Local Outfitters in Tanzania?

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Jan 19th, 2006, 06:46 AM
  #1
lcc219
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Local Outfitters in Tanzania?

After reading various postings, it seems that a few local outfitters keep popping up:

Good Earth
Roy Safaris
ATR
Wildtrek Safaris

Can someone who has taken trips with these outfitters comment on their experience? Specifically Roy Safaris and ATR. How is the guide? the vehicle? flexibility on the length of the game drives? Most itineraries i have seen say morning and afternoon game drive, yet i have read many trip reports that mention full day game drives. Is this something to be negotiated upfront?
 
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Jan 19th, 2006, 07:03 AM
  #2
bat
 
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lcc:
While you are waiting for replies--have you looked at Lynda's East Africa Trip Report Index? It indicates which outfitter was used.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34725679

BTW, ATR is not a "local" outfitter--it is a UK based company that uses Tanganyika/Mt. Kenya Safari Club and Nomad as its local companies.

Re full day game drives--if you have a private safari you can go on full day game drives--you want to make sure that you have unlimited mileage. The morning and afternoon game drives tend to be camp/lodge based game drives.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 07:35 AM
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Wildtrek isn't technically a 'local' outfitter either, at least not local to Tanzania. They're based in Kenya and I believe they partner with Roy's in Tanzania, so I don't think you need to contact both. I would just contact Roy's if you're planning a Tanzania safari.

From your list, only Good Earth and Roy's are based in and actual ground operators in Tanzania. More local outfitters can be found at www.tatotz.org

On a private safari, you should have a lot of flexibility in length and schedule of drives. Just make sure your operator offers unlimited mileage like bat mentioned. You don't need to have the exact schedule pre-planned. You can discuss and decide on each day's plan with your driver/guide as you go.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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I've seen Rangers mentioned favorably, as well as Sunny Safaris.

Oops, I see you didn't want any mroe outfitters...

And as Patty and bat have noted, as long as you have unlimited mileage and are on a private safari, your game drives are up to you. Try not to kill your driver/guide, though.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 07:41 AM
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RJW
 
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Icc:

I recently used ATR on my trip to Tanzania over the holidays. The trip was incredible, and ATR was fantastic. As bat pointed out, while ATR organizes the trip, they use local companies for the actual guiding. We used the two that Bat mentioned, Tanganyika and Nomad. From an organizational standpoint, the trip went off without a hitch. We had a lot of stops and handovers - and no one missed a beat. ATR meet us the first day we arrived to go over our trip in person, and we were also able to make a few last minute tweaks to the itinerary in order to compensate for the drought that was occurring. In terms of the guide companies, we had total flexibility in terms of what time we wanted to start and finish, and where we went. To be honest, we did not particularly enjoy our Tanganyika guide - although some of this was probably due to our dissapointment in seeing what a dust bowl the Ndutu area / southern serengeti was. However - the Nomad guides / camps were AWESOME. Everything about them was first rate (we stayed at the Masek site, as well as Mahale earlier in the trip). Our guide was great, the camp staff incredibly friendly, the food good - really can not say enough. As an added bonus, the jeeps Nomad uses for their game drives are open jeeps - unlike the "pop-tops" that almost every other company uses (including Tanganyika). We found that the open jeep gave you a much more exciting game viewing experience.

Hope this helps.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 07:47 AM
  #6
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RJW-would you mind starting a new thread with a trip report? [I did not miss one did I] If not, would you give a few more details here? Who was the MKSC guide and/or can you say more about why he was not enjoyable? Did you stay at the Tanganyika camps--Olduvai and/or Ronjo--if so what did you think of them Thanks.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 07:49 AM
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Yes, RJW, inquiring minds want to know...

And glad you had a great time in TZ.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 08:21 AM
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bat -

I have not had time to write any sort of trip report, but I would be glad to answer any questions that you might have. Our trip was as follows:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (2)
Mahale (3)
Moivaro Coffee Lodge (1)
Crater Lodge (1)
Olduvai Camp (1)
Nomad Masek (3)
Emerson & Green (stone town) (1)
Mnemba (2)

The extra night at the coffee lodge at the beginning of our trip was due to KLM cancelling our original flight so we had to travel a day early. However, it was nice to have the extra day to acclimate.

In regards to the MKSC guide, I think it was a combination of factors. Mainly, I just think we (my wife and I)didn't "click" with him the way we did with the other guides we had. In some ways, we felt that he was more of a driver than a guide. I am sure that this was not helped by the fact that the game viewing conditions were far from ideal. However, since I think mainly it was just that our personalities didn't mesh, I do not feel comfortable giving his name. Also, I will say that the majority of the people we spoke to at Olduvai camp really liked their MKSC guides - so it could have just been a rare occurance with us.

We stayed at Olduvai camp for one night - and had mixed feelings. It was bigger than most of the camps we stayed at - which we did not love. I think the biggest problem though was the fact that it was a massive dust-bowl. Instead of being in the midst of the migration - we were in the midst of nothing. We felt that the best part of staying there was the walk to the sunset on the nearby Kopje - and the interaction with our Massai escort. Also, the star platform they have near the camp is pretty amazing. Also, the location seems to work out well as a stop-over from the Crater to the Southern Serengeti. So- overall - I think the camp was not a highlight of our trip - but under different conditions could have been really great.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 08:49 AM
  #9
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Thanks RJW:
Completely understand not naming the guide. Thanks for the other comments as well--you have confirmed what I had hoped would be true of Nomad, so I am excited about that.

lcc, I am going to borrow your thread for a moment and ask some more questions but hopefully they should be useful to you in planning your trip.

RJW, even though we aren't going to Mahale--would love to next trip--so might as well ask how you liked it (besides, if I don't ask someone else will). We will be at Emerson and Green and lust over Mnembe so please tell us about them as well. BTW, how was the weather on Zanzibar? [short answers are fine--don't want you to think that I am trying to sneak a trip report out of you.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 09:55 AM
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Icc219 - We used Roy's for our Aug. 2005 safari. I have nothing but praise for their guide, owner and their U.S. contact. Very easy to work with. I have a trip report that mentions my experience overall and why we chose Roy's:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34666728

If you have more specific questions, just ask!


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Jan 19th, 2006, 10:14 AM
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We had a great time with Good Earth. No matter who you go with, I would recommend you be very specific in advance about the type of vehicle you want. That's what we did, and it was just as we requested. I know Good Earth and Roy's both have many different vehicles. On a private safari, you have control over when you go on game drives and for how long. If you want it to be all day, it will. If not, it won't. You can take it as you go along. At the end of each day we would talk about what we wanted to do the next day, what time we would meet in the morning, where we would go, etc. On a couple of occasions we did walks with camp naturalists instead of game drives. It's all up to you.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 01:04 PM
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Lisa-

Would you mind sharing what type of vehicle you requested?

Carrie
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Jan 19th, 2006, 02:05 PM
  #13
RJW
 
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Icc -
I could very well be wrong, but as I understood it vehicles in the Ngorongoro Crater have to be the pop-up or flip top roof type. Because of this, most outfitters use these type of vehicles so that they do not have to have different vehicles for different parts of your trip. Looking at Roys and Good Earths websites where they describe their vehicles, these are the only two versions they offer. We found the open jeeps that Nomad used to be much more enjoyable than the pop-up type vehicles. You really feel like you are so close to the animals. I would definetly contact the outfitters you list to check if they do offer the open jeep as an option.

Bat -
Mahale was awesome, probably the highlight of our trip. While it takes a long time to get there, it is an amazingly beautiful setting and you really feel like you are the only people around for miles upon miles. The camp itself is located on a small strip of beach, with the mountains rising directly behind the camp. Trackers go out at first light - and we usually headed out around 9:30 after the trackers had located the chimps. The hiking can be fairly easy or very hard - depending on how high up they are and if they are near one of the "paths" that currently exist in the jungle. We were allowed to watch them for one hour after we found them, although due to rain storms that blew in our time was usually cut a little short (the chimps - after going crazy for a little while -would dissapear into the trees when the rain started). The Chimps come incredibly close to you - often within a few feet - it is truly an amazing experience. In the afternoon - we either lounged around the camp or went out on one of the boats they had. The guides and camp staff were great. Can not say enough good things about them.

I would recommend going to Katavi as well - since you literally fly right over it on your way to Mahale. Due to our time constraints, we decided to go to the Serengeti / Crater instead - but almost everyone else we meet in camp were doing them in combination.

Our time in Stonetown was fairly limited - as we arrived there at about 4:00 pm and were picked up the next morning at 10:00 am to go to Mnemba. We really liked Emerson & Green. It is a very funky hotel, and you definetly feel like you are in an exotic local. The rooftop bar / restaurant gives you excellent views of the city. We had drinks up there around sunset, and then ended up eating next door. We found Stonetown in general to be very touristy - although a large part of that was due to the fact that we had such a limited time there and were unable to explore the city in depth.

Mnemba was also great. After all of the travel we had done the previous week and a half, it was great to be able to relax and do nothing (neither my wife nor I scuba or snorkel so we really did just lounge around). The water and island are beautiful - and you really feel so out of touch and alone. They do a great job of keeping things very tasteful yet simple. The food was incredible. The way the island is positioned one half gets a lot of wind while the other gets none (which side depends on the time of year). I found the weather to be great - the breeze and slight overcast prevented us from being too uncomfortable. Overall - terrific place.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 02:14 PM
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RJW,
How long was the flight to Mahale? Thanks.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 02:41 PM
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RJW
 
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On the way out it was about 4 1/2 hours - we had to stop in the Western Serengeti to pick up some people. On the way back it was about 4. Both ways - we stopped in Tabora to refuel.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 02:46 PM
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Our vehicle was a Toyota Land Cruiser with roof segments that popped out and had a cover overhead that stayed up for shade, so you could stand up and still not be in the sun. The cover on top of ours was canvas which was fine with us, but some of the covers are metal or plastic, which I guess would be fine too unless they were rattling a lot. The main thing I would not have wanted is one of the vehicles with no cover at all -- we really wanted a cover for shade (and for the occasional raindrops). I would want to make sure the vehicle will have two spare tires and a cooler/icebox. This seems pretty standard though.

Unlike in South Africa, the only totally "open" safari vehicles we saw in Tanzania were the ones owned by the camps themselves (e.g. at Swala Camp). I don't believe they are an option offered by any of the outfitters for travelling extensively from camp to camp within the country, but I could be wrong. I would not have wanted one of those in Tanzania anyway because it is way too dusty.

Our vehicle was not the newest or cushiest we saw by far, so if new is important to you then you should ask for that up front. The springs in ours squeaked a little more than I would have liked, but not too bad. To us, the guide was more important than the vehicle, and our guide was incredible.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 02:55 PM
  #17
 
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I think it's illegal for open-top vehicles to drive on the highway/roads btw. parks in TZ, thus limiting their use to particular camps.

I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 07:45 AM
  #18
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Thanks RJW, appreciate the info and glad you had a great time.
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Jan 21st, 2006, 01:31 PM
  #19
 
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Icc219
Interesting responces. If you dont mind, and he is still checking your thread I would like to ask :

RJW----Please check my thread/ESDC
"PLANNING A TRIP TO AFRICA' and review my proposed 3 week schedule put together by ATR, also using local operators MKSC and Nomad. I notice your trip includes several 1 & 2 night stays. Respondents to my trip
are telling me to slow down and stay longer at fewer camps. What say you?
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:34 AM
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RJW:
What type plane were you in when flying in and out of Mahale? 4 1/2 hours sounds better than the 5 hrs. ATR shows on their schedule.
Thanks; Ed
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