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Friday, October 24, 2014

Mambulu Safaris, a personalized way of travel in Africa

One of the best decisions we made, with our recent trip to Africa, was making use of Mambulu (http://www.mambulu.com) Individual Safaris, a small personalized travel agency. 
We have always planned our own travels, spending days online looking for the right accommodations and travel modes. We usually travel on a budget and often with very specific dates or places in mind. 
How do you get to your motel once you arrive at the airport? 
Should you tip the taxi driver? Barter for the cab fare? Is it better to use a bus?
What is a good place to eat, a safe place to stay?

We had never been to Zambia before and so, when Kees came across the Mambulu website we were interested. It offered personalized safari trips, specializing in African countries. We contacted owner Rob Sijm and asked for quotes.
He immediately responded in a friendly, professional manner. We never looked back.
Rob asked many questions about what we wanted, when and where.
He send us detailed proposals and fine tuned them.
It saved us hours and hours of research. And it wasn't, I'm sure, more expensive than if we had done all the work ourselves.

When we arrived in Lusaka, a transportation staff member welcomed us with our names on a sign. He took our passports, obtained visas for us and ushered us around the waiting queues. He collected our luggage for us and checked it in for our next, local flight.
When we arrived at the next airport, in Livingstone, we were once again greeted and ushered to a waiting car. It went like this for our entire trip.
The accommodations were good albeit very primitive at the Zambia Book Bus (www.thebookbus.org). Turned out that Mambulu Safaris is the official rep for the Book Bus in The Netherlands so he was knowledgable about it and able to include it in our travel plans.
Our next accommodations were Sandy’s Creations in Lusaka: http://thebestofzambia.com/leisure/accommodation/lodges/sandys-creations-lodge/
Very nice individual cottages and a restaurant with simple meals. 
In South Luangwa National Park we splurged on a top notch safari lodge and then spend some time in a more budget lodge: http://www.trackandtrailrivercamp.com
Here, again, we had an individual cabin along the river. Extremely nice people, good food and fabulous game drives, even though the cabins had seen better days.


If and when we return to Africa, we will certainly ask Mambulu Safaris to plan it for us. It was great to have such personal attention to detail. Not only did Rob plan everything for us, but he supplied us with a binder full of all the documents and information, sent reminder emails and met us in person before we flew from Amsterdam to Lusaka. He's located in The Netherlands but you can use their services from anywhere...

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