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nhulberg Jan 5th, 2006 02:08 AM

adding Kenya to Tanzania tour
I am considering adding 7 days to a 9-day tour I have been working on for some time on the Tanzania Northern Circuit. I am a bit lost on the geography, and concerned about the high price quote I just got for the add-on in Kenya. Should I use a different agency in Kenya? Some facts follow.

This is for a private tour, for my family of four. We are not budget travelers, but don't want to pay the price of high end accomodations (e.g. Sopa lodges seem fine; Serena unnecessary). So far, or late-June trip looks like this:

Day 1 Arrive at Arusha (JRO), stay at Kia Lodge
Day 2 visit Masai village in Longido. Stay at Moivaro Coffee Lodge.
Day 3 visit small villages near Mt. Meru (Ng'iresi & Olgilai). Stay at Moivaro Coffee Lodge.
Day 4 Lake Manyara Park. Stay at Wild Manyara Tented Lodge.
Day 5 cross Great Rift, on to Lake Eyasi. Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.
Day 6 Ngorongoro crater. Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.
Day 7: Olduvai Gorge; Serengeti Park. Serengeti Sopa Lodge.
Day 8: Serengeti. Overnight at Plantation Lodge by Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Day 9 drive back to Arusha via village "Mto wa Mbu" by Great Rift Valley.

The price for that ground package seems to me very reasonable, at USD 1315. The operator is Multichoice Safaris (I am awaiting feedback on that operator from another post on this board).

NOW, here is my problem. I decided to make the trip a bit longer, hoping to add in Kenya. The operator quoted an additional USD 2412 (thus $3727 total) to add the following seven days:

1) additional day in Serengeti (after Day 8 above), stay at Tarangire Sopa Lodge. At end of Day 9 Fly to Narobi. Stay at Nairobi Safari Club
2) Amboseli
3) Mt Kenya
4)Lake Naivasha
5)Masai Mara
6) Masai Mara
7)Fly from Mara to Nairobi

So, I can't see the logic of paying USD 2412 for the 7 additional days. I realize there are two airflights (JRO to NBO and Mara to NBO), but guess that adds only USD 400 or so.

Should I just book the Tanzania part with this operator, then arrange the Kenya part out of Nairobi with another operator? Is there some lack of logic I am missing in doing that?


Patty Jan 11th, 2006 11:57 AM

I think the additional price you were quoted is on the high side if it only includes the Kenya add on. We paid approx $200 for the NBO-JRO flight and $111 for the Mara to Nairobi flight in November. Your 5 nights of safari in Kenya if staying at mid-range lodges should cost you $250 per person per night or less (since there are 4 of you there should be some additional savings). I don't know how much 1 night at Nairobi Safari Club costs but it shouldn't be too much, so I'd say somewhere around $1600-$1700 for this add on would be a reasonable price.

The part that I'm a little confused about is you say that the additional cost also includes an extra day in the Serengeti, but looking at your original and revised itinerary, you seem to be ending your Tanzania safari on Day 9 in both cases or have a missed something? When/where does the additional night come into play?

I would advise you to contact some Kenya based tour operators for a comparison quote on your Kenya portion. One that I've used and can recommend is Eastern & Southern Safaris in Nairobi. Their website is and they post prices for their standard itineraries which will give you an idea of the approx costs for a lodge based safari in Kenya. They can also customize an itinerary for you.

Another Kenya based operator that I haven't used but one that also posts itineraries with prices on their website is Gamewatchers - they use mostly their own camps and smaller lodges on their standard itineraries.

As far as your proposed itinerary in Kenya, I think you're trying to cover too much in the amount of time given. Between Amboseli, Mt Kenya, Naivasha, and Masai Mara is a lot of ground to cover and I think those 3 one nighters in a row are going to be too rushed. From Nairobi to Amboseli is about a 4 hour drive. Going to Mt Kenya you would head back through Nairobi and then another 1.5-2 hours (assume you're planning to stay at Mountain Lodge?) north. Mt Kenya to Naivasha is probably 3-4 hours and then 5-6 hours from Naivasha to the Mara depending on where you're staying. I would advise either dropping one of the locations on your itinerary or try adding another day or two if you really want to cover all of these places.

Good luck with your planning!

aby Jan 11th, 2006 01:05 PM

something here doesn't make sense:
u fly to NBI only to return to Amsoeli through Namanga on the Tz border??
Instead take a shuttle from Arusha to Namanga & have the safari van wait 4u at Namanga for a short drive to Amboseli.
2nd option: Fly & forget Amboseli (used 2b best for Rhino Cheetah & lions but these days r gone with a major change of its ecological situation)
i agree with Patty on distances & confusion of the added day.
i have some more comments b back later

sandi Jan 11th, 2006 01:37 PM

Too many one nighters. For late June you should be spending more than 1-nt in the Serengeti, total 1-1/2 days. And I'd prefer Tarangire over Manyara. Also, is it necessary to spend the first two days in Arusha, when your time is limited. Cultural visits should be a must, at least one village or manyatta... you can schedule two 1/2 day activities the day after arrival and then commence safari. The extra day can be added to the Serengeti.

As aby mentions, from Tarangire you can drive via Arusha to Namanga, there you'll change vehicles to a Kenyan outfitter... drive to Amboseli. Here you can spend 2-days, on 3rd, take early flight to NBO, arriving a bit after 9am. You can then visit Karen Blixen, Giraffe Center and then at 11am the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, and still have time for lunch. After drive to Mt. Kenya or Naivasha. Overnight here and then early next morning drive to the Mara; return fly from the Mara to NBO.

This is at least one routing alternative and avoids some of the one-nighters giving you a few more days at the places you should be... and it's not as rushed as that which is being proposed. Flights, of course, will add to the cost, but it also saves time driving which can be long on not the best roads.

And since you haven't listed the accommodations suggested for the Kenya itinerary, it's difficult to determine if the price is too high.

Patty Jan 11th, 2006 01:45 PM

I agree that if you decide to keep Amboseli in your Kenya itinerary, it makes more sense to drive from Tarangire (or wherever your last night in Tanzania ends up being) to the Namanga border where you'll do a vehicle exchange. From the Namanga border, I think it's a 1.5-2 hours drive at most into Amboseli.

aby Jan 11th, 2006 03:25 PM

Namanga to Amboseli gate - 75 km
(Nairobi to Namanga 162 km).

Now let's "analyze" the plan from a different angle:
Q: what can Kenya ADD (sth special) to your itinerary ?
A: (my answer is:)
1) Samburu Samburu !!! there is no such park southof it, even if u drive down south to the cape...
2) NVL (Night viewing lodge) Ark/Mt. lodge/Treetops. no equivqlent in Tz !
i hope your "Mt. Kenya" means Mt. Lodge
if not - change it
3)a million Flamingoes !!!mostly at Nakuru- equivalent to the migration only it has to do with "feathered gnu"

Your Tz itinerery mentions Eyasi: is it a visit to Hadzabe (or Hadza) - the relict hunter-gatherer culture? - better stay the night at Eyasi & join early morning hunt

enjoy it

nhulberg Jan 11th, 2006 10:46 PM

Thanks, Patti, Sandi and Aby for the great comments. I can see now there are a lot of problems with my plan.
I am going to drop the Kenya add-on to my Tanzania trip. I'll start a new post asking for advice on instead going elsewhere in Tanz.

laurie_ann Jan 12th, 2006 10:40 AM

For my Tanzania trip we are looking at also the west, for example chimp areas, at Gombe or Mahale for something a bit different than north Tanzania. And south at Selous and others as well as a day or two in the city of Dar es Salaam which is supposed to be one of Africas "best" cities.

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