Serengeti/Gorillas/Zanzibar

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Feb 9th, 2006, 03:38 PM
  #1
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Serengeti/Gorillas/Zanzibar

Hello everybody. We are going to Tanzania and Uganada in mid-November, and have come to the following preliminary agenda:

Day 1: Land in Entebbe, Uganada
Day 2: Fly to Gorilla Forest Camp, Uganada
Day 2-4: 3 nights at Gorilla Forest Camp, with 2 days on gorilla treks.
Day 5: Fly from Gorilla Forest Camp, to Entebbe, to Naroibi
Day 5: Night in Naroibi
Day 6: Fly to Arusha, then to Manyara
Day 7-8: 2 nights in Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Day 9: Fly to Klein's Camp
Day 9-11: 3 nights at Klein's Camp
Day 11: Fly to Arusha, Dar Es SAleem, Zanzibar
Day 12-14: 3 nights in Stone town, Zanzibar
Day 14: Fly to Dar es Saleem and then home.

Questions:
1. We were quoted $8500pp for this itinerary by OnSafari (aka African Portfolio), including gorilla permits and internal flights (except (a) the flight from Entebbe to Naroibi, which our agent suggested we get as part of our external flight, and (b) our intial night in Entebbe). We know that these are very nice properties but does this seem high?
2. Approximately $2000pp of the $8500 is spent on charter flights for 8 internal flights. Does this seem reasonable?
3. The agent mentioned that the Uganada portion for the 4 days, 3 nights would cost approx $3000-3500. That implies that the remaining 10 days in Ngorongoro, Klein's Camp, and Zanzibar would cost $5000....Does this breakdown seem reasonable?
4. Given that we want to reduce the price, which alternative camps would you suggest for our stay at (a) Uganda, (b) Ngorongoro, (c) Northern Serengeti region, and (d) Zanzibar.
5. Is it possible to scubadive near Stonetown? Does anyone have any suggestions to Dive shops here?
6. Has anyone used OnSafari (aka African Portfolio) before? Any views?

Thank you!
iwannagetmawwied is offline  
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Feb 9th, 2006, 04:03 PM
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Your name is a riot!

1. Is this a private departure? That would make a difference.

2. The Bwindi-Entebbe charter can be costly. A couple years ago when I looked into it, the cost was about $1000 for the plane. You can drive Bwindi-Entebbe but it is a full sun up to sun down day of travel.

3. not sure

4a. I've stayed at both Gorilla Forest Camp in 04 and Mantana Camp in 02. Forest was extremely lovely, but Mantana was very nice too--certainly luxury. Mantana is less expensive. Both had great staffs and food.

4b. Crater Lodge is way expensive but supposedly the height of luxury. I've stayed at Sopa and I really loved it in 2001. They have their own access road to the crater. (A recent post had an issue with the food & atmosphere there I think. It is a big lodge and does not have the intimacy of a camp.) Also stayed at the more budget but very comfortable Wildlife Lodge in 1994. Nice place. Others have given rave reviews to Serena at the Crater. All 3 are less than Crater Lodge.

4c. Don't know comparison with other camps to Kleins. Lobo Lodge would be less, but you may prefer a tent in the Serengeti. I liked Lobo, but it was a larger lodge, not a tented camp.

4d & 5. no experience

6. Have not heard of them before.

You have a nice sampling of East African highlights. November can get rainy for the gorillas.

Have a great trip and hope there's a mawwage in the future too.
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Feb 9th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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Hello iwannagetmawwied,

Are you getting married? Is this your honeymoon? If so, best wishes!

I will address the Uganda portions of your thread as I'm sure there are many other Fodorites who would like to reply to your questions regarding Tanzania.

3. The agent mentioned that the Uganda portion for the 4 days, 3 nights would cost approx $3000-3500.

Based upon your itinerary, considering that you are taking charter flights to/from Entebbe to Kayonza (Bwindi), and that your quote includes gorilla permits, this figure seems about right. Where are you staying in Entebbe?

4. Given that we want to reduce the price, which alternative camps would you suggest for our stay at (a) Uganda

Alternative accommodations that you might ask your agent to quote for you in Bwindi are the Volcanoes and Mantana camps.

atravelynn is correct that November has the possiblity of being quite rainy for the gorillas as November falls during the short rains that generally occur during November and the first half of December.

Have a wonderful safari!
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Feb 9th, 2006, 05:29 PM
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I believe the price is about right for both Uganda and Tanzania.

Sure, you can shave maybe a few hundred if you shop around, but it's not worth the effort. If you can get 2 more to share your charter flight to Bwindi you may save a bit there.

As others have stated you biggest savings will come from downgrading your accommodations. In Uganda, the Gorilla Forest Camp is good value for money considering its location and experience. I would leave Uganda as is and focus on Tanzania.

At Manyara you can certainly downgrade and still have 3 CCA properties to qualify for the discount! Other than that you can downgrade at Ngorongoro but the Crater Lodge is nice! At Kleins the downgrade to Lobo is hardly worth it as you miss out on night drives, etc.

So I don't know - My gut says go for it and stay at these great CCA properties! So what if you spend $1000 more!
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Feb 9th, 2006, 05:41 PM
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Oops, I made a calculation error!

I guess you can shave about 10% off the price of the current itinerary if you shop around but not much more. 15-20% off will be a bargain!
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Feb 10th, 2006, 01:30 AM
  #6
 
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Couple of quick thoughts on Uganda vs Rwanda and the different camps at Bwindi.

Mantana at Bwindi is now looking very tired and about to close in the current position and rebuild next door to Volcanoes Camp. GFC has super tents, but the views from almost all are now obscured by the forest. Since they are in the national Park they cannot cut trees. The Volcanoes Camp I feel is currently the best option there and probably cheaper than GFC.

However a better way to save money for a short gorilla trip would be to fly into Kigali, drive the short distance to Parc National des Volcans and trek there. Volcanoes Virunga Lodge is beautiful and in an incredible position. I feel it is worth the 40 drive from the park (others might nor since at least 20 mins of this is very bumpy) even first thing in the morning.

The other advantage of PNV is that gorilla groups are allocated on the day rather than your permit restricting you to a certain group as at Bwindi. This means those prepared to hike further to see a bigger group can and those looking for a shorter hike have a good chance of being matched with a nearer group.

I am confident that the same time in Rwanda would give as good an experience for a significant saving.

That's my ideas on the first bit to complement others thoughts on the Tanz section.

Richard
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Feb 10th, 2006, 08:41 AM
  #7
sandi
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Can't comment much on Uganda, but prices a 6-day trip (honestly don't recall the accommodations, though names you mention sound familiar) without the private charter, rather stop between Kampala and Bwindi, for the same $3,500 including the flights to/from NBO/EBB/NBO.

Some suggestions for Tanzania.

On Day 6, you can fly early from Nairobi to Arusha and then drive to Manyara. If you're staying at Tree Lodge (very expensive), you have to drive at least 2+ hrs thru the park and the same next day when departing to Ngorongoro. You can just as easily for the night stay at the Serena or Kirurumu Camp. Besides, Manyara is a small park that can pretty much be covered in a few hours.

If you have the Crater Lodge at Ngorongoro, that's fine, but do find some time to spend in these lux accommodations. Otherwise, stay at the Serena or Ngorongoro Farm House - for one-night only and instead of driving all the way back (2-hrs) to Lake Manyara to fly to Klein's for a very very early flight; can on second afternoon at the crater, drive to the Central Serengeti for a night.

Then next day in the morning take flight from Seronera to Klein's. Or to save some $$$, not even go to Klein's, but drive north to Migration Camp. You might not be able to do night game drives, but you'll be in a lovely camp, great accommodations and food... and save.

When it comes to Zanzibar, you can fly from Klein's to Arusha and direct to ZNZ (no need to stop at DAR). And 3-days in Stone Town is overkill. You should try to get up to one of the beach resorts (air conditioned preferrably as it is hot & humid here)on the coast - consider Ras Nungwi, Blue Bay, or to completely blow the budget The Palms - for 2 of the 3-days and last day return to ST to tour through the winding alleys, markets and enjoy the culture.

Day 5 - o/n Nairobi - where? Pananeri is good, new, and 10-min from the airport.
Day 6 - Early flight to JRO; drive to Lake Manyara - o/n Serena or Kirurumu
Day 7 - Drive to Ngorongoro - afternoon Crater tour - o/n Crater Lodge, Serena or Ngorongoro Farm House
Day 8 - Morning Crater tour; after drive to Central Serengeti - o/n Serena Lodge or Mbuzi Mawe camp
Day 9 - Fly from Seronera to Klein's for 3-nts (Day 9, 10, 11)
or
Day 9 - Drive to Migration Camp for 3-nts (Day 9, 10, 11)
Day 12 - Morning flight to Arusha; connect to flight to ZNZ - o/n beach resort
Day 13 - ZNZ - beach resort
Day 14 - if morning flight, very early depart from beach for flight to DAR and homebound BA flight.
or
- if late flight on KLM, drive to Stone Town, spend day touring, late afternoon flight to DAR to connect to KLM flight.

There are places to save money!
 
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Feb 10th, 2006, 10:11 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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I stayed at Crater Lodge last year and it was super. But if you are trying to save money chose a different property. Crater is one of the most expensive or the most expensive in Tanzania.
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Feb 10th, 2006, 10:15 AM
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I agree swapping Uganda for Rwanda may save you some money and even time. I found the gorilla viewing experience to be slightly better in Rwanda too.
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Feb 10th, 2006, 10:23 AM
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As others have mentioned, swapping Rwanda for Uganda will ease your budget for a couple of reasons, namely you won't need the extra overnight in Entebbe since you can drive to PNV from Kigali the day you land, and you won't need to extra internal flights. I have been on gorilla treks in both countries, and they are both great.

Michael
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Feb 10th, 2006, 10:32 AM
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I just came back from gorilla trekking in Rwanda and I recommend doing that instead of Uganda... and stay single
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Feb 11th, 2006, 06:29 AM
  #12
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Thankyou for the advice everyone!
1) Given everyone's advice we are looking seriously at Rawanda for gorilla trekking. Questions. (a) Are there any safety issues in Rawanda and Kigali? (b) Any thoughts on Hotel des Milles Collines. I'm not quite sure how to think about staying at a place with such a bloody yet courageous past (c) Any other accomodation suggestions in Kigali?
2) We are now looking at Migration Camp. Sounds like just as amazing a place as Klein's and potentially better located to see the migration. We are now thinking of doing a 2 day drive from Arusha to Migration Camp via Ngorongoro. However, that means we can only do one day game drive at Ngorongoro (5-6 hours) and stay at a nearby camp for one night, and then keep driving north-west(?), staying once more at a "fly camp" for one night, before reaching Migration camp. Questions: (a) do people recommend just one day at Ngorongoro given that we will do 3 days at Migration camp? (b) is it worth the two days of driving from Ngorongoro to Migration camp? Will we actually see anything as i would think we are driving against the migration circuit rather than with it? (c) what is it like to stay at fly camps? Do they have game drive options?
3) Any thoughts on Lobo Lodge in November from (a) a geographic perspective as to where the migration might be and (b) a nice place to stay?
4) Do you know if it is possible to go hot air ballooning in the Northern Sernegetti (near Migration Camp)? Iwannagohotairballooning!
5) Any thoughts on Pemba Island? Fundu Lagoon vs Manta Reef as a place to stay?

I have taken most of your advice into consideration except that I have decided not to stay single and instead get married....hee hee!

Thank you!
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Feb 11th, 2006, 06:40 AM
  #13
 
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1. No unique safety issues for Rwanda or Kigali. In fact, I felt much safer walking around Kigali than I did in Nairobi.

2. I stayed at Milles Collines because I prefer a hotel with history. But I understand than Intercontinental has opened a hotel in Kigali that is now the nicest in town.

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Feb 11th, 2006, 08:57 AM
  #14
sandi
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Things to remember when doing safari in Africa -
1) No guarantee where animals will or will not be. They do not set their schedule to fit our visits.
2) No guarantee as to the weather.

November, in considered the "short" rains, but we've traveled during this time and had very little rain. Besides, the showers rarely impact your safari.

With the new rules at the Crater, you are limited to morning or afternoon tours (approx. 6-hrs) each. But not as a full-day. So many do an afternoon and then next morning. Whether one needs more time can vary. Some feel 6-hrs is more than enough, others prefer two 6-hr visits.

While the Crater is a unique experience, you will be seeing plenty of game throughout your trip. So, in order to get to the Northern Serengeti, it's best to start early the day after being at Ngorongoro and doing an afternoon carter tour only.

The drive between the Crater and central Serengeti is easy enough. You often have a brief stop at Olduvai Gorge, then arrive Central by lunch. Along the way there is game. Might not be wildies, but there is game. Then at Central, there is lots of resident game and plenty of predators.

Next morning you head north to Migration Camp.

While it maybe two days, no reputable tour operator would push there guide/driver, vehicle and passengers to make it in one day. You'd be spending too much time just driving, not sufficient game viewing, just to get to your destination. Take my word, your butt will appreciate breaking up the route and you don't loose much.

And, even once at Migration Camp, no guarantee exactly where the herds will be. Just be certain that your outfitter doesn't have mileage limits on how far you can drive in any direction on any given day.

Lobo Lodge will not compare to Migration Camp, though the scenery up that way is beautiful. But you can do a game drive up that way during your time at Migration Camp.



 
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Feb 11th, 2006, 01:13 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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In Kigali I stayed at Novotel. Very comfortable and safe. If you can visit the Never Again Memorial in Kigali it is quite moving. Safety was fine in all of Rwanda. I traveled with a reputable company and guide and stayed at Gorilla Nest at Volcanoes National Park.
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