Nairobi & Tanzania Trip Report

Oct 3rd, 2019, 02:16 PM
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Nairobi & Tanzania Trip Report

My husband and I just returned from a trip of a lifetime to Tanzania. We have been on 2 prior safaris to South Africa (Kruger National Park) and Botswana and Zambia including Victoria Falls. While we thoroughly enjoyed those safaris, this latest one to East Africa far exceeded our expectations and we saw so many animals. Our wish was to see the Great Migration and a river crossing, which was amazing to witness. We actually saw 3 river crossings on the same day.

First, I need to mention that our safari planner, Ellie Hill, did an excellent job listening to our desires, making great recommendations and was very responsive to our questions. She also followed up with us to make sure everything was going well while we were on safari. She booked us with a great local operator (African Greenland Safaris) where we had a wonderful driver/guide (Julius) throughout our safari.

We flew into Nairobi because we were using miles to fly business class. We didn’t arrive until midnight so we allowed 2 nights near the airport in case of any delays before the start of our safari in Arusha, Tanzania.Ellie recommended the Four Points Sheraton near the airport which was a very nice hotel for relaxing from jet lag. They had a wonderful heated rooftop pool where we spent the day. Meals and service were excellent here. We were unsure if a double-entry Visa would be needed since we were flying into and out of Nairobi with an 11-day safari in Tanzania in between. When we paid our $50 each for the Visa at Immigration, they stamped it Double-Entry, so no need to worry about this

I need to mention how serious they are about security in Nairobi (good!). No autos can drive up to the airport entrances and we went through security checks not only at the airport but at the hotel as well. The hotel sent a car and driver to pick us up on our arrival in Nairobi and we had to stop for a security check with the car before being dropped off at the hotel entrance, even though the car and driver are the hotel’s employees. A guard used a mirror to check under the car and all around and as well as looking inside the trunk and car. After we passed through the gate, the hotel also had a security check just like at the airport.

We had a flight from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro on Kenya Airways for mid morning on day 3 but they canceled our flight and put us on a late afternoon flight. We were able to keep our room until 1:00 but then had to check out because they were fully booked. We just hung out at the coffee shop until it was time to leave for the airport. Getting checked in was quick and easy (30 minutes) and the flight was only 40 minutes. Upon arrival in Arusha, we had to secure our Visas which required 3 different windows. The cost for the Visa is $100 each. Fortunately, Ellie had provided us with the Visa forms to complete before we arrived and we were 2nd in line for the Visa process. Everyone else on the plane had to stop and fill out forms. Everything went smoothly and fairly quickly and as we exited, our guide, Julius, was waiting to pick us up. He would be our driver/guide and companion for the next 11 days. He was wonderful-- quiet but very knowledgeable and friendly without being too talkative.

September 12, 2019

We arrived at rush hour and traffic was congested. It took almost 2 hours to reach the Arusha Coffee Lodge. However, the skies were clear and we had a great shot of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru. A great start to our Tanzania adventure! Wow, the Arusha Coffee Lodge was beautiful. The lodge is comprised of 18- private Plantation Houses and 12 Plantation Suites. We had a wonderful suite nestled in the beautiful gardens. Because it was dark when we arrived, we didn’t get to admire the beautiful surroundings. After checking in, we had a wonderful dinner at the lodge’s restaurant. Meals were included with the room. Drinks were extra. This was truly a fabulous start to our safari.

The next morning after breakfast, we were greeted by 2 Vervet Monkeys sitting on top of the brick gate. We were picked up by Julius and set off on our 2 hr drive to Tarangire National Park. We saw lots of Maasai herding their cattle to water holes. It is the dry season in September and water is hard to come by.

As we entered Tarangire National Park, we saw lots of animals. Impala, Waterbuck, Zebra, Vervet Monkeys, Baboons, Giraffes, Wildebeest, Mongoose, Elephants all over, Warthogs, Ostrich and got in a Lion asleep by a tree. We even saw a baby Dik Dik and I was able to get a good pic. Also, lots of colorful birds including the ground hornbill and lilac breasted roller. There are over 495 species of birds in the Tarangire. We also saw an Eland in the distance. Along the way we had a picnic lunch and were able to watch the elephants in the river, lots of babies!

Up Next MoreTarangire National Park
TravelerKaren is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2019, 02:55 PM
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Thanks for posting this! I'm heading to Tarangire next May!
KathBC is offline  
Oct 4th, 2019, 11:27 AM
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KathBC: You will love it!
TravelerKaren is offline  
Oct 4th, 2019, 11:43 AM
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September 13-14, 2019 Tarangire National Park

We arrived at Mpingo Ridge Lemala Tented Lodge where we stayed for 2 nights.

WOW, Beyond expectations! Great view and excellent accommodations. There are only 9 tents and everything is eco friendly. Power through 178 Solar Panels and backup generator. Their own water well and filtration system. We were met by Debbie. She and her husband, Chris, are the lodge Managers and were very welcoming and enjoyable to talk to. They have Maasai warriors that serve as escorts from the tent to the main lodge since nothing is fenced in the Tarangire. Dinner was excellent and the service outstanding. All under the stars and full moon overlooking the darkened Little Serengeti.

The next day was filled with lots of Elephants, seemingly all 3000 in the park. Loads of Zebra, Impala, and tons of Wildebeest, all looking to get down to the Tarangire river.We saw a cheetah and her cub but needed our binoculars as they were keeping their distance. Still a magnificent site. We came upon an elephant that had died apparently of old age along with three lionesses and two lion cubs having a tasty meal. We later learned from Chris that some people saw that the elephant go down and watched as her family mourned her. Glad we didn’t see that as it would have been upsetting. After another wonderful day of animal sightings, we returned to the lodge about 3:00 so we could relax and enjoy the beautiful accommodations.

One thing I do need to mention is that there were Tsetse flies in Tarangire! Bug spray doesn’t seem to help. We weren’t too bothered by them (I had a few bites) but Julius was constantly swatting them away. There are black and blue “flags” hanging throughout the park that are coated in insecticide and are supposed to attract the flies and kill them. As I said, “supposed to kill them” 😊

All of the camps we stayed at during our stay in Tanzania provided drinking water and requested that you use it for brushing your teeth as well. One time I forgot but fortunately, did not get sick.

September 15-16, 2019 Ngorongoro Crater

After another early morning, we were headed to Ngorongoro Crater. First business was to check on the lions at the elephant carcass and then to the river. As usual, along the way were stops for a very large herd of Buffalo, who were eventually going to the river, and some Rock Hyrax. This rocky outcrop, with lots of holes and cracks and ledges was filled with them. Sometimes one or two and in other places four and five.

We went to the river and watched as the herd of Buffalo made its way into the water. Loads of them and then they started moving away from us so we headed towards yesterday’s elephant. But on the way we found others parked and looking across the river. On a raised portion of the ground, where the river washed away the earth was a lioness and her two cubs! And better, on our side of the river, in the grass, were two pair of legs sticking up and waving. The lion, and better again, a second on. They each got up and lay down and raised their legs. Then the female got up and then the cubs raised their heads. Amazing sight to see.

As for the elephant that died, it was there but covered with vultures. She was too smelly for the lions any more, otherwise they would not have let the vultures eat. We then left and headed for the exit which we got to about 10:30.We arrived at Ngorongoro about 2:30 after a stop for some views over Lake Manyara.

The drive to the camp is on a 1 ½ lane dirt road, rutted and sandy with some rocks and sandy ditches and arrived at a gate to present our pass, and finally got to Lemala Ngorongoro just before three. That ride took a bit over an hour. We were glad that Ellie recommended this camp as it is close to the Crater entrance and we would be one of the first ones there in the morning. This is a tented Camp, real flush toilet but bucket shower and wi-fi only in main communal tent where dinner is also served at a large long communal table. Greg explained how everything tent-wise worked, the shower, escorts after dark, zipping up and we reviewed tomorrow’s plan for a 6am departure to the crater floor. It was pretty cold at night and in the mornings but the tent had a heater as well as heated water bottles that stayed warm all night. The next morning, we woke early for our 30 minute drive to the crater entrance which opens at 6am. First great sight was a Wildebeest kill with a male lion, lots of females, and some cubs. Five hyenas standing by, at a respectable distance while the lions gorged, and a bunch of jackals stayed in closer. Then the safari vehicles started to head off down to the water to anticipate where the lions were going. Many stopping along the road to watch as the lions just also crossed the road, between various vehicles and then settled on the banks of the stream and water area to drink. And when they had their fill it was bed time. Tons of vehicles.

We did some more driving seeing herds of Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Gazelle.We made a breakfast stop about 10am. Sitting by the side of the vehicle, leisurely relaxing and watching the fearless lilac-breasted Rollers walk right up to us. In addition to the wonderful animal sightings, there were gorgeous Umbrella Acacia trees hovering over the mountain and scattered throughout the camp.

And about 15 minutes later the ranger drives up to us, and then every other group, to say that a lion is walking our way. All eyes perk up and look, and in the distance there he is, a male, walking straight towards US! Julius is all action and started packing and closing tables and chairs, and food. We help a bit and keep watching Simba as he gets closer and bigger and he really is headed towards us.We all get in the vehicle and lose sight of him as the view of him is blocked by a rise of rocks. Not for long as he then jumps up on the rocks and looks at us, and us at him. Then it gets calmer as he lays down. All he wanted was to lie on the rock pile which was exactly in front of our vehicle.

The parade started as every vehicle in the rest area started making their way from where they were to the rocks. A regular traffic jam. But that organized quickly into a caravan as each one took its time to grab their pictures and look and then move forward to make room.The lion occasionally raised his head, but otherwise was just happy to get some sleep.The rest of the day was birds (including the Saddlebill stork), zebras, hippos, ostriches, Gazelles, both Thompson and Grants, Jackals, and near the end a massive troop of Baboons, though they were on the move and hard to photograph.

Up next: Central Serengeti
TravelerKaren is offline  
Oct 5th, 2019, 09:41 AM
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September 17-19, 2019 Central Serengeti (Seronera)

Another early morning as we depart Ngorongoro Crater for the Central Serengeti where we would stay at Kubu Kubu tented lodge for the next 3 nights.

The drive took about 5 hrs but we saw lots of Maasai villages and cattle herding as well as other animals during our drive. We had a picnic lunch just after entering the park. It was quite dusty during this drive, particularly when other vehicles were passing. We were able to visit the information center which included a nice walk among the Kopjes (large granite rocks).
We arrived at Kubu Kubu around 3:00.

Another Wow! This tented lodge has 20 beautiful, large tents with a great outdoor shower and balcony overlooking the Serengeti. And wonderful food and service. We can’t say enough about the fantastic service we’ve had at all of the places we’ve stayed.

We saw lots of beautiful giraffes while driving around the Seronera along with many other animals. Giraffes are so graceful!

We followed a Leopard for 2 hrs as he searched for food, watched him pounce to try and get a Reedbuck. But no luck for the leopard today. We watched the Reedbuck laying in the grass and as soon as the leopard started to pounce, the Reedbuck flew.

We came across a pride of 9 lions and the male was far behind when we noticed he had an injured rear leg. I felt so bad for him. He was following the females but it was hard for him to keep up. He was so skinny. Julius said as long as he can keep up with the pride he should be able to make it, but will be last to eat. I couldn’t stop thinking of him.

Over the next several days in Seronera, we would see many more elephants, zebra, several prides of lions, hyenas, hippos, Cape buffalo, baboons, cheetah, antelopes, Hartebeest, warthogs and a Serval cat as well as many different birds.

September 20-23, 2019 Northern Serengeti

Another early day as we left the Central Serengeti and started our 5 hr drive north. There were many animal sightings along the drive. We also saw a controlled fire as we entered this part of the park. They burn one side this year and the other side the next year so as to leave grasses for the animals to eat.

We arrived at Kuria Hills, another beautiful Lemala property, about 3:00.
WOW, WOW. This is even more gorgeous if that’s possible. Another wonderful tented lodge with 15 tents overlooking the beautiful Serengeti. Each with it’s own plunge pool too! Ellie did a fabulous job in recommending all of the properties we stayed at. Again, the meals and service were excellent.

One of our major wishes on this trip was to see the Great Migration and river crossing and we were not disappointed. What an exhilarating site to see! Over the next several days, we would again see lots of animals, thousands of zebra and wildebeest. We saw 3 river crossings in one day.

We also saw a Leopard in a tree eating his breakfast of wildebeest. He sure had plenty of pickings. We then watched a troop of baboons with many babies for about an hour playing in trees and then watched some crocs eating a wildebeest that had drowned during the crossing. Circle of Life!
TravelerKaren is offline  
Oct 6th, 2019, 07:23 AM
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On our last day in the Serengeti, we took a sunrise balloon ride. This was the first ever balloon ride for both us and what an experience. There’s nothing like seeing the sunrise and the vastness of the Serengeti from 1000 ft high. We saw thousands of wildebeest and zebras running along with hippos. What a magnificent site. After the balloon ride, they served a full breakfast at the landing site. We could see elephants roaming in the distance. A truly unforgettable experience.

On our last night in the Serengeti, Julius joined us for dinner. It was a great evening to recall all of the magnificent sightings we’d see over the past 11 days and to thank him for his wonderful companionship and knowledge. We certainly made memories that will last a lifetime!

September 24-27, 2019 Nairobi

Julius would drive us the 30 minutes to Kogatende airstrip for our flight to Kilimanjaro and then we’d fly onward from there to Nairobi. On the way to the airstrip, we encountered 2 young male lions having just finished their breakfast and allowing the vultures to have leftovers. We followed them for a short distance and then headed off. What a way to end our trip.
It was a sad occasion to say goodbye to Julius, but it was a wonderful trip and one we will never forget. We hope to return again someday to this magnificent area of Africa. We stayed 3 nights in Nairobi at the Karen Gables B&B in Karen (a suburb of Nairobi). Another great recommendation by Ellie! Another WOW!!! This is not like any B&B we’ve stayed at before. Not only was the house beautiful, there were wonderful gardens spread over almost 2 acres. There were 7 bedrooms and we had a large room overlooking the pool and gardens. There were 14 staff employed here and, again, wonderful service. Everyone was truly friendly and anxious to please. They offered lunch and/or dinner here too. We were pleasantly surprised about that and had dinner here each night. The chef offered Chicken, Beef, Pork or Fish and he would prepare the most delicious meals. The owner, Chris, was a very interesting fellow to talk to. He is from Holland but has spent the last 21 years in Nairobi where he owns a vegetable export business.

We spent the next day visiting the Karen Blixen Museum; hiking in the nearby Ololua Forest/Research Center; visiting the Giraffe Center and then an evening visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.We thought the Karen Blixen Museum interesting, but pricey. Pictures couldn’t be taken inside which I found quite odd. We did learn some interesting things about her life. She was a talented artist as well as author and there were some pictures from the movie with Meryl Steep and Robert Redford. We took a one and half hour hike in the nearby Ololua Forest to get some exercise. We’ve been mostly sitting for the past 11 days (except for hopping from seat to seat in the van). We had a guide take us through the park since the trails were not well marked. We enjoyed the hike and saw some papyrus trees, a natural 7-mile underground cave where freedom fighters stayed during the fight for Kenya independence and a lovely waterfall.

We then spent about an hour at the Giraffe Center, a sanctuary and breeding center for the endangered Rothschild Giraffe. This was a great way to get up and close and personal with giraffes. The center has 12 acres and is adjacent to the luxury Giraffe Manor.

We had reserved an evening visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage to see the babies come in from the park and greet their keepers and eat their evening meal. This center rescues elephants that have been separated from their mothers due to poaching or getting lost from the herd. There were about 15 babies ranging in age from 1-3 yrs. Since the Orphanage is located inside Nairobi National Park, the babies are taken out to the park daily to socialize with other elephants. They are relocated to Tsavo National Park once they are able to survive on their own and find a welcoming herd, usually at 5 years old. There was also a Black Rhino at the center. He has been there since 2003 and cannot be released since he is blind.

Our last day in Nairobi (and Africa) was spent relaxing at the B&B pool and gardens. We had a great breakfast and dinner again cooked by their wonderful in-house chef. After a wonderful time in East Africa, it was time to say goodbye and head home to US. This was truly a trip we will never forget. Not only did it far exceed our expectations in regards to animal sightings, but the people were the warmest, most welcoming we have ever encountered. Until next time………
TravelerKaren is offline  
Oct 6th, 2019, 10:27 AM
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Fantastic. Great pics that accompany too. Can you please elaborate about the stay at Lemala Nogorogoro . What was the overall cost for the whole trip pppn. Will be of great help... thanks.
inquest is offline  
Oct 7th, 2019, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by inquest View Post
Fantastic. Great pics that accompany too. Can you please elaborate about the stay at Lemala Nogorogoro . What was the overall cost for the whole trip pppn. Will be of great help... thanks.
Inquest: Lemala Ngorongoro was a real tented camp, not a luxury tent like the other Lemala properties we stayed at. It was still nicely appointed but there were bucket showers. Wifi was available in the main tent but it was organized well -- there was a drawer for each tent's electronics. The food was mediocre and not up to same quality as the other Lemala properties. However, the location was good for getting down to the crater in the morning.

The cost for our 11-day safari including private driver/guide was $9000/pp.
TravelerKaren is offline  
Oct 7th, 2019, 06:28 PM
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Looks like a great trip! Just one small detail, the Sheldricks orphans are the only elephants in Nairobi National Park. You can see four of the Big Five living wild in NNP but the baby elephants are the only eles there. The keepers take them out into the park to teach them to forage and see other wildlife, teaching them what to avoid like their mothers would. When they graduate to the next reintegration unit in Tsavo they will see wild elephants for the first time since they were rescued.
amyb is offline  
Oct 8th, 2019, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by amyb View Post
Looks like a great trip! Just one small detail, the Sheldricks orphans are the only elephants in Nairobi National Park. You can see four of the Big Five living wild in NNP but the baby elephants are the only eles there. The keepers take them out into the park to teach them to forage and see other wildlife, teaching them what to avoid like their mothers would. When they graduate to the next reintegration unit in Tsavo they will see wild elephants for the first time since they were rescued.
amyb: Thanks for clarifying about the elephants in NNP.
TravelerKaren is offline  
Oct 9th, 2019, 12:36 AM
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TravelerKaren, thanks for the info. The reason I asked was that I do some travel planning myself and have put together a Tanzanian Safari for an elderly couple who are good friends of mine I've got a quote of $3800 pppn. Activity starts from arrival at Kili airport

Arrival at KIA – Villa Maua. Arrive at
Kilimanjaro International Airport and
then proceed to Villa Maua for dinner

Manyara National Park. After breakfast,
depart for Manyara National Park for a
full day game drive. Dinner and
overnight at Ngorongoro Coffee Lodge.
Coffee Lodge

Ngorongoro Conservation Area. After
breakfast, proceed to Ngorongoro
Crater with a lunch box. Dinner and
overnight at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.
Ngorongoro Sopa
Serengeti National Park. After breakfast
depart for Serengeti. Game drive upon
arrival. Dinner and overnight at
Scantuary Kusini

Serengeti NP. Full day game drive in
Serengeti National Park.
Scantuary Kusini
Serengeti NP. Full day game drive in
Serengeti National Park.
Scantuary Kusini

Serengeti – Zanzibar. After breakfast
depart catch a flight to Zanzibar.
Overnight at Villa Kiva Boutique Hotel
on half board
Villa Kiva
19/11- 20/11
Zanzibar. Spend your day relaxing at
the hotel.
Villa kiva
Departure. After breakfast prepare for
transfer back to the airport in time for
your International flight out from Zanzibar

! Exclusive use of safari vehicle
! Exclusive Game drives & guiding fees
! Full board accommodation
! Government taxes, Park fees, levies and 18% VAT
! Ngorongoro Crater fees
! English speaking driver/guide
! Airport transfers
! Complimentary mineral water
! Entry visa
! Gratuity
! International flights
! Laundry
! Needs of personal nature
! Personal travel insurance
! Any other item not listed above
! Costs arising from diverting from above itinerary
and overnight.

My last trip to Tanzania was in 2009 so I'm not aware of the present day costing, though I have recommended this travel company to other friends of mine and they have come back very happy.
Your observation.
inquest is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 08:00 AM
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Did you mean $3800 pp total or per night? I assume you meant pp for the entire safari. If so, that sounds really cheap. I'm sure it's cheaper in November since that is during the 'rainy' season but it still looks very low. I've looked at other safari's similar to this during this time and even the group travel tours are in the $6000-$7000 range.
TravelerKaren is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 09:34 AM
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Posts: 792
My apologies, it is $3800 per person for the whole trip. I thought it is a fantastic deal and as you mentioned would be raining and is shoulder season , the reason for such a good deal.
They are off on the 11th Nov ( next month). If all goes well I'll certainly revert with the feedback about the trip.
inquest is offline  
Oct 12th, 2019, 08:11 AM
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inquest: Please do report back after their trip. Would like to hear feedback about their experience with the guide, accommodations and animal sightings. It almost sounds too good to be true
TravelerKaren is offline  

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