compare these itineraries

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Mar 19th, 2005, 07:14 AM
  #1
cz
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compare these itineraries

Hello,
This board has been so helpful that I am going to impose on it once again for advice.
I am about to book one of the following trips.
Trip one: offered by NEI
Starts in Nairobi 8/20
1 night at Norfolk Hotel
1 night: Aberdare NP at The Ark
2 nightsamburu Game Reserve at Serena or Intrepids Camp (waitlisted)
1 night: Sweetwaters Game Reserve at Sweetwaters camp
2 nights: Mara National Reserve Serena Lodge
1 day Lake Manyara (flight) Serena Lodge
2 nights: Ngorongoro Crater Serena Lodge
2 nights: Serengeti NP at Serena Lodge
Fly to Arusha--need to find a hotel there myself.
This trip is a private safari. I am wondering about the choice of parks/reserves vs. the following trip.


Second Trip:
TZ part by Roys Kenya by WildTrek
1 night: Arusha at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge
1 night: Lake Manyara in semiluxury mobile tent
2 nights Serengeti in semiluxury mobile tent
2 nights Crater in semiluxury mobile tent
1 night Tanangire NP semiluxury mobile tent
1 night Arusha at KIA Lodge
1 night Nairobi at Intercontinental
Flight: 3 nights Mara at Governor's Main Camp
Flight: 2 nights Mara to Amboseli NP at Serena

This trip does not offer me private vehicle at Governors. The rest of it is private. This trip provider does not do international flights. So I need to book them myself. Could this be a problem? Are the flights usually on time and uncancelled?
People on this board have talked about working with Roys directly. When I emailed Roys, my response was from a person in the US, who seems very knowledgeable. This person has been very negative about accommodations and airfares.
The NEI person has told me that we are in at the places listed above, except for Samburu, where we are waitlisted.
I've been spending hours trying to sort through this puzzle.

Anyone who can help me would be most graciously thanked in advance.

By the way, this will be our first trip to Africa. My husband and I are in mid 60's; we are usually independent travelers and former tent campers. Don't think I could go back to sleeping on the ground, but the idea of a tent does not seem all that bad an idea.

I have booked a week of timeshare at Mombasa to begin at the end of this trip.


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Mar 19th, 2005, 07:18 AM
  #2
cz
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Why did that little face pop up in my Message?
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Mar 19th, 2005, 12:52 PM
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Don't know about the face, but for the itineraries...

The good news is you are hitting some wonderful areas and when you come home I’m sure you’ll say, “This was the right choice, what a fantastic trip.”

However, I think some improvements can be made so I’ve added my thoughts.

Itinerary #1

1 night at Norfolk Hotel—Fancy, historical, pricey, very much a classic. So if that’s what you want, it’s good. If not, the Boulevard Hotel about 150 yards away is less and you can have a meal at the Norfolk and walk around the Norfolk easily.

1 night: Aberdare NP at The Ark—somewhat touristy, better to have it early in trip than later when you may have developed more of a desire for remoteness. Also good to have early when you may not be over jetlag and up at night anyway so might as well watch the floodlight waterholes. Saw my best ever mother & baby rhino activity and rhino-elephant sparring at the floodlit waterhole. Ask for a gamedrive around the Aberdare region, not just a transfer to the Ark. A game drive is not always routine. This is the only forested environment in this itinerary and a chance to see the Colobus Monkey.

2 night Samburu Game Reserve at Serena or Intrepids Camp (waitlisted)—Since you see species here (and Sweetwaters) that you don’t see elsewhere, it’s good to include it. Also one of best spots to see leopard. On my 1st Kenya-Tanzania trip this was the only place I saw a leopard--in a tree. Next to Mara, more game here than anywhere in Kenya, I think. You can do a camel ride too. You can compare Masai to Samburu tribe, which you will likely see and maybe visit here. I loved the deserty environment of Samburu.

1 night: Sweetwaters Game Reserve at Sweetwaters camp—Cool you go here, never been. Your only chance to see chimps in Kenya. Granted they are not free roaming wild, but they are in a Jane Goodall supported sanctuary. The other 2 JGI sanctuaries I’ve been to allow a very wild setting for the chimps. Rhino here too.


2 nights: Mara National Reserve Serena Lodge—Weak point of the trip. I’d prefer a more northern location like Little Gov’s, which is great. I can say from personal experience. To me 2 nights in the Mara, especially since you are spending only 2 nights in the Serengeti later, and not in the northern part of the Serengeti, is one of the biggest drawbacks of the trip.

1 day Lake Manyara (flight) Serena Lodge—Not the very best time of year to go here, but not bad. Good hippos and elephants.

See if you can stop at Gibb's Farm for lunch. One of the best meals of my life.


2 nights: Ngorongoro Crater Serena Lodge—similar to other itinerary, a must see in Tanzania

2 nights: Serengeti NP at Serena Lodge—weak point, I think a little bit further north would provide better game at the end of August.

Fly to Arusha--need to find a hotel there myself.—Impala B & B is a suggestion.


If this is private, you should be able to make some changes. If you can add one day, I would spend 3 nights in Little Governors, or another tented camp in the more northern part of the Masai Mara, where there are fewer visitors. Kicheche and Rekero are also in this region, though I have not been to them, only Little Govs. In the Serengeti, with only 2 days, you may not have enough time to get to the more northern part of that park. You could add some time and head north to Lobo Lodge, or if the budget permits, Klein’s Camp or Migration Camp. I’d even suggest removing the Serengeti and spending 4 nights in the Mara instead. I have never spent less than 4 nights in the Mara. But I can understand how you may want to visit the famed Serengeti and the part you are going to does have decent resident game year-round.


Second Trip:
Have you been in contact with Susan Wood of Away to Africa Safaris? She was quite prompt, professional and cordial with all of my requests and provided reasonable prices. Right, they do not do air. Have not booked any trips with them, was only seeking info.

I’ve never had an international Africa flight cancelled. Always flown British Air. I’ve had some delays, but not out of proportion to any other airline. I have had problems within Africa with cancelled flights that meant I missed my international flight home. I did use an agent with an in-house air department, Africa Adventure, and was put on another carrier the next day through them and was only delayed by one day.

A semi-luxury mobile trip will be a wonderful way for you to intimately experience Africa. You’ll be very comfortable and with your background as campers it will be perfect, so there’s a big plus right off the bat! I am assuming this is a private trip too.

TZ part by Roys Kenya by WildTrek
1 night: Arusha at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge

1 night: Lake Manyara in semiluxury mobile tent—Driving into the Serengeti, you may need to stop here regardless of whether this is the very best time to be there. Good hippos and elephants.

2 nights Serengeti in semiluxury mobile tent—You’ll have some flexibility in where you stay since you are mobile. There is a difference between public campgrounds and your own private camping location.

2 nights Crater in semiluxury mobile tent—A must see and you’re here, like the other itinerary.

1 night Tanangire NP semiluxury mobile tent—Good time of year to be here and lovely baobab trees that you won’t see elsewhere.

1 night Arusha at KIA Lodge—hope you do a trip to Arusha National Park with its more forested environment and a chance to see Colobus Monkeys. Only forested region in this itinerary.

1 night Nairobi at Intercontinental—a pricey choice

Flight: 3 nights Mara at Governor's Main Camp—A high point of your trip. Sharing a vehicle should not be a problem. Good choice. Can you add one more day?

Flight: 2 nights Mara to Amboseli NP at Serena—There was a recent board suggestion to stay at Ol Tukai for location, better than Tortillis. I’ve stayed at Tortilis and found it lovely. If seeing Kilimanjaro is the reason for going here, then good choice. If not, I’d substitute Samburu.
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Mar 19th, 2005, 01:20 PM
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Face is because a colon followed by a capital S is the code for that particular smiley face.

8) comes up a lot because it's an 8 followed by a ).
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Mar 19th, 2005, 01:20 PM
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Though it didn't come up there! LOL
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Mar 19th, 2005, 01:32 PM
  #6
cz
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I cannot believe that you were kind enough to respond so fully and so helpfully to my questions. Saying thank you seems inadequate. It's good to know I'm on the right track with these plans. The first itinerary is somewhat pricier. It does include lunch at Gibbs Farm, camel ride, horse back ride, glider ride, and game drives everywhere.

The second one intrigues me with the tent camping aspect; maybe I can discuss adding the highlights of the second into the first in some small way.

Again, my heartfelt appreciation for the time that you used to help me. I printed out your response and will spend some time with it. I may be back with another question or two.

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Mar 19th, 2005, 02:28 PM
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cz -

On the 1st itinerary, my comments are:

1) For the first night, I wouldn't spend for the Norfolk. There are other less expensive options - consider the Fairview, even the Intercontinental (it isn't expensive and closest to airport upon your arrival).

2) Instead of the Ark, where you drive to the Country Club, leave your luggage then with only an overnight bag drive to the Ark which is very touristy. An alternative is the Serena Mountain Lodge that also has a salt-lick for night game viewing. Here you drive right up to the lodge, no changing of vehicles.

3) Samburu is excellent - either property that opens up is fine.

4) Sweetwaters - I would omit this and fly from Samburu to the Mara, otherwise, the drive is very long 5-6 hours on terrible roads and cuts into gameviewing time. By plane, you can still have early game drive at Samburu, make the 10am flight to the Mara and arrive in time for lunch.

And I would definitely add the day taken from Sweetwaters to the Mara. This is Migration time and the ideal place to spend more time. And the Serena here has an excellent spot for viewing the migrating herds and the crossings at the Mara River. In fact, you sometimes don't even have to leave your lodging to see all the action. That's not to say you shouldn't.

5) You indicate Lk.Manyara (flight), but how are you getting from the Mara to Tanzania? How many flights? The way I figure, you should fly from the Mara at 11am, arrive in NBO and connect to flight to Tanzania, and then another flight to Manyara = 3 flights (or do you drive to Manyara?)

In fact, I would skip Manyara at this time of year, instead drive to Tarangire for 2-days. There is a mini-migration here between June-Oct.

In order to do this, I'd skip the Serengeti altogether, as unless you can get to the northern Serengeti, September is not ideal otherwise.

6) The Ngorongoro Crater stop is fine. From here you can return drive to Arusha.

On the 2nd Itinerary -

Mobile camping is a true safari experience. You will have your own vehicle/guide/driver and staff to set up your tents and prepare your meals. And because it's mobile, they set-up at the most ideal spots at all locations.

1) Mgurduto on arrival is fine and lovely.

2) Again, I'd prefer camping at Tarangire for 2-nts, then 1-nt each Manyara and Tarangire.

3) Then I'd head to the Crater for 2-nts camping.

4) Then to the Serengeti for 2-nts camping. The reason I include the Serengeti here, is because with mobile camping the spot can be selected instead of a specific lodge (which isn't mobile). But I'd inquire as to where in the Serengeti the camping will take place.

5) Then from the Serengeti, I'd fly back early to Arusha/Kili and road transfer via Namanga and onto Amboseli for 2-nts.

6) From Amboseli, I'd take the early flight to NBO to connect to the 10am flight to the Mara, spending the remaining time here.

7) Personally I don't like the two back-to-back nights - 1 in Arusha, 1 in NBO, versus using the time for game viewing.

8) From the Mara, I'd return fly to NBO and spend a day here to do some sightseeing - the Karen Blixen Museum, Giraffe Manor, lunch or dinner at The Carnivore, or "sundowners" at the Norfolk and dinner at one of their restaurants or on the terrace.

Alot will depend on the international flights that you have to book yourself, whether into/out of NBO or JRO. In fact, on the first itinerary, you might want to spend the first day in NBO to recover from the long flight, do some sightseeing and then head out on safari the next day.

International flights can be difficult to come by and can be expensive, so I would definitely see what is available and within your budget. This will help you decide on your land itinerary. And do remember, like Samburu where you are waitlisted (many major tour operators [i.e., A&K] block out a number of rooms and don't release these until at minimum 60-days prior arrival); and August/September are high-season, and places book quickly, if not already closed out. A good reason to have been offered mobile camping, which you've previously enjoyed elsewhere.
 
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