Tanzania in February???

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Jul 19th, 2005, 06:15 PM
  #61
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Mitch,

By the way, do you think if I was in the Southern Serengeti in mid March that I would avoid the majority of the crowds AND the rains?

Mid-March to early April for Zanzibar may allow me enough time to put enough coins away in my piggy bank to help me afford a dream itinerary, including a couple nights in Amsterdam on the way home.

Thanks.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 06:27 PM
  #62
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Mitch,

Please understand that I have no concept where anything is located in the Serengeti and its proximity to other places. If we were talking about South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, the Sabi Sand or even Moremi and Linyanti, then I would have an excellent grasp of things, but I really don't know where anything is. Yes, I have looked at maps a few dozen times, but until I see them a few hundred times, they will not start to register in my weak mind!

So, I am more than willing to change things up a bit.

Looking at a map, it does seem that Kusini would be much better, as it is not as close to Ndutu.

Perhaps Kusini (3), Piaya (3), Olduvai (1)

Olduvai also serves the purpose of getting me within reasonable proximity of the Ngorongoro Crater, as it is my intention to have two visits to the Crater floor. When else will have I the chance to see black rhinos?
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Jul 19th, 2005, 07:16 PM
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Rocco

Olduvai Camp is "near" Ngorongoro. The gorge is even closer. If you are staying 2 nights at the Crater lodge then you will have enough time to visit the gorge, museum and do some Maasai walking with CCAfrica.

Ngorongoro, Piyaya, Kusini and the greater Seronera would be the core of my ideal safari in early March.

I would choose between Mayara and Tarangire and probably go with Manyara because I like Tree Lodge and because by then the wildlife is migrating out of Tarangire.

But I understand your AE dilemma and the ATR itinerary may have to suffice. Since you won't be staying at Ndutu Lodge itself, the crowds are not really an issue. The animals will be widely dispersed and it is easy to get away from other vehicles.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 07:54 PM
  #64
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Okay, how does this look?

Moivaro Coffee Lodge, Arusha (1)
Mbuze Mawe, Central Serengeti (2)
Piaya, South Central Serengeti (Long Grass Plains) (3)
Masek, South Serengeti (2)
Olduvai, South Serengeti / Ngorongoro (2)
Manyara Tree Camp (2)
Palms Zanzibar (3)

I am considering delaying it until around the 20th of March so that I may celebrate my 35th birthday at the Palms Zanzibar. What better place to have a mid-life crisis, huh?

Would I still avoid the rains if I was finished with the Serengeti by the 30th of March?

Would I avoid half the crowds by going in late March instead of mid or late February?

Would I be missing a lot by not seeing the wildebeest calves being born? I mean wouldn't they still be cute when they were a month old?

Thanks.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 11:50 PM
  #65
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Wow...there are just so many options out there for Tanzania...just came across this company:

http://www.asilialodges.com/

Such an itinerary looks pretty nice:

Kigongoni Lodge, Arusha (2)

Sayari Camp, Serengeti (3) This is seasonal and it is scheduled to be in the Southern Serengeti between about December - May.

Sokwe Exclusive, Serengeti (Mobile Safari) (3)

Ngorongoro Serena (2) Asilia Lodges does not feature an Ngorongoro property. I just don't think that Crater Lodge will be affordable...for shame, for shame.

Manyara Tree Lodge (2) This would be my one big splurge to end the safari.

Emerson & Green, Zanzibar (2) The "Keep Suite" looks especially interesting, as I am afraid of heights (yet I am somewhat masochistic, otherwise why the fascination with a room that warns away people who are scared of heights)

Matemwe Bungalows (3) This is an Asilia Lodge property and a suite here is half the price as Palms Zanzibar and on the same side of the island

I really, really like this itinerary. Let's see if I can resist the charms of ATR accepting American Express.

The ATR itinerary could be modified to almost be the same thing:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge or Arusha Coffee Lodge (2) Kingongoni Lodge looks nicer, but I don't know if ATR will sell it to me.

Piaya (3)

Masek (3)

Manyara Tree Lodge (2)

Ngorongoro Serena (2) As climbhighsleeplow mentioned, I would have time to still see the Olduvai Gorge from here during the time I am not in the crater.

Emerson & Green (2)

Matemwe Bungalows (3) ATR also sells Matemwe but will gladly at $435 pppns also sell me the Palms...funny how that works...I don't see ATR turning down any requests for Crater Lodge, Manyara Tree Lodge or the Palms, but good luck trying to get them to book you into Kusini in which area they have one of their preferred camps!

I am seeing some of the other Fodors threads and the prices that others are paying and I have to keep reminding myself that I am choosing very exclusive small camps in Serengeti that are likely double the price as the bigger camps.

As other experienced Fodorites have said in so many words on other threads, I need to choose my safari based on my itinerary, not based on the price.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 02:51 AM
  #66
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Rocco,

You certainly will never find the perfect itinerary where everyone agrees - we all have our own preferences. I just want to point to, in my opinion, weak points where I would do it different. Sorry, if this sometimes sounds a little harsh - small talk and political correct statements in a foreign language are not one of my strengths.

Choosing between Manyara and Tarangire? I hope you are aware of these huge flocks of flamingoes at Lake Manyara - this is very special. In contrast, Tarangire is "just another park" with ecosystems you already have seen.

Rhinos? You can't leave the roads in the Crater - so good rhino sightings depend on luck. I saw my first rhino there, a black spot in the far distance. The second sighting was better: only 400 metres away - and about 30-40 vehicles around you!

There are certainly better places in East Africa to see black rhino, and I assume that this trip won't be your only safari in this area.

In another thread I talked about Grumeti Reserves and their re-introduction of rhino in the western Serengeti. I must correct myself: this hasn't done yet but it is planned for this year. But as far as I know those rhinos will be black rhino, so in the near future there will be a much better option to see these animals in northern Tanzania.

Mitch
 
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Jul 20th, 2005, 05:20 AM
  #67
 
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I was in Tanzania in Dec-Jan of this year. The migration was wonderful to see. Olduvai Gorge is a disappointment.. at least it's a bathroom break...no peeing in the bush. The Serengeti and Ngorongoro are both great places! If you get the chance, pay the extra fee ($10 I think) to drive off road in the Serengeti to find the cats! I'm going back to Tanzania again on Dec 26th for another Kilimanjaro hike on the Western Breach trail and a horseback safari before going home. If you all have time, I would suggest adding a bit of cultural visits as well!
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Jul 20th, 2005, 05:33 AM
  #68
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Mr. Silly,

Thanks for the feedback and good luck with your next visit and Kiliminjaro climb.


Mitch,

I am switching gears a bit...into a lower and less expensive gear. What do you think of the following:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (1)
Gibbs Camp (2) Including an all day visit to Lake Manyara
Ngorongoro Serena (2)
Olduvai Camp (2)
Masek Camp (2)
Piaya Camp (3)
Emerson & Green (2)
Matemwe Bungalows (3)

I was told that doing the Serengeti first and then continuing back would be a bit anticlimatic. Do you agree?
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Jul 20th, 2005, 07:07 AM
  #69
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Rocco,

I agree, doing Manyara and the Crater first has a much better dramaturgy.

What about Kirurumu Lodge (www.kirurumu.com) instead of Gibb's? The Manyara-Karatu road is not in best condition, so the drive from Gibb's to Lake Manyara NP will take some time. If you plan to make some nice Manyara photos in good light conditions (early morning, late afternoon), I would recommend a stay in or near the park. If you don't want to do Tree Lodge, Kirurumu might be a good choice (or maybe Serena with "the best pool view of the world").

Mitch
 
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Jul 20th, 2005, 07:47 AM
  #70
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PS: Kirurumu Ngorongoro Camp is also an interesting alternative to Ngorongoro Serena.
 
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Jul 20th, 2005, 08:45 AM
  #71
 
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Rocco,
I assume you mean Gibbs Farm or is there a Gibbs Camp?

Have a look at this thread -

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

Eben has photos of properties around the Lake Manyara area as well as descriptions and locations of each.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 11:31 AM
  #72
 
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Boy Rocco, you are really jumping around a lot in your planning...I can't keep up with your changing itineraries!

Is Mrs. Roccco on board for long drop/chemical toilets and bucket showers at Olduvai, Masek & Piaya? She must be more of a trooper than you've described...

What happened to Mbuzi Mawe?

I do agree that for the time of year you are going and also to start with the good viewing and build up to the GREAT game viewing it makes sense for you to start in the east and gradually make your way west rather than the other way around.

We are staying 1 night at Gibbs Farm. It does not get the world's greatest reviews except for the food which is by all accounts fantastic, and reportedly has a lovely hike to a waterfall. Also interesting bird sightings there. Otherwise there is apparently not great game viewing there. If you are driving from Arusha to Gibbs, Lake Manyara is on the way, but to go from Arusha to Gibbs and then to Lake Manyara for a day and then back to Gibbs seems inconvenient to me (Gibbs is sort of in between Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro). I would either drive from Arusha and stop at Lake Manyara for several hours and then drive to Gibbs for just one night and then move on the next day to Ngorongoro...or if you really want a full day at Lake Manyara then I would plan to stay 2 nights someplace right AT Lake Manyara rather than at Gibbs. Just my personal opinion. Also, some people seem to prefer Plantation Lodge over Gibbs (they are fairly similarly located and priced I believe).

OR, since I know you like to photograph baobabs and elephants, are you SURE you really want to give up the idea of 2 nights at Swala in Tarangire??? You could always spend the better part of the following day at Lake Manyara before driving on to Ngorongoro....

As for Feb. vs. March, yes the babies will be bigger in March but if you don't care then I don't think it matters. If you did want to stop at Tarangire then I think Feb. is better than March, but if not, then probably no matter. Also I thought I had heard Zanzibar is better February than March but others here will know that far better than I.

If it were me, going in Feb., I would probably choose:
1 night Kia Lodge
2 nights Swala
1 night Gibbs
2 nights Ngorongoro Serena
2 nights Olduvai
2 nights Kusini
2 nights Mbuzi Mawe
before flying to Zanzibar.

OR, if that's too much moving around and/or you don't care to stay at Tarangire in Feb. (which I wouldn't blame you for), then:
1 night Kia Lodge
2 nights Lake Manyara Tree Lodge
2 nights Ngorongoro Serena
2 nights Olduvai
2-3 nights Kusini
2-3 nights Mbuzi Mawe
flight to Zanzibar.



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Jul 20th, 2005, 12:16 PM
  #73
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Lisa,

My only fear with staying at Manyara Tree Camp at the beginning of my safari is having my wife asking why we couldn't have just stayed there instead of going to these other places. Trust me, she will be 10 times more aware of the accomodations than of the gameviewing.

Anyway, I would like to maximize my trip, and if Gibbs Farm isn't even the best in the area, then it is probably not right for me.

What do you think of the following?

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (1) I get in at 9:20PM so I am not going to upset the applecart with ATR over what will amount to an 8 hour visit

Manyara Tree Camp (2)

Ngorongoro Serena (2)

Olduvai Camp (2)

Masek (2)

Piaya (2)

Mbuze Mawe (2)

Emerson & Green (2)

Matemwe Bungalows (3)

Amsterdam 5* Hotel (2) It will be cold but may as well make this into a full 3 week affair while making my ride home more tolerable, as I will be saving my ff miles for an August 2006 Southern Africa visit.

NOW...IS HOT AIR BALLOONING NOT TO BE MISSED? My God, it is about $375 per person!

Thanks for all the continued feedback. You all continue to make me more confused each time!
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Jul 20th, 2005, 12:20 PM
  #74
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BTW...while I would love to visit Kusini, it would have to be with another operator than ATR. ATR has been fantastic to deal with and they are so, so knowledgable. Best of all, they even accept American Express, yet I do not really notice any price difference for offering this service.

So, in place of Kusini, I will just have to be willing to stay at the Nomad camps which look great in their own right, with only four luxury tents at each camp and a very experienced staff at each camp.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 12:26 PM
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Rocco,
I'm not sure I understand the Kusini issue. Will ATR not book Kusini (they have it listed on their site)?
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Jul 20th, 2005, 12:37 PM
  #76
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Patty,

Kusini is very close to one of the Nomad camps and I would be treated like a hot potato, handed off to many different companies during my trip.

For example, I will start in Arusha, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Camp with one guide but then once I get to Masek, I will be handed off to a Nomad guide. Possibly I could do Kusini, but I think I would then be handed off to yet another guide.

I don't know...I am so confused by this whole East Africa business! In Southern Africa I am basically able to call all my own shots, but in Eastern Africa, the tour operators definitely seem to have sweet deals with certain camps and are very reluctant to allow alternates.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 12:56 PM
  #77
 
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I think that itinerary looks much better!

We are debating the ballooning as well, but so far I simply cannot justify the exhorbitant cost...particularly when that cost includes sharing the experience with a dozen other people...and some on this board have reported less than outstanding experiences. For what the experience would cost for the two of us we could have a long weekend trip someplace wonderful through Luxury Link!

But we may yet change our minds...
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Jul 20th, 2005, 01:21 PM
  #78
 
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Wouldn't you face the same situation when you transfer from one of the Nomad camps to Mbuzi Mawe? Will the Nomad guide accompany you there or do they only guide at their own camps? I'm trying to figure this out and learn too.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 01:50 PM
  #79
 
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I am sorry to say but this whole itinerary is a mystery to me.

Rocco maybe you should post your proposed detailed itinerary?

I was thinking you are going for a private safari? By this I mean the 2 of you in a landcruiser with a driver/guide driving around for 10-days or so?

If so, then where is the problem with booking Nomad Safari camps through your outfitter? You can show up at these camps in a "private" vehicle with your private guide and stay! At night, for example, you can go out with the Nomad guides while your guide tags along or stay in camp resting! Or you can go with your own guide.

After a few days, you pack your stuff and your guide drives you to the next camp - Kusini, Nomad, or wherever!

It's as simple as that. ATR should be able to do this. If not, then you may want to look elsewhere.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 01:56 PM
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I also don't understand why you couldn't stay at Kusini if you wanted to.

I would also wonder why they wouldn't book Kia Lodge for you if you wanted them to -- most outfitters will if you are arriving late (as you are) since it is by far the closest accommodation to the airport.
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