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uscmolly Jul 16th, 2007 09:41 AM

Greystoke Mahale Quote... Ouch!!
Wow, I just the quote from my TA for a three night trip to Greystoke and it is $7,680 for the two of us. I knew that this was going to be expensive, but that seems like a lot!

For those who have been, is it worth it? Also, it looks like chimp permits may be introduced soon, which may mean only one trek during our 3 days. Would that dissuade you?

thit_cho Jul 16th, 2007 10:47 AM

I would only stay one night if I could only trek once -- what do they expect you to do for the other two days? Seems like a lot of money to spend on a lakeshore beach -- you could do the same in Malawi on a much nicer lake, with a wider variety of fish.

sandi Jul 16th, 2007 11:03 AM

Are you using an TA who specializes in Africa? If not, get a quote from someone who specializes. If yes, why not get a quote from another tour operator for comparison.

From where are you flying to/from Mahale? Dar, Arusha, from northern Serengeti via Arusha?

At almost $1,300/person/nt is not all your room/board... flights are in there somewhere.

And, when is traveled planned? Month, year?

gatoratlarge Jul 16th, 2007 11:04 AM

I stayed two nights in Mahale a few years back. It wasn't cheap then either and a third night we spent in Kigoma. I must say that it is one of the most magical places in Africa that I've been. There were no limits in terms of permits then but we had one day of chimp trekking because of our schedule but ended up spending several hours following them through the forest. For a while they hunted for red colobus monkeys but weren't successful (sort of a half-hearted attempt) other times grooming and then the hooting would set off...No question it's high end though...I mean you fly in and land on this short strip between the lakeshore and the mountains...get on an Arab dhow and go a couple hours south where the jungle comes down from the mountains to the shore...really is Tarzan's Africa. It is an exclusive place. It is very out of the way...far from the more accessible Gombe Stream. I believe Bill Gates was there as well (not that that should impress, but hey, it can't be shabby if that guy shows up)...if you totaled the guests per year since the camp has been open, you'd be going to a place only a couple thousand people have ever seen. Japanese researchers have been there for a couple decades though. Roland Purcell is just the type of adventurer that would set up an exclusive camp in the middle of nowhere...flys a plane as well (we were able to hitch onto a plane out of Arusha that was to pickup a group staying at Mahale (that made it cheaper) then we flew commercial AirTanzania out of Kigoma to cut costs....that was a bit harry but we were determined. Roland flew us to Kigoma on the small plane. I haven't been to Malawi yet (leaving in a week and a half) but the lakeshore is crystal clear. It is a very romantic spot as be's not anymore expensive in Botswana at Mombo and some of the other high end camps...true?

uscmolly Jul 16th, 2007 11:15 AM

Thanks for all of the replies thus far. Our travel agent does specialize in Africa and we had great success with them this year in Southern Africa. I am interested in getting another quote...I just feel a little disloyal checking out another agent (and I'm not sure who to even call!) Any suggestions?

The quote does include air, which makes up the majority of the cost. The quote is for June 2008 and is for shared charters departing from the Northern Serengeti and returning to Arusha.

And to be honest, I'm pretty sure that we paid this much for Jao and King's Pool in maybe I'm just overreacting seeing it broken apart from the rest of the trip.

I think part of the problem is that I am feeling overwhelmed with the decision making and planning process. The planning so far has been much trickier than our last trip!

gatoratlarge Jul 16th, 2007 11:22 AM

Personally, I think it is worth it if you can afford it. (Jao and Kings Pool-type prices) It was really unlike anyplace else I've been in Africa. I would try to get two chimp treks in there but you'll want to get out on the lake as well and experience that too. The surruondings are surreal...

climbhighsleeplow Jul 16th, 2007 11:28 AM

You can see the 2008 rack rates for the lodge, park fees and flights here. And pictures:

The Serengeti pickup is about $250 pp extra.

If you add it all up - well over $7000 for two!

Worth it? Yes, IMO.

PredatorBiologist Jul 16th, 2007 11:36 AM

uscmolly: I am taking a group to Greystoke in February and it is about $3,000 pp for 3 night trip so your quote is a bit higher but in a rough ball park. The air is a killer at over $900 per person despite it being the regular twice a week circuit flight through western Tanzania. Our flight is to and from Arusha so that may be a good part of the price difference, also with the size of the group I believe our booking has less mark up on it.

PredatorBiologist Jul 16th, 2007 11:38 AM

climbhigh beat me to it. The premium for the Serengeti pick up is a big part of the price difference so your quote should be reasonable.

jenack Jul 16th, 2007 11:42 AM

I am going to Mahale this Sept/Oct., but staying at Nkungwe. However, I believe Greystoke costs approx. $700/pp/night, give or take a few bucks, which includes park fees and the transfer boat ride, but the only thing I know is '07 prices, '08 will surely be higher. The flight from KIA or Arusha to Mahale is about $625 one way/pp. You might be paying a bit more for that Northern airstrip departure.Those are rough but pretty close numbers. So your '08 numbers are about $800-$900 more, most of which could be the normal price increase plus transfers in Arusha, etc.? As far as if it is worth it, I can't tell you until October!!

uscmolly Jul 16th, 2007 11:44 AM

Well at the very least, I know the price is relatively accurate. Just so hard to "quantify" an unknown, intangible experience (if you even can!). When we took our first safari trip this year, I thought I had lost my mind spending that much on a vacation. BUT, after coming was worth every penny. Ah, decisions, decisions!

jenack Jul 16th, 2007 11:44 AM

oops, looks like the hard numbers are already out. Just so many helpful people around!!

thit_cho Jul 16th, 2007 11:46 AM

I'm always looking for ways to defeat these outrageous transfer prices. Is it possible to fly scheduled flight to Kigoma, and then take ferry to Mahale. It would be longer, but a lot more fun. Or can you take boat from Burundi? You can see chimps at Kibale in Uganda for a lot less than Mahale.

uscmolly Jul 16th, 2007 11:51 AM

Originally, we were contemplating going via Kigoma, as we have friends who live there we'd like to visit. But I had read the boat trip to Mahale is 10 hours! Seems like a lot of precious time to waste.

Does anyone know more about this option? I think the air to Kigoma from DAR is very reasonable.

gatoratlarge Jul 16th, 2007 11:56 AM

They used to (early days of the camp) fudge a bit and shave a little time off how long of a trip down the lakeshore from Kigoma (to get initial clients to come)...I can't recall the exact number of hours but by speed boat it is rough and long...As I mentioned Roland using his small plane flew us up to Kigoma from the small air strip nearest Mahale and that saved some $$...AirTanzania was a bit scary I must say. They had oversold one of the flights (we landed in Dadoma? and one other place on the way back to Dar...) and one of the times it took an eternity to lift off from the ground...I imagined we were about out of runway but no one seemed concerned lol...

gatoratlarge Jul 16th, 2007 11:58 AM

Just saw your last post---I would see if Roland/Greystoke cound pick up and drop off from Kigoma...might be a good bit cheaper. He did that on one of our legs and it saved us $$. That was five years ago or so, so he may not do that anymore, I don't know. My TA was the one that arranged it...I was telling her to get us to Mahale but do it as cost effective as possible.

gatoratlarge Jul 16th, 2007 12:02 PM

Sorry for the multiple posts...the boat trip IS too long...I believe 10+ hours by speed boat which would be a rough ride...the dhow ride from the Mahale airstrip (nearest airstrip) took an hour and a half or two and was quite leisurely...we took a small motor boat back to the airstrip which was faster but sloshier with water splashing in...As you can tell by the map...L. Tanganyika is a very loooong lake...I would not recommend boating from Kigoma...the short hop by air would be fine if they'll agree to it which is what we did.

Patty Jul 16th, 2007 12:21 PM

I think DAR-Kigoma roundtrip is around $450pp and northern Serengeti to DAR one way would run approx $400pp plus you'd still need roundtrip transfers between Kigoma and the camp and any possible overnights if you can't connect same day. Someone please correct me if those figures are off.

mflickermd Jul 16th, 2007 01:24 PM

We were there 2 years ago.We swallowed hard and paid.It was one of the highlights of our traveling life-highly recommended. I hope this helps.

nyama Jul 16th, 2007 03:41 PM

Flycatcher Safaris offers a 8-day Katavi/Mahale package for US$ 3300 pp. Accommodation is in their own mobile camps - not luxury but comfortable. Rate includes flights to/from Arusha and all park fees.

Sounds a little bit different, doesn't it?

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