You've just flown thousands of miles across massive oceans and expanses of land. You've had too many airport transfers to bother remembering. Those weren't cheap tickets or easy transit days. But you came to relive those deeply rooted Lion King fantasies from your childhood and by golly you'll do anything to make those happen!One thing you will realize upon getting to Africa is that the wild animals aren't really as close to civilization as some North American wildlife can be. We may imagine lions wandering into people's flower gardens and elephants backing into generators, cutting of the city's power supply. But unless you hit up a National Park in a city like Nairobi or Nakuru, you have a long way to drive to get to those classic landscapes teeming with long-necked, 2 ton, man-eating herds.
Therefore, most travelers who want to see East Africa and live out their safari dreams either book a full service transport/guide/camping/catering service from Arusha or Nairobi or they overland on massive multi-functional vehicles. Regardless of your travel mode, quality is key and can dictate whether you enjoy yourself or not. Research the companies and their average age of passenger or style of travel and make sure it fits with you. Ask about the experience of their drivers or guides. When it comes to the driver or tracker on safari, he or she needs to have loads of experience in order to find what you are hoping to see. Those who have been around for a while are downright psychic when it comes to predicting animal appearances or future behavior. Also, inquire about the vehicles for the drives into and around the game parks. Land Rovers clearly trump Land Cruisers, and vehicles with frequent maintenance will make, not break, your experience. No one likes getting stranded in those steamy, remote landscapes.
And if you're looking for a straight forward recommendation, I actually really dug our tour company because they met every standard of quality I found important. Bottom line is to decide what you find important (comfort, experience, fellow passengers, travel style, etc.) and do the research. No one wants to spend wads of dough and realize they missed the mark on their travel dreams.