Jayne and Grant R.
"We knew we were in capable hands from the moment we met Bariki of Restorations Safaris. Our first impressions were confirmed and expanded over the rest of our safari. Bariki has an in depth knowledge and sensibility of the culture, wildlife and natural surroundings of his native Tanzania. Without his keen senses and expertise of animal behavior we would have missed many exciting and unique sights and experiences. For instance, he spotted a pair of lions, not visible at first to our untrained eyes, in the golden grass of the Tarangire, and thanks to his insight and patience, we were able to observe this pair's mating ritual. Truly a once in a lifetime experience! We felt we not only had an incredible safari, but also had made a new life long friend in our host and guide."
Brian and Tami B. London, England UK
"Our lives changed on our trip to Tanzania this year. Bariki, our guide, used his deep experience and incredible knowledge to transform our trip from simple sight-seeing into a connection with the land, the people, and the astounding animals. We were truly moved to action by Bariki's concern for the environment - we can't wait to return. We'll definitely go with Restoration Safaris because of the passion for creating good and helping Africa."
Sheila T. and Brian W.Washington D.C. USA
"Everything about our safari with Restoration was amazing! The weather was perfect, we saw fantastic wildlife, and Bariki made sure that everything was taken care of for us. As our guide, he struck the perfect balance between being the expert in charge, and letting us dictate the pace of the day. So when we wanted to sleep in one morning, or spend well over an hour quietly watching a huge herd of elephants, we could! But the real highlight was planting trees with a group of orphans in one of the villages. The holes were pre-dug by the nursery providing the tree saplings, so planting them was actually very easy, and the children were SO excited and eager to participate! Watching them handle those saplings as if they were the most precious things on earth was incredible. This, we will never forget!"
I just got back from 15 dd of safari that included some trekking. The company is Restoration Safaris, and it's locally owned and operated out of Arusha. They created a custom trip for my partner and myself. We had the vehicle and guide/driver all to ourselves, and could linger as long as we wanted. All safari vehicles have a roof that pops up into a shade so you have a 360 view from high. It was really great- we saw hundreds of elephants, lions, a leopard, scores of giraffes, hippos, all kinds of birds (lost on us as we're not birders), and the Great Migration. Every day seemed better than the previous. We were probably spoiled with Tarangire and Arusha NPs by the time we got to the Serengeti, where, as in Ngorongoro, animals are really far away (prob. need at least 400-600mm to get them, at which point you're doing animal portraits only, not really recording your experience of what you see with your naked eyes). The animals we saw in Tarangire were either much closer or in a more interesting environment.
One thing in choosing a safari operator is to make sure you find a guide who has lots of experience- to be able to predict when and where animals will show up; and contacts- drivers tend to tip each other off on animal sightings to help each other out. It's also important to find one who's passionate about getting you to see amazing things, and who's good at reading your interest and energy level so he can get you what you want. On our last day, with a 10AM flight out of the airstrip in the bush, our guide convinced us to go out at 6am for one last game drive- plenty of time to for breakfast and to catch our puddle jumper back east. And when we saw our first cheetah no more than 20 ft from the land rover, I don't know who was more thrilled- us, or him, hearing us babbling and going crazy.
Our accommodations were all very nice, clean, and comfortable, and not necessarily high end (we wanted to keep costs down). But you should know that safaris are expensive: locals don't do safaris the way westerners do them, at least in Tanzania. It's all a question of logistics- getting you from spot to spot, food, water, etc. All that's carried in, and it's not as if there's an existing infrastructure. We never felt unsafe during our trip, which included an 18-20 mile trek over 2 days and walking safari (aka, hike in a national park), etc.
One thing you might consider is whether the company is locally owned. I like that all of my money was going to a local company- the more Tanzania benefits from safaris, the more it will work to preserve its natural habitat. The company also donates trees to plant in local schools.