Back from Tanzania

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Feb 1st, 2006, 05:16 AM
  #1
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Back from Tanzania

A friend and I got back last week from a terric week and a half in Tanzania game parks and two days on beach in Zanzibar. We booked the trip through Good Earth Tours - we were very happy with their service, with everything going off without a hitch. Our guide was Rafael and I can't imagine we could have had a better guide. He's personable and very knowledgeable and was absolutely key in making the trip a success. Request him if you book with them!

We saw groups staying in the same lodges we were which I know they paid a lot more just because of the "names" of the tour companies. We stayed at Tarangire Tented Lodge, Lake Manyara and Serengetti Serena Lodges, Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp, and Ngorongoro Sopa (my least favorite place). We were supposed to stay 3 nights at Sergengetti Serena, but something happened that we ended up one night at Mbuzi Mawe Luxury camp instead. What a treat - Serena lodges are great, but there's nothing like a luxury camp. If Serena hadn't messed the reservation up somehow, we could never have afforded even that one night!
We caught the beginning of the migration in the Serengetti, and that sight was everything I had imagined it would be. Literally, overnight, thousands of more zebras and wildebeest would appear.

We ended up having a private safari for two, and I would strongly suggest paying the little extra this costs (Good Earth charges relatively very little for this). You're in the car far too many hours each day to be with strangers.

On Zanzibar, stayed at Shooting Star Lodge - fabulous place. Small, intimate, great food and relaxed, casual atmosphere. Unique individual cottages.

A cliche to call it the trip of a lifetime, but it really was! If anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to write back.
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Feb 1st, 2006, 11:39 AM
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Chriso,
Karibu nyumbani. Sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for reporting
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Feb 1st, 2006, 01:07 PM
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Thanks for posting this! Can you go into more detail as to why the Ngorongoro Sopa was your least favorite place? Was it the lodge itself or something else? At what point were you informed that you'd be spending one night at Mbuzi Mawe? I'm glad that unexpected change turned out to be such a treat for you!
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Feb 1st, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Chris,
Glad you had a good time. And especially glad you lucked out with a great guide.

Did you do create your own itinerary? I ask because there's a poster who's looking to go with Good Earth and she/he is considering altering some of their listed safaris.

Nice to hear from someone who stayed at Shooting Star; I remember thinking about staying there when planning Zanzibar a couple of years ago. What was the beach like there?

Thanks for posting. How lucky to be in the midst of the migration!
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Feb 1st, 2006, 01:59 PM
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Chris,
I'd love to hear your thoughts on Tarangire Safari Lodge.
Thanks!
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Feb 1st, 2006, 03:04 PM
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Glad to answer everyone's questions.
Ngorongoro Sopa wasn't a bad place -just that compared to everywhere we stayed, it suffered in comparison. It was the biggest lodge - huge dining room. They have severe water problems - seems that you basically have to take shower first thing in the AM or you can forget about hot water. But it has a great view of the Crater and nice big rooms.
We found about change in rooms the morning after we arrived in Arusha, but since change was to Mbuzi Mawe and this Sopa Lodge, it was fine.
If you pay Good Earth's extra for private safari, I'm sure you can alter the itinerary, as long as it makes sense geographically. Now that I've been there,I can see why the companies all seem to do the Northern circuit itinerary the way they do - distances are long, and the roads are bad!

I liked the Tarangire Tented Lodge - toilet and hot shower right in the tent. It was hot when we were there so a little hard to sleep, but that's an individual thing. Tents are close together, so can hear other people in the tents. But if you enjoy the "tent" experience and, like us, can't afford the luxury camp, it's a great alternative to doing all lodges.

The beach at the Shooting Star was gorgeous - powdery sand and very few people. When low tide goes out you really can't swim because the water recedes so severely, but that's a minor quibble.
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 01:00 PM
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Thanks for your report and guide suggestion. Any animal sightings you care to share?
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 04:18 PM
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The animal sighting our guide was most excited about was during our first few hours in the Serengetti - leopard eating a baby zebra in a tree right off the side of the road. He said it was rare to get that close at all to leopard while it was eating.
Every day that we woke up in the Serengetti, thousands of more wildebeest and zebra had moved in during the night - really great sight.
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Feb 20th, 2006, 03:58 AM
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Wow - we had lions eating baby zebra but we thought we were lucky just to spy a leopard in a sauasges tree and see it move its head from one of the branch to the other - plus twitch its tail a few inches. Eating a baby zebra would have been amazing to see.
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Feb 20th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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Thousands of wildebeest and zebra minus one.

What a lucky trip including the reservation mix up that sent you to Mbuzi Mawe. Glad it was the trip of a lifetime!
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