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Feedback on proposed Kenya/Tanzania itinerary for Oct. 2011

Feedback on proposed Kenya/Tanzania itinerary for Oct. 2011

Old Dec 29th, 2010, 03:44 PM
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Feedback on proposed Kenya/Tanzania itinerary for Oct. 2011

Like many others, I've been lurking on these boards planning a 3 week safari to Kenya and Tanzania for October 2011. I'm finally ready to get some feedback on our proposed itinerary, but first some background. My husband and I are inveterate travelers, though we have not been to sub-Saharan Africa (so far). We are looking for the best chance to see the migration, but don't look to move around frenetically (we don't like to stay fewer than three nights in one place). We both love to dive/snorkel, so we're definitely planning on four days on Mafia Island with hopes of seeing whale sharks.

Originally we planned on 4 nights Amboseli, 4 nights Masai Mara, 3 nights Ngorongoro, 1 night Lake Manyara, 4 nights Serengeti, and 4 nights Masai Island. I've been working with several agents, two of whom priced exactly what I asked for. The other one suggested that the elephants for which Amboseli is famous have decimated the landscape and Tarangire would be better in October. She also recommended not going to the Serengeti, since we are going to the Mara.

Her recommended itinerary is:
Fly into Nairobi, one overnight at Ole Sereni
Fly to Masai Mara, 4 nights (Elephant Pepper or Governor's Main)
Fly to Arusha via Nairobi, 2 nights Arusha at African Tulip, with walking safari at Arusha on the day between.
Visit N'Gresi Village, then drive to Tarangire, 4 nights (Kikoti Camp or Tarangire Sopa Lodge)
Drive to Ngorongoro via Lake Manyara, 1 night Ngorongoro Farmhouse
Ngorongoro Crater, 3 nights (Ngorongoro Sopa or Serena Lodge)
Drive back to Arusha for flight to Mafia Island, 4 nights (Mafia Island Lodge or Kinasi Lodge)

Here are our questions:
1.Will we cut our chances of seeing the migration by dropping the Serengeti? (After reading recent posts, I'm inclined to drop the two nights in Arusha, and one night in Ngorongoro crater and add three nights in North Serengeti.)
2. Any opinions on Amboseli versus Tarangire in October?
3. Has anyone visited the N'Gresi Village? Is it just a dog and pony show for tourists? (I'm almost always uncomfortable with visits to locals arranged by travel agents)

Any advice will be appreciated!
marinrobin is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2010, 05:21 PM
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Regarding your original plans--You'd likely need a travel day between Kenya and Tanzania and I would cut a day out of Amboseli. But I would like to do that safari. No comment on Mafia Island as I have no experience.

1. The earlier in Oct, the better the chances of seeing the migration in the Mara. If you'll be in the Mara Oct 2, 3, 4, 5, I think your agent is giving you reasonable advice.

When you mention dropping and adding days, that brings you close to your original plan. By skipping Arusha you are skipping the one forested region on your itinerary with speciies such as colobus monkeys. Cutting out a day at the crater would mean you'd have ONE full day in the crater (depending on how fees are charged, maybe 2 half days, but it equals an all day outing). One descent into the Ngorongoro is typical and two is not as common. I'm assuming you'd be going to the crater 2x, but there are also hikes you can do on the other day. I've done both 2 and 3 nts at the crater and 2 is good if you need to cut a day from this location to add elsewhere in the itinerary. (In contrast I'd say DON'T subtract a day from the Mara.)

2. Never been to either in Oct, but have been in dry season. I was in Amboseli before the 2009 drought. I like Tarangire better for the vegetation & terrain, less amount of dust (which could be at its worst at the end of the dry season), and the river, but if you hope to see Kilimanjaro, Tarangire will not produce that. Elephants are good in both places. A 3 night stay in Amboseli would give you a good chance of seeing the mountain, especially morning and evening.

I'd get an itinerary with Tarangire and with Amboseli and see how things fit, how the transportation works, and what the difference in cost is. Those factors may help you decide.

3. This recent topic on village visits may be helpful if you ignore my disco comments.


The itinerary suggested by the agent looks nice. Are you visiting Lake Manyara in the agent's itinerary?
atravelynn is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2010, 07:30 PM
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Thanks for the quick (yet complete) reply, atravelynn. Yes, the agent's recommended itinerary includes both a day of travel between Kenya and Tanzania (day 6), and Lake Manyara on day 11, after the last Tarangire night, on the way to Ngorongoro. (There's also another travel day going to Mafia Island on day 15.)

Regarding timing, we could actually start up to two weeks earlier, in the middle of September. Would Sept 16-20 be better in the Mara than Oct 2-6?

Her itinerary has an afternoon game drive in Ngorongoro Crater on day 12, and then a full day game drive on day 13. Day 14 is a crater rim walk or Olmoti Crater walk, and an afternoon game drive on the Crater floor. So that's the equivalent of two full day crater game drives, right?

I'll take your suggestion and ask for a quote for Amboseli in place of Tarangire.
marinrobin is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2010, 10:42 PM
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I think it is wise to put in Tarangire there, it is just lovely in October, although 4 nights might be a bit much(?).

Personally I wouldnt really like to have those days in Arusha in between, cause it 'breaks' the safari and wildlife experience. I already experienced that when staying in Plantation Lodge near Karatu (near Ngorogoro crater) after spending days in Tarangire. It takes you out of the wild and back into the 'real world' .
If you are after a total and full experience and want to get as much impressions of the country as possible this is definately a good decision and there are some nice walks you can do, but if you are after the remote and 'wild' experience it might dissapoint you.

The way you describe it now would mean you are going 3 times down on the crater floor, this seems a bit to much. Most people do 1 day, some do an afternoon drive on arrival followed by a full day, but 3 times? .. better spent an extra day in the Masai Mara I would say
Nikao is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2010, 09:10 AM
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Two weeks one way or the other, who really knows this far in advance and with weather so unpredictable now? Are you really going Oct 2-6? I just threw out those dates. What a coincidence. I'd put the time frame of Sept 16 to Oct 2 as all the same, this far out.

Those days in Arusha should include some safari activities, I believe. You can do both walking and also driving in areas that include a lake with flamingos (if they are around) and heavier forests. To see the most animals, make sure you spend some time in a vehicle. You can also canoe if that is of interest.

The agent's itinerary is a more complete and intensive Ngorongoro experience than the average visitor. You can view that as a privilege or more than you need. I liked but did not love the Olmati Crater walk.

Since you mentioned at the outset your goal is to see the migration, a 5th day in the Mara is not more than you need IMO. (Or in Nikao's). I've never spent less than 6 nts there during migration time. And always would have stayed longer when it was time to go.

What a 5th night at in the Mara could do for you is allow you to stay 2 places. I know that violates your rule of not moving around, but it also increases your chances of special sightings that are unique to one area. You could stay on either side of the Mara River so that you are near the migration's crossing points throughout your visit, and be able to avail yourself of the wildlife on either side. It is not convenient to just zip back and forth across the river at will taking in the action on both banks. You pretty much commit yourself to one side or the other based on your lodging.

But you can weigh staying in one place vs. a 2/3 night split.

And good luck with those whale sharks! Have you heard of Holbox, Mexico? Whale sharks by the hundreds at the end of July. Let me know if that interests you.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Dec 30th, 2010, 09:45 AM
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For late-Sept into early-Oct, I'd include the Mara and even the Northern Serengeti.

In the Mara, there's a big difference between choosing Elephant Pepper (8/tents) vs Main Governor's (40/tents).

As to Amboseli vs Tarangire, if you wish views of Kili, then Amboseli; if not, Tarangire which has mini-migration between July thru Oct.

You can consider:
Day 1 - Arv. NBO - Ole Sereni or farther into city closer to Wilson (domestic) airport for flight to Mara next morning.
Day 2 - Fly to Mara - o/n
Days 3, 4 & 5 - Masai Mara - o/n
Day 6 - Fly via NBO to JRO - o/n Arusha
Day 7 - Option; Full-day Arusha NP or half-day N'gresi
(if not these*) then drive to Tarangire - o/n Kikoti (over the Sopa by a mile)
Day 8 - Tarangire - o/n
Day 9 - Drive to Ngo; afternnoon crater tour - o/n
Day 10 - Ngo - option: morning crater tour; afternoon at leisure or options: Olmoti Trek or Crater Rim Walk - o/n
Day 11 - Drive to Lake Manyara for flight to Northern Serengeti - o/n Sayari, Olakira, Lemala Camps
Days 12 & 13 - No. Serengeti - o/n
Day 14 - Fly via Arusha to DAR for flight to Mafia - o/n
Days 15, 16 & 17 - Mafia - o/n
Day 18 - Fly to DAR for homebound flight
* you can take 1/day from No. Serengeti to spend in Arusha

Hope this helps.
sandi is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2010, 06:48 AM
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I agree with Nikao - 3 times into the Crater would be too much. There's so much else to see in the Serengeti and the Mara. One morning in the Crater was perfect for us. We went down early, covered a lot of ground, saw lots of animal activity since the morning is cool, had a picnic breakfast, and then it started getting very crowded by mid to late morning. There were at least 15 vehicles lined up to watch 3 lions. We took an afternoon crater rim walk, which was interesting, but the rain drove us in early.

Wish we could visit Tarangire - the landscape looks very different. We were not able to visit during the right season, so made other choices.

Sandi's itinerary looks good. Have a great time planning - it's exciting, but overwhelming as you start to see all the choices available!
Local2542 is offline  
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