Safaris in Tanzania (OAT, Thompson)

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Nov 5th, 2002, 02:28 PM
  #21
libbie
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We just return from safari in Tanzania. We used 2afrika (www.2afrika.com)and had the best trip of our lives.
 
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Nov 18th, 2002, 04:43 AM
  #22
leila
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Use either www.intotanzania.com or zawadi tours...get prices for a private safari, they are better and cheaper than group tours and you can chose your itinerary exactly.
 
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Nov 18th, 2002, 11:17 AM
  #23
xxxxxx
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leila-
It's very nice that you liked intotanzania et. al. However instead of just telling people to use them. We would like reasons over our own choices. When you give examples you sound less like you're advertising. Most of us have been told that group safaris are less expensive. If you might be a travel agent, then of course it would be a cheaper rate. xxxxxx
 
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Nov 20th, 2002, 04:13 PM
  #24
CJ
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Chris - I'm interested in your post. I have ordered the book you talked about "Watching Wildlife in East Africa" so I can research everything. How did you find the safari tour operators you contacted. Did someone recommend them to you? There are tens of thousands when you do a search. Thanks.
 
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Nov 20th, 2002, 04:55 PM
  #25
cj
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Susan - have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your trip. Sounds like the Mara River Camp is a "must not miss". Was Amboseli the same way? It sounds like you took the trip I want to take!
Thanks
 
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Nov 21st, 2002, 09:53 AM
  #26
Susan
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Hi CJ! I absolutely loved the Mara River Camp. It was my favorite of all the places we stayed and we stayed at some very, very nice places on our trip. It is not that the Mara River Camp is super-duper luxurious. There was just a wonderful ambiance at the place. Comfortable but very unpretentious. The tents are sparsely furnished, but just enough to make it functional. After all, you are not spending all day inside the tent. Shower, flush toilet, sink, closet space, a desk, nightstands, flashlight, reading lights (for when the power is on. Camp runs its generators during specific hours. The location of the camp I think is ideal, at the base of the Great Escarpment and about a 25 min. drive to the Mara. The ride is not easy, unpaved roads that are extremely rocky - almost boulders - but that was part of the fun. Some of the tents are located at a place called "hippo corner," appropriately named because the hippos congregate there. The food was simple but good. And the staff is just fantastic. There are lots of mongoose around (glad to see that knowing they will eat snakes!), baboons hang out there as well. Just around the river bend, the Masai use an area of the river to wash their clothes, etc. On two occasions I sat out on the porch of our tent and just listened to their laughter and thoroughly enjoyed the shrieks of children playing. I now understand why the Mara River Camp is a favorite with documentary filmmakers and professional photographers. As for Amboseli, the park was everything I thought it would be. It was dry and dusty, but the wildlife viewing was fantastic. The photo ops are mind-boggling. We have some great shots of wonderful bull elephants walking our way with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background. Many shots of grzing animals with dust devils in the background. It was fantastic. We stayed two nights at Tortilis, which was very luxurious. Its manicured lawn was the complete antithesis of that of the Mara River Camp, which really doesn't have landscaping. Tortilis has a beautiful pool and poolhouse, its bar can rival that of any posh watering house in New York City. Gourmet food, wonderful staff. I can't say anything bad about Tortilis. Also very nice are the N-crater Serena, Crater Lodge and Sand Rivers in Selous. Sand Rivers had the same casual feel as the Mara River Camp, but was a bit more upscale in its furnishings. But the Mara River Camp remains my favorite! If you have any other questions, I would be more than happy to help any way I can.
 
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Nov 21st, 2002, 01:20 PM
  #27
darlene
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Susan & CJ,
I haven't been to the Mara River Camp, but I can just picture in, and would love to check it out. When my husband and I were in Tanzania, we stayed at Ndutu Lodge which I would highly recommend. Here's an excerpt from an previous post.

Several of the travel agents that I talked to advised me that this was sub-standard (or rustic, as if this was a bad thing). But I had read that it was in the right place to see the gnu migration (a major goal of this trip was to see the gnu birthing season) and it has been there for 30 years, I liked the history behind it. It couldn't have been better and I talked to other guests there that thought it was more their style than some of the Serenas. We had our own stone cottage (some were connected) with bathroom, and the usual laundry service, excellent gift shop. A lounge and dining area included a genet family (this is a primitive carnivore looking somewhat like a cat. They are nocturnal so it is unlikely that we would see them anywhere else) whose ancesters had moved into the lodge 30 years ago. There were thought to be 9 living there at the time but we never saw more than 3 at a time. They built a platform in the lounge and stocked it at dinner time so that they would come out for guests to see. It was very entertaining. Meals were such that the waiter brought large serving dishes around for you to help yourself. One night the lamb was tough - but honestly do you care? The drivers and guides ate in the same dining area, with their group in some cases. Again there was not a lot of landscaping, but we saw giraffe from our porch and guinea fowl, etc. They had bonfires in the evenings. Checking their web site recently I discovered that Sir David Attenbrough stayed there shortly after we had left while he was filming for a new BBC TV series called Life of Mammals. I suppose this is not for everyone, again electricity was off for parts of the day and they didn't have a pool (water was a precious commodity here), but it friendly and had a lot of character. Check out their web site: www.ndutu.com. Both of these lodges were situated so that game viewing begain almost as soon as we were out of the parking lot.
 
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Nov 21st, 2002, 02:21 PM
  #28
cj
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Susan and Darlene - thanks for sharing your trips. Susan, it sounds like you stayed right in the middle of it - even surrounded by animals while in camp. I think I read your game drives were private. Did you have any discussions with others that were on game drives with a group and if so, how did they enjoy that? Was the private game drive much more expensive (sorry to be nosy!)? I'm thinking of taking my 9 yr old daughter and I'm afraid if I do and go on shared game drives, the others will be worried we'll ruin their trip. I don't think it will happen but I can't know for sure. July 2000 we took a one-week 4000 mile car trip from TX to the Florida Keys and you couldn't ask for better children (4 & 6 year old)and last Christmas 10 hr car trip to New Mexico to ski and they sit through 2 hr meals at restaraunts with ease. Of course, everyone thinks their children are perfect but I'm pretty sure other people would speak well of mine even if I am not present. Darlene, from your desription it sound like I would enjoy "substandard/rustic" also! I think my priorities are animals, animals, animals, not crowded, animals, warm showers/flush toilets and maybe some more animals. I really, really want to see the wildebeest migration and I need to go Jul/Aug. It sounds like these camps are the places to be!
 
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Nov 21st, 2002, 07:30 PM
  #29
Susan
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Hi CJ!!! Hope I can help you out here. The Mara River Camp is actually outside of the park, about a 20-25 minute drive, so not quite in the middle of things. There are some camps directly in the mara, but I liked being apart from them. The camp does have a website, but I don't think it does it any justice. I would not say that the camp is "rough," because it has all the amenities I wanted, but it just doesn't have manicured lawns, a pool (too many hippo in close proximity) or some of the other touches that the super-luxurious camps have. But that was part of its charm, in my opinion. Yes, my husband and I did a private safari. We opted for this route because I knew that if we wanted to spend hours watching an animal, we could do so and not have to appease other people in the vehicle. At both the Mara River Camp and Tortilis we only came across people who had opted to do the same. What I can say is that on numerous occasions we saw tour operator vehicles that were jammed full with people. While most everyone seemed to have a window seat, I felt bad for some seeing them jockeying for a camera position. With just my husband and me in the vehicle, we could tell each other to duck or move over without tripping over one another or someone else. It is to my understanding that some camps have a minimum age requirement, so you may want to keep that in mind. We did not see any children at Tortilis, but at the Mara River Camp we did see two young boys that were traveling with their grandmother. I guess they were about nine or 10 and having the time of their lives!! Who wouldn't in Kenya? Anyway ... The most "rustic" place we stayed on our trip was the Tarangire Safari Lodge in Tarangire, Tanzania. Small tents, bathroom facilities just outside behind the tent ... It was the only place I had my husband look under the bed before I crawled under the covers. But, hey, it was for one night and no harm was done! As for the cost of having a private safari, it was a couple of thousand dollars more. But again, I felt well worth the money. When we were at the Mara River waiting to see if there would be a crossing, mini-buses filled with people would drive up, wait five minutes and then drive away. We sat there for 2 1/2 hours and it happened. I think that speaks volumes for going on a private safari. If it is cost prohibitive for you, I would make sure that I use a tour operator that guarantees the least number of people per vehicle. Hopefully, I was able to help. I would be happy to answer any other questions.
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 05:40 AM
  #30
darlene
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CJ & Susan, We stayed at Tarangire Safari Lodge too, for 2 nights, I did help a couple of toads out of out tent, and the Superb Starlings would hang out right on the tent pad, or the Acacias inbetween, also Dwarf Mongoose, and Dik-dik walking right through the camp. The second morning we had no water in our bathroom facilities (which were ensuite) because an elephant had pulled down some of the pipes. We went on a short game run before breakfast and by the time we got back everything was working again. Ndutu would have been comparable to it, although, we had an individual cabin. We also did a private safari and I agree with Susan. Other vehicles seemed crowded, and I didn't want someone else to dictate when we would move on.
One more thing, the migration was truly spectacular (we went in Feb to see the birthing season). According to my map, in July-Aug the migration should be (never a for sure thing) in the central western, and northern area of the Serengeti. I would suggest the Seronera Serena in central Serengeti, or maybe the Ikoma camp (didn't see this camp, but described as rustic), and Kirawira in the western corridor. This was a tented camp, but very luxurious Ð marble in the ensuite bathroom, and pool, and great food. Happy to answer and more questions.
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 08:36 AM
  #31
kavey
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Could you tell me what the vehicles were like?

Were they those pop top minivan things or the open no side-no roof jeeps?

Thanks
kavey
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 11:40 AM
  #32
Liz Frazier
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Darlene-
Did you stay at Ndutu? If so may I have your opinion of it please.

Susan-
I stayed at Mara River Camp 3 times. 1887. 1988 and l993. I would call it a Standard no frills camp at that time. I heard they rebuilt it to remove some of the tents to make it smaller. I don't think I would stay there again, but since it was my first camp in the Mara, I just loved it too. Lots of charm, but pretty basic. The distance from the park was really too long when my husband and I wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride one morning. If one does that I would definately recommend other closer camps. I really wished I could have seen the migration from there but I was a month early one year. Liz
 
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Nov 22nd, 2002, 02:30 PM
  #33
darlene
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Kavey, We were in a Land Cruiser with open top. Not a pop-up, the top was stored on the hood. I don't believe they allow open vehicles in the parks in Tanzania. We stood on the seats, and I even stood on the roof once to get a shot. It was the same vehicle for the whole 12 days, and just my husband and I.

Liz, See the post earlier in this string for my review of Ndutu. We stayed 3 nights. If you have more questions, I'd be happy to answer.
 
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Nov 23rd, 2002, 05:19 AM
  #34
Susan
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Kavey: I am not sure if your question about the type of vehicle we had was directed at me, but here goes: in the Mara and Amboseli, we had a pop-top minivan. I was really uncertain about using this, but opted to do so to save some money. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was and how we were able to go everywhere that the Land Rovers, etc. went. Sturdy little things. On several occasions, crews from the show "Big Cat Diary" followed the path our vehicle made through the tall grass. At the N-crater and Tarangire we had a Toyota Land Cruiser with a pop-up top. In Selous, we used the camp's vehicles which are open-sided Land Rovers with canvas tops.
Oh yeah, Liz. While we were in the Mara we stopped at some of the other camps. Kwicha Tembo, what I call the Governor's compound and the Serena. While all were very nice, I still liked the ambiance and location of the Mara River Camp best. I felt comfortable enough there to just walk into the kitchen area, which shocked the staff! Or on one occasion to help myself at the bar when the staff were busy with other things. For me, it was ideal. The Tarangire Safari Lodge was OK for the night, and like you, I had impala munching on grass just outside my tent window the night we stayed there. It was just a little too rustic for me. But to each his own, right?
 
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Nov 23rd, 2002, 10:12 AM
  #35
Liz Frazier
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Susan-
I understand your feelings entirely about the Mara River Camp. The best meal I ever had in my life was there. Let me tell you. We got stuck in the mud getting there from Nairobi, and one of the group had her purse stolen by some young lads out in their truck who came across us. (A whole other story.)It was dark and rainy when we arrived at camp. We went to our tents to clean up before dinner and the hippos came out of the river to munch and snort. The snorting and grunting sounded like lions to me and I started screaming to the next tent to get help, I was surrounded by wild animals. There also was a bat in my tent I hadn't seen and I guess my screaming scared it and it started flying around and that only scared me more. I couldn't find the light and I screamed some more. Pretty soon our guide stuck his head in my tent, turned the light on and sounding rather exasperated said, Liz, it's only a bat. There are no wild animals out here, thats hippos on the river bank. What a fool I felt like. He walked me on to dinner and since it was so rainy we moved our table near the fireplace (we were the only guests there that night). They brought out the BEST pork chops I have ever tasted in my life. We sat around the table, close to the fire, and they laughed at me the rest of the evening. I returned to that camp with my husband, mostly for the pork chops but they never were as good as they were that night. Too, too funny!
Thanks for your report on Ndutu. I don't know if I read it earlier and then forgot about it since I just read the newer posts each day. We are considering staying at Ndutu for an extended period just for the migration birthing season. You are the first person who has posted about the camp. Did you hot air balloon ride in Tanzania? I do love the Ndutu web site and read it often. I've emailed Louise with questions and she always seems so nice. Thanks again for sharing. Liz
 
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Nov 24th, 2002, 10:33 AM
  #36
darlene
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Liz, I certainly would recommend seeing the birthing season at Ndutu, the only way it might be better, is with a mobil camp, but that was just too expensive for 2 people, I hope to get back again one day. No we didn't get a chance to take a balloon ride, just ran out of time and funds.
 
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Nov 24th, 2002, 02:23 PM
  #37
Liz Frazier
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Darlene-
We did the mobile camping in Tanzania and the Wildebeests were not anywhere around. It was February and they were in the Seronera area. Our guides (?) couldn't find them. There were only about a million of them. Go figure. Most miserable trip, I got sick from the dirty water they gave us, and the tents were less than desirable. Be glad you found Ndutu. Thats where we'll go next time we want to see the migration. Sorry I left your name off the last post. Thanks for picking it out. Liz
 
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Nov 25th, 2002, 05:44 AM
  #38
darlene
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Liz, When I planned my trip, no one would give me a better guess than Feb-March for the wildebeest birthing season, so I just picked a date. I told myself that we would have a good time one way or the other, and not to get my hopes up. Fortunately, timeing was right, and it was amazing. We watched them for 4 days, and the only thing I didn't see was a baby actually being born, but did see one that was a few minutes old, and lots that were less than a day old. I loved it. Sorry to here about your mobile camping experience. darlene
 
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