Tanzania... Another Itinerary review PLZ

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Aug 2nd, 2005, 04:50 PM
  #1
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Tanzania... Another Itinerary review PLZ

Before I begin, I want to thank all of you for your help and input. I've really enjoyed reading all the Trip Reports, (I've read reports from 2003... onwards!)and I have become hopelessly addicted to this site! July 2006 cannot come fast enough!

I've now received 3 itineraries, and I'd apprecated your help in critiquing them. They have come in around the same price, from $4,000 from Roy's (with use of one 4x4) to $5,000 from ATR and Good Earth (abit more than $5,000 plus an extra night). (Both with use of two 4x4).

Assuming that costs are equal, I'd like your comments and viewpoints on accomodations and routing.

Roy Safaris:
Day 1: Mt. Village Lodge
Day 2: Tarangire Sopa or Safari Lodge
Day 3: Tarangire Sopa or Safari Lodge
Day 4: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Day 5: Mbuzi Mawe or Migration Camp
Day 6: Mbuzi Mawe or Migration Camp
Day 7: Mbuzi Mawe or Migration Camp
Day 8: Eunoto, Gibbs Farm or Kirumuru Tented Lodge
Day 9: Fly Serengeti to Selous - Overnight Sand Rivers
Day 10: Sand Rivers
Day 11: Sand Rivers

Good Earth:
Day 1: Mt. Village Lodge
Day 2: Mt. Village Lodge
Day 3: Tarangire Treetop Lodge
Day 4: Tarangire Treetop Lodge
Day 5: Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
Day 6: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Day 7: Migration Camp
Day 8: Migration Camp
Day 9: Migration Camp
Day 10: Fly charter Serengeti to Selous - Overnight Sand Rivers
Day 11: Sand Rivers
Day 12: Sand Rivers

ATR:
Day 1: Moivaro Lodge
Day 2: Tarangire Swala Lodge
Day 3: Tarangire Swala Lodge
Day 4: Gibbs Farm
Day 5: Oldavai Tented Camp
Day 6: Migration Camp
Day 7: Migration Camp
Day 8: Migration Camp
Day 9: Fly Serona to Selous - Overnight Sand Rivers
Day 10: Sand Rivers
Day 11: Sand Rivers


Comments Plz???!!!
BahamaBreeze is offline  
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:23 PM
  #2
bwanamitch
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BahamaBreeze,

I would prefer the Good Earth tour, WITHOUT the 2nd night at Mt. Village (Arusha NP isn't such spectacular to spend two nights in the area). Main reason: with Lake Manyara Serena and Ngorongoro Sopa you're well positioned at that areas.

2nd would be Roy's, however only if you stay Migration Camp (much much better for the migration at that time) and Kirumu.

ATR? IMO distances from Gibbs Farm and Oldavai are too large for a comfortable visit of Lake Manyara NP or the Crater.

But let's see what the real Tanzanian experts say...

Mitch
 
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:32 PM
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BahamaBreeze,

How many people are in your party, after all? Didn't you say there would be 13 of you altogether?

How many people are going to be in each 4x4? Roy's only includes one 4x4 while Good Earth and ATR will provide two 4x4's.

I do agree with Mitch that you are rushing too fast through Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater.

Also, for a park such as Selous and a camp such as Sand Rivers, 4 nights would seem more appropriate. Perhaps you would be better off upgrading to a nicer place in Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara and then adding a few nights in Zanzibar. As I recall, you said that teens were going to be on this trip, so I do think they would enjoy the beach activities. Plus, it may provide some important culture and history, given Zanzibar's not so pretty past.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:33 PM
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When I say you would be better off upgrading in Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater, I mean this, along with a few nights in Zanzibar, would replace Selous.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 02:06 AM
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Good comments, thanks!

Bwanamitch, I thought the same thing, that I would be far from the things we wanted to see... the crater and Olduvai Gorge, but the TA feels staying in a big lodge would be worse than the drive. ???

Roccco, we are now 4 adults and 3 kids for sure. Only 1 of those kids is a teen, the other 2 are pre-teens.

Selous has to stay in, as my husband has to have the fishing. Plus it has other activities that we can do besides game drives. Another guest who stayed there indicated 4 nites would be over doing it. Otherwise, I agree with your points.

My other question is how "bad" are the big lodges? One of the tour operators would not even consider booking us at one! Are they THAT bad???
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 02:19 AM
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The big lodges are not "bad" they are just a different experience - more like staying in a hotel in the bush. We've only stayed in the Serena lodges and have always had good service and quality accommodation. However our preference is for the smaller and more rustic camps - we feel much closer to the animals this way (sometimes a bit too close) and also enjoy talking to and eating with the guides and camp managers.

It really depends on your preference.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:05 AM
  #7
bat
 
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[Caveat, have not stayed there yet, booked for next Feb.] Olduvai Camp seems much more interesting to me than does the Manyara Serena, Masai contact, it is near the gorge, one of your areas of interest and gives you a bit of a driving start from the Crater to Migration. I would insist on a crater rim lodge instead of Gibbs (ATR books them, whether they prefer them or not)--so with that change I would recommend the ATR itinerary. [another caveat, I did not have a strong desire to overnight in Manyara--perhaps you do.]
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:53 AM
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All 3 of these itineraries look pretty nice to me with a good mix of different types of accommodations (accommodations, lodges, etc.).

In Tarangire, I think most people would recommend Treetops or Swala much more than Sopa or Safari Lodge so that would argue in favor of #2 or 3 over #1. Swala is more luxe and inside the park, Treetops is outside the park which is an advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it (night drives are possible outside the park).

I would agree that #3 is lacking a night at the rim of Ngorongoro crater which seems a bit odd to me. The other two have you staying at Ngorongoro Sopa which is supposed to be fine although I think Ngorongoro Serena is supposed to be a little nicer (although on the opposite side of the crater, and a bit more expensive). Any operator should be able to book you at either of those. I know for a fact that ATR could book you at Ngorongoro Serena (or the alternative budget busting Crater Lodge) because they have done so for others, so it's bizarre if they are refusing to.

Regarding #3, since you are planning for such a big group, the only thing I would note re: Olduvai Camp is that I believe the bathrooms there have chemical toilets and bladder showers -- I'm sure for most people that is fine, especially for only one night, but it's just something to be aware of if you have anyone in your group who is particular about things like that.

By the way, I noticed that #1 & 3 have you at Gibbs rather than Lake Manyara Serena -- if you decide you'd prefer Gibbs then I know Good Earth can book you in there too, because we have booked with them and are staying at Gibbs for 1 night. You might prefer to be closer to Lake Manyara though. Depends on what your looking for in terms of location and also the type of accommodation. People rave about the food at Gibbs but it is not in a game viewing area if that matters to you (it's in between Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro).

Similarly if you decide you'd rather stay at Mbuzi Mawe than Migration, I know that both ATR and Good Earth can book you in there as well. Migration Camp is about an hour north (and east) of Mbuzi Mawe I believe (Mbuzi Mawe is closer to central Serengeti). There may be a cost difference too if that matters -- this year Mbuzi Mawe is significantly less than Migration Camp because it is new, but I don't know about next year's pricing. I am not the expert as to which location is better for that time of year. Migration gets raves; Mbuzi Mawe is new but supposed to be very nice as well.

I would agree that if you go with number 2 you might want to consider just one night for Arusha rather than 2.

Eunoto is not familiar to me at all.

If you want more detail on any of these accommodations, the most detailed reviews I know of are here:
http://www.africadreamsafaris.com/lodges/tanzania.html

Good luck -- I'm sure any of these itineraries would give you a fantastic trip.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:57 AM
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The big lodges aren't horrible, but they can be crowded and noisy with lots of tour groups (not that you couldn't have the same problems elsewhere, but staying in smaller camps reduces that possibility). You're unlikely to receive the more personalized service that you would at a smaller lodge or camp, and you tend to feel less connected with the natural environment.

If you stay at a lodge at the beginning of your safari, you won't have much to compare it to. We made the mistake of putting one at the end, and it was quite a shock having just come from a very tranquil camp with lots of game wandering through (this was replaced with lots of people wandering to the buffet ).

Personally, I'll try to stay away from them from now on, but sometimes cost or convenience becomes a limiting factor. Since you're only including one night at the crater, I'd choose a lodge on the crater rim for convenience. The Serena is generally considered the best of the bunch unless you opt to spend a lot more for the Crater Lodge. If you were spending 2 nights, then you could consider staying away from the crater rim but there are still closer options than Gibbs Farm.

At Lake Manyara you can stay at Kirurumu if you don't want a lodge experience, and Tarangire has many good options outside of the Sopa and Safari lodges. So aside from the crater, I don't see where you should stay in a big lodge (unless that's your preference).
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 10:32 AM
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I don't know if you've come across these threads in your reading but there are slideshows and discussion of the relative locations of accomodations near Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara and Tarangire which might help with your decision -

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34644982

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34644805

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34597806

With a few minor exceptions (like Olduvai), you should be able to ask any of the 3 operators you received itineraries from to re-price with the specific accomodations that you've chosen.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 10:39 AM
  #11
bat
 
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Lisa's oomment about Olduvai is a good one to consider for your group--they might or might not like that aspect about the toilets/showers. I also had a thought that might favor the Good Earth itinerary--the Manyara Serena and the Crater Sopa both have pools (the kids might like that--although I have read that the Sopa may be too cold on the rim.)
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 12:15 PM
  #12
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Wow, thanks you guys! I do not know what I would do without this board!!

So much to think about, decisions, decisions, decisions! I still have 11 months to go before we actually leave...what is going to happen after we actually book??? Do I get to change my mind? In those photos, all those places looked great!!

AAAHHHH, now I see why you have to go to Africa more than once!!
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