help! tanzania safari final decison!

Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 06:28 AM
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help! tanzania safari final decison!

we are down to the last decision - we need to choose between two options for our family safari to tanzania. we have been talking to both Thomson Family Safaris and African Adventure Company. how to decide?
the Thomson safari is a group departure and we like the idea of being around other families so the kids have the chance to bond and play. plus they provide a Mentor which appears to be someone dedicated to the kids.
the Africa Adventure safari is a private departure - just the 4 of us and a guide - following a family safari itinerary. so on this one we get to decide what we do every day (although the accomodations are fixed)
the itineraries are very similar - Taragire, Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Zanzibar. the AAC one adds two days at Lake Eyasi with the bushmen. the Thomson one has more time in Zanzibar.
the AAC safari is mid June and we stay in mobile camps in the Serengeti - so presumably we can go to where the migration is.
we have choices of dates for the Thomson safari and as far as I can tell the lodge location is fixed
both companies seem great and every time I look at an itinerary I think - this is the one! until I see the other one!

help!
gussguss is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 07:24 AM
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The difference in cost could also be a factor for you.

Proís For Thomson
Mentor-This could be a real advantage. I assume this is a person in addition to your regular guide. In another thread there was a discussion on the merits of an escort to accompany the guests of high end, more expensive safari outfitters like A&K and Micato. If you can add in a kidsí escort with not much additional cost, this is a big plus.

The other kids on safari with you could be a positive or negative. I think Thomson does family safaris by age so that you donít have 6 and 16 year olds all on the same family safari. So thatís good.

If you must have some beach time--and that may be important for your kids--then Thomsonís your choice. Unless you choose Af Adv Co and add beach time. (Or you could see if Thomson could include Lake Eyasi as a private add-on.)

Thomson lodging may be fixed, but I think they use some of their own camps, which is a plus and with their Tanzanian expertise you will be put in the right spot at the right time for the migration.

Having choices for dates is good, especially if you are trying to get FF miles.

Proís for Africa Adventure Company
I highly value a private guide and your own vehicle as an optimal, but not always affordable safari experience. If this safari is similar in cost to Thomsonís, this could be the clincher for me. With kids, being able to stop when the kids want to or deviate from a typical safari schedule can be very important. With a group, your kids and their kids may not be on the same schedule of wanting to sleep in, swim at the pool, shorten a drive, etc.

Mid-June is perfect for the Serengeti, so even though the time is fixed, it is a great time.

Africa Adventure will take care of your air arrangements, if you choose. (Donít think Thomson does, but correct me if Iím wrong.)

It appears the Serengeti accommodations are mobile, but other accommodations are fixed. The only place you need mobile accommodations in your itinerary is in the Serengeti. In the Serengeti during migration timeólocation, location, location.

Your kids can do beaches many places. Where else can they meet Tanzanian bushmen? I think the bushmen trump Zanzibar. (I've never been to Zanzibar; I have spent time with bushmen.) You could go with Africa Adventure, then add Zanzibar if you really wanted Zanzibar. (Or as mentioned above go with Thomson and see if they could add a bushman experience.)

Do your kids have thoughts on Zanzibar vs. bushmen? Have they expressed an opinion in wanting to be with other kids and having a mentor? The more gung ho about Tanzania your kids are and the older they are, the more Iíd lean toward Africa Adventure. If they are more hesitant and wary or quite young, Iíd lean toward Thomson. The mentor would be better for younger kids or those who want more reassurance and direction, and the bushmen would be more meaningful for older kids or those who are more adventurous.

There may be less expensive alternatives to either of these itineraries, if you wanted to shop these itineraries around. Both Thomsonís and Africa Adventure are highly reputable and whichever you choose, youíll come home saying ďwe made the right decision.Ē Followed by ďwe must go back.Ē
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 04:28 PM
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thanks! the price is in fact the same for both, and the itineraries are very similar, except that the AAC includes the bushmen. we are from california and spoiled with great beaches - but Zanzibar sounds like a great opportunity because of the snorkeling...
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Old Jan 23rd, 2007, 07:18 PM
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Let us know what you decide. There is no bad choice.
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 03:19 PM
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Have you talked to Thomson to find out how many people are scheduled for each departure and what the mix is? It'd be good to check with them and find out if there will be, in fact, children the same age-range as your kids.

Also, check to see if there are multiple families. I'd hate to be surprised by ending up on the same safari as the Smith Family Reunion tour where there was 20 of them, and 4 of you.

I'd also check with Thomson to find out how likely you'd have your own vehicle. With 4 people, you might be able to swing it, and if you have your own vehicle, you might have more leeway in your activities.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 02:45 AM
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Just came back. The bushmen experience at Lake Eyasi is beyond amazing. I took 2 kids -- ages 2 and 4. My 4 year old loved it. Had a great local guide named Momoyo who speaks the language. We also visited a close tribe called the Dakoda tribe. Momoyo is from this tribe, so they give you a very warm welcome. It's a transforming experience. The only lodge Kisema Ngeda is gorgeous. Right on the lake, fresh water pool for swimming with other kids who are staying there and interactions with local kids. Great couple own it. A German man born in Tanzania and a woman who met him 10 years ago from Argentina when she was traveling. They have 2 kids who love to play with visiting children. At the end of our safari we stayed on the beach in Mombasa at Alfajari Villas. Loved the beach, but I could have chosen between so many places. We never could have experienced the bushmen or the Lake Eyasi region anywhere. I hope you decide to go. It was fellow Fodorites who told me about it. And it is an easy drive to or from the Crater. Also, you get to experience real African village life on this drive. You pass lots of small villages and road side houses. Children run out to greet you and it is a nice opportunity to give out small gifts. Let us know what you decide.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 06:50 AM
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Welcome home Lola. I think the bushmen at Lake Eyasi would be awesome. Looking forward to your full report.
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