1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well)
Tawi Lodge, Tawi Conservancy (near Amboseli National Park), Kenya
2) Website address if known:
3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known).
4) Length of stay:
5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what?
Recommended to me by safari planner. I wanted to visit Amboseli, no idea where I wanted to say.
6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently?
Safari planner did all the work
7) How many times have you been on Safari?
This was my third
8) To which countries?
Tanzania and Kenya, one time each prior
9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to?
Ngorongoro Farmhouse, Maramboi Tented Camp in TZ. Nothing comparable on my last Kenya visit (all Porini camps)
10) Was the camp/lodge fenced?
11) How many rooms/tents does it have?
12 "bandas" or thatched-roofed cottages
12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private?
All bandas have a view of Kilimanjaro from the bed and bath. There was a banda behind mine, in the sense they'd have to walk along my deck area to get to theirs. Other than overnight security checks, I heard no one outside my banda.
13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent?
Very comfortable: overstuffed chairs in front of fireplace, large queen sized bed, soaker tub, waterfall shower, toilet, double-sinks in bathroom, porch with lounge chairs and deck area.
14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why.
I LOVED THE FOOD. I'm a vegetarian and Tawi had some of the freshest, most creative, vegetarian options I've had anywhere, let alone Kenya. Most veg are grown on site, and they sundry their own tomatoes. Every meal was wonderful.
15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?)
It was a set menu. Yes, they catered to vegetarian, unsure of other diets. I requested this in advance through my safari planner.
16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes?
Single tables. Manager was around most of the time, socializing with guests.
17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives?
Did not have any meals out on game drives.
18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible.
Typical Land-Rovers, open sides, canopy top (could open fully if we wanted), three rows of seats
19) How many guests per row?
2 in the first row 2 rows behind driver, 3 in the last row
20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken?
I would go out 6:15-10 and again 4-6:30 (Amboseli closes at 6:30, you have to be heading out then) Drive through the conservancy back to camp lasted 10-15 minutes, unless wildlife encountered.
21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you?
I’m assuming they are the hours I went out. I never asked to stay out all day or longer.
22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like?
It is a private concession, and when on it, I never saw any other vehicles or lodges.
23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity?
I was surprised in Amboseli how few other vehicles I saw. On one elephant crossing, maybe two others, but most of the time we were alone. On one rare lioness sighting where there were 7 vehicles total.
24) Are you able to off-road?
Not in the park, but yes in the conservancy.
25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting.
It never came up, unsure.
26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings?
Elephants, elephants, elephants. Amazing sightings and encounters. Closer than I ever anticipated without even trying (they would pass right next to the vehicle). Some plains game in the National Park was good. Some giraffes and native elephants outside of the lodge on the conservancy and a bunch of "regulars" who would show up to the lodge's private watering hole every day around mealtimes. Three elephants in particular came around at almost every mealtime.
27) How was the standard of guiding?
28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue?
29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why:
I thought Julius knew the elephant families and habits extremely well, which worked to my advantage. He could tell what family was what from quite a ways. He also knows where to find other wildlife if you're interested. He's very aware of how to position a vehicle for good light, for wildlife crossings and for interactions that he sees coming that I don't. I was very happy with the guiding and my time in ANP. Also very knowledgeable about elephant behavior. Despite my reassurance that I don't need to see cats, he really tried to find them. We did see a lioness. Four cheetahs were spotted on the far side of Amboseli by other guests, but I opted not to drive that far hoping to see them.
30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs?
Extremely so. They were very friendly to me as a single traveler, engaging with me to feel welcome and entertained but not overdoing it.
31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known.
Tawi Lodge is on its own conservancy (Tawi - Kilitome Conservancy) that is a result of a joint partnership with African Wildlife Foundation.
32) Safaritalk trip report link:
33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add:
Outside of game rides, you can do nature walks with the guides, or have massages/spa treatments. I took them up on neither, choosing instead to read/nap on my back porch or deck.
Menno, the manager at Tawi, is a rock star. Extremely friendly, a joy to sit and talk to over a G&T at the bar, accommodating and resourceful. He's someone I'd want to be friends with in non-safari life.
This lodge was a bit more plush/luxe than what I thought I wanted. I really thought I wanted to be out in the mobile tents, bucket showering it up and being right in the middle of the wildlife. This is just as in the middle of wildlife, but with all the comforts of home.
No wifi, don't even think about it. And I say that as a positive, not a negative.
34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
Elephant at watering hole near pool/dining/firepit area -- photo from the lunch table
Pre-dawn Kilimanjaro from my private deck:
Edited by amybatt, 25 March 2016 - 07:00 PM.