Planning Safari to Tanania, Help!

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Mar 22nd, 2006, 03:45 PM
  #41
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The permits for 8/25 and 8/28 are for Kigali. So far, I am losing confidence in many of the operators I have spoken with. One took 10 days to get back to me; I am now scared about using ATR because of the poor vehicles used and Rocco's comments about their ownership interest in the camps they recommend -- they also add a 2% surcharge for credit card charges; the third operator seems to be selling things to me that don't make sense because of limited availability without disclosing that this is why she is recommending them to me. (I don't want to pay $6,000 for a safari, land only, and end up with the "leftovers" or a ridiculous itinerary.) It seems I am doing an awful lot of my own homework when I will end up paying someone for the final arrangements. Shouldn't I be able to discuss my questions with these folks like I do on this Board? Do they all have self-interest in mind?

Does anyone know United Touring Company? They came well recommended but some of my issues involve them as well. It seems to take 4 or 5 days to get answers on availability, etc.

Thanks again, everyone! You really are a major help!
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Mar 22nd, 2006, 04:05 PM
  #42
 
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If you fly into Kigali on 8/24, you can use the permit on 8/25 but that still only gives you one day of trekking.

What day(s) can you get permits for in Uganda?

Here are 2 tour operators that other posters on this board have recommended for gorilla treks -

Volcanoes Safaris
Great Lakes Safaris

Maybe they can check permit availability for you in either Rwanda or Uganda.
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Mar 22nd, 2006, 04:56 PM
  #43
 
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I just wanted to add that I've never used or heard much about United Touring Company, but I'd be much more inclined to work with an Africa specialist or directly with a tour operator located in East Africa, rather than a company that offers trips throughout the world.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 05:32 PM
  #44
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Hi again, everybody. I haven't been on here for a while as I've tried desperately to go about making my plans. I just finished reading about Rocco's experiences . . . I am so glad I am not proceeding with ATR. It looks like we are not making much headway with our plans because bookings are so tight. We still have our 8/22 flight from NY to Nairobi and a 9/6 flight return from Kilimanjaro to NY. The latest operator we've spoken to was only able to secure gorilla permits for 9/3 and 9/4 -- and given that we are returning home from Kilimanjaro, this would be less than convenient. Otherwise, we have waited almost one week for other details of the itinerary because they haven't gotten responses back from their agents. Another operator said they would be able to secure permits for 8/21 or 8/23, both of which wouldn't work. I have put so much time into researching this trip and I am afraid we won't be able to make it happen. Any thoughts, anyone? Does anyone have any secret connections for availability? I thought the frequent flyer tickets were such a coup, saving us the money to see the gorillas . . . Do you guys think it's worth it to continue or perhaps postpone the trip to Dec/Jan or next summer when many more options are available? We will be so disappointed . . . Help!
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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:04 PM
  #45
 
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Sue,
9/3 and 9/4 where, Rwanda or Uganda? If Rwanda, you could then quite easily fly to JRO (or is it NBO?) on 9/5 and make it home without a care. Might even be okay from Uganda.

I guess if it's easier for you, I'd postpone until November/December. There's no way I could wait until next summer.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 10:09 AM
  #46
 
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Unfortunately, you're traveling at a very busy time in East Africa.

Though it would be less than ideal, you can still trek on 9/3 & 9/4 and fly back to JRO on 9/5 (if coming from Rwanda), or you may need to fly back to JRO on 9/6 (if coming from Uganda). Both would involve connecting via NBO. In that case and since you're flying into NBO on 8/23, you may want to consider skipping Tanzania altogether and spending all of your non-gorilla trekking time in Kenya. The migration will be in the Mara at that time and with the addition of 1 or 2 more locations, you can have a wonderful safari in Kenya alone.

On the other hand, if the availability issue is getting to be too much of a headache, there's no reason you can't postpone your trip to allow more time to plan.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 02:22 PM
  #47
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Think November. Patty did!
And until recently, when I've done late May/early June trips... always traveled to Africa in November.

It might be the "short" rains, but it's rare to have more than an afternoon thunderstorm (1/2 hr, maybe) or overnight; rarely even daily. Less visitors, better prices.

Think about it.
 
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Mar 29th, 2006, 03:01 PM
  #48
 
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As a point of clarification, I have never claimed that ATR owns any of the camps it sells. I have, however, stated what is common knowledge, and that is the ground operator that ATR mostly seems to use, MKSC, does own at least three camps (Ronjo, Olduvai and Mawe Ninga). Also, I have said, as have others, that ATR really pushes these camps and rates them unusually high on their website rankings.
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Mar 30th, 2006, 09:32 PM
  #49
 
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I've got great experience with Green Footprint Safaris; http://www.greenfootprint.co.tz

They really design the safari around you as the person you are...
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Mar 31st, 2006, 06:53 AM
  #50
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Hi again. I just got a proposed itinerary for my trip to Tanzania that includes gorilla trekking in Rwanda. It is based on availability which the tour operator reports is very slim. Our confirmed flights are into Nairobi (8/22-8/23) and out of Kilimanjaro (9/6-9/7). These flights were gotten thru frequent flyer miles and it is unlikely we we will be able to change them. (There is a slight possibility we can fly into Kilimanjaro on 8/23 but we have been unable to confirm this yet.)

Here goes the itinerary: (Note the gorilla permits were only available on 9/3 and 9/4 so the last portion of the trip was designed around these dates.)

8/22 Fly NYC to Amsterdam
8/23 Fly Amsterdam to Nairobi (7:30PM)
8/24 Fly Kilimanjaro, Arusha Coffee Lodge
8/25 Charter Flight to Serengeti, Migration Camp
8/26 Migration Camp
8/27 Olakira Mobile Camp
8/28 Olakira Mobile Camp
8/29 Ngorogoro Crater Sopa Lodge
8/30 Tarangire Treetops
8/31 Tarangire Treetops
9/1 Fly to Nairobi, Overnight Nairobi
9/2 Fly to Kigale, Overnight Kigale
9/3 Gorilla Trek, Overnight Gorilla Lodge
9/4 Gorilla Trek, Overnight Gorilla Lodge
9/5 Fly to Nairobi
9/6 Depart Kilimanjaro

The above is just a sketch based on my conversation with the operator. It seems to me we are flying back and forth instead of proceeding in a direct northernly manner -- and perhaps have more flights within Africa than would otherwise make sense if things weren't sold out. This itinerary does not include Lake Manyara because apparently there was no availability there. Does this itinerary make sense? Should we go ahead with it?
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Mar 31st, 2006, 07:30 AM
  #51
 
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Sueblue

I did not check the whole thread but I am wondering why you decided against the Masai Mara? The wildlife at the end of August in the Mara cannot be matched elsewhere in East Africa!

I think you should build your itinerary around the Gorilla Permit dates, then stay in Kenya for the rest of the trip! Samburu, etc are great parks!

In Tarangire for example, you must be careful when staying two nights at a camp that's 45 minutes outside the park. It is a great-looking camp but the drive gets old very quickly unless you plan to stay in camp! At Oliver's for example, you can do game walks inside the park! At Swala you can sit and watch the elephants in the water hole!

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Mar 31st, 2006, 10:01 AM
  #52
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We wanted to do Tanzania instead of Kenya and things are just so tough at this point getting everything in. Apart from not staying at Tarangire Treetops 2 nites, any other suggestions? Would you stay there at least one night? I'm not sure they have anything else available.

Any other thoughts, anyone?
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Mar 31st, 2006, 12:47 PM
  #53
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Where is everyone today???? Help!!!!
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Mar 31st, 2006, 01:06 PM
  #54
 
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Are you flying economy or business? If economy, there should be 2 award seats on the AMS-JRO route on 8/23. If you can make the change, this would save you a flight and an overnight in Nairobi and allow you an extra day on safari.

My only suggestion is that on 9/2 you stay near PNV instead of Kigali. There's an 8:00am flight KQ472 from NBO to KGL on 9/2. If you take this one, you'll have plenty of time to see some sights around Kigali and still make it to PNV for your first overnight. Otherwise, it's a very early start from Kigali on 9/3 in order to get to PNV in time for the am start of your trek.

Other than that, if you're happy with the itinerary and with availability being as tight as it is currently, I say just go for it!
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Mar 31st, 2006, 01:07 PM
  #55
 
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Sue,

If you're dead set against going to the Mara and these are the days you have to do the gorilla trekking, so be it. It *is* a lot of hopping around, but given what you have to work with, it's not a bad itinerary. I'd do it (but I am not known for being sensible ).

Since you said you like your creature comforts, maybe Treetops isn't such a bad idea. If it were me, and I had the $ and the camp had availability, I'd go for Swala. Second choice would be Oliver's.

You could conceivably hedge your bets in the Serengeti by staying somewhere in the central area for two nights. Do you know where Olakira will be this time of year? Perhaps it's on Eben's site?

It's okay not to include Manyara. If you had time, it's a nice though small park, but you just don't have the time.

Hopefully someone else will have more ideas. But I actually don't think this is a terrible itinerary.
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Mar 31st, 2006, 01:12 PM
  #56
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8/29 Ngorogoro Crater Sopa Lodge
8/30 Tarangire Treetops
8/31 Tarangire Treetops
9/1 Fly to Nairobi, Overnight Nairobi
9/2 Fly to Kigale, Overnight Kigale

That's going to be a quickie trip to the Crater, but that's okay.

On 8/30 early, I'd drive back to Arusha, get on the 1:45pm flight to NBO; and fly at 3pm to the Mara for the next two days (8/31 and most of 9/1). You'll have the late game drive on 8/30 with overnight; game drives the next day 8/31 and on 9/1 stay thru lunch and take the 4pm flight to NBO for your overnight before heading to Kigali on 9/2.

As Eben says, the Mara is the place to be in August. I couldn't agree more.
 
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Mar 31st, 2006, 02:53 PM
  #57
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I just learned that our proposed itinerary prices out at $7,500! and that's with our ff miles!! We gave the operator a budget of $5,500-$6,000. I think it's crazy . . . especially since we are hopping all over the place. Someone mentioned to me that the 1 night is the Crater should be enough because, starting in July, there will only be one game drive per day. So, if one were to stay 2 days, there would be alot of dead time that could be used better somewhere else? I really don't know what to do at this point. I have put so much effort into this and I don't want to spend $8,000 on a trip, particularly when I using 80,000 ff miles.
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Mar 31st, 2006, 02:57 PM
  #58
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Patti -- does your company have scheduled departures during the dates we are working with that would make sense? Thanks so much guys. I hope I'm not being a pain.
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Mar 31st, 2006, 04:36 PM
  #59
 
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I don't have a safari company, sorry. Wish I did

Which operator did you receive the quote from if I may ask?

I would say your 3 nights in Rwanda including permits and flights to/from NBO accounts for at least $2000 of the cost. Add to that about $400+ for your flights between NBO and JRO. So the question is can you do better than $5000 for your 7 night Tanzania safari plus 4 nights in Nairobi/Arusha? I don't know. With the exception of the Sopa lodge, these are some fairly expensive camps on your itinerary. Eben or sandi would probably be much better qualified to answer if that's a fair price or not.
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Apr 1st, 2006, 04:40 AM
  #60
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For high season and with a selection of high-end accommodations, the price is about right for 2-weeks.
 
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