Trips Reviews from East Africa
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

What an incredible trip that was! … We saw whale sharks within ten minutes on our first day. On all our three outings we swam with between 6 and a dozen, sometimes three at a time. Apparently they'd been having an unbelievable couple of weeks of it - the conditions just perfect. Most of the time they were feeding so slowly we were easily able to swim alongside and then wait for them to double back in a figure of eight. We were usually back at the hotel by 10.30am, sated by the abundance and excitement and exhaustion of swimming with them. I never would have believed it possible. To have a whale shark surfacing underneath us and actually have to fin out of its way! Memories will stay with us forever.

The diving was spectacular too - stunning reefs and abundant fish (free-swimming moral eels, hawksbill turtles …. could go on and on.) - and the Dive Centre beautifully organised. Our dive master Peter was heaven and saw Lia through her first ever dives which she adored. It was particularly lovely diving from a dhow. 

Thank you both so much for setting it all up for us. It was a Christmas to remember. 

With warmest wishes and the happiest New Year.

(Isabella Tree, UK)

We had the most incredible time away and really couldn't fault anywhere we stayed. Our driver Freddy was a complete star with incredible vision. We saw all the big 5 and much much more. It was truly magical and more than we ever expected.

We are so grateful to Aqua-Firma for creating a bespoke trip to celebrate our honeymoon. The planning that went into it truly gave us a seamless experience with no stress at any point. We would highly recommend using Aqua-Firma for bespoke packages as well as their group planned trips. 

Thank you again for all your hard work that went into planning such a fabulous trip.

(Josie Johnson, UK)

We had an EPIC holiday! Main highlights... there were many:

First week (Mafia Island): seeing a whale shark for the first time - wow amazing! Being on a trip where you were able to witness research in action was so so interesting, Simon and Chris were such great guys and clearly passionate about what they do and happy to answer any questions. The accommodation was excellent and the food outstanding.

Second week (Selous Safari): this was so so exciting; from our first ever flights in a smaller plane to the incredible wild life in Selous! Our main highlight was being on an early morning river safari and a herd of 25 elephants, including babies, crossing the river in front of us, it is up there as one of the most memorable moments of my life. I was speechless! I have a new found love for giraffes and even warthogs! We couldn't fault Selous; fab food, accommodation, staff and the activities were so well organised and such fun; the open jeeps were great and guides and drivers so accommodating and knowledgeable, again they made sure everything was perfect!

And the thing that really made it was the group we were with; we gelled so well and had many laughs together; particularly on the safari.

We also enjoyed our day trip out to Chole Island - the local children were absolutely delightful and so happy, we could learn a thing or two about what is important and necessary in life…

All in all a phenomenal holiday; many life time memories made; the highlights were the whale sharks and safari - absolutely awesome and thanks Aqua-Firma for seamless organisation. Everything went very smoothly - certainly makes for an enjoyable and stress free holiday.

(Karen & Graham Stock, UK)
Whale Shark Research & Conservation - Mafia Island
South Tanzania Wildlife Safari

Right now I'm sitting on a lounger on the beach looking at the gorgeous azure ocean. Bliss! Had a lovely pre-birthday treat yesterday when we got to swim with a pod of 30 dolphins on our snorkel trip to Mnemba Atoll. Thanks so much for all you've done to organise our holiday - it's been truly fabulous. The whale sharks far surpassed expectation and Ralph, Simon and Chris have been absolutely brilliant. Altogether a fabulous experience. Thank you Aqua Firma!

(Jane Prowse, UK - writing from Northern Zanzibar)
Whale Shark Research & Conservation - Mafia Island

I had the most amazing trip, massive thank you to Ralph Pannell, Simon Pierce and Chris. Also to the entire group, you made it so much fun. Safe trips home everyone xx

This trip was organised by Aqua-Firma, I can’t speak highly enough of this company. From start to finish Ralph made it so easy for us all. From finding the best places to eat in Zanzibar to organising extra excursions for everyone.

The trip had the highlight of diving with Dr Simon J Pierce and Dr Chris Rohner, both are leading the way in Whale shark research and conservation. We were given presentations in the evenings about tagging, feeding habits and behaviour. Spending ten days with these two was a geek-out dream.

We snorkelled with the Whale sharks in the mornings and dived in the afternoons. On two of the days we just dived.

The dive boats in Mafia are something else, beds to lounge on, matted floor and a huge sail to take us back at sunset.

(Bec Andrews, Brighton UK)
Whale Shark Research & Conservation - Mafia Island

Just to say again muchas Gracias re fantastic experience, courtesy of all the troops at Aqua-Firma.

It was an absolutely incredible journey. Absolutely mind blowing.

A most incredible journey -  absolutely magnificent.
Harry [guide] was absolutely out of this world.

(Megan Bower, UK)
Mara River Crossing Great Migration North Tanzania Safari

This is just a brief note to say that we have arrived home from a fantastic holiday in Tanzania. We'll drop you a line with more detail in due course but we really had an awesome time. Many thanks. Kind regards Wendy and Di

As we said in the last email, our trip was truly memorable, packed with activity and thoroughly enjoyable. As you will see from the questionnaire we returned ... we added some extra boxes above 'excellent'.

In essence:
- the logistics went without a hitch
- Harry was the most knowledgeable, hard-working, pleasant and accommodating guide one could wish for (and an amazing driver)
- the hotels, lodges and camps were first-class
- the people were delightful
- the food was excellent and more than plentiful
- the sequence was great - from 'small' to 'huge'
- we saw the big five, the big nine - and some!
- the itinerary was detailed and comprehensive

We did have an absolutely wonderful time. Many thanks.

(Wendy Hobson, UK)
Mara River Crossing Great Migration North Tanzania Safari

I can't believe we've only been away a week...we've done so much that it feels like 2 weeks already!

Our absolutely superb guide Yussef was sensitive to our needs and likes (bird watching), he's been fantastic and we realise how lucky we are to have him. Excitement started in Ngorongoro National Park with seeing elephants really close then it just continued as we saw giraffes, zebras, wildebeest and gazelles to name just a few...more

(Kate Herbison, UK)
Serengeti, Ngorongoro & Indian Ocean Wildlife & Marine Life Safari

I just want to thank you once again for organising this most memorable trip. It was truly magical: the company, the setting, the adventure! We were very sad to leave. We will definitively be joining you again.

We look forward to the next trip.

(Rebecca McKenzie, London)
Whale Shark Research & Conservation - Mafia Island

Thanks again for organizing this brilliant trip!

... snorkeling with whale sharks is what the whole trip was about. Especially the fact that Simon and Chris took the time to explain in detail the current knowledge about whale sharks and what studies they perform really raised so much more awareness of these beautiful creatures than just going on a random whale shark watching trip somewhere else around the world and just into the water.

The diving was fantastic as well and the whole group made this trip so memorable.

It was really an amazing experience and please keep me updated with any upcoming trips next year. Mexico sounds nice ;)

(Björn Koth, Switzerland)
Whale Shark Research & Conservation - Mafia Island

Fantastic! We had an excellent driver…He had an excellent eye for spotting things and was very knowledgable.

We had close up views of many species, including lions and cheetahs … The balloon safari was fantastic. I have posted photos on facebook and will be adding more of Serengeti and the crater when I have sorted through what I have taken. I took over 3000 photos during the trip...

The Aqua-Firma clockwork machine worked perfectly as usual!

It was a great trip ….. And we got up the mountain!!!

Best wishes,  Roly

(Roly Pitts, UK)

We entrusted our honeymoon to Ralph and Aqua-Firma, a three and a half week trip to East Africa, taking in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. A logistical nightmare staying in 13 different hotels & Lodges and taking 12 international and internal flights, using four different local agents, the organization was superb with everything going to plan.
Our trip involved a safari in the Masai Mara, diving in Pemba and gorilla trekking in Uganda with a trip to the Ngorongoro crater, the Ngorongoro Farm House being a wonderful surprise, and time in Stonetown in between as well as a visit to the magical island of Chumbe, a must. Every aspect of the honeymoon was wonderfully put together using local and eco-friendly operators with a real understanding of their parks and local areas, going that extra mile to make our trip truly unique. We will never forget coming truly face to face with a Mountain Gorilla, seeing the Masa Mara from a balloon at 6am, hippos outside our tent at 3am, the wonderful reef and coconut crabs on Chumbe or the unique mix of cultures and the buzz of Stonetown, even the supposed stopovers turned into true experiences.
What made the difference was the in-depth knowledge of Ralph at Aqua-Firma.  He had a great rapport with local operators that meant that all the planning was put into practice and we got the honeymoon that we wanted, rather than what could be offered from the brochure.
Thank you for an amazing adventure.

(Ed & Fi Widnall, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda)

All hotels and lodges were spot on and perfect for our requirements.  The staff were so friendly and polite and the food excellent.

Chumbe Island was magic.  The coral was the best we have seen, and may be the best coral reef in the world ..

Mafia Island had a fantastic coral garden and the whole snorkeling experience from the show was an experience not to be missed.

This was our first safari and what a fantastic experience.  The lodges and food were wonderful. Our guide Bernard was a great mine of information. Every part of the safari 100%.  Thanks again Ralph for putting together this fantastic holiday.

(Clients from UK visiting Tanzania)

Everything went very well, all transfers were very good and very friendly.  The diving was fantastic, as was the whole holiday which wasn’t too busy but very personal.  There were some beautiful corals in Pemba – whole walls of it.

The accommodation was lovely – I couldn’t have asked for more.  It was all very well organised and I was very pleased at how smoothly it all went.

I had a wonderful holiday. Thank you very much for organising it for me.

(Craig Marson, Pemba and Zanzibar, Tanzania)

  • Elephant in Tarangire National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Hippo in Ngorongoro Crater National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Sand Banks at Mafia Island - Bjoern Koth
  • Leopard on Great Migration Safari - John & Maureen Ramsden
  • Chimpanzees in Mahale Mountains National Park
  • Lion in Serengeti National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Whale Sharks in Mafia Island - Dr Simon Pierce
  • Sunset in Selous National Park
  • Wildlife Safari in Serengeti National Park
  • Wildebeest in Serengeti National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Canoe Safari in Arusha National Park
  • Snorkelling with Whale Sharks - Dr Simon Pierce
  • Giraffe in Selous National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Great Crested Crane in Tanzania
  • A whale shark's spot pattern is unique to each individual - Dr Simon Pierce
  • Great Migration Wildlife Safari with Aqua-Firma
  • Baobab Tree in Ruaha National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Sand Banks at Mafia Island - Ralph Pannell
  • Tented Camp in Serengeti National Park
  • Flamingoes at Momela Lakes, Arusha National Park

Tanzania Safari Guide: National Parks & Game Reserves


  • Leopard in Ruaha National Park - Peter Thomas
  • Mount Meru from Arusha National Park
  • Zebra in Serengeti National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Whale Shark in Mafia Island - Dan Holmes
  • Elephant in Ngorongoro Crater National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Flying Safari in Southern Tanzania - Ralph Pannell
  • Crocodile in Selous National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Cheetah in Serengeti National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Kingfisher in Ngurdoto Crater, Arusha National Park
  • African Wild Hunting Dog in Selous Game Reserve - Peter Thomas
  • Giraffe in Arusha National Park
  • Zebra in Serengeti National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Whale Shark in Mafia Island - Dr Simon Pierce
  • Birdwatching in Ruaha National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Giraffe in Ngorongoro Crater National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Hippo in Ngorongoro Crater National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Elephants in Tanzania
  • Lion in Ngorongoro Crater National Park - Ralph Pannell
  • Mahale Mountains National Park
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