Planning trip to Africa

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Jan 20th, 2006, 08:18 PM
  #21
 
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As I thought, Airwaves does not fly Mahale to Mfuwe. But there are other options if this is cast in stone and you want to keep to schedule.
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Jan 21st, 2006, 04:37 PM
  #22
 
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Hello,

I agree with Sandi -- an East Africa/Southern Africa split makes the most sense from a logistical standpoint. Since the chimps are a highlight for you, I'd say do Tanzania this trip and save Botswana and Zambia for another trip.

If you are making the effort to go to Mahale, and paying the money to get there, you should try to spend at least 3 and ideally 4 days to give you the best possible chance at some really good chimp interations.

I'd recommend something along the following, assuming you still have the same number of days available:

I'd recommend something along the following, assuming you still have the same 23 days available. I've included the Mara because of the time of your trip -- that's where the herds will be in August.

August 12 through September 4, 2006
Day 1: Arrive NBO. Overnight at Giraffee Manor.
Day 2: Giraffe Manor. Fly to Masai Mara. (Rekero Camp, Kichwa Tembo, or Little Governor's)
Days 3-7: Masai Mara.
Day 8: Morning game drive in the Mara. Afternoon flight back to NBO. Fly to JRO and transfer to Arusha (Moivaro Lodge)
Day 9: Overland to Lake Manyara (Lake Manyara Tree Lodge)
Day 10: Lake Manyara (Tree Lodge)
Day 11: Lake Manyara (Tree Lodge)
Day 12: Lake Manyara in the morning. Transfer to Ngorongoro Crater (Ngorongoro Crater Lodge)
Day 13: Ngorongoro Crater (Crater Lodge)
Day 14: Ngornogoro Crater (Crater Lodge)
Day 15: Crater in the morning. Fly back to JRO, and from there to Katavi (probably via Dar). You may need to overnight in Dar.
Day 16: Transfer to Katavi. (Chada Camp)
Days 17-18. Katavi (Chada Camp)
Day 19: Fly Nomad to Mahale (Greystoke)
Days 20-22: Mahale
Day 23: Morning at Mahale. Fly back to Dar, and home from there.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 21st, 2006, 07:41 PM
  #23
bat
 
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jasher: ESDC wanted to spend more than 2 days at Mahale but s/he wrote this:

"This trip is built around Mahale Chimp country which evidently is hard to get into and normally 3 or 4 day stays. For some reason they had these 2 days available in the 3 month trip window we were looking at. I am not sure why I have such a desire to pursue the chimps; maybe its an ancestral calling, but I told Gregg to go for it."

So unless availability changes s/he is locked into a 2 day stay on particular dates.
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:13 AM
  #24
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Thanks all for your great input. I am amazed at your enthusiasm for Africa and afraid it may be contagious.

I have tried to make several postings the last two days but for some reason they did'nt show up or somehow I lost them. I am not all that great with this computer stuff!

luangwablondes:
Thanks; Your comments made me go back to the quote and look at how much it is costing me to get in and out of the two remote camps I picked; Mahale/Greystoke & Katavi/Chada. You were a bit high on $/Mahale to Mfuwe. Airwaves is described as a "shared charter by camp owners" $6K for 4 with a stop at Tabora for customs. The flights by Nomad from Klein's airstrip, which is an hours drive from Bolongonja camp, to Katavi airstrip for Chada is $3.4K and $1.1K from Katavi to Mahale airstrip. This did not seem like too much when we were looking at a 4 night stay at Greystoke but this new schedule has only 2 days. I just hope the Chimps don't decide to head up into the mountains and disappear the day we arrive. Fly-in safari's are costly!!
We just spent a bit more of our kids inheritance.

Richard:
Your comments about the loos at Chada and Greystock gave considerable "relief
to the lady travelers and put a smile on their faces. They say THANKS ! ! !

jasher:
Thanks for your suggestions, but I am almost afraid to make such significant changes at this point. We originally started with a trip planned for March over my 70th Birthday, then May/june and now August/September; going into the busy season, we ended up with only 2 days at Greystock and also lost 1 day at Crater Lodge, they were booked up. If I keep this up I may not live long enough to see my dream trip come true.

Greg/ATR and I have discussed some consolidation and possibly extending some of the 2 night stays to 3 nights. I may drop Olduvai Camp to one night and just have a short walk with the Massai. From some Negative comments by RJW about Olduvai and what a dust bowl it was I concluded one night is enough. RGW was on the thread of icc "Local outfitters in Tanzania" discussing a trip to Tanzania he just completed. Some good info about ATR and the Tanganyika/MKSC and Nomad local safari organizations ATR uses.

Monday I will see if we can get on a wait list for a second night at Crater Lodge or possibly extend Bolongonja to 4 nights. Will probably add a 3rd night at Lebala or Kwara camps to "slow" the pace of the trip somewhat? I would also like to drop the 2 nights at Tena Tena Camp (ANYONE BEEN THERE ?) and see if there is any way we could waitlist Greystock for these two days OR maybe we could sleep on the beach. I wonder if Greystock has a tent/camp trek with the Chimps for an extra day?

Again, Thanks everyone for your comments and help !! Ed/ESCD


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Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:55 AM
  #25
 
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Hi Ed,

Since you're looking at this as a once in a lifetime trip, I'd seriously consider getting a quote including Kenya as well as Tanzania -- you really don't want to miss the Migration, and the herds will be in the Mara in August! ATR probably won't encourage this as they don't book Kenya, but remember, it's YOUR dream trip, not theirs. You shouldn't feel locked into their itinerary if it means diminishing your experience of what Africa has to offer.

I'd suggest getting in touch with Africa Serendipity (www.africaserendipity.com) about doing a combined Kenya/Tanzania itinerary. They are very responsive and have very competitive pricing.

I realise it's hard to think about changing your itinerary at this point (especially after the date changes) but game-viewing in Africa (especially the Migration) is very seasonal, and that means that the best places to be at one time of year are not necessarily the best places to be at another time of year. The Serengeti would have been ideal in May or June, but in August/September the Mara is where you want to be.

You could start off in Tanzania and finish in the Mara, with something like this:

August 12 through September 4, 2006
Day 1: Fly to JRO and transfer to Arusha (Moivaro Lodge)
Day 2: Overland to Lake Manyara (Lake Manyara Tree Lodge)
Day 3: Lake Manyara (Tree Lodge)
Day 4: Lake Manyara (Tree Lodge)
Day 5: Lake Manyara in the morning. Transfer to Ngorongoro Crater (Ngorongoro Crater Lodge)
Day 6: Ngorongoro Crater (Crater Lodge)
Day 7: Ngornogoro Crater (Crater Lodge)
Day 8: Crater in the morning. Transfer to Katavi with Nomad.
Day 9-11: Katavi Chada Camp)
Day 12: Fly Nomad to Mahale (Greystoke)
Days 13-15: Mahale (Greystoke)
Day 16: Morning at Mahale. Fly back to Dar, and from there to Nairobi. Overnight at Giraffe Manor.
Day 17: Giraffe Manor. Fly to Masai Mara. (Rekero Camp, Kichwa Tembo Bateleur, or Little Governor's)
Days 18-22: Masai Mara.
Day 23: Morning game drive in the Mara. Afternoon flight back to Nairobi, and home from there.

In terms of convenient transfers it's not ideal -- if you could move the dates a bit (and start with Katavi/Mahale) it might make the transfers a bit easier.

I'd definitely look into getting waitlisted for some additional days at Mahale, since that's the main focus of your trip. Or look into the gorillas option again if primates are your focus. It can't be much more logistically complex than the current trip.

If you stick with the ATR itinerary, I'd agree with dropping Olduvai -- for some reason ATR pushes this camp quite heavily (the company has an exclusive booking arrangement with them) but I've yet to be convinced of its value relative to other camps in the area. Activities there will centre on walks with the Maasai and enjoying the scenery rather than on game-viewing.

Dropping Tena Tena would certainly make the pace of the later part of the trip a bit more sane (and save you a big chunk of money on the air transfers). I've heard very nice things about Tena Tena, but you would be spending a lot of time in transit just for two days there. You could add those two days to Lebala and Kwara.


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Jan 22nd, 2006, 05:05 AM
  #26
aby
 
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Hi Ed
i agree with Julian on almost all issues.
Your own solution of dropping Tentena (& Zambia) is great after u've decided to do both east and south.
Still, like Julian recommended, the timing (=migration) fovours Mara ! Even instead of Serengeti (same ecosystem)...
i don't wanna add any new suggestions not to cause any confusion.
Anyhow this is a dream safari !
Enjoy
aby
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 10:44 AM
  #27
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jasher;
Thanks, I tried to E-mail Serendipity but it would not acknowledge the address you gave me. I did get onto their Web site so will try again this morning.

Is "sandi" with Serendipity? if so do you have her E-mail.

aby:
Thanks; You can't confuse me anymore than I already am. I'm learning though from you guys and other great forums. I think I get the message that Africa is one heck of a big place.

Hey guys I already compromised my plans; I gave up climbing Kilimanjaro on this trip!

I have never been known to relax on holidays or vacations; The first on the the ski slopes and the last off; first in line at Disney Land; don't like to go to parties but the last to leave; climb to the top of the ridge or mountain to see what I might be missing on the other side. I admit to being a bit of a nut case. I just try to get my moneys worth. It's funny though, all my kids and some friends still want me to arrange trips.
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 11:04 AM
  #28
 
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ESDC
Tabora is an interesting stop. Seems that with the distances involved that Avgas, refuelling is required. Tabora must resolve that issue.

There is an operator who is in Northern Zambia that wants to start service to Southern Tanzania this year. His first indications of a price from Mahale to Mfwuwe is quite a bit less then the $6k. Hopefully will have more information soon.
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:18 PM
  #29
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luangwablondes:
You are right, refueling is mentioned at Tabora along with customs. ATR shows a 5 hour flight. RGW said it took them 4 1/2 hours one way and 4 out. Regardless its a loooong trip.
Thanks Ed
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 02:23 PM
  #30
 
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Hi Ed,

The website is www.africaserendipity.com and the email address is AfricaSerendip AT Aol.com (replace the AT with an @ sign). Sandi is with them, and has done a great job arranging trips for many people on this forum. She is a gold mine of information about East Africa!

I got quotes from several operators for a trip to Kenya, and found that Africa Serendipity was very competitive, even with in-country suppliers. There is also the added security of doing business with a bonded US company.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 09:44 AM
  #31
RJW
 
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ESDC:

In regards to your questions:

1) Flight times: The flight times to and from Mahale / Katavi can vary depending on if you have to pick people up or drop people off. On the way out, we flew out of Arusha, and had to stop to pick people up in the western serengeti (which added time to the flight). However, the flight over the serengeti was very scenic, so we actually enjoyed this part. You have to stop in Tabora to refuel. We flew directly to Mahale from Tabora, and flew right over the katavi airstrip. Flying back, we flew directly from Mahale to Arusha (with a stop in Tabora). Depending on how it works out, I would plan on the trip taking a minimum of 4 / maximum of 5 hours. The beginning and end of the flights are fairly scenic, but the middle is rather boring.

2) In regards to your itinerary, I can only comment on the Tanzania part, and so much of this depends on the type of people / travellers you are.

We did not mind the travel, and found that in some cases three nights was great, while at other camps one night was enough. We did the Coffee Lodge - Crater Lodge - Olduvai Camp progression and found that this worked really well. We stopped at Lake Manyara, which is right on the way to the Crater Lodge, and spent the day there. While the conditions were not great, it was still a very good game viewing experience. While I don't think I would go out of my way to go to Lake Manyara, it nicely broke up the drive to the Crater. Make sure you leave early from Arusha (I think we left at about 6:30am) so that you can get to the Crater Lodge in the late afternoon, while it is still light out. The lodge is in such a beatuiful and scenic location it is nice to have some time to walk around the camp and watch the sun set. It is a very memorable place. That being said, I dont see any reason to stay there for more than one night. I would recommend getting up and on the road as early as possible. I think that we were picked up around 6:00 and it is probably a twenty minute ride to the Crater gate. While we found the Crater to be amazing, and there is tons of wildlife everywhere, the first few hours that we were in the Crater,while it was still relatively empty, were the best. As the day goes on, it gets progressively more crowded - and it feels more zoo-like. We had the Crater Lodge pack us a breakfast (which was great), and ate around 11:00. We then ended up driving back out of the crater around 1:45 - and stopped back at the Crater Lodge for a late lunch. ATR arranged all of this with the Crater Lodge,and the Lodge was very accomodating. We then drove from the Crater Lodge to Olduvai camp. Parts of the drive were very scenic, while parts of it were too dusty to enjoy (hopefully when you are there this will not be the case). Also, due to the conditions, there were no animals to be seen anywhere on this drive. We arrived in the late afternoon, and went on the sunset walk. This was the highlight of our stay at the camp. I personally see no reason to stay two nights at this camp - especially since it seems like the majority of the wildlife will be in the Northern Serengeti (or Kenya). I am not sure how you get from Olduvai camp to Nomad's Serengeti Camp (are you driving or flying? but we found three night at the camp to be perfect. As I noted in the earlier posting, we found the Nomad camps to be the highlight of our experience. In addition to the open jeeps (which do have sun covers - similar to a golf cart), at the Masek location we were able to drive anywhere we wanted. This was much different from Manyara, the Crater, and the Serengeti (at least the part we visited). At these locations, you had to stay on the roads - which we did not like as much. I am curious if the location that you will be in allows off road driving. Either way - three nights seems like a good amount of time.

Ideally, you would like to have more time at Mahale. It is really a special place. You will probably arrive at Mahale from Katavi at around 1:30pm. You will have the option of going Chimping that afternoon (unless they are too high in the mountains to get you there and back in time), and the next day as well. The third day you typically leave to early from camp to do any chimping. Obviously, an extra day would be a nice insurance policy to ensure that you saw them. I think that I would take the extra day you had planned to stay at Olduvai and book it at Katavi. From what I have heard, this is an amazing camp - and you will be there in the dry season - which sounds like the time to be there. We found on our trip that our favorite safari parts where the ones when we were by oursleves, and we could drive right up to the animals. From what I understand about Katavi, it will be you and the animals - nothing else. By having the extra night there, you could hopefully switch it to Mahale if something opens up. Since it is the same company, I doubt they would give you a problem - especially if you discussed it with them ahead of time.

That is my two cents. I am sure many people will disagree - but it sounds great to me. I can not comment on the rest of the trip - as I have never been there. Have a great time.
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 10:13 AM
  #32
 
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Ed
A little research and this is what I can suggest. If you started your safari 2 days later(Aug 14th), assuming you don't change the basic itinerary, except that from Kleins Camp on day 9 you fly to Mahale and then 2 days later, fly to Katavi. This change could save some $$ and time. You would now be in range for the Zambian operator to pick you up, go through customs in Mbeya and then fly on to Mfuwe. No need to fly out of the way to Tabora and the extra cost.
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 08:02 PM
  #33
bat
 
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RJW:
Just want to comment that I think that you gave Ed very detailed, informative and useful advice. Do you think that 4 nights in the Nomad serengeti camp would be OK--if walking were permitted for example?
Ed, this may already be factored into your quote, but there is a discount if you stay a certain number of nights in Nomad properties--I think perhaps 9 nights in diff camps or 5 in one. So you might inquire. (serengeti camp, Mahale, Katavi combo)
P.S. Even though you seem set on transferring to Botswana (and I do not blame you), have you read about Selous in southern TZ? Another nomad property down there--Sand River (plus a couple other properties that received some good reviews lately).
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Jan 24th, 2006, 05:45 AM
  #34
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Thanks again RJW, and everyone else for your comments. We are in the process of extending time at some camps and other changes.

NEW QUESTION ? ? ?
We could only get 2 nights at Mahale Greystoke or Zoe's Camp as ATR calls it.

THERE IS ANOTHER CAMP CALLED NKUNGWE CAMP. - HAS ANYONE BEEN THERE ? ? ?

ATR does not recommed it, but looking at their web and others that promote NKUNGWE it sounds rather good. We may try to extend ouy stay at Mahale 2 more nights at NKUNGWE.
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Jan 24th, 2006, 07:40 AM
  #35
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luangwablondes:
How do I contact the new Zambian operator. This may work out great with my possible extension of 1-2 days at Mahale:Nkungwe Camp.

Our current schedule has us arriving on Nomad charter on Thur. Aug 24 from Katavi, and leaving on Airwaves
"shared Charter" on Sat Aug 26 to Mfuwe airstrip for drive to Tena Tena Camp.

I can't find the source now, unless I dreamed it, that there are two scheduled flights into Mahale; Tuesday and Friday and this is why normal stays are 3 or 4 days. THIS SOUND FAMILIAR TO ANYONE? If I could tie into a scheduled flight in or out of Mahale, rather than charter I would think I could save $$.

Thanks again for you time ! ! !
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Jan 24th, 2006, 07:54 AM
  #36
 
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Ed
Contact- luangwablondes at juno dot com

I'll give you all the details.
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Jan 24th, 2006, 08:46 AM
  #37
 
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Ed,
I was away for a couple of days--what's the new itinerary? I know Mahale is staying in, but now it sounds like Zambia too? Just insanely curious and envious...
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