East African Safari and Touring Company
About East African Safari and Touring CompanyEASTCO has been exploring East Africa for over 20 years, from the mountains of Uganda to the Swahili Coast of Tanzania, offering private safaris, tailored to the individual who believes that there is more to experience in Africa than the Big 5, those that are looking for the wilderness experience, the chance to get off the beaten path and explore a disappearing Africa
I have just arrived back home after a fantastic ten day safari with Eastco. After reading some of the older reviews we were a bit reluctant to travel with them again, but the communication we received was fast and they answered all our queries.
I know now the company is under new management and the trip was perfect. this new management is being reflected in well-organised safaris and operations. We spoke at length to Innocent, our guide, as some of the drives are long, and eventually the conversation comes around to the company and the new management. He also said the company is now being run a lot better than previous few years with new vehicles and better, well-paid guides.
We went on a 9 day road trip the first three days spent at Boundary Hill Lodge, Tarangire, a beautiful lodge in a beautiful location and really well managed; this lodge has fantastic views. I have stayed here years back and we could see elephants and eland from our room veranda. It was a bit chilly at night so the staff had a fire going in the dining room area. The soup, a tradition on a Tanzanian safari, with fresh baked bread, was tasty and filling. While here, we did a night game drive and saw a few smaller animals but really enjoyed the sounds of the night the girls really enjoyed this part of the trip. The road to Boundary Hill has recently been graded and the drive was really smooth unlike some other roads in the parks.
After Boundary we went to Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge and we spent one night there. This lodge has great views and an easy road to get down into the crater. The wildlife here was easy to see as the crater itself is small. Elephants were everywhere, and we saw lions, wildebeest and oodles of gazelles.
We did 6 hours in the crater and from there drove straight to the Serengeti. One of the highlights of this drive were the superb starlings, these birds are everywhere and easily seen at Naabi Hill Gate.
We stayed 3 nights here at a new camp Pure Africa, it was fantastic, small camp with beautiful tents right in the middle of the bush. The high light of our stay in Seronera was probably the leopard we saw in the early morning along one of the streams. Gazelle's everywhere and the now usual giraffe, Impala, elephants, buffalo and hippo. Innocent was amazing with his knowledge and animal spotting, he was good company, great with kids as well during the long days.
After Seronera we drove up to the Mara River and stayed at camp called Acacia, it wasn't as nice or as new as Pure Africa but it was close to the river.
We spent two relaxing days here watching wildebeest and lions, we were not lucky enough to see a river crossing but there were wildebeest everywhere. After our stay here we said goodbye to Inncoent and flew back to Arusha in a small bush plane and we were ready for our flight home. Thanks Eastco you really went out of your way to give us another trip of a lifetime. Traveled the second time with Eastco (East African Safari and Touring Company) with hubby and two beautiful daughters one 8 and the other 6 and they loved every minute of the safari, don't let people tell you, you should not travel on safari with young kids, they love it.
We just completed another safari with EASTCO in March. For something different we decided to some walking safaris so visited Tarangire, Arusha National park and Mkomazi. Not being our first trip to Tanzania, we were looking for something a bit different and asked Simon to prepare a safari which combined walking and some culture.
The walk at Tarangire started near Lemoti village on the Masai steppes and we walked west towards the Tarangire Conservation Area, bush camping each night. Although very wet! It was also a great time to visit as there was lots of wildlife around, wildebeest and zebras after the first day, a couple of nights with lions grunting and roaring, and even elephants as we got closer to Tarangire.
This was a very different experience, the two days were very much a immersion in Masai culture, we saw them bring the herds into the boma in the evening, Brendan tried the blood and curdled milk mixture and we sat around a camp fire with some of the elders and children till late.
As we walked the next day we say the children collecting water from puddles beside the road, a rich reddish brown colour! Our guide Loi said it was better than walking 10 kms to fetch water!!
Each afternoon Loi and Costa, our cook, decided when we should stop and set up camp. This consisted of Loi and Brian cutting the grass and clearing as space, setting up the tents while Costa was preparing dinner.
The last two days walking was a bit exciting, with long grass we heard before we saw any of the wildlife. Coming across massive elephant prints deep in the mud, and also the large paw of a male lion along the wet sand of the track.
The last night of the Tarangire walk was at Naitolia Camp, luxury after four nights camping in the bush. Massive bed draped in net, outdoor toilet with a view and shower. It was the last night here when we heard the lions rumbling and growling. It seemed so close but was told the next day most likely a couple of kilometers away.
We then went to Arusha National park for two nights at Hatari Lodge. Fantastic views across the plains to Kilimanjaro one afternoon after a storm. Walking on the slopes of Mt Meru for half a day with a park ranger, buffalo and giraffe, bush duiker and colobus monkeys.
The next part of our adventure took us to Mkomazi National park. We had decided to do a a full day walk here, from one camp to another with the park rangers, and the guide Wilson and Costa packed up the camp and met us that afternoon at a new campsite. Scenery here was so dramatic, Mkomazi is surrounded by mountains and with the black thunderclouds, a late morning rainbow it was so spectacular. The guide Musa (I think) was very informative, we saw tracks of a puff adder in the sand, hyena and jackals. We also saw a large herd of eland in the distance, warily keeping their distance with a couple of oryx mixed in.
After two nights camping in Mkomazi, we climbed up the Pare Mountains to Tona Lodge. Perched on the edge of the mountain overlooking Mkomazi and Kenya. Brilliant location. Food and service was a bit so so! We spent two nights here and walked through the local villages along steep and winding roads. Every building seemed to cling to the edge of the mountain slope.
We drove back to Kilimanjaro the next day, and a day room at Panone Motel near Kilimanjaro. We said our goodbyes to Wilson, Costa and Brian, and had hot showers before transferring to KIA for our flight home.
Second trip with EASTCO, totally different to our first wildlife extravaganza but just as rewarding.
I'd like to recommend East African Safari tour agency.
We were given a special treatment in every issue.
Helpful crew, high quality of guidance, fair prices.
We combined 3 other safari parks over 6 days and it was quite suitable.
We spent many hours searching the internet and guide books for the right mixture of safari and culture experience. EASTCO caught our attention because of their long service to community conservation and their mainly excellent reviews and guides. We got in touch with Simon and planned a short safari. This was last notice and we were glad to be able to experience what we did.
Myself, husband, teenage daughter and young son spent six days with Eastco this past August. We decided to fly out to the Serengeti because of the short time we had and after Simon's advice, spent our two days in the central area at the Acacia Camp instead of rushing north for the chance of a river crossing. This was incredible for the many lions we saw, three leopards, one walking nearby the car along the road early morning, and a couple of mature cheetahs. A fantastic way to start the safari!
We then drove east to the Wildlife Lodge on the Ngorongoro crater rim. I was a bit skeptical at first as had fifty-fifty reviews, but as Simon said, the views were incredible and that made our stay here. It was not as busy as we thought it would be at the Lodge, but the game viewing in the crater met all our expectations, crowds of cars around any lion sighting and dust from the cars everywhere. Nice rhino in the distance and a few lazy lions. Bernard did warn us it was a bit touristy! But we still enjoyed the experienced, although I must admit I was ready to head out at lunch time.
The last two nights were at Boundary Hill Lodge in Tarangire. Simon forewarned us that this was partially his property, but also the Masai communities had a shareholding. When we arrived and saw the rooms and the dining terraces we could obviously see the WOW factor. The meals were by far the best we have had on a holiday anywhere. The young cook, Bryan, was exceptional. Apparently Simon took him in when he was only 12 years old and helped him with schooling and taught him the trade. He was very polite, friendly and talkative and really took the time to involve the children, even showing them how to make chapattis and fresh bread rolls. The staff at Boundary Hill were exceptional, we felt at home. The kids had Tinga Tinga art lessons and their efforts now adorn the study!
Tarangire is very much underrated for its game viewing, could not believe how many elephants we saw, as well as three lions and a leopard outlined at dusk on an acacia tree along the swamp. We were very lucky. Or maybe I think Bernards 20 odd years of experience was the luck we had. He obviously knew every back road and track in Tarangire and certainly was able to show us sights we would never have seen normally. He is also a great raconteur and has a very dry humour. Bernard made our trip exceptional.
After being home only a short few weeks, the African bug is definitely there, and will return again, maybe without the kids and for a longer safari.
My wife and I returned to Tanzania last January for a 16 day safari. This is not my first or even second trip, but we decided that this would be our grand adventure. We first visited way back in 1984 and did a Tracks pink truck camping safari through Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti, before heading off to explore southern Africa on the TAZARA train and then north through the Sudan to Egypt.
We flew into Dar Es Salaam on QATAR from Melbourne and caught the evening Fastjet flight to Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria. The Fastjet flight was actually very very good, nice new plane, lots of room and very friendly staff. Food had to be bought but the beef and gherkin roll was very tasty, steered away from the chicken!
On arrival in Mwanza we were met by Joseph, who was our EASTCO guide here in Mwanza. Tonight was at Ryans Bay Hotel, which was very very comfortable and perfect to recover from the flights.
We woke late this morning and Joseph took us down to the National Park docks and the ferry across the lake to Saanane Island. It was great to get out and stretch our legs, the guide, Musa, was excellent. The most striking thing was the rock formations here. Spectacular!!
In the afternoon we headed with Joseph for a short city tour and ended up at Tunza beach resort for a few cold beers. Amazingly there were waves breaking against the sandy beach, only a foot or so but something unexpected. There were a few locals swimming here, obviously a popular place for a few beers and a swim after work. We then went and had a Chinese dinner at Yon Long Restaurant. This is also a hotel, and the restaurant was right over the water. We sat and watched the ferries leave from across the bay, back and forth and the lights on the far hillside. Overnight again at the excellent Ryans Bay.
After breakfast Joseph collected us with picnic lunches and we head along the lake shore. Our ultimate destination was the western gate of the Serengeti. But we were in no rush today, visited the Wasukuma Museum en route, apparently the largest tribe in Tanzania. This was very very interesting! We had our picnic lunch on the shore at Spekes Gulf. We tried to imagine what it was like 150 years ago when John Hanning Speke was the first European to see Lake Victoria.
Wilson our guide was waiting for us at the Ndabaka gate when we arrived about mid afternoon. On our last safari Wilson was one of the camp staff at EASTCOs Serengeti tented camp, so it was really great to see him again and to know of his advancement. He mentioned over the course of the safari that he has now been with EASTCO for over ten years, starting young as a mechanic, then camp supply driver, then camp staff and guide and finally after doing some courses had been given the chance to guide. He had already been through Kenya, Uganda and much of Tanzania in those years, and mentioned he was heading to Victoria Falls later in the year. His excitement was palpable, especially when we described our experiences from 30 years ago.
We spent four nights in the Serengeti, two in the western corridor in a bush camp near the Grumeti River and two near Ndutu in the Serengeti Tented Camp. Two totally different contrasting areas of the Serengeti. From what we had read we thought the western corridor might be a bit wildlife depleted, but in the planning stages Simon told us that there is a large resident population along the Grumeti area, and also so of the wildebeest head out to the plains here during the migration. The drive in certainly confirmed that statement! Lots of zebras and wildebeest as soon as we left Ndabaka, then as we got closer to the camp and the change in scenery to floodplains, and hills there were buffalo everywhere and passing herds of elephants.
We arrived at our bush camp, this and the staff had been dropped off by Wilson earlier in the day, all carried by a trailer! Costa the camp cook met us with cold juice. Another old acquaintance, his enthusiastic greeting was overwhelming. Hot showers under the stars before a dinner of fresh baked bread rolls, onion soup and pork chops. Amazing considering where we were and what Costa had to work with.
The days in the Serengeti were just as exciting as our first visit, although now being on a private safari, we enjoyed the flexibility of being able to spend as much time as we wanted whenever we wanted! Highlight probably leopard in a tree with kill, no one else around. Standing up stretching with the sunset in the background.
We spent a night at Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge just to relive the view. As memorable as our first trip. We did not go into the crater this time but went for a short walk with a guide before heading to Manyara for game viewing. No lions in trees, or rhinos like we saw on our first trip in 1984, which was a sad reminder of how much has changed. The township of Mosquito creek no longer a collection of small dukas, but campsites, small motels and lodges everywhere, and obviously an important tourist stop. We left late afternoon and head towards Naitolia Camp for the night. Large massive beds, surrounded by nets and canvas. Outdoor shower and toilet which was fun! Heard elephants feeding during the night, breaking trees branches and the growl of a lion but obviously far away.
The pre-dawn chorus of birds was what I will always remember from our stay here. We were up early with quick cup of tea and light breakfast as we were walking towards Boundary Hill Lodge. Being hot and humid during the day we wanted to do this as early as possible, and headed out with the Masai guide Sanagar and Allano. We walked for about four hours and made it towards the banks of a sand river. Wilson was waiting here for us with the land rover which was a relief! It was good to get out an walked though, saw some terrapins in the water holes by the side of the road, evidence everywhere of the elephants that had passed through during the night, giraffe and zebra not too far away. The tracks of hyenas and bat eared foxes in the soft sands. Flowers and greenery everywhere.
Boundary Hill was just as we remembered it, views still as spectacular as ever. Costa had taken over the kitchen at Naitolia and was also here taking charge at Boundary Hill. Obviously 20 plus years of seniority has its perks!
We had two nights here, and the first morning we were woken by gentle knocking at our door and a morning cup of tea with biscuits. This was just before the sunrise, and my wife was excitingly pointing off in the distance. Once we woke up a bit I could see why she was so excited, Kilimanjaro stood low on the horizon between Mt Meru and another closer mountain which I cannot remember the name. We sat on our balcony and watched the Snows of Kilimanjaro change from apricot to pink to white as the sun broke above the horizons. Finally losing sight completely as the clouds covered the peak. Memorable!
We left Boundary Hill, driving through the park on our way to Lake Babati for the night. Tarangire was so green, elephants everywhere, lucky glimpse of a couple of lions and a cheetah on an anthill in the distance. We arrived at lake Babati late afternoon and headed straight out on the lake in a dugout canoe. The object this afternoon was the hippos here. As we got closer the guide would hit the paddle on the side of the dugout, and sure enough in the near distance a hippo or two would raise its head and investigate this strange sound. Then disappear back beneath the waters. Lucky enough to also see some pied kingfishers here as well as the beautifully coloured Malachite Kingfisher. We stayed the night at the Trinidad guesthouse, clean and comfortable. No meals so we ate dinner at a nearby bar and restaurant.
After an early breakfast of a egg on bread (no toast!) with a boiled beef frankfurter on the side we headed south towards Dodoma for the night. Lots of roadworks on the way, but fascinating trip through forests and open countryside. Closer we got to Dodoma there was rocky hills. We stayed the night at the Simba Motel.
Another long day which we had planned on as we headed south towards Udzungwa National Park. A lot more traffic around to what we had been experiencing and arrived late afternoon at the park rest houses. Very comfortable, very new and large rooms. First night meal was a bit bland so we convinced Wilson and Costa to take over the meal plans for the next two nights!
We woke early the next morning and headed off to the park for a day of trekking, butterflies everywhere, lush greenery, birds and some monkeys hiding in the canopy. Lunch at the waterfall was a relief as it was hard going today! Returned to the park resthouse, and glad for the showers! Costa and Wilson had performed miracles and enjoyed a delicious meal in the open banda with a cold beer or two.
Our second day was spent down in the Kilombero swamps, we took a dug out canoe, and spent half the day exploring the area, no special bird sighting. Another superb home cook meal at the park resthouse.
We had a long day of driving ahead of us, so we went to bed early an up before dawn to get on the road. We were heading to Dar Es Salaam and took the scenic route through Mikumi National park, well the only route in reality. Even though we tried to reach Dar before peak traffic it still took us a couple of hours to work our way through the traffic here. Wilson and Costa dropped us off at the best Western Coliseum, a few emotional farewells. They were going to stay the night just outside of Dar before the drive back to Arusha the next day.
We had most of the day in Dar before catching our flight. Went to the Hilton Double Tree for dinner overlooking the ocean. Taxis in Dar are not cheap though, I think it was 40,000 TS, about $30 AUSD each way! But wanted to catch a sight of the ocean before we left.
Overnight at the Best Western was very comfortable very friendly staff.
Went looking for the New Africa Hotel to see what changes had been made since the cup of coffee we had here 30 years ago while waiting for the Tazara train. Massive changes everywhere in Dar Es Salaam.
Headed to the airport early, as traffic jams apparently a nightmare here, even though we were staying on the airport road!
So ends another fantastic experience, and cant thank Simon, Wilson and Costa for leaving us with more memories.
We had a wonderful tour with East African Safari Co. Communication beforehand was prompt and clear. The trip was planned very well. Lodgings were progressively less rugged and more luxurious, as we made our way from a big pup tent in the Serengeti finally to a fabulous eco lodge near Tarangire. Our guide, William, was wonderful--thoughtful, very knowledgeable, and incredibly good at spotting animals. We had asked for a mix of hiking and driving, and there were several hikes built into the schedule, providing a nice break from time in the Land Rover. We wanted to change the itinerary slightly partway through, by adding Oldivie gorge, and were able to do so (though of course we had to pay the additional entrance fees ourselves).
EASTCO is a relatively small team comparing to some other Safari companies in Tanzania but the key differentiators for EASTCO are deep expertise and knowledge of Safari , flexible and customized offers at very attractive and competitive price! The itinerary recommended to us by East African Safari & Touring Company was indeed well balanced between Safari time and time required to connect between Parks so we were not exhausted during the whole Safari trip. And thanks a lot for assigning our small group with Bernard! Bernard is very friendly guide with excellent driving skills and great sense of humor! His deep knowledge and passion in nature and exceptional care about customers thrilled us and kept in excellent mood till the very last moment!
Last but not least we would like to say a few words about camp sites and lodges. They all were great, outstanding places! Ngoro Ngoro wild lodge renovated with high-class service, spacious rooms with big windows and best-to-view location! Acacia Tented Camp was like a 5 stars luxury hotel in a complete wilderness new tidy and fully supplied tents, simple but delicious cousin and very friendly stuff. The Boundary Hill Lodge in Tarangire just delighted us with its distinctive uniquely designed lodges masterly integrated into kopje hill nature a place worth to visit just to feel wild spirit of the East African Savanna!
Being a bit experienced with Safaris, we may say with full confidence that EASTCO tour was time of relax, pleasure and fun with high class service and care! Even despite depreciation of earnings due to new VAT regulations in Tanzania, the EASTCO company delivered high class service at initially agreed costs. David & Simon, the owners of East African Safari & Touring Company, keep their business in a very responsible and trustful way and we will recommend your company as reliable Safari partner to our friends and colleagues! Thanks you!
Dmitry, Ivan & Cristina
My wife and I had a bad experience with EASTCO. We had to cancel our vacation and our tour. We canceled about 2 months before the tour and were promised a refund (also part of the contract). We never got our refund. Each week we got different excuses from Simon why they are not sending our refund until one day he stopped answering our mails.
I would not recommend EASTCO because the disrespect that we, their customers, received.
I hope this review will help avoid more discomforts.
We have just finished a 2 week safari with EASTCO. We have travelled with EASTCO in the past and this time wanted to go somewhere we hadn't been before to see more of the country. Simon from EASTCO suggested we go to Mwanza.
We arrived on QATAR airways and sat around Dar Es Salaam airport for the evening flight to Mwanza. Not much at the airport here, sat outside on the benches with the sun in our eyes before checking in on the Fastjet flight.
Arrived in Mwanza in the dark, small airport with a very rustic arrivals lounge! It was warm and humid. We were staying at Ryans Bay Hotel which was only about 20 minutes away. The hotel was great and we had a second story room with balcony and view over Lake Victoria.
The next day we met our guide from EASTCO, Bernard, and did the very short drive to the National Parks dock. It was great meeting up with Bernard as in the past he had been our guide and we shared an interest in birds! We were heading out to Saanane Island National Park to spend the afternoon with a ranger and guide exploring the park. The park launch was covered with a canopy and since it was just us and the guide we headed off straight away.
The thing that struck us most was the massive granite rocks everywhere. We were told the locals call Mwanza Rock City. It was good to get out of the water and stretch our legs on the island. Saw quite a few zebras and antelope, also a monitor lizard sun baking on the rocks.
The next day we headed off for the drive along the lake shore towards the Serengeti. This was one of my wishes, to drive through the Serengeti from near the shores of Lake Victoria to Ngorongoro.
We spent two nights in a bush camp in the Grumeti area. Lots of mud and long grass, but saw so many buffalo and elephants here. Also saw in the distance a basking crocodile. Then headed to the plains around Ndutu and Olduvai for two nights in a bush camp. These were two totally different experiences, from the valleys and rivers near Grumeti, to the long sweeping plains around Ndutu .
We especially wanted to spend some time at Olduvai Gorge, visiting the museum and taking a guide into the gorge, so we asked Simon to choose a campsite nearby, and we were lucky enough to be under a small kopje about 20 minutes drive away so we could spend as much time here as possible. I had visited Olduvai on an earlier trip quite a few years ago and wanted to visit again.
We skipped Ngorongoro this time and went straight to Naitolia Camp in Tarangire. The change since our last visit was amazing, everywhere was green and so bushy with trees and shrubs where in the past was open area overgrazed. We had three nights here for some walking and game viewing. The birds there were fantastic.....I don't think you could find a better place for watching birds.
After this we went to Mkomazi National Park. We hadn't been here before. We stayed in a bush camp in the park. It was very wet which made getting around hard, but the surrounding mountains, the isolation and having the entire park to ourselves was something special. Game viewing was scarce, we did see some eland and other antelope, but the walks were fantastic.
We then drove over the Pare mountains and down to the main road. We did get lost a few times on the twisting roads and the low clouds made for interesting driving! We headed for Tamborani Lagoon south of Pangani. This is part of Tanzanias latest Marina Park, the Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park.
This is not a beach resort place! We stayed in very basic tents on the beach, surrounded by palms. We loved exploring the beach and mangrove swamps. We also did a trip out to a small sand island in a outrigger dhow and visited the Tongoni Ruins. It was a very special four nights. We had the place to ourselves, and enjoyed watching the locals go about their daily life. It was interesting watching them catch squid at night with a torch right in the shallows near the camp!
This was a fantastic trip and we saw many places off the beaten track! We were able to work with EASTCO and plan the itinerary we wanted.