Please help me choose which Tanzania safari!

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Jan 21st, 2015, 12:05 PM
  #1
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Please help me choose which Tanzania safari!

I have two proposed itineraries for a Feb. 2016 Tanzania trip to coincide with Rwanda gorilla trekking. Not our first trip to Tanzania, but first at that time of year. Option A is ~ $1800 pp higher cost than Option B (although 1 day longer). My DH likes Option A (comfort and we've traveled with the operator to Tanzania before). I like saving the money. We're at an impasse. Any opinions?

Option A

Arusha Coffee Lodge 2 nights, 1 full day safari Arusha National Park
Flight to Kusini Airstrip, 2 nights Kusini Lodge
3 Nights Lake Masek Tented Camp
2 Nights Ngorongoro Manor (game drive to Crater day 1 and Lake Manyara day 2)

This is a private safari. We could reverse the order if we want, but we like starting in the Serengeti.

Option B

Lake Duluti Lodge 1 night ½ day safari Arusha National Park
2 nights Exploreans Lodge with game drives to Lake Manyara National Park and the Crater
3 Nights Lake Masek Tented Camp
2 Nights Namiri Plains Camp

Up to Namiri Plains, it is a private vehicle safari. At that point, we switch to the camp vehicles and shared game drives. Camp is new and we were told the camp guides know the area better.

In both cases we fly out to Kigali from the nearest airstrip to the last lodge/camp.

Any thoughts? Thanks.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 07:58 AM
  #2
 
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Kuisini is west in Ndutu, Namiri is far northeast for Southern Serengeti. See map below.

I don't know what your time budget is, but could you get 2 more nights added to B for about the same cost as A? More is better in my mind on safari. Where to put those 2 nts, or maybe just one more night, if you wanted to add more? I'd stay put at Lake Masek because less moving around is better and it is more nights in an area where you can go offroad.

A shared vehicle at a more exclusive out of the way place like Namari is not a big drawback. That's because you are likely to get people who really want to be out there and are enthusiastic about what's out there if they've made the effort and paid to go to these more remote spots.

However, if you have very particular needs such as photographing birds or wanting to wait for hours for a cheetah to hunt or searching all morning for a wilde birth, then a private vehicle the whole trip is the only way to go.

Or if photography is huge on your list, then being able to go off road becomes more important and I don't think you can do that at Namiri because it is not in Ndutu.

If you look at this map, I think you can click on the lodge farthest north, yet still below the dashed B144 roadline to see Namiri. The earlier you are going in Feb, the more Namiri makes sense for migration viewing.

http://www.africatravelresource.com/...ini-camp/maps/

If you click on the lodge furthest west on the map you'll see Kusini. I think Kusini is just outside of the heaviest migration route, but still close.


It looks like A has a full day in Arusha. B has half a day in Arusha. So matching them up on this part:

Have you been to either Arusha before?
Would you like to do canoeing and walking in Arusha? Both are great activities. If yes, then a day is needed.
How high a priority is seeing or photographing the beautiful black and white colobus monkeys? If photos are a priority, then a day may be needed for these cheeky monkeys.

Logistics. You want to start in the Serengeti, but B does not. But B could likely be re-worked to start you in the Serengeti, probably at Namari. In fact, I'd ask for the transportation times and logistics for each. You may find one wastes less time and therefore is more attractive.

Maybe I'll see you there in Feb 2016!
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 08:22 AM
  #3
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Thanks. We're leaving US around Feb 7 so we are looking at mid Feb. in Serengeti. DH has almost certainly vetoed Namiri Plains. So we may be stuck with option A. I do like the idea of full day in Arusha NP. The monkeys and birds were the main reasons for going there. As well as an "easy" day to adjust to jet lag. We spent several days in Amsterdam on our last trip, but not doing that in winter!

The trips are same number of days, one just has more time in Rwanda so that partly accounts for the cost differential. If we add a day of safari, I think the costs get closer.

I guess my main question is whether Kusini is too far from "the action." I don't need to see big herds every day, and with five days in the southern Seregenti I assume we'll be able to get to it some time. The Option A company recommends full day game drives with picnic lunch most days.

Option A likes to start in Seregenti on the idea that you are exited and energetic so best to do the more productive game drives first. Option B drives out to save the flight. The main real difference is Option A saves the drive from Arusha to Karatu. But i don't know you gain much time--the flight takes almost as long, I think with, check in, etc.

I do hope we see you. I read your Namibia trip report on Safari Talk. I debated which trip would be our next one to Africa. Since we aren't getting any younger, the gorilla trek won out for 2016. Namibia will wait at least until 2017.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 10:21 AM
  #4
 
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Technically Kusini is located in the Serengeti, not the Ngorongoro Conservation area (NCA)/Ndutu.

Namiri isn't north, rather 'east' of Central/Seronera. If not wishing to go that far east, consider Dunia Camp (also an Asilia property) which is considered in Southern Serengeti and close enough to Seronera. Another option in the Southern Serengeti would be Elewana's Pioneer Camp. Both of these are great choices.

Ngorongoro Manor is lovely but know that it is a long drive off the main road whether visiting Manyara or especially the Crater itself.

Neither A nor B get you on the crater rim, so I have to wonder if this isn't an ATR itinerary as they're known to rarely put clients on the rim. However, if I had to choose between Exploreans or the Manor, I'd go for Exploreans (about 2-3/yrs old with 10 lovely cottages that clients really like overall, as its just about a 5/min drive to/from entry of the Crater regardless whether you visit here or Manyara first.

Good luck with your decision.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 01:12 PM
  #5
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Thanks, Sandi.

We were told Pioneer was too far west for that time of year by both operators. I can ask again. Dunia has the same "bucket shower" that DH is balking at for Namiri Plains. I know everyone says they are fine, but I've been unable to convince him. He had to be enticed to do the gorilla trek by a return to Tanzania, so I need to accommodate his wishes!

Also, I specifically told both operators I didn't want to stay on the Crater rim, having spent two nights there on our last trip (three total Crater game drives). Exploreans is a property Option A offered as an alternative too, at a slightly lower cost than Manor, but they said Manor was a good value that time of year as "mid season" rather than highest rates apply. I'll ask again the pros and cons of each.

Neither operator is ATR...both US based. We traveled before with the Option A company, one of the reasons DH prefers them.

Thanks again for your input.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 01:57 PM
  #6
 
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"The Option A company recommends full day game drives with picnic lunch most days." You can get to wherever you need to be and there will be no whining about showers. Those are two good reasons for A.
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Jan 24th, 2015, 11:17 AM
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Thanks for clarifying 'why not on the crater rim.' Exploreans is simply a lower price than The Manor... just the way it is and Feb sure is not mid-season. Peak season runs from 20th Dec thru mid-Mar.

Bucket showers vs regular - oh well, he's your hubby. To me a shower is a shower, it's wet and gets me clean, so it's up to you to deal with that, LOL!

Pioneer being too far west... ugh! No farther west than Namiri would be east. Pioneer right at the kopjes and great for lion/cat sightings, hanging about.

Where you have own guide/vehicle the game drives can be morning, afternoon or full-day... you coordinate with your guide. It's often when you use camp guide/vehicle that they keep to schedule of morning and late-afternoon only, remembering you're sharing with others who might not wish to be out all day. There might be some days that you don't want to be out the entire day. Personally, I'd kill myself if it's an entire day.
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Jan 24th, 2015, 01:26 PM
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To make things more complicated, I just got a third quote which was kind of delayed (let's call it Option C) that is a combination, and it does have the Pioneer Camp (instead of Kusini or Namiri) so they don't think it is too far west. That could be a compromise and avoids the bucket showers. DH is still leaning toward Option A for intangible reasons, mostly that we know what to expect and were very happy with our first trip with that company. Sounds like it will be fine whichever we choose between "A" and "C".

This forum always gives good advice. It's the reason we went to Mashatu (Botswana) in 2012 and thought that was great.
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Jan 24th, 2015, 05:11 PM
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So Option C is

Arusha Coffee Lodge 2 nights, 1 full day safari Arusha National Park
2 nights Pioneer
3 Nights Lake Masek Tented Camp
2 Nights Ngorongoro Manor (game drive to Crater day 1 and Lake Manyara day 2)

??

If this one is a good price, ask your Co A about this itinerary and see what they can do. Although sometimes agents have arrangements with camps so that offer them better pricing.

Take a look at this map so you can judge for yourself what is west or north or whatever.

When you roll your mouse over the camp it gives the name.

http://www.africatravelresource.com/...eer-camp/maps/
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Jan 25th, 2015, 09:57 AM
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C looks good. Only comment: If 1st nt on arrival spend at Arusha Coffee Lodge, next day for the Arusha Natl Park is clear over the other side of (thru) town and almost up to where JRO airport located. And when concluding at ANP, that drive again thru Arusha Town to Arusha Coffee Lodge.

Note: Arusha Coffee Lodge is a beauty, but is located farthest south of Arusha Town (outside of Arusha airport, on the way to Tarangire). Bear in mind.

Realize you wish to avoid 1/nts, but maybe on arrival and if ANP scheduled for next day, consider Onsea House which is small, well rated and on the opposite side of Arusha Coffee Lodge... somewhat closest to ANP (maybe even think about Riverside... even closer to the airport on arrival).
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Jan 30th, 2015, 12:58 PM
  #11
 
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Ages ago, these ladies helped me so I know you're getting great advice. Only thing I might add but it's my opinion, I didn't love the Lake Manyara area. But everyone is different. Arusha Coffee Lodge is fantastic! Looks like a great trip, whatever you decide!
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Feb 1st, 2015, 08:38 AM
  #12
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Thanks, all of you. Option B is out (and I told the agent). Option C also offered Onsea House as an alternative (and I could ask A about it). I like the look of it, but perhaps there is more to do on property at Arusha Coffee Lodge if we stick with Option A, as we'll have a free afternoon on arrival day. And the price difference is not much between them. Like the idea of short drive from ACL to airstrip if we stick with Option A.

We have time to decide between since I've booked the Rwanda part separately (to be sure of permits) so I can take some time to choose between A and C.

Thanks again.
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Apr 7th, 2015, 12:34 PM
  #13
 
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We are looking at a similar trip. Just wondering who you booked the Rwanda portion of your trip with. I was hoping to book the Tanzania and Rwanda parts together, but have not yet made it work.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 07:17 AM
  #14
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Hello JRS409,

We ended up booking the Rwanda portion directly with the lodge (which is owned by Governor's Camps in Kenya).

http://www.governorscamp.com/propert...volcans-rwanda

They booked a Kigali hotel and transport, as well as the gorilla permits. Our Tanzania operator booked the flight on Coastal from Tanzania to Kigali.

I got two other proposals that combined both, one was from Access2Tanzania who is adding Rwanda operations. It was a very good itinerary (well priced) and the reason we didn't go with it is long and convoluted. I suggest you try them. http://access2tanzania.com

Also, Africa Adventure Company in Florida could do a combined trip.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 08:14 AM
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At least Onsea House is close to town. Not right 'in' town, but a short maybe 3-5/min drive outside on road that goes to JRO. Easy enough to walk into town to browse/wander around. Arusha Coffee Lodge, as mentioned above, is clear out of town to the South and quite a bit of long drive (or if walking especially) to just get to the shops nearest/in town. Thus if you plan any activities - Onsea is better positioned. Besides, of course, traffic thru Arusha Town mid-day is horrific.
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