Round 2 - Safari Planning June/July 2006

Reply

Apr 14th, 2005, 11:19 AM
  #61
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
csuss -

I too read $550 double as the per night, per room rate. And do verify that the game drives and conservation/park fee is included. A good reason to use an outfitter is that many often have better contract rates, can coordinate your transport and transfers especially if driving. If you're flying here, the camp will transfer you, but if driving, who is driving you? You can't just pick up a driver (w/vehicle) thumbing along the side of the road. And where is the driver sleeping, eating when you're "partying" and sleeping. With the exception of few camps that require you use their guides/vehicles, most camps/lodges have facilities for drivers (bunk-type housing - think cowboys in the old-time West). And Mbalegeti is less expensive then Kirawira. Unless you're flying to/from everyone of your stops where the lodging will include the transfers in their prices, if driving you need to have a reputable guide/driver/vehicle.

If the Serengeti is your last stop, you can return fly from Grumeti airstrip to Arusha/Kili for a connecting flight to Zanzibar. Depending on the number of days, you plan to stay on Zanzibar you may want to consider continuing onto the sister Island of Pemba. Here there are few, if any, 4* star lodgings, this being Fundu Lagoon. The others aren't more then guest houses as Pemba isn't as equipped for tourists as is Zanzibar. If staying on Zanzibar, a good site for locating accommodations is:

http://www.encounterzanzibar.com/index.htm

The North and East coasts are supposed to be the best, but check out the site to see what's available. Also, here on the island/s accommodations are either B&B only or HB (bkfst/dinner); few are FB (3-meals).

Remember, that the distance from the airport to North or East is a good hour, so many return to the Stone Town vicinity for the last day or two, which is only 10-minutes from the airport for your outbound flight. The same website will have a listing of accommodations in Stone Town.
 
Reply With Quote
Apr 14th, 2005, 12:52 PM
  #62
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 183
I will definitely be booking through an operator - so transportation between camps will be provided and I will be going to the Serengetti from Ngorongoro and we will be driving. I just contacted Mbalageti for rates out of curiosity - that is the rack rate, but I will definitely see if that includes game drives and park fees, etc. or if there is another rate if we have our own driver (which we will).

We will then fly from Serengetti to Arusha. I would like to skip Stone Town if that is poosible with flights both ways - I think we will be tired of shleping from camp to camp every few days and would prefer just to park ourselves on a beach for two or three days But I have do some research on this.

Leely - I just told them I would be travelling the last week of June/first week of July and this is what they quoted. I don't think a week or two on either side makes a price difference. If you want to email mew your email address, I can forward on the photos that Mbalageti sent me - they may convince your friends to go there over Kirawira which yousaid is more expensive (ouch). The photo of the pool is going to make my hubby very happy.
csuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 14th, 2005, 01:31 PM
  #63
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
csuss,
I try to do the same - find out what the posted rate at a particular camp is before submitting my itinerary. That way I have a good idea of what to expect for total costs.

As a side note, our guide mentioned to us that his accomodation at Finch Hattons was one of the best he'd encountered. He had a private room, didn't have to share with anyone, probably because most other guests flew in.
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 15th, 2005, 12:00 PM
  #64
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 183
How does this soundd:

2 Nights Nairobi - Ngong House
Fly to Amboseli
1 night Tortellis
Drive to Tarangire
2 Nights Tree Tops
Drive to Ngorogoro
2 Nights Serena
Drive to Serengetti
3 nights Mbalgeti Camp
fly to Zanizibar
3 nights on Beach (Matemwe Bungalows or Ras Nungwi)(Might have to do last night in Stone Town depending on air schedule)
Fly home.

Does this sound like too much driving/travelling?

Is the drive from Ngorogoro to Mbalgeti very long? What about from Amboselli to Tarangire?

I unfortunately had to scale back serengetti one day so as not to break the bank and to help with extra time for Zanzibar.

I had quite a bit of sticker shock yesterday. I tested out some itineraries with American companies and the prices were close to 7K for each of us. That did not include Zanzibar or international Airfare. One company told me they use a local operator - and it turned out to be C&C - so I guess I can scratch them both off my list. I am curious as to what the mark-up was on top of the original C&C quote. Roy's is looking pretty good right now...

Thanks all.

csuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 15th, 2005, 12:49 PM
  #65
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
You might find this thread with some driving distances listed helpful -

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34576356

On Mbagaleti camp's website, it says that they're located 3 hours from the Naabi gate, so that would put the total drive somewhere around 5-5.5 hours.

Our drive from Ol Tukai to the Namanga border was approx. 1.5 hours, Tortilis may be a bit closer. I believe from the border crossing to Arusha is another hour, putting the total drive from Amboseli to Tarangire around 5 hours. These are just my best guesses.

Which US companies have you contacted? Some companies have very high markups and others don't. Abercrombie & Kent's is around 100% - though technically I'm not sure if you can call it a markup as I believe A&K operates their own ground services. Other operators like 2Afrika have very minimal markups and can sometimes be quite competitive. Who is C&C?
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 15th, 2005, 01:18 PM
  #66
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
csuss -

I gather the reason for 2-nts in NBO is to recover from jetlag and do some sightseeing. If not and depending on when your flight arrives NBO, you might only need 1-nt, then head out on safari. In that case, I'd do 2-nts at Tortilis... my own preference.

From Tortilis to the Namanga border is about 2-hrs (if the road is still in good repair... longer, if not), then 1+ hrs to Arusha (after border crossing procedures), then 2 - 3 hrs. to Tarangire, probably arriving lunch.

From Tarangire to Ngorongoro Crater figure about 5-hrs. With a very early start arriving for lunch. And since in '06 there will only be 1/2-day Crater tours, you can do the tour that afternoon, saving yourself a 2nd night here.

Depending on how early you depart, the drive from Ngorongoro to the Western Serengeti is a good haul, especially since you'll likely want to stop for about 1-hr at Olduvai Gorge. I would suggest you arrange to stop at the Serena for a sit-down lunch. Otherwise, arrange for a boxed lunch from Ngorongoro... not too appealing. Besides, you'll need a "pit" stop and the Serena is clean, so I'd have lunch here. Then continue onto Mbalegeti.

Along the way, there will be some areas that are rather boring, but others a real adventure with animal sightings. With the Olduvai stop and lunch, figure you'd reach Mbaleget sometime mid- to late-afternoon.

If you're thinking of flying, know that the closest airport to Ngorongoro is at Lk. Manyara, so this is a poor option as you'd have to drive back 2+ hrs to make a flight to Grumeti.

We've done the trip by road, and though long, we had safari all the way and made a number of stops including lunch. We, like you plan to do, did fly back from the Western Serengeti.

With 1 less night at Ngorongoro, you can have it at Mbalegeti.

Besides the 1/2-day Crater Tours for '06 as mentioned above, remember that the Serengeti Park Fees are supposed to increase for next year, the exact amount not yet firm. And while June prices are often lower then July, not all properties adhere to this. So if you have a choice between June or July, opt for mid- to late-June and keep your fingers crossed for lower June prices. No prices, regardless from which tour operator/outfitter will be firm until you pay.

When you mention C&C, did you not mean CCA (Conservation Corp of Africa)? They are on the high-end to start with, besides none of the properties you are considering are CCA properties, so it's strange that the American outfitter was using them in the first place!

 
Reply With Quote
Apr 15th, 2005, 02:58 PM
  #67
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 183
Good advice Sandi - Thank you. I think what I should do now is bid this out to all the companies we have listed here, and start developing a relationship with the operator, perhaps they can shed some more light on these issues.

I chose 2 nights in Nairobi because of jet lag, flying from LAX we lose an entire day literally (I have to figure that out)in Nairobi I want to see Eleanor my Elephant and go to Giraffe Manor and dinner at Carnivore, I am not sure we can do all of this in 1/2 day?

Yes I did mean CCA.

My next hurdle will be conquering the airlines - I can't book the flight until 11 months out (July) so any safari bookings I make now will have to be contingent on working the schedule around when I get flights. Since no one can even quote me the 2006 prices for the camps and lodges yet I think that should be a fair exchange. Am I dreaming?

THanks again
csuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 15th, 2005, 03:17 PM
  #68
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 183
One more thing - no one ever talks about visitinga Masai Village? Where along the route can you do this, or is it just tacky?
csuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 15th, 2005, 03:21 PM
  #69
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
I think this year (planning for 2006) is especially uncertain because of the fee increases.

It sounds like you're going about this in a very reasonable way.

FYI, these things are entirely personal/individual, but we flew from SFO and we really weren't that jetlagged. Arrived NBO in the morning, went to the hotel, showered, changed, had breakfast and were off to sightsee in Nairobi.

Then again, lack of jetlag might have had something to do with the fact that I just kept thinking ,"OMG, I'm in Africa! I can't believe it."
Leely is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 15th, 2005, 03:51 PM
  #70
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
csuss -

Visiting a Masai Village is a bit touristy, but interesting. If you manage a visit at an "off time" you can have these places to yourself. With time to talk to the villagers, see the children, and be prepared to be offered souvenirs to purchase. Cost is about USD$20/perso.

You can also visit a school, if you there when classes are in session. Cost is free, but a donation of supplies - books, blow-up globes, pads, pencils, others are suggested.

There are also a number of women's organizations doing interesting work in both countries. Many visits take a few hours averaging about USD$30-$45/person most of which is actually a contribution.

Inquire of your outfitter for cultural visits that you would find of interest.
 
Reply With Quote
Apr 15th, 2005, 05:03 PM
  #71
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
Maasai visits along the route?

Yes, there are 2 between Ngorongoro and Oldupai that are next to the road. They charge $50 (I think it is per vehicle) and you can take as many pictures as you like. There are plenty others in the NCA but further away from the main road.

An English speaking Maasai will then walk with you through the village explaining how they live. In the area where they keep their cattle at night, some will line up and sing with the traditonal jumping.

They will also take you into a dung hut - it is small & very dark inside with lots of smoke from the fire in the little kitchen area! The guide will show you where the father sleeps and the wife and the kids. If something is cooking they may offer you a bite!

Outside, you can ask questions and then they will show you the many things they have for sale - necklaces, pipes, beads, etc.

These few villages can be seen as touristy when minibus convoys show up, but the villagers need the money especially to send the kids to school (in Arusha and elsewhere) so I always stop by Longoko village near Oldupai to buy something!

These are real villages and despite the influx of tourists the Maasai has a way of remaining authentic. One of reasons why I love Tanzania and especially the Maasai.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2005, 03:14 PM
  #72
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 183
Hi All - I've got some new questions:

When booking with a local outfitter in Tanzania or Kenya can you use a credit card or does everything have to be done via bank transfers?

On Zanzibar - Has anyone stayed at:
Shooting Star Gueat House
Matemwe Bungalows
Ras Nungwi

Three very different types of places - I'm trying to get a handle on how good the beach is at each place, will I need A/C in July how bad the mosquito situation is etc.

Thanks
csuss
csuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2005, 03:41 PM
  #73
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
Some but not all operators accept credit cards for deposits and usually when they do, there's a surcharge involved. My tour operator did accept them with a 5% surcharge, so we put our deposit on a visa. Because our deposit amount wasn't large, it worked out more or less the same taking into consideration the fees for a wire transfer. Plus we get a cash rebate on our visa card so I think we may have even come out ahead versus wire transfer.

My tour operator put the charge through in USD so there were no additional conversion fees from our credit card. But be aware that effective Apr/May this year, many credit card issuers will begin to assess a 'foreign transaction fee' for ALL out of country charges, even those that are put through in USD (there are quite a few threads on the Europe board on this issue). So check with your card issuer first, otherwise you might end up paying multiple surcharges (one from your tour operator and another one from your card issuer).

We paid our balance using USD travelers checks on arrival. This worked out to be the most economical option as I get free TC's through Amex. If you have a large balance to pay though, I can see how you wouldn't want to carry around all those checks, so it might be easier just to pay for the wire transfer. Before booking a safari, I never knew that TC's came in $1000 denominations
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2005, 07:01 PM
  #74
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
csuss,

My 2 cents, for what it's worth. The East Coast properties (Matemwe and Shooting Star, I believe), should be pretty breezy in July. We stayed by Bwejuu last July and it was quite windy, and even rained one day. I'm not sure what the weather situation is like on the north of Zanzibar. Stone Town was very, very hot.

Mosquitoes: there were more of them on Zanzibar than anywhere on the mainland. Still, it wasn't horrible by any means. But we were vigilant with our DEET and never got one bite.

In terms of your beach properties, I remember considering all of them. I say just go with your gut on this one, although I believe the beaches up north are supposed to be "better." The tide on the east coast recedes quite a bit for a few hours during the day. It wasn't a big deal for us, but it may be for you. We had gotten the impression that the north was more of a "scene," so we opted for the east.

And lastly, for payment, I did the bank transfer for the deposit and used TCs for the remainder. Was I paranoid I'd lose the traveler's checks? Oh, you bet, but it worked out fine. I imagine using a credit card really depends on the operator, but I'm not sure.

Sounds like your plans are coming along nicely! Good for you.
Leely is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2005, 08:24 AM
  #75
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 183
Thanks for the good advice. I have heard about the new charges on credit cards so for details I will check out the Europe Forum.

csuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2005, 08:25 AM
  #76
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
csuss - if you want to know the quality of the beach/s on Zanzibar, if beach is what interests you at any of these three properties - ask your outfitter... they know.

As to wire transfers versus credit cards - as Patty mentioned, few accept credit cards, more desire payment (at least deposit) by wire transfer; final payment can often be made by travelers checks when you arrive. Others require deposit and full payment by wire ahead of arrival.

For our upcoming trip, we just wired to both our Tanzanian and Kenyan outfitters the total amounts due - bank wire fee was $30 for each. I emailed each outfitter once these wires were sent and received emails the next day from one outfitter, and the second day from the other.

I was rather strange not using Credit Cards... and oh,no FF miles; but it really wasn't an issue since we were dealing with reputable companies.

Besides, realize, that if a company accepts credit cards - regardless where - their fees get added into the price. Example: say you have a $9,000 total trip cost (for 2), then the % from Visa or MC being 2% is $180 added to the $9,000 for $9,180. With Amex, it's 3% or $270 to $9,270. And the $9,000 converted to FF miles only amount to a value of $180 (at $.02/mile) or $135 (at $.015/mile) towards the price of any future airline award ticket. There are better ways to earn miles - like Patty did... take out a 2nd mortgage!!! There are ways.

So Wire Transfers are quite normal. And I've yet to hear of problems with them being received or outfitters not being reputable.
 
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2005, 10:40 AM
  #77
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 183
Another question: When booking with a local company - I am going to send them the itinerary I want. Will they automatically know this is a private safari? I was reading on the website for Eastern & Southern Safaris (I found them on travel channel.com)that they may put other people on your tour - they will notify you of course. I am assuming that this means they will either try to steer you onto someone elses trip or steer someone onto yours. Does this really matter as long as you get the itinerary you want? It may even help the costs?

Has anyone heard of or used this company (it is based in Nairobi)? The web address is essafari.com.

Thanks
csuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2005, 11:14 AM
  #78
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
csuss - If you send a specific itinerary requesring specific accommodations, the outfitter should be able to determine you're asking for a private safari. Right now, you're looking for prices. Get the prices from whichever outfitters you have selected; concern yourself with whether they add others to "your" safari afterwards. Personally, I've never heard of an outfitter adding additional travelers to a private safari... it's unlkely. Do first things first. Get prices.
 
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2005, 01:42 PM
  #79
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
csuss,
I used E&S for my safari in Jan/Feb and can highly recommend them. You can read my comments and trip report here -
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34566072

I'm currently working with them on fine tuning our itinerary for a trip in November.

Their web address should be www.essafari.co.ke (I don't think it works with .com)

If you email them with a specific itinerary and/or accomodation choices, it will be a private safari. You can mention that you want a private safari just to be sure, but it's highly unlikely that they would even be able to find anyone else that would want the exact itinerary/accomodations/dates as you would.

They won't try to steer you toward someone else's itinerary or vice versa. The itineraries they list on their website are just samples. I actually don't recall seeing any mention of putting other guests on your tour but I might have missed it. Where did you see that?

If you're willing to share, a larger party will reduce the per person cost. Certain costs like the vehicle and driver/guide are fixed, so splitting this among 4 passengers would result in some savings versus splitting the same cost among 2 passengers. But again, it's highly unlikely that any safari operator would be able to find someone to share with you unless you didn't care about your itinerary or accomodations. Usually they only try to put people together on budget camping safaris or lodge safaris with fixed itineraries/departure dates.

In any case, I think a private safari is well worth any additional cost. If you're looking to save some money, I think it's better to look at other options (like choosing different accomodations) rather than going the group route.
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2005, 01:57 PM
  #80
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
I also sent E&S an email after we returned which they posted on their website. You can find it here (5th one down)-

http://www.essafari.co.ke/whattheysay1.htm#patty
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:46 PM.