Crazy (not) to add Serengeti to Mara in late May?

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Mar 5th, 2012, 12:01 PM
  #1
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Crazy (not) to add Serengeti to Mara in late May?

Greetings all. Long-time lurker, first-time poster (and I hope this is the right forum). You all have provided such great feedback here (I think I’ve probably read them all…), and after months of research I’m honing in on a final itinerary for our trip to Kenya & Zanzibar for the second half of May, and would love some opinions.

For context, I did 4 days of safari at &Beyond camps in South Africa in December, but this will be my wife’s first safari. We will arrive on May 11 and be staying with friends in Nairobi for 3 nights, and doing a day trip or overnight with them to Lake Nakuru or Lake Naivasha on one of those. We then have 13 nights to spend on safari and in Zanzibar.

We know that we will end with 3-4 nights at &Beyond’s Mnemba Island (and 1 or 2 nights in Stone Town at the Serena Inn), and in order to take advantage of &Beyond’s current 6/4 special, we need to spend 2-3 nights at another &Beyond lodge, which brings me to my question.

For the Mara, I am currently thinking about 3 nights at Encounter Mara (a non-&Beyond lodge which has a stay 3/pay 2 special) on the Naboisho Conservancy, then 2 nights at Mara Explorer inside the park.

This leaves the 2-3 nights for an &Beyond camp. If we were to stay in Kenya, this would need to be at Kichwa Tembo, which is just outside the park to the NW, and apparently does its drives mostly to the west of where Mara Explorer does theirs. This would mean we would stay in a camp to the NE in a conservancy, one inside the middle of the park (Confluence I believe), and one to the NW that does drives in the Triangle.

The other possibility would be to instead of Kichwa Tembo, fly down to Tanzania and do 3 nights at Serengeti Under Canvas, which will be in the central region around Seronera. This would also require a transit night in Arusha. The incremental cost of adding the Serengeti is about $3k. So my question is, would folks recommend the extra hassle/expense to get down to the Serengeti and potentially seeing the migration, or just stick with the all Mara experience and Zanzibar? Are we crazy not to go to the Serengeti?

Hopefully this will not be our last trip to east Africa, as I would love to do more of a Tanzanian circuit next time…but of course you never know, and next time the migration might be up in the Mara…

If you've made it this far, sorry for the long note, but I wanted to get as much out on the table as possible. Many thanks in advance!

Tim
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Mar 5th, 2012, 12:47 PM
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My suggestion would be to skip the Mara altogether and head from Nairobi to Tanzania. I think you'll have better game viewing in Tanzania than in the Mara, especially if you want to see the Migration herds. AndBeyond has several properties there. If you only have 13 nights for safari and Zanzibar and are planning to spend from 4 to 6 nights in Zanzibar, that doesn't leave many nights for safari. I'd suggest doing only 4 nights in Zanzibar, 3 at Mnemba Island, then 1 at the Serena in Stone Town. Do this after your safari; it will be relaxing after those bumpy game drives. This will give you about 8 - 9 days for safari. AndBeyond has properties at Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti if you wanted to use them. Their Crater Lodge is a bit over the top, though, so you might want to consider the Sopa for its location or the Serena property on the Crater rim. You should spend at least 4 nights in the Serengeti. Add a night or two at Lake Manyara or even Tarangire and there is your safari!
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Mar 5th, 2012, 02:31 PM
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I replied on the TA forum, with other ideas/suggestions.

ShayTay has excellent ideas, but if intent on staying in Kenya, the way to do what you wish... explained on TA. However, if the same 'extended stay' discount qualifies for the andBeyond properties in Tanzania... reconsider and go for it.

Maybe visit only 1/camp in the Mara - Encounter Mara - to get the 3 for 2. Then fly via NBO to JRO; connect to flight to Lake Manyara, met by Tree Lodge guide/driver - 2/nts; back to airstrip for flight to SUC in Seronera 3-4/nts. Then flight via Arusha to Zanzibar, o/n Stone Town, next day to Mnemba.
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Mar 5th, 2012, 05:47 PM
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Thanks sandi for replying here as well. And to ShayTay, thanks a lot... ;-).

But seriously, we're definitely planning to end the trip on Zanzibar, with 3 nights at Mnemba and 1-2 nights in Stone Town. As for the other Tanzania parks, I've heard mixed reviews of Lake Manyara, and read many comments that Tarangire is preferable but also not ideal in the green season.

Bottom line is there are as many opinions on the boards as there are in my head (and on my spreadsheets...).

Thanks again.

Would love to try the southern parks, but they all seem to be closed through the end of May for the rains.
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Mar 6th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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I'd agree about Lake Manyara... I've taken it off my recent itineraries. However, I've found Tarangire to be good at all seasons. I was once there in February, which isn't supposed to be a good time for that park, and saw about 200 elephants in one day. Not bad! Another idea is the Manyara Ranch Conservancy in the wildlife corridor between Tarangire and LM. Because it's private property, you can do walks, horseback riding, night drives, etc. That would be a different experience than in the public parks.
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Mar 7th, 2012, 10:40 AM
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Decisions, decisions.
As your last post on TA, seems it's Kenya and then to Zanzibar. Go for it.

As ShayTay, Tarangire, once thought only to be good during late-June thru Oct, where they have a mini-migration, with weather changes year-round... anytime is good, so be sure to remember this.

And, as there's so much to see on this amazing Continent, I see another safari in your future and Tanzania for safari will be waiting for you.

Safari njema!
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Mar 7th, 2012, 06:03 PM
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Thanks guys, yes the final decision for this trip is the Masai Mara first:
3 nights at Encounter Mara in the Naboisho Conservancy to the NE, a vehicle transfer for 3 nights to Mara Explorer in the central confluence area, then a vehicle transfer to Kichwa Tembo Bateleur in the NW by the triangle.

Then a day of travel out to Zanzibar, a night at the Serena Inn in Stone Town, then a transfer out for 4 nights on Mnemba Island.

Good to know about Tarangire. I like the idea of Ngorongoro for a night or two, Tarangire, and the Selous...next time.

Thanks again all for your help.

Tim
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