Clueless ! Please Help Tanzania & Zanzibar

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Aug 16th, 2005, 08:50 AM
  #1
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Clueless ! Please Help Tanzania & Zanzibar

Hi there, we are just starting to look into a vacation for next year to Tanzania, and I am already becoming overwhelmed. I almost fainted when I saw how much Safaris cost ($7,000 upwards per person). My question is would it be enjoyable (and feasable) to stay at lodges, such as in the Serena Hotel Group and take day trips from there and then go on to Zanzibar for a few days beach holiday? That would work out much less expensive. We wouldnt be actually on a Safari but I cant figure out any other way to do this. Thanks in advance (and I hope this idea isnt lame) !
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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:04 AM
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sandi
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Annie -

Welcome to Africa. When do you plan to schedule your time in Tanzania? For how long (no. of days). And who is offering you $7,000/pp and what does this particular itinerary look like? How many days, which parks, which accommodations? And is this a group itinerary on set dates, or a private safari?

There is nothing wrong with the Serena Lodges and these properties are no less safari then staying only in tents - it's a matter of preferences, but it's also nice to include a few tented camps. Once you leave your lodge, which is mainly for sleeping and eating, you're very much on safari during game drives, so it's doable at a more reasonable price.

So why not tell us what you've seen so far (itineraries offered and from whom), your interests, and we'll do our best to help get you going.
 
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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:15 AM
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Whether you stay in lodges or tented camps, you're still on safari (though I agree it's nice to mix in some camps if possible). What time of year do you plan to travel? I believe Leely has posted some prices from her research for next June and she is getting quotes of $1700-$2400pp for 9 or 10 nights. I believe she has a party of 3 which brings the cost down slightly, but I don't think it would be too much more for a party of 2. You definitely don't have to spend $7000 or more. I'll try to find her thread and link it for you.
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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:17 AM
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Annie, I've been to Tanzania and Zanzibar once and I still feel clueless.

I think you will definitely want to do a safari, even a budget one. It's an unforgettable experience, no matter where you stay, as Sandi (who is an expert) has suggested.

If money is an issue, I would "splurge" on safari, whatever splurging means to you, and go more cost-conscious at the beach. I mean, a beach is a beach is a beach.

I have just received another quote and will top my itinerary thread so you can get an idea of a more budget TZ safari. But please do scroll down this forum: many people post their itineraries with pricing on this board. Keep your smelling salts close at hand!

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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:25 AM
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Thanks guys, I was looking on all the "luxury" safari sites I guess, the latest one CC Africa says Rates :
From USD $4,040
per person sharing for 9 days which is still over the top for us since we have flights from U.S. also and some days in Zanzibar. We usually go in July but I see up to June 30th is low season. So Im thinking the last two weeks in June might be ok. I am really interested in seeing the country as a whole rather than being mad into the safari part of it, although that would be the icing on the cake of course. My budget is around $5,000 for two!(including flights) but not spending money/food while we are there.

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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:35 AM
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Try to find alwaysafrica's trip report. She and her partner/husband took a 25 day trip for $3500 pp. It involved camping and trekking, but it was camping with cots, bush showers, and so on, I believe. I can't remember her operator's name, but I recall she thought they were fantastic.
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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:40 AM
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Hello,

Hello,

With CC Africa, you really are getting the creme de la creme of luxury tented accommodation in small, intimate camps, which will really bump up the price. I'm not sure which CCA itinerary you were looking at, but for that price you probably were getting one of their private guides as well.

Accommodation-only CCA safaris in East Africa usually run closer to about $3-4000, and if you liked what you saw you should note that they often run 'green season' specials which reduce the price per person to closer to $2500.

I also found a couple of lower-priced options on their site which might appeal to you. The prices start from $2458 per person for 8 days/7 nights, and use some of the Serena lodges you mentioned.

http://www.ccafricasafaris.com/tours...lt-1-aid-2-103

You can probably do even better through one of the specialist Tanzania operators.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:49 AM
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Thanks for mentioning my report, Leely - Annie, you should find my trip report if you search for "26 Glorious Days in Tanzania". I think you'll find that East African Safari and Touring Co. is extremely reasonably priced and provides excellent value (Leely was absolutely right that 25 days for the two of us was only approx. $7000 US!). The only concern that I have is that your $5000 budget for two includes airfare - depending on where you're coming from, that might prove impossible! We thought that our flights from Toronto, Canada were a pretty good deal at $1800 each including taxes, but of course that would already eat up most of your budget!

I definitely think you wouldn't have a problem organizing a safari trip for $5,000 without airfare - maybe you can save up a few more pennies... it promises to be a truly wonderful adventure...
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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:51 AM
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$5000 for 2 including flights will be pushing it. Where are you flying from? From US west coast, you're easily looking at $1500pp for airfare alone. From east coast, maybe $1200pp. If you're in Europe than you may be able to find some charter deals into Kenya.

Check out Leely's thread entitled 'Another Tanzania itinerary needs help' or something like that for prices. Would you be willing to go on a camping safari?
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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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Annie,
I am seeing $2200 flights SFO-JRO for late June/early July 2006. $1750 from JFK. I guess it's possible to find lower prices, but given the price of oil I imagine it's unlikely they'll go way down.

If this eats up a huge chunk of your budget, I would definitely consider doing s hort safari and spending more time on Zanzibar, which is relatively less expensive.

Another kinda fun option is to fly into Nairobi and then take the shuttle bus to Arusha. I did it last year and wouldn't hesitate to do it again, but since we're traveling with a "mom" next year, we don't want to wear the poor woman out. We certainly met some interesting people on that bus!
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Aug 16th, 2005, 10:03 AM
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Tanzania is a big country, so people select either the Northern Circuit (Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro, Serengeti), Southern Circuit (Selous, Ruaha, Mikumi) or Western Circuit (Katavi, Mahale). If you're mentioning Serena properties you're looking at the Northern Circuit. And yes, July will be more expensive then June.

If you're working with a $5000 budget including Int'l Flights, you're not going to make it. Where are you traveling from? If the States, the Int'l air from JFK via AMS to JRO is easily $1200-$1350 in June. It will be higher for July. So right away, you've eaten up half your budget.

I and I'm sure others here would suggest you contact an incountry outfitter who can do a whole lot better then CCAfrica. There lodges are luxury and pricey.

The prices you get from one of the in-country outfitters will cover your guide/driver, vehicle, accommodations, 3-meals daily while on safari, B&B while in Arusha. So all that's left for you is tipping for guides/driver, camp/lodge staff (porters, waiters, kitchen, maids) and your VISA for entry (currently USD$50) and malaria meds (at minimum) if you are current on other recommended inoculations for travelers regardless where in the world - Tetanus, Hep A. Malaria meds can run about $100/person (a bit less for a 9-day trip).

But, I don't know how you're going to fit in safari and Zanzibar in only 9-days. What's more important? As Leely mentions, a beach is a beach is a beach. Also, you don't quite do "day-trips" from your lodges - rather you will have two game drives away from your lodge/camp daily - one in the morning at 6:30 returning to camp around 9:30 for breakfast; leisure or a game walk until 12N then lunch and rest after; then at 4pm out for another game drive, returning about 6:30-7pm for sundowners (cocktails around a camp fire) with dinner following. On days when you are traveling from one area to another, you will be on the road, often with game sightings along the way, until you arrive at your next destination.

A number of Tanzania outfitters can be found with a search on this board. In the box on the top of this page, enter "tanzania tour operators", click enter to your right. On the left column will appear threads that contain information regarding tour operators.

Read thru these, select a few outfitters - about 3 or 4. Then on their individual web site "contact us" pages, tell them when you want to visit, type of accommodations, the parks that are of interest; they will send you a proposal. You'll see what can be done with the budget you have to work with.

Again, $5,000 is not much of a budget. Unless you want to consider a basic camping itinerary - which can be a bit too rustic for some people. Another resource to consider - a company like OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) out of Massachusettes. They do group tours, maximum 16 people. Their prices are excellent and include Int'l airfare. They have a Kenya only itinerary and a Kenya/Tanzania itinerary... but I believe they're longer then 9-days and don't include Zanzibar. But it'll give you another resource to determine whether this destination is for you - unless you can add to your budget.

Let us know how this works for you.
 
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Aug 16th, 2005, 10:08 AM
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Hello,

You may be able to save a bit of money by going via London -- there are cheap deals from the US to London, and flights to Africa out of London are relatively inexpensive. Air India regularly has $199 flights from New York to London on offer. Flights from London to Dar run about £450 ($750), which is pushing the airfare down to a more manageable figure.

An alternative is using FF miles (if you have any) to pay for part of the trip. Even if you don't have enough miles to make it to Africa, you might have enough miles to make it to London or New York, which will save some money.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 16th, 2005, 10:15 AM
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When I was planning on going to Africa I checked at several sites & found Smartours to be the most affordable including air. I'm going with them in Sept. Check them out. I've talked to several people who have gone with them & were really satisfied what you got for the money.
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Aug 16th, 2005, 10:15 AM
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Hello,

I'm not sure if you're set on Tanzania, but if you're not you may be able to get lower prices by considering South Africa. In South Africa you could do a self-drive safari in Kruger National Park or do a lodge safari in one of the less expensive private reserves, and go to Mozambique or KwaZuluNatal for the beach bit. The strength of the dollar versus the rand will help your budget quite a bit.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 16th, 2005, 10:51 AM
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Just got back to this board and I am thrilled with all your wonderful, helpful comments, have to print this out for the train on the way home! Thank you so much, I see that I can manage a great trip now that I have this info to start with. Yipeeee. So excited!
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Aug 16th, 2005, 12:03 PM
  #16
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Smartours IS offering a 14 night including airfare from JFK for about $2,555 per person with meals (S. Africa) So I do think we will be able to do it! We dont want to go on an organized trip so I am going to try organize it on my own. Im sure I will be back with loads of questions. Thanks again.A
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Aug 17th, 2005, 04:28 AM
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Hello,

If you want to do South Africa, I recommend checking out the Portfolio Collection of guesthouses and B&Bs. I did a month-long tour of South Africa using only Portfolio properties, and was never disappointed. I also saved a huge amount by not using the same hotels recommended by all the tour operators, and met a lot more real South Africans as well.

If you like small guesthouses or boutique hotels with bags of character, check out this website:

www.portfoliocollection.com

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 17th, 2005, 06:11 AM
  #18
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Hi Julian, I am looking there right now - Thanks. After thinking about this last night, I feel we will just have to up our budget anyway but I have a feeling that this is exactly the kind of holiday I was looking for. Thanks.
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Aug 17th, 2005, 06:20 AM
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Hi AnnieP-

I too have been in your shoes, clueless about itins and which company to go with.
I looked into Big 5, Africa Serendipity, Africa Travel Resource, Good Earth and Thomson Safaris.

I found Thomson to have the coolest options for safari, but also of course the most expensive.

I received incredible customer service from both Thomson and ATR. In the end, we decided on ATR, we are doing both a safari and Zanzibar, but also Kilimanjaro trek too.

Have you thought about splurging on the safari and saving at the beach? I'm sure someone else may have mentioned this, but I have heard that advice many times... just something to think about.

Good luck!!
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Aug 17th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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Hi Annie,

Great to hear that you found the Portfolio website helpful. They have some wonderful properties for around R500 per person per night (about $160). South African guesthouses are amazing value for money -- the ambiance and decor of an exclusive boutique hotel at a fraction of the price you'd pay in the US or Europe.

If you go in in the off season to save money on the safari part, you'll also benefit from great savings on your other accommodation as well. I stayed at Risssington Inn, a wonderful country inn with great food, on a dinner, bed, and breakfast basis for R250 (about $42 a night). Their restaurant is reknowned, and I had a garden suite with clawfoot tub.

If you want to start another thread looking for advice on an independent trip to SA, I'm sure people will be glad to help.

Cheers
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