Lodges in Tanzania?

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Jul 7th, 2004, 08:16 AM
  #1
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Lodges in Tanzania?

I am going to go to Tanzania and am researching agents and accomodation. Looking through the posts on this site there seems to be a huge amount of knowledge and experience which I can tap into. Has anyone used the travel agents Africa Travel Resource? They have a fantastic website but I would be interested to hear of any first hand experience of their service.
Any information on the following lodges would be of interest as well:
1 - Mawe Ninga Camp in Tarangire
2 - Olduvai Camp in Southern Serengeti
3 - Sand Rivers in the Selous
4 - Fundu Lagoon on Pemba Island
Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
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Jul 7th, 2004, 02:38 PM
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Yes, Africa Travel Resource does have a great site, but I can't recall anyone having used them as an in-country outfitter. Since you're concentrating on Tanzania, I would suggest Roy Safaris, as having been used by many on this board; they're reputable and have very competitive pricing.

As far as the camps/hotels you have selected do realize that the first two are in the Northern Circuit, while The Selous is in the South and Pemba, well Pemba is an island off of Zanzibar.

Time of year for your travel is important as to the weather to expect and where you really should be located especially in the Serengeti.

The months of April and May are the rainy season, and though there might not be rain every day, Sand River is closed, and Zanzibar area might be hit with monsoons. The southern portion of the Serengeti is good if visiting in January and February which is the calving season for wildebeest, while afterwards the animals are moving clockwise and heading north again towards the Mara in Kenya between March - June. Thereafter the major herds of wildebeest and zebra and antelope move into Kenya's Masai Mara till end October. But realize this all depends on the rains and can be a few weeks earlier or later - no guarantees when it comes to animals.

Tarangire has a smaller migration between June - October, when it's good to visit. Mawe Ninga camp is relatively new and few on this board have posted about staying here.

Pemba island is the sister island to Zanzibar and Fundu Lagoon is the only hi-end 5* hotel, otherwise, tourists have been slow to this particular island.

Considering when you wish to travel will likely dictate where you should visit. Also, since considering both North and South areas, think about flights to/from Tanzania. As Example: Into Kilimanjaro, Out from Dar-es-Salaam, as well as transport from North to South and then air to/from Dar and The Selous.

Hope this gets you started.
 
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Jul 7th, 2004, 06:26 PM
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Mawe Ninga Camp is one of the newest in Tarangire, having opened in 2002 or maybe 2003. It is to my understanding that the camp is still trying to work out some of the regular glitches associated with a new place. However, I think it looks worth trying! Not everyone can book accommodation at Olduvai Camp. I forgot which operator owns it, but it is to my understanding that only those using the operator can stay at the camp. Sand Rivers, well, is simply fantastic. It is worth the time and effort to get there. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay (Chalet #8 furthest away from the lounge/dining area, etc. Very private.) and would go back in a heartbeat. Shabby chic decor in lounge area, but what makes Sand Rivers so special is its location - directly on the banks of the Rufiji River. Swimming in the pool during the heat of the day, you can look out and see hippo in the river. Almost surreal. Service is impeccable and the food very good as well. Laundry and all drinks (including alcohol) are including in the rate, as are boat excursions in the Rufiji River, walking treks and, of course, game drives. Selous is not for everyone, however. It is very remote (but an easy flight from Dar) and because it is not a top tourist destination, the animals are not as accustomed to people, so they are a bit more shy compared to wildlife in the Serengeti, Crater, Mara or Amboseli, for example. Fundu Lagoon is still on my list of "places to go," so can't help you out much on that. We used Roy Safaris for our last trip and will be using them again when we return to Kenya and Tanzania this October. Please keep us posted on your travel plans!
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Jul 8th, 2004, 02:58 AM
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Thanks for the help. To answer your questions the trip is likely to be September/October time. I realise that this is not the best time of the year for the Serengeti but I would still like to go there. Also, I have already been to the Mara to see the migration so would like to see the Serengeti. The plan would be to see the northern circuit and then fly down to Selous before flying to Pemba. Olduvai Camp sounds like a pretty cool place and the ATR folk seem to rate it very highly. Fundu also looks excellent.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 03:43 AM
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As Susan Lynne mentiones Mawe Ninga is new and kinks have yet to be worked out, but Sept/Oct. is a good time to visit Tarangire.

As to Olduvai Camp, if your tour operator is offering it and can guarantee being able to book it, just know that this camp isn't located in the Serengeti proper rather situated between Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. Kind of at the furthest Southeastern edge of the Serengeti. I would suggest you situate yourself somewhere in the middle of the Park and hope to see the herds as they start departing the Mara (Sept-beg.Nov).

Sand River is a delight, but the prices here will run well over $400/nt/person. Likewise Fundu Lagoon on Pemba is in the $350/nt/person rate. Both of these certainly higher than those you've selected in the Northern Circuit.

That's about as much info we can provide, so make your choice and whatever it is, let us know your final itinerary and do post a report on your return.
 
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Jul 8th, 2004, 04:57 AM
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ila
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Susan-
When you were at Sand Rivers did you see any leopard or wild dog? I understand that Selous and Ruaha have both. Whats the chances of seeing them? ila
 
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Jul 8th, 2004, 06:25 AM
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I stayed at Fundu Lagoon last year. It was lovely, and I recommend it. I noticed that if you book it through i-escape during low season (Oct 14 - Dec 14), the rate is only $240 pp. Well worth every penny. Great food, amazing snorkling, fabulous staff. www.i-escape.com. I have booked using this outfit before with no problems.

I also noted that www.capetocairo.com has a 4 night stay at Sand Rivers for under $400 pp. May be worth looking into.

Olduvai Camp also interested me from a Maasai experience vs. an animal experience. If you do choose to go there, I would be quite interested in hearing about it.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 06:41 AM
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Thanks for the info Queenie. Fundu Lagoon sounds like the perfect end to a safari holiday and I'll certainly let you know what Olduvai is like if we go - it sounds like a pretty unique place.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 09:33 AM
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I am off to Tanzania next Weds. I booked part of my trip with Africa Travel Resource. They were very helpful and knowledgeable. I will be spending four days at Sands River and five days at Zoe's Camp in Mahale. I will write a post about my experiance with ATR and the camps upon my return in early August.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 01:59 PM
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Ila: When we went to Selous, wild dog was not a priority, nor was leopard having seen several earlier in the Mara. So we did not try to look for either. However, during our stay, several travelers did say that they saw some wild dog. I am now kicking myself in the behind that I did not try to see some! Live and learn ... but all the more reason to go back!
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Jul 8th, 2004, 05:39 PM
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Karen64 - do let us know about your Mahale experience. Getting there, how and how long, the chimp episodes. I also believe they've renamed Zoe's Camp - it's now Greystoke. So Tarzan-like!
 
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Jul 8th, 2004, 07:09 PM
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ila
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Hey, thanks Susan. I am surprised that you saw wild dog on the Mara. When were you there? Never heard of that before. I've heard leopard are getting harder to see in the Mara too. Will you be returning to Selous? Have you seen any of the other camps there? The Southern Circuit really sounds attractive due to less tourists. ila
 
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Jul 9th, 2004, 12:01 AM
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Karen64, I'd be very interested to hear of your experiences upon your return - particulary of the service provided by ATR. Have a fantastic trip.
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Jul 9th, 2004, 01:54 AM
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Ila: My reference to several sitings in the Mara was about leopard, not wild dog. There are no wild dog in the Mara. Sorry about the confusion. I will return to Selous, no doubt about that. While there, we never saw another vehicle and Selous offers boating excursions on the Rufiji River and walking inside the reserve, which you can do at very, very few national parks. It is completely untainted by tourism. Did not see any other camps as the reserve is HUGE and they are spread apart. Selous Safari Camp is supposed to be nice, and Rufiji River Camp OK, as well as Beho Beho. The place that really intrigues me now is Jongomero in Ruaha. So many places still left to be visited!
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Jul 10th, 2004, 08:15 PM
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Thanks Susan for your reply. You seem to be up to date on Selous and I should have known the Mara has no wild dogs. Something just sounded like you may have seen them there. My oversight.
I've heard so much good about the Fox property in Ruaha that as I feel now, I would opt for that. Also Ruthie's pictures and trip report really got to me. Jongomera is nice but I heard not as desirable a location. No personal knowlege on it, but it sounds like a nicer camp. My question now is, do you recommend doing the Selous and Ruaha on the same trip? I also would like to include Katavi. Probably too ambitious for one trip. What say you? ila
 
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Jul 11th, 2004, 04:22 AM
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Ila: I would not do Selous AND Ruaha on the same trip. Just my personal opinion. While both are extremely attractive, they are strikingly similar. I would do Selous or Ruaha, with Mikumi and/or Katavi. Like I said, that is my opinion and I am sure there are many who would disagree with me. If you are planning for Sept/October this year, you should get everything settled as soon as possible. A friend had to juggle her travel dates in order to stay at Sand Rivers because accommodations were not available on the days she wanted. She also looked at Rifuji River Camp, but that was booked solid for mid-October. Sounds like the masses have discovered Selous, but keep in mind there are only three (Selous Safari, Rufiji River and Sand Rivers)places to stay along the Rufiji River and one deeper in the reserve (Beho Beho, which does do boating excursions on Lake Tagalala) for the entire place. Oh yeah, there is Sable Mountain Lodge on the outskirts of the reserve. So relatively few places for such a huge reserve.
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Jul 11th, 2004, 04:54 AM
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ila
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Susan-
It won't be this year and I would probably go in Sept/Oct. Hope to see migrant birds too. I just want to concentrate on the So. Circuit, so don't want to miss anything or any opportunity to see the elusive cats and dogs. Sounds funny calling them that, so common.
It will be hard to pass on the Serengeti, but I just really want to do this one area. Do you know of any hot air balloon rides in The Selous or Ruaha area? Seems like I heard of it, but probably not. ila
 
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Jul 11th, 2004, 11:35 AM
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When we were in Selous, it was in October and the weather was very warm (about 85) and humid. However, at Sand Rivers I had no problem sleeping. The side of the chalet facing the river is completely wide open - no glass, no screens - nothing but a rail to prevent you from falling over. The beds, which do have mosquito netting, also have ceiling fans directly overhead, under the mosquito netting! Fantastic! Being lulled to sleep by the resident hippos, I never slept better in all my life. And bugs, despite the humidity, were at a minium as you are there in the dry season. Yes, if you heart is telling you to stick to the south, then you must do so. Heck, if you have the time and money, do Selous, Ruaha, Mikumi and Katavi!!! I am not a bird person, but some of the birds we saw in Selous along the river just took my breath away. Eagles, beautiful cranes, etc. Some colorful, others not so .. but each stunning in its own way. You will have a wonderful time and I am thrilled you are going to Selous. It is truly a special part of Tanzania.
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Jul 11th, 2004, 08:34 PM
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ila
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Susan-Thanks for your help and enthusiasm. You really make it sound wonderful. I'll put it aside for now and will probably have questions again at another time. Sand Rivers shouldn't be missed. I love the hippos lulling you off to sleep. ila
 
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Jul 15th, 2004, 03:05 AM
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I am going to Sand Rivers in Selous on Saturday and staying for 6 nights (then on to Fundu Lagoon for 5 nights). Sand Rivers looks wonderful...but we have opted to spend 2 of the 6 nights 'flycamping' which sounded very exciting but begins to look more, suicidal, as the date gets closer!. Has anyone done 'flycamping from Sand Rivers..or from any other lodge?
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