To all viewers – Do not hesitate to USE THIS COMPANY. We researched for almost 2 years before our trip. We looked at American tour companies and several operators in Africa. We chose Kenya Expresso Tours and Safaris after several months of correspondence by e-mail and a couple of phone conversations. Paul spent a lot of time answering our questions and arranged our itinerary the way we wanted. Our dream safari totaled 11 days and 10 nights – 2 in Nairobi, 2 in Masai Mara; 3 in Serengeti, and one night each at the Crater in Ngorongoro; Lake Manyara, and Amboseli. Crossing the border from Kenya to Tanzania was not a problem at all. You will need a Visa for both and we feel visiting both countries is a must if you have never been as they are both unique. Some tour operators do not operate in both which was another reason for choosing KETS. Paul was willing and able to plan our trip based on our itinerary- we told him what we wanted he gave us what we wanted, simple. Several other companies we looked into want you to choose from the list of packages they offer and have trouble customizing your trip for you to include both countries.
On our first day in Nairobi, we met Paul who told us that we were in the best hands to see the Big 5. Not only did we see the Big 5 and countless other animals, Paul and his drivers, Frances in Kenya and Joseph in Tanzania, provided for us an experience of a lifetime. We went on our safari from June 17-28th and we were able to get “shoulder season” rates. The weather was perfect and not as many tourists. The plains still had color and had not turned brown as yet. Our pricing included a Toyota 4X4, (pay the little extra) lodging and full board at the safari lodging sites, and a driver/guide for a private tour of just 2 people. Stay away from mini-vans, they have a tendency to get stuck, and the 4X4’s have to pull them out. We saved a significant amount by going directly with KETS; less expensive than American based companies because you are going directly to the operator there, and we had our own vehicle, and were not in a group tour – all those people. Our accommodations were excellent. We had looked up all the lodges and there was only one night where we wanted to stay at a different place than what was initially quoted and Paul accommodated us with this request.
We will honestly say that we were skeptical and unsure about going directly to a company in Nairobi without prior experience. We contacted Trip Advisor, Better Business, US Embassy State Dept. and any other resource we could find to check on the legitimacy of this company. We had some fear – what if they don’t show up; what if we don’t get what we paid for – let’s face it, your entire trip relies on your tour operator. Everything was EXACTLY what we asked for, paid for, and was told what we would get. KETS clearly states on their home page that they charge an additional 3% to your total if you pay your safari by credit card this is not the 3% imposed from your credit card company which you can also avoid if you travel with an international credit card you will not pay this fee. So, if you want to save 3%, give Paul a certified check or cash, we missed this item. Also be very aware of the exchange rates for currency and do not get taken by street people offering exchanges – you will be taken. Gifts and souvenirs, also do your homework, we purchased some items too soon in our trip, Francis did tell us to barter and compare but the baseline place we went to as our first place was so outrageously priced we thought prices were good after that. Every park you go to will have tribe people approach you with items, beads, jewelry carvings, blankets any of these items you will get for a very good price.
We cannot say enough about how precise and smoothly all the arrangements went. Our guides/drivers – Francis in Kenya and Joseph in Tanzania, were professional, courteous and dependable. Everywhere we went, we were escorted and guided, and they were always at our meeting point before us. We never felt unsafe or uneasy, even when the drive was long and difficult. They have to navigate between animals, people, washed out road conditions and traffic can be tedious. We tried not to distract with questions too many times , and a traveler needs to understand there is some down quiet time that is needed and we cannot fault your guide for conditions or places that we chose to go. Both drivers put our safety and comfort in the highest regard. We told them that we met as strangers and left as friends, you can enjoy your experience immensely with the hours you will spend together on a trip like this by really appreciating all you can take away from it.
We can honestly say that this was a life changing event and choosing your tour operator is an essential part of the process. The places, the people, and the things we got to see and do were magnificent – the culture and the country is beautiful. This is a must see for anyone who is fortunate enough to travel there. We learned more than we thought possible from Francis and Joseph and the camaraderie was comfortable. We were both given a personalized gift as we left which Paul had Francis pick up for us. Joseph also gave us a gift from his heart and shared his story and reasons for becoming a tour guide and his passion for his country and the wildlife in it. Both are very meaningful to us. Bottom line – our dream is to return next time without the worries that we had that turned out to be unnecessary stress on our part prior to our trip. The livelihood of these companies depends on tourism and it shows in the quality of the experience we had. Will we book again with KETS – absolutely.
To Paul, Francis, Joseph, and Purity – Asante Sana, and until we meet again. Ron and Diane Florida, USA
Date of Posting: 18 July 2015
Posted By: Ron and Diane
Diane Florida, USA