<![CDATA[Char's Travel Center - Char's Blog]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 23:03:21 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Spain]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:09:33 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/spain-dec-2011-and-june-2012Picture
Spectacular Spain!  This country has it all.  Experience the energy of Madrid and Barcelona, the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean, the central mountains and the white washed hill towns in Andalucía.  Don't miss Morocco!

Click "READ MORE" to find out more about this trip!

We visited central Spain in early December 2011 and explored Madrid, Segovia, Alcala de Heneres and Cuenca. The weather was fine in December (mid 40’s to mid 60’s) and the crowds are low. 

All 3 cities are within 1-2 hours of Madrid and can easily be reached by train, bus or car. We stayed at the Paradors in the three outer towns. What a lovely experience! From the modern Alcala de Heneres, where numerous architectural awards have been won, to the 16th century Parador at Cuenca. The Paradors are a great way to get some local flavor in the country. We mixed that up with a wonderful 5 star hotel in Madrid, the Hotel Villa Magna.

Not to be missed:

-Segovia- the Roman Aqueduct- the 2900 foot long marvel dating back to the 1 st
century AD. The Alcazar (castle) of Segovia. -Alcala de Henares- the storks and
university. Cuenca- the bridge crossing the gorge and all the hanging houses. We
ate in a hanging restaurant! What a view. Madrid- all the museums especially
the Museo del Prado, shopping, the Puerto del Sol, the Plaza Mayor and watching
all the people on their evening strolls.

Must experience: tapas, manchego cheese, cochinillo (suckling pig) red wine

Our second trip to Spain, in the spring of 2012, included Barcelona, Granada,
Ronda, Marbella, Tarifa , Tangiers-Africa, Seville and Madrid again.

WE flew from Barcelona to Granada and then picked up a car and drove the rest.

Barcelona is a very young and vibrant city. We enjoyed the beach, the clubs late
at night, and had a good hop on and off double decker bus tour of the city. It is
a wild contrast from Madrid. Hard to believe they are in the same country! Even
the language is different as they speak Catalan. Granada was our first experience
in Europe for a long time! Suggest driving directly to the Alhambra as this is

Spain’s number one tourist site. Ronda was a half day drive from Granada and
we visited Zahara, another hill town on the way. These “hill towns” are almost a
mile high! After the mountains we needed some R&R and beach time so visited
the Marbella Beach Club for two nights. What a delight! Perfect service, great
food, wonderful room and nice beach. We did not leave for two days as enjoyed
just “hanging”. We departed for the southernmost point in Europe- Tarifa. We
were anxious to see Africa and Tarifa was the jump off point. The ferry takes a
little over an hour to get to Morocco. We had a private guide who really was the
highlight of our whole trip. Ask me for info! He lived in Tangiers and knew with
about every fourth person we passed. The Kasbah, the Mosque and service, a
genuine Moroccan meal were a few of the special touches Aziz showed us.

Seville- my favorite city. Everywhere you look you see one building more
beautiful than the last. The people are delightful, the food and entertainment is

A few comments: Driving: Overall the roads in southern Spain are very easy to
drive. They do not speed quite as fast as other countries in Europe in which we
have driven. (8). The directions are easy to understand and people are happy
to assist if you are lost. All try to speak English and with a “little” Spanish you
can get by. Just be patient as they really do want to please. People: very happy.
Want to please and will make every attempt to make sure you are very satisfied
with their services. Proud. Economy: with the news we hear, we know their
economy is not good. You would not know this though by just visiting. All
businesses are open, restaurants are crowded and everyone smiles Low stress.

Not to be missed:

Barcelona – Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Las Ramblas, Boqueria (food market)
Montjuic fountains at sunset, late night club scene (siesta!), Granada- the
Alhambra,the top attraction in Spain Ronda-Plaza de Toros- oldest bullring in
Spain, el Tajo-the gorge that divides the city Tarifa- the kite surfers and basically
the city to catch the ferry to Tangiers,Morocco. Tangiers –see it in a day (or
longer) with a private tour set up by Char~call me! A wonderful day that really

stood out from the rest of our trip. Seville- flamenco, Cathedral, drinks and
dining on the Embarcadero, Santa Cruz strolling and dining. You can see we are
into more relaxation as this trip continues. The local scene. Saw flamenco right
in the street beside our alfresco dining experience. We ate outside the entire 10

Must experience: Sangria, paella, local cerveza, dining alfresco while people
watching, a side trip to Morocco., flamenco.
<![CDATA[Mexico]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:09:05 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/mexico-december-2011Picture
December 2011- The “Royal Tour” was different than any other trip to Mexico I have taken.This was a tour set up by President Calderon to showcase a special area of the country.

Click "READ MORE" to find out more about this trip!

He picked 4 locations, for his Royal Tours, and this one highlighted the land of the Maya on the Yucatan peninsula. We had a Mayan tour guide who gave us a great history of their ancient civilization and lands. Highlights included tubing in one of the largest underground rivers in the world- Dos Ojos, visiting the more well known sites of Tulum and Chichen Itza where we
saw a Mayan light and sound show. A special treat was the visit to the UNESCO
world heritage reserve of Sian Ka’an. 

We took a private boat ride through its pristine waters, canals and lagoons. An interesting stop was in Valladolid where we visited the Casa do los Venados- a bed and breakfast and private museum highlighting Mexican popular art. Along the way to Merida we stopped and saw
how tortillas are made by the locals. When we arrived at our lodging in Merida
there was lots of action going on. Apparently, the leaders of other Latin American
countries had just finished a summit and were flying out in helicopters from the
park beside our hacienda. Muy exciting! 

We drove a short distance to Campeche and saw how Panama hats were made and toured the museum. Our group was 8 people and our guide gave us very thorough information of the Maya people throughout our tour. Our lodging was Grand Velas- Riviera Maya, the Maryland
Lodge- in Chichen Itza (on the grounds!) and the Hacienda Xcanatun in Merida. I
would recommend this type of tour for a group of 4-10 with a private guide and
<![CDATA[Alaska]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:08:28 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/alaska-may-2011Picture
May 2011- WOW is the word to describe our cruise on the National Geographic Expedition Sea Lion. After taking probably 20+ cruises overall,(ocean and river) this one really stands out above the rest. Exploration! Adventure! Active!

Click "READ MORE" to find out more about this trip!

Picture yourself on a small ship (max 62 guests), in a coastal wilderness of southeast
Alaska without seeing any other boats in one week! Natural landscape all to
yourself. See whales, bears, sea otters, stellar sea lions, bald eagles, mountain
goats. Experience the enormous glaciers in Glacier Nat’l Park and hear the
thunder of tons of ice calving into the sea.

Visit larger cities of Juneau and Sitka and also the many smaller towns where you can even meet the local indigenous Tlingit peoples. Have fun in kayaks, hiking or taking the guided zodiacs. Activity from mild to wild- your choice. The food is great and all local. This is a very
casual cruise with the focus on the natural beauty and fun fellowship with the
small group. Great staffing: at least 4 naturalists, expedition leader, professional
photographers and videographer. These ships lead expeditions to locations all
over the world. Just ask! Book early for promotions and best availability.
<![CDATA[Costa Rica]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:08:00 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/costa-rica-december-2010Picture
Imagine lush cloud forests, warm beaches, exotic rainforests and majestic volcanoes. This small Central American country is packed with beautiful national parks and an abundance of birds and wildlife. And it is easy to access from the USA! This is a year round destination too.

Click "READ MORE" to find out more about this trip!

The Costa Ricans (Ticos) are friendly, peaceful, fun loving and well educated. They are really
proud of their country and enjoy hosting visitors. They have been eco- friendly for over 20 years.
Their slogan “Pura Vida” (pure life) says it all. This is a very safe country to visit.

Costa Rica has a wide range of elevations and has one of the earth’s richest plant and wildlife habitats. They are an epicentre of eco-tourism and the most alluring location in Central America. Nature and adventure seekers abound. Some activities include white water rafting, canopy tours, surfing, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, bird watching, all levels of hiking.

There are many ways to tour this country. We had a private guided tour for a group of 10. Our
tour spent one night in San Jose at Grano de Oro, the next night at the Peace Lodge on the
grounds of La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature park. (this is one hour from San Jose) We moved
onto the Springs Resort and Spa at the Arenal Volcano and ended up on the Pacific coast at the
Four Seasons for some R&R. We had daily tours of the flora and fauna. How delightful. The
nice thing is you can fly into San Jose and out of Liberia airports if you choose.

I would recommend picking three areas to stay. The resorts range from 3-5 star and you can
pick these locations based on the activities you wish to experience. Some of the resorts are
so deluxe you won’t want to leave . You can combine a posh resort with a more moderate
property where you plan to tour most of the day. Just call Char to arrange your visit to this
lovely country!
<![CDATA[European Cruising]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:07:42 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/european-cruisingPicture
October 2005-June 2012 (6 cruises). Grab a taste of many cities and have it all planned ahead for you! View a slice of European life as you glide along on a river cruise or tour and experience larger cities on an ocean/sea cruise. Pick your favorite location and return later to enjoy it even more.

Click "READ MORE" to find out more about this trip!

River cruise- You'll glide past imposing medieval castles, lush riverbank vineyards,
and remarkable ancient wonders. Every gentle bend of the river reveals another
fascinating sight as your luxurious river cruise ship winds its way through scenic
landscapes, delivering you right to where many of Europe's most celebrated cities
were born. Once onboard, you’ll enjoy an all inclusive vacation that includes deluxe
accommodations, all meals, wine and beer with dinner, included tours at each
destination and the services of a professional tour conductor. Cruises range from 3- 23
days in length and can be custom planned with city stays on each end.

Char has enjoyed river cruises on the Danube, Main, Moselle, Seine, Saone,Rhine and
Rhone rivers.

Ocean/Sea cruises- this is a great way to experience multiple cities of Europe in a
short amount of time. Western Mediterranean cruises can visit the major cities of
Barcelona, Naples, Sorrento, Capri, Rome, Florence, Nice and Marseilles all in one
week! For a couple extra days Greece and Venice can be visited too. There are many
other cruises of the Baltic countries, the Greek islands and Croatia, the UK and more.
Most of the cruises are 7-10 days. Ships range from the large cruise liners of 5000
guests to the smaller deluxe ships of 300 guests.

Char has enjoyed cruising the Western Mediterranean in June 2012 and the Baltic
countries in July 2011. Both were on the larger ships. This is a good way to travel with
a family or friends group.

Note: River cruises are small in size usually having between 150-180 passengers.
They are more all inclusive than (non deluxe) ocean/sea cruises. They do not have an
exciting night life, while the larger cruises do. River cruises include tours at each port
and with ocean/sea cruises you need to purchase excursions which sometimes will cost
as much as the cruise (which is very reasonable). The cost of river cruises is higher
but includes more. These comments are made with the mass market ships in mind (ex:
Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Princess-etc). There are lovely deluxe category
ocean/sea cruises which include many more amenties. (ex: Seabourne, Regent,

Cruises are very promotional and the earlier you book, the better price you will receive.
<![CDATA[Ireland]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:07:23 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/ireland-2010Picture
Adventure Ireland! A small island with lots of spirit. The Irish people are fun with a great sense of humor. You can understand them if you work at it! Tour the larger cities on both ends of your trip and experience the countryside in the middle of your vacation.

Click "READ MORE" to find out more about this trip!

This country is easy to tour as the country is about the size of WV. (300X170
miles) But beware if you drive it as we did! The roads are ultra narrow with cars
parked on both sides. There are no berms on the sides, only large stone fences.
Take out the ultra collision damage waiver and any “dings” will be forgiven. Trust

We started in Dublin renting a car at the airport and leaving at once. We had
decided to drive south around the bottom of the island, back up to Galway and
across the island back to Dublin. Total of 6 days, and would suggest 8 for our
itinerary. We skipped some major tourist areas (Ring of Kerry ) to spend more
time on the Dingle Peninsula and in Galway. We stayed in B&B’s which we
reserved in advance. We had great weather which was a delight in April.

Note: Ireland can be visited by group tour, private tour or drive on your own as
we did. Char has planned many private tours for small groups that have a driver/
guide for 8-12 people. This is a nice way to have a customized tour and see
everything you wish.

TIP- “If” driving go in a clockwise direction. It makes the round-a-bouts and
driving on the wrong side of the road, wrong side of the car easier.
<![CDATA[Galapagos Islands and Quito Ecuador]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:07:04 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/-galapagos-islands-and-quito-ecuador-october-2012Picture
The Galapagos Islands are unlike anywhere else on Earth--simply because of the lush flora and fauna that you will only find on the island and nowhere else in the world. With no predators on the island, the unique animals are extremely tame and docile and are not afraid of human contact. Visiting the Galapagos Islands, you'll come toe to toe with sea lions, iguanas, droves of birds among the countless other unique animals.

The best way to see the Galapagos Islands is by cruise, where the crew will prepare you for the trip of a lifetime.

Click "READ MORE" to find out more about this trip!

Day 1-  We had  a  short 3 ½ hour flight from Miami, FL  and arrived in Ecuador’s capital- Quito.  At 9000 feet, even though it is on the equator, it was only about 70 degrees.  

Day 2- After breakfast we transferred to the airport for a 2 hour flight to the Galapagos Islands! They are located about 400 miles west of the Ecuador coast. We transferred to our ship the Galapagos Explorer II. Our stateroom had a large balcony and plenty of space. After lunch we joined  our top-notch naturalist guide to explore Wizard Hill, where a fine white sand beach is home to sea lions basking in a particularly picturesque setting.

Day 3-  We Discovered Espanola Island
We called upon Gardner Bay where our sharp-eyed guide pointed out a wide variety of
wildlife including Hood mockingbirds, Galapagos hawk, marine iguanas and raucous
colonies of sea lions. We also had an option to snorkel just off the shore. In the afternoon, we stepped  ashore at Punta Suarez where a rocky coastline was home to Nazca boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, Blue-footed boobies and colored marine iguanas.

Day 4- We explored Santa Cruz and Rabida Islands

This morning’s beach landing at Whale Bay on Santa Cruz Island revealed unique flora
including Acacia and Incense trees. In the afternoon, we explored along the red sand beaches
and cliffs of Rabida Island. These dramatic landscapes are home to greater flamingos,
Brown Pelicans, Galapagos mockingbirds and sea lions. 

Day 5-  Puerto Ayora Town and Plazas Island
We stopped  in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research
Center. We learned about the pioneering research and important conservation
work being done to preserve the islands’ precious natural heritage.We saw the giant tortoises weighing over 800 pounds.  In the afternoon, we went ashore on Plazas Islands for up-close encounters with Sally Lightfoot crabs, land iguanas and even the magnificent frigate bird. 

A few additional notes:

The ship- The Galapagos Explorer II- (only 100 passengers) will become the Silversea All Suite Silver Galapagos in Fall 2013.  Her finely appointed suites elegantly offer sweeping panoramic ocean views. Onboard cuisine is the finest in the Galapagos Islands. The dress is always casual and the cruise experience is highlighted by a dynamic program of shore excursions (also included), combined with a staff of hand picked and highly trained, multilingual naturalist guides

The sea life- It was amazing how tame all the animals were as we hiked through their islands.  They have no predators, so they are not afraid.  The sea lions were huge.  The iguanas were also quite large and kind of scary, until we realized they would not attack us.  What a wonderful experience to see these animals that have been on these islands, 400 miles off the coast, for ages!
<![CDATA[Star Clipper cruise of Panama & Costa Rica]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:06:34 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/star-clipper-cruise-of-panama-costa-rica-december-2012Picture
A 20-sail ship awaits you as you tour the lush ecosystems of Panama and Costa Rica on a Star Clipper cruise. An intimate ship with elegant and ornate amenities greet you after you tour the beautiful grounds of some of the world's most protected ecosystems. A wonderful trip for those "laid-back" adventurers within us.

Imagine sailing on a sailboat with 20 sails!  What a delight. There was a ceremony, with music, each evening with the raising of the sails.  There were 160 passengers on our cruise with a private yacht feel. The décor was reminiscent of the grand age of sail.  The expansive teak decks provided plenty of space so we never felt confined. We enjoyed our daily dips in the two pools. 

Dining was open with several courses to choose from at dinner while buffets were enjoyed for breakfast and lunch. 

Our itinerary was of the Panama and Costa Rica coasts.  We started our adventure arriving a day early in Panama and explored the capital city, with a private guide, including the Panama Canal.  

On our sail we began in Balboa and we visited several off shore islands along with mainland towns. The islands were full of sea life.  On the Star Clipper cruises snorkeling gear and shore excursions are complimentary.  There is a whole sports team offering island activities. We also toured towns in Costa Rica and included the beautiful rain forest and national parks.  Ending a week later, we flew home from San Jose.  

<![CDATA[Istanbul, Turkey]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:06:15 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/istanbul-turkey-april-2013Picture
A truly unique city spanning two continents and boasting one of the largest populations of any city in the world, Istanbul has something for everyone. An ancient city that relied on its military power in the past has transformed into an haven for artists and food lovers alike.

WOW!  What an interesting city.  This city area has over 17 million in population with a bridge spanning Europe and Asia! We stayed at the moderately priced Armada Hotel having a room with windows opening up for great views of the Marmara Sea that runs into the Bosphorus Sea.  The rooftop restaurant had vast views both of the sea and the Blue Mosque which was lit up at night.  We could easily walk up the hill to the old town walk and also to the lovely promenade that that runs all the way along the sea to the ferry docks and Spice Market. 

The first day we arranged for a full day private tour to help orient us. It  began  with a visit to the Hippodrome, which was one of the largest chariot race grounds of the Byzantine Empire. We took a short walk to the  Blue Mosque, completed in 1616.   The mosque was a part of a complex also ıncluding, tombs, fountains, kitchens, and a bath. The blue Iznik Tiles covering the walls have given the mosque its popular name, Blue Mosque.

Next, we visited  the magnificient Topkapi Palace, the residence of the sultans for almost three centuries. In the Treasury section, we saw breathtaking displays, including the 7th largest diamond in the world, the "Spoonmaker's Diamond" and the Harem is a vast labyrinth of rooms and corridors once occupied by the black eunuchs, concubines, the Sultan's mother and the Sultan himself.

After our lunch, in the ottoman Imperial Hotel, we visited the St. Sophia, the church of the Divine Wisdom. This is the architectural marvel of all time. Last, we continued to explore some of the ninety- two streets of the famous Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaar is the largest and oldest covered Bazaar in Turkey with more than 4,000 shops. A variety of Turkish Handicrafts, Oriental carpets, rare jewels and inexpensive souvenirs all sold in small shops next to each other.  No, we did not buy any rugs!

The next day, on our own, we sailed up the Bosphorus to the Black Sea on a local ferry-the Istanbul city lines. We chose to take the long tour sailing from Eminonu to Anadolu Kavagi.  We disembarked at the end, and toured the town before walking up a giant hill to the Yoros Kalesi (castle) where we had a wonderful lunch of “messes” (like small tapas) of mini grilled mussels, a shrimp casserole and a good salad . The view of the Black Sea was marvelous. In the distance, 22 miles away, we could also see downtown Istanbul.  For those who do not wish to climb the giant hill, the town has many quaint cafes with sidewalk restaurants offering  good views of the sea and yummy inexpensive locally caught fish.

 On the boat we had rented headsets which gave a commentary of the sites we passed on the 1 ½ hour trip to the Black Sea. The boat makes 6 stops where you can disembark if you wish.   There are food, drinks and restrooms onboard.

Another day we took a morning tour of the Asian side of Istanbul.  This area is more modern and not as crowded as the European ‘old town’ side.  Again the views from the hills are magnificent.  We visited the palace and enjoyed talking with our guide about life in Istanbul. 

A few comments:

The people and city-  The happy Turkish people love their city and country and are very proud. They all comment on how everything is great except the traffic.  It seems like all 17 million residents drive into the city daily. The public transportation is young and improvements need to be made. Taxis are plentiful and reasonable in price.  The locals try to sell you everything, but once you say “no” they say “have a good day” with a smile.

Food- YUM.  We hit many local spots and tried all the specialties including their kebabs, yoghurt soup, eggplant, seafood, lamb, raki (local liquour), tasty beer, coffee and tea.  Most of the menus had English translations or if not, we pointed to the pictures on the menus. All food comes with tasty sauces and all is priced reasonably. All water is bottled.  We went to a “meyhane” which is a pub type place with nightly music and good food. 

Next trip- I can’t wait to return to Turkey as I returned home with Turkish  lira and money remaining on my Istanbul metro pass!   Stay tunedJ

<![CDATA[Kenyan Safari]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:05:49 GMThttp://www.charstravelcenter.com/chars-blog/kenya-safari-april-2013Picture
Often a huge "bucket list" item of seasoned travelers and novices alike, a Kenyan safari is worth the time, energy and money to experience one of the most memorable adventures possible!

Learn about the heart of Africa while searching for some of the world's most sought-after animals, among them lions, giraffes, hippos and monkeys. After a full day on the trail relax and take in revel in the memories in posh accommodations as you create a shared experience that's impossible to forget.

Amazing- what more can I say?  We took this adventure with Abercrombie and Kent.  They are a premier supplier of this type of travel in Africa. 

We arrived at the Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club- high on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, Africa’s 2nd highest mountain. The luxurious rooms, with fireplaces, in the park like setting were lovely. This is a full service resort compete with golf, pools, spa, horseback riding, hiking and more.  It was founded by William Holden as a club for celebrities and big game hunters.  It is located right on the Equator.  

Time to experience the game reserves!  We started in Samburu a few hours’ drive from Mt. Kenya.

What a thrill as we saw our first of the “Big Five”.. Elephants!  Lots of them, in the Uaso Nyiro River with all of their family and babies.  After our game drive we checked into the Heritage Samburu Intrepids Club where we stayed for two nights.  This was a luxurious “tented camp” right on the river.  The rooms have fluffy beds with mosquito nets, polished wooden floors, marble bathrooms and large wooden decks with padded chairs to relax in as you view the river.  Nothing camping about this…except the sides of our room were soft sided canvas. 

The Samburu has scrub brush and trees that give the animals cover.  Our sighting of the leopard was a thrill, as this could have been the one animal that we might have missed, our second animal in the “Big Five”.(my son was the one who sighted this!)   Each day we had multiple game drives for about 2-3 hours each. We also visited a local Samburu village with shows put on for us by the men, women and children. We got to dance along with them and view their village and purchase local handicrafts.

For our next location, we boarded our small plane and flew over the Great Rift Valley to the Masai Mara Game Reserve.  This is in southern Kenya along the Tanzanian border forming the northern extension of the Greater Serengeti ecosystem.  This topography was different as the savannahs were vast.  We could see for miles across the plain.  The animals were not as hidden and easier to view.  We did see the rest of the “Big Five” here finding the  black rhino, the cape buffalo and lion.  A big surprise were the almost tame cheetahs, that would jump right on the open roof of the land rovers we traveled in.

We stayed for two nights at the Heritage Mara Interpids Club- similar to the Samburu lodging.  Again we experienced multiple game drives each day, had evening lectures and great meals.  They even included afternoon tea with freshly made crepes. Yum.

For our final day on the safari we moved to the Sanctuary Oleonana Tented Camp, again on the river with great views of the hippos- my favorite! They were right outside our rooms.  Management from Abercrombie and Kent met us for our cocktail party and farewell dinner.

Sadly, our adventure was coming to an end. We left the Mara and flew back to Nairobi where we had a tasty luncheon of local specialties and then boarded our long flight back home.  We flew both Kenya Air and Air Ethiopia . We were really impressed with both.   Can you imagine getting a full hot meal with wine or beer on flight that only is 1 ½ hours? 

A few comments:

Which tour company?- When taking a safari use a travel agent who will recommend a reputable company.  Abercrombie and Kent own their vehicles and insure they are all serviced regularly.  We had to pull several smaller vehicles out of the mud that were stuck in the savannah after the rain. 

Animals-  too many to list here.  We saw over 38 different animals and birds.  Just ask me. I kept a running list and took pictures and movies of all. (yes my new IPAD is full)

When to go? The best months in this area are July and August for the great migration. Over a million wildebeest march north with zebras and gazelles to graze on the Mara’s lush grasses. Mid December to February is also good for the weather and viewing.  We were there in the normally rainy month of April and had rain only one day.  That day, the river did flood some and A&K ordered us two planes to fly us 10 minutes to our next location, instead of having us cross the bridge in our land rovers.

I hope you get to experience a safari someday.  It truly was the trip of a lifetime