Comments on Tanzania itinerary?

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Jan 9th, 2005, 12:45 PM
  #1
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Comments on Tanzania itinerary?

We are preparing a customized itinerary to send out to several different operators that have been recommended on this board (Roy's, 2afrika, Tanzania Safari Adventures, & maybe others). The aim is to get several price quotes to choose from. Before we send it out, I wanted to run it by some of you experienced Fodorites for your input. Timeframe is 15 nights in late November and early December. After a lot of hard work, we have finally booked our flights & are using miles to fly business class -- woo-hoo! We are on a bit of a budget & can't stay at "top-end" places this time. Our priorities are game viewing and photographing wildlife (we don't get tired of viewing game, or at least didn't tire of it in South Africa two years ago!).

1 night Kia Lodge near JRO (flight arrives 9:30 pm)
2 nights Tarangire Sopa Lodge
2 nights Lake Manyara Hotel
4 nights Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge or Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
3 nights Ndutu Safari Lodge or Serengeti Sopa Lodge
3 nights Serengeti Seronera Wildlife Lodge or Lobo Wildlife Lodge
Fly (or drive?) back to JRO for 10:25 pm flight.

Comments/suggestions? Thanks in advance -- we have learned a lot here already!
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Jan 9th, 2005, 02:06 PM
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Hi Lisa

Congrats - you are doing it the right way! It is best to get a good amount of feedback/advice and to narrow down the itinerary before going for quotes. Otherwise the quotes will be all over the place!

End of November/early Dec is really prime time for the Masai Mara and/or Northern/Central Serengeti.

The Wildebeest Migration will be split between the Loita Wildebeest slowing moving North out of the Mara and the Serengeti Wildebeest making their way South through the Northern Serengeti.

I would not do the Southern Serengeti (Ndutu Lodge)in November. Seronera area and the Migration Camp/Lobo Wildlife Lodge are better options.

4 nights in Ngorongoro is quite long unless you are planning to trek with the Maasai (it may be too wet for that). 2 nights are max here. In November, Lake Manyara is more interesting than Tarangire as the animals are scattered over the Masai Steppe.

In a nutshell, I would focus on the Serengeti (Seronera and north of there). There are areas near Lobo where you can do night drives, and more. 5 nights in the Serengeti will be plenty.

The rest of the time will be split between Ngorongoro (2 nights) and Lake Manyara (2 nights).

With 5 nights left, I would look at Kenya - e.g. Lake Nakura, Masai Mara but with your booked flights in/out of JRO it's a bit tough..
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Jan 10th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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Climbhigh -- thanks for your feedback. We will definitely give some thought to what you have said. By the way, part of the reason why we were wanting to spend more nights at Ngorongoro is because we heard that starting in June or July of this year, vehicles will only be allowed to spend a half-day in the crater each day rather than a full day. If this is correct, then I don't think two nights there will be enough for us...

Anyone else?
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Jan 10th, 2005, 10:40 AM
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Lisa - even with only half-day in the Crater starting July '04, we found that half-day was sufficient time to see whatever there was to see in the Crater. Besides if you do the morning in the Crater, you go down real early which will give you a full 4-5 hours. We also visited in November/December, and found that we were ready to leave after lunch... probably before, where we could have had a nice sit down meal rather then a boxed lunch. Only problem then was that there was only one road in/out (the other was under repair) so couldn't leave till after 3pm.

With this new schedule, the Lodges will be offering another activity for the half-day, a walking safari around the rim of the crater which will provide another prospective of the Crater and surrounding area. But it's always your choice and what your tour outfitter can arrange for you.

I have to agree with "climbhigh" that for the time you will be visiting, it isn't necessary to stop at Nduto (that's for Feb-Mar period), but spend the time in the N.E. Serengeti and the Central (Seronera) area if you wish to go hot-air ballooning.

While you are flying in/out of JRO, you can still go into Kenya and visit at Amboseli as well as go to the Mara, even if you have to return to JRO. On our Tanzania (with some Kenya) trip we flew in/out of NBO and it didn't inhibit time in both countries. Or if you wish, you can consider spending R&R time in Zanzibar at the conclusion of your safari, which is often a nice change after bumping around the roads in East Africa. Things to consider.
 
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Jan 10th, 2005, 01:15 PM
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You have given us a lot to think about!

Is it true that you are not allowed in the crater on two consecutive days?

We will probably drop at least one day from Ngorongoro, then plan on 2 nights at Serengeti Seronera Wildlife Lodge followed by 2 nights at Lobo Wildlife Lodge, and are toying with the idea of then going up to the Masai Mara for 3 days at the end. At this time of year (the first week in December), are there reasonably-priced lodges or permanent tented camps where you would recommend we consider staying in the Mara, considering that we are on a budget? Thanks again!
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Jan 10th, 2005, 02:17 PM
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Regarding going to the Mara after your time in the Serengeti, know that there is no direct border crossing there.
You will either have to return to Arusha and cross at the Namanga border and get to the Mara via Nairobi. Or you go southwest from where you are (Lobo area) or west if at Seronera, in the Serengeti to Lake Victoria then north to the Isebania border and then to the Mara. Both routes are long and will require an overnight in Nairobi Kenya or at Lake Victoria Tanzania.

You should be able to get reasonable accommodations in the Mara before December 15. Depending on whether you arrive from Nairobi or Isebania would best determine where to stay. On the West side of the Mara if arriving from Isebania or the East side if arriving from Nairobi. With the exception of only a handful of lodges/camps inside the Mara, most are located on the perimeter of the Mara. Then you have to decide whether you want a lodge or a tented camp.

Of the three companies you listed in your original post, 2afrika rarely deviates from their set itineraries, and Tanzania Safari Adventures also tries to stick with their set safaris - both of these outfitters will cost additional for deviations, if they'll even do a custom itinerary. I believe only Roy's will design an itinerary based on your needs, budget, number of days, type of lodging.
 
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Jan 10th, 2005, 03:57 PM
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I know that 2afrika does quote custom itineraries. I was able to get one from them a couple of months ago when I started my planning. I was actually surprised that their quote was quite competitive with local operators, but my itinerary was fairly simple and involved Kenya only. I don't know how well they would do with more complex, multi country itineraries.

Another Arusha based operator you can try is www.bushbuckltd.com - they've been recommended by several posters on the flyertalk message board. There's a trip report there from someone who just returned recently:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showt...ferrerid=18562
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Jan 11th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Thanks all!

Given the lack of direct border crossings and our fundamental inclination toward savoring and fully experiencing each place as much as possible, we've definitely decided to save Kenya for another trip. We would rather take our time along the way, relax, and focus on these parks in Tanzania. We will plan a future trip in & out of Nairobi just concentrating on Kenya.

Also, my husband really wants to photograph the baobabs in Tarangire, so I think we may leave it in after all...

At this point I think we're leaning toward:

1 night Kia Lodge
2 nights Tarangire Safari Lodge
3 nights Lake Manyara Hotel
3 nights Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge
3 nights Serengeti Seronera Wildlife Lodge
3 nights Lobo Wildlife Lodge

Better?

Does anyone know if guided safari walks available at any of these places?

Thanks for the recommendation of bushbucksltd -- we will add them to our list!
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Jan 11th, 2005, 10:38 AM
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Lisa:
I think you will really enjoy Tarangire. We were able to switch Lake Manyara for Tarangire in the 2Afrika package we had in June. While I recall seeing a few baobab trees as we entered Manyara in 2002 we knew Tarangire was noted for such. Glad we did as the opportunity for various "views" was great, not to mention the numerous elephants and bird life. Dick
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Jan 11th, 2005, 11:55 AM
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Thanks Dick. My husband and I read both of your trip reports and really appreciated all of the detail you included!
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Jan 16th, 2005, 09:41 AM
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We have decided to reverse the direction of the itinerary to maximize game-viewing in the Serengeti in November, so here's what we're looking at now (Nov. 20-Dec.5):

1 night Kia Lodge
flight to Lobo Airstrip
2 nights Lobo Wildlife Lodge
4 nights Serengeti Serena
2 nights Ndutu Lodge
3 nights Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
1 night Lake Manyara Serena
2 nights Taragire Sopa Lodge
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Jan 17th, 2005, 09:28 PM
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Lisa, I think you will enjoy your trip tremendously, my family went last summer and loved Tanzania.

You should be aware that the Wildlife Lodges are significantly lower standard than the other places you are planning to stay. I'm not saying don't stay at them, but expect small worn rooms and very bland institutional food. The view from the pool deck at Lobo is wonderful and the main building is an amazing piece of architecture, it's just the rooms and food that aren't up to standards. Just tell yourself you will be at a nicer place soon!

The only decent alternative inside the northern Serengeti is Migration Camp, just rebuilt and supposed to be excellent, but it costs more.

You could possibly make up the difference in cost in the Serengeti by staying at Kikoti Camp in Tarangire ILO the Sopa lodge. Kikoti was a lovely small tented camp we really enjoyed.

FYI we used Roy Safaris and were very pleased with their services.

I understand about Baobab tress, I ended up with more than a couple of pictures of them.

Enjoy your trip!!
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Jan 18th, 2005, 06:17 AM
  #13
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Lisa,

On our way to Tarangire Kikoti, which is really very lovely, we had lunch at Tarangire Sopa.
It really is a big difference of standard.
Kikoti is a small tented camp, very friendly , very personal, while sopa is big , the restaurant gives you the feeling of being in a old big hotel. I do think you should go for Kikoti if possible
 
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Jan 18th, 2005, 11:17 AM
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Lisa,

re: the Wildlife Lodges.

Yes, they're a bit like a Ramada Inn, but we found them more than adequate and quite comfortable. Also, the food wasn't that great (we camped for a few nights, and the food our cook made for us while camping was 100% better than the lodge food). The nice thing about not liking the food was that by the time we got to Zanzibar I was as thin as I'd been at 24. I have a picture of me in a bikini to prove it!

You are sure to have a wonderful time. Tanzania is amazing.
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Jan 18th, 2005, 07:32 PM
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Just wanted to say we used Roy
Safaris and were extremely pleased. Ask for Nicholas. He can spot a leopard miles away-and without binoculars.
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Jan 19th, 2005, 10:41 AM
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Thanks everyone! I know everyone recommends Roy's, but so far they are coming in way higher than a couple of other operators (but lower than some).

We are now thinking of nudging our accommodations up a notch as follows:
1 night Kia Lodge
2 nights Migration Camp
2 nights Serengeti Serena Lodge
2 nights Kirawira Camp
2 nights Ndutu Lodge
3 nights Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
1 night Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
2 nights Swala Camp, Tarangire

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Jan 19th, 2005, 11:19 AM
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Lisa

As I posted earlier, in November there is not much going on at Ndutu and Kirawira.

In terms of Serengeti game viewing, you should see most of your wildlife near Seronera and Migration Camp.

While at Kirawira (great sunsets), your game drives will be towards Seronera anyway - more than an hour away. And Ndutu Lodge IMO is not special enough to stay 2 nights (and hours of driving) with limited game.

Since you are interested in phtography and never get tired of game, you may want to stay longer near Seronera. At least from there you can go in all directions to find the action.

Since you will be staying in lodges (not camping), Roy Safaris is not that important.

In the end it's all about the quality of your vehicle and your guide and there are other companies with good vehicles while the guides are always a gamble when you choose outfitters in the budget - mid range.

Snce it is out of season, you should get a good rate on a private safari with a 4WD Landcruiser (you need this because it may rain some).

Also be aware of the distances involved - the drive from Kia Lodge to the Migration camp is a very long and bumpy one!
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Jan 19th, 2005, 11:40 AM
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lisa - That's a very nice nudge up, but excellent choices. Without initially providing some sort of budget, it was difficult for these upgraded accommodations to even be suggested.

Migration Camp is all new with beautiful tents and great grounds and the area around is same as Lobo. I gather you will be flying here from Arusha. Also in this area you will find the migratin wildebeests traversing South from the Mara.

Kirawira is one of my personal favorites, and another excellent choice, though not ideal this time of the year. Likewise, Swala at Tarangire is lovely, but again this isn't the best time to be visiting Tarangire. I'd rather spend extra time in the Serengeti. While not a waste of time to spend 1-nt at Swala in Tarangire - the park is beautiful - but not 2-nts. I'd add extra days at Migration Camp or Serena Serengeti. And, Nduto isn't great for animal viewing during this period.

And I've been curious why you've chosen 3-nts at Ngorongoro. Most people only spend 2-nts, but now with being limited to only half-day on the Crater floor, many won't spend more than 1-nt before moving on. Even if keeping with this recent revised itinerary, from Nduto to Ngorongoro is a short drive - you can do an afternoon in Carter, overnight; next morning do Crater, then be on your way. Still only 2-nts.

I know you mentioned you wanted this safari to be animal viewing and photos, but after bumping around miles and miles thru Tanzania, a few days of R&R in Tanzania is something to consider.

But all is not lost if R&R doesn't appeal. If you have at least 4-days by eliminating Kirawira and Nduto (and maybe a 5th day by doing only 1-day at Swala) you can fly from Arusha to Dar and from there fly to The Selous. Now that will be a great place for game viewing.

Some things to consider.

 
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Jan 19th, 2005, 12:45 PM
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Sandi and I must've posted almost at the same time!

There's no bigger fan of Selous than me, but if that excursion doesn't fit your budget, you can also consider the following:

It is amazing that so few people visit the Northern Serengeti considering its location just below the Masai Mara. My friends at the Lions Research project told me once that Northern Serengeti including the Ikoma area has some of the highest concentrations of lion in the Serengeti.

Anyway, since you have so much time I suggest you venture outside the Serengeti to camps such as Ikoma Tented Camp http://www.safaris-tz.com/ikoma_safari_camp.htm (not expensive) or Klein's Camp (certainly a splurge).

At either camps you can do night drives and game walks just to mix things up a bit.

I also think that 3 nights at Ngorongoro are too long.

In addition, your outfitter can certainly set you up in a private camp area for a night or two - very near to the migration wildlife.
On your current lodge itinerary, with the exception of the Migration Camp (where you hear the hippos), you are not going to hear any wildlife at night!

Instead of Ndutu, Kirawira and 3 nights Ngorongoro, go for private camping and/or the camps outside the park!
Eben

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Jan 19th, 2005, 01:47 PM
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sandi
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... sorry, but the fingers and mind don't always work together

>>from Nduto to Ngorongoro is a short drive - you can do an afternoon in Carter, overnight; next morning do Crater, then be on your way. Still only 2-nts.<,

That should be "only 1-nt."


 
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