splurge for swala?

Jan 28th, 2006, 02:24 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 8
splurge for swala?


This is my first post, but I have been reading for the past week (my husband says I am now obsessed). We are planning a 7 day / 6 night safari leaving July 10th. We want some "nicer" accommodations, but are ok some more middle of the road options. I have a few itineraries from various tour operators: Nature Discovery, Access to Tanzania, Duma Explorer, Tropical Trails, and Roys) - all on the TATO list. In order to pick the operator that will give me the best price, I have to figure out where to stay and that's where I need everyone's help.

Overall itineray (some variation in order but basically the same):

Lake Manyara (1) (one company had me skip staying here to spend 2 nights in Tarangire - this is an option)
Tarangire (1) - except the above exception
Ngorongoro (1)
Serengeti (3)

I know this is a lot of driving, but we love fast paced travel (we don't have children yet so we don't spend our days running after them, but we do run after the dog...).

Here are the options and my questions:

Manyara - if this was included, most had us stay at the Kirurumu. One gave the option of the Serena, but it was a little more. Is it worth it to stay at Serena here?

Tarangire - option with 2 nights recommended Swala, this would be a splurge, but we can do a splurge for a night or 2. Possibly one night somewhere else in Tarangire (where?) and one night at Swala. If we have only 1 night 4 Tarangire, is it even worth it to go all the way to Swala or even TreeTops? What about Kikoti, which looks v. nice? Other operators put us at Tarangire Safari Lodge or Tarangire River Camp - they look ok. Help!

Ngorongo - We certainly can't afford the Crater lodge, but it looks AMAZING! I wish! I think here, the Sopa looks fine and we can save a bit of money. Is the Ngoro Serena much nicer than the Sopa? One operator had as the Ngoro Farm House - it looks nice, but never having been, is it out of the way?

Serengeti - I think we will ask for 1st night at the Serena (or we could do Sopa, but Serena looked nicer), followed by a Western camp to catch migration. We could do Mbalageti Lodge or Kirawira, which supposedly are in the best location for early/July. AGain, HELP!

Any advice on where to stay, where to splurge, what to skip, etc. will be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and at this point, the prices seem to range from about $2650 to $3000 (including and acounting for 1 nigth Arusha and airport transfer). I want to keep it around $2750. Also, do the tour operators lower prices with bargaining?

rdgbofcroton is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 03:40 PM
Posts: n/a
During high-season which July is in Tanzania, don't believe anyone is offering specials or will be bargaining with you. There is little enough space available. As to Mbalageti or Kirawira, if you expect to stay within budget and if there is space... bye bye budget. These are running about $700/nt/person.

If Swala is available, this too is high-priced, but for a bit of luxury, go for it. Treetops is very expensive, higher than Swala; also outside the park by about 40-minutes. But Swala is inside the park. Kikoti, on the other hand is outside the park by about 30-minutes. Within budget is Tarangire River camp and is only a few miles from the park.

Both Serena or Sopa are fine at the Crater; Ngorongoro Farm House is also lovely and only a short drive from the Crater.

If you do two or more Sopa or Serena properties, there will be a small discount. Tarangire has a Sopa, but no Serena. Manyara has a Serena, but no Sopa. Ngrongoro and the Serengeti have both Sopa and Serena.

However, until you advise one of the outfitters of your intention, will you find out which properties are actually available.

Let us know your decision.
Jan 28th, 2006, 09:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 794
If you're in the Serengeti mid-July, shouldn't you be in the Northern Serengeti? The wildebeest should be on the move to the Mara by then. In that case, luxury accommodations for the Northern Serengeti would include places like Migration Camp or maybe Mbuzi Mawe.

You could do Ngorongoro Serena/Sopa (1), Serengeti Serena/Sopa (1), and Migration Camp (2). This way you get the discount for two Serena/Sopa properties and a bit of luxury at the Migration Camp.

I would prefer staying 2 nights at a luxury property rather than 1. With just one night passing through, you can't really enjoy the lodgings.

Btw, are you doing a fly/drive safari, or is it all driving?
lifelist is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 06:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,305
Swala Camp is fantastic -- we absolutely loved it (Swala and Migration Camp were our two favorites). But I only recommend it if you can stay for at least 2 nights. It is an extremely long drive through the park just for one night. Our trip was 15 days though -- with only 6, Tarangire would not be at the top of my list of priorities. Nor would Lake Manyara.

With only 6 nights I would be tempted to spend all 6 in Serengeti! That's just me though. I would fly in and spend 2 nights in the northern part of the park (Migration Camp or Lobo), 2 nights in central Seronera area (Serena or Mbuzi Mawe), and 2 nights in the western part of the park. Or you could do 3 nights in northern and 3 nights in Seronera.

But assuming you want to see more than Serengeti and you definitely want to drive rather than fly in, I would do one night in Tarangire (maybe Treetops), one night in Ngorongoro (Sopa or Serena), and the other 4 nights split between 2 nights in central Seronera area of Serengeti and 2 nights in the northern part of the park. Honestly, Serengeti is so amazing that it merits as much time as you can spend there.
lisa is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 06:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 8
Thank you so much for your feedback.

We definitely have to drive as the fly-in options put us over our price range.

It is a good point about needing 2 nights at someplace luxury to really enjoy. I also appreciate the input about Swala being too into the park to really enjoy for just one night. I was affraid of that. This is where others' experiences are so helpful! Then if we do go to Tarangire, perhaps we should go to Tarangire River Camp. I actually just got a quote from Roys (they took about 6 days to responds, whereas others got back to me right away) - at first I was holding it against them that they took so long, but I have only heard good things about them and their itinerary looks v. good so perhaps I need to look seriously about what they sent.

It's also good to know that I need 2 nights at a Serena or a Sopa to get any sort of discount. I guess that's why when I got the proposed itineraries they listed a price for "all Sopa" or "all Serena". Is Kirawira considered a Serena? It is listed on their webiste.

If I can see flamingos in Ngoro, should I eliminate Lake Manyara or just stop by for a game drive on the way from one park to another? This could give us another night in Tarangire or in Serengeti.

In Serengeti, one of the operators (Stacey from Duma) actually said that in early-mid July Mbalageti and Kirawira have better views of the migration than Migration Camp. Is she wrong about this?

I guess I need to move quickly so that the tour operators can check on availability.

Thanks again for the help. I'm looking forward to hearing more!
rdgbofcroton is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 794
The problem with the migration is that nobody can predict with any accuracy where they're going to be. This is why people split their time in the Serengeti between two locations to increase their chances.

Kirawira and Mbuzi Mawe are both Serena. You could do a combination of Serengeti Serena and Mbuzi Mawe which would get you central and northern Serengeti. This would be considerably cheaper than Kirawira and you still get the tented lodge experience with Mbuzi Mawe.

Another alternative would be to do the luxury camping thing in the Serengeti with outfitters like EMC, Asilia Lodges, or Nomad. At $350-400 pppn, they're pricey, but stilll cheaper than Kirawira. You get the camping experience and the camps move seasonally to follow the migration.
lifelist is offline  

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