KETS is very flexible in that respect as well. We spent two nights in Maasai Mara in Kenya (at Ashnil Mara Lodge), two nights in the Serengeti in Tanzania (Mbalageti Lodge), one night in Ngorongoro (the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge) and one night in Amboseli back in Kenya (at the Ol Tukai Lodge).
In Maasai Mara, we had Daniel as our private driver/guide. He was very easy to speak with, knew the animals and where to find them, and was generally a great guide. Maasai Mara is significantly smaller than the Serengeti, but is beautiful and less regulated than the Tanzania parks - allowing us to get closer looks at the animals. That's not to say that KETS did any off-roading or anything, just that there are more off-trail roads that get you closer to the animals.
We saw a cheetah with a young one, a leopard with a young one, a lion pride resting after a kill, hyenas and jackals finishing the kill, another attempted kill by a lion at sunset, and huge numbers of elephants. We didn't see tons of wildebeests or zebras, but that came later. And Ashnil Mara lodge was beautiful. A perfect view over the river where you could watch hippos as you ate/drank. And the staff was beyond generous. The food left something to be desired, but not a whole lot KETS can do about that one. One note, and this will be common throughout this review - the drives are long. So be prepared. From Nairobi to Ashnil Mara took us about 6-7 hours. But the last 2-3 hours there is at least animal viewing. There are also a couple of stops where you can look at some African crafts if you're so inclined.
The drive from Ashnil Mara to the Mbalageti lodge in Serengeti was the longest drive. It was a full day. Although we stopped for lunch across the Tanzania border that was probably unnecessary (and I think KETS recognized it too, as Paul mentioned that for future tours they would not be making that stop). Without that two hour stop, we would have been in the park much earlier. Also of note, Kenyan drivers are not allowed to drive in Tanzania (well, they can, but it's a ridiculously expensive process). So we switched from Dan to Oswald (Ozzie) at the border. Ozzie was phenomenal. Very personable and again very good with the animals and working with the numerous other safari cars to do everything they can to show you the animals you want to see most.
For us, that was cheetahs and Ozzie went out of his way to find them for us (four of them in fact...). The Mbalageti lodge is the most beautiful one we stayed in with views that can't be matched. And the western part of the Serengeti park is really beautiful with thousands of wildebeests and zebras. Can't say enough about that lodge and well worth the long drive from Maasai Mara. Even with the drives, we would strongly, strongly recommend seeing both Maasai Mara and the Serengeti.
After our second night at Mbalageti, we had a long drive to Ngorongoro (probably another 5 hour drive). But this one is the easiest drive as it's all in the park. And the central part of the Serengeti is a great chance to see leopards (we were lucky enough to see two). The arrival at Ngorongoro is incredibly impressive. And the crater offers your best chance to see the elusive rhino. The Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge left quite a bit to be desired, but I'm not sure what KETS can do about that. There are only a couple of lodges there and it does have an incredible view - the rooms are just very outdated and not the most comfortable. That might be an area where you look to fork up a bit more money for a four-star lodge if that's the kind of trip you're looking for.
Amboseli could probably be skipped. Ol Tukai is a gorgeous lodge, but if that's your last stop, you'll have already seen most everything that Amboseli has to offer except views of Kilimanjaro. It breaks up the drive a bit from Ngorongoro, but I think if we did it all over again, we might have skipped that stop. Ol Tukai is gorgeous though - so definitely not a bad place to just relax after a long safari. We switched drivers again at the border (from Ozzie to Duncan). We didn't have much time with Duncan since we were winding down and largely chose to relax instead of go on game drives in Amboseli. But he certainly seemed knowledgeable of the animals/area and fell in line with the other KETS drivers we had.
Long winded, I know. So to summarize, KETS was everything we had hoped for and could have expected. We would strongly, strongly recommend KETS to those of you looking for a Kenya and Tanzania safari!
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