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joode Jan 9th, 2006 06:39 PM

Suggestions on Kenya/Tanzania Safari
Hi, I discovered this site around 2 days ago and have spent literally hours reading the many threads on these countries. My husband goes to bed and leaves me staring at the computer screen but it all makes so much interesting reading! Now, I've totally confused myself as to where to go, length of time in each place etc.
We plan to travel to South Africa the last week in September, 2006 for our first trip to South Africa and, like many others, have just booked our flights from Australia to Jo'burg. We're spending a couple of nights there (jetlag recovery time!) and then flying to Nairobi.
After searching and browsing many sites and finding and thereafter Eastern & Southern Safaris I'm now in contact with Serah and have so far come up with combining a 7 day Kenya trip (Samburu 2nts, Serena Mountain Lodge 1nt, Lake Nakaru 1 nt, Masai Mara 3 nts.). The Tanzania sector at present involves driving back to Nairobi, o/nite in Nairobi and then driving to Arusha and onto Ngorongoro Crater (all day travel) for 2 nts, Lake Manyara 1 nt. and then all the way back to Nairobi to fly back to Jo'burg and continue our holiday in SA.
Now, sorry for all the miscellaneous details but any suggestions as to whether it's worth all the hassle to do short trip to the crater etc. in Tanzania (keeping in mind that we only get a half day crater safari)? Or would we be better off staying the extra time in the Mara or Samburu (or other location) in Kenya. By the way, I have asked Serah for a cost of flying from the Mara area to Arusha to cut out the night in Nairobi and the long days's travel.
Also, I realise it's going to be a fairly busy time of the year, but is one area better than another for animal sightings, travel etc. in late Sep/early October.

Leely Jan 9th, 2006 07:39 PM

My 2 cents (and I haven't been to Kenya other than Nairobi): I'd stay in Kenya. Maybe add a night to the Mara and to Samburu?

If you do decide to visit Tanzania as well, look into going to Tarangire rather than Lake Manyara.

Good luck deciding. I'm sure others will be able to advise you better.

kimburu Jan 9th, 2006 09:06 PM

Rephrase question: If I come to East Africa do I HAVE to see the crater?

I don't know - unfortunately I haven't seen it. However, you should think hard about another long drive after coming back from the Mara - it is a rough road by anybody's standards and quite tiring. Staying longer in one area may give you a better experience anyway. If you are worried about getting bored or such (don't think you will be!) do your other night in the Mara in a place that offers something completely different - walking safari with Masaai, night game drives, more intimate atmosphere, etc.

Tanzania would be better combined with Tsavo and/or Amboseli, rather than the other parks - although MM is a must if you are in Kenya already (moreso than the crater.....?)

Patty Jan 9th, 2006 09:35 PM

I've never been to Ngorongoro crater so this is more about the pace of travel than anything else. Unless you decide to add some flights, I'd stay in Kenya and add extra nights there rather than try to squeeze in a short 3 night Tanzania safari. You already have several long drive days on the Kenya portion of your safari and I think it would be much more pleasant if you didn't have the additional drives from Nairobi to Tanzania and back. If you feel that you MUST visit Ngorongoro, you should strongly consider at least flying the NBO-JRO-NBO segments.

joode Jan 9th, 2006 10:01 PM

Leely, Kimbaru and Patty, thanks heaps for your replies - golly you guys are night owls looking at the times of your posting! I suppose that deep down I knew that it was pushing it to try and do both and that an extended stay in Kenya is a better way to go. It's just that Ngorongoro Crater has sort of held a fascination for me since reading about it ages ago. Kimbaru, your rephrasing of 'do I have to visit the Crater?' made me think, well, do I? More discussion with 'better half' is needed and any other suggestions are welcomed. Thanks again.

paulsmith Jan 10th, 2006 12:07 AM

It is my genuine feeling that you have to do Ngorongoro if you will be coming to East Africa for your safari. You can reduce 1 nights stay in Maasai Mara if you are short of time. I fyou dont fear driving to Nairobi you can leave the Mara very early and lunch in nairobi and proceed to Arusha via shuttle in the afternoon (this will reduce the safari cost significantly). You will then overnight in Arusha and proceed to Ngorongoro where you can as well have 2 nights before returning to nAIROBI

aby Jan 10th, 2006 12:05 PM

@first- your last question: this is a very good time to b in Mara. The migrating herds should b on their way to Tz around mid October... The grass has been cut low = good observations.
DO NOT reduce a night in Mara !!!
{I agree to the rest of paulsmith comments - possible to make it to Arusha. only the shuttle leaves at 14:00 if i'm not mistaken}
@ if Ngorongoro is a childhood dream - what can we say? If u r into Geology, Volcanology and must see the world's greatest perfect Caldera - go4it.
Though u can climb Mt. LONGONOT near Naivasha (KE)- circle its caldera by foot and watch from above a "parasitic cone" simply awesome!!
@ if ur interested in ornithology Naivasha & Baringo
@ if u wanna see different ethnic groups a journey in north Kenya can b uncomparable: Pokot Turkana Rendille Gabbra Samburu ...
@@@ if u ask me what is the most varied experience u can have within the number of days u specified:
i'm adding 3 nights to your v. good plan:
* Night-viewing lodge: Ark/Mt. Lodge/TreeTops
* Samburu 2 nights
* Baringo
* Nakuru
* Mara 3 nights
* Naivasha (incl. crater-lake, island walk...)

I can specify why & what to see...
but u have to define what u like:
Remote Camel safary with Samburu
warriors ?
maybe a day in the Afro-Alpine meadows of Mt. Kenya? Aberdares ??

joode Jan 10th, 2006 01:31 PM

Thanks paulsmith and aby for your input. After poring thru yet more threads and hearing rave reports re the Mara AND the condition of some of the Kenyan roads I'm starting to come round to feeling that adding some extra time in Kenya would make for a more relaxing trip (timewise) and also the game viewing does seem to lean towards the Mara in Sep/Oct. Ngorongoro was on the wishlist but I won't be too disappointed if the Mara lives up to recommendations. So, will now decide what to do. Aby we're 'young at heart' but not that young and adventurous for remote camel riding, mountain climbing etc. but thank you for your suggestions. Main aim for the trip is game viewing, secondly birding (husband is keen birdwatcher)with walks but not into all day trekking. Thinking of maybe adding an extra night in the Mara and 2 nts at Lake Baringo. Is it worth visiting and I believe there are 2 island camps there - which one is best?
I appreciate your comments and help and am so glad I stumbled on this site.

Patty Jan 10th, 2006 02:28 PM

I stayed at Samatian Island in November and also visited Island Camp. Both accomodations are in the middle of the lake. Samatian is a very small island (takes about 45 min to walk around the entire island) and Island Camp is located on a peninsula of the larger island to the south. I can highly recommend a stay at Samatian. The open air cottages are delightful and Ross is a wonderful host. In my trip report you'll find more details (days 7-9) -;tid=34719569

I also have pictures of Samatian in my Kenya album from November -

And on this album you'll find pictures of Island Camp -

Keep in mind that Island Camp is much larger (23 tents plus 1 cottage) than Samatian (4 cottages) and at the time of my stay, there was only one newly completed open air cottage as you see in my pictures. All of the other accomodations at Island Camp are much older, smaller tents that have seen better days. Eventually they plan to convert the 23 tents into 10 cottages but how long that will take I don't know.

The only warning I have for Baringo is that it can be very hot and buggy there, but I loved the place and the birdwatching is excellent. It makes for a great mid-safari break if you want to do something different.

Samatian was pricing about $83pppn additional over Island Camp for our stay in November, but included in their rates are drinks, laundry, and most activities such as boat rides. I have more pics of Samatian than what's on my album. Let me know if you'd like to see them.

joode Jan 10th, 2006 11:53 PM

Thanks, Patty - have viewed your pics, they're fantastic. Thanks for advice on Baringo Island Camp. I can see what you mean by the tents having seen better days! Maybe the other open air cottages would be available by the time we travel in September. I have asked Serah to check it out and give me a costing on both island camps.

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