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Safari in Kenya & Tanzania - A report on Camps, Parks, Tips, Packing, Photo, Money & more.


Aug 19th, 2005, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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TC offers a lot of very good tips. However, the comments on expedition vehicles are so abysmally ignorant as to be laughable, except that someone might take them as accurate and make wrong choices somewhere.

To clear up the misinformation: The British Land Rover does not use a Mercedes engine, and cannnot go anywhere any similar vehicle can't. The Toyota Land Cruiser has surpassed the Land Rover in most parts of Africa because of its generally greater reliability and durability. Both are used regularly and successfully by hundreds of tour companies.

I won't comment on the dismissal of driving safaris, except to say that anyone who flies between camps misses a LOT.
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Aug 19th, 2005, 07:50 PM
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The camps that we liked the best and would go back to are Kirawira, although Kirawira was not owned and operated by Serena Hotels when we visited. At that time it was part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection. We really liked Little Govenors. Yes, the vehicles are good at Little Govenors -- only for two people in each. We also liked Larsen's Camp. The birds were wonderful there. Everything in the Serengeti and crater were very green when we were there, but I think this can change from year to year depending on the rains.

The drive from Nairobi to Arusha was several hours long. I would fly between the two if you have a choice. From Arusha we took a small plane to fly to an airstrip near Kirawira Camp and then still had a drive of an hour or more to the camp.

Hope this helps. Please write again if you have more questions.


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Aug 20th, 2005, 03:54 AM
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How much I thank you for your answerS.
Of course, it help me A LOT!!
Sorry, I made a mistake, thought that you were flying from nairobi to arusha and then driving to serengeti, I've read again your report and it was just the oposite... (I'm still learning english, and get in a big nuddle some times)
Well thank you for your opinions about the lodges, and yes, as you are so kind to let me ask for more questions: THERE I GO:
I know the green landscapes is depending also of the reany season every year, but you are the only traveler I found traveling in january, so your experience will be always closer for me than most of other visitors going there between may and october, so your reference the more sure for me.

Well TC, my main doubt, and due that transfers at only one of the countries KENYA or TANZANIA, is much easier, than combine both countries, I'm in a doubt to chose visit only KENYA which choice would alow me expend more time at every camp, or if really it is worth to add NGORONGORO CRATER and MANYARA in the same trip.(even by flying transfers I need to take 4 planes to cross the border lodge-nairobi-arusha(kilimanjaro)-lodge, and the same on the way back), so under your experience and opinion, and regards to the landscapes and animals viewing opportunity, what do you chose now? only kenya or add ngorongoro,manyara(in my case),serengeti.

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Aug 20th, 2005, 07:22 AM
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O.K....if I could do only one country -- either Tanzania or Kenya. I would go to Tanzania.

Kirawira Camp and the Serengeti were beautiful -- we saw a lot of animals there -espcially giraffe, lions and hippos.

The Ngorongoro Crater is a very unusual environment -- green and beautiful. Many animals and birds there. You should stay at a lodge that looks into the crater. This view is very special. Although we did not think that Ngorongoro Serena Lodge was the best, I would recommend Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Wildlife Lodge or the Sopa Lodge as good choices.

I especially loved Tarangire Park for the elephants. In Tarangire Park we stayed at Oliver's Camp. It was very basic, but a lot of fun. I think the camp is much better now. There are many other nice camps and lodges in the Tarangire Park. Look at Kikoti or Swala camps.

I would say that we saw more animals in Tanzania. There are many very good lodges and camps in Tanzania. Here is an excellent web site with many photographs of the camps and lodges.


Good luck. Let me know what you decide.
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Aug 20th, 2005, 07:38 AM
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Another good source of information about Tanzania camps and lodges.
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Aug 20th, 2005, 02:08 PM
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wwwwwooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwww TC!!!
How nice "sounds" your explanations about these places!!!!
I wanted to choose for sure KENYA specially because MASAI MARA is a dream for me (something magic, I don't know why) so after read your recommendations, I need to organice my trip INCLUDING TANZANIA!!!
NGORONGORO CRATER LODGE looks FANTASTIC!!! but I made another mistake reading your post the first time, also thought that you were telling about it and it was SERENA! CRATER LODGE!! my GOT!! what bad reading I did!!
So that's OK TC I need to think about all and may be I can exclude some other areas in KENYA and ADD these in TANZANIA. I'll told you what I decide, I'm going to have a look at your webs!!

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Aug 20th, 2005, 03:01 PM
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TC - FYI, Kirawira has always been a Serena property from the day it opened in '96. And yes, shortly thereafter became a member of Small Luxury Hotels.

If as you mention you drove for quite some time from the airport near Kirawira, your driver must have taken you on a game drive before reaching your lodgings. It barely takes 20-minutes from the Grumeti airstrip and in our particular recent visit, had to cross the Grumeti river by suspension bridge. But, that's a long story - and still took barely half-an-hour.

Voramar -

If you are planning a trip to East Africa for January, your time is best towards the end of the month and mostly in Tanzania. While you won't encounter "The Migration" in the Mara in Kenya... the Migration goes on throughout the year. It keeps moving and throughout the year is found in different areas between Kenya and Tanzania.

From mid-January thru mid-March you will find the migrating wildebeest herds in the southeast to central Serengeti in Tanzania where they are "calving" their young.

Thereafter and when the rains begin late March thru end-May the herds continue moving around the Serengeti until by early June they are back in the Central area before moving onto the Western area mid-June/July and then head north into the Mara in Kenya from July thru October.

It's a continuing "circle of life"

Transfers between Kenya and Tanzania can be done by road or by air. By road can be an adventure if from Nairobi to Arusha, but rather easy if from Amboseli in Kenya to Arusha. Otherwise, if from Nairobi (or reverse)it's suggested a short 1-hr flight to Arusha/Kili depending on the particular flight. This is real easy and painless and not all that expensive.

If you're planning a trip for this coming January 2006, I'd suggest you hurry up and make arrangements, as most everything is fully booked in the Northern Tanzania circuit. January-March is actually high-season here. You may have to take whatever accommodations are available.

Even during this time, while the Mara in Kenya is not at it's peak, we've found that the Mara is always good.

Why not list your itinerary and accommodations so we can comment and then go about booking your safari.

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Aug 21st, 2005, 05:26 AM
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What happy I feel reading your post.... as always you explain things in a wonderful way Sandi! I have undertand perfectly the migration!! so for sure I think need to put both in my itinerary.

Well.... in short explanation:
my first idea was mainly for the MASAI MARA, and that's why I have chosen KENYA as my first east africa experience, so I planned an itinerary to visit AMBOSELI-SAMBURU-RIFT-MASAI MARA, but days later I was reading lot of information and thinking that going to kenya, at list I must add NGORONGORO for the special place, later I discover the migration runs as you have explained, but after to know how many transfers I needed to do to cross both countries, i get a bit dissapointed, and thought it wasn't worth to do it, but now, after read the January experience from TC and the yours, I'm thinking the best can be
TANZANIA (NGORONGORO, SERENGETI?, MANYARA (it looks to be very special too)....

As you can see Sandi, I still have lot ob doubts about all, I'm a pure NUDDLE!! but I WANT TO GO AFRICA!!!

I'll start my trip after christmas, about 9-11 departing from spain.

"provisionaly" my rep on CC has already reserved NGORONGORO CRATER LODGE and MANYARA TREE LODGE also BALETEUR at MASAI MARA, but as I'm going in January, still don't know if COTTARS, BALETEUR or GOVERNORS is the best. My rep, knows perfectly I'm still on doubst, I have been very sincerely with her, because, a cause of my business, he knows till october I'll not able to decide my exactily dates, but she has been very kind, and knowing that, she has already made some "provisional" reserves, so you are right, at this time of the year it looks to be more booked than I expected.

Hope you can understand my bad english Sandi, I follow with my practices.

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Aug 21st, 2005, 06:49 AM
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voramar -

I wouldn't try to do too much for your first safari especially if you're considering also a Kilimanjaro Trek. Hold that for another trip as I'm sure after your first visit, you'll want to return.

If January is still on your calendar, I'd do the Mara - stay at Bateleur as that is a CCA property. While Cottar's is beautiful it is a way out of the way (you can stay here on your next trip).

The transfers are not difficult at all. Once you arrive in Nairobi you can fly to the Mara, stay at Bateleur for a few days, then fly back to Nairobi and drive to Amboseli - about 3-1/2 hrs. Here, I'd stay at Tortilis Camp. It's not a CCA property, but the nicest at Amboseli in the same class as the other accommodations you are considering in Tanzania. Two days at Tortilis/Amboseli will be fine.

From here it's about 1-1/2 hrs most to the Tanzania border, then about 1 to 1-1/2 hr to Arusha. Once in Arusha, you can have lunch, then continue to Lake Manyara where you can stay for 2-nts, then drive to the Ngorongoro Crater for 1 or 2 nts. Crater Lodge is very very expensive and you can actually visit in the Crater the afternoon you arrive from Manyara, so 1-nt may be all you need - then continue next day onto the Serengeti.

The only question I have - which camp or lodge is your CCA rep considering for you in the Serengeti? CCA has two properties in the Serengeti, but neither is in the right location for the wildebeest "calving" season. The CCA properties are in the very very north or in the west Serengeti. They should get you booked into a tented camp in the southeast or central areas of the Serengeti only. In the Serengeti, I would stay a minimum of 3-days or 4-days if you can afford it. If 4-days you can even split the time between two (2) camps.

Then, from the central Serengeti you can fly back to Arusha/Kili for a homebound flight to Spain. Or to Arusha/Kili and a flight to Nairobi for your homebound flight to Spain.

The flights don't cost that much money considering that you will already be staying in expensive lodging and you are traveling in high season.

You can do it.

Then when you're flying home you can alrady be thinking/planning your next trip to East Africa. For this second trip you can plan to do the Kili trek and then do a serious safari in Kenya with lots of amazing places to visit.

None of us can do it all in one trip, unless we win the lottery!!!

>>Hope you can understand my bad english Sandi, I follow with my practices.<<

Your English is fine, certainly better then my Spanish could ever be. No habla! Maybe, Un pocco! Maybe, not even that!
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Aug 21st, 2005, 02:20 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 13
Dear sandi,
that's the problem!!, my list of destinations is ENDLESS!!!! next plan for africa is already in the list! and it is for bostwana,namibia,victoria falls.... that's why I'm trying to get the best for this time of the year and to add in this trip.

But the problem is even biger when I can get only 13/15 days "there" as much!!, so I think if I'm able to climb the KILI (still need to obtain information) it takes 6/7 days minimum, then I'd have to reduce the rest of my trip to:
somewhere(1) maybe I will need to stay around arusha? before to climb.

If I don't feel I'm quite fit to get it.... (I'll try then a scenic flight over the KILI)then I'm thinking to do as I told you. It is:

AMBOSELI=2(softer to start my trip and "at list" I can see the magic mountain!)and yes.... TORTILIS is also "provisionaly" reserved with CC!! I chose TORTILIS for the nice pictures of the KILI!!! and choose as a first stay because I still don't know if my international flight is finaly arriving at the end of the day or early in the morning(as I wish), then I can get amboseli by plane or in the evening by road(quite affordable)

MASAI MARA=3 (then BALETEUR if I finaly run my itinerary with CC)

MANYARA=2 (did you stay there?)or do you have any opinion about this place?)

NGORONGORO=3(Is it also the "calving" season in ngorongoro I think!, and CALVING are the new youngs?, or mother with her babies?... sorry I couldn't find "calving" in my dictionary)

SERENGETI=3 and I know Sandi, the CC properties are in the northem area and I need to find more surthern area. I think kusini in the very south part and cc works also with this property: http://www.ccafricasafaris.com/accom...ult-1-aid-2-71
and even, I like a lot the MBUZI MAWE CAMP, (and looks to be in a ideal location in january)so I can ask to CC for it, and also, as TC had a nice experience at the Kirawira Camp in january, I thought also ask for it with my CC repr.

Regards to the transfers, different possibilities, road, planes, etc, I thank you very much your information Sandi, but even after to hear from you that with plane are not difficult, I need to go MASAI-NAIROBI-KILI/ARUSHA(IS IT THE SAME AIRPORT? or ARE THEY TWO DIFFERENT?) and then, drive to manyara for the MANYARA TREE LODGE (south)it is 3 hours driving.... but well, if it is necessary I'll do it!!
however your time for driving different options has given me an idea of other possibilities Sandi, so I thank you for so nice detailed explanation.

Please, let me know what do you think about all under your experience, because you and TC for different reasons both are very good references for me.

your kind words about my english "cheered me up" a lot Sandi! Thanks too.
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Aug 22nd, 2005, 05:24 AM
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voramar -

I can still hear my mother saying "young lady, you cannot have everything you want in life; sometimes there are certain things that have to wait, but they'll come in time"

Same with vacation - unless we have unlimited time and budget, somethings have to wait. Yes, there are lots of places to visit in East Africa and at different times of the year. So if you only have 13/15 days and are seriously considering Kili, that won't leave much time for safari - maybe 7-6 days left.

You seem to already be bitten by the Africa bug with plans the following year to Bostwana, Namibia, etc. S what you do is schedule the year after that to return to East Africa. That's what many who become enthralled with this part of the world try to do - astime and budget allow.

It's kind of like a fat lady trying to get herself into a dress for a skinny lady - not enough room. Same with holiday - not enough time to do it all.

But if you still want to do Kili, then I'd reduce the Crater to 1-day, that's really all you need with limited hours permitted in the Crater as January 1, 2006, cut Manyara to 1 day (if you must visit here); put the emphasis on the Serengeti (3-days minimum) and then 2-days in the Mara. Then plan for 2-years ahead (after Botswana, Namibia) to return to do a Kenya only itinerary. And then the year after that you can return to Tanzania to do the Southern Circuit Parks.

The others will just have to wait unless you choose to quit your job and just travel in Africa or elsewhere. Sorry I can't encourage you anyway, but you'll get to visit all the places over time.

I've made many trips to Africa in the past 10-years, and for each, someplace else, another country, park, whatever - and it seems to work. You'll be planning your next trip when you board your homebound flight. It'll work - slowly, but eventually.

For the Serengeti - Kusini is good if you can get, as is Mbuzi Mawe, but Kirawira is way out of the way for January time of the year. Make the best use of your time and Kirawira, while lovely, can wait and better for a trip in late-June/early-July.

About flying - You'd leave the Mara to Nairobi around 11am, arrive about 12:15pm at the same airport (Wilson, the domestic airport) from where you can catch the flight to Arusha (it's a tight connection, but if they know you're connecting, will most likely wait for you). From Arusha, the drive to Manyara is 100 miles, so takes about 2-1/2 to 3-hrs.
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Aug 27th, 2005, 04:31 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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My dear Sandi....
How much I sorry, couldn't get a few minutes during the week to read and reply your "always nice and interesting posts".
I run a small touristic business and here now is our high season, even this week is our big holiday in the village, so it was impossible to get a bit of free time. I need also work very hard if I want to travel East Africa!!!!

Well Sandi, as earlier I need to say you thank you for all recommendations, I read all paying great atention to everything.

As I could see, you like a lot both reknowned parks isn't, MASAI MARA and SERENGETI!!!
Well this is important to know, then I decide to make my longer stays at these places, if it is coming from such experienced lover of this part of the world, I have to listen you.

I have no problem to chose KUSINI with CC, they also works this Camp, and I'm sure it must be worth to stay there in January!!!...mmmmmmm I'm looking forward to january is coming very soon!!!

I like a lot to travel Sandi. The problem is that we only can go on holidays around dec-jan, the rest of the year is always busy time for us.
This means that possibilities to visit this area in the great migration season will be a really difficult job, that's why if I can reach this time to visit the most interesting places in this area, it will be great for me!!

Regards to the KILI, I couldn't get time yet to search for fit requeriments and so, but, I'll try that next week (a bit more time I hope) and then decide waht I'm going to do. If I feel the KILI is quite available to reach, it is an experience that I'll chose for this time!, combinate with serengeti, ngorongoro and mara.

I'm sure that after do that, if I need to leave other places there for another time, it won't matter too much!!!!

As your mother says, one cannot get all what want, so next places will find its time on time....

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Oct 6th, 2005, 06:57 AM
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topping for Bugswife1
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Nov 6th, 2005, 07:36 PM
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ttt for ssyuvienco or anyone looking for a good packing list.
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Dec 21st, 2005, 07:00 AM
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ttt for myself
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Sep 13th, 2014, 08:57 PM
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still good tips years later...thanks
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Sep 13th, 2014, 10:19 PM
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Really? After 13 years how much of a trip report can be reliable? Comments regarding safari camps especially are the most likely not to be relevant today.

regards - tom
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