OAT to Tanzania/Kenya

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Jun 30th, 2005, 10:32 AM
  #1
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OAT to Tanzania/Kenya

We are considering taking the OAT safari in February/March with an extension to the Masai Mara. We have taken OAT trips before and think they are a terrific tour group. Although I have a good deal of confidence in OAT, I wonder if anyone on this board has taken this particular trip and what their experience has been.

I have posted another query about safari vehicles. If you were on the OAT trip, what was your experience using a pop-up vehicle and general visibility in viewing wildlife?
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Jun 30th, 2005, 11:03 AM
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Can you please post a link to the itinerary? Then we can comment!
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Jun 30th, 2005, 11:08 AM
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Just so you know, you can purchase your own airfare and have a Kenya/Tanzania based tour operator organize a private safari for you for about the same cost as a OAT group tour. I mention this because you expressed concerns about sharing a vehicle with other passengers.

I think OAT only offers one combined Kenya/Tanzania itinerary -

http://www.oattravel.com/gcc/general...spx?oid=119073
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Jun 30th, 2005, 11:30 AM
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Evelyn - Look at a thread I started, called "Anyone ever do one of the more rustic tented safaris?" (Or something like that.)We discuss OAT quite a bit in that thread. I am still considering using them, but still doing research on a custom trip.
Good luck!
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Jun 30th, 2005, 11:44 AM
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C.H.S.L.: Thanks for looking at the itinerary.
http://www.oattravel.com/gcc/general...spx?oid=118986
The OAT itinerary follows.
1)Depart US
2)Arrive TZ
3) Arusha Nat'l Park, 4WD, Overnight Mama Wilson's House
4) Drive to Tarangire (Tarangire Tented River Camp)
5) Tarangire Park, two game drives
6) Tarangire game walk (Ngorongoro Farm house)
7) Ngo Crater (Ngo Farmhouse)
8) Serengeti Park, 2 game drives (OAT Camp)
9) Serengeti
10) Serengeti
11) Serengeti
12) Olduvai Gorge and drive to Ngo Farm house
13) Arusha to Nairobi
14) Fly to Masai Mara
15) Mara
16) Mara
17) Mara game drive and fly to Nairobi

Patty: The price of this trip is just under $5,000 which includes air from NY. I was under the impression that these "canned" tours were usually less expensive than private tours, but I am in the process of comparing tours and rates.

Cooncat: I will look at the thread. I had not seen it when I browsed around the forum earlier. Thanks.

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Jun 30th, 2005, 12:14 PM
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Cooncat: The thread you started was very informative. Thanks for pointing it out to me. I will keep checking it to see what you have decided. It seems we are looking for the same type of trip for the same price.

I am going to comment on your threat to bring it to the top.

As others have stated, the Botswana trips are generally much more expensive and part of the reason why I am not returning to that part of Africa.



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Jun 30th, 2005, 12:46 PM
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Evelyn - please keep me (us) posted as well, on what you find out and I'll do the same. What did you think of the Botswana OAT itinerary, since you've been there before?

Thanks!
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Jun 30th, 2005, 01:09 PM
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Cooncat.. I looked over the OAT Botswana itinerary. We did a custom tour for over twice the price so it is hard to compare. Without really studying it, it does look good. I don't know the camps that are used and the number of people at each camp, but OAT is an excellent tour group.
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Jun 30th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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Try contacting a few Tanzania based tour operators that others on this board have used and see what they can offer you. The ones that I've seen mentioned often are Roy's, Good Earth, and Tanzania Serengeti Adventures. You can even send them the OAT itinerary and let them know you'd like something comparable. The only problem you may run into is availability at camps and lodges in southern Tanzania for Feb/Mar 2006 as some may already be full.

The advantage of this OAT itinerary is that they spend 4 nights at their own Serengeti camp which follows the migration (I thought you were looking at their other itinerary). This might be the way to go if you have a difficult time finding accomodation space on your own.
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Jun 30th, 2005, 02:10 PM
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Evelyn

I have not toured with OAT so I cannot answer your first question. They are agents and probably use local operators such as Kibo Safaris (a good outfitter that I know well). So, here are some general comments just to open up the discussion:

1. I think the land-cost price is quite good - basically $210 per person a night. This will be hard to beat even by local outfitters. If you are willing to pay about $260-$300 per person a night you can get a private safari instead of 6 sharing a vehicle!

2. Arusha National Park is pretty (when not overcast) but probably not worth it if you are going to the Serengeti and such.

3. Tarangire in Feb/March - I like the Tarangire River Camp so 2 nights are not bad despite the possibility of not seeing much wildlife due to lush vegation in the wet. If the spotting is slow you can just relax at the camp and enjoy the Tarangire River views!

4. Ngororongoro - I am not a huge fan of the Farm House. The rooms are square and bare and the place is too big to be personal. It is almost 2 hours to the crater floor from here which means a lot of driving! You may be disappointed when you see the lodges at the crater rim and you will wish you stayed there instead!

5. Serengeti - It all depends where the camp is located and on the game movements. If the camp is near Ndutu and the migration is in the vicinity then great. But if the migration is still in the central Serengeti then you will have long hours of driving. In this case your 15 game drives restriction will become a limiting factor.

I think it is best to split your Feb/Mar Serengeti stay between the Ndutu area and the central or Gol areas. Then you can experience the game-rich Seronera area and even the migration if you are lucky.

6. Back to the Farm House! I think a stay on the edge of the escarpment near Manyara (Serena, Kirurumu, etc. would be better. At least you will have great views.

7. Mara extension. Not the best time of year for the Mara. It can get very hot and the wildlife gets droopy too. And there is nothing new to see. I would consider the Foothills of Kilimanjaro instead. The west Kilimanjaro area is breathtaking with very interesting landscape and good wildlife.

Overall - I think the price is OK. I don't like group safaris so I would be willing to spend a bit more. To offset the costs, you can shorten the safari a bit. Cut out Arusha NP and one night in Arusha and stay only one night at Ngorongoro. Then contact Kibo and ask them to quote you for the same itinerary (since the properties mentioned here all belongs to them.)

Try to split your Serengeti stay between the central and south.

Unfortunately, Kibo properties and the Ngorongoro rim lodges may be booked and then all bets are off!

You should be able to find airfares for between $1400 - $1600.
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Jun 30th, 2005, 02:38 PM
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CHSL: You are a wealth of information. As you suspected, many of the lodges/tents are filled (there is a long wait list in Ndutu) so I thought the group might be the way to go. I found out that OAT uses a very unpleasant van configuration, two rows of three seats each, which makes me very unhappy as not having a window seat and being squished is a definite "no". I am looking into other options mentioned on this site.

Now I am questioning our Feb/March date. It is the only time my friend can go... I might have to find another friend.

Cooncat: Are you reading this...

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Jul 1st, 2005, 05:31 AM
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I sure am..... I think OAT uses different vehicles in Botswana. Anyone know this for sure? (In case anyone else is reading this and wondering about me, I still haven't decided on my destination between South and East Africa. Leaning toward South....
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Jul 1st, 2005, 07:54 AM
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Cooncat.
Did you ask OAT about the vehicles in Botswana? The rep there told me about the vans in TZ/K. I had to go ask to be transferred to someone who had this information as the person who originally answered my call did not know.

This 6-passanger van is not only used for the game drives, but also for driving from camp-to-camp. Sounds really tight to me. Too bad someone who had been on an OAT trip didn't respond.
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Jul 1st, 2005, 08:13 AM
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No, I didn't ask them, but I got a brochure sent to me and the picture of the vehicle there is an open one, and I seem to recall it saying everyone is guaranteed an outside seat... I am seriously looking at other companies at the moment, to see if I can get a more custom-tailored trip in my price range.
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Jul 1st, 2005, 08:21 AM
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evelyntrav,
Here's a link to a blog posted by someone who traveled to Tanzania with OAT in December 2004 - http://marafiki.blogspot.com/2005/02...nological.html

Maybe it'll help. There's probably an email somewhere that you could use to contact him.
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Jul 1st, 2005, 09:24 AM
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Patty, thanks for finding the blog. Don't know how you got to it, but I will write to the blogger and ask him about my concerns.

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Jul 1st, 2005, 09:26 AM
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So we don't all bug him, Evelyn will you let us know what he says about his OAT experience? Thanks!
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Jul 1st, 2005, 09:44 AM
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I will post his reponse if I get one and if he gives me permission to do that. If not, I'll let you know.
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Jul 1st, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Can't remember exactly how I came across it. I think I was doing a search for photos of Ngorongoro Farm House. I've had it saved under my favorites for a couple of months now and just remembered that it's almost the same exact trip you're interested in.
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Jul 1st, 2005, 10:29 AM
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I looked at the blog (okay, I admit I'm hooked on trip reports); if you look at his photos they are decidedly NOT in vans, and it looks like they have around 3-4 pax in each vehicle.

Of course, OAT may have changed all this, and they would know. But I still think two rows of 3 across doesn't sound right. I can't envision that configuration at all, even in a minivan.

Regardless, it's a nice blog, and they clearly had a great time. Looks like a fun group of people.

Good luck, evelyn and cooncat.
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