Sure, it's 8 months late, but I figured I'd check back in.
I ended up going with ecoafrica and the Walking Rhino safari and I couldn't be more happy.
ecoafrica (Julia) was really cool to work with. She was very responsive and through, which given my insane attention to detail was welcomed.
Even better was the Walking Rhino safari. The private tour was much preferrable to driving around ourselves.
1. I would not have had a clue where to go to see wildlife
2. I would not have seen half of the wildlife as the drivers were spotting stuff from hundreds of yards away
3. It would have been annoying being in a line of cars on the side of the road waiting my turn
4. It was much cooler having someone who had knowledge about each animal to share. I would have enjoyed it less without the little trivial tidbits of info I gleened from guide
5. We were basically riding around in private. The vast majority of the time there wasn't another car anywhere near us.
On the tour company itself.
The lodging was fantastic; really convenient and comprehensive, yet rustic. The beds were amazingly comfortable. The food was great, people were really nice. Definitely my favorite trip.
Now here's where it set itself apart, the actual "walking" part of the walking safari. Phenomenal! Indescribable. You MUST do a Walking Rhino safari and DEMAND Bernard as your guide. He's amazing. Great personality, knows everything about everything, has an eagle eye, can actually communicate with the animals (no BS - he called zebra and they responded, and then started running toward us; a leopard started walking away; he called it and it returned - he did it about 5 times)
He went above and beyond to drive us out to see male lions roaring outside of our camp at about midnight.
He grew up in the park so he knows where and how to find things.
I wouldn't change a thing, and I highly recommend both the Walking Rhino group and getting Bernard as a guide.
if anyone wants any specifics feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org
) since you were all so helpful to me when I was planning.