Lake Manyara? More days in Serengeti?

Old Feb 27th, 2008, 06:46 AM
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Lake Manyara? More days in Serengeti?

Hi all,

I just wanted to get the opinions of people with experiences on safari.

I'm concerned that we have packed a lot of driving and activities for our last 2 days on safari. After 3 nights at Mbalageti lodge we値l drive to Ngorongoro Crater, via Olduvai, to check-in at Ngorongoro Serena then an afternoon drive in the Crater. The next morning we値l do another crater tour then drive to Lake Manyara check-in at Kirumuru then an afternoon game drive, come back to Kirumuru for sun-downers then out for a night game drive and bush dinner. Next morning we値l do a game drive through Lake Manyara then drive to Arusha for our flight to Zanzibar.

The pace at Mbalageti lodge seems ideal to us and I wanted to know is the drive to Ngorongoro from the west a scenic/game drive (5 hours) or is it worth looking into flights from the west to Ngorongoro?

Is it worth adding another day in the Serengeti or Ngorongoro and just skipping Lake Manyara and arranging for a flight from Ngorongoro to Zanzibar on our last night? That would mean skipping a night drive

The jumping around to different lodges the final 2 days, along with the amount of driving seems to be a bit much on paper, but is it par for the course on safari and something that we値l really enjoy more then not?

Hopefully some of you with experience can give me the inside scoop.

Thanks!
DC2Africa is offline  
Old Feb 27th, 2008, 07:11 AM
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This is a tough choice. I was on a safari package that was to drive from Arusha to Lake Manyara. We would stay in Manyara for the night and then do a game drive enroute to the Serengeti through Ngorongoro).

I decided to skip our game drive through Manyara. We were tired of arriving at parks late at night. It was probably one of my best decisions of the trip. We got to the Serengeti mid-day and we were able to relax.

In the years since then I keep seeing pictures and hearing from people how beautiful Manyara is, but the time was just so so so tight. Ultimately I am just fine with having missed it. The drive from the Serengeti to Ngorongoro is can be very very very dusty and barren as you leave the Serengeti.

Personally I would take one more day in the Serengeti.
waynehazle is offline  
Old Feb 27th, 2008, 09:04 AM
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I don't think there are scheduled flights from Ngorongoro. I believe the closest airstrip with scheduled flights is Manyara.
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Old Feb 27th, 2008, 09:38 AM
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Here is yet another precinct heard from. If you can't fly to Ngorongoro from Mbalageti (no surprise there), and you want to see the crater (highly recommended for one night/two game drives), then it looks like you will have to make the long drive from the west to Ngorongoro regardless. That will be a long day and you will have to leave early to get to Ngorongoro in time for an afternoon game drive. You will probably do your afternoon drive, assuming you get there in time, before you check in since the road down into the Crater from the west side is about 20 minutes before you get to the Serena.

If time is tight, you might opt to skip Olduvai, it's interesting but not all that great, but then again you can get to it from the main roadand see it in one hour. Since it sounds like you can't avoid the long drive from Mbalageti back east, I would vote to keep your one night/two game drives plus the bush dinner/night game drive at Manyara. Manyara is not far from Ngorongoro and is on the way to Arusha, so it will hardly add any driving time, although obviously it will add a one-night stop. Although Manyara is small, it is lovely and we enjoyed our short stay there, including the bush dinner and night game drive. Game-wise it might be a bit of a comedown after the Serengeti and the Crater, but since you're doing the Serengeti first, then almost anything else will be a comedown.
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Old Feb 27th, 2008, 09:53 AM
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Good advice Hguy

I second skipping Olduvai when pressed for time.

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Old Feb 27th, 2008, 10:12 AM
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Well, everyone's experience is different, of course, but of the three night game drives we did (Sweetwaters, the Masai Mara and Lake Manyara), the one at Lake Manyara was the most amazing one. We loved being out in the park all alone, in an open vehicle with stars overhead, and seeing so many animals you don't see in the day -- porcupines, bush babies, genets, an aardvark... plus a pride of lions, and hippos out of the water. It was one of the highlights of our 3-week safari.

Will you have the chance to do a night game drive anywhere else during your trip? If not, I wouldn't want to skip Lake Manyara.
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Old Feb 27th, 2008, 11:27 AM
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Looks like there is no way to avoid the long drive to Ngorongoro from western Serengeti as there is no airstrip near Ngorongoro.

It also seems that 2 crater tours are probably better than one.

It also seems that there are differences in opinion on Lake Manyara but what can be said is that it痴 not out of the way and it provides the unique experience of a night game drive.

So if we skip the afternoon game drive in Lake Manyara when we arrive from our morning crater tour and just do a night game drive, we have time to chill out at our lodge in Lake Manyara. Is Kirumuru a good place to 田hill or should we look into other Lake Manyara accommodations?

Also, would another night in Mbalageti (4 night痴 total) be too long at one lodge? This would mean that we drive to Ngorongoro (Serena) for an afternoon game drive and stay 1 night and drive to Arusha (5 hours) after a morning crater tour (Skipping Lake Manyara).
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Old Feb 27th, 2008, 11:46 AM
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DC2Africa

Are your 3 nights at Mbalageti your only nights in the Serengeti and when are you going? If so, my recommendation would be to add a day in the Central Serengeti, then go to the Crater, then drive to Arusha and skip Lake Manyara. Lake Manyara is pretty and lush, but we saw a lot of animals in the Central Serengeti (lions, cheetah, leopard) that we did not see near Mbalageti or Lake Manyara. You will see plenty of hippo near Mbalageti, one of the sights in Lake Manyara. If true that your safari is only the 5 days, I would say concentrate on what you can see during the day and don't worry about missing the night game drive. Also, again depending on when you are there, it may not be realistic to get from Mbalageti to the Crater and see Olduvai or even do justice do a drive in the Crater. We were there in May and stopped for hours on our way from Mbalageti to the Central Serengeti as tens of thousands of wildebeest were streaming through the area. We devoted an entire afternoon to Olduvai, but I was really interested and we hiked into the gorge. If it is not a real strong interest, you won't miss much and could skip. Your time seems short (we were in the area for 2 weeks) and I think you will have more of a variety of sightings in the Central Serengeti and the chance to see things without a horde of people (Crater). If you opt to remain as scheduled, you can always skip the afternoon Lake Manyara drive and just do the night drive that day. Also, you can rest in Zanzibar. In 5 days you just can't see it all so try to focus on what your preferences are. BTW, the views from Mbalageti are incredible, hope you enjoy.

CAH
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Old Feb 27th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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There actually is an airstrip at Ngorongoro. However, on my flight from Serengeti back to Arusha, I was talking with a couple on the plane. They were on their way to Ngorongoro, but were advised by their TA (CC Africa) to fly to the Lake Manyara airstrip - reason being, apparently the Ngorongoro airstrip is notoriously fogged in and the planes can't land.

Lake Manyara is a beautiful park. I didn't see much of it as we arrived pretty late in the afternoon, but what I saw was great.

If it were my choice, I would fly from Mbalageti, and take the second hand advice I heard, to fly into Lake Manyara and drive to the crater on a very nice road.

Shane
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Old Feb 27th, 2008, 12:29 PM
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Whether foggy or not, the Ngorongoro airstrip is not a scheduled stop, so expect to pay for a private charter flight.
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Old Feb 27th, 2008, 02:19 PM
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Thanks for the responses!

CAH - Yes, we're spending 5 nights on safari and 3 of those in the Serengeti (West-Mabalageti). We're at Mabalageti on May 28 -31...

Personally, I've always wanted to go to the serengeti since I was young and once I started to plan this honeymoon, the other parks came into play, such as Lake Manyara, but I don't have the same passion for them as I do for the Serengeti, Masai Mara & the Crater.

Saying that, I'm sure Lake Manyara is great but I don't want to do it because it's a "convenient" stop on our way to Arusha (considering I have only 5 days on sfari).

My tour operator has been a huge help and I've been informed that availability is scarce...

I'm still very confused on what to do???

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Old Feb 27th, 2008, 04:55 PM
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"Personally, I've always wanted to go to the serengeti since I was young and once I started to plan this honeymoon, the other parks came into play, such as Lake Manyara, but I don't have the same passion for them as I do for the Serengeti, Masai Mara & the Crater."

Then, I'd do Serengeti at 2 locations, one being Central Serengeti, and the crater. I did not see what time of year you are going. Sorry if you missed it.

I saw you were heading to Zanzibar. If that was not a priority, then I'd remove Zanzibar to do more safari time so that Lake Manyara and maybe some other places would fit easily into your schedule. I have not been to Zanzibar.

Good luck


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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 04:44 PM
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DC2Africa

You should find out if there is availability to have one night somewhere in the Central Serengeti after Mbalageti and then one night in the Crater. If there is availability, then you would have to choose. Again, especially with always wanting to go to the Serengeti, I would vote to skip Lake Manyara and spend all your time in the Serengeti and the Crater. I say this because the landscape and sightings of what you will see around Mbalageti is different from the Central Serengeti. Part of this is personal preference, if time and money allowed, I would have been happy to spend 3 weeks in the Serengeti, but I think most would say 3 days does not do the Serengeti justice. Either way, you are going to have a great trip!
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:50 PM
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We drove from the Crater to Kirawira on our last trip, including stops at Olduvai and Shifting Sands. This year we're driving from the Crater to Mbalageti. Although a long drive, there should be lots to see along the way.
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