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How does Zanzibar compare to other islands such as Hawaii, the Greek Isles or elsewhere???

How does Zanzibar compare to other islands such as Hawaii, the Greek Isles or elsewhere???

Nov 3rd, 2005, 08:33 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
I don't know you, but it seems to me from following your posts that you will be happiest at the most luxurious accommodations. So, quite simply, since you can evidently afford it, I say go for it!

This is not in any way a slam. I stayed at the Tembo House, which I think you would hate, but was great for me. : ) I just think if people know what they like and are already laying out a considerable amount of money, why not? Palms and Serena, okay?
Leely is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 09:05 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
I have friends who have money and they stayed at the Serena and Mnemba. They both raved about the Serena--I think that they had a junior suite. They both liked Mnemba very much but the wife did say to me that it is a very laid back kind of luxury--what you are paying huge sums of money for is its exclusivity. No day trippers are allowed on the island. As Sandi has said it is not air conditioned. However, I did note that its architecture is not solid walls so that a breeze permeates through the walls. They were there in February and had no problem. Nonetheless you may be taking a chance.

My question about the Palms for that amount of money is ask whether your unit is oceanview. For that kind of money I would want to be able to stare out from my terrace to the sea. I looked at the the video which ATR now has on its website and it seemed that some, if not all, units may face a courtyard. Each unit does have its own private "banda" on the beach. A very large, tented private space to lounge. Have you looked at the video?

BTW, we need someone to stay at the Palms so that we can get a firsthand report. Would you please do that for us? [There, you would be staying there for the greater good!]
bat is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 10:08 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Thanks for the recommendation.

Regarding my choice in accomodations, I do prefer luxury accomodations, yet at the same time I can appreciate something very rustic but done in well taste...a place such as Kafunta Island Bush Camp.


Unfortunately, I do not find the accomodations in Eastern Africa, as a whole, as attractive as the accomodations in Southern Africa. Take Ngorongoro Crater for example...you have the Crater Lodge and then it is a long way down to the Ngorongoro Serena. Same thing in Lake Manyara...Manyara Tree Lodge and then quite a difference between the next best lodges.

I still have to consider a Zambia Emerald Season add-on as one option, especially considering that I just hosted in my home Alexsandra's jeweler for a short West Coast stay. I am beyond ecstatic that my wife has become friends with a Zambian woman her exact same age with such common interests and lifestyle.

It would be perfect...I could go spend six nights in South Luangwa and she could elect to stay in Lusaka or maybe split her time. If ever I am going to see Wild Dogs, mid March in South Luangwa will be as good a time as any.

Such an itinerary would be the following:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (2)
Manyara Tree Lodge (2)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)
Olduvai Camp (1)
Nomad Masek (2)
Nomad Piaya (2)
Mbuzi Mawe (2)
Dar Es Salaam or Nairobi (1)
Kafunta River Lodge (3) (Josephatt is an excellent guide and I would love to enjoy their swimming pool by day and their natural hot spring jacuzzi by night, although in mid March I may be opting for the swimming pool, even in the evening)
Luangwa River Lodge (3) (Victor is an excellent guide and what better way to end a safari than in the luxurious surrounds of Luangwa River Lodge and eating their fabulous food)

Zambia is close enough to East Africa that I do intend to start combining my personal Zambian trips with East Africa. Although the Sabi Sand is a lot of fun, I just don't feel that special connection with the people and the wildlife that I do while I am in Zambia. As far as Southern Africa goes, I am still very interested in Botswana and Zimbabwe (especially Mana Pools, but also Hwange).

The thing with South Luangwa is that even as a normal traveler, I would be able to make an Emerald Season visit for very little money...$250pp max even at the luxurious Luangwa River Lodge. Considering that I am spending an average of $1,200 per night in Tanzania, to spend about 20% that amount in Zambia with the opportunity to see Wild Dogs is reason enough to remind me how I discovered Zambia in the first place...South Africa and Botswana priced themselves out of my price range and that is how I first discovered Zambia.

Although I am in a better position than I was when I first discovered Zambia, it would still be great to enjoy such a moderately priced safari in Emerald/Wild Dog Season Zambia, especially as an add-on to Tanzania where I expect to have the most fantastic gameviewing but I am concerned about too many people and the closed vehicles. Instead to go down to South Luangwa when it will be at possibly 20% capacity and enjoy open vehicles in the lush Emerald Season, wow, that would be the perfect sendoff. Things are definitely looking up since when I was trying to cancel this Tanzanian safari just a couple weeks ago.
Roccco is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 10:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Thanks for your feedback. It definitely makes me want to stay at the Serena over Emerson & Green. My stay would be starting on March 10th and I have been warned that this will be very warm and humid. As a matter of fact, many places, I believe, shut down at the end of March due to the weather.

I really like the looks of Chumbe Island, although it is nowhere near the class of the Palms in terms of accomodations. If not for the concern with the weather, I may opt to stay here for a very reasonable price. The snorkeling here seems amazing. The only thing that may help would be if I were to do Zanzibar BEFORE my safari and that would allow me to start Zanzibar by Feb 20th.

I do have a major concern with having my camera gear lying around somewhere while I am out doing activities in Zanzibar. I do not have this same concern while on safari as the camera gear is always needed and, therefore, it is always with me.

It is just too early to be having these concerns...I mean I have only been back for six weeks from the last time around. Considering that the Migration is supposed to be fantastic in June, I do wish I could postpone the visit until then. ATR kicked my *** so bad with their simply put e-mail about cancellation and change fees, however, that I am hesitant to even approach the subject. They know they have me in a very compromised position and I don't expect them to allow me any wiggle room.
Roccco is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 11:52 AM
Posts: n/a
With the conflicting reviews on Emerson & Green, I'd opt for the Serena, which at least has a pool; you can just as easily participate in any activities from either. As far as E&G not having a/c - not so. Or rather, only a few of the upper floor rooms don't have a/c... all the others do. And remember, for those upper floor rooms, you have stairs... no elevator.

As to your camera equipment - take whatever with you. If you have a private guide/vehicle while in Stone Town, you're as safe as when on safari. The vehicle driver is with it when you go off by foot and it'll be locked. When we were here, even with our backpacks and cameras we felt perfectly safe when touring about Stone Town. And at the beach resort, we saw as many people with lots of expensive photo equipment at the pool, on the beach and even out on a dhow or scuba boat.

Did you check out Blue Bay's Sultan's Suites? Does have a/c, though larger than The Palms and not quite as exclusive, but less $$$. From recent honeymoon photos, the beach looks lovely. Check it out.
Nov 4th, 2005, 12:24 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 513
Rocco -
I wish I could help, but my first trip to Africa will be this January.
Best of luck with your planning, we are using ATR as well.
Back to your original posts, if it were me, I'd tack on Morocco =P

Good luck!
BostonGal is offline  
Nov 5th, 2005, 11:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
It was nasty but I finally broke the news to my DW (dear wife) that we are going to Tanzania, and, yes, we are going. Unfortunately we will not be able to go to Argentina next month, but, as a result, I will get to work on planning an Argentinian itinerary for next November that will keep her family in mind (4* hotels instead of 5* hotels, a trip to Iguazu Falls but probably not to the wine region, including Patagonia on the itinerary at a 4* type place instead of Los Notros, etc.).

Although I knew it would happen, I am very pleased to have this monkey off my back. I will probably do this itinerary now that this is settled:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (2)
I am sacrificing one night here and will just try to arrange my flights so that I arrive on the morning flight from Nairobi rather than the evening flight from Amsterdam. This will give us a full day before the Mt. Kiliminjaro Half Marathon. If we decide not to do the Half Marathon we will only stay one night and likely come over on the Amsterdam flight. However, given that we have been faithfully attending dancing lessons and more active (and being around people who are in great shape AND look great dancing as a result, I do think we will want to do the Half Marathon and marvel in the sight of Mt. Kiliminjaro).

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)
I am so thrilled about staying here. Even before I was interested in East Africa, I have always drooled over the photos of the Crater Lodge whenever I opened one of those beautiful free brochures from Micato or A&K. The fact that I am staying here for 1/3 less than Micato or A&K travelers by booking through ATR (those ba**ards) is just icing on the cake!

Manyara Tree Lodge (2)
A big thank you to fellow Fodorite, JazzDrew, who was kind enough to mail me a DVD copy of a HGTV type show that was featuring the best tree houses in the world. Manyara Tree Lodge was saved as the grand finale in the show and my wife watched this DVD a couple times, so I do think that she does have a certain comfort level with each the Crater Lodge and Manyara Tree Lodge.

Olduvai Gorge (1)
I do think this area is very important due to its archaelogical significance.

Nomad Masek (2)
Nomad has an excellent reputation and any company that also runs Sand Rivers in Selous and Greystoke Mahale is alright with me. It will be somewhat of a shock to see the wide open Serengeti and I only hope that the stars will be at their best in early March. I was a bit surprised that despite being in Zambia for the new moon, which is basically no moon and dark sky, that the stars were not especially visible due to all the dust. Hopefully the same does not hold true in the Serengeti during my visit...which reminds me that I have no clue when the full moon is for this trip...what was I thinking??? Anyway, the full moon seemed to have absolutely zero impact on my last safari as the gameviewing at Simbambili, despite a full moon, was very good and it did not stop the leopards and lions from making their kills. Okay, full moon for March 2006 is on March 14th. Considering that my safari begins on February 27th, a day before the New Moon, and has its final night on March 09th, I do have a feeling that this was not dumb look but that I planned to be around dark skies, hopefully with the most spectacular star watching I have ever experienced...there is just so much that goes into planning the proper itinerary, I'll tell ya!

Nomad Piaya (2)
I did not want to only experience one area of the Serengeti. Each Masek and Piaya will be setup in strategic areas for the Great Migration, but they will be far enough away from each other so I will experience new wildlife at each camp.

Mbuzi Mawe (2)
I had to get back to the Seronera area and it will be quite a drive from Nomad Piaya. Rather than a mandatory overnight at a place like the Serengeti Serena, I opted for the Serena's small camp option in the Seronera area, and that is Mbuzi Mawe. While it not the same level of luxury as, Kirawira (another Serena offering), it will be in a better area for this time of year's gameviewing and preferable to the hotel like Serengeti Serena. Who knows, maybe I will break my piggy bank and go on a hot air balloon ride, although it would seem that I would be making the balloon fly with my burnt money rather than with helium or whatever they use to elevate the balloon!

Then at the end of it all, I will spend four or five nights in Zanzibar.

Zanzibar Serena (2)
Palms Zanzibar (2 or 3)

I love this itinerary and I don't see how it could have been improved upon, other than going a month earlier to allow more options in Zanzibar before the heat and humidity set in, requiring me to stay at air-conditioned places. I would have still chosen the Zanzibar Serena over the Emerson & Green, but I may have considered other places for the Palms Zanzibar, although this is not to say that my wife and I will not fully appreciate the complete luxury that we will enjoy while at the Palms.

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (2)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)
Manyara Tree Lodge (2)
Olduvai Gorge (1)
Nomad Masek (2)
Nomad Piaya (2)
Mbuzi Mawe (2)
Zanzibar Serena (2)
Palms Zanzibar (2 or 3)

That's that. Now to where do I plan my next safari??? I am thinking it will be an Emerald Season Zambian Safari, but probably not until March 2007. Either that or I wait until June and combine Zambia (South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi) with Kwando's camps in Botswana, as well as probably visiting Mana Pools and Hwange. I will be so starved for Africa by then that I may just break out and go for an entire month!

Thank you to all of my East African afficionado Fodorites who helped me plan this itinerary originally. I cannot say that I have seen anything in a Micato or A&K Brochure that is nearly as attractive, both in price and in itinerary. I may just end up in the Masai Mara with one of those companies rather than as a witness to the Great Migration.
Roccco is offline  

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