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csuss Mar 31st, 2005 11:07 AM

Round 2 - Safari Planning June/July 2006
I was well on my way to figuring out a great safari itinerary and then I spoke to more people who made me second guess the original plan, so here are some more questions:

First time in Africa
June/July 2006
10 Days (plus time for Int'l travel
Should I choose just one - Kenya or Tanzania? I was planning a combo but it was suggested to me that it would make more sense to choose just one to save travel time and expense?

Do you have strong feelings about one over the other with only 10 days? Remember, this is our first time so where would you go for your first time?

It was suggested that Kenya might be a bit less expensive and that it can be more personalized with the small game reserves. Any comments?

I was told that Tarangire is so crowded in high season that all you see are other Safari vehicles. Any Comments?

Has anyone stayed at Giraffe Manor outside Nairobi? Is it worth it?

Can you drive from Amboseli to Tarangire? How long would that take (I saw pictures of Amboseli and was pretty impressed). Should I substitute Ambroselli for Arusha?

Thanks all - I have more questions but can't think of them right now.

jules39 Mar 31st, 2005 11:46 AM


I can't answer all of your questions as well as some other people here can but I will give you my thoughts on some things. We spent 18 days in Tanzania & Kenya in Feb (travel time was not included in this) Of that time we spent 10 days in Tanzania alone. That would be the length of your trip and I would recommend trying not to rush too much. A friend of ours is so in awe of our photos that he is now in the process of booking a trip and can only be there for about 10 days and we both suggested Tanzania to him. Now I cannot comment on the time of year you are going as to whether Kenya would in fact be better for that time of year. But both my husband & I loved Tanzania. You are right about Amboselli it was a lovely place. When we first arrived there I thought it was a bit of a dust bowl but then the clouds opened & gave us views of Kili for 2 days and we saw lots of wildlife and wonderful sunset & sunrise drives. It is only a half day drive from Arusha. I don't know if I have been much help but I am sure some of the others here will. Just keep asking questions! One thing I am absolutely certain about is that you will love Afica and have a fantastic trip. This trip was a return for me after 15 years and I was afraid it would not live up to my memories. It surpassed them! My husband had wanted to go for years and he now says it is one of the best trips ever and we travel quite a lot.

Good luck! J

sandi Mar 31st, 2005 12:55 PM

Yes, you are second guessing yourself. In the end it comes down to when you're traveling and your budget that should determine your itinerary.

If it's the migrating herds you want to see, then they are likely to be found in the Western Serengeti in June before heading into the Mara sometime in July. Of course, being animals, the timing is never exact. If traveling in June, "some" accommodations have yet to raise their prices to High Season rates. But, generally, you'll be traveling in High Season, so rates will be high. It's a matter of the accommodations you select, where you might find some savings.

I believe the itinerary I listed in your other thread (and you should keep all the postings regarding your trip together - not separate threads) will give you the best of Tanzania and Kenya for the period you are traveling.

During this period of time, it's crowded just about everywhere, so there's not much getting away from it, whether Tarangire, the Crater, Serengeti, Mara and Amboseli. If you were traveling end-October/begin-November - that would be different, but you're not traveling at that time. However, since you will have your own guide/driver most of the itinerary, you can basically set your own schedule and stay longer at places while groups move on.

Of course, you can do either country alone, but you'll still find crowds during June/July.

As the Giraffe Manor - yes, it's lovely, but also expensive. If budget is a concern, there are less expensive alternatives for your short time in NBO.

I would suggest you submit your itinerary to whichever tour operators you've selected; see what prices they offer and work from that.

Regardless, there is never enough time (or money) to see/do it all on one trip; so taking a line from Arnold, "you'll be back" to visit more places in Kenya and/or Tanzania or elsewhere in Africa.

Patty Mar 31st, 2005 01:50 PM

With 10 days/9 nights, my personal preference would be to stick with one country and not try to visit both. And if budget is a concern, then visiting one country will help reduce overall costs too (if simply because you don't have to pay for extra flights and visas). I think in general comparable accomodations in Kenya are slightly less expensive than their counterparts in Tanzania. I've also been reading recently on this and another message board that park fees in Tanzania will be raised next year, some up to $100 per day. Whether or not this will actually happen, I don't think anyone knows for certain.

And if you're concerned about crowds, Amboseli isn't the place to be either. I counted 29 vehicles at one sighting in February. Same probably holds true for any of the popular parks in high season. If getting away from crowds is really important to you, choose a different season as sandi says. Or pick less popular parks in either country. You may not get the same density of game as the Mara, Amboseli, the Crater, etc. but you won't get the same density of minibuses either ;) You have to decide what's more important to you. We found that we definitely preferred quality over quantity and having a lot of other vehicles around really took away from the overall experience. But that's just us and others may feel differently.

csuss Mar 31st, 2005 02:32 PM

Food for alot of thought. High Season works well for us timing wise - the other alternative is MAY, but I do want to make sure we get the maximum "safari experience" since I don't know when we will get back to Africa again. March would work but I am affraid we won't be able to use our FF miles by now. October is also high season, so that's no help and I don't really want to wait that long anyway.

As for Giraffe Manor - I know it is expensive, I'm wondering if it is worth it - how cool is it (I've ridden elephants and swam with dolphins) is it worth the high price?

I am ordinarily a very collected well organied sane person - but like a dessert buffet I think I've been given too many choices here!

Patty Mar 31st, 2005 03:37 PM

<I am ordinarily a very collected well organied sane person - but like a dessert buffet I think I've been given too many choices here!>

Boy, I can certainly relate to that! :D Conversation at our dinner table last night - "Do you think we should combine the next trip to Kenya with southern Tanzania or northern Tanzania or a gorilla trek in Rwanda? Can't we just allocate another 2 weeks and $10,000?"

csuss Mar 31st, 2005 03:50 PM

That Gorilla trek is soooo tempting...

divewop Mar 31st, 2005 04:04 PM

Do it, Do it, Do it!..It's an incredible experience! Of course, I'm not biased or anything! :D

atravelynn Mar 31st, 2005 04:46 PM


You'll be planning trip #2 before trip #1 is finalized!

Is this what you ended up with? I took it from a previous post. If this is not your final itinerary, just ignore my ramblings that follow.

Day 1 - fly from Nairobi to Kilamanjaro. Overnight at Moivaro Coffee Lodge.

Day 2 - transfer to Tarangire overnight at Tarangire Tree Tops

Day 3 - Tarangire; overnight at Tarangire Tree Tops

Day 4 - transfewr to Lake Manyara overnight at Lake Manyara Tree Camp

Day 5 transfer to Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Day 6 Ngorongoro

Day 7 transfer to Serengeti Serena Lodge

Day 8 Serengeti

Day 9 back to Arusha and fly back to Nairobi. Overnight at Giraffe Manor.

I would trade the night in Manyara for one more in the Serengeti. If you can stay at a tented camp like Kleins or Migration Camp or Mbuzi for at least 2 of the 3 nights that would be good.

Agreeing with divewop on the gorillas, do it!

JazzDrew Mar 31st, 2005 05:40 PM


We are also headed to Kenya/Tanzania this June/July and are staying at Giraffe Manor for our first safari. I'll be glad to report back what I expect to be a memorible stay.

There is a vidoe called "Tall Blondes" that I bought that is wonderful. All about Giraffes. Based on a great book by the same name and features video of Giraffe Manor. Check it out - Your certainly want to stay at the Manor after seeing the video and reading the book!

csuss Apr 1st, 2005 08:43 AM

JazzDrew - I can't wait to hear about your trip - I am modeling my itinerary on yours. What are your travel dates? How are you flying to Nairobi, etc? Also, what company did you end up using?

Atravelynn - I think I will definitely cut out Maynara. BUt what about AMborseli instead of Arusha?

More later - I actually have to work now!

luangwablondes Apr 3rd, 2005 07:30 PM

If you are going to travel at high season and 10 days is all that is alloted-
Serengeti-tented camp
and the Selous-mobile safari like sand river
3 totally different ecosystems and the last 2 an opportunity to stay away from the masses. Not a rush to get around but gives a feel or wild Africa.

atravelynn Apr 4th, 2005 07:37 AM

If you cut out Manyara, then

Day 8 back to Arusha and fly back to Nairobi. Overnight at Giraffe Manor

Day 9 Amboseli

Day 10 Amboseli.

You would be leaving Africa on Day 11

That would be a good plan. It looks like you were planning on ending in Kenya anyway, at Giraffe Manor. Including Amboseli would further justify the Kenya visa.

sandi Apr 4th, 2005 01:54 PM

If you're already in Arusha, you can drive to Amboseli, spend two days there, then drive or fly to NBO and overnight at the Giraffe Manor. No need to fly to NBO that dry or fly to/from Amboseli. No back and forth for me.

You can just as easily upon arrival in Tanzania, fly to your furthest point, the Western Serengeti for a few days, then work your way back to the Crater, then Tarangire, then Arusha, Amboseli and finally Nairobi.

JazzDrew Apr 4th, 2005 05:54 PM


Isn't the planning fun??!! If the safari is 1/2 as much fun I'll be thrilled.

Here are our travel dates as requested:

We leave Iowa on June 18, travel to Amsterdam for a rest day then on to Nairobi - Giraffe Manor for the night (June 20).

Then we fly to Tortilis for 2 nights, then drive to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge for 2 nights. Next is Ngorongoro Serena for 2 nights followed by one night at the Serengeti Serena. We continue to Kirawira for 3 nights. Then we fly back to Arusha for a day room at the KIA Lodge. We have an overnight flight back to Amsterdam. Another rest day there then back home on my birthday - July 4. I can't wait:)

I have a rather detailed Word file of our trip that I prepared for relatives that considered traveling with us. I'd be happy to email it to you if you would like as you are planning many of the same locations as us. Just let me know and I'll be glad to provide you with the info.

csuss Apr 5th, 2005 01:55 PM

JazzDrew - thank you that would be great [email protected]

Sandi - i like your suggestions and I will look into the backwards itinerary.

Atravelynne - I am trying to decide wether or not to include Kenya. I am looking in to flying directly to Arusha or Dar El Salaam from London or Zurich or something. Jim said maybe we should add a few days on to the trip and go to Zanzibar for a bit 'o beach afterwards.

I met a South African Woman on Sunday who mapped out a beautiful and easy Kenya trip as well:
3 Days Lew Downs
3 Days Masai Mara
3 Days Ol Malo

Her sister owns Micato Safaris (but she thought the people on Micato trips would be too old for us) and she has planned many safaris herself and she is best friends with a friend of mine so I trust her. I will have itineraries for both countries priced and see if there is significant difference.

So Decisions, decisions. I am wondering why everyone on this forum goes to Tanzania and there are so few Kenyan travellers?

If you just read this forum you would think everyone goes to Tanzania so Kenya should be empty.

Patty Apr 5th, 2005 02:31 PM

Actually I went to Kenya in January and loved it! So much so that I'm working on getting back later this year. For our return trip we'll concentrate on Kenya but may include Tanzania depending on flight availability. I'm trying to use ff miles and it seems easier to get flights out of JRO/DAR than NBO but will see what happens.

For the Kenya itinerary that you listed, you'll have to fly between those destinations which could get expensive. Scheduled flights are available between Nairobi and Lewa and Nairobi and Masai Mara. I believe Ol Malo would require charter flights. Also Ol Malo is pricey as are many of camps in and around the Lewa Conservancy. The focus at these 2 locations is on high income/low volume tourism and you're unlikely to encounter many other vehicles. In the Masai Mara, there are lots of options in all price ranges - I don't know if you've picked any particular places. Anyway, I'd be curious to see what the price comes back as. Please post when you find out.

atravelynn Apr 5th, 2005 04:18 PM

You have not had a bad itinerary in any of your proposals yet. This new one would take in some great Kenya offerings.

As for Kenya travel compared to Tanzania, I've loved every minute in both countries so I can't recommend one over the other and would jump at an offer to go either place. The board might seem lopsided with Tanzania departures, but I don't think that indicates Kenya is a lesser destination.

3 days Lewa Downs--I spent 3 days in 2001 and loved it. As Patty stated, Lewa is more expensive than some options, but it was a secluded, beautiful park. A big draw is that it is probably the best place in Africa to see rhinos.

You can do night drives here, which are not that common in Kenya. We saw a leopard and some adorable juvenile hyenas at play during 2 night drives.

There were a couple of excellent blinds where we saw a sitatunga.

You can do escorted walks, which were enjoyable.

I did a wonderful 2-3 hour camel safari, led by members of the Samburu tribe, where we saw rhino, hyena, giraffe, and at a distance even elephants.

You can also do horseback riding, which we did not do.

There are even blinds that you can walk to from your very lovely tent/huts and just watch the wildlife from there.

I would think you'd do Lewa and Ol Malo together since they are closest. How you get from one to the other I don't know.

I'm not familiar with Ol Malo, or its surrounding environment, but its website showed staying in a charming cottage, which would be different from your other accommodations.

The Mara in June/July would be a great grand finale for Kenya. If possible, I'd stay 4 days here. Then you'd have your 10, unless one of the 10 days remains alloted to Giraffe Manor. In that case, I'd do Giraffe Manor first while getting over any jet lag.

JazzDrew Apr 5th, 2005 06:54 PM


I just sent you an email with a rather large Word file. Please let me know if you recieved it as my email is sometimes unreliable with large files.


sandi Apr 5th, 2005 07:03 PM

Lewa and Ol Malo are both up north in Kenya. There are scheduled flights to Lewa which has been rated with one of the best bathrooms in Africa? I've seen better, but these are unique. To Ol Malo is by private charter or scheduled w/private charter. And flight, especially private charters add to the price. Both of these camps are in the $400-$500/nt/pperson range at this year's prices... figure at minimum 10% higher for next. Neither of these camps accommodate many guests (max. about 10, if full); you can almost be guaranteed not to run in other vehicles at sightings or at any other of your activities. In the Mara you have a variety of lodging choices and different price ranges.

Of course, these three locations are a good combination, but you have to decide if this is what you want for your introduction to East Africa.

Both Kenya and Tanzania have wonders to offer the visitor, but if the Migration is of interest, you won't find it up north.

Personally, I'd consider this Laikipia/Meru/Northern area in combination with a fuller East African safari, not the major part of a first or only trip. It's your choice.

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