Tanzania Feb 2011 Itinerary - Review Requested

Old Feb 8th, 2010, 09:48 PM
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Tanzania Feb 2011 Itinerary - Review Requested

Hello, 5 years after our last safari to Botswana, I'm finally getting around to planning our 2nd one!

We're thinking about going Feb 2011 to the Southern Serengeti. I would really like to experience something different from Botswana, where we saw an incredible number of animals (video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVriTCMVUU0 ). Therefore, we really want to see massive herds of the migration (plus I would love to see some flamingos. never seen a (non-plastic) flamingo .

Here's our tentative itinerary:

- 2 days at Ngorogoro Crater (crater lodge)
- 4-5 days mobile camping in Southern Serengeti and/or Lolindo Reserve
- 2 days at Lake Manyara
- 2-3 days Zanzibar (Mnemba Island, maybe one night at Stones Town).

So, here are the questions:

1) Mobile camping:
- We didn't do this in Botswana and I really would like to do it. Problem is that I'm a city girl and non-camper. Will 5 days be too much for me?
- The camp choices we are considering are Olakira and CC Africa's Serengeti Under Canvas. Any others? The more luxurious the better!
- Eben from Kiliwarriors suggests that we combine Olakira with Suyan in the Lolindo Reserve. Is this a lot of moving around? should we just stick with one camp? We saw a lot of wild dogs at Duma Tau, so are not particularly rabid about finding the dogs again.

2) Lake Manyara:
- Is this area worth it during Feb? What are the main attractions, besides the Tree Lodge, which looks great?

3) We'll be flying in/out of Nairobi. What is the best place to begin our safari?

4) Should we pay extra to fly between camps or drive? In Botswana we flew and it was great. Even had a helicopter once! We really want to minimize unnecessary driving given dust/heat.

5) How's the weather in Tanzania in Feb? Very hot? Rain? Eben says even if it rains it'll be ok.

6) Any other advice?

Your help greatly appreciated!!

Judy
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 10:49 PM
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I just came back in Feb 2010 from TZ.

Here's my 2 cents:

Skip Lake Manyara,go straight to the Crater and then to Southern Serengeti.
Stay near Ndutu area (Ldutu Lodge or Olakira), if your aim is to see massive herds.
Crater won't disappoint ( I visited it for 4 days)
The weather was anywhere from 50-75 degrees F
Heavy rains had fallen in Jan, the area is currently lush green. Occasional showers were encountered, but nothing major.
It dries up pretty quickly,I noticed. But the rains do remove tire tracks and can make it harder for the drivers to follow routes/directions (especially in the dark hours of early morning).
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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Thanks, TigerPhotog. I looked up your trip report and saw that you stayed at Olakira and it rained torrentially one night. How was the mobile camp overall? What was it like during the rain? I'm a bit worried about that part.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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The camps you're referring to aren't truly "mobile" rather "seasonal" - Staying at a particular area for a few months depending on season/where the migration is found.

Another option in Serengeti, a sister property of Olakira would be Dunia Camp. The choices you indicate will all serve you well.

As to Manyara, which is reportedly better that Tarangire* in Feb, if it's only for the Tree Lodge, be aware that it's located at the farthest south end of this small park - a park that can generally be covered in 2-3/hrs. Would be a minimum 2/hr drive to/from. Though they do do night game drives.

*of late, visitors are reporting otherwise with plenty of ellees and game, besides the amazing baobab tree landscape. Options here can be Treetops, Olivers or Swala Camps.

You can drive to Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti; the fly back via Arusha to Zanzibar. At the Serengeti camps, you can continue to use the guide you have on FB-full-board basis or use camp guides on a GP-game package basis.

There are scheduled flights from Arusha to Manyara, but not to Ngorongoro (though an airstrip, rarely used as often fogged in). For Ngorongoro it would have to be a road transfer. And, from Ngo, no flight to Serengeti, you'd have to drive back (2.5/hrs) to Manyara airport. As the saying goes "you can't get there from here!"

I'm sure you'll get it worked out as Feb is great time to visit.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 06:21 PM
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Your itinerary would suit a city girl just fine. Looks good.

If you want flamingos, can you count on them at the crater? I'd put in 2 flamingo destinations of Manyara and crater in case weather conditions at one or the other aren't ideal for flamingos or in case the birds just take off.

Tiger, 4 days at the crater! Lots of animal action.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 06:38 PM
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The temps in February can get quite hot. It hit 100 degrees in February 2005 when we were there. Finally, the heat broke with the onset of some thunderstorms. The storms hit after we had left the Serengeti. The rain was coming down so hard it was coming through closed windows into our room at the Farmhouse. Still, you can never say exactly what kind of weather you'll have in advance. February is considered to be a prime time to visit northern Tanzania.

The flamingos at Lake Manyara are usually so far out that they are just a pink haze on the horizon. You'll usually get better, up-close views in the Crater.

Personally, I prefer Tarangire over Lake Manyara, even in February. We saw over 200 eles in one day there. As Sandi notes, LM is good for a 2 to 3 hour visit.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 06:51 PM
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Maybe several days at the crater for those pink birds then.

If you liked the helicopter, then I'd opt for flights whenever possible. You'll be doing lots of driving in the Serengeti just looking for animals. That may be enough for you.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 06:55 PM
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That may be enough for you. Enough was referring to enough driving around.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 08:14 PM
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Thanks for all the responses!

Sandi, I'm interested in your comment that you prefer Tarangire over Manyara. Can you elaborate on why?

Also, one thing Botswana taught me is that we enjoyed the landscape/birds (almost) as much as the "big 5". Which areas in Tanzania are the prettiest?
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 11:25 PM
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Linjudy,
My observations about Flamingoes in the crater. If you want to "see" them, sure, you will see them in thousands at the soda lake. However, there's no close access to them from the road. So you end up seeing them as dots on the horizon or via your binoculars. They do make up for good backgrounds in pictures. Just don't expect to see them up-close, fyi.

Agree with Sandi, Olakira is a seasonal camp, with ~8 guest tents located within 10 yards of each other ( Nomad's was much more private, we noticed, we went there searching for Olakira).There are 2 hospitality tents (1 for serving drinks/paperwork and the other for bf/lunch/dinner). The tents are made of canvas and are fully protected against rain. Don't worry about that. Food and personal service was great. You do have a quota for daily supply of water, just fyi. 20 lit/ person/day for bathing, 10 lit/person for the sink, unlimited for flush . The interior of the tents is very nice and comfortable.
After the rains, the pathways did get just a bit muddy but nothing major. Don't worry too much about it, enjoy the experience of grazing buffaloes right outside your tent in the night. Nothing comes close...lodging experience does not give that feel.

Lake Manyara is like going to a wooded grassland safari in India. There's not many open plains and it's very different than the Africa/Serengeti grasslands you see on TV. I did see a black mamba on a tree looking for bird eggs. We spent 2 hrs at Manyara and rushed to the crater (which will BLOW your mind). A view of the crater panorama from a vista point at the top before entering it should get you in the mood.. I am pretty sure you should skip it and rush to the crater so you can get in asap for the afternoon round. There's just way too much wildlife there. Lighting in the crater is also very nice due to the cloud cover or patchy beams of light, so even a mid-day safari feels pleasant.

@Atravelynn, yes it was well worth it, we fell in love with the Crater, did 2 days initially, then 2 more at the end before winding up the trip. We saw mating lions, lots of black rhinos, that huge tusker whose tusks touch the ground, buffaloes,hippos and other stuff. Did not see a kill...maybe next time . We did see a wildebeest calf right after birth and stayed with him till he got up and ran like the wind in 20 minutes of birth.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 11:28 PM
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You should skip it...I meant, skip Lake Manyara if you are searching for beautiful scapes.
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 07:33 AM
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linjudy -

"Sandi, I'm interested in your comment that you prefer Tarangire over Manyara. Can you elaborate on why?"

It's not just me, but most visitors truly enjoy this gem of a park. Besides the large elephant herds and other game, as well as, predators, the baobab tree landscape is unique; also lots of birds. It's got a few diverse eco-areas to discover especially on full-day game drives as the park is large enough (vs Manyara) to stay out. And, if staying at accommodations outside the park boundaries, bush walks and night game drives.

Bear in mind, nothing wrong with Manyara and as mentioned, different times of the year, one is "supposed" to be better than the other. However, with the strange weather patterns and rains (or lack of) these past years, who knows... so it's a matter of choice.

If the budget can handle Tree Lodge's price (which apparently from the other accommodations shown, you can) and you feel "I must" then stop here. Do the game drive thru the park, enjoy at leisure the lux of Tree Lodge during afternoon, do the night drive; next morning 2+/hr game drive out towards Manyara airport for flight to ZNZ, as I wouldn't necessarily spend 2/nts when during Feb "I'd rather be in the Serengeti!"
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 08:02 AM
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Thanks for the responses!

Sounds like the consensus is to skip Manyara. That said, I do feel that it would be nice to end the safari at a luxurious permenant camp. But ideally it should also be a highlight in terms of wildlife. For example, in Bots we did Duma Tau, Kwetsani, and ended at Mombo, which I thought was the perfect order. Duma Tau was good intro, Kwetsani was relaxing during the middle, and Mombo was lux and incredible animals.

So, perhaps we should end at the Crater if it's going to be so spectacular? If so, where should we start? I don't really want to start day #1 of our safari camping in the Serengeti, given jet lag, etc. What's a good way to ease into it without sacraficing maximum safari time (ie, I don't want to hang out in Nairobi or Arusha just to recover).
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 05:55 PM
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Tiger,

This might be helpful to you too, Linjudy, if you decide on more driving. You mentioned going to the crater for 2 nts and then again for 2 nts at the end of the trip. I've thought about an itinerary that stops at the crater on the way into and out of the Serengeti, as a good use of time. Is that what you did?
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 12:02 AM
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Atravelynn,
Yes, that's exactly what we did. As you know, the crater is ~4 hours drive time(if you start early morning from Arusha or vicinity),an afternoon round is guaranteed, that way.If one tries to reach Serengeti by road directly from Arusha, that would be a lot of driving on a first day. I just wanted a bulletproof itinerary where I was maximizing game viewing and the crater was the only thing that was not too far (and full of potential) going in either direction. It worked out very well. Believe it or not, we loved the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge and it's location/easy access going in/out.

PS: For photographers, my observations about the crater, no matter what time of day it is, the lighting can get sweet any moment due to the cloud cover or rains or any bizzare phenomenon , it's just magical.No need of waiting for good light, it can happen anytime in the crater.
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 07:56 AM
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Wow, 4 hrs drive time to the Crater, and even longer to the Serengeti... that seems like a lot of driving.

How about flying one way and driving out? The only air strip I've seen is Lake Manyara. Are there others? Is there a website that has this info?

Any recommendation for camps in the Tarangire?

I've not done much research into lodges at Crater. But seems like Sopa and Serena are also options. Any thoughts on whether Crater Lodge is worth the $$?
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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There's an airstrip at Ndutu as well...
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:20 AM
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Everyone knows I'm a fan of "save the best for last" - thus the migration/calving in Ndutu/Serengeti. From here you can fly back to Arusha to connect to flight to ZNZ.

Why not consider
Tarangire 2/nts - Treetops is absolutely lovely. Outside the park so walks and night drives can be done. Tarangire is a larger park than Manyara with diverse eco systems. If not Treetops, there's Oliver's in the southern part of the park; also Swala down the way as Oliver's. Eben will probably say Oliver's. So that will have to be up to you.

Ngorongoro 2/nts - Crater Lodge or Lemala Camp. Crater Lodge is over-the-top and while I'm the "lux gal" this one is a bit much for me... simply out of place and recent reviews haven't praised the food (though can be individual preference). Lemala is a lux camp on the side of rim as Sopa so has nearby access road into crater.

Ndutu/Serengeti - 4-5/nts - Serengeti Under Canvas, Dunia, Serian's Maswa Camps - all good choices

Fly from Ndutu airstrip to Arusha; onto ZNZ.
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 10:40 AM
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You can find flight schedules on

http://www.regionaltanzania.com/

http://www.airexcelonline.com/

http://www.coastal.cc/
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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TigerPhotog, you can actually get quite close to flamingos in the Crater if your guide knows which pond to go to. Of course, that can change depending on the time of year. I've always gotten close enough to get good photos.

As for ending your safari in a luxury tented camp, consider Tanganyika Wilderness Camps' Lake Masek Tented Camp in the southern Serengeti. That would be a perfect location for February. Having stayed at TWC camps, I'm sure that this camp would be a great place to end your safari in style.

http://www.tanganyikawildernesscamps...sektentedcamp/
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