East Africa Experts- Aug 06 itinerary help please!

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Sep 22nd, 2005, 01:13 PM
  #1
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East Africa Experts- Aug 06 itinerary help please!

My husband and I are planning a first time to Africa 22 day trip. We would like to see Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar in late August 2006. Would you please critique my intinerary and give me some suggestions. We are interested in trying to get the best mix of a bit of luxury and some eco-tourism and see as many animals/birds as possible.
Day 1/2 SFO-AMS
Day 3 Amsterdam
Day 4 AMS-NRO
Day 5 Fly Nairobi to Samburu (Larsen's?)
Day 6 Samburu
Day 7 Fly Samburu-Mara (preferred choices:
Little Governor's Olonana, Kichwa Tembo)
Day 8/9 Mara
Day 10 Fly Mara to Arusha - no idea where to stay
Day 11 Drive Arusha to Tarangire (Oliver's,Swala,Treetops)
Day 12/13 Tarangire
Day 14 Gibbs Farm (for birding and food)
Day 15 Ngorongoro Crater (Crater lodge, Sopa or something in the middle cost-wise)
Day 16 Arusha-Zanzibar (Matemwe bungalows/Pongwe Beach)
Day 17/18 Zanzibar
Day 19 Zanzibar (Emerson and Green)
Day 20 Fly Zanzibar-Nairobi
Day 21 Nairobi-AMS
Day 22 AMS-SFO
Does this make sense as far as fly/drive? I may faint when I send this to the travel companies for costs and have to chose less-expensive lodging. Is 4 days in Zanzibar too much? Should we add days elsewhere?
Please advise!
Thank you.
oforparis is offline  
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Sep 22nd, 2005, 01:51 PM
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Is Amsterdam necessary? I ask because you might be able to save a bit of $ by flying through London instead, since your first stop is NBO. I just bought some tix on KLM SFO-JRO for next June and they were...not cheap.

Four days on Zanzibar sounds about right if you want to get some good relaxing in. You could cut it to three if you have to: 2 on the beach with a final night in Stone Town.

Other than that, I'm afraid I've never been in August, so can't offer you anything other than my best wishes.
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Sep 22nd, 2005, 02:31 PM
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Hello,

If you fly via London, you can cut out the night in Amsterdam -- take the overnight flight to London and an overnight flight to Nairobi. You'll have about 6-8 hours in London, so you can wander around and see the sights (and stretch your legs) but won't have to pay for the overnight in Amsterdam.

Personally, I would advise adding a day to Samburu and cutting Zanzibar back to 3 days. Two days is not enough for Samburu.

In the Mara, are you considering Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, or Kichwa Tembo Bateleur? KT is comparable to Governor's Camp, whereas KT Bateleur is more comparable to Governor's Il Moran. KTB will be much more expensive than your other options -- about $300 more per night than Little Governors. It's much more luxurious, and offers night drives because it's not in the park. Little Governor's is less expensive and is located in a prime area for big cat viewing. Olonana is known to be 'child-friendly' - not a good thing if you prefer peace and quiet.

At the Crater, if your budget can take it, splurge on a night at the Crater Lodge. It's definitely something you should do once in your lifetime. If you do stay there, ask for a suite in Tree Camp as it has the best views -- the famous 'breakfast shot' from Crater Lodge was taken at Tree Camp. All suites have views over the crater, but Tree Camp is the best.

Is there some reason you're not going straight through from Zanzibar to Europe? Do you want a night in Nairobi, or is this due to flight schedules? If you do want a night in Nairobi (or have to have one because of flights) Giraffe Manor is a wonderful place to stay.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 22nd, 2005, 05:39 PM
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For the crater, will you do a half day visit on Day 15 after leaving Gibbs, before overnighting at the crater on Night 15?

Since one of your goals is seeing as many animals as possible and the crater has the about the highest concentration of animals in Africa, you might want one more day there to allow two 1/2-day visits.

Now, from where to pull that day? I'd take it from Zanzibar, but then I've never been to Zanzibar and am partial to just safari activities.

Two nights at the Ngorongoro Crater might give you enough time to justify the ultra luxurious Crater Lodge because you'd actually be there enough to enjoy the luxury. That could help satisfy your desire for "getting a bit of luxury."

Personally, I'd opt for Sopa at the crater, which is one of the crater accommodations I've stayed at. I liked its views and private road into the crater and found it plenty luxurious. Never having stayed at Crater Lodge, I can't do a good comparison, but figure Crater is an experience in and of itself.

If you are fitting in two 1/2-day trips to the crater by going there before overnighting at Gibb's on Day 14, and again on Day 15, then some of the above rambling can be ignored.

I too think switching to BA might give you some funds to work with. Also, if you normally fly economy, BA offers Traveler Plus seats for about $300 more than the cheapest seats, that give you more room. If you're a business or first class traveler, this would not be a deal. And as Leely mentioned, you'd save at least a day with BA's flight schedule vs. your flying times.

I also like Leely's point about staying 3 days in Samburu, a beautiful place with unique species you will not see during the rest of your trip. Two days is what most itineraries have since Samburu is a small park so I don't view only two days a flaw. (As I would if you had only 2 days in the Mara, especially in August.) In fact if you only wished to see Zanzibar and not spend much time there, maybe you could cut out yet another day from Zanzibar and do 4 nights in the Mara. A four night stay would not be excessive at such an excellent time of year. But I've let "my pro-safari at the expense of beach" bias slip in.

As is with no changes, your itinerary would meet your goals and you'll most likely return from your trip awestruck.

Good luck with your costing, what you have put together is not out of line.

Let us know what you decide on and who you are going with!
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Sep 23rd, 2005, 05:14 AM
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sandi
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AMS is a good layover if you're sticking with KLM - the airport is close enough to the city to enjoy an evening out and still get to the airport for departure to NBO.

On the return, you should be able to fly from ZNZ to NBO and still make the 10pm flight via AMS for your SFO connection. So you don't need a night in NBO... unless you want to visit some sights the following day here and get some last minute shopping done.

You already have 3-days in the Mara, but if you can add a day, August is the perfect time to do so.

In Arusha, there is a wide variety of accommodations - Ngurduto Lodge - a chalet room which is the size of an apartment, has a pool and spa. Or go inexpensive with the Impala Hotel or Movairo Coffee Lodge or Arusha Coffee... check with your tour outfitter.

At Ngorongoro - the Sopa is at the lower range, whereas, Crater Lodge is the most expensive. You'll be spending part of the day in the crater and without a pool the options for balance of your time are a Crater Rim Hike, or a trek to Olmoti Crater. Both interesting. Or just enjoy the lux here, but you'll be adding big bucks for this.

The four days on ZNZ are good, and with the last day in Stone Town, you'll be able to tour this fascinating area. E&G is quite an interesting accommodation - and do pre-book dinner for the Tower Top Restaurant, if this is where you wish to eat. It's not very expensive, but reservations are required even for hotel guests. Also being in Stone Town you avoid the long drive from the NE beach area (1.5 hrs) vs 10-minutes to airport for departure from ZNZ, unless you can depart from Dar-es-Salaam (DAR).

Your overall budget is what wil determine your accommodations throughout, as well as, availabiity.

Hope this helps.
 
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Sep 23rd, 2005, 08:06 AM
  #6
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Oh Boy! Thank you for all your feedback so quickly! There are two reasons for going through AMS- our FF miles are on American and we can upgrade to business (although we have to go through London) and my husband has never been to Amsterdam to see the Ryjksmuseum (I understand it is being renovated at the moment, but most of the collection still viewable). We will take KLM to Nairobi.
I will definately try to book Zanzibar straight through to AMS without the stop in Nairobi, I was not sure the schedule was feasible.
Please help me with a few more questions:
Is Larsen's a good place to stay in Samburu? Do you have other suggestions for a place there?
How much travel time should we allow from Gibbs farm to the Crater?
Is Gibbs worth an overnight stay?
Most posts I have read suggest one day in the Crater but I like Julian's idea of two days to really appreciate the Crater Lodge.
I can not decide whether to add a day to Samburu or the Mara!
I have skipped the Serengeti altogether. Is this a mistake?
Are my days and choices for lodges in the Tarangire ok?
Thanks again for all your help, this is the most confusing trip I have planned-so many lodges, so little time!

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Sep 23rd, 2005, 08:45 AM
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I really like how atravelynn credited me with much more helpful information than I was able to offer. Hey, I'll take anything.

I haven't been to the Mara, but from reading here I gather that during August you're better off in the Mara than the Serengeti--doesn't sound like you need both.

If you need to save some money-- especially to accommodate an extra night at the Crater Lodge, lucky you--there other nice options at Tarangire. I believe Oliver's, Treetops and Swala are all quite pricey. If someone can provide you with the link (paging Patty), climbhighsleeplow recently stayed at Tarangire River Camp, which, while not in the park looks lovely. There is also Mawe Ninga, but it may be a bit rustic for your taste. Oh, and Kikoti. Maybe that last one is a bit out of the way?

But if you have the time and the money, why not splurge?

African Dream Safaris has a fairly comprehensive list of places to stay in Tanzania. If you haven't already, you may want to take a gander at that.

Sounds like a wonderful trip. I am green with envy.
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Sep 23rd, 2005, 09:33 AM
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Other places in Samburu. While Larsen's would offer you a smaller camp environment (about 17 tents), Samburu Lodge with about 60 bandas or cottages was very nice when I was there. Lots of vervet activity in camp. This could be a lower cost option.

As I recall Gibbs to the Crater was about 2.5 hours. I dined at Gibbs but did not stay overnight. I was with some avid birders and we spent a long time looking at numerous new birds at Gibbs.

I would add a day to the Mara rather than Samburu, but an addition to either would be nice.

Skipping the Serengeti in August with 3 (maybe 4) days in the Mara is a good plan.

For Tarangire, try doing a search of your camps for more detailed information.
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Sep 23rd, 2005, 11:17 AM
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Larsen's camp has just recently been completely refurbished and from the photos I've seen in magazines, it looks lovely. Other options here are: the Serena Lodge, Samburu Intrepids Camp, Bedouin Camp and Elephant Watch - the last two on the high-end pricewise.

At Tarangire - Oliver's is very rustic; Swala is small and intimate and expensive; Treetops is lovely and refurbished last year, but is a good 40-minutes outside the park; likewise is Kikoti camp... nice tents, but also about 30-minutes outside the park. Tarangire River Camp is larger but nice and about 2-miles from to the Park. Sopa Lodge is right in the middle of Tarangire.

Gibbs Farm gets good reviews for food, but is quite a distance - timewise - from the Crater. Crater Lodge as I mentioned above is a budget breaker, so for mid-range cost, go for the Serena Lodge.

And, if traveling in August, the Mara is where you should be... so you're not missing anything by not visiting the Serengeti at this time of the year. The itinerary is fine with a bit of tweaking (deciding where to lay your head each night). It's looking good.

And do visit the Van Gogh when in AMS.

 
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Sep 26th, 2005, 04:14 AM
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Dear Oforparis,
I have not read all the responses you have recieved but I do know that the Mara is the place to be in Aug. The crader isn't always filled with animal but the migration will be in the Mara in Aug. if all goes well. As for Samburu Larsons is very nice as is Samburu Intrepids. Yes you need 2 nights in the crader and 2 nights in Samburu would be fine so you can see all that you want. This trip will be costly but I can help you with that as I have been booking Africa for many years and know about most tour companies. If I can help please write.
Linda
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Sep 26th, 2005, 05:22 PM
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The Tarangire Tented River Camp is a great place to stay! You can find it on www.africawilderness.com. You might consider the Ngorongoro Farmhouse, too, as an alternative in the Crater area. It's a beautiful property with a pool and is located on a 500-acre farm just outside the Crater's main gate. These properties are owned by Kibo Safaris (Willy Chambulo).
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Sep 29th, 2005, 08:14 AM
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Thank you again for all your help
I sent my revised itinerary to Roy's, Good Earth,TSA and Africa Travel Resources. I have only had a response from GE so far, they pretty much followed my itinerary and lodging requests with a substitution of Lake Manyara instead of Tarangire for one of the days.
How long does it usually take to get a quote from the tour operators? GE got back to me in two days and I haven't heard a peep from anyone else.
This is what I received from GE:
Day 4: Arrival Nairobi, met and transfer to Norfolk Hotel.

Day 5: Morning flight to Samburu, game drive in Samburu, Larsens Camp, B,L,D.

Day 6: Another game drive in Samburu, Larsens Camp, B,L,D.

Day 7: Fly to Masai Mara, game drive in Mara, Littles Governors Camp, B,L,D.

Day 8~10: More game drives in Mara, Littles Governors Camp, B,L,D.

Day 11: Flight to Nairobi, have lunch at the World famous Carnivore restaurant, then board another flight to Kilimanjaro Airport, met and transfer to Arusha, Ngurdoto Hotel (chalet), B,L.

Day 12: Drive to Tarangire, game drive in Tarangire, Treetops, B,L,D.

Day 13~14: More game drive in Tarangire, Treetops, B,L,D.

Day 15: Drive to Lake Manyara, game drive in Manyara, Gibbs Farm, B,L,D.

Day 16: Short drive to Ngorongoro crater, game drive in the crater, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, B,L,D.

Day 17: More game drives in the crater, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, B,L,D.

Day 18: Drive to Arusha, hot lunch at Impala Hotel, then proceed to Kilimanjaro airport for a 3:20pm flight to Z’bar, arriving Z’bar at 4:30pm, met and transfer to Matemwe Bungalow, B,L,D.

Day 19: Z’bar, Matemwe Bungalow, B,D.

Day 20: Transfer to Stone town, Emersons&Green, B.

Day 21: Transfer to Z’bar airport, flight to Nairobi, B.

I think I would like to substitute Swala for Treetops but can not decide, and I am not sure about the Matemwe Bungalows because I understand that they do not have air conditioning.

Can anyone compare Little Governor's and
Governor's II Moran?

What is the 'World Famous' Carnivore restaurant?
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Sep 29th, 2005, 08:47 AM
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I don't believe ATR books Kenya, only Tanzania (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), so that might be why they haven't replied. As for Roys, was this your first contact with them or had you been working with them already? If it's your first contact, perhaps they didn't receive your email. Try sending your request again. If you've already been in contact with them, are you working with one of their staff in Arusha directly or their US rep (Susan)? When did you send your last email?

I think Il Moran is the more luxurious of the Governors properties and Little Governors is more on the rustic side, though everyone that stays there seems to love it.

Here are Eben's threads with pics and descriptions of Treetops and some pros/cons of its location (Leely I just saw your page ) -

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34644805

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34632954

The Carnivore is a restaurant that primarily serves BBQ meat. Some of it is game meat though not that much anymore it seems in recent years. When we popped our heads in it looked like they had crocodile, ostrich, and camel that day, plus the usual chicken, pork, beef, etc. The meat is supposed to be all farm raised though it seems somewhat ironic to me that you would go out to the parks to view the game and then come back to Nairobi to eat it! Some people consider it a must do in Nairobi, but we thought the place looked rather hokey, touristy. We didn't eat there so can't comment on the food. Our guide needed to stop there to drop off something so we took a look around. Enough of my rant about the Carnivore. I'm sure others have enjoyed their meals there.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 10:59 AM
  #14
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Thanks for the link to the pictures of Taragire- that was great!
I sent off a request to Roy's on 9/26- I did not see a U.S.link on the website. Is there an email address for Susan?
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Sep 29th, 2005, 12:07 PM
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I don't have Susan's email address as I've never dealt with Roys before. I've just heard others mention that their inquiries to Roys were assigned to/handled by their US rep (for those that reside in the US). Perhaps someone else can give you her email or phone number. I'd send them another email over the weekend if you still haven't received a reply.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 12:19 PM
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If for whatever reason Roy is slow in getting back to you, try to reach Susan via awaytoafricasafaris.com. I found my dealings with her incredibly easy and she was very prompt in answering my questions. If you can't find her email, just let me know and I will send to you. I'd feel funny putting her email up on a message board.

But if you're having good luck with Good Earth, you might just be happy sticking with them. Sometimes it's a matter of what's going on in the office; Good Earth wouldn't give me an itinerary until I had booked my flights, so I just didn't end up bothering with them. No one else on this board ever had a problem like that with them.

Similarly, when I was trying to put something together for our first safari, I sent an email to ATR; never heard a thing. This time they wrote me write back (could it be my budget was much higher this time ?) and we ended up booking with them, primarily because one of my party felt most comfortable using her cc rather then wiring $.

Good luck.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 12:21 PM
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"wrote me right back" not "write back."

Ooops.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 02:30 PM
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I've been having trouble getting a response from Roys as well, but recently found out that it was because the person whom I was dealing with had contracted Malaria and was out of the office sick. So, I can hardly blame them for that.

I eventually got handed off to somebody else, but the response has still been a bit slow. It might just be the usual chaos that happens when one or more people are out of the office unexpectedly.
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Sep 29th, 2005, 02:40 PM
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Although I ended up not using them - I got the fastest and most personable response from Good Earth. I think this message board has made Roy's so popular now they are overwhelmed!

AS far as flights go (I am leaving from LAX) I did it LAX - ORD(chicago)-LHR -NBO. THat way I had no layover in London but still had a long enough transatlantic overnight flight to get some sleep.

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