Is this a decent looking East Africa Itinerary???

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Nov 19th, 2003, 03:22 PM
  #1
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Is this a decent looking East Africa Itinerary???

Day 1 - Arrive Nairobi. Overnight in Nairobi.
Day 2 - Mount Kenya
Day 3 - Rift Valley Lakes
Days 4, 5 and 6 - Masai Mara
Day 7 - Lake Victoria
Day 8, 9 and 10 - Serengeti
Days 11 and 12 - Ngorongoro Crater
Day 13 - Depart Arusha - Nairobi - USA

I figure that Lake Victoria is probably just a filler or a halfway point between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti. I haven't even started to try and figure out the lodging yet and I don't know if arranging transfers on my own is going to be a tremendous problem or even cost-effective, as opposed to going on a planned tour.

The land transfers are my biggest concerns since that is something I have not had to deal with in my previous two Africa trips.

How does the itinerary look? Is anyplace missing that I should consider? Is there anything present that I may be able to skip?

This really is the maximum amount of time that I will be able to spend in Kenya/Tanzania, and if possible, I would really even like to shave a day or two off, although not at the expense of the Masai Mara, Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater. I am not too crazy about my night in Nairobi so if I am able to get an early morning arrival, I would definitely continue straight through to my first stop, be it Mount Kenya or elsewhere.

Thanks.
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Nov 19th, 2003, 03:57 PM
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Its way too ambitious, especially because I don't believe you can transfer overland from Masai Mara to Serengeti, but will need to return to a permitted border crossing.

Also, why are you bothering to visit Mount Kenya -- you won't have time to trek or hike, and the Mount Kenya Safari Club, where I stopped for lunch last August, is overrated and way too expensive for what they offer (US$70 for an average buffet lunch). At best, its a pitstop for a meal, but not, in my opinion, a worthwhile destination.

Also, why visit Masai Mara and Serengeti -- they are the same park, albeit different ends in different countries. If the migration isn't present, you may be better spending more time in the park containing the migration.

Also, one day in the Rift Valley Lakes seems a waste of time -- you'll be traveling too much on your first few days -- the roads suck and travel overland is slow.

What I'd suggest is that you catch an AirKenya flight from Nairobi to Masai Mara, spend a few days, then fly back to Nairobi and fly to Arusha (or maybe the airport is Kiliminjaro) and drive to the Crater, from where you can then drive to Serengeti. If you skip Mount Kenya and the Rift Valley Lakes, you can stop at Lake Manyara (I think a very nice hotel was just opened) or Tarangire (sp?), two parks near the Crater and Serengeti. After Serengeti fly back to Nairobi.

Believe me, you do not want to do this trip overland -- the internal flights are cheap and quick and you'll be much, much happier.

So

Day 1 -- Nairobi (Norfolk Hotel or Serena)
Day 2 -- morning flight to Masai Mara
Day 3 -- Masai Mara
Day 4 -- Masai Mara
Day 5 -- fly to Nairobi then to Arusha and drive to Crater
Day 6 -- Ngorongoro Crater
Day 7 -- Ngorongoro Crater
Day 8 -- Lake Manyara or Tarangire
Day 9 -- Lake Manyara or Tarangire
Day 10 -- Serengeti
Day 11 -- Serengeti
Day 12 -- Serengeti
Day 13 -- Fly to Arusha -- Nairobi

Avoid the hassle of overlanding and make your wife happy!! Its going to be a great trip and will blow away southern Africa!
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Nov 19th, 2003, 04:00 PM
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Just to clarify..it is my understanding that the Masai Mara and the Serengeti are the same place.. the Tanzanian side is the Seregeti and the Masi Mara side is the Kenyan side. When we were in Kenya last year.. we drove from Masai Mara out to see hipps and crossed the boarder into Tanzania and the guide explained to us we had crossed into the Serengeti.
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Nov 19th, 2003, 04:13 PM
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Thit Cho,

Thanks. East Africa really is brand new to me and I have a lot of research to perform.

Suggestions such as your own are invaluable and after your South Luangwa/Kafunta suggestion I put great importance on your opinion.

Will you please tell me a little more about Lake Manyara and Tarangire. Do these places require flights of their own or are they driveable from Ngorongoro or the Serenget??? Of the two places, do you recommend Lake Manyara or Tarangire more???

Lastly, you suggest that I choose either the Serengeti or the Masai Mara but not both, yet you list both in your suggested itinerary. If they are both great places, I wouldn't mind seeing them both, but I am just a little confused, unless it is just part of a loop to get me back near Nairobi.

Thanks.
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Nov 19th, 2003, 11:15 PM
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Of the lodging that I have come across so far, I am taking a liking to the Governor's Camp, a great value at $500 USD per night, and the Crater Lodge.

Cottar's 1920's Camp is out of their mind with the $1,100 USD person per night. I think last year was much less, but after being written up in Conde Nast Traveler, they have been ruined. Now, I suppose, they think they are the Singita of Eastern Africa.

I am looking for exclusive places with not too many rooms/tents. I have no desire to stay in a place with more than about 30 rooms or tents. Ideally, the places would have no more than about 15 rooms/tents, but I realize that this is Eastern Africa and I cannot expect the same out of Eastern Africa as I do for Southern Africa.

Because, unlike Southern Africa with Cape Town, I will be spending my entire time on safari, I do need to have some sort of budget. If I spend 12 nights, I would like the budget to be in the neighborhood of $6,000 for my lodging ($500 USD per night). I believe that should land me the best lodging that Kenya/Tanzania have to offer, with the exception of a couple places like Cottar's 1920's Camp.

I am strongly considering blowing 100,000 frequent flier miles per person to at least fly business class from London to Nairobi. Seems wasteful, but I should have a chance to replinish my miles in time for a possible 2005 South Africa/Zimbabwe visit (I sure hope Mugabe is dead by then so that I can visit Zimbabwe, one of the few neighboring countries that should be pretty nice in late March, early April, just in case I am able to get in good enough shape for the Two Oceans Marathon in March/April, 2005 in Cape Town).

This really is a challenge to start anew with Kenya/Tanzania. It is even tempting to abandon it and simply return to South Luangwa where I know I can have a great time in 6-7 nights without any hopping around. The only problem is that the game viewing, other than kudu/puku/impala is not at its greatest in early June. If I were to return I would likely give Kaingo a shot, rather than returning to Kafunta (a nice place but I would like to try a different part of the park).

I do know that I can go to South Luangwa for a total of no more than $400 USD per night, including transfers...all depends on how difficult Eastern Africa proves to be.
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Nov 20th, 2003, 04:55 AM
  #6
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Rocco -

Some modification of "thit-cho" itinerary:

>>Day 1 -- Nairobi (Norfolk Hotel or Serena)
Day 2 -- morning flight to Masai Mara
Day 3 -- Masai Mara
Day 4 -- Masai Mara
Day 5 -- fly to Nairobi then to Arusha and drive to Crater
Day 6 -- Ngorongoro Crater
Day 7 -- Ngorongoro Crater
Day 8 -- Lake Manyara or Tarangire
Day 9 -- Lake Manyara or Tarangire
Day 10 -- Serengeti
Day 11 -- Serengeti
Day 12 -- Serengeti
Day 13 -- Fly to Arusha -- Nairobi<<

While the Mara is the top end of the Serengeti, they are different.

If you have a map of Tanzania, you will note that Tarangire as small, but very interesting park that is SE of Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, therefore, good to do before, but can be skipped. And Lake Manyara is just about East of Ngorongoro/Serengeti which many people do on return from Serengeti if returning by road.

As is my rule - move in one direction whenever possible. And since the Serengeti is the furthest out, according to the routing above, you're doing a zig-zag if you do NC, LM, then back to Serengeti, especially if by road.

I would skip Mt.Kenya and the Lakes (Nakuru, Naivasha, etc.) agreeing with thit-cho comments, rather from NBO fly to the Mara. Camps to consider are Kichwa Tembo Bateleur, small property at rates ranging from $380-$500/nt.; Governor's has five different properties at different prices ranges from as low as $260, to their private camp at $500/nt; And I believe, SusanLynn mentioned a new camp recently opened by a Maasi women - Mara Explorer - 10 luxury tented camp, but you'll have to check where it is actually located, photos of the place and prices.

From the Mara return fly to NBO, then fly to KJO, from where you can fly to Lake Manyara (that's the airport that serves LM and Ngorongoro Crater). The Serena Lake Manyara (1-nt is all you need here), I believe can be considered; while not small it might be the nicest property, though any suggestions would be welcomed; someone might know of a hi-end lux camp nearby.

From Lake Manyara you can drive to Ngorongoro Crater w/ stop at Olduvai Gorge. The Crater Lodge is the most expensive here, completely over-the-top at about $450/500-nt. But one doesn't really need more than 2-nts. here (the nt. you arrive) as next day you do the Crater from early to late) then that 2nd nt.).

Next day you can head into the Serengeti. Not sure which airport, but many return to Lake Manyara to fly out to the Grumeti River area of the Serengeti, but by doing this you miss the adventure of driving thru the Serengeti - though a long day, but which we found was safari in and of itself - can arrange a lunch stop at the Serengeti Serena half-way to Grumeti.

The Grumeti River area is where alot of Migration takes place if it's Migration time, so there are interesting camps here. There is Klein's Camp (not tents, rather rooms) and expensive $380/$475-nt); Grumeti River Migration (tented camp, not sure of prices); and further in the Western Serengeti is Kirawira Tented Camp (about 10-tents and absolutely beautiful).

You might want to break up time in Serengeti at the Grumeti River area and then Kirawira over 4-5/dys. From Kirawira they do day-trips to Lake Victoria if you're interested in just seeing it, or to go fishing.

Then from the furthest point (somewhere in this area of Serengeti) you fly back to KJO, then to NBO.

While someone commented that since you're most interested in Safari, to skip time in NBO, but there are some things to see here and a meal at The Carnivore is a must - touristy, but lots of fun. Depending on when flight arrives in NBO, you have either a half-day or full next day to "be a tourist" and do be certain to have a guide/driver while in NBO. Likewise, when returning from KJO to NBO at end of trip, most flights leave for Europe late in evening, so you might have half-day to spend in NBO, unless you arrive by KLM which goes into NBO and they have flights from KJO for the return to Europe (AMS). Do check their schedules.

Hope this helps.
 
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Nov 20th, 2003, 04:59 AM
  #7
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Thyra -

Where you stopped at the Mara River to see the hippos - while you enter the Serengeti, this is simply a border post, not an official crossing point, which is technically closed. Used only for official government agencies, not tourists.

While this post had at one time, many years ago, be a crossing point - not any longer. One actually has to return to NBO to fly into Tanzania, or by road crossing at Namanga.
 
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Nov 20th, 2003, 05:33 AM
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Sandi - Do you live in Africa? If not, how do you know so much about it?
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Nov 20th, 2003, 05:40 AM
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No I don't live in Africa - unless some consider NYC a suburb - now that's not a nice comment, even from me. I just love NYC.

But since I've been a child, I have this thing - a sense of photo-memory - I only have to be somewhere once, and it's as if I've lived there all my life. I look at a map and seem to remember where every thing is - roads, sites, river, interchanges - you name it.

Unlike many people who if turned around in front of their own house, are lost - I always managed to find my way home when "I left home" as a child. When I travel with friends (by car or foot), I'm the "designated navigator."
 
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Nov 20th, 2003, 08:52 AM
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Roccco - Sandi is right on the money with her suggested itinerary for you. And she is also correct about there being differences between the Serengeti and the Mara - albeit the Mara is an extension of the Serengeti. At the time of the year you are looking to travel, you can have different experiences in the Serengeti and the Mara. As for Tarangire, it is an easy drive from Arusha, a couple of hours on mostly paved road. The giant baobab trees there are phenomenal and we had some of the best elephant encounters in that little park. There is a tented camp there that you may want to check out: Kikoti Camp, just on the outskirts of the park. As for the Mara Explorer Camp, I have not been myself, but am anxious to go. It is directly in the middle of the Mara, situated on the Talek River. It looks like paradise - cast iron tubs outside on the deck, private butler service, etc. As always, I look forward to hearing of your plans.
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Nov 20th, 2003, 09:55 AM
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Roccco, see my responses in CAPITAL LETTERS

Thanks. East Africa really is brand new to me and I have a lot of research to perform. THE RESEARCH IS ONE OF THE MOST FUN PARTS OF THE TRIP, AND THERE'S PLENTY TO RESEARCH FOR YOUR PROPOSED TRIP.

Suggestions such as your own are invaluable and after your South Luangwa/Kafunta suggestion I put great importance on your opinion. THANK YOU

Will you please tell me a little more about Lake Manyara and Tarangire. Do these places require flights of their own or are they driveable from Ngorongoro or the Serenget??? Of the two places, do you recommend Lake Manyara or Tarangire more??? I HAVE ONLY BEEN TO NGORONGORO CRATER AND THE SERENGETI, BUT IF I HAD TIME I WOULD HAVE VISITED ONE OF THOSE TWO PARKS. IN ONE OF THE PARKS, A TREEHOUSE HOTEL JUST OPENED, ITS PRETTY PRICEY BUT ITS BEEN WRITTEN UP IN ALL THE TRAVEL MAGAZINES. I THINK ITS IN TARANGARE. BETWEEN THE TWO PARKS, I HAVE NO OPINION SINCE I HAVEN'T BEEN, BUT YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO RESEARCH. THE REASON I SUGGESTED THEM IS BECAUSE THEY ARE PART OF THE NORTHERN SAFARI LOOP IN TANZANIA AND WILL BREAK UP THE TRIP.

Lastly, you suggest that I choose either the Serengeti or the Masai Mara but not both, yet you list both in your suggested itinerary. If they are both great places, I wouldn't mind seeing them both, but I am just a little confused, unless it is just part of a loop to get me back near Nairobi. THEY ARE PART OF THE SAME ECOSYSTEM, BUT I SUGGESTED BOTH BECAUSE YOU SEEM LIKE A COMPLETIST, LIKE I AM, AND I WANTED TO SEE BOTH. THEY ARE GREAT PARKS, AND EVEN IF THE MIGRATION IS ABSENT, THERE IS STILL A LOT OF RESIDENT GAME THAT DOESN'T MIGRATE. I VISITED IN AUGUST 1999 AND SAW THE MIGRATION IN THE MARA. I THEN WENT TO THE SERENGETI, AND WHILE I DIDN'T SEE ANY, AND I MEAN ZERO, WILDEBEAST, ZEBRA OR GAZELLE, I DID SEE LION, CHEETAH, LEOPARD, ELEPHANTS, BUFFALO, HIPPO, ELAND, REEDBUCK, AND THE PLAINS OF ENDLESS GRASS ARE BEAUTIFUL. MY THINKING WAS THAT IF I'M GOING THAT FAR I REALLY WANTED TO SEE BOTH.

GOVERNOR'S IS A GREAT CAMP IN THE MARA, AND BETTER IN MY MIND THAN COTTARS. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO SAVE $ IN THE CRATER BY STAYING IN A LESS PERSONAL PLACE THAN THE CRATER LODGE WHICH IS OVER THE TOP. I STAYED AT THE SOPA, OK BUT NOT GREAT, BUT WE BROUGHT PICNIC LUNCH AND SPENT MORE THAN 10 HOURS IN THE CRATER, SO ONLY HAD DINNER AND SLEPT AT THE LODGE. WE SPLURGED IN THE MARA AND SERENGETI.

IF YOU FOLLOW MY SUGGESTED ITINERARY, WITH WHATEVER MINOR TWEAKS, YOU'D FLY FROM NAIROBI TO THE MARA, THEN TO ARUSHA VIA NAIROBI. BUT AFTER THAT YOU'D BE ABLE TO OVERLAND FROM ARUSHA - TARANGARE OR MANYARA - CRATER - SERENGETI, AND THEN FLY BACK TO NAIROBI. THOSE ROAD SEGMENTS WOULD BE MANAGEABLE AND YOU'D SEE SOME OF THE COUNTRYSIDE.


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Nov 20th, 2003, 10:00 AM
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The new lodge in Tarangire is Tarangire Treetops Camp -- I haven't been but it looks great.

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Nov 20th, 2003, 10:55 AM
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Thit_cho: Tarangire Treetops Lodge is not new, it has been there for at least several years. Also, not all the bungalows are built on stilts, most are, but not all. It is located just outside the park in a game controlled area called Lolkisale, so again, night game drives are possible.
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Nov 20th, 2003, 11:19 AM
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Susan, thanks. Maybe the new treehouse is in Manyara. In any event, its not relevant because the decision as between Manayara and Tarangire should, I think, be made on quality of the game viewing, not the quality of the lodging because I expect that reasonable accomodation is available in either park.
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Nov 20th, 2003, 11:37 AM
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I absolutely agree with your statement that where to go should be based on game-viewing. And yes, there are very, very nice accommodations at both Tarangire and Manyara. FYI, Treetops in Tarangire is on private land and is actually almost an hours drive to the park itself. Lake Manyara Tree Lodge has 10 treehouses, and I think this is the one you are referring to since it is relatively, but not brand, new. Personally, for Manyara I would choose Kirurumu Camp. As for a place in between Manyara and N-crater, there is Kifaru Safari Lodge, Plantation Lodge and Gibb's Farm - all quite nice. So many options, and in my case, so little money!
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Nov 20th, 2003, 12:25 PM
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My two cents worth...I think from another posting you're traveling in May/June? Time of year is important to deciding the optimum itinerary...however the itinerary should be based on your interests...wildlife viewing? scenery? etc. Our interests always lie primarily with wildlife viewing and photography (we are both professional wildlife biologists and wildlife photographers)...thus we like to plan trips to east africa to coincide with the wildebeest migration, which necessarily includes prime predator viewing. If you are traveling in May/June, the wildebeest will be starting their move north through the Serengeti; thus I would recommend spending most of your time (actually a week) in the Serengeti. The other topside to this is that you will really have an opportunity to slow down and take in the sights and sounds of Africa...better to do that in my view than to rush from place to place. So, I would spend the 7 nights in the central Serengeti (or maybe a few of these nights in the southern portion...the exact location of the migration will depend on the rains). There are several camps/lodges in the south. Then 2 nights at Ngorngoro and 1 night at Manyara. Fly from Arusha to the Serengeti, and drive back to Arusha stopping at Ngorongoro and Manyara. It will be a much more relaxing and thought provoking trip for you. If you are traveling at a different time of year, let me know, and maybe I can help there as well.
 
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Nov 20th, 2003, 02:24 PM
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How in the hell does he (Rocco) get to travel to Africa every year?

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Nov 20th, 2003, 02:55 PM
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kewilliam - too funny!
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Nov 21st, 2003, 03:32 AM
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kewilliam -

$$$$$ - the rest of us can simply live vicariously through the planning and actualy adventure, till we all get to go on our trips - maybe not as often, but as much fun.

hey, you're out of here soon, yes!

When you get to Maputo, the Polana hotel I mentioned is a Serena property so should be real nice and the price is reasonable for Mozambique - check it out.
 
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Nov 21st, 2003, 06:18 AM
  #20
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kewilliam,

Travel is my primary pleasure in life. Although I live in Los Angeles County, I get over to the ritzier West L.A. (Beverly Hills, Century City, Santa Monica, etc.) about as often as I get over to Africa. What that means is that although I live a nice lifestyle, I am content on living in my new home in Azusa Canyon, in a beautiful mountain setting, but once you get to the bottom of the mountain, a very modest neighborhood, rather than pushing the envelope and trying to get myself a place in West L.A.

Another trick is avoiding high priced department stores and restaurants. I could be like others and pull up to the best restaurants in my new Range Rover and try to keep up with the best of them, but my Range Rover will be seen pulling through the drive through at Pepe's Taco Stand 10X more often than at any upscale restaurant.

Regarding clothing, anything that can be found there may also be found on EBay and often even at Marshall's.

Also, it is nice to be, as STD and I were called in South Africa, "DINKy's", translated meaning Double Income No Kid's, but with puppies being born yesterday, we are up to, count them, ELEVEN Dogs, spread out between three residences (we own two other properties for my wife's elder care business).

Lastly, I live my life with the philosophy that you should eat dessert first. Enjoy life while you are young...you could get hit by a bus tomorrow!
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