Critic our Kenya/Tanzania plans please!

Old Jul 30th, 2004, 02:04 PM
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Critic our Kenya/Tanzania plans please!

Please critic the following itinerary for our June 2005 holiday: We are 2 couples traveling with three 11-14 year old boys. First time to Africa and from what I have read here on a daily basis it is likely not our last once we get the bug! We will book next week and strongly feel the need to bounce our plans off this you folks. I consider this board to be the very best advice I have come across for research for any trips I have planned! You folks are better than any book available. Thank you in advance for any and all thoughts!!

Day 1 Depart US ( 2nd or 3rd week of June)

Day 2 Overnight in Amsterdam.

Day 3 Giraffe Manor in Nairobi

Day 4 Fly to Amboseli Tortilis

Day 5 Tortilis

Day 6 Drive to border. Lunch in Arusha. Drive to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge

Day 7 Lake Manyara Tree Lodge

Day 9 Drive to Ngorongoro Serena

Day 10 Ngorongoro Serena

Day 11 Drive to Serengeti Serena

Day 12 Dive to Kirawira

Day 13 Kirawira

Day 14 Fly to Kilimanjaro International then to Amsterdam. Overnight in Amsterdam.

Day 15 Return USA.


1. Are two nights too much in Lake Manyara Tree Lodge and/or Ngorongoro Serena?

2. Should we stay only 1 night at Ngorongoro and add more time in Serengeti? If so, should we stay 2 nights Kirawira and 1 night Grumeti or all at Kirawira? We want to take advantage of the timing of our trip to see migration. Western Serengeti in late June early July is supposed to be it!

3. Has anyone done the drive from Tortillis to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge? How long and how much hassle?

4. Does $9,190 (land only) seem like a good price for 2 adults and an eleven year old?

5. Anyone stayed at Giraffe Manor? Please compare to Norfolk.

6. Is it worth going to Tortillis? We could spend more time in Tanzania. I like being in 2 different countries and Amboselli looks great, but we spend a bit of time traveling from Nairobi and from Tortillis to Lake Manyara.

7. I know that this is a personal question but Is a US based agent worth any premium in price? If so how much?? 5% , 10%... Seems to me that it is easier and less risky dealing with someone with an office in US.

8. Should we fly from Tortillis to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge?

JazzDrew is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2004, 02:25 PM
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I should ask to critique not critic...sorry.
JazzDrew is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2004, 03:09 PM
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JazzDrew -

I'd make a few changes to the itinerary with some comments as to why.

First of all the Giraffe Manor is very expensive and if it's the idea of having giraffes stick their heads thru the window while having breakfast - you're paying a big premium for that. You can find a lovely hotel in Nairobi proper and still visit the Giraffe Center which is adjacent to the Manor and feed the giraffes for a whole lot less money.

As to Tortilis - no problem here, thumbs up, for this lovely camp.

I would spend 2-days at Tarangire rather than Lake Manyara. Some people have had pleasant experiences at Manyara, but it is a real small park and it just didn't do it for me. A recent post from Cronen who just returned, had similar comments - their lodgings here were great, but not so the park. Tarangire is a much larger park, with herds of elephants, zebra, and lots of birds - in fact, June is the beginning of a small migration that occurs at this park. You might want to check into Kikoti Camp here.

As to the 2-nts. at Ngorongoro, you almost have to spend 2-nts, as you'll arrive here in the mid- to late-afternoon. You might be able to go into the Crater for an hour or so, but you might just want to relax and put in the full crater tour the next day. The Serena here is a lovely property.

As to the Serengeti, many tour operators won't allow for the guide/driver to drive from Ngorongoro straight thru to the Western or Northern Serengeti, so choose to break this up by a stop mid-way (the Serena); and it's also easier on you. So in actuality you have 3-days in the Serengeti. Both the Serena and Kirawira (one of my favorites) are lovely.

It's not unusual to drive from Tortilis via Arusha to Tarangire, Lake Manyara and even as far as Ngorongoro, though the latter is a long haul. Either Tarangire or Manyara are closer and certainly doable. To fly from Tortilis to either Tarangire or Manyara will require a private charter as there are no scheduled flights - you are flying between countries and would have to stop in Arusha/Kili for Immigration purposes, then continue on. Besides the private charter would be quite expensive.

As to the price, I know a child staying with a parent gets a reduced price, but I'm assuming the three boys will be sharing one room or one tent, so it's difficult to comment on the price you were quoted.

You did mention that you are just about ready to book, and not to put a kink in your schedule - I would seriously consider getting a price from at least one local tour operator. There are a number of very reputable in-country outfitters, whom I believe might be able to save you some money. And since you do have some time to book (August '04 is still early for a June '05 safari) why not get a quote from Roy Safaris - their site

Go to their "Contact us" or "Request Information" page, send them an email with your itinerary and see what price they offer.

These are just my ideas and comments - hope they help!
Old Jul 31st, 2004, 12:49 AM
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Giraffe Manor - If you arrive in Nairobi in the evening and fly to Amboseli early the following day then Giraffe Manor would be a waste of your money. Stay at a good city hotel like Norfolk or Serena - much cheaper. Second, accommodation at the manor is old-fashioned and nothing special. The grounds are lovely though. If you are looking for something special then stay at the Ngong House which is a short distance from the Manor.

I think I would also change the itinerary a bit.

From Nairobi, I would fly to Arusha (take a morning flight if available) and then stay at Manyara Serena or Eunoto Lodge. I recommend Manyara if you have children as there are lots of activities for your boys from the above lodges such as canoeing on Lake Manyara, cycle rides through coffee farms, nature walks, visits to masai and local village... I don't recommend Manyara Tree Lodge even though it has very nice and expensive accommodation, simply because the drive to the lodge is nearly 2 to 3 hours through the park in the heat of the day and would eat up your first evening. Also it would not be easy to do the activities I mentioned from there. Tarangire is a great park but in June you should see more game around Lake Manyara.

Then spend 2 nights at Ngorongoro Serena - you can do 2 trips into the crater, a half-day and a full-day one.

In Serengeti try to spend 2 nights at Serena and 2nights at Kirawira. Serengeti deserves 4 nights. You will save money by not staying at Manyara Tree Lodge which you could use towards an extra night in Serengeti. Migration would be in the area around this time.

Then fly from Serengeti to Arusha and drive to Amboseli via Namanga border. Tortilis is excellent. If you want to avoid Amboseli and Kenya and rather stay in Tanzania, there is a new lodge opening between Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro -Hatari Lodge. I am very excited by this lodge and will definitely be staying there when I visit Tanzania again 3 nights here instead of 1 in Nairobi and 2 in Amboseli will work out quite well. With your boys you could do a walk on the slopes of Mount Meru.

If you are going to Amboseli take the morning flight back to Nairobi or drive back in your private vehicle (if there are 5 of you this might work out cheaper). There is no real problem in doing Amboseli first except you will get half a day to shop in Nairobi if it was towards the end.

Is the price you mention per person or for 3 of you or for 5 of you?

Try to get a comparison quote from a local operator. There are several recommendations on this board. I use Vintage Africa who are very reliable.

king is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2004, 04:54 AM
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I have to agree with Sandi and King about adding an at least one extra night in the Serengeti. Such a long journey for two nights in one of the most magnificent game parks in all of Africa? No, no ... one more night. I am one of the biggest fans of Tarangire, which is, IMO, one of the most underrated parks in Tanzania. I loved this park. Giant baobab trees and huge termite mounds give the park a real different feel. Some of our best game viewing was in Tarangire, including when my husband was slimed by a giraffe and we were charged (mock, fortunately) by a young male elephant. Anyway, just my 2 cents!
SusanLynne is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2004, 06:21 AM
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Hi there from RHODE ISLAND. Was wondering why you need to spend a night in Amsterdam. My 3rd time going to that part of Africa. I don't have to waste a night there. Would you want the name of the lady who takes care of my air-fare? The price I have from PROV to DETROIT to AMSTER to DAR ES. Then leaving NAIROBI and back the same way. Is $1300.00
Altough I don't think you will be able to get a price so soon.
Here is just a thought: If you get into NAIROBI in the eve. Stay at MACUSHLA HOUSE. Small place just outside the city. Only a 10/15 min ride from the airport. If you want to take that hopper to AMBOSELI go ahead. But is that not a bit expensive? I really don't know. But you could get a driver to get you guys there in about 4/5hrs.
Then drive over to TANZ. When your done.
I don't know about the LODGE you mention. I have this habit about camping. If you would like my tour ops info based in KENYA you can e-mail me at: [email protected] It's eco-resorts. Using them a 3rd time now.
Anyways, good luck.

tuskerdave is offline  
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