The review below is the personal opinion of Jerry and not that of SafariBookings.
Too many problems -- but the best guide
We booked our safari with Giltedge through Mangata Travel based on a recommendation from a friend. Things started off well and we built a terrific itinerary. Shortly after we made our deposit (which pretty much locked us in), Mangata became less responsive. As we poured over the itinerary in detail, we found several holes and contradictions. Some of our questions were answered but some were ignored. We started communicating directly with Giltedge in order to get answers.
When we landed in Africa and met with the local Giltedge representative, he was working with an outdated itinerary. The next morning, we met our guide/driver and discovered that his itinerary did not fully match ours. For example, at our first stop - Lake Manyara National Park - we had purchased four game drives, but he was only given passes for two. Not a good start.
From our first contact with Mangata, our #1 priority for our trip was to experience the great migration of wildebeest and other animals. Having never been to Africa, we relied on the experience claimed by Mangata and their partner, Giltedge Africa. Mangata placed us at a lodge in central Serengeti. When we met our guide/driver at the beginning of the trip at Kilimanjaro airport and reviewed the itinerary, he told us that regardless of how much or little rain there was, the migration is NEVER in central Serengeti in August. He offered to take us to the Masai Mara, but that would entail an 11-hour round trip on terrible roads just to fight the crowds to spend a brief time to see just a small part of the migration. I didn't think it was worth it. But thanks to our great guide, we had a wonderful week in Tanzania where we saw everything there is to see, except for the migration -- for which I will always resent Mangata and Giltedge.
After our safari, our plan was to go from the Serengeti to Uganda for gorilla trekking. It seemed the most direct way was to fly from Seronera to Entebbe. But Mangata told us that such flights don't exist. So Mangata routed us from Seronera to Kilimanjaro, then to Nairobi, and then to Entebbe - all in one day. About 2 weeks before our trip I noticed we were not yet given our tickets for the first leg to Kilimanjaro. (Note: this is something I believe the travel agent should have caught.) I asked for the tickets. When they finally came, it showed an additional stop in Arusha. This didn't seem to bother our travel agent. But four flights in one day seems excessive to us. One slip-up and we could miss a connection. Since we had expensive gorilla trekking permits for a specific day, we could not afford any problems. After we complained, miraculously we were booked on a flight from Seronera to Entebbe. Mangata and Giltedge said they were"calling in a favor" to get this flight. But once in Africa we learned that this is a regularly scheduled daily flight! This entire run-around was totally avoidable and caused a lot of unnecessary angst for us.
Apparently, Mangata does not have the experience claimed and adequate attention to detail needed to arrange a trip like this. We will not be booking through them again.
The biggest positive by far, though -- and for which we are thankful to Giltedge -- was our guide/driver, Meshack Godson from Arusha. He must be the best guide in all of Tanzania! His knowledge and instincts were top notch. And I learned quite a bit of Swahili from him. What we realized is that no matter how much you plan your safari, your guide is truly the key to it all. And we lucked out big time with Meshack!!!