Katavi & Mahale - which camps?

Reply

Jan 24th, 2010, 04:22 AM
  #41
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 5
Hiya, we have stayed in Mahale & katavi on several occasions.. Katuma is a great camp! dont know much about the other camps so cant help there...
In Mahale, we have always stayed at Kungwe Beach Lodge, it was recently refurbished (again) and is really stunning, the tents are simple, but comfortable with everything you need.

The managers and staff are great & the food really good too

I agree with ShayTay on the guides though, at Kungwe Sixtus is their head guide & he is fantastic. He has a passion for the chimps and have trekked them for over 8years, he is highly respected even by the neighbouring camp guides & the rangers.
Together with their tracker that they send out each day, they dont only trek the chimps but as he as been in the Park for so many years, he also seems to understand their behaviour & movements very well.
I also believe this same company is also opening a new lodge in Serengeti this year & because of that have huge discounts on their rates for all their camps for 2010 - we are hoping to go again late July..
Hope this helps!
atravelmemo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 24th, 2010, 06:05 AM
  #42
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 44
Duck Duck

Let me explain my experience to give you perspective since you have editorialized it as "nonsense". When I was there and staying at Greystoke, our guides were literally followed by another camp which created a very tense situation. When our guides up the mountain sent us one way off we went and three minutes later they were right behind us.There is definitely no sense of comraderie between the different camps. The "Japanese Scientist" wasn't there that week but there was a previous group that had been there a month before and said the "scientist" was invasive, annoying to the chimps and an overal train wreck. Hardly practicing the type of research that we could be proud of. When we climbed the hill, our guides were followed and indicated that they have been so for months. They send a few people up the hill early in the morning for tracking and don't rely on anyone. Back to the question--if you have the money there is no better lodge in the area than Greystoke. Unparalleled accomodations and a stunning beach location. Take a cruise on their boat or go fishing or stroll the beach. You can't go wrong with the location period for any of the camps. But the experience at Greystoke cannot be duplicated.
MONYLINE is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 24th, 2010, 07:02 AM
  #43
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
Hold on, everyone.

Unless anyone here has actually stayed at more than one camp in Mahale (on more than one occasion) you are hardly an authority on the place and the lodging!

Having stayed at more than one camp in Mahale, I can give you a few facts:

1. The chimp experience takes up about 2-4 hours each morning depending on their location at your hiking time. There are many hours left to fill each day so you have to consider this when choosing a camp.

2. Often you may reach the chimps early but then you have to wait in line as another group or two may be ahead of you. This eats up time hence the 4 hours guestimate above.

3. Chimps can be found anywhere. They are not always in a single group so you may run into two males on a path while on your way to see a bigger family. So you stop and do your hour with the two chimps while other trek groups may be with other chimp groups.

4. Chimps move fast! Trek group 1 finds a family and after 15 minutes the chimps run off uphill at a pace that is too fast to keep up. So the chimps run into trek group 2 who happens to be on their way to the first sighting! What does trek group 2 do? They watch until the hour is up or until trek group 1 shows up and then as a courtesy will back off so trek group 1 can finish their hour.

5. I had wonderful sightings (at the waterful for example) on a day when all the trek groups had a tough day. No one could keep up with the fast moving chimps and our group decided to go swim at the falls when suddenly the whole family of chimps showed up while we were in the pools! They surrounded us and it was as if the tables were turned. They were watching us instead. A wonderful day with clear views of the whole family on the rocks!

6. On another occasion the chimp family followed us all the way to camp almost. We could not get rid of them! In all we must've had about 3 hours of chimp sightings that day!

7. My point is, the experience is not static and it is rather random. Regardless of who has trackers and who has the best guides, etc, much of the experience cannot be scripted. It is a matter of luck and being at the right place at the right time.

8. Slower trekkers may dictate who arrives at a chimp sighting first. Also camp location versus chimp location. If the chimps are towards the river mouth (near the hippos), then coming from Flycatcher camp will take a long time to reach them. If the chimps are near the waterfall or research station then Greystoke will have a longer hike.

9. Staying at the most expensive camp does not guarantee better sightings nor a better chimp experience. I experienced that first-hand. But there are other factors that make a camp better than others - Mahale is very hot and you have many down hours each day. The more expensive camps are certainly more convenient and may have more activity options. It depends on what you want.

10. I found the two local rangers who guided me while staying at a cheaper camp to be very good. They were eager to share their knowledge of the chimps and had no axe to grind with any camp or guide. It wasn't about which camp is tracking and which camp is not. It was just about the chimps and the forest and I learned a lot.

11. Do not underestimate the role of the camp managers. A few years ago one of the expensive camps had a manager who were, let's say, a bit abrasive... I will leave it at that. So your experience miles may vary depending on the camp manager at the time of your visit.

12. Lastly. Take what you read in internet forms with a grain of salt. The amount of nonsense out there is unbelievable.

See my map here: http://www.go-safari.com/Mahale/mahale.htm
Note, I saw chimps in areas other than my map indications. That was just an example.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 24th, 2010, 07:11 PM
  #44
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 5
Agree with climphighsleeplow about the chimps & the trekking. Have stayed in Mahale over six times, and have seen this on many occasions. One particular time at Kungwe one member of our group stayed behind at camp.
That day we trekked the chimps for over 7hours (this was in early July) and only got to see 4 chimps. Then the camp called in by radio to say there were over 12 chimps in camp! She got to watch them, on her own, in the camp for over 2 hours! eventually all groups from Greystoke, Kungwe and Flycatchers were racing to the camp to see the chimps... just another example of how the tables can turn.

But I still must say, I have also stayed at Greystoke (only once though) I still prefer the guides from Kungwe - they seem to me more knowledgable.. but,at the end of the day each has their preference and its all about how much money you are willing to spend.
At either camp you will get a great chimp experience, good food & the staff are all friendly.
I have to say though, that just to have a nicer room, (& alcohol included versus no alcohol inclusive) I cannot find a good reason to pay the price at Greystoke if i can have the same experience at one of the other camps at half the price!
atravelmemo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 26th, 2010, 04:13 PM
  #45
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Thanks for the personal experiences.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2010, 06:20 AM
  #46
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22
raelond, dont know much about Ruaha (except that is is really stunning & def worth the trip!) so cant help there.
Katavi - as mentioned by everyone above there is Nomad, Flycatchers, Foxes & Katuma (one other I cannot remember the name!)
Choosing wont be too complicated, game viewing in Katavi is great & think you will have a good experience with either of the guides from the above camps.
Flycatchers - have good prices, but here were talking basic
Foxes & Katuma - these two camps compete very close & this might be difficuilt to choose.. Foxes I think have very good rates but Katuma's tents are bigger & nicer! & dont think there is a huge difference in price here
Nomad - high end so this you would probably choose if you can afford the prices!!

Although Foxes offers fligts also, they dont have a camp in Mahale so in the end it would work out better for you to choose between Fly, Katuma, Nomad.. (not sure though if flycathcer will be open this season as this camp did not open last)
Mahale is beautiful and a must for the trip - unforgetable experience.
With regards to the chimps, I can assure you, you are going to get a great trek & experience at either of the 3 camps in this park - Fly, Kungwe or Greystoke.
All of these have good guides & go out with Park Rangers who know these chimps like the back of their hands.
Everyone will ofcourse vouch for their favourite, which is great, but like mentioned, the chimps move over large areas & they move fast - the trekking is random & can happen to be a good or bad sighting with either of their guides.

Now here I also want to add - this is not ALWAYS the case during June/July as then the trekking is tough, as the chimps are not that vocal as food is scarse, then its up to the trekkers & guides to decide where to look & to go. There is very experienced rangers that assist with ALL guides in the park, but people mentioned here like Sixtus from kungwe - he is really good at reading their travelling patterns & this is where the difference comes in...
Nomad - like mentioned, high end and here you definitely get what you pay for, but trust me - you pay!!
Kungwe - Mid range good service & staff & 1 very good guide!
Flycatcher - Basic, but also good staff & a great manager

At the end of the day, Katavi & Mahale is beautiful and you will have a great time, no matter where you stay, its all up to just how comfortable you want to be, and much you are willing to pay!
travel_kbl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2010, 06:26 AM
  #47
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22
One other thing - flights..
If you book at Nomad, they also arrange your flights Katavi & Mahale, but dont have schedules to Ruaha.
If you book with Mbali Mbali (Katuma & Kungwe) they can also arrange your flights Katavi & Mahale not Ruaha
If you book Flycatchers, or another camp in Katavi & fly at Mahale, you need to check on the flights here as sometimes Flycather clients come into Mahale on different days so you might end up with a night extra or short,,, you can always book your accom with them & the flights with someone else.
Foxes also does flights Katavi, Mahale and also to Ruaha but here I am not sure if your gonna pay Private or Shared charter prices, perhaps check on that as you can save more with the shared..
Which ever camps you decide to stay at, you can always book seperate flights with either of the above, perhaps enquire.
Hope this helps!
travel_kbl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2010, 09:16 AM
  #48
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
"Flycatchers - have good prices, but here were talking basic"

Can we talk about their guiding? That's what matters to me.

An "extra night" at Mahale so 3 chimp visits are possible might work out perfectly.

These extras or shortages are known at the time of booking, though, right? Not after you are there and suddenly your itinerary changes due to flight changes? Am I correct?
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2010, 10:31 AM
  #49
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,619
If you stay in Katuma and Kungwe, you can still stay in Ruaha and reach them without any trouble. We flew from Ruaha to Katuma, onward to Kungwe, then back across Tanzania to Dar, stopping in Katavi and Ruaha (two places in Ruaha, as a matter of fact.) There are enough flights to get you to any camp at any park and you don't have to be staying in the air carrier's camps to do so.

travel_kbl, you noted "(not sure though if flycathcer will be open this season as this camp did not open last)" Are you talking about the 2009 season? Their camps were open in both Katavi and Mahale (saw them both with guests in attendence.)

Atravelynn, I think Flycatchers safaris originate in Arusha. Most of the other air carriers/camps operate out of Dar and go across southern Tanzania through Ruaha, etc. I don't know if one or the other origination point is better, other than there are more international flight options into Dar than there are to Kilimanjaro Airport.

Yes, the guiding is important. We had great guides and experienced camp managers at both Mbali Mbali camps (Katuma and Kungwe.) As previously noted, Sixtus at Mahale was an excellent guide and seemed to think like a chimp, anticipating their moves. He also understood their communications and translated them for us.
ShayTay is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2010, 08:54 PM
  #50
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 421
I appreciate all the feedback. I think Katuma in Ruaha and Kungwe in Katavi are the camps I am most interested in. I would spend 4 nights at Mahale which should give me 3 chimp treks. I think the experience at Mahale will be amazing regardless of where I stay.
raelond is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2010, 06:53 AM
  #51
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 16
Kungwe and Katuma look good but I just read disturbing information on Tripadvisor about the camp owners. Search for the posts from user noexpert. Apparently they also own a big hunting company with concessions in Tarangire behind their Tarangire River Camp.

I will not book with them.
gilsomenni is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2010, 10:39 AM
  #52
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,619
According to the camp managers, Mbali Mbali's owners are trying to transition out of the hunting business. If the photo safari camps do well, then no more hunting.
ShayTay is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2010, 07:42 PM
  #53
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I kind of like the Arusha starting point for Flycatchers and would see it as a plus.

Thanks for sharing that important distinction.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2010, 09:08 AM
  #54
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,619
Mbali Mbali is setting up a camp in the Serengeti and also owns Tarangire River Camp, so they are doing the same wuth their air carrier Zantas (out of Arusha.) They have a Selous camp planned, as well, so they may expand their routes to include all those points.
ShayTay is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 3rd, 2010, 12:40 AM
  #55
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22
gilsomenni, I have been looking for 2days now and cannot find a post from noexpert where there is disturbing info on the above 2 lodges mentioned.And which has immediatly convinced you to write on this site not to book with them..
Forgive me for being naive, perhaps give us the link so we can also see what it is you heave read?
travel_kbl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2010, 10:42 AM
  #56
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 421
Gilsomenni I would also like to know more about the "disturbing information" you are referring to.

Does anyone have thoughts about Lake Manze Camp or Sand River in Selous.
raelond is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 9th, 2010, 03:51 PM
  #57
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 16
I do not know how to post links here but just search for hunting or hunting tours in Tanzania on Tripadvisor and you can read all about it. The posts are recent and look legitimate but please form your own opinions.
gilsomenni is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 02:50 AM
  #58
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 4
I have afeeling that you are omitting a very nice kind of accomodation found these parks, The bandas they avery very nice , i used them when i was on safari very nice and i have pictures
Kisinger is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 6th, 2010, 04:39 AM
  #59
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Some questions for you Kisinger:


1. In Mahale, did you go chimp tracking from the bandas several times and were you given an equal priority in viewing the chimps as those staying at the high end accommodations?

2. Were the bandas self catering or was there a kitchen staff or did you travel with a chef?

3. If you flew there, was there transport to the bandas in Mahale? For the other S. Tanz camps, if you flew there, how was guiding arranged?

4. In Mahale, were you able to do anything on the water from the bandas? Some places offer snorkeling, maybe kayaking?

5. In Katavi and Ruaha, how would you describe the location of the bandas for wildlife viewing?

6. Was there a ground operator you worked with and how was the guiding provided by that ground operator?

7. As a solo traveler (willing to join a group) who would be going for 12-16 days on the ground, what suggestions would you have for me to incorporate bandas as my lodging in Mahale, Katavi, Ruaha?

Thanks Kisinger and please add anything else about your S. Tanz trip that you think would be helpful. I'm sure others would appreciate your comments too.

Please include any photos of the accommodations and your overall trip. You can put in a link to any photo site--Kodak Gallery, Snapfish, etc.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 7th, 2010, 03:17 AM
  #60
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 4
Staying at the Babdas is far much better i think because the tracking is done by the ranger on duty at the bandas who is answerable direct to the park authorities

When we arrived with MV.Liemba in the morning we were met on arrival by the Tanapa boat that our outfitter had booked, we were transfered to the park offices for parkfees payment and then later transfered to the bandas.

We had a freeday to relax abit as it wasnt nice time then to go for the tracking and had to go to the beach

The next morning we went for the tracking with the Tanapa Guide who am sure had information of where they are and when we were at the watching site i saw how preveledged we were even those from the exensive accomodations came later to where we were as i think those guys who keep watch of where the chimps have over night at last give information to the park authorities who told our guild where to exactly go and where they are heading. We stayed in Mahale 4 Days and we in all 3 Days we attempted saw them even to an extend we decieded to do the Nkungwe hiking

The bandas are not self catering, we bought food in Katavi and carried to the bandas, given utensils at the bandas and we have staff whom we could hire for our cooking or even sometimes cooked our own food



We didnt flew there we used the strategic Mv. Liemba (A much-loved feature of Lake Tanganyika is the MV Liemba, which has been ferrying passengers and cargo up and down the lake once a week for over eighty years. Originally christened the Graf von Götzen (after a former governor of German East Africa), the 1300-tonne steamship was constructed in Germany in 1913, then cut apart and transported by train from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma in the early stages of World War I, where she was reassembled for use as an armed troop transport. In June 1916 the ship was bombed by Belgian aircraft but escaped with light damage. However, when the British took control of the Central Line Railway the following month, the Germans scuttled the ship at the mouth of the Malagarasi River south of Kigoma rather than have her fall into enemy hands. The Graf von Götzen remained submerged for eight years until, following an unsuccessful effort by the Belgians in 1921, the British finally salvaged the vessel in March 1924 and renamed her the MV Liemba, after the lake's original name.
Any journey on the MV Liemba (or the MV Mwongozo for that matter) is a memorable one – gorgeous sunsets over Congo's eastern highlands, and the frenetic activity that erupts in the port villages along the way whenever the ferry arrives: the ferry drops anchor offshore, with passengers, luggage and cargo carried to and from land in small lighters, invariably eliciting chaotic scrambles as people jostle to get on or off.)we arrived in the morning and we were met by Tanapa boat and tranfered to the bandas so the guiding was organised by our outfitter through the park authorities


We did snorkerling and the other activities are also sold from there

I am sure of the Bandas in Katavi which are situated in a place just afew Kilometres from the park headquaters, The Building are just very excutive, sefcontained and catering is self also here
there is an option where you can pay for the meals and you get the meal from the chef's resinding here, in our case we paid to the chefs and got our three meals daily

We went through a ground operator Lipi Adventure company that was in 2007, i knew this operator through travel forums thats bootsnails here is the link below
http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/07...ia-africa.html

The guiding was exceptional, i requested Hussein to join us to make this safari doable and it went excellent, i can still see they are doing well in the western circuit as i can see in this forum some one Jacos went recently and he was seccesiful at last
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...masai-mara.cfm

Am sure you cant get joiners in Mahale and Katavi, this places are unique may be Ruaha, what i saw is people whom they came together from the original dastination and not people hooking up from Tanzania

Am not so much used to posting pictures in forums you can may be send me an email i can attach them for you
here is my e-mial
[email protected]

I hope my information will be useful to you

Regards
Kisinger
Kisinger is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:44 PM.