Serengeti lodges full - what's best alternative?

Feb 15th, 2006, 02:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 8
Serengeti lodges full - what's best alternative?

Thank you to everyone on this message board! You guys are all so helpful. My husband wonders how I learned so much about Tanzanian safaris in such a short time!

I am in the process of provisionally booking with Roy Safari. Here's what I have so far:

July 2006
08th: Mt Village Lodge - OK
09th: Tarangire River Camp - OK
10th: Tarangire River Camp - OK
11th: Serengeti Serena - Waitlisted for now.
12th: Migration Camp - Waitlisted.
13th: Migration Camp - OK
14th: Ngorongoro Serena Lodge - OK
15th: Ngorongoro to Arusha.

So it looks like Serengeti Serena is booked; my contact at Roy's suggested either Sopa or Mbuzi Mawe. Should I ask about Kirawira (+$60 pp)? It's not central, but possibly closer to the migration if it's not up north yet.

I'm disappointed Migration is booked for the first night we wanted to stay there. My contact at Roy's booked Sayari Camp for us for this night (+$50pp over Migration price). Should we switch both nights to Sayari instead of Migration? I would be sad to not stay at Migration because it was our 2 night luxury treat and upgrade. We could also stay at Treetops (it's currently available) while in Tarangire and less lux. in Serengeti.

Any recommendations on where to stay would be so greatly appreciated!! Thank you!

rdgbofcroton is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 03:00 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
You have a good itinerary and let's hope you get the lodges you want!

In July, I would take Mbuze Mawe over Sopa because of location, potential wildlife movement and ..... because I like tented camps better!

Don't be concerned about Sayari; everything considered it is an upgrade over Migration Camp. Its location on the banks of the Mara River in July is excellent.

For the record, Migration Camp is one of my favorites, but Sayari is rather special with the crocs and hippos a small distance away. It is more intimate, it's not lacking in any luxuries and I will never forget sitting outside and watching hundreds of wildebeest trotting by just a few hundred feet away after crossing the river (November 2005). It has a more open setting than Migration Camp (located in a forest area).

A combination of Mbuze Mawe and Sayari will work well - my only concern is the long drive back to Ngorongoro on the 14th (from Migration Camp and certainly from Sayari). This makes Sayari a bit less attractive in the grand scheme of things.

Even the drive from Tarangire to Mbuze Mawe will be a stretch, so Tarangire River Camp is the best located for an early start. If you stay at Treetops you have too far to go!

To get a better idea of locations, you can see my maps and pics on, as well as mileage and drive times.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 04:25 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 794
Have you considered flying back? I know it adds to your expenses (about $175, I believe), but it might increase your chances of getting the accommodations you want and it eliminates backtracking.

You would essentially move Ngorongoro Serena to the 11th, and push everything else back a day with your flight back to Arusha from the Serengeti on the 15th.
lifelist is offline  
Feb 15th, 2006, 07:45 PM
Posts: n/a
I was trying to work on a trip for my sister and her family to go to the Serengeti and asked for a quote from Roy's........they did say that they were going to get back to me about camp availability for August......

I havent heard from them in about 3 weeks...i was talking to agnes from Roy's.......they seem very bad with replying emails and getting back to clients........very very unprofessional.
Feb 16th, 2006, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 794
Agnes hasn't been very responsive at Roys. I was dealing with her, and based on that experience was going to go with somebody else. Then, Agnes came down with Malaria, and I got shifted to Shamin, who's been pretty good and very responsive. Unfortunately, Shamin has gone back to college, so everybody is working with Agnes now (who seems to have recovered).
lifelist is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 09:58 AM
Posts: n/a
well....she hasnt responded to me in over 3 weeks now......they hv lost my business now.

My sister decieded to do serngeti with her kids next year...........

She will go to Botswana along with me in August this year.

However, i doubt if i will be asking Agnes for any quotes or reservations.

Feb 16th, 2006, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 5
Hi climbhighsleeplow:

Do you know if Sayari is more expensive than Migration Camp?

We are going to be in the northern Serengeti in November and ATR recommends Migration Camp. However, it seems that most Fodorites vote for Sayari. Since Sayari is northwest to Migration Camp, does one have better viewing than the other in November?

Thank you very much.
iwannagetmawwied is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 11:07 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
I don't know if most Fodorites would vote for Sayari! I think only a handful here have stayed there - I have and I like both the camp and certainly its location on the bank of the Mara River!

But Migration Camp is very special too.If you like to have a pool and enjoy the warm "Polo" decor (I certainly do), and the slightly more comfortable setup of a permanent camp vs. seasonal, then Migration is preferred. However, due to the woods it has more tsetse flies (not immediately inside the camp).

In terms of location I give the edge to Sayari thanks to its remoteness, the crocs and hippos and Mara River. But it is a seasonal camp without a pool and small luxuries such as hairdryers! It is a different experience.

In November, the migration is scattered and stretched from the Mara down to Seronera and beyond. One sees mostly pockets of herds and not one big herd of a million - and they hide in the woods! For this reason I prefer Sayari as the area is more open and there is the river action, but Migration Camp is closer to the lion areas of Lobo (I have seen lion near Sayari but not as many as at Lobo).

Either way, this is a very close call. Pricewise they are about the same. Sayari rack rates are a bit cheaper but this depends on your agent. Also try to get a quote from an in-country outfitter!

Sayari is a long drive away from the normal game circuits and this should also be considered when choosing it over Migration Camp.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 02:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 8
lifelist - thank you for the suggestion about flying. I asked my contact at Roy's (somehow I got lucky and got Nancy who has been great - she always gets back to me within 24hrs) to check into the flight, which would change around the order of the trip. Any idea when the flights are? Would it be better to go from ARusha to Ngoro. to Serengeti fly back to Arusha and then do Tarangire or do Tarangire at the beginning and fly from Serengeti to home (our flight out of Arusha is not until 8/9 PM)? Are the flights reliable? I would be nervous about missing our flight home!

It's unfortunate that some people have recently had bad experiences with Roy's; I chose them because their service was spot on, they got great reviews, and their prices were excellent. But, I guess it's so highly dependent on whom you're working with.

climbhighsleeplow - thank you for the feedback about the driving times and the lodges/camps. I asked Nancy to try to get us into Mbuzi Mawe for the night in central Serengeti. It looks quite nice! I guess I have to figure out if we want to stay that middle night at Sayari or Kirawira. What do you think? Your description of Sayari makes it quite enticing, but I don't yet know what you think about Kirawira. BTW, I love your website and have it flagged one of my favorites as per the recommendations of other Fodorites - thanks! I have not yet figured out the googlemaps part though as I am forbidden to download anything without permission.
rdgbofcroton is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
Here is a flight schedule:

Kirawira has a long history of excellence. I believe many here will give it 2 thumbs up. It is elegant with great service - the dark wood floors and furniture reminds me of a stately hotel in the glamorous times of Bugsey Malone.

It is a bit high up on the hill so larger animals will probably not feed outside your tent as they do elsewhere but you will be in a good spot to go see the Grumeti Crocs and the wildebeest if the migration is still around.

Grumeti Camp is in a better location for a wild experience, but you must be prepared for noisy nights with hippos grazing and lions roaring! The walk from the dining room to the sleeping tents after 9pm can raise your neck hairs some!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 06:54 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 794
If you did fly-in/drive back, you would something like this:

July 2006
08th: Mt Village Lodge
09th: Migration Camp (fly Arusha to Serengeti)
10th: Migration Camp
11th: Serengeti Serena
12th: Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
13th: Tarangire River Camp
14th: Tarangire River Camp
15th: Tarangire to Arusha

(Note that you're still at the Serengeti Serena on the 11th, so you'd still be waitlisted)

If you did drive-in/fly back, you would do something like this:

July 2006
08th: Mt Village Lodge
09th: Tarangire River Camp
10th: Tarangire River Camp
11th: Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
12th: Serengeti Serena
13th: Migration Camp
14th: Migration Camp
15th: Serengeti to Arusha (flight)

In this option, you keep 3 of your confirmed reservations, and move the others around to see if availability shakes loose.

One of the best advantages of flying is that the drives between parks are shorter. When I worked with Roy, I gave them the flexibility to do either drive-in/fly back or fly back/drive-in, and we, in fact, ended up flipping my itinerary to get the accommodations I wanted. The more options they have to work with, the more flexible they can be.
lifelist is offline  
Feb 16th, 2006, 07:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 8
thank you so much! I will email them now with what you proposed!
rdgbofcroton is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 07:05 AM
Posts: n/a
If the cost of the flight isn't a concern (about $275/person), I prefer to fly to the farthest location and work my way back by road; or drive to the farthest point and fly back. Of course, depending on time of year and availability of your accommodations - flexibility is good.

If commencing your safari at Migration Camp which uses the Klein's airstrip, the flight from Arusha departs about 8am (and believe connects at Manyara for ongoing to Klein's airstrip), arriving about 9:30am.

If returning from Migration Camp, also using Klein's airstrip, departs here at about 10am, arriving Arusha/Kili about 1-hr+ later.

Schedules can change from year-to-year and sometimes month-to-month... always verify, but the times are approximate anyway - it's Africa!

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