Attn: Rocco - Swala Camp

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Nov 25th, 2003, 03:47 PM
  #1
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Attn: Rocco - Swala Camp

Hi Roccco - not to beat a dead horse to death, but I just touched base with a friend of mine who travels much like you - deluxe all the way. She stayed at Swala Camp in Tarangire for four nights last year, and the year before stayed at Oliver's. She said she prefered Swala Camp for a variety of reasons which I won't get into here. Did you take a look at that one? I just checked it out on the tanzania site and, well, it looks exquisite. FYI.
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Nov 25th, 2003, 08:44 PM
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SusanLynne,

I am going to take advantage of the approaching long weekend to better research lodging options. I am the most ignorant about Tarangire, but really don't know much about any of the parks yet.

I will definitely be looking for some hidden gems in an effort to expose new places and, also, to obviously save money.

I endlessly patted myself on the back while during game drives at Kafunta River Lodge, we would pass vehicles from two of Robin Pope's neighboring lodges, telling anybody in my vehicle that would listen that we were paying half the price as the people in the passing vehicle while going on the same game drives and enjoying nicer lodging.

From what I have heard, the food at Robin Pope's is likely superior to Kafunta, but hardly worth an extra $150-200 per person more per night.

In any event, I look forward to the research that I will be conducting. If history repeats itself, I have many sleepless nights ahead and dozens of phone calls and emails to airlines, travel agents and game lodges ahead.

One of my biggest challenges will be to find business class seats on a date that will work for me. Any date that is not right on the money will only cost me precious time in Tanzania. As a result, I will have to consider postponing the trip until possible July or August, enduring Italy in May, and then making an exclusive visit to Tanzania.

So far, however, I am pleased with the way this trip is shaping up. Earlier this year, I had no preconceived notions of going to Zambia, but that is the way it shaped up. This time, in the beginning, I wouldn't imagine going to Eastern Africa without including Kenya, but I really see no need for Kenya with all that Tanzania has to offer, unless I had a three week allowance instead of my two week allowance.

Okay, Swala Camp and fifty other websites, here I come.
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Nov 25th, 2003, 09:45 PM
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I came across another place in Tarangire, Kikoti Camp, that offers evening gamedrives (with spotlights).

I am getting a little concerned that I am not able to find places yet in any of my safari destinations with a price of under $350 per person per night. I don't mind splurging on one or two camps, but I should be able to come across one or two places with favorable prices.

This trip will mark the longest that I have ever spent on safari. During my first Africa visit I only had seven nights (4 at Matetsi Water Lodge halfway? between Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Chobe, Botswana and 3 nights at Singita, Sabi Sand, South Africa). Even this year, I only spent eight nights on safari, with five in South Luangwa and three in the Sabi Sand at Djuma Vuyatela.

I believe I will spend a minimum of twelve nights on safari during this approaching trip and there is little competition in places like Tarangire and Selous.

I was reading my 2002 Conde Nast Traveler World's Best Guide and, surprisingly, although listed, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge did not receive rave reviews. It got listed mostly for its accomodations, but food was listed as sub-par. Overall, I think either Ngorongoro Serena or Ngorongoro Sopa scored slightly higher, and with so many more rooms, probably at a much lesser price.

Anyway, hopefully I can keep my lodgine at no more than about $8,000 USD ($615 per night per shared room average, including my night in Dar Es Salaam). Even so, I think the minimum I will spend on air and road transfers should be $1,100 USD. That would put the average price on my 13 nights in Tanzania at $700 per night.

The only thing that may save my budget is if I am successful at getting "free" airfare, using my American Express membership reward points to procure airfare from Los Angeles (or at least from the Midwest USA, New York or Europe).

Back to the subject at hand, Kikoti Camp looks nice enough, but at $800 USD per night for a room, "nice enough" doesn't quite sit well with me, so I will keep on searching.
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Nov 26th, 2003, 06:56 AM
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You may be able to save $ by staying in one of the larger lodges (Serena) in the Crater, instead of the Crater Lodge. When I visited the Crater, we literally spent the entire day on safari, bringing lunch with us, and returning only for dinner and sleeping. The Crater Lodge is supposed to be stunning for its interior design, which is at the bottom of my list for safari lodges, but some find it interesting. But I bet those that do spend a large portion of each day at the lodge. If you're planning on spending the entire day on the floor of the Crater, you may want to try the Serena or Sopa (both very comfortable with decent food and rooms) and splurge in the Serengeti. Just a thought.
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Nov 26th, 2003, 10:20 AM
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Roccco - The Serena in the Crater is perfectly acceptable. Not decadent like the Crater Lodge. And as thit_cho pointed out, you will be out most of the day anyway on game drives. I had mentioned Kikoti in an earlier discussion, but did not realize that was the pricetag for the place. Ouch! Was that price a result of touching base with the camp direct or through a tour operator? As Liz can attest, sometimes you can get a better rate contacting the facility direct. Just keep us informed ...
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Dec 31st, 2005, 12:19 AM
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topping...I found this a bit amusing that I am now desperately trying to add Swala to my Feb 2006 itinerary. I honestly had no memory of researching this back in Nov. 2003 for what must have been an aborted 2004 trip.

What I am trying to do, is drop my second and third night in Arusha to instead spend those two nights in Tarangire. I know the grass may be high and I will pay nearly an extra $1,000 per nigh, but I want to have the most amazing safari possible.

Had I been in shape to do the full Kiliminjaro Marathon, I would not be considering the change. But a half marathon is meaningless to me, even if it is in the foothills of Kiliminjaro.

Ideally, I would be able to do the following itinerary:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (1) (currently booked for three nights)
Swala, Tarangire (2)
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge (2) (booked)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2) (booked)
Olduvai Camp (1) (booked)
Nomad Masek (2) (booked)
Nomad Piaya (2) (booked)
Mbuzi Mawe (2) (booked)
Palms Zanzibar (3) (booked)
Serena Inn Zanzibar (2) (booked)

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