Planning First Safari - Questions

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Mar 21st, 2005, 06:01 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Planning First Safari - Questions

Good Morning,

I am in the process of planning a safari for about 15-17 days in September. Here is a sample of what I want to do - any advice would be helpful.

Day 1: Nairobi
Day 2: Lake Nakuru
Day 3: Mt Kenya
Day 4-6: Samburu (Fly to MM)
Day 7-9: Masai Mara
Day 10-12: Serengeti
Day 12-13: Ngorongoro
Day 14-17: Zanzibar

What is the weather like in September - the travel guides say mid-80's - is that correct?
Are long sleeve shirts necessary for the drives despite being inside the van most of the time?

Also, any thoughts on Zanzibar?

Last question- any experience with GoWay Travel (a stateside outfitter).

Thanks in advance ([email protected])
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Mar 21st, 2005, 06:37 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 370
I'm going to piggyback on this question--same deal. Except I'm in the very initial stages and planning for 2006. I've been directed to Micato because you fly from place to place rather than drive, and as we are older I'm told that makes it much easier. But my problem is deciding between their safari which includes both Tanzania and Kenya or just Kenya. The attraction to the Kenya only one is it includes the Mt. Kenya Safari Club and Treetop Lodge, whereas the other includes neither of these. However, you lose by not seeing Ngorongoro and other places. Any input? There is one that includes all these places, but it is 16 days and for two people in their 60s, I'm wondering if that may be just too long. I truly appreciate any help--I'm sort of starting from nowhere! Thanks very very much!!
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Mar 21st, 2005, 07:02 AM
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You may want to add Victoria Falls to your list - a wonderful place.

On safaris - you should take old clothes. Whether riding in a 4X4 or hiking, you will often be exposed to thorny bushes, tall grasses, underbrush, or tree limbs. This is also why long-sleeved shirts and long pants, despite the weather, are good. Save your 'nice' clothes for the evening sundowners and dinner.

Mornings and evenings can be cool - so take long sleeve shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts - with possibly a short sleeve shirt underneath.

Going on a safari is a thrilling experience. Be sure to take a journal to record every element of the entire trip.
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Mar 21st, 2005, 08:10 AM
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vacationbennett,

80's should be about right.

For the wardrobe question. I'd wear a t-shirt or collared short sleeved shirt (for sun protection on the neck) next to you, then put the long sleeved shirt over it. If you button up the outer layer, it's a long-sleeved shirt. If you leave it open, it is a light jacket that can be removed. It is possible that you could be wearing two collared garments, but that never bothered me.

In addition it can get chilly early in the mornings and at dusk so you may want additional layers beyond the shirts.

Lake Nakuru and Mt. Kenya--one day is fine and if you are driving up to Samburu, that spaces out the distances traveled. Nakuru has a good chance of rhino spotting and of course the flamingos.

Three days in Samburu is longer than many itineraries of this nature and length spend. But it is a good game area with species not found elsewhere and with options for cultural activities with the Samburu tribe and camel riding, so you'll enjoy 3 days. My next Kenya trip will have 3 days in Samburu, so we agree, but 2 is more common.

3 days in the Mara is good. Id suggest camps in the northern region of the park with fewer visitors.

3 days in Serengeti, along with 3 in the Mara give you 6 in the most game rich areas. Id suggest the northern part of the Serengeti in September.

You end with a World Wonder, the Ngorongoro Crater.

I think the safari part looks great. You linger where the best game is found. Never been to Zanzibar so no comment there except it should provide a relaxing finale.

Do you have camps/lodges in mind yet?
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Mar 21st, 2005, 08:24 AM
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Holldoll,

You can do a flying safari with many operators. Micato is an expensive provider. Id investigate other agents for both price and itineraries that may be to your liking. Many agents both in Africa and here in the US will do a custom itinerary for the two of you that would cost what Micado charges. Then you do what you want to do. Who is directing you to Micato? A local travel agent that sells Micato?

Personally, I would trade the Mt. Kenya Safari Club and Treetops for Ngorongoro. The crater is a spectacle geographically with just about the greatest concentration of wildlife in Africa. Youd be passing up a World Wonder.

Age 60 travelers are a huge segment of the African market and the traditional safaris are designed with this in mind. They are not physically strenuous. Id be inclined do the itinerary that includes everything unless you think youll be returning. If you are concerned about being able to hold up well on the trip, a day or so at the start to get over the jetlag may helpat any age.

We all started from nowhere at one time. Feel free to email me.

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Mar 21st, 2005, 09:08 AM
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Zanzibar is a fantastic place to visit. I loved it there and would have liked to have stayed longer than 2 weeks on my last trip. Try to take a bus up to the western or eastern sides of the island.
Stone town is fantastic and you must go to the Friday night food market down on the warf. You haven't tasted anything like "Zanzibar pizza".
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Mar 21st, 2005, 01:55 PM
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sandi
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vacationbennett -

I presume if you mention GoWay Travel, this is a preset itinerary, at a set budget and specific accommodations? Well, I checked the Goway site and you have a preset itinerary, so unless you want to chance a custom itinerary, which might not cost much more then this (prices weren't noted on the site... and you made no mention of budget) or not, you've got what you've got.

Agree with other poster that 3-days at Samburu is longer then most itineraries, but after two days of 1-nighters, 3 days will give you time to catch you breath. Besides Samburu is great for species not found elsewhere.

Three days in the Mara are good but four would be better as this is the Migration period.

From the GoWay site, it indicates that you are going from the Mara to the Serengeti via the Isebania border crossing... be aware this will be a very long day of road travel. And to be honest, this isn't an ideal time to visit the Serengeti. A better stop in Tanzania at this time would be Tarangire Park which has a mini-migration and amazing landscapes.

The Crater stop is fine.

While September is high season, and going with a preset itinerary, be aware that GoWay isn't taking into account time of year and the best place for game viewing. However, if you're committed to this, it's fine.

As to weather - daytime will be high-70s/mid-80s, probably hotter in Tanzania. The mornings and evenings will be cool, and maybe even cold, but mid-day is lovely. But long sleeve shirts and long pants should be worn when you consider that mosquito biting time is from dusk to dawn. Even though you go out at 4pm for afternoon game drives, it does get chilly even in a vehicle once the sun is gone. If you prefer not to wear long sleeves, at least have one with you, and/or a jacket to coverup. We always went out with enough clothing to take off, or put on as needed.

Zanzibar is a nice stop to end your safari and for relaxation.
 
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Mar 21st, 2005, 06:37 PM
  #8
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I knew you guys were a wealth of knowledge. Here is a quote thta I got today from Good Earth. Please let me know what you think of the lodges and price:

Day 1 (Sep 2004): Nairobi, Norfolk Hotel
Day 2: Laka Nakuru, Sarova Lion Hill Lodge
Day 3: Mt Kenya Safari Club
Day 4-6 Samburu, Samburu Serena Lodge
Day 7-9 Fly to Mara, Masai Mara, Mara Serena Lodge
Day 10: cross the border to Serengeti, Kirawira Tented Camp
Day 11~12: Serengeti, Serengeti Serena
Day 13-14: Ngorogoro, Ngorongoro Serena
Day 15: Drive to Arusha, afternoon flight to Zbar / Depart to NBO
Price (2 people) with flights Samburu~Mara, and Arusha~Nairobi (or
Zbar): $3,800/person

I can extend to Zanzibar for another ~$500 per person for 3 nights. Any recommendations on places to stay in Zan? Thanks,
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 04:27 AM
  #9
sandi
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Holldoll -

I would do a search on this board for other options for a tour provider. Fly-in safaris and/or combo road and fly-in is very common and not available only thru Micato, besides Micato tends to be expensive. You will find in reading various threads that many here prefer in-country outfitters. If considering 2006, you do have some time to plan, but realize the the Migration period - between July-early Oct in Kenya is busy, as is Jan-March for the "calving" season in Tanzania is another. June is good for the Western Serengeti, as is late-October/November-early Dec for the Northeast Serengeti - both in Tanzania as the migrating herds return to the Serengeti. April-May are wet seasons in both countries, with lower prices, less crowded. And November has some rain (rather occasional showers, maybe) with shoulder season prices.

As to being in your 60s, be aware that at least 50% of the travelers to East Africa range from 50 to 80-years. This is the best time - the kids are out on their own, you have time and the money... go for it! Unless you're planning on trekking, you should be fine - these are relatively "easy" trips. Though road travel can be long, bumpy and dusty, a combo road/fly safari works very well. And a 16-day itinerary can end with 3-days on the coast of either country for sun, sand and relaxation.

While the Mt. Kenya Safari Club is lovely, I feel it's worth it somewhere in the middle of an All-Kenya safari where you can have some pampering and down-time; otherwise a stop here for lunch is all that is needed, then head onto your next safari stop. Likewise, the Treetops at Aberdare, is too touristy and not a worthy stop when there are better options.

Wherever possible, at whichever destination you choose, or a combination of both, try to avoid 1-nt stays (though some spot only require 1-nt); try for 2 or 3-nts stays.

If there are particular Micato itineraries (or those from Abercrombie & Kent... another expensive overpriced operator), submit those to some in-country outfitters for competitive pricing and don't hesitate to ask for alternative suggestions. There are lots of choices, time-of-year dependent. Two in-country outfitters that are well received here and to whom you can email direct:

[email protected]
[email protected]

Come back here with some specific ideas and we'd be glad to work with you.

 
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 05:41 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 153
Vacationbennett -

We booked a private safari with Good Earth for this October last month & are doing 2 weeks with our last 4 days on Pemba Island @ Fundu Lagoon. It looks incredible and has gotten good reviews from what I have seen. It is more expensive than the $500/person for 3 nights though.

We found Good Earth to be the most responsive to our requests, and also wound up being the most reasonable for our trip.

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