South Serengeti Lodges

Dec 12th, 2007, 06:02 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 38
South Serengeti Lodges

OK, thanks to the suggestions from this great forum, we are looking at spending two nights in South Serengeti the first two days of Feb.

The prices we have found are astronomical and I don't want to pick a great lodge but have crappy game viewing.

I also figure that if I am spending tow nights, that we should get two morning drives and two afternoon drives. A couple of the places I have heard from seem to feel that the drive from and to the airport counts as a "game drive" which is not what I want.

here are the lodges I am looking at:

Kusini
Olakira
Seronera Wildlife Lodge (location great Lodge iffy)
Seronera Serena Lodge (Great Lodge, 1/2 hour to game)
Ndutu safari lodge


Can anyone comment on any or all of these? Since we will be flying in, we would want to be able to arrive around midday on our first day rather than at night!

Thanks again,

Nigel
learnix is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 06:18 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,881
Ndutu is in the right spot at the right time and it's inexpensive. We've stayed there 12 nights and it's great when the animals are around.

Kusini is a luxury camp at the edge of Serengeti ... I asked our guide about it and he said when the critters are there it's wonderful and when they aren't it's not. Much more of a gamble than Ndutu.

I think Olakira is not a lodge but a tented mobile camp and they are likely near the Ndutu area that time of year. This would be my second choice, after Ndutu (or first if you want to pay double and stay in a tent, which seems to be popular on Fodors).

Seronera Wildlife Lodge is too far north for the migration that time of year, better a couple months later. But some interesting other things to see and do here in the middle of the Serengeti.

Serena Serengeti is also too far north for migration, we stayed there 7 nights in April and I thought even then it was too far from the best spots. But again, some other decent non-migration stuff nearby like the hippo pools.

So for migration stuff I'd go Ndutu or Olakira or Kusini in that order. I'd also try to work in 2 nights near Seronera (either Wildlife or Serena) to see woodlands game and leopards as there are usually many leopards and lions in this area, but only do this as an add-on to the main focus, which would be one of the three mentioned above.

Bill
Bill_H is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 06:21 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
If you're flying in and depending on the particular lodge/camp for game drives, these will be based on the schedule they take out guests. In the morning it's usually 6:30am for 2-3/hrs; afternoon from 3:30-4pm to dark. Depending on from where you are flying, you often don't arrive till 9am earliest or even 10am... technically, you've missed the morning game drive, so I can understand why lodge/camp feels drive from airstrip is a game drive.

If you want longer game drives, discuss having a private vehicle/guide from the property, but expect to pay for this.

If you've arranged thru an outfitter, for a private guide/vehicle to meet you at a partiular airstrip for lodge/camp you'll be staying, then you can pre-coordinate game drives. These can be morning, afternoon or full-day.

Kusini is west of the Ndutu area.
Ndutu Lodge is in Ndutu
Olakira is usually in Southern Serengeti
Serena and Wildlife Lodges are both in the Sereonera/Central Serengeti; can be quite a distance from herds which are often mostly in the Ndutu area.

If you're staying in the Serengeti and the herds are in Ndutu, you'd have to pay a separate park fee to cross into the other area - and vice versa.

For Feb, 1st choice would be Ndutu Lodge, then Olakira.

Note: There's always the freaky possibility that the herds won't get down to Ndutu as happened about 5/years ago... they remained in Seronera.
sandi is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 07:36 AM
  #4  
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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Thanks a bunch. Terrific responses as always!

Unfortunately, Ndutu is booked solid.

Looking at Olakira right now.

Thanks again.

nigel
learnix is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 07:55 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
What Bill said.

Now here's a question for Bill. You stated Ndutu is good when the animals are around. Are you referring to the general time frame of Jan-Mar being good? Or do you mean within that time frame, sometimes animals are nowhere to be found around Ndutu?

Was 12 days over a couple of trips and on those trips did you do any tented camps to supplement Ndutu? I know you did comprehensive reports, but could you give these tidbits of info here? Thanks.
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 06:26 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 61
Hi there,


I just got the following e-mail from Annelies at Ndutu lodge and booked it yesterday. Ndutu is the only place to be in February as the baby Wildebeest will have just been born by then.


Dear Maurice
Greetings from Ndutu.
Many thanks fr yr email.
I was fully booked but just got some cancellations in.
Available :
(I don't know for how many rooms you are looking for ?) 1st, 2nd,
3rd, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20st, 21st, 25th, 26th Feb 2008.
Best regards
Annelies






If you hurry you might be lucky

Best of luck

Maurice

Maurice_M is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 07:04 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,881
Now here's a question for Bill. You stated Ndutu is good when the animals are around. Are you referring to the general time frame of Jan-Mar being good? Or do you mean within that time frame, sometimes animals are nowhere to be found around Ndutu?

Hi Lynn, I've only been there a couple of times but what I gather is in the extreme dry season (Oct etc) it's not much fun and when it REALLY rains (say April and May) it's hard to get around because of the mud. Jan - March is usually excellent but if Nov - Dec rains didn't fall then it can still be dry, like in 2006 when we saw tens of thousands of wildebeests instead of hundreds of thousands. We did very well there in 2006 but 2007, after the heavy Dec rains, was fantastic.

They have a decent resident (non-migratory) population of critters because they have a marsh and lake, but the critter count and dramatic behavior goes up 10x - 100x when the big herds are there too.

Was 12 days over a couple of trips

Five days in Jan 2006, seven days Jan 2007 ... we skipped Ndutu April 2006 but the rains were so late that this was a mistake as the giant herds were south of Naabi and Ndutu was the best place to access them (we were around Seronera instead, a couple hours drive away).

and on those trips did you do any tented camps to supplement Ndutu?

No camps on those trips (though our upcoming Kenya trip will be almost all tented camps) ... on our first trip I asked our leader (a pro photographer who was born in Tanzania and has done every kind of trip from a pup tent in public campgrounds to expensive lodges) about the tent-camps ... he said he uses them in places that have no lodges (north serengeti was mentioned) but if he has a choice he prefers the lodges for serious photography for 3 reasons ... power outlet in the room for the digital stuff (we have as many as 8 gizmos needing power at once), more space in a lodge room to spread out all your photo gear, and more quiet at night so you can sleep better for those 5 AM wake-up calls. He didn't mention cost but I think the basic mobiles are charging about double what Ndutu does and the ritzy ones about 4x - 5x. I know a lot of people like the atmosphere at the smaller tented camps though.

Bill
Bill_H is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 07:17 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Thanks Bill. I thought Ndutu would be good Jan-Mar and your comments confirm that. I don't know if I can justify the cost of a tented mobile in the Serengeti if a lodge puts you in as good of location. I would pay for a mobile if it allowed better access to the right areas at the right time. I realize the atmosphere is different in lodge/tent.
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 07:30 AM
  #9  
 
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We stayed in a Kibo mobile tented camp near Ndutu Lodge in February 2005. There was a heat wave in progress and the Migration herds had actually moved up closer to Seronera. We did an all-day drive up to see them. The guides said that the empty plains near Ndutu had been full of the herds a few weeks earlier. It rained a bit on our last day and the guides said that the herds would be back at Ndutu in a couple of days because of that. The movement of the Migration is SO dependent on the rains!
ShayTay is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 08:15 AM
  #10  
 
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Just a couple of thoughts ... Maurice mentions the cancellations ... this is because Ndutu has a very soft reservation policy, with no deposit required until fairly late (ie, not at the time of booking). So a lot of people or companies reserve rooms and then cancel when the deposits come due months later.

Also, I'm obviously a fan of Ndutu but I don't think it's the best place for everyone. Some of the guides do not get there often and you might have a guide who doesn't know his way around. As two examples, someone told me once that their driver could not even FIND Ndutu and had to stop and ask directions just to get there.

And last year our guide was shaking his head and smiling about another guide he had just had lunch with who was complaining that his client was there 3 nights and the guide had no idea what to do for that long. We were there 7 nights and wished it would have been longer, and one guy was there 60 days at Ndutu (making a film on gazelles). So the type of guide who does well at busy places like Seronera and Ngorongoro Crater where he can just listen on the radio or watch the crowds to find game might be out of his element at Ndutu.

Finally ShayTay mentions the "empty plains" around Ndutu in 2005 during a hot spell ... while the plains can indeed seem empty at times there are other habitats near Ndutu with resident game that are still productive for photography, as we found in 2006 when the plains were brown and empty. I think if you are on the NCA side of the border you have better access to these (many of the tented camps are on the Serengeti side ... you can access both sides by paying additional fees, about $50/person/day ... we always bring enough cash to go to Serengeti if need be but rarely do this except for a day trip to Gol kopjes).

For example there are two permanent lion prides (Masek and Marsh) near Ndutu, two lakes that are bird and game magnets, riverine habitat, and woodlands, which always have some game to photograph (though much less than when the migration is 'in', of course). So the lakes and woodlands mean that even if the plains are empty that you still have things to see (if the driver knows where to go and you are in the NCA).

Bill
Bill_H is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 08:55 AM
  #11  
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OK, I now have an offer on a package using the Olduvai Camp as a base, with drives in Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation area.

There will also be a game drive back to Seronera for an afternoon flight to Mwanza.

For two nights accomodation we would effectively have a private safari over one full day and two half days.

Graet as long as migration is timed right, but even if not, I think we would be in the best area.

Thanks again for all the tips.

Nigel
learnix is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 08:54 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 19
Nigel,

My wife and I will also be there on the same days. We're currently booked at Simiyu Mobile Camp (run by Tanganyika Wilderness Camps - www.africawilderness.com) from January 31 to February 2. We had wanted to stay at Ndutu Lodge, but we couldn't get a confirmed reservation back in the fall.

Anyone have any experience with the Simiyu Camp at that time of year?

Rich
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