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If you wish to contact past SENE clients directly, please contact us to obtain a list of references.
our clients speak in 2020 / 21
Overall satisfaction is really a 10 – it was amazing!!
SENE has your best interest in everything they do from food to health to just having a great experience. You cannot go wrong with their knowledge and years of experience.
The climb was so well organized, the porters were great, and friendly, and Jackson and August were so cool!
I will definitely be putting in a good review for the whole group, and the way it ran so smoothly.
Thanks for all you did, and making this a dream come true for me! It was my 70th birthday dream!
THE TECHNICAL: Every aspect of what SENE does is planned and done for a purpose. The time at Mbahe Farm Cottages helps you rest after long travels before beginning your ascent. The time at the Cottages helps get you adjusted to the food you will be eating on the mountain and also starts your altitude acclimation. The hikes you take while there allow your guide, Jackson, in our case, to evaluate and anticipate your hiking speed and abilities. As I said, every aspect of this time has a purpose.
The climb was structured in the same way, including the meals. Start time, daily pace, and planning (hike high, sleep low), including monitoring O2 and heart rate, were anticipated. Simon’s team is professional, well trained, and prepared for every situation. Follow SENE’s packing recommendations, and you will be well prepared for what the mountain has to throw at you.
THE RELATIONSHIPS: This is what made all the difference in our trip and the part I did not anticipate. Our time in the country with SENE began with Joseph, our driver, and later our safari guide. He was engaging, informative, and funny.
Jackson was our next contact and one of our guides. I have never met a more genuine or real person than this gentleman. He never stopped smiling during our entire trip and always had uplifting words of encouragement for us or funny quips to lighten the mood when the trail was hardest.
Joel, our lead guide, was the gemstone of our team. We never doubted our safety or that Joel was in control of our success. He moved with authority but never lacked compassion for us as first-time mountaineers. Joel pushed when we needed to be pushed, encouraged us when we needed it most, and never doubted our ability to make it even when we may have questioned ourselves. Joel was a wealth of knowledge, educated us as we went, and always made sure we were physically fit for the next day.
I cannot say enough about the entire porter crew and how impressive they were every day. I witnessed other crews while on the mountain and would not trade for a single man from our team. They were all excellent, friendly, and happy to be on the mountain.
Tim, with SENE working stateside, is the best and did everything he could to help us while the world, the airlines, and COVID did what it could to keep us home. Thank you, Tim, for all the adjustments you made as flights were continually changed up until the time we left.
We were fortunate enough to be able to spend time with Simon and his family before beginning our climb. This may have been my favorite time on the trip as I learned so much about farming in the area, the mountain, and how dedicated Simon is to his craft, his country, and his clients. This man is local and knows more about the area, the mountain, and all things Kili than you can imagine. No guide service owned by a foreign company could dream of knowing what Simon does.
We did summit Mt. Kilimanjaro! We made it, and we give credit to the SENE team for putting us in a position to succeed. We, of course, left the mountain with a feeling of pride and accomplishment that you would expect, but we also left with friendships and memories that run deeper than just trekking up Mt. Kilimanjaro. These memories include people, relationships, laughter, and sincere heartfelt kindness and warmth between human beings during a time when COVID says you cannot do this.
Do more than climb the mountain. Do more than conquer the mountain. Let SENE enrich your journey and make your assent life-changing. I do not believe our experience would have been as rich nor as spiritual with any other guide service. We resoundingly recommend SENE, Simon, and his entire crew.
Simon, thank you so very much. Keep doing what you are doing.
All the people at SENE made the trip top notch for me. They got me to the summit for my 50th Birthday. That night they had a cake for me too. Made it so special. Made me feel special and safe. Now they are family. I’ll never forget my wonderful experience.
WOWWIE!! We thoroughly enjoyed A Most Excellent Adventure!
Thank You So Very Much for our wonderful plans and activities!
All Top Notch, as was Everyone from SENE…particularly Joseph, Felix and Abraham!
Each gentleman quickly developed a genuine and personal interest in us, and took wonderful “care” of us as well!
They went out of their way to anticipate and meet our every need, and have become valued and trusted friends, in the process!
Wishing You Many Blessings and Asante Sana!
Thanks for checking up on us – we needed a few days back to decompress before we were ready to give any feedback!
I have to say – the whole trip went very smoothly. All the arrangements that you made went as planned, from the mountain to the safari to Zanzibar. Thanks for organizing everything!
We were very excited to make it to the summit, and I have to credit Tim (SENE mountain guide) with a very well-run crew. The safari was great – we saw everything I could think of, and Paschal was a great guide. He is very knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects and was determined that we would see all the animals – even the elusive leopard! He’s also an excellent driver and we never got stuck in the mud although we saw many other vehicles that did. Thanks again!
our clients speak in 2019
Yes, I now feel like I have a very dear friend in Tanzania named Simon. This was what happened: at 2 am on the day before summit day I received a broken up call from an international number. It was 5 seconds of hysterical short of breath sobbing that sounded like my kid. Then it just cut out, and I couldn’t call it back. Knowing a: Alexander didn’t have his sim card in, b: I didn’t know the number of the new sim, c: the coverage on the mountain was very spotty at best, d: people from all over the world are up there, e: is the altitude affecting him.
So as any good mom would do, I freaked out. It was awful. I called all the guide numbers that were on your communication emails and of course no one had coverage. Finally I What’s App’d Simon and he kept me posted periodically for the next 12 hours until he confirmed at the checkpoints and the guides that the call wasn’t from Alexander. I got to hear about his family (it was his son’s 12th birthday) and we had a lovely time. He was wonderful with me, and I am going to make it a mission to get to his cottages for a visit.
Please send my regards back, tell him the coffee was excellent (and finished already!) and send more thanks again.
sorry it has taken me so long to reply – i think i’ve been in denial that the whole adventure is over and the longer i take to email you, post my review and photos the longer I can pretend the whole Tanzania experience was just yesterday!
i cant tell you how impressive the whole SENE operation was – from the couple of days spent on the Farm, through every aspect of the hike, and then the safari and the amazing Lodges we stayed in. Everything was top notch, with little touches that were just lovely. The Farm was just gorgeous, and i met Simon and his lovely family and had a brilliant discussion with him about honey-bees (I know a lot from Marin bee-keeping) and he gave me a tour and lesson about coffee in the rambling fields. I would love to come back there with my daughter and hang out. please will you pass on this email to Simon and my hope would be that the team also hears how much I appreciate each of them for making it such a lifetime-standout-special trip.
and as for the climb itself – what can I say? Godson, John and Manese were simply incredible as guides – Godson running a very tight ship and being utterly and quietly confident and in control of the whole operation the whole time. John was amazing and was my personal Swahili Tutor and imbued all the hikes with such good humor. I never felt bad for being the slowest and the one waaaaay at the back of the pack every day. And of course Manese – who is my hero! you may have heard that he had to bring me down from Crater Camp early, and his kindness, care and good planning was exceptional. It’s when things go wrong that the professionalism and experience of your guides shows…and Manese will always have my gratitude for patting my back as i was sick, holding my water bottle so I could drink without having to take off my gloves, showing me where to put my feet in that final stretch and buddy-hiking with me when I was so exhausted I lost the ability to balance on my own. Truly amazing and I’d like you to convey to Simon just how great the care was he, Dixon and Jumapili offered me on that taxing hike down!
the food on the trek was incredible – i dont know how Katunze and Freddie did it! we all remarked on just how delicious the food was at every meal. my porter Dixon (Katunze’s son) was so cheerful even though my bag was heavy, he always had a massive smile and took care of my things brilliantly. in fact the whole camp, and all the team were just efficient and professional and a delight! all of us felt the experience was just brilliantly organized and run and every single person should be SO proud to be working with SENE (and they all certainly were!).
the safaris were amazing and Willy was so conscientious to give us a brilliant experience. he was so proud to show us his beautiful country and tell us about the animals. I do think that, were I to do it again, i’d drop off that first lake safari and spend two days at that NgoroNgoro Lodge with shorter trips into the crater – i think all of us really needed more time relaxing, swimming and recovering – and those very long days in the truck (which we called The Beast because there wasn’t anything it couldn’t overcome) seemed very long after that long hike …
I LOVED the Grand Melia hotel – fwiw – and it was very useful to have that at the beginning (and we stayed for the afternoon on the last day) because it let me log into wifi and catch up…which wasn’t always possible when on safari.
you can rely on the fact that i’m a HUGE ambassador for SENE!! and i’ll definitely revisit with you all when I come back!
One thing I didn’t mention on the reviews was how the size of the group we had on Kilimanjaro was excellent. We cringed when we saw many groups of 15+ hikers and were happy with our family of 6 each night we camped. We truly got to know each other and provided support along the way. Thanks for keeping group size reasonable!
Our guides were fantastic. Godson led with confidence and Manese (sp) and John each offered unique skills. We were truly impressed with Manese’s knowledge of the area on an environmental level. He understood and was able to explain farming techniques, the impacts of climate change on practices, and was a never ending source of information on local flora and fauna. I suspect he’d make a great addition to any park service!
Overall the trip was exceptional. Tears shed at the last dinner and at the airport, mine included (a good indicator I’m still doing the right thing!)
Mara Mara and Masek camps are great. Very similar yet different. Anza the manager at Mara Mara was nothing short of grace. Yusuf at Masek equally so but more masculine!!!
Most group members did the balloon ride with Miracle Experience. They had to drive overnight an extra balloon for our group because Will Smith and Jada Pickett-Smith were in the other regular balloon. And Yep the two balloons were side by side in the air. Most group members were not aware it was them until after the flight!! Apparently he is filming some sort of piece on the Serengeti. AND there was a crew there filing a pice for a Nat Geo segment on Swarms. So the group was inches away from fame. Though many of the members of my group are celebs in their own right. Miracle was referred by Gerald and Joseph. I did not go, but it was awesome. They also had an American pilot. He is the world record holder for a couple things but mostly for over 8000 skydive jumpers from his balloons all over the world.
Immigration at Mwanza was lengthy and confusing. AND we were the only passengers there. Apparently they typically have 3 agents on duty. On this day only one and a “new” one. We were the only passengers on the flight. It took an hour for only 11 of us to get our passports back. And the immigration handlers were more pushy than helpful. Thankfully the shop was open so most everyone got a beer and chillaxed!
The Hadzabe and Datoga experience was beyond our every expectation. Our guide Daniel, hand picked by Gerald, was exceptional. The Hadza group we were with were so rediculously fun! And my group members were 100% fully engaged in the experience.
Gerald and Joseph look very handsome in their WRAS shirts and hats. The tire covers were impressive as always. So all in all we looked great and provided a terrific trip.
I think You, Shelly, SENE and the WRAS teams did great. I’m super proud of us all.
Amazing crew!!! I sat with the cooks in their tent for a short time and they explained some new words and typical chagga cooking to me. So glad they could make the banana stew the last day, it was all so delicious!!! Great attitude from the rest of team!!
Good treatment of crew, respectfulness towards nature. I was so happy to see that Jackson picked up garbage on our way down from crater camp, and Abraham picking up some bottles on the road towards the farm.
Starting at the farm was a nice way to ease into our trip. Especially since it took us almost three hours to get our visas at the airport (they said it was the first day of using a new system – all I know is that it took forever) and we didn’t arrive until almost 2:30 in the morning. Abraham graciously welcomed us and got us tucked in and promised we could have a late breakfast the next morning. We enjoyed walking around the farm and our day trek in the foothills of Kilimanjaro with Felix was great (tiring, but great). The meals, the service, the accommodations – all were superb!
Paschal came to meet us and off we went to Tarangire. Not sure if it was the errands Paschal needed to run (switching out cars, taking Simon a bag he forgot) or getting stuck in traffic in Arusha, but the trip took almost 7 hours, not the 3.5 our itinerary said, so that was a bit of a surprise. But the end result was worth it! Lake Manyara was a bit of a bust to be honest but we did see an adorable baby giraffe and our fist hippos so not all was lost (and I totally realize you have no control over what folks may or may not see!). The crater was spectacular and the Serengeti everything I hoped it would be! While Alan and I were always content to look out the window while we were driving (and we did A LOT of driving) I think the kids got a little bored at times. As my son said, “Mom, we’re just driving around looking at the same things over and over again”. Not true, in my experience, but totally understandable coming from a 13-year-old. Still, they had a great time as well.
All of our accommodations were lovely and the Farm Valley Lodge was a true surprise. Our itinerary said it was a luxury resort but we weren’t prepared for how fabulous it was. The food everywhere was great but I will say the box lunches got a bit monotonous after awhile (especially if you’re not very fond of hard boiled eggs, like me!). Both our kids struggled a little with the food but that’s on them, not you. We made it home with no serious stomach maladies and only a few bug bites (almost all of them on my daughter, poor thing!) so that was nice as well.
We’re pretty much over jet lag, all the laundry is done and put away and now all we need to do is cull our 2,500+ photos down to a reasonable amount so we can start showing folks our trip. Thank you so much for everything you did to help make my dream trip a reality.
Thanks again and best regards!
P.S. I forgot to mention something in my original email. On the day we were to travel to the Serengeti (via a visit to the Masai and Olduvai gorge) my son realized – ½ way up the crater – that he left Blue Monkey, his beloved-since-birth stuffed animal, back at the lodge. Pascal immediately pulled over and we brainstormed what to do (with my utterly despondent child in the back of the car) since we were already in the park and they only allow you one entry/day. We decided to go back to the gate and plead our case since we had entered only moments before. Pascal worked whatever magic he needed to and the guards agreed to let us out to go back to the lodge (which, fortunately, wasn’t that far away) to pick up Blue Monkey and return without reapplying for a permit or paying again. It was a moment that could have turned the rest of the trip into a long, melancholy ride for my son but Paschal was a champion! Turns out it only took about an hour out of our schedule (which was actually pretty loose that day anyway) but it meant everything to us!
Here’s a photo of us in the Seychelles wearing our SENE hats, which we are so happy to have- feel free to use this shot on social media for SENE. Thanks for all that you did to make another great safari happen for us! I’ll send some more safari shots, as well. We got some good ones!
Gerald is very knowledgeable, a kind and a warm personality. It was a pleasure being in his company and in top of it, an excellent driver.
We were very happy with the service provided by SENE, it was well above of our expectations.
We had an AMAZING experience at Mhabe! Abraham was such a wonderful host – he took amazing care of us. The food was perfect, the room was perfect – it really could not have been a better experience. Seeing how there were no other guests, we had the attention of Abraham, “Sugar Ray”, and Felix. We did a day hike up to the mountain and had a nice day exploring and learning. Sharon and I plan to return in 2 years and will more than likely schedule a safari with SENE.
Thanks for all your work in preparing a wonderful experience for us.
Chris and I came back a week ago from Africa. we had 2 wonderful weeks!!!
Thanks a lot for your organisation, everything went perfectly. The time at the farm cottage was very special. We were the only guestes and Abraham, Leonard and Robson treated us like kings! We had a good time. They are very nice hosts . The food was delicious the guys fun to be with.
We enjoyed the Safari with Gerard very much. He is a super driver, very calm, very professional and his experience in finding the animals is fantastic. And he also is fun to be with: We had a wonderful time and we hope that he enjoyed the time with us the same way!
You were asking also whether there are things that we think coul dbe improved. Please note that we are saying this as friedns and in the light of what we said before: We had an amazing stay with Sene!
The was an inconsistency w.r.t. the Gibbs Farm: Although our travel program stated full board at the gibbs farm, they did not confirm that. In the end, Chris (our friend at the Gibbs farm) invited us for lunch, but this was actually not what we wanted. So,
And here are suggestions for future customers
In Arusha there is the Cultural and Heritage Store and Gallery. Although kind of a tourist trap, it might still be a place to discover and shop around. More important, at the Arusha Coffee Lodge there is the Shanga, where disabled people work and create souvenirs, art and things to remember your stay in Tanzania. There is a coffee shop and nice restaurant, all together it may be a better stopover than the Rivertree Lodge.
The weather an especially the temperatures at the end of the rain season seem to be rather variable (Kilimanscharo region vs. Serengeti). It would be good to tell people to pack a warm sweater or a soft shell jacket. Looking at the ususal weather websites, the temperatures for June around Arusha are a little misleading….
Unfortunately, it was obvious that the the cattle herds (of the Maasai) are not sustainable, i.e. too large for the available pastures, resulting in highly overused pastures. And that the Maasai way of using the land per se is not sustainable. I hope the people of Tanzania will find a solution to this: Compensating the needs of a growing Maasai population with even larger numbers of livestock is definitely not the solution. Not an easy problem to solve, but as always, one keypoint will be education, education, education.
Thank much for everything!
Tina & Chris
Truly, one of the reasons was our incredible and very knowledgeable guide, Gerald. He is a gem! A true gentleman who made is feel so comfortable every step of the way.
Tanzania is a special place and I am so lucky to have seen this part of the world that is so different than the world we live in. What an eye opener for all of us. The animals were the topping on the cake.
Thanks again, Tim, for helping me make my dream trip come true.
Everything was well sorted and arranged and I was always taken care of, in all respects; safety, food, challenge and experience.
Of course, the highlight was the trek itself and making it to the summit.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Simon at the Farm before my trip and enjoyed his story; a remarkable man who made some remarkable achievements, including setting up SENE 🙂
The interaction with Nathalie who did a great job ‘selling’ the trek and the company. I always enjoyed her swift replies and very pro-active attitude and help in the preparation. There are many companies around for (sometimes a lot) cheaper prices, but I guess the devil is in the details and everything was well sorted with SENE.
I hope to bring another group to you next year and Erin definitely wants to return in 2021.
Both lodges were fine, especially their locations and views.
Thanks again for arranging so many of the large and small details. I hope you hold onto Gerald and Pascale, who are the keys to a successful safari.
In my opinion, SENE provides with the most authentic Tanzanian experience that a person could ask for. A very high level of professionalism and Courtesy that emulates the Tanzanian people.
We do have some feedback and suggestions for SENE to consider for future clients as well. Here are our thoughts by segment of the trip.
We really enjoyed the stay in Mbahe and our hosts (Abraham, etc.) were excellent. It was a great way to relax and acclimatize before the climb.
Our guides (Jackson and Octavian) were great and we couldn’t have made it to the summit without them, as well as the porters and support staff. Their experience on the mountain and understanding of our energy level each day made the difference, and we’re very grateful for them.
We do think the equipment could use a bit of an upgrade. The tents seems to be older and more run-down, especially our tent, which had a zipper issue the first two nights. Fortunately, the crew was able to find a solution for the remainder of the climb, but we definitely had a couple of colder nights because the tent didn’t fully close. The mess tent was also poorly insulated and we wound up very cold during most of the meal times (though we recognize meal times were also typically at the colder parts of the day).
By the time we came off the mountain, we were looking forward to a hot shower and doing some laundry before starting the safari. We left Kilimanjaro Park around early lunch time, but because we didn’t arrive to Arusha until 6 pm, we didn’t have a chance to clean much of our clothes. For guests who continue on in Tanzania for several days, we think it would be good to ensure you get to the hotel as early as possible to prepare for the next part of the adventure.
Given the distances between parks and speed limits, combining three parks in two days meant we spent a bit less time in the parks and more on the road. In retrospect, I think just focusing on two parks might be best, allowing the guests to check in to the hotel a bit earlier in the evening and enjoy the facilities (or clean up) and start fresh in the morning. For example, after leaving Ngorogoro, we spent around four hours in the car driving to Tarangire, eating up a large part of the day. The following day, we had to drive from the park lodge to Arusha airport, and because we were running late, just barely made it to the airport on time. The flat tire occurred when we were about 10 minutes from the airport, but fortunately Pascal and Jay were able to change the tire in record time.
The Ngorogoro Farm House Lodge was really lovely and we wish we had more time to spend there. We would definitely recommend it for other guests in the future.
The night in Tarangire was an interesting one. It’s a beautiful location and a very unique experience, though we wound up not having power in our tent the entirety of our stay, though every other tent had power. I think if it were at the beginning of our trip, or if we hadn’t also done Kili, it would have been fine. But after many days on the mountain and then a couple days of safari, we would have been happier with air conditioning and electricity. Still, it’s a really unique place to stay, so other people might have a great time there.
We actually thought we would enjoy the Zanzibar Coffee House more, but were a bit underwhelmed when we got there. We were greeted by an unfriendly individual, who did not seem to know whether our room was ready. In the room we found the bathroom/shower set up a bit funky, and our bed’s mosquito netting had some holes and rips in it. Given that it was the last night of the trip and we didn’t want to risk malaria, we wound up checking out after sunset and going to a different hotel. So we wound up paying for two hotels that night. The coffee house had unique charm, however after 3 weeks of adventure we needed a more comfortable facility in which to rest and obtain respite from the high heat.
We would also suggest including additional guidance for transfers at the Zanzibar airport. When we arrived from Arusha to Zanzibar en route to Pemba, there were no signs anywhere for transfers, and no one working at the airport seemed to know where we should go. We eventually figured out that we had to collect our bags, then leave the airport, find the ZanAir office at the edge of the parking lot, and then go to the domestic terminal. This was all at the hottest part of the day when we only had about 30 minutes or so between flights. We were very confused and it was a quite stressful. I would just include more information in the welcome packet in the future, if that is standard procedure at the airport (which we know in general can be confusing).
We hope this feedback is helpful, and we’ll still complete the online form, but wanted to make sure we communicated this with you. We really had a fantastic trip and other than a few notes, are very happy with the experience. Thanks again for all of your help booking this trip and seeing us through to the end.
Mbahe farm is beautiful, and I specifically wanted to stay there because I wanted to see Simon’s property and have the full Sene experience. However, the location is remote. I know it is helpful from an acclimatization perspective, but for climbers taking the Lemosho route (and also for my parents who were going back & forth to the airport) it is not a convenient location. Given long driving times in Tanzania, I think it would be helpful if there is more up front information about the farm’s distance to avoid any surprises with customers.
We must say that the safari was absolutely fabulous, and can’t say enough glowing things about Joseph! A perfect guide and proud host of the game parks. Because of his keen eye and sensibilities, we saw all the big five and the other four, and everything in between! He is a master driver, performing spectacular stunts behind the wheel, over some pretty muddy, gooey territory. He was delightful, knowledgeable, insightful, and very funny. He became a good friend!
Thanks for all your work on this trip. It was truly a fantastic experience!! Happy new year!
These are the folks who make a SENE adventure EXTRAORDINARY!!! Their care, their expertise, their good humor, their total commitment, their graciousness, their timing and their openness was really beyond our expectations. We thought maybe we were having the VIP treatment because we are friends of Doug and Janet but as I just discovered in reading reviews from other clients I see that everyone has a similar SENE experience. You are THE BEST. You really have an amazing crew … to me that is what elevates it beyond a great trip to an extraordinary trip. We also loved the mix of activities.
Tim, when you said we would have a full day at Mbahe Farm I thought – why do we need an extra day to recover from our flight? Well … we learned MBahe Farm is a destination … what an amazing inspiring operation. Simon, thanks so much for taking time to show us what was started by your ancestors and continues to thrive. Your vision and energy should be shared with more people! I can see the potential for an internship for young farmers interested in permaculture. That intro helped us to appreciate more fully all the gardens/farms we walked through on our three days of hiking. And the biking was fabulous … a perfect route through the coffee plantation (thanks, Tara!).
With so many wonderful memories we look forward to getting our photos organized so we can share them with others. We’ll do our best to encourage others to join you on a SENE adventure!
Thank you both for all you did to make the trip go so smoothly and be so perfect.
We will be sure to write a review on Trip Advisor.