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Kenya & Tanzania--Where Can I Shave off a Day or Two?

Kenya & Tanzania--Where Can I Shave off a Day or Two?

Aug 21st, 2008, 05:46 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 312
Kenya & Tanzania--Where Can I Shave off a Day or Two?

Here's your chance to tell us where we are making mistakes--all advice welcome!

Situation: two fifty-something low maintenance couples who travel together regularly, never been to Africa, don't need luxury, and willing to mix up the lodgings a bit between budget and 'nice'. We want to spend no more than 4 hours driving between camps. Prefer smaller lodgings, and no kids! We don't drink or eat gourmet. Need a drive guide for most of the trip. Want to visit locals, do some night game drives, and be out on game drives as much as possible. The two guys are amateur photogs. The women are point-and-shoot gals! I would like to shave off a day or two--where should we cut? And, do you have better (meaning more interesting, not more expensive) alternate lodging recommendations? So, here goes:

Fly into Dar es Salaam from the US.
Get guide/driver/Rover.
Drive to Selous. Two nights at Rufiji River Camp.
Drive to Ruaha. Two nights at Tandala Camp.
Fly to Arusha from Iringa.
Get guide/driver/Rover.
Drive to Lake Manyara to view tree climbing lions, then on to Ngorongoro. Two nights at NG Sopa Lodge.
Drive to Serengeti. Two nights at Migration Camp OR Sayari Camp OR Seronera Wildlife Lodge.
Drive to Masai Mara. Two nights at Kichwa Tembo Tented Safari Camp OR Little Governor's Camp.
Drive to Shompole Lodge. One night there.
Drive to Amboseli. Two nights at Campi ya Kanzu OR Ol Tukai Lodge OR Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge.
Drive to Tsavo East. Two nights at Galdessa Camp


Drive to Nairobi--is it about 175 miles? Two night in Nairobi, one of them at Giraffe Manor (oh my lord, I know it costs a fortune!) and one inexpensive place the second night.

Fly home from Nairobi, or take flight back to Dar es Salaam and then onward.

So, whaddya think? And, when do you recommend we go in 2009? January and February are not options.
moondoggie is offline  
Aug 21st, 2008, 07:27 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 369
Personally, I think you have MUCH too MUCH driving.

And staying in a hotel for one night and then moving on is never a good idea. The hotels you are staying in are awesome... you will want to be able to enjoy them more than just unpack, sleep, and pack up.

Even though Galdessa is a great place, if you HAVE to shave off two nights I would do it there, as you are already in shompole and amboseli and the terrain is quite similar.

Also, I think the drive from Kichwa Tembo to Shompole in one day is just waaay too long, especially since you are packing up the next morning and driving to amboseli.

Slow down, pace it out, and save some of the camps for your following trip.

Everyone always goes back!!

simbakubwa is offline  
Aug 21st, 2008, 08:35 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,619
First, don't expect to see tree-climbing lions at Lake Manyara. It's a rare occurrence, even though they like to brag about it. A couple of years ago, one of my Tanzanian guides said he hadn't seen them do that in years. Conversely, I saw lions in trees 3 times in the Serengeti last year... ya never know!

Second, you can't actually drive between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara. You have to go back to Arusha, fly or take a bus to Nairobi, then drive or fly to the Mara. Decide on the time of year you want to go, then choose one or the other. If you go early in the dry season, such as June or July, the Serengeti would be the place to see the Migration. If it's August or September, then concentrate on the Mara. Spend at least 4 nights in one or the other place.

Personally, I think that you're rushing through a lot of territory much too quickly and are underestimating the drive times. Maps of Africa can be deceiving. It will probably take a good 6 hours to drive from Dar to Selous. I think it takes a day or more to drive from there to Ruaha. Consider concentrating on certain areas or countries. If you have about three weeks, you can cover the northern safari circuit in Tanzania and a little bit of Kenya. Or, visit Kenya with a short side trip to Tanzania. Stay in great game areas that offer different experiences and get into the rhythm of safari.
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 21st, 2008, 09:05 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I agree with the comments so far.

Let me ask you all--the guys, gals, P&Sers, and amateur photographers what you hope to see and experience out in the wild. You are very clear on the type of lodging and food and driving you are comfortable with.

But have you talked over the rest?

For example, are there certain animals you really wish to see such as elephants, lions, rhino, etc.? As mentioned, lions climbing trees in unlikely, but lions doing other things is very likely.

Is a chance at seeing Kili a must?

Are there subjects that the photographers really wish to capture? Birds, scenery, people, certain animals, or just a nice mix?

How about the migration of the wildebeest and zebra that moves through the Serengeti and Mara, depending on the time of year? Is that a priority?

How important is remoteness and seclusion to you?

What was your reason for East Tsavo? I believe there are volunteer opportunities at that camp, but usually the stay would be longer than 2 nts.

I am wondering how you came up with the very busy itinerary below. It certainly has a little bit of everything, but especially for someone who wishes to limit driving between camps, I think you are moving around too much. When you are in transit, it is rare to see much wildlife or much culture that you can actually absorb. If you stay put, you see more of what you came to Africa for.

With your Southern TZ locations, you won't want Jan and Feb most likely anyway.

Here are some charts that show the best times to view wildlife throughout the year.

http://www.africa-adventure.com/dsp_besttime.html

http://www.bornfreesafaris.com/best_travel.htm

Since you are focusing on Kenya and TZ, this site has perfect safaris in those countries for each month of the year.

http://www.kiliwarriors.com/

To answer your question, I'd shave Shampole since you stated you don't need luxury and you'll be in Amboseli where you can see Kili. I also don't care for one night stays, and especially not in this already busy intinerary. I've never been to Shampole.

One more suggestion--get your agent to list travel times between each property since you wish to limit those.

Good luck in your planning.
atravelynn is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2008, 04:54 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
WOW!

#1, When do you plan to visit? Month? Year?

Certainly NO SHORT DRIVES, and those 1/nighters, with plenty of lux props and no flights! All in 2/weeks.

If you find a guide/driver with his own vehicle, unless he has special permit, you won't be using in both countries. If so, you'll be paying a premium daily rate.

Maps are quite tempting, but there is a reason why visitors usually spend minimum 3/nts Selous and/or Ruaha in the south. When it comes to flights from this area, you want to stick with scheduled ones (less expensive), though a charter split x 4, can work.

Besides the southern parks being due 3/nts, so too at the Serengeti and Masai Mara; Shompole won't book less than 2/nts; and same Campi ya Kanzi or Galdessa... these parks/reserves are too big for just a "drop-in" (we were in the neighborhood) approach.

In the Serengeti you choices range from Migration or Sayari (lux$$$) to Wildlife (bottom of chain at this location).

As other mention, no direct transfer between Serengeti/Mara, if by road, go thru the western border crossing at Isebania; way more than 4/hrs driving (lots more).

Drive to Shompole from NBO is a lovely 3+/hrs down the escarpment to Lake Magadi, then sand for last 1+/hr. From here to Amboseli isn't direct and can take a good portion of a day. Galdessa is clear on the other end of Tsavo from Campi ya Kanzi or Serena/Ol Tukai Amboseli. Tsavo is the largest park in Kenya.

Migration & Sayari - $$$$
Shompole - $$$$
Campi ya Kanzi/Galdessa - $$$$

What do you expect to pay per night? And, don't forget daily parks fees.

You wanted to know where you are making errors/mistakes... you've got our comments.

No one can guarantee "no kids" though they can be avoided!

Can this itinerary be done? Yes, but not in 2/weeks, it certainly should include more flights ($$$) and longer minimum stays at areas mentioned above.

Too much time traveling from place to place which are too many, just not enough time. Even these countries shouldn't be approached as "if it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium."

Even I, who often make 2+ to 3/wk trips, rarely visit more than 3 areas and I fly between.

Focus on the areas of importance for when you will be traveling. Slow down the pace, enjoy... you'll then want to plan a return visit.
sandi is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2008, 05:10 AM
  #6  
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Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 312
Wow--great information--thanks, all. Yes, I was using maps to figure travel time, and thought that two nights per camp would be the right number. Now I will scale back--perhaps eliminate Tsavo and Shompole, maybe one other stop. And, especially important, will look at driving times rather than 'map times' between camps. We are not the kind of people who 'must' see the big five or have a checklist for seeing wildlife. We live near the St Louis Zoo, and the highlight of my summer was watching a baby giraffe being born right in front of us--totally unexpected. We are most interested in the experience of Africa, photos are nice, but binoculars and 'general observations' are our primary objectives. So, do you think that Tsavo and Shompole are the ones to cut out this trip?

Also, any thoughts on Giraffe Manor?
moondoggie is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2008, 10:28 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Some Giraffe Manor threads.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34880046

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35102499

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35020509


I would shave what you suggested 2 if the question is, "which of my existing days should I eliminate?"

I also would not spend only 2 nts each in your Southern TZ camps after making the effort to get there. I'd only go to Southern TZ late June thru Sept. when game is more concentrated around water sources.

A typical 1st trip to East Africa does not usually even include Southern TZ. But I can see why it is appealing--very remote, walking, good game. So if you are making the effort to get there, I'd spend at least 3-4 nights in Ruaha and in Selous, which encompasses a week. As Sandi alluded to, you have to schedule in line with the charter service, unless you drive, which is double or triple your 4 hour minimum. That whole Southern TZ plan is generally more costly than the Northern Circuit of Manyara and/or Tarangire, Crater, Serengeti.

atravelynn is offline  

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