Help! Best Operators in Tanzania

Old Oct 19th, 2005, 12:31 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 89
We did our first safari with Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club last september 2004. We were very satisfied with the level of service, both before travelling and on location. The reason we chose them was ATR ratings and description of Mave Ninga and Olduvai. I thought Mave Ninga was spectacular, can still recall the feeling of playing bao with the masaai on the rocks while watching the sunset. Olduvai was also a very nice camp, but not perhaps so exciting in september with very few animals around. We had only one night there so really just drove back and forth from Ngorongoro, and that was not so good planning.

But still I feel that MKSC did a good job as a whole. So I can gladly recommend them.
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Old Oct 19th, 2005, 06:16 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
Thanks for the info on MKSC. I could not quite tell what smiley face you were using next to ATR and so I was not sure what you meant by it. Would you explain? Thanks.
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Old Oct 19th, 2005, 11:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,064
Could be an accidental smiley

A : followed an s will produce the smiley. Maybe basto meant to type 's?
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Old Oct 19th, 2005, 02:01 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
Patty, that makes sense. I kept staring at it trying to understand its meaning in its context and finally gave up and decided to ask. I have noticed that unless you preview your comments you do not "see" your smileys, accidental ro not.
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Old Oct 19th, 2005, 11:15 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 89
You are absolutely right, it was meant to be an s after ATR... Sorry to confuse you all! I guess I have learned to always preview the post.

But I do think that you could in a way say that it is an appropriate smiley, I think that the homepage of ATR has the feeling of beeing independent, which is not the case. They do promote the camps that they sell themselves. Nothing wrong with that, but as a customer I am sometimes a bit too naive.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 12:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Also keep in mind the draconian cancellation policy of ATR. Once you place your 25% deposit, there is no turning back, no matter how far away your safari is scheduled.

I am 120+ days out from a booked Tanzanian safari with ATR, but if I decide to cancel, I will lose my entire $3,000 deposit AND ATR could come after me for more since the $3,000 does not even make up 25% of my total invoice. Any change/postponement is considered the same as a cancellation, so I am locked in.

That puts me in a difficult situation and I will likely have to cancel my flying lessons in order to be able to pay for this safari. In retrospect, I should have never booked this safari before I returned from my Zambian safari, but I did. Shame on me, but the penalty does not seem to fit the crime.

God forbid that I am unable to go on this safari and I end up losing the entire $3,000 and then to add insult to injury have ATR come after me for another $500 to get to their 25% cancellation charge.

Oh well, at least I have all my camera gear, laptop computer and safari clothes. I want to go on this Tanzanian safari really really bad, but I would have reconsidered who I booked with had I taken notice of the cancellation policy of ATR. I had read it (wrongly) as I would sacrifice 25% of my deposit, which would be a $750 fee in my case.
Roccco is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2005, 04:00 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 89
I agree with you Rocco, 25 % of the total cost is too much if you cancel three months in advance...

After reading your excellent input and travel reports from Zambia I get really curios about your Tanzania itinerary. Have you posted it somewhere else or could we pls see it?
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 07:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

I just returned, four weeks ago, from what was my very best safari yet. My completed itinerary was the following:

Kasaka River Lodge, Lower Zambezi, Zambia (3)
Chongwe River Camp, Lower Zambezi, Zambia (3)
Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa, Zambia (3)
Puku Ridge, South Luangwa, Zambia (3)
Lusaka Inter-Continental Hotel, Lusaka, Zambia (1)
Twelve Apostles Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa (3) Originally I was supposed to stay four nights here but I got stuck in Lusaka for a night.
Simbambili, Sabi Sand, South Africa (3)

The highlights of the trip were definitely Chongwe River Camp, Luangwa River Lodge, the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Simbambili. Even so, Kasaka River Lodge and Puku Ridge were also very good overall.

The thing about Zambia is that it is not yet discovered by most people. Therefore, it is possible to stay at the best places in high season for about $350 - $400 per person per night, as opposed to much higher prices in South Africa and Botswana.

Besides having a great variety of mammals, Zambia is incredible for its birding as well as for its Nile Crocodiles and Hippos. To go canoeing down the Zambezi River, especially through narrow channels off the main river, and see crocodiles and hippos jumping in the water near you is an incredible experience, as it is when a hippo has held its breath for as long as it can and then surfaces near your canoe for a quick grasp of air before descending back under the water.

Also, just the diversity of game activities in Zambia makes it a unique safari experience. It is not game drive after game drive after game drive, but rather the opportunity to go canoeing, go on four hour bush walks with an armed guide, morning game drive, night game drive, tiger fishing and the opportunity to go on a river cruise with no other intention in mind but to watch all the animals either on the riverbanks or in the river itself (elephants and buffalos love taking a dip, despite the crocodiles all around).

In case you missed it, here is a link to my photo albums from my just completed safari:

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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Sorry...I cannot read! I thought you asked for my Zambia itinerary, but after going back to see my post, I see that you wanted my TANZANIA itinerary! Oops.

Here it is starting on February 24th:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge, Arusha (3)
Manyara Tree Lodge, Lake Manyara (2)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, NC (2)
Olduvai Camp (between Ngorongoro and Serengeti) (1)
Nomad Masek, Serengeti (2)
Nomad Piaya, Serengeti (2)
Mbuze Mawe, Serengeti (2)
Emerson & Green, Stone Town (2)
Palms Zanzibar, opposite side of island from Stone Town but on main island (3)

I love this itinerary and there is a reason for the three nights in Arusha. I arrive at about 9:30PM and I am doing the Kiliminjaro Half Marathon on February 26th. This will give me two nights and one full day in Arusha (Tanzanite shopping?) before heading over to Moshi for the Mt. Kiliminjaro Marathon/Half Marathon. Then I will be able to have one more night at Moivaro Coffee Lodge before recovering from the 13.1 mile (21.1 kilometer) half marathon in the luxury of the Manyara Tree Lodge and Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.

I am not so sure about picking Olduvai Camp for one night, but there are no changes allowed with ATR. Actually, if I go by their rules, I could change to either add another night at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge or add another night at Nomad Masek, but I believe the $500 penalty rate would apply! So, I will have to like Olduvai Camp for one night.

I really like the looks of Nomad's camps. This is the same company that operates Greystoke Mahale and Sand Rivers in Selous, so their reputation precedes them.

Hopefully I am able to go on this saari rather than losing my $3,000 deposit. I just have to be on my best behaivor these next couple weeks and really get on my wife's good side before mentioning that I booked this great Tanzania trip before we did our Zambian safari and there is no backing out without losing $3,000! God help me!
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 10:28 AM
Posts: n/a
Rocco -

Don't put it all on God!
She/He has been overworked this past year and the results have been disasters.

This one you've got to wiggle out of yourself and you have my full confidence. And a little bauble or two for fingers and ears should do it!
Old Oct 20th, 2005, 12:22 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 304
So God's a he/she? Ha, ha.... oops, my male shovanism's showin'.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 12:30 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
A possible advantage to the one night at Olduvai is that it will be a useful transition between your two luxury lodges and the Nomad camps--they should seem like a nice step up from Olduvai instead of a step down from Crater lodge. [The panoramic view at Olduvai ain't bad either--cocktails on the kopjes anyone?]
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 12:45 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 304
"cocktails on the kopjes"... man, I'm gonna have to do that!
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,513
Rocco did I understand you correctly in that your wife doesn't know you have already booked the Tanz trip! I think Sandi is right start those baubles will be coming home with you!

Happy travels always
jules39 is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2005, 12:52 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
Ditto to what Jules said. Alexsandra doesn't know??? Man, you better become an excellent dancer pronto.

You can also walk from Olduvai to the museum at Olduvai Gorge, although it sounds like it takes about 3 hours. Not my kind of walk. I think the walk to the kopjes for cocktails is about 20 minutes, right? I can probably handle that.
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Old Oct 20th, 2005, 01:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Why am I not surprised to hear that Alexsandra doesn't know yet?
Patty is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2005, 08:08 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 513
I know I'm late on this one, but I'm going to use Sarvowinner's response as mine:

Hi Susanm
We are also booked with ATR for a trip in January 2006 and like Leely are eagerly awaiting feedback from a Fodorite that has actually done the tour. However, I received excellent feedback from past clients of ATR. What clinched the deal for me was that two testimonials were from people who had done safaris previously and rated ATR highly in comparison.
BostonGal is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2005, 09:22 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
Hey BostonGal:
So you and sarvowinner have Jan trips, I and Rocco have Feb. trips, then Leely in June. So Leely that means you will be receiving lots of trip reports before you go.
bat is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2005, 02:50 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,172
Wouldn't it be nice to have a calendar that we could all post our itnineraries on, so we would always know who was where? (I'll be there in Feb too!)

cynstalker is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2005, 06:14 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
Hi Cyn:
Did not mean to slight you. I was referring to ATR reports--those of us who have them booked are waiting for trip reports from someone completing a trip. Who can forget your fabulous adventure [the one that I am jealous of]! Besides, you and I are meeting somewhere around our serengeti/NCA mobile camping.

Yes, a calendar would be nice. We have the count down thread to write on once we are about to take off though.
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