Comments on Tanzania itinerary?

Jan 22nd, 2005, 02:03 AM
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Can't remember who asked, but yes, we will fly from Arusha into Serengeti.

I am intrigued by Ikoma -- haven't heard anything about it until now! (And yes, Klein's is a budget-buster, unfortunately.)

I know everyone says to only spend one night or two at Ngorongoro. Believe it or not, originally we were thinking 4 nights! (3 full days). Have now cut it down to 3 nights, thinking that will give us 2 full days in the crater, which is really what we want (on the day we are driving from Ndutu to Ngorongoro, we are planning on stopping at Olduvai Gorge and a Masai village, so I doubt we will drive into the crater until the following day.) I am open to at least considering dropping one of our nights at Ngorongoro though...will have to raise this with the love of my life and see what he thinks.

I know that the game viewing in the north and west of the Serengeti, and around Ndutu, may not be at its peak during the time we are going. However, since we do have quite a bit of time, we would like to see as much of the area as we can and not only stay in the central Serengeti, although I would not be surprised if most of our game drives concentrate in that direction. Also, it is interesting that the safari operators' opinions on this subject vary wildly! Some seem to think that the area around Ndutu will actually have plenty of game at this time, and others say the same about the western corridor (with talk of mini-migrations and resident herds and so on) who knows. Since we want to see as much of the area as we can anyway, we're sort of hedging our bets by staying a couple of nights in each of several different parts. Also, while everyone does agree that the central Serengeti has the highest concentrations of game, everyone also seems to agree that it has the highest concentrations of other game-viewers as well! So maybe some time in some of the more remote regions of the park will be rewarding in other ways.

I will take another look at Kikoti as an alternative to Swala -- I remember it sounded very nice but I think we were concerned that it might be too far outside the park (although we did like the idea of being able to do night drives...). Kikoti is less expensive than Swala, yes?

While Selous definitely appeals -- I would love to see the "painted dogs" -- due to the distance and expense I think we will save it for another trip, unfortunately...

Now I want to look into Ikoma a little more. Hmm, maybe if we only stay 2 nights at Ngorongoro instead of 3, and only stay 1 night at Tarangire instead of 2, we could squeeze in 2 nights at Ikoma at some point...

This is the stuff that keeps me wide awake at 3AM!
lisa is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2005, 03:51 AM
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Getting away from the crowds is something to consider and since I am a bit of loner when it comes to safaris I'm always looking for the "undiscovered"!

The area between Ngorongoro and Seronera will be the most crowded during your visit. But with the mileage limitations and unwillingness of many drivers to go further, you will find the Northern and Western areas quite peaceful.

Another very delightful Serengeti Camp that virtually nobody knows about (until now I guess!) is Mbalageti in the Western part. I just love this camp and the seclusion.

Ndutu certainly has some resident wildlife (giraffe, elephant, a small lion population and an assortment of others). Just make sure you get the standalone chalets and not the "stable-like" units at the ends!

When going to Ndutu, watch the weather. After a downpour, the road to/from Ndutu becomes a challenge to even 4WDs. While you won't get hopelessly stuck, the drive could take much longer than expected - with not much to see along the way.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2005, 01:11 PM
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Wow, I thought I had looked at everyplace in the Serengeti, but I have never even heard of Mbalageti. The website is very flashy but there aren't many photos. Have you stayed there & can you share details re: game-viewing, accommodations, etc.? Is it relatively new? How does it compare pricewise -- e.g. is it in roughly the same price category as Migration/Kirawira, or is it more of a Klein's/Grumeti place? Interestingly, a Google search on Mbalageti turned up almost nothing....
lisa is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2005, 02:26 PM
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Hi Lisa

In fact, there are a few new camps that nobody knows about yet!

Best time for Mbalageti is when the migration moves up the Mbalageti river in May-July.

So you are not hitting it the best time - in November the game-viewing is the same as Kirawira and Grumeti - hit & miss. I liked it better than Kirawira (too many group-tourists) and certainly better than Ndutu (I have a love-hate relationship with Ndutu).

Rack rates are between $275 and $550 per tent although they have good half price deals until end of May! Ikoma may work better for you.

I have nice pictures but don't know where to post it?
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Jan 30th, 2005, 02:31 PM
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If we were going to substitute 2 nights at Ikoma for 2 nights somewhere else on our itinerary, where should it be -- Kirawira?
lisa is offline  
Jan 31st, 2005, 05:31 AM
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Lisa -

As mentioned by both myself and climbhighsleeplow, Kirawira is West and best May-July. You should be in the Northeastern area, so if not Lobo or Ikoma, then Migration Camp (Klein's is a real budget buster).
Jan 31st, 2005, 07:40 AM
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We are definitely spending our first 2 nights at Migration Camp.

Also, we've decided to cut a night from Ngorongoro (2 nights at Ngoro Serena instead of 3), and add that night to the central Serengeti area, probably 3 nights at Serengeti Serena instead of 2. We are also leaning toward substituting Ikoma for Kirawira so that we can enjoy some game walks and night drives. Wish I could find more reports from people who have stayed at Ikoma...just curious for more details about the beds, food, toilets, showers, game viewing, etc.

Are still debating about Ndutu & the end I have a feeling that no matter what we decide it will be an amazing trip!
lisa is offline  
Jan 31st, 2005, 11:56 AM
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lisa -

It's actually possible the Swala might be closed in November thru mid-December - the "short" rain season - then reopen for Christmas thru March. There are quite a number of camps that do indeed close during both the "long" and "short" rains.

As to Nduto, nothing much is happening there. I'd pass on this s top.

At this point why not have the outfitters to whom you're sending your proposed itinerary provide suggestion to your quandry!!!

Most vacationers (posters here) can only hope to have too many days and not enough places with which to fill it.
Mar 6th, 2005, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Lisa – hope it’s not too late to post on this board. I just saw your posting and I’m very glad I did. Before I start, I want to say that I know I shouldn’t “piggyback” on someone else’s posting – so I’M SORRY in advance to anyone who is upset at me for doing that – BUT the thing is that I’m planning a similar (practically identical!) trip for my wife and our 2 kids and their spouses for the same time – arriving JRO 11/24 and leaving 12/5 (same flight as you maybe?) – 11 “safari days” (10 nights, not counting the night we arrive). And I’m going through the same questions and considerations that you are – and also waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it! We are also on a limited budget since we are footing the bill for all 6 of us. (We’re calling it “spending our kids’ inheritance”! Seriously, we consider this the trip of a lifetime and although our expenses are tight, we think the experience, both in the wild and as a family, will justify it in the end.) Like you, I am only interested in seeing (and experiencing) the animals and also the photography aspects. (I’ve recently joined a Wildlife Photo Club here in Denver). We haven’t booked the safari yet and are now trying to finalize the itinerary.

I am currently thinking of the following itinerary:

1 night Arusha (to get organized, get our land legs, visit Arusha Natl Park, etc.)
1 night Tarangire
1 night Manyara
2 nights Ngorongoro
3 nights central Serengeti
2 more nights somewhere else in Serengeti but can’t decide north, south, east or west!

I haven’t started selecting the accommodations yet but would like a combination of lodges and tented camps. (Would appreciate your suggestions or knowing what you’ve decided.)

Some questions for you based on your research:
1. We’re planning to have a driver and car rather than fly to Serengeti (I’m assuming that flying would be too expensive for 6 people?). Just wondering what you’ve found in the way of airfares to do that since I think it would be a thrilling experience.
2. I hadn’t heard about the Ngorongoro restrictions before reading this posting. (That’s not something they write about in the guidebooks!) Have you been able to confirm anything about the number of trips allowed into the crater? That would definitely affect our itinerary planning.
3. What’s your opinion now of where the best place to be is for the migration between 11/24 and 12/5? I know it “depends on the rains” but opinions seem to vary quite a bit from north to east to south (even west!) Serengeti. Have you come to any conclusions?
4. What did you decide about Ikoma? We’ve talked with a travel agent here in Denver and he recommends it (for the hiking and night drives) but I’m wondering if it would be best to stay in the park for better proximity to the game?
5. Do you mind sharing what your most recent itinerary is looking like now?

Thanks for your (any anyone else’s) help on this. Again, I’m sorry to be butting in on your posting. It’s just that your plans are so similar to ours that I thought it might help us both to share information and get more feedback together. However, if you think it’s more appropriate to respond individually, I’m also including my email address.
Thanks for your (and anyone else’s) help! Kip ([email protected])

kipper is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 06:19 AM
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Hi Kip. I certainly don't mind you piggybacking on this thread! I think it's great that you are doing a family trip. Your per person costs should be a little less than ours since there will be more of you in the vehicle.

The best website we have found for researching the trip by far is Unfortunately their price wasn't competitive at all, so we will book through someone else, but I do think their website is invaluable.

Regarding flights from Arusha to the Serengeti, there are various airstrips in the Serengeti and the price varies. You can fly into Seronera in central Serengeti, Lobo airstrip in the North (there is also one for Klein's camp), and there is one in the western Serengeti as well. Not all flights operate on all days and we have been told that in particular the flights to the north will only operate if there are a certain number of passengers. So we may end up flying into Seronera and then driving to Migration Camp. In general prices are between $100-200 per person one-way but you should ask your operator when you are pricing it.

I would never even try to predict where the migration will be. We have decided to hedge our bets by spending a couple of nights at Migration Camp in the north and then 3 nights in the central Serengeti at Serena. We will probably end up doing 2 nights at Ikoma too for the game walks and night drives. I would not worry about it being "outside the park" -- the wildlife doesn't know where the park boundary is! Plus it's very close to the park gate anyway. And being outside the park can be an advantage in terms of the ability to hike and do night drives, and hopefully fewer other vehicles/tourists. If we decide to skip anything it will be Ndutu because this time of year is not the best for wildlife viewing there.

The safari outfitters who quoted us the best prices on identical trips were Good Earth, Tanzania Serengeti Adventures (which was 10% higher than Good Earth), and Roy's (10% higher than TSA). Other outfitters' bids were significantly higher than these 3 -- but your experience may be different from ours, depending on accommodations, etc. And of course there are other considerations besides price!

Enjoy the planning -- it's a lot of fun.
lisa is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 07:35 AM
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Thanks, Lisa! You're great to reply like that. I had already found Africa Dream and agree that's the best site for information. I'm currently planning the same 3 locations in the Serengeti also, so maybe we'll bump into you somewhere (look for 6 very excited but confused tourists!) I think I'm about ready to start sending out for bids and will use those that you recommend, plus the guy we've found in Denver. Thanks again and have a great trip! Kip
kipper is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 07:54 AM
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Sorry, Lisa. Forgot to ask what you've found out about the Ngorongoro crater restrictions. I'm hearing we'd be limited to half-day drives only? And is it only one per day? If so,I think we will schedule an aft/eve drive and then an early morning drive the next day, and then move on to the Serengeti. What do you think?
kipper is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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My husband and I traveled to Tanzania last July and LOVED IT! We feel our travel agent made all the difference://
If you can, stay with the Loliondo tented camps. They should be in the South Serengeti in the late part of the year.
Our lodge in Arusha was also very nice: Ngare Sero mountain lodge.
And not to throw another wrench in your plans, but we enjoyed our 3 nights in Lake Tanganyka at the Greystoke Camp immensely!
Finally, our driver through the Serengeti was THE BEST: Brian with Nomad.
Good Luck!!
Margui is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 12:31 PM
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Kipper -- That's the same that I heard, only half day in crater, but opportunity to do hikes around crater rim during the other part of the day. We're staying 2 nts at Ngorongoro & hope to do 2 half-day game drives in the crater, probably both in the morning.
If your agent in Denver beats the prices of the operators I mentioned, I'd love his name & number!
lisa is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 03:31 PM
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Could you elaborate on you stay at Greystoke?
atravelynn is offline  

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