Ndutu & Serengeti Sopa

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Feb 25th, 2006, 09:19 AM
  #1
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Ndutu & Serengeti Sopa

We're looking to go this December to the Serengeti. We're confirmed at Kusini for 3 nights in the southern part of the park, and tried to get into the Serengeti Serena in the central part of the park for another 4 nights but right now they appear to be booked.

Our travel agent is recommending we consider the Serengeti Sopa for 2 nights and Ndutu for the other 2 nights.

Any thoughts? Much appreciated.

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Feb 25th, 2006, 01:24 PM
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sandi
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I'd try for something north of Central. Maybe Mbuzi Mawe which is 1-hr north of the Serengeti Serena or Migration Camp even further north.

In December, it is very doubtful there will be much of anything doing in Ndutu. And for what you'd pay for Kusini you can do Migration Camp.
 
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Feb 25th, 2006, 01:41 PM
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Thanks, Sandi. We're most interested in excellent game viewing vs actual migration. Do you think Ndutu/Serena/Sopa will work for that?
We're pretty much committed to Kusini at this point for our last 3 nights & I think the drive from Migration Camp(which sounds great) would be a bit too long.
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Feb 25th, 2006, 02:18 PM
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What does the entire itinerary look like?
 
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Feb 25th, 2006, 06:34 PM
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Itinerary:

2 nights - Arusha Coffee Lodge (we want a litte time to catch our breath - this will be our third trip to Africa so we kind of know the tolerance of our bodies to the LONGGGGG flights from New York)
3 nights - Serena Crater Lodge (we wanted to be able to make 2 trips down to the crater)
4 nights - TBD - we heard it's a VERY long drive up to Migration Camp - 6/7 hours on very bad roads so we wanted to stay in the central area
3 nights - Kusini (we've stayed in other Sanctuary Lodge properties in Botswana and LOVED them so this was at the top of our list)

Thanks, Sandi.
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Feb 25th, 2006, 08:21 PM
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Tetons

I posted my migration suggestions in maps here:

http://www.go-safari.com/Serengeti/serengeti.htm

I agree with Sandi. In December, for excellent game viewing you should consider some of the luxury mobile tented camps in the central Serengeti. You can see pics of the camps on the link above.

3 nights at Kusini are quite long, since you mentioned good game viewing as a requirement. The game drives from there will be long and via tsetse areas in the woods (unless TANAPA opens some of the roads currently closed to protect the rhinos.

In addition you can consider Tarangire for a different experience (2 nights there) with walking at Oliver's Camp, etc.
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Feb 25th, 2006, 08:23 PM
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And Swala Camp (Sanctuary Lodges) in Tarangire may be a better option than Kusini in December!
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Feb 26th, 2006, 05:30 AM
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I totally agree with sandi & Eben. I was in the same areas in December 2005. I think Kusini would be a mistake at that time of year (in fact several operators we talked with who highly recommend Kusini told us not to bother at that time of year). It's a lot of money to spend and a long drive from everyplace, so worth it only if the game viewing is going to be fantastic there, which in December is highly unlikely. We love Sanctuary Lodges too and stayed at Swala in Tarangire which was outstanding and if you could do two nights there I would recommend it. We stayed one night at Ndutu and liked it but the game was not nearly that far south yet and it was bone dry with not one wildebeest or impala to be seen (although we did have a couple of great cheetah sightings not far from Ndutu including a female with five cubs). I would not go out of your way to stay at Ndutu. We had 8 nights in Serengeti plus one at Ndutu. When we were there the only part of the Serengeti that had had any rain was in the northern part of the park -- and our three nights at Migration Camp there were fantastic, and the game viewing in the central Serengeti was incredible.

The best game viewing by far will be in the central Serengeti area. Frankly I'm surprised that Serengeti Serena is fully booked already for December as we had no problem securing a December stay last year even though we booked in March. But if they are in fact fully booked then you might consider Mbuzi Mawe which is a tented camp owned by Serena and also in the same general vicinity. Frankly the best location in central Serengeti is Serengeti Seronera Wildlife Lodge by far -- but it is more basic. I think Sopa's location is less desirable personally since the herds are more likely to be closer to Serena & Mbuzi Mawe at that time (when we were there they were mostly between Migration Camp & Seronera -- we did see some huge herds just east of Serena). But of course the rains and the herds are somewhat unpredictable -- all you can do is play the odds -- and I would say the odds definitely weigh against Kusini and Ndutu (Ndutu supposedly tends to be at its best much later, in February when the herds are there and calving).

If you are set on staying at a Sanctuary Lodge then I would recommend 2 nights at Swala Camp in Tarangire.

Re: the crater, do you mean Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, or Ngorongoro Serena? Regardless -- we were like you and originally planned on staying 3 nights at the Crater -- but everyone kept telling us to cut it down to only 1 or 2 -- so we finally relented and stayed only 2 nights at Ngorongoro Serena -- and I'm so glad we did. The crater is lovely but the game viewing was SO much better in Serengeti.

Here's the thing about your itinerary. In December the herds are going to be moving from northern Serengeti southward. So you might want to consider doing your itinerary in the reverse, which is what we did. Sounds like you have 12 nights and are set on staying 2 at Arusha Coffee Lodge. With the remaining 10 nights I would suggest the following:

Fly from Arusha to Lobo airstrip in northern Serengeti.
3 nights Migration Camp
3 nights Mbuzi Mawe or Serengeti Serena
2 nights Ngorongoro Serena
2 nights Swala Camp in Tarangire

Or, if you are absolutely dead set on Kusini, then:
2 nights Migration Camp
2 nights Mbuzi Mawe/Serengeti Serena
2 nights Kusini
2 nights Ngorongoro Serena
2 nights Swala Camp in Tarangire

You can check out our photos, trip report, etc. at homepage.mac.com/lisaandmarktravel.

Good luck & have fun planning!
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Feb 26th, 2006, 08:41 AM
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Thanks (sandi, climbhighsleeplow, lisa!)for all for your good thoughts. We really appreciate it.

A little more background...

We tried to book Swala in Tarangiere but that was booked. (We also learned from A&K that it's a 6 hour drive from Arusha...) Our agent suggested Treetops as an alternative but we've read that December is not the best great time to visit this area for great game viewing (the elephant herds move on??) so we thought we'd spend the extra days on the Serengeti instead where the game viewing is supposed to be spectacular.

The other consideration for us is the movement from place to place. When we visited Botswana we spent 2 nights each in 4 different camps/lodges and 3 nights in one other. We felt we were moving around too much, with every other day a "travel" day. We were hoping to plan this trip with more nights in fewer places to avoid that.

Our agent also suggested Migration Camp which she likes a lot. It's the "getting there" that seemed difficult - especially with Kusini also in the picture. (We also looked into Klein's in the same area.)

But as you suggested maybe there's a way to get up there and make our way down the park.

Yeah, I was surprised too to learn that these camps/lodges don't have space - but the plane tickets we have are for over the Christmas holiday so that may explain the lack of availability. Who ever thought booking this trip in Februrary would be such a challenge!

Lisa - the reservation we're holding is for the Serena lodge at the crater.

Thanks again!!!
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Feb 27th, 2006, 05:42 AM
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I agree with you about trying not to move around too much. So leaving Swala/Tarangire aside, and keeping Kusini since you have your heart set on it, for 10 nights I'd suggest:
Fly from Arusha to Lobo airstrip
3 nights Migration Camp
3 nights Mbuzi Mawe or Serengeti Serena
2 nights Kusini
2 nights Ngorongoro Serena
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Feb 27th, 2006, 06:50 AM
  #11
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Thanks, Lisa.

I think we're getting closer to something that could work for us. I will hopefully speak to our travel person sometime later today and see what she can pull together.
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