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Just Back from our Safari in Kenya and Tanzania

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Sep 7th, 2006, 04:41 PM
  #1
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Just Back from our Safari in Kenya and Tanzania

Hi All! We had such a great time on our safari and wanted to thank everyone for their input. A special thanks to ClimbHighSleepLow for suggesting that we stay inside the Mara rather than at the Porini outside the park. We ended up staying at Il Moran (another posterís suggestion) and our stay there was the best part of our trip. The camp was beautiful, the service was excellent and there were THOUSANDS of animals within minutes from the camp. And, while we were there, our guide told us that bandits had just raided the Porini Camp and stolen passports and cash from the tourists there, as well as terrorized the staff (8/23). Thank God we made the change so that we were not affected!

Even though we had a fabulous time, I am still wondering whether our cost was competitive for the services we received. I guess this has been nagging at me a bit because, among other things, our tour operator charged us $90 per person for our day room at the Kia Lodge at the Kili airport. I questioned whether $180 was high for just a day room and I was told that such is the price you pay for convenience and nice facilities. When we arrived at the Kia, I asked the reception clerk about the rate and was told that it was $60 total for two people. I found this to be pretty irritating as we added this to the itinerary after our initial price quote and paid three times the actual rate. I guess similar ďpaddingĒ existed throughout our itinerary. We paid approximately $5,300 per person excluding our International flights, one dinner in Nairobi, and one dinner in Arusha. Does this sound reasonable given our itinerary below? Thanks again, everyone. Regardless, we really had a good time!

Day 1) Arrive Nairobi in evening. Overnight InterContinental Hotel Day 2) 1/2 Day Tour of Nairobi (Blixen Musuem, Giraffe Manor and Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) Overnight InterContinentalDay 3) Morning transfer to Wilson Airport for 10h00 SafariLink flight to Masai Mara. Meet upon arrival in camp vehicle, game drive enroute to camp and after lunch, Overnight Il Moran Camp (B/L/D)Day 4) Early Morning, Late Morning and Afternoon game drives on shared vehicle basis, overnight Il Moran Camp (B/L/D)Day 5) Early Morning, Late Morning and Afternoon game drives on shared vehicle basis, overnight Il Moran Camp (B/L/D)Day 6) Transfer to airstrip for 11h00 SafariLink flight to Wilson Airport. Lunch at Carnivore before departing for Amboseli National Park, game drive on exclusive use basis, overnight Amboseli Serena Lodge (B/L/D)Day 7)Full day Amboseli National Park, morning and afternoon game drives on exclusive use basis, overnight Amboseli Serena Lodge (B/L/D)Day 8) Depart Amboseli for Namanga, border transfer into Tanzania. Proceed to Arusha, Nigrisi Village visit, overnight Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge (chalet) (B&B basis)Day 9) Morning pick-up from Ngurdoto, depart to Tarangire National Park, late morning and afternoon game drives, overnight Kikoti Camp (B/L/D) Day 10) Full day Tarangire, morning, aftenoon and NIGHT game drives, overnight Kikoti Camp (B/L/D) Day 11)Game drive through Tarangire before departing for Ngorongoro Crater, afternoon game drive on Crater floor, overnight Ngorongoro Serena Lodge (B/L/D)Day 12) Morning game drive on Crater floor, Olduvai Gorge visit, proceed to Serengeti National Park, game drive, overnight Serengeti Serena Lodge (B/L/D)Day 13) Full day Serengeti, morning and afternoon game drives, overnight Serengeti Serena Lodge (B/L/D)Day 14) Full day Serengeti, morning and afternoon game drives, overnight Serengeti Serena Lodge (B/L/D)Day 15)Game drive through Serengeti before proceeding to Lake Manyara National Park, afternoon game drive, overnight Kirurumu Tented Lodge (B/L/D)Day 16) Morning game drive in Manyara before returning to Arusha and transfer to KIA Lodge for dayroom use. Evening transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport for outbound international











sueblue is offline  
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Sep 7th, 2006, 05:06 PM
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Welcome back! Glad you had a great time. The price of $5300pp doesn't sound out of line for your itinerary. Your 3 nights at Il Moran (including park fees and flights) alone probably accounts for around $1800pp.

As for the day room add-on, I probably would've booked directly with KIA lodge if the price difference was $120. You mentioned similar padding throughout. Can you give other examples?
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Sep 8th, 2006, 04:52 AM
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sandi
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Welcome home Sue -

The rate for KIA probably also included the transfer from Arusha to JRO which is easily 45-min to 1/hr drive. This transfer can run $60 (vehicle, driver, insurance, petrol), leaving $120. And $60/person for a day-room is a usual rate (many other hotels charge more).

Even if you had booked KIA Lodge yourself, you would have had to arrange the transfer to JRO from Arusha or if included by the operator, would cost $60+/-.

On a $5,300/pp trip, $60 you feel you overpaid, amounts to 1.13%. Not much in the scheme of things of having the entire itinerary put together, ascertaining availability, making the numerous changes you did (as indicated in your earlier posts).

For a 16/day trip in high season, with the very high price at Il Moran, all but 2/meals and your flights - avg. daily cost $331/person. A darn good deal.

 
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Sep 8th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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I had thought about the possibility that the price quoted included some transportation cost too, but if that's the case, the tour op should have said so to avoid any misunderstanding since it's easy to find out the actual room rate yourself. I would find a response of "such is the price you pay for convenience and nice facilities" more irritating than the cost difference itself (if that's literally what was said and all that was said).

I will reiterate, however, that I think the overall cost is very fair given the itinerary.
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Sep 8th, 2006, 08:07 AM
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I think $5300 pp is a good price for a 16-day itinerary at the accommodations you mentioned. Yes you probably could have saved a little bit by booking your own dayroom at KIA Lodge but the price quoted you directly by the Lodge was certainly for room-only, not including any meals or transportation (I don't know if you had a meal at KIA, we did). Anyway, glad to hear you had a great time!
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Sep 8th, 2006, 09:18 AM
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What were your thoughts on Amboseli Serena?

Did you like Amboseli as a game park?

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Sep 8th, 2006, 01:52 PM
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I think our initial price quote also included the transfer to the Kili airport so I assume we just paid triple the amount for Kia ($180 total). I also had the nagging feeling about being ripped off because whenever I asked about specific rates at the places we were staying, I didn't really get a straight answer. I would have booked myself because I generally plan my own travel but I thought the operator just gets 15% of the booking, and passes on the rate we would pay by ourselves anyway. I wondered how so many people could have been involved in our planning and have it not cost extra -- which they assured me.) Oh well, you live and learn.

Wasn't that amazing about Porini? We couldn't believe it. Perhaps these things happen all the time but it really freaked us out . . . a close call.

As far as Amboseli, it was our least favorite park. Mind you, we had just come from the Mara where there were tons of animals all over the place. We had just to go 50 feet from our camp. And you can go off-road in the Mara and drive all over the park. Amboseli, on the other hand, is extremely flat with very short grass and you can't go off road. It seemed very artificial in comparison. Although, we did see both ostriches and lions mating there which was really cool. If I were to plan it again, I would skip this park.

The Amboseli Serena is a really nice hotel. Very colorful -- almost Polynesian looking -- with monkeys running around all over the place. Elephants also came onto the grounds when we were there. I would definitely recommend the hotel.
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Sep 8th, 2006, 01:59 PM
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Welcome home.

Glad you had such a wonderful time.

"Perhaps these things happen all the time..." No fortunately they do not. Nonetheless, I can see why you are freaked out.

Please post some more about your trip when you are able.
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Sep 8th, 2006, 02:22 PM
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Sue:
Glad you enjoyed your trip and switched to Il Moran. How was the central Serengeti?
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Sep 8th, 2006, 06:18 PM
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The Serengeti was nice but we didn't see nearly as many animals as in the Mara. I think we were also a bit spoiled by that point, already having seen so much. We did see a leopard, albeit briefly. But even in the Serengeti, I missed driving off-road.

We were really pleased with all of the properties we stayed at -- but were a little disappointed with Kirumuru. The decor was much more rustic/basic than the others and the service was not as "enthusiastic" as at the other properties. I really do think we were spoiled by Il Moran -- and that was our first stop!

Elephants crashed the campsite at Il Moran and it was pretty exciting. At the Serena in the Serengeti, a buffalo was drinking out of the pool when we arrived at dinner. At Kikoti, we had a little late night emergency when we found one of those large hairy spiders and one of those large African beetles on the mosquito netting over our beds. It was 3AM and we were pretty freaked out. My friend tried to spray the spider with Deet . . . This didn't work very well because we were screaming and after yelling "jambo" several times out the window, we blew the whistle that was attached to the flashlight in our hut. After about 15 minutes of this (maybe they thought we were a hyena?), three of the staff came into our tent and thankfully killed both. We hated to disturb the other guests but we were terrified!
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Sep 8th, 2006, 07:13 PM
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Your emergency was so funny (I know--not at the time) that I was laughing out loud and showed my husband. I can just picture you shouting Jambo out the window.

What dates were you in the Mara and in the Serengeti.
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Sep 9th, 2006, 05:12 AM
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Ha! Just think of this from the night-watchman's perspective!!

Some crazy muzungu's start yelling and screaming in their tent at 3am. Then they stary yelling "hello, hello" out the window (at 3am !!). Finally, when they decide to see why you are so eagerly greeting everyone (at 3am) they see that the cause of all the commotion is a tiny little spider on your mosquito netting!!

No wonder they think we're all crazy !!

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Sep 9th, 2006, 05:15 AM
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We arrived in the Mara on 8/24 and the Serengeti on 9/2.
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Sep 9th, 2006, 05:24 AM
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sandi
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mzungu - single
wazungu - plural

- took me a few times over the years to get it right!
 
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Sep 9th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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Yes, wazungu for plural... but muzungus still has that nicer 'slang' sound to it !!

Speaking of Swahili, (or should I say Kiswahili !!), I heard a great saying the other day.

"Swahili was born in Tanzania, grew up in Kenya, and died in Uganda"

Very true.


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Sep 9th, 2006, 05:54 AM
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sandi
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Never heard that before. Interesting and likely so true.

Well, when a mzungu unfamiliar with the word first speaks it - does manage to come out as muzungu.
 
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Sep 9th, 2006, 11:04 AM
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Welcome back, sueblue. I'm glad you had a great time.
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Sep 9th, 2006, 12:13 PM
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Sue,
Karibu nyumbani. Iím happy you werenít staying at Porini and that you had a great trip. Iím very sorry for the spider and the beetle though.
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Sep 9th, 2006, 09:22 PM
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Thanks everyone. I know it's irrational but I would probably have been less frightened if I came up against an elephant or a lion instead of a spider!
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Sep 9th, 2006, 11:19 PM
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Glad you had such a good time, and with so many special stories and memories.

For what it's worth, we booked our trip to Kenya more or less independently and did not include the booking of a day room for the final day. The hotel let us have a "late check-out" - 7p.m. at no additional charge, whereas we would have had to pay $75 for the room if we had booked in advance. On the other hand I've been in situations where I've done the same and found the day room booked at reception cost as much as an extra night would.... if you can work out how hotel pricing works you can save a fortune but for most of us there is no point crying over spilt milk. It was overpriced - no question, but it was probably not sensible to enquire about the price after you had paid ;-)

I too feel sorry for the spider, but especially for the beetle - how can beetles be frightening? I have a feeling the poor thing was "collateral damage".

I also wouldn't go spraying insecticide on my bed - call me peculiar if you like....

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