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Safari in late June, only have a week, will this work?

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Jan 18th, 2005, 11:30 PM
  #1
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Safari in late June, only have a week, will this work?

I am about to book through Trailfinders in the U.K. and their deposit is due in two days. There brochure says that they use a company called Alpha. Has anyone heard of this company? I haven't seen any posts concerning them. This is a package bundle, so I know that there will be a few comments regarding the quickness of moving from park to park, but we only have a week in late June (sat. - sat.). Please take a look at this itinery and please leave feedback. I'm particularly concerned with the sopa vs. serena in the serengeti. I know it's hard to predict the migration, but will the sopa be in a better location seeing it's in the western part of the park or the serena seeing that it's in the northern area? Have found that Predators has a similar package, but staying at all Serenas lodges for about an extra $150. Should we fly into any of these parks? I know that some of the drives are 5-6 hours from park to park. Do you see alot of wildlife along the way? Maybe the drive is worth it? Thanks in advance for all your comments/suggestions!

Day 1 - Kilimanjaro to Arusha - Serena Mountain Village

Day 2 - Arusha to Lake Manyara - Lake Manyara Serena Lodge

Day 3 - Lake Manyara to Serengeti - Serengeti Sopa Lodge

Day 4 - Serengeti - Sopa

Day 5 - Serengeti to Ngorongoro - Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

Day 6 - Ngorongoro - Sopa

Day 7 - Ngorongoro to Tangarine - Tangarine Sopa Lodge

Day 8 - Tangarine to Arsha - home
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Jan 19th, 2005, 06:22 AM
  #2
sandi
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Considering that there is a mini-migration in Tarangire between June - October, I would spend 2-nts here, and pass on Lake Manyara. And Tarangire also has the wonderful Baobob trees, not seen at Lk.Manyara.

Day 1 - Arusha - Serena Mountain Village
Day 2 - Arusha - Taragire - Sopa Lodge
Day 3 - Tarangire - Sopa Lodge
Day 4 - Drive to Ngorongoro - Sopa Lodge
Day 5 - Ngorongoro - Sopa Lodge
Day 6 - Drive to Serengeti - either Sopa or Serena Lodges
Day 7 - Serengeti
Day 8 - You can fly from the Seronera area to Arusha for your homebound trip.

Your choise of Sopa or Serena during your time in the Serengeti your guide/driver can seek out the migrating herds wherever they might be. However, the Serena is closer to the Seronera airstrip should you decide to fly. Departure is 10:45am, and the fare runs about $170/person and saves a long drive.

But remember - if you choose to fly, you will be limited to only 15Kg (33-lbs) soft-sided luggage.

This would be my suggestion.
 
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Jan 19th, 2005, 07:47 PM
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May I second the itinerary by sandi, including Sopa Lodges in Tarangire and Ngorongoro. It's a nice 1-week trip. Have not heard of Alpha. On the park-to-park drives there is not usually game viewing until you enter the park.

Good luck and enjoy
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Jan 19th, 2005, 09:02 PM
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It appears Alpha is not a registered operator in Tanzania nor Kenya unless you have the name wrong?
http://www.tourismtanzania.go.tz/doc...T%20AGENTS.htm

Tarangire Sopa is nothing special. Kikoti and Safari Lodge are better.

Ngorongoro Sopa has a good location which is why I like it better than the Serena, but not by much.

In late June, odds favor the Serena to be near the most wildlife in the Serengeti. The drive from Ngorongoro is long, dusty and bumpy with scattered wildlife and not really worth it if you can fly.

From what I've seen with these UK packages, you may be presented with sharing package - with 4-6 others per vehicle in a convoy of minibuses riding in each other's dust. Are you OK with that?

If not, you may do better arranging this yourself with Predators or similar.
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Jan 20th, 2005, 07:10 AM
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Thanks Sandi and others...just got off the phone with Predators in London and they also suggested the fly in or fly out. 15 kg on the plane isn't very much though. I'll have to tell my wife to leave the extras at home How reliable are the planes that fly in between Arusha and Seronera? Tiny, dirt runway type? I fly all the time, but have tried to steer clear of the hoppers, although this sounds like it'll save us at least 5-6 hours. Predators also said that in late June all the migration will be concentrated in the western serengeti and that we should stay at one of the special camps. Might be too pricey for us. He said the drivers might not drive that far from the Serena to see the migration What do you think? He's going to email an itinery on Monday and I'll post it to see what everybody thinks. I'm so glad that I found this forum. Hope I'm not boring anyone with lots of questions. Just bought the flights yesterday (London to Arusha return) through Kenya Airways for only 400 pounds each. Thought that was a good deal. Didn't go through Trailfinders/Alpha. Will book with someone reliable. Thanks again!
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Jan 20th, 2005, 08:56 AM
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The airplanes are mostly twin-prop and very nice. You can see some pictures here (the first picture is misleading as it does not show the twin-prop (a prop on each wing).http://www.airkenya.com/docs/regairabout.htm

Their pilots are excellent and some of them are like friends to many of the regulars.

I am not surprised that the driver/guides don't want to drive far to see the wildlife since many budget outfitters have mileage limits - but I am surprised that they admitted it! Good for them!

The Serena is closer to Grumeti and the road access to the western areas is easier from the Serena than the Sopa. Given the uncertainty of the migration location at the end of June, I think the Serena has the better location since it is more central. Depending on budget, Grumeti Camp is super. And they have open jeeps!

In a normal year by end of June the migration should be spread out along the Grumeti and even north of it.
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Jan 20th, 2005, 09:43 AM
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Sandi,

You stated that a Seronera-Arusha flight from Seronera airstrip is: Departure is 10:45am, and the fare runs about $170/person.

Do you have a link to internal Africa air schedules that you would be willing to share?

Thank you!
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Jan 20th, 2005, 10:52 AM
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Air schedules are here for the Serengeti:

http://www.airkenya.com/docs/regairsched.htm

and here for Zanzibar, etc:

http://www.precisionairtz.com/schedule.asp

and here for Kenya:
http://www.airkenya.com/docs/schedules.htm
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Jan 22nd, 2005, 04:32 AM
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Thanks for all the replies!
Am still waiting for the Predators quote. They included Lake Manyara because it's on the way to all the other parks. Should I wipe Lake Manyara off the menu and spend the extra day at Tarangire or Serengeti? Is the kikoti lodge worth the extra money over the sopa in Taranfgire? Think I've decided on lodge for the other parks thanks to everyone's recommendations. Am still planning on flying back to Arusha from the Serengeti on the last day to maximize game viewing. From Arusha to Tarangire to Ngorongoro to Serengeti.....is this a good path? Anything "out of the way?" Thanks for the help!
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Jan 22nd, 2005, 05:34 AM
  #10
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traskyuk -

Kikoti might be a few extra dollars, but if this is the only "under canvas" opportunity you'll have go for it. My feeling has always been that "Africa isn't Africa, unless you spend some time under canvas." And Kikoti is an excellent choice.

As to the scheduled link for airkenya provided above, please note that the schedule isn't perfectly correct. There have been some changes made for '05.

Regardless, whether flying within Kenya or Tanzania, your tour operator will have the current information and get you on the correct flight.
 
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Jan 22nd, 2005, 09:42 AM
  #11
 
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Traskyuk
While you are waiting on response from Predators why not check with 2Afrika as well? Given the volume that 2afrika handles you might get a better price and certainly check into the switch suggested by other posters.
Dick
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Jan 26th, 2005, 12:33 AM
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Wow....after weeks of planning I think that we're almost finished (glad we already have the plane ticket). Just a few more questions for the experts, as you've done an incredible job in helping steer my wife and I in the right direction.

1) I think that we'll definitely go with Predators. They are coming in with the best prices and they say it will be a private safari (just the two of us). Would you prefer this?
Any other comments regarding those who have traveled with Predators, or known someone who has?

2) Our itinery is almost ironed out, just want to run it by you:

Day 1 - Tanrangire - Sopa

Day 2 - Lake Manyara - Serena

Day 3 - Ngorongoro - Serena *We choose this lodge because is has balconies (lovely relaxing views), but I know that many prefer the location of Sopa...what do you think?

Day 4 - Ngorongoro- Serena(only one day actually spent on game drives in the crater)

Day 5 - Serengeti - Serena

Day 6 & 7 - This is the BIG question, although I'm sure it will be an easy answer for many or you. For about an extra $150 each we can spend that last two nights at Kirawira, then drive back to Seronera to fly to Arusha on Day 8. Our questions about Kirawira....I know it's beautiful (been searching on the web), but will the extra driving there and back be worth it? This is our first time on safari, very excited, but also nervous. How secure are the Kirawira tents? They look lovely and we'd want nothing more than to wake, sit on the veranda and watch animals go by, but at night do they try to get in the tent. Are the tents zippible (is that a word?) and strong? Websites said that employees have to walk you to your tent at night. I know that it's luxury camping, but do you think that a first time safarite would do OK in this setting? I also know that Kirawira is the place to be in late June. If we don't stay at Kirawira, will we be able to drive near there for game drives for the Serena?

3) Predators is coming in at around $1800-$1900 each including flight one way, which seems pretty cheap. What do you think?

4) Been wondering about the game drives...do the actual lodges provide the vehicle or does the tour operator?

Thanks again for helping us with our decision. This is sure to be the trip of a lifetime



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Jan 26th, 2005, 03:55 AM
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traskyuk, in our two trips to Tanzania via 2Afrika, local services were provided by Predators Safari Club. We had the standard minivan with pop-up roof. Was plenty of room for us. We had same guide/driver both years and if you draw Godfrey I am sure you will be pleased with him. By all means let your driver/guide know what interests you. If you have a passion for say birds or particular mammals, let him know. And, if you see a particular scene you would like to stop and photo or just admire by all means tell him. I always sensed his intent to please but the guide/drive is not a mind reader either. Nor were we pushed into stopping for shopping at every stand along the way. I also recall Shaba and Frank as being other drivers for some of our group on previous trips and I recall hearing only good things about their performance. If you check other posts of mine you should get a sense we were very pleased with Predators. If we should return to northern Tanzania I would certainly enjoy their service again. Have a great trip and please, please, please give us a report on your return.
Dick
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Jan 26th, 2005, 05:42 AM
  #14
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trashyuk - Definitely do Kirawira. And as I've posted often, "Africa isn't Africa, unless you sleep under canvas." And you have no other tented properties on the itinerary. Kirawira is very very lovely, and very very safe.

The reason the guards walk you back to your tents at night is a safety issue. There are no fences around the camp, and animals do wander... guards know where they are going and what to do should you encounter any 4-legged whatevers. And this rule holds true at any tented camp in Africa.

Yes the tents are "zipperable" and you'll be more then secure inside. Besides these tents are on raised platforms, not on the ground, though that has never been a problem for us. You will find every comfort of home inside, including beautiful bathrooms with lovely tiles, flush toilets, a separate tiled shower stall, fluffy bathrobes, porcelain washbasins... and with luck you might have a tent with a hammock on the deck. A lovely way to relax and listen to the sounds of Africa. Oh, and the meals are absolutely outstanding, usually 5-courses, served on fine china and silverware - no buffets here, you're served your dinner.

And Kirawira is a perfect location from where to see the Migration in late June.

Our very first safari to Africa, was almost all tent camps and that won us over to return again and again and again. You can't beat it.

The price you've gotten is excellent, so the extra $150 each is a small for what you get in return. Go for it!
 
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Jan 26th, 2005, 07:06 PM
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2) Our itinery is almost ironed out, just want to run it by you:

Day 1 - Tanrangire - Sopa
GREAT VIEWS OF BAOBAB TREES FROM LODGE.
QUITE FANCY AND ELEGANT. NICE START, ESPECIALLY READING SOME OF YOUR CONCERNS ABOUT KIRAWIRA. GETS YOU USED TO THE BUSH WITH QUITE A BIT OF LUXURY.

Day 2 - Lake Manyara - Serena
NOT BEEN TO SERENA BUT YOU'LL ENJOY MANYARA.

Day 3 - Ngorongoro - Serena *We choose this lodge because is has balconies (lovely relaxing views), but I know that many prefer the location of Sopa...what do you think? THE REASON I LIKE THE SOPA LOCATION IS NOT BECAUSE OF BETTER VIEWS, BUT SOPA HAS ITS OWN ROAD TO THE CRATER. ESPECIALLY WITH ONLY 1/2 DAYS ALLOWED, I'D SEE WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT GETTING A REAL EARLY START TO THE CRATER. WE WENT EARLY AND TOOK A BOX BREAKFAST AND DID BEAT MUCH OF THE CROWD, HAVING A RHINO TO OURSELVES FOR ABOUT 15 MINUTES BEFORE IT WENT INTO THE BRUSH. SUCH EARLY STARTS ARE NOT ALWAYS THAT IMPORTANT, BUT MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA HERE.

Day 4 - Ngorongoro- Serena(only one day actually spent on game drives in the crater)

Day 5 - Serengeti - Serena

Day 6 & 7 - This is the BIG question, although I'm sure it will be an easy answer for many or you. For about an extra $150 each we can spend that last two nights at Kirawira, then drive back to Seronera to fly to Arusha on Day 8. Our questions about Kirawira....I know it's beautiful (been searching on the web), but will the extra driving there and back be worth it? This is our first time on safari, very excited, but also nervous. How secure are the Kirawira tents? They look lovely and we'd want nothing more than to wake, sit on the veranda and watch animals go by, but at night do they try to get in the tent. Are the tents zippible (is that a word?) and strong? Websites said that employees have to walk you to your tent at night. I know that it's luxury camping, but do you think that a first time safarite would do OK in this setting? I also know that Kirawira is the place to be in late June. If we don't stay at Kirawira, will we be able to drive near there for game drives for the Serena?

YES, DO IT. BY THE END OF THE TRIP YOU'LL BE MORE CONFIDENT ABOUT YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND BE GLAD YOU HAD SOME NIGHTS UNDER CANVAS. THE TENTS ARE VERY
SUBSTANTIAL SAFE. THESE CAMPS CATER TO PEOPLE YOU, WHO ARE OFTEN 1ST TIME SAFARI-ERS AND NOT INTREPID BACKPACKERS IN A PUP TENT. IT WILL BE LOVELY WITH THESE LAST TWO NIGHTS LIKELY BEING A HIGHLIGHT OF A GREAT TRIP.
3) Predators is coming in at around $1800-$1900 each including flight one way, which seems pretty cheap. What do you think?
YES, CHEAP SO SPEND THE EXTRA $150

4) Been wondering about the game drives...do the actual lodges provide the vehicle or does the tour operator?

USUALLY WHEN YOU DRIVE FROM CAMP TO CAMP YOU KEEP THE SAME DRIVER, WHEN FLYING FROM CAMP TO CAMP YOU WILL USE THE CAMP STAFF. EITHER OPTION IS FINE. YOUR AGENT SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER THIS.

Let us know how the trip went and your plans for your 2nd trip, which you may start planning before you even get back home!
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Jan 27th, 2005, 01:15 AM
  #16
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Thanks y'all! You've been absolutely wonderful. I think that we're ready!! Here's the finalized itinery, although I do have two last questions at the end. Tell me what you think. Coming in from Predators at $1785 each including flight from Seronera to Arusha.

Day 1) Tarangire - Sopa

Day 2) Lake Manyara - Serena

Day 3) Ngorongoro - Sopa

Day 4) Ngorongoro - Sopa

Day 5) Serengeti - Serena

Day 6) Kirawira Camp

Day 7) Kirawira Camp

Day 8) Flight from Seronera to Arusha and home

**Do you think that we should stay two nights at the Tarangire Sopa and skip Lake Manyara? They are providing an afternoon game drive the day we arrive in Tarangire and the next morning, before going to Lake Manyara. We're concerned that we're on the go for too many "single nights" but will do if it's worth it.

** Predators said that they prefer the Ngorongoro Sopa over the Serena. Sopa has a better location, but Serena has the balconies. Which is the bigger selling point.

Thank you for all your help!
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Jan 27th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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What do you think of the above itinery?
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Jan 27th, 2005, 01:53 PM
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Traskyuk,

The changes you have been making have all been improvements. 2 nights at Tarangire instead of 1 in Tarangire and 1 in Manyara would be another slight improvement in my opinion. It reduces the packing/unpacking and the shuffling around. I do not believe there are any species of animals you would be missing by skipping Manyara. With Tarangire being your first stop, two nights will let you feel more settled rather than moving on so soon. I spent 2 nights on one trip and 3 nights on another in Tarangire and did not feel restless to move on after just 1 night.

On your trip from Tarangire to the Ngorongoro you might want to consider a lunch stop at Gibb's Farm. In 2001 I did that with 3 other ladies who had dined many places around the world and we all agreed that the lunch at Gibb's was likely the best meal we had ever had! All fresh fruit & vegetables from very fertile ground plus an excellent chef.

Sopa has a beautiful view of the crater from the dining lodge with outdoor tables and lounge furniture. You can easily enjoy the beauty with some privacy. At Sopa I also recall sitting in a glass enclosed area (balcony-like but not outside) attached to the room, on rocking chairs overlooking the crater. I appreciated the enclosure because as the sun went down it was cold in July. I cannot speak for Serena Ngorongoro, but do think Sopa Ngorongoro was very lovely. Plus there's that location, location, location.

One last comment I just recalled. On one Afica trip I met a very well traveled couple who liked to do all private mobile safaris. They were saying how their agent talked them into Sopa at the crater, but they were reluctant due to their discerning tastes. They concluded by saying after staying at Sopa they understood why their agent had steered them that way and they were so pleased he had.
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Feb 3rd, 2005, 02:00 AM
  #19
 
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I was interested to hear of your bargain air fare prices London-Arusha with Kenya Air. We are planning on travelling that way but have found nothing cheaper than £800. I'd be very grateful if you could forward contact details of whom you booked with.

And all the comments and help re your itineray have been really useful for us as we are planning to visit lots of the same areas.
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Feb 8th, 2005, 05:00 AM
  #20
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I used A2B travel...forgot the web address but you can just do a search and should find it. The fares were only till the end of January though, so may have gone up. Might want to try Trailfinders travel agency as well. They seem to be able to get good airline rates. We used them for our trip to Egypt. Hope this helps!
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