Please comment on this itinerary

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Oct 15th, 2005, 06:03 AM
  #1
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Please comment on this itinerary

Hello Africa Fodorites. My wife and I along with another couple are planning our first safari to Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda for next June. I realize the itineray below is expensive, but I consider this an almost once in a lifetime event. The 17 day trip is costing out at $8300pp with a private group of 4. We're using International Expeditions. I've travelled with them a lot and from previous trips, they've all been very well run. Here's the itinerary:

Jun 07 - Charlotte / Detroit / En route
Jun 08 - Amsterdam / Arusha, Tanzania - Dik Dik Hotel
Jun 09 - fly to Serengeti - full safari services - Mobile Tent Camping (B,L,D)
Jun 10 - full safari services Serengeti Plains - Mobile Tent Camping (B,L,D)
Jun 11 - drive to Tarangire National Park - full safari services - Kikoti Camp (B,L,D)
Jun 12 - full safari services Tarangire National Park - Kikoti Camp (B,L,D)
Jun 13 - Drive to Namanga border & cross into Kenya / full safari services Amboseli National Park - Tortilis Camp (B,L,D)

Jun 14 - full safari services Amboseli National Park - Tortilis Camp (B,L,D)
Jun 15 - fly to Rift Valley - full safari services Lewa Downs - Lewa Safari Camp (B,L,D)
Jun 16 - full safari services Lewa Downs - Lewa Safari Camp (B,L,D)
Jun 17 - fly to Masai Mara Game Reserve - full safari services Masai Mara - Mara Intrepids Camp (B,L,D)
Jun 18 - full safari services Masai Mara Game Reserve - Mara Intrepids Camp (B,L,D)
Jun 19 - full safari services Masai Mara Game Reserve - Mara Intrepids Camp (B,L,D)
Jun 20 - fly to Nairobi / fly to Kigali, Rwanda - Novotel (B,L,D)
Jun 21 - fly to Ruhengeri - Gorilla Trek - Gorilla Nest Lodge (B,L,D)
Jun 22 - 2nd Gorilla Trek / fly to Kigali - Novotel
Jun 23 - morning in Kigali / afternoon flight to Nairobi - in transit for flight home / En Route
Jun 24 - Amsterdam / Newark

I realize there are lots of folks on this board with mucho experience, so I'm really interested in your thoughts. We're interested in doing as much trekking as possible, but also would appreciate driving on occasion. We don't mind the luxury aspects either. Looking forward to your help.

martync is offline  
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Oct 15th, 2005, 10:53 AM
  #2
 
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Hello,

Your itinerary strikes me as quite rushed -- 17 days is not a lot of time to cover three countries. You're moving on every two days, which can get very tiring, and doesn't really give you time to relax and absorb the very special atmosphere of the African bush. Two days is all right for the smaller parks like Tarangire and Amboseli, but not nearly enough for the Serengeti.

Given your early June departure, it seems odd that your itinerary has more nights in the Mara than in the Serengeti -- the Migration is in the Serengeti then, so you will want more time there rather than in the Mara if you seeing the Migration is one of your goals. Some people might even skip the Mara in June, though the Mara still has good sightings even when the Migration is elsewhere. I would recommend at least 4 days in the Serengeti.

Do you know where your camp will be in the Serengeti? The western corridor is a likely spot for the Migration at that time of year.

Your itinerary misses out the Ngorongoro Crater -- are you all right with this?

If the idea of sleeping under the stars appeals to you, I would consider swapping Lewa Downs for Loisaba Starbeds in Laikipia. However, the game-viewing is better at Lewa.

Personally, I feel that Kenya and Tanzania are each worth a separate trip. However, if I were to try to do them both in one trip and to include the parks you have mentioned, I would plan something along the lines of the following:

4-5 days Serengeti
? Add 2 nights Ngorongoro if you want
2 nights Tarangire
2 nights Amboseli
3 nights Laikipia (Lewa Downs or Loisaba)
3-4 nights Masai Mara

I'm afraid I'm not at all primate orientated, so I can't comment on the Rwanda portion.

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 15th, 2005, 12:00 PM
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Hi Martync-
The Rwanda portion of the trip seems too rushed. And I'm assuming you are taking private charter flights.

Even if you are, I would either add another day in Rwanda or do just one trek because that is all you'll have time for. I cannot see you making your first trek the same day you arrive in Ruhengeri. Let me explain.

If you fly into Kigali on the 21st, then on to Ruhengeri the next day, you need to get there in the very wee hours of the morning to make your first Gorilla Trek.
On arrival, you have to drive from Ruhengeri to the ORTPN headquarters. That can take 30 minutes to an hour and you need to be at the Parc's headquarters by 7:30 in the morning at the latest to be assigned to a particular group of gorillas.

The treks can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours depending on which Gorilla group you are visiting and where they are located on the volcano that day.

You will not even get to Gorilla's nest until the late afternoon after your first day of trekking the way you have it arranged.

You said you wanted to travel by car too. I would opt to drive to Ruhengeri from Kigali. The scenery up the volcanoes is wonderful. Arrive at Gorilla's Nest in the early afternoon, relax, and the next day proceed on to your first trek. Then you can decide either to head back that day or stay and do another trek the next day and leave after that.

Hope this helps.

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Oct 15th, 2005, 01:14 PM
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sandi
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Can't comment on the Rwanda portion of your trip - will leave to those who have been there, done that.

But as Jasher mentions: For June, the Serengeti deserves your attention, so where exactly is your mobile camp located? Which camp/outfitter? The Western area definitely deserves 3-4 days... 2-days is just too rushed.

And, of course, the itinerary misses the Ngorongoro Crater - if you are aware of this? The drive from the Serengeti to Tarangire will be a very long one if no stop in-between - the reason the Crater would be a perfect mid-way stop on your return towards Tarangire.

I would trade off the Mara for extra time in the Serengeti and include the Crater. While the Mara is at its peak between July to October, I find, it fascinating throughout the year. However, if you're also trying to include Rwanda, I'd forego the Mara on this trip.
 
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Oct 15th, 2005, 03:32 PM
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On the Rwanda portion, I expect that your transfer between Kigali and Ruhengeri will be by private car -- its only a two-hour drive. I would recommend that you transfer immediately to Ruhengeri after you land in Kigali -- no need to overnight in Kigali. The treks start very early, and if you spend the prior night in Kigali, you'll depart around 4:00 am, so better to spend prior night in Gorilla Nest.

Also, since Serengeti and Masai Mara are two ends of one large park, it may not make sense to spend time in both -- better to concentrate on where the migration would likely be and that way you'll see much more. I have been in the Serengeti when the migration was absent and we did see cats (lion, cheetah and leopard) and other stuff, but we saw a lot more in Masai Mara during migration. That being said, Serengeti is beautiful and its still nice even outside of migration.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 10:04 AM
  #6
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Just a quick reply to thank you guys for the comments. We're taking them to heart. We'll be speaking with the other couple who are going with us and also speaking to our rep tomorrow. We'll definately try to change things around a bit. Certainly adding time to the Serrengeti and perhpas eliminating one stop.

I've heard that the ngorogoro crater is difficult now. Something about only being allowed in for 2 hours at a time. Is this so?

I'll report on our revised itinerary when it's done and again thanks.

This is such a great forum, mainly because of the really knowlegible folks who inhabit here.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 12:22 PM
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I agree with the previous comments. Frankly, considering that this is a private trip it is a disappointing itinerary.

For example, early June is not the best time for Kikoti Camp (outside the park). One reason to stay outside the park is for night-drives. The grass will still be very high (up to the hood) in early June. At night the light from the spotlight will simply bounce back instead of finding wildlife! We tried it this past early June and saw NOTHING as a result!

It is a shame that you spend only 2 nights in the Serengeti in June.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 01:31 PM
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My understanding is that you're restricted to 6 hours at a time in the crater not 2.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 05:58 PM
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Like the others, I'd recommend more time in the Serengeti instead of the Mara in June. If you have a mobile tent in the Serengeti, about 4 days use should be right in June.

For the Rwanda part....

Jun 21 - fly to Ruhengeri - Gorilla Trek
- Gorilla Nest Lodge (B,L,D)

Is this a real early flight so that you can start your gorilla trek by about 8 am? I know that people drive from Kigali to their first gorilla trek, leaving at 4:15 am. That is too early for me, but it was quite common. I had not heard about the flying option.

Jun 22 - 2nd Gorilla Trek / fly to Kigali - Novotel

Trekking and flying to Kigali on the same day should be no problem assuming the flight is later in the day. You may go right from the trek to the airplane, though, without stopping to freshen up.

Even if you end up with IE, I'd ask some strictly Africa travel companies for an itinerary to see what they'd do in June.

Have a great trip!
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Oct 17th, 2005, 11:24 AM
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Haven't been to the Mara, but I wouldn't recommend fewer than 3 days in the Serengeti any time of year.

The whole thing seems a bit rushed, as others have noted, although of course I understand the desire to see "everything."

Speaking of seeing everything, no Crater??? Sure, some people are disappointed with it because there are so many tourists, but as Sandi has pointed out, it's right smack in the middle of where you'll be driving. It would be a terrible shame to miss it.

I look forward to hearing more about your plans as they develop, and, when you return, a trip report...please?
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Oct 17th, 2005, 12:21 PM
  #11
 
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One thing to point out about a stop in Ngorongoro is that since you want to do as much trekking as possible that there are a number of trekking possibilities in the crater. So, even if you only do one or two game drives there, you can spend the rest of the time hiking in the Crater Highlands.
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