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June / 5 days Safari Serengeti & Crater - your input please

June / 5 days Safari Serengeti & Crater - your input please

Apr 13th, 2008, 03:22 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2
June / 5 days Safari Serengeti & Crater - your input please

Hi everyone,

It's my first post on this board. I've read a lot (even the year 2004 messages!!) and I'm planning to have a 5 days safari in Northern Parks early june (8th to 12th) 2009 for my honeymoon then fly to Zanzibar for a few more days.

Here is my initial project : my objective is quality over quantity too see the migration and the crater.

Day 1 - from ARUSHA to NGORONGORO
International arrival in Nairobi in the morning at 5 am, bus transfer from Nairobi to Arusha (estimated arrival in Arusha 1 pm). Lunch then immediately go to Gibb's Farm or Plantation Lodge for a resting afternoon in the coffee plantation (diner and sleep early)

Day 2 - HALF-DAY GAME NGORONGORO to SERENGETI
Very early breakfast, drive to the crater for a 6-hours game drive. Picnic lunch. Afternoon drive to Serengeti - Mbuzi Mawe for one night

Day 3 - CENTRAL SERENGETI to WESTERN SERENGETI
Typical game drive and overnight at Mbalageti Chalet

Day 4 - WESTERN SERENGETI
Typical game drive and overnight at Mbalageti Chalet

Day 5 - MORNING GAME DRIVE - FLIGHT to ZANZIBAR
early morning game drive - en route to the airstrip

Question 1 : on the Ngorongoro Crater
I really wish to stay most of the time in the Serengeti. I was even thinking about just sightseeing the Crater from the rim and not descending into it (I'd save the 200USD fees), what do you think?

Question 2 : is there any alternatives to Mbuzi Mawe? Olakira Camp is too expensive and Serena Lodge is "too touristic".

Question 3 : what would you change if it was your safari?

Question 4 : best quotation at the moment are around 1800 USD for a 2 person private safari (flight excluded of course), is it already a good price?

Thanks a lot!
delphaeus is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 03:56 AM
  #2  
pippa13
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Day 1 - from ARUSHA to NGORONGORO
International arrival in Nairobi in the morning at 5 am, bus transfer from Nairobi to Arusha (estimated arrival in Arusha 1 pm). Lunch then immediately go to Gibb's Farm or Plantation Lodge for a resting afternoon in the coffee plantation (diner and sleep early)

plantation lodge is fine offering wonderful outside terrasses for awesome sundownerand very good dinner.
gibb's farm is also fine but has more elderly english guests.

Day 2 - HALF-DAY GAME NGORONGORO to SERENGETI
Very early breakfast, drive to the crater for a 6-hours game drive. Picnic lunch. Afternoon drive to Serengeti - Mbuzi Mawe for one night

would leave the lodge so that i reach the rim at 06.30h.
don't know that lodge.

Day 3 - CENTRAL SERENGETI to WESTERN SERENGETI
Typical game drive and overnight at Mbalageti Chalet

Day 4 - WESTERN SERENGETI
Typical game drive and overnight at Mbalageti Chalet

Day 5 - MORNING GAME DRIVE - FLIGHT to ZANZIBAR
early morning game drive - en route to the airstrip

Question 1 : on the Ngorongoro Crater
I really wish to stay most of the time in the Serengeti. I was even thinking about just sightseeing the Crater from the rim and not descending into it (I'd save the 200USD fees), what do you think?

we all have seend these great documentaries on the crater. and of course that made us think it's an absolut MUST to go down which we did.
quite frankly: would not do it again. the most exciting thing was the descending itself and also going up again. the crater itself was not that stunning to me except the black rhinos we saw. everything was quite far away from the tracks - even with big lenses - (of course the film crews are allowed to leave the tracks which tourists aren't)

Question 2 : is there any alternatives to Mbuzi Mawe? Olakira Camp is too expensive and Serena Lodge is "too touristic".

i would definately go for olakira! would rather save money somewhere else. it's a completely different experience being in a camp or lodge. i don't know mbuzi mawe but i know serena. the latter would be out of a question! i would rather save the money for a next year safari than sacrifice on camp experiences.


Question 3 : what would you change if it was your safari?

quite frankly:
i like the way you do it: spend more nts in one location instead of camp hopping. but i would definately choose an upmarket camp like olakira which is stunning and very good value for money compared to cca camps. i'd also have a look at sayari which is in the northern part of serengeti - opposite massai mara almost. migration should be there around your time of travel.
as american: i would rather save myself zansibar as you have great beaches in the caribbean. it's completely depending on what you are after!
zansibar is nice and interesting for people who are keen on history etc. but i would not skip a safari day for a day on zansibar.
and shorten the zansibar leg doesn't make sense because of the rush and flight costs.
so it's really depending what are you more interested in.
and don't underestimate the camp experiences. bad camp/guides/safari routine might ruin your whole trip.
so think twice where to invest you holiday money!

Question 4 : best quotation at the moment are around 1800 USD for a 2 person private safari (flight excluded of course), is it already a good price?

that's a bargain - but completely depending on the outcome. sounds very reasonable. but let's say the car maintenance is not a given fact and the driver a sleepy head than it's too expensive.
so whether that quotation is a real buy can only be states when you have done it.

hope you post your experiences. would be interested in your report!

happy planning!
 
Apr 13th, 2008, 04:03 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
This is for 2009? Correct?

Nice to see you're giving yourself time to plan.

From the crater rim, all you'll see might be "little dots" not animals. It's certainly worth the fee to visit the crater floor.

In the Central Serengeti, Mbuzi Mawe is a lovely camp, providing the experience of "being under canvas" As you've found, Olakira is too expensive and the Serena a Lodge... there aren't many choices at this time. By next year... who knows, there may be other options.

Mbalageti is very romantic.

As to the price, probably being quoted based on '08 costs, as those for '09 won't be available till mid-'08... the $1,800/person makes sense. Mbalageti alone runs in the $500+/person/nt. Price increases for '09 can be in the 12-15% range.

sandi is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 06:23 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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1. I would not skip the crater. But definitely don't waste the time and money to go to the top and look down, but not actually descend into the crater. If that was your plan, then I'd forget the crater entirely.

My experience in two trips to the Crater differed from Pippa's. They were both highlights. The wildebeest in the crater do their own migration and you can get closer to these than the ones in the Serengeti because the crater wildebeest are more used to vehicles. I went about 6 weeks later than you, but in the dry season like you and saw lots of animals--hyenas, lions, cheetah, great hippos, black rhino. I liked Sopa Lodge at the crater for the private access road.

2. I'd stay put, though I have not been to the camps you mention. Only word of mouth knowledge.

3. Now here I agree with Pippa on more safari and less Zanzibar. Heck, I'd do no Zanzibar! But I am a wildlife person, not a beach person unless you can snorkel. I've never been to Zanzibar.

4. For both of you? Would you be comfortable posting the provider to see if anyone had used them before and what their experience was? If you are going 2009 you have the luxury of time to shop around for the best deal and more reliable company. You want to be sure you are getting a quality guide--MOST IMPORTANT--from a sound operation.

Congratulations on your wedding.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 06:46 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 357
I agree with the earlier comments about Ngorongoro Crater and I wouldn't go down again, unless I could walk across it.

Zanzibar - Stone Town is very atmospheric and interesting. There are lots of shops and comfortable places to stay, such as:

Emerson & Green (236 Hurumzi Hotel) in the centre of town, and hard to find. Friends said that it was slightly OTT but they loved it.

Tembo House Hotel (best rooms have an ocean view room with a balcony). In a convenient location, yet on the waterfront and it has a pool, but no alcohol is served. I just went to one of the nearby restaurants for dinner, and several people drank on their balconies. I would stay here again. Built in the 1830s, it used to be the American Embassy.

Dhow Palace Hotel - not far from Tembo House, but away from the waterfront. An old Omani mansion with nice rooms.

Serena Inn - a 5 star place with all the comforts. On the waterfront and a little bit further out of town. At night the area seems slightly dodgy.

If you get to Zanzibar, you might consider visiting or staying on Chumbe Island, especially if you want superb snorkelling in the marine reserve. It's very relaxing and you are well looked after. It's expensive to stay overnight, but you can arrange to go for the day. I stayed for 3 nights and I'm definately going to return.
http://www.chumbeisland.com/

Londonres is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 08:27 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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I would not skip the crater we went in June 2007 and saw a huge varity of wildlife unlike Pippa's experience they were close very close especially lions and wildies. We had a pride of lions with a kill right next to our vehicle as Lyn says they are far more used to the vehicles.
Mbuzi Mawe is a nice tented camp with a very laid back atmostphere the tents are spacious and with plenty of hot and cold water flush toilets and shower.There are power points to charge your batteries. here we heard the lions roaring at night, an experience hard to describe.
Mbaglageti is a very romantic camp with wonderful views from the dining/bar/pool area one that your sure to enjoy.
I haven't been to Zanzibar so can't comment there.
Happy planning.
keah05 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 09:48 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Just to add to the variety of the go/no-go recommendations for Ngorogoro Crater - I would go. I can't imagine going all that way only to have a quick stop at the rim and look down. It's a nice view, but people come to Ngorogoro Crater for the wildlife.

As you can tell from the differing recommendations, game drives can be hit or miss, even in the crater. For some it's prolific, for others not so much. For me, it was in between. It should be noted that the Crater is the only place you'll see rhino.

Besides, it'll be your first day on safari - if you're like most people, you'll be so excited that any game will be fantastic, and you'll happily snap 100 pictures of your first warthog.

If you do decide to skip going down into the crater, then skip it altogether. Take a flight from Arusha all the way to the Serengeti, and spend all your time there.

If this wasn't your honeymoon, I would probably just stay at the Serena Lodge in the Serengeti. Although touristy, you won't spend much time there. You'll be driving all the way from Ngorogoro to the central Serengeti on the first day, which is a very long drive, plus you'll be doing game drives along the way. And, you'll have to get up early to get yourselves to the western Serengeti. So, figure only 10-12 hours at the actual lodge itself, and 8 of those hours spent sleeping. As a tented camp, I'd suggest keeping Mbuze Mawe for the experience and romance.

Price sounds about right, but as noted, much depends on the outfitter.
lifelist is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 12:58 PM
  #8  
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Posts: 2
Thank you for your quick replies.

I guess I won't skip the crater even if it is going to be uneventful, it'll be my first game drive so I'm going to be excited anyway (hehe) ...

One of the operator was suggesting to have a night in Ntudu Lodge (in the limit of NCA) instead of Mbuzi Mawe (North-Eastern Serengeti) so as to limit the transfer in Day 2, what do you guys think? Or is it perfectly doable from the Crater to Mbuzi Mawe in an afternoon?

I'd directly go for Mbalageti the next day as you all have given me positive feedback on it.

I have a list of TATO operator (all based in Arusha) that have given me similar quotation 1750 to 2000 USD per person:
-African Trails
-Corto
-Multichoice
-Avocet
-Akorn
-Andersson
-Mauly
-African Guide Expeditions
-Sunny Safaris
-Takims Holidays (Dar Es Salam)
-Comfort Safari
-Good earth
-Ranger
-Waterbuck (Dar Es Salam)
-Klub Afriko
-Wonders of creation
-Akorn

I haven't had any replies from Roy's.

That's great, the project is taking shape step by step
delphaeus is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 01:28 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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You can definitely make it from Ngorongoro to Mbuzi Mawe. No need to overnight in Ndutu.

Leaving the crater, you'll stop (30-45/min drive) at Oldupai Gorge, then continue with game viewing along the way into the heart of the Serengeti.

We've done the drive, straight out without game viewing in 3.5/hrs, but you don't have to. You can probably arrive Mbuzi Mawe for late lunch.

That's an awfully long list of proposals to review for such a short trip. Five operators/outfitters would be more than enough.
sandi is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 04:06 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
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The Crater seemed sureal to me; we saw so much wildlife and very close-up. It almost seemed like big loads of many various types of animals had been trucked in. It was a little unbelievable. I think that is why some people call it zoo-like. We saw; Lion, Cheetah, Hyena, Jackal, herds of Wildebeest, herds of Buffalo, Ostrich, Hippos, Flamingos, many other types of birds including eagles and vultures. Crater visit was definitely worthwhile from a game viewing standpoint, even if it wasnt all the adventurish.

Davgai
davgai1 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 06:15 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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I agree that the Crater should not be missed.

A quick comment on your shuttle from Nairobi to Arusha. I think the earliest bus you'd catch would be about 8 or 8:30am. Do you have plans to put in the 3 hours from when you land? The airport is less than ideal to spend that kind of time.
Calo is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 07:19 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Agree with Sandi - don't stop at Ndutu - there's nothing there at that time of year. If you do a game drive in the crater in the morning, then head for the Serengeti, stopping by Oldupai on the way, you'll hit Naabi Hill gate by lunch time. Then, you're pretty much on a game drive for the rest of the afternoon until Mbuze Mawe. Central Serengeti is always good.

Besides, you won't know where the herds are until you arrive, though you can be reasonably sure they won't be at Ndutu. Mbuze Mawe is north of central Serengeti, so you'll have a good chance of catching the Wildebeest between there and Mblageti.

lifelist is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 07:57 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
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Regarding going from Ngorongoro to the Serengeti, if you do a long morning game drive in the Crater, you might not leave until noon or even after, so getting to the central Serengeti can certainly be done, but you might not make it there in time for lunch.
hguy47 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2008, 04:58 PM
  #14  
 
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At the risk of being redundant, I would encourage you to experience the wondrous crater. The views on the way down and then back up are stunning. I found the ecosystem on the crater floor just breathtaking. You have vistas of zebra drinking from fresh water pools, with a backdrop of hippos frolicking in deeper pools and a final layer of bright pink flamingos to top it all off. All this is framed by several thousand feet of crater wall. There really is no place like it on earth.
girlpolo33 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2008, 03:03 PM
  #15  
 
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"I guess I won't skip the crater even if it is going to be uneventful..."

Remember that quote as you are ascending from the crater after a couple of hours on the floor. You'll be shaking your head and chuckling at your earlier misconceptions, as you review your photos.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 16th, 2008, 04:16 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 323
Let's see........2 long a drive to NC for me.

Also, NC.........wildlife....lions galore, lions mating on the road and next to it and probably the best.....cheetah kill within 100 yards of the vehicle.

Yea........I would do NC.
dssxxxx is offline  

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