My Thomson experience was first class all the way, and I can see why the workers on this mountain all aspire to work for Thomson. I would like to point out just how great some of the members of the staff were.
The Head Guide, Gabriel, was a wizened, well-experienced leader. His wisdom and experience helped lead the trek, and to make sure that things went all according to plan. He was an expert at knowing just what to do at the right time, and of reading people and giving sage advice.
The assistant porters were also top notch. It was always a joy to be with Assistant Guide Sunday, as he had an ebullient sense of humor and playfulness. I could not help smiling and being in a good mood whenever I was around him.
I cannot say enough about the Assistant guide, Simon. He was with me until the end and giving me such assistance, I will always be grateful. Also, his rich baritone voice lent an air of gravitas to the experience, as he would stop and explain to the group the different sights that we were viewing at the time.
Probably the greatest help to me on the trek, however, was my personal porter, Efata. This young man was worth his weight in gold. He was always by my side when I needed him, always giving me advice as to when or when not to remove or add articles of clothing, always there when I needed my water and snacks, and especially helpful in the mornings. I knew I could rely on him every morning to help me organize my kit, to pack up my sleeping bag and liner, to retrieve my bowl of hot water for washing, to tuck me into my sleeping bag at night, and even to help me put on my boots! This guy was simply amazing.
Another way in which Thomson exceeded my expectations was the food. I was a bit apprehensive that there would not be enough food for me, and that I would be hungry most of the time; so, I was extremely pleased when I saw the quantity and quality of the food provided.
Each meal of the day was simply stunning. At breakfast, I truly enjoyed the oatmeal and/or corn and millet porridges, the made-to-order eggs, the abundant peanut butter and bread, the potato fritters, and the passion fruit and mangos. Lunch was always varied and plentiful, and I especially enjoyed the pasta salads and cheese sandwiches. Dinners again, were varied and plentiful; I especially enjoyed the wonderful soups and plentiful bowls of rice and deliciously prepared and seasoned meat and vegetables.
Even the snacks were great. I enjoyed the trail mix provided, and I especially enjoyed the Zawadi energy bars (they were a true “gift”, as their name would imply). Best of all was the ginger tea and popcorn that awaited us at tea time at the end of the hikes. We all good-naturally fought over the last drop of ginger tea, as we all needed that to settle our stomachs!
I really appreciated the fact that the staff catered to my Kosher diet. Whenever something non-Kosher was served to the group, I could always rely on being served a Kosher alternative. This really made me feel special.
Moving onto the safari, I would like to say that it was a joy going on the safari with my guide, Nasibu. He was just so effervescent the whole way, with his infectious enthusiasm and warm smile. You could tell that he loved what he did; he got so excited whenever we saw a baby elephant or buffalo, for example. Even though I was completely worn out and exhausted from the long days of trekking that preceded the safari, it was hard not be enthused about seeing all of the different animals with Nasibu as my guide.
On top of giving me a first-class safari experience, Nasibu also exceeded my expectations by stopping along the way on our trip back to Arusha, so I that I could take pictures, as well as stopping at a souvenir stand, as well as for a delicious lunch (their grilled Nile perch was delicious) and enjoyed a tour of a recycling factory before heading back to the Kia Lodge. I also appreciate the fact that Nasibu showed a genuine concern for my well-being.
The lodge at the crater was amazing. I enjoyed the attentive service that I received from the staff. The food they provided was “to die for”. The banana soup was delicious, and the special way they prepared the goat and aubergines was just out of this world! Further, at one point, my stomach was upset, so I requested ginger tea; they did not happen to have any on hand at the time, so they went through the trouble of preparing ginger tea from scratch— boiling some ginger to create tea. It is this type of personal attention that, in my mind, made this lodge excel.
Overall, then, I would have to say that, between the attentiveness of the staff, the food, and the accommodations, that I received first-class service with Thomson. I had a good experience, and I would definitely recommend Thomson to anyone considering a Kili trek and/or a Safari. Thank you for all of your help along the way!