Help with Kenya/Tanz November Itinerary!

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Apr 12th, 2005, 10:58 AM
  #1
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Help with Kenya/Tanz November Itinerary!

We are planning a safari to Kenya/Tanz for November 2005. I'm having a difficult time finding inromation about which places arespecifically better during that time. Our very rough itinerary is this:
nairobi
amboseli (?)
tarangire (?)
Ngorngoro crater
Northern Serengeti (Migration camp, perhaps)
Masai Mara

While we are sure about Serengeti, Ngoro Crater and Masai Mara, which of the following are good at that time of year:
Amboseli, Samburu, Sweetwaters, Tarangire, Lake Nakuru and Lake Manyara?

Also, what parts of Mara and Serengeti (and any specific lodges/camps) do you recommend?
We will probably have 10-11 nights (not including travel and nairobi) to spread around. Targetting 5 locations - so 3 of the "musts" and 2 from the additional list.
Any advice is appreciated - we will be travelling 1st half of November.
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Apr 12th, 2005, 04:17 PM
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For the first part of November:

amboseli--pretty good, not at peak

tarangire--ok, when the short rains start, around Nov., its species migrate out

Ngorngoro crater--A geological spectacle 365 days/year, not at its peak in Nov., but the crater at less than peak can equal many places at their ideal time. If you are in Tanzania, I think it would be a good stop. I like Sopa Lodge and found it lovely. Serena is apparently very good also. Crater Lodge is super luxurious with butlers.

Northern Serengeti (Migration camp, perhaps)--That should be a highlight, hit at a good time, again depending on rains. Migration Camp is a good choice. A little above it is Kleins, which does night drives. A more budget option is Lobo, which was fine when I was there.

Masai Mara--The Mara is never bad, but (again depending on rains) will not be as good as the Northern Serengeti. With 10-11 days I would suggest the Serengeti over the Masai Mara because both could be a duplication. Not that duplication of animal siting is bad. Seeing animals is probably a big motivation of your trip.

On the other hand, I'd like to hear from people who have been in the Mara and Serengeti in early November to see if they think it is a better idea to hedge your bet and stay in both places. So whatever the rains do, you'll get the bulk of the migration in one spot or the other. Of course their November experience will not necessarily be your November experience.

Samburu--I'd avoid it at this time of year

Sweetwaters--Same advice as Samburu, except if you wished to see chimps, there is a Jane Goodall sponsored sanctuary there. The chimps are not wild because they have been rescued from bad situations such as trafficking, personal zoos, etc. They live in as wild a setting as possible. I've not been to this sanctuary but have been to other Jane Goodall Chimp sanctuaries.

Lake Nakuru—Along with the Crater, one of the places to see rhino. Leopard sitings are good here also, though I did not see one.

Lake Manyara—not a very good time

In sum, I'd do 3-4 nights Northern Serengeti, 1-2 nights Ngorongoro.

Then if you just stayed in Tanzania, the southern sector is good (not peak) at this time of year. You could consider Selous or Ruaha for a very remote finale. So far that's all I've done, is consider them, but hope to go. Great reports on them in this Forum.

If you also went into Kenya with about 4-5 days, I guess I would suggest 3 in the Mara and 1-2 at Lake Nakuru. Where to stay?

In the Mara, my favorite camp is no more. I also enjoyed Little Governor's. Classic, traditional, no electricty and that's one of their selling points, but very comfortable and not a budget option. Many other camps have been discussed here.

In Nakuru, Lion Hill is one of the better lodges. There is also Gogar Farm House for a different type of accommodation. I stayed at the more budget minded Lake Nakuru Lodge and it was fine.

Of course, you might opt for Sweetwaters instead.

November is a tricky time, but should prove rewarding. My suggestions heavily emphasize the migration areas/potential areas.

The positive on that is that this does not neglect other parts of Kenya and Tanzania that are in their prime because at this time of year, as you were finding, the other areas are not in their prime. You'll probably see a good deal of animals.

The negative aspect is that one of the two areas may not be as good as the other (but neither will be bad). Also you do not get to see as many other parks and their features if you are hanging around the migration areas.

For example in Samburu and (and for the mostpart)Sweetwaters there are unique species: Grevy Zebra, Reticulated
Giraffe, Geranuk--long-necked antelope, Somali Ostrich, Oryx.

Enough rambling fingers. I'd be interested in what an agent suggests.
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Apr 12th, 2005, 04:41 PM
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<Samburu--I'd avoid it at this time of year>

atravelynn,
Please expand on that thought as we're thinking of including Samburu during the same time period. Thanks!
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Apr 12th, 2005, 06:36 PM
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The short rains that are anticipated in November are the reason for many of the Kenya/Tanzania areas to be at less than peak viewing. The animals are not as congregated around a limited water source for food and drink, so they are not as easy to see because they spread out.

That does not mean you cannot see any animals, it just decreases your odds.

There is an advantage of going during the less than optimal times, and that can be price.

If you had many days in Kenya and Tanzania in November, then I think going to some of the places that are only average viewing would be fine.

If you are very interested in those northern species not present elsewhere, then I would still go to Samburu. Or if you are doing the Samburu Elephant Camp (which is on my shortlist) then you'd go to Samburu regardless of the month.

Here is a link that helps indicate which parks are best in which months. Rains and general migration patterns are the basis for the chart. Of course the rains can be unpredictable, but this gives an idea.

http://www.africa-adventure.com/dsp_besttime.html

It would be helpful for people who have traveled to Kenya and Tanzania in early November to give their experiences at that time of year.

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Apr 12th, 2005, 07:31 PM
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I have been to the Northern Serengeti in November and the wildlife viewing up there is interesting to say the least!

It is mostly wooded with some open stretches north-west of Kleins (but few roads), and very interesting rocky sections between Lobo and Klein's (with limited game circuit roads).

Changes are that the wildebeest and Zebra will stay in the woods. So you don't see the big masses - just groups of 10-100 clustered among the trees.

With lots of resident wildebeest and zebra milling around, don't be surprised to see lines actually going north instead of south since these ones don't care about migrating!

Everything considered, the area north of Seronera don't offer the same open-plains experience of the Mara and the SE Serengeti. And you will find that the migratory animals move very fast at times since they are vulnerable in the woods. You may see them in the afternoon and they will be 50km away in the morning!

It is a toss up between the Mara or northern Serengeti in early November. I would lean towards the Mara because migratory wildebeest from areas around the Mara should still be around as well as some serengeti wildebeest. And the open plains of the Mara provide better viewing than the wooded north serengeti.

Should you decide on the Serengeti, I do suggest to split your time between Seronera and the Migration/Lobo/Kleins areas.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 04:02 AM
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Most of my safaris have been in November, despite the "short" rains... and never have we had but brief afternoon showers, or overnight rain only. Game viewing didn't seem to be impacted more or less in either country because of the wet. And nothing sounds so great at rain on canvas.

As mentioned, November is "shoulder" season, when rates are lower and except for the Crater, rarely are other parks/reserves busy or crowded.

We found the Samburu area to be perfect, and never had any rain, unless overnight, and we slept likes babies - never heard/knew it. The landscape is completely different then elsewhere, and then there are those animals not seen elsewhere - reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, gerenuk... and was one of our favorite places visited.

At Lake Nakuru, we found the lake very low in water, therefore, the Flamingos were way out and to reach, or get anywhere near... we had to trek thru lots of mud. But there were Rhino to be seen - in fact, we came across six together at dusk.

Amboseli was wonderful, and the place we had the most afternoon showers, but these only settled the dust, never any humidity. There were great animal sightings everywhere here. Though we barely got a view of Kili's peaks as they were mostly covered by clouds. But Amboseli does offer "dust devils" which are amazing to see and try capturing on film.

On one trip in the Mara there were large wildebeest herds still, but we learned that they had earlier left for the Serengeti, only to come upon grass fires, so returned to the Mara. But this can't be guaranteed every year. They're usually gone by end-October. But overall, we've found that the Mara, other than the Migration, is always good.

Tarangire was wonderful, full of elephants, zebra, lots of birds, quite green, and the baobab trees amazing.

The Crater was busy, dry and dusty, and probably our least interesting stop.

Lake Manyara was interesting for it's blue (or black) monkeys, lots of baboons, but the waters were very high and areas near the lake were restricted.

The Serengeti was very dry in places, but there were great giraffe, lion, baboon, hippo sightings and lots of birds, all kinds of birds. And the wildebeest herds we came across were mainly those that are resident year-'round.

So as you can see from the responses - there are lists of when is "best to visit"- but no guarantee. We're talking animals and weather, so it's like a toss of the dice. Some people I know have enjoyed both Kenya & Tanzania during the "long" rains of April and May. While you may see more or less animals, have better or worse weather... doubt you can be completely disappointment. They'll always be something to meet your expectations.
 
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Apr 13th, 2005, 06:25 AM
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Climbhighsleeplow and Sandi,

Your specific comments of when, where, and what are quite helpful. Thanks. Of course every year is a little different, but first hand accounts offer good information.
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Apr 20th, 2005, 08:05 AM
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thank you all for thoughtful comments. If we had to choose between Tarangire or Amboseli for November, which one is better. What are the differences in the animals and surroundings?
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Apr 20th, 2005, 08:23 AM
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During November, both are good, but not at their peak for wildlife viewing.

For animals, both are noted for elephants. Other game in both parks is good. I saw lions and one leopard in Tarangire, none in Amboseli. Saw more interesting zebra and giraffe, plus more animals, in Amboseli than Tarangire. Overall the game viewing experiences in both places was about equal and both very good. The specifics I recount are likely luck of the draw.

The biggest difference is scenery. Amboseli may have lovely views of Kilimanjaro. Tarangire will have the baobab trees. Now whether you can get animals to pose in front of either of these is the big question.

You can also see which of those two parks works best logistically or if accommodations and price give one an advantage. I'm 50/50 on Amboseli vs. Tarangire. but others may have stronger views one way or the other.
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Apr 20th, 2005, 12:10 PM
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sandi
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We too found it to a a draw in November. Similar animal sightings at both, though more lions and vervet monkeys in Amboseli. It's the landscapes that are so vastly different. So you can't wrong with either; all depends on your overall itinerary.
 
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Apr 26th, 2005, 04:15 AM
  #11
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Thank you all for helpful comments. This is our (very rough) itinerary - please give me your thoughts.
Nov 11 - arrive Nairobi. overnight Hilton
Nov 12-15 -fly to Masai Mara. Stay at Governor's Camp or Mara Interpids (which part of MM is better? which camp is better?) - 3 nights
Nov 15-17 - transfer to Amboseli. A little hickup with fligh times (flight to Amboseli leaves at 8:45am). Maybe we will fly from MM and drive on to Amboseli. Other ideas? Stay at Tortilis Camp. 2 nights
Nov 17-19 - transfer to Tarangire. Tarangire Safari Lodge. Has anyone been there? 2 nights
Nov 19 - Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. 1 night
Nov 20-23 - Serengeti. Migration Camp. Has anyone been there recently? I heard they had some renovation/change of hands. What is it like now? 3 nights.
Nov 23-27 fly Serengeti-Arusha nd then on to Zanzibar. Not sure where to stay yet. We are divers, so considering NE coast (Matemwe Bungalows or Cottages, Ras Nungwi).
Nov 27-take a ferry to Dar. Overnight for a flight out of Dar back home (NY).

From Serengeti, how far is the transfer fro Migration Camp to where the flights are back to Arusha? Is it in Seronera area? what is the approximate drive time?

Thanks
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Apr 26th, 2005, 05:27 AM
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lerasp -

The itinerary looks good.

>>Nov 12-15 -fly to Masai Mara. Stay at Governor's Camp or Mara Interpids (which part of MM is better? which camp is better?) - 3 nights<<

Governor's is smaller and more rustic and without electricity. Intrepids is a bit larger, w/electricity. Neither should be busy as this time of year; if it was the during Migration, I'd prefer Governor's, but since it's not, Intrepid's might be a better choice - and they have a pool which is nice mid-day when you have free time.

>>Nov 15-17 - transfer to Amboseli. A little hickup with fligh times (flight to Amboseli leaves at 8:45am). Maybe we will fly from MM and drive on to Amboseli. Other ideas? Stay at Tortilis Camp. 2 nights<<

You're caught with the flight times. The alternative would be an overnight in NBO to make the early flight to Amboseli. So then, fly from the Mara at 11am, then continue by road to Amboseli. You'll arrive late afternoon and proceed with your game drive immediately. Tortilis is lovely with great food. Ask for Tent #9 which has, I think, the best view of Kili, if there are no clouds.

>>Nov 17-19 - transfer to Tarangire. Tarangire Safari Lodge. Has anyone been there? 2 nights
Nov 19 - Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. 1 night<<

Haven't stayed at Tarangire Safari Lodge but is a good choice here. From Tarangire to Ngorongoro, will be an early start and I pressume your tour outfitter has scheduled your Crater tour for the afternoon? That's really all you need.

>>Nov 20-23 - Serengeti. Migration Camp. Has anyone been there recently? I heard they had some renovation/change of hands. What is it like now? 3 nights.<<

This will be a long drive, with no doubt a brief stop at Oldupai Gorge (1/2-hr to 1-hr) before continuing. I'd arrange to have lunch at the Serena, midway; a box lunch from the Ngrongoro Serena is an option, but not as tasty. Besides, the Serena in the Serengeti is clean for a pit stop and to freshen up. Yes, Migration Camp was renovated last year and is lovely with great food.

>>Nov 23-27 fly Serengeti-Arusha nd then on to Zanzibar. Not sure where to stay yet. We are divers, so considering NE coast (Matemwe Bungalows or Cottages, Ras Nungwi).<<

Check with your outfitter where your departing flight from Migration will leave. It might be near Klein's Camp or down in the Seronera area... only they can advise. Your outfitter will have drive times.

As divers you have a number of choices - PembaAfloat, where you live aboard boats (docked in a private cove on Pemba) for a few days - dives, beach and meals; or fly from Arusha/Kili via Dar to Mafia Island, (off the coast from Dar) - some of the best diving anywhere. Here you have the option of beach and diving - check out the Kinasi Lodge. It's the only one. Very few tourists here. These are only options to the two you listed.

Just get some of those questions answered by your outfitter, and consider some of the options for diving. Otherwise, it's looking good.

 
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Apr 27th, 2005, 08:02 AM
  #13
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I just spoke with a representative of 2Afrika, and he said that in November Lake Manyara is better than Tarangire. From what I have read, there is more preference for Tarangire. Is this somthing particular to November and all the naimals move out of Tarangire? Has anyone been to either/both around that time to suggest which one is better? We can't do both. Also, seasons aside, which one is better on its own merits?
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Apr 27th, 2005, 08:34 AM
  #14
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Some people would consider Tarangire or Manyara a toss-up for November. However, we visited both on our trip and Tarangire won hands-down if for nothing more than the landscape. The baobab trees are amazing. Besides, even though November, there were plenty of Elephants, Zebra, lions, birds, and more birds. Tarangire gets my vote regardless the season.

It's your decision to make.
 
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