Tanzania itinerary critique and questions

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Jan 21st, 2006, 09:10 PM
  #1
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Tanzania itinerary critique and questions

Tanzania itinerary critique and questions

Hi! We are planning our first African Safari and after spending several hours reading trip reports in this forum, we decided to post the itinerary we are working on. A year ago we decide to make Tanzania the destination of our next adventure. We read a Tanzania guide book and visited countless websites and finally came up with what we think is a good itinerary. We sent it to several safari operators and each have made different recommendations. The prices ranged from $2500 to $4500 pp. What do you think?

Also, we are concerned about the time of year we are traveling. We decided on end of May- beginning of June for two reasons: low season (cheaper) and end of migration (if we are lucky we may catch the herds moving north, right?). In terms of accommodations, we listed the possibilities given to us. Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks a million.

26May06/Friday
KILIMANJARO/ARUSHA
Arrive Kilimanjaro 11 a.m.
Afternoon and Overnight (meals) in Novotel Mount Meru Hotel

Day 1 - 27May06/Saturday
MT. MERU/TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Visit Arusha National Park / Mount Meru
Drive over the Maasai plains into Tarangire National Park
Game viewing Tarangire National Park
Dinner and overnight at Tarangire Sopa Lodge

Day 2 - 28May06/Sunday
TARANGIRE/LAKE MANYARA
Game viewing Tarangire National Park (drawn game drive)
Drive to Lake Manyara National Park the Great Rift Valley.
Climb the escarpment. An ethno-biological walk with a Maasai to the edge of the rift.
Cultural tourism program at Engaruka: Rift Valley Escarpment Walk
Dinner and overnight in Mto Wa Mbu at Tarangire Sopa Lodge or Kirurumu Tented Lodge or Lake Manyara Hotel

Day 3 - 29May06/Monday
LAKE MANYARA/NGORONGORO
Dawn game drive in Lake Manyara National Park.
After lunch continue up the escarpment and proceed to Ngorongoro.
Fabric market of Karatu.
Dinner and overnight at Ngorongoro Sopa or Serena or Wildlife Lodge

Day 4 - 30May06/Tuesday
NGORONGORO CRATER and CONSERVATION AREA
Dawn game drive
Crater Highlands trek - afternoon hike with Maasai guide in the beautiful nearby hills, visit a Maasai village.
Dinner and overnight at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.

Day 5 - 31May06/Wednesday
NGORONGORO/OLDUVAI GORGE/SERENGETI
Morning drive to Olduvai Gorge. Afternoon head to Serengeti.
Stop at the Shifting Sands of the Maasai.
(Told that in June there is a good chance of seeing the great wildebeest migration)
Dinner and overnight at Ndutu Lodge or Serengeti Camp

Day 6-7 - 1-2June06/Thursday-Friday
SERENGETI
Drive to Moru Kopes - a likely area for an early June migration, and also one of the most beautiful areas of the Serengeti.
Meals and overnights at Serengeti Sopa Lodge.

Day 8 - 3June06/Saturday
SERENGETI/ARUSHA
Fly to from Seronera airstrip to Zanzibar (OR drive to JRO) for flight to Zanzibar
Arrive Zanzibar
Overnight in Old Stonetown at Dhow Palace

Day 9 - 4June06/Sunday
City Tour of Stone Town (Old Slave Market, House of Wonders and local market)
Drive/visit to Mangapwani
Overnight at Dhow Palace

Day 10 5June06/Monday
Spice Tour. Visit Changuu (Prison) Island for snorkeling and seeing giant tortoises.
Overnight at Dhow Palace

Day 11 6June06/Tuesday
Transfer to Matemwe Beach Bungalows

Day 12 &13 7&8June06/Wednesday-Thursday
R&R Matemwe Beach Bungalows

Day 14 9June06
Transfer to airport for flight to JRO and home

We are also contemplating visiting Kilimanjaro. We were told that a one day trek on the Marengo Route to hike to the Mandarin Hut would be an experience of a lifetime that we should consider. Again, we are worried about the weather in May and wonder if it is something we should consider.

Thanks again to those who respond.
Peter & Joanne
Montreal, Canada
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Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:41 PM
  #2
bat
 
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Hi Peter Joanne:

A couple of questions:
Day 2 is confusing with the 3 different lodge locations--2 at Manyara and one in Tarangire? Are these the differences among the operators? i.e. one of the operators has you spending 2 nights in Tarangire? But then you would not be driving to Lake Manyara that day.

What is the Serengeti camp that is mentioned as an option over Ndutu?
Do you know its location within the serengeti?

When you say Matemwe Beach Bungalows--check to see whether the proposal is for Matemwe Beach Village or Matemwe Bungalows--both have "bungalows" but Matemwe Bungalows is significantly more expensive (need this info to evaluate your pricing).

re the price, for a 6 night safari at Sopa lodges in the low season and a 6 night Zanzibar extension at the less expensive Matemwe Beach village--a $4500 seems very high (even seems high with Matemwe Bungalows).

You could have an all Sopa lodge itinerary--is that what you want?
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Jan 24th, 2006, 06:45 PM
  #3
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Thanks for replying.

On Day 2 there are 3 different lodge locations because when receive the itineraries from the various operators they all ahd different lodges. I figured if someone had anything bad to say about any of them they would. The same goes for the Serengeti Camp - I have no idea where it is, it was just included in one of the quotes I got. In terms of all Sopa or Serena, we have no opinion. Is one better than the other? We will proceed to look up each hotel and see how they are rated and read other peoples comments.
In Zanzibar it is the Matemwe Beach Bungalows. In terms of price, $4500 seemed high to us too. Then again, we wanted to make sure the $2500 option was not to go to be true either, meaning we are being taken for a ride and will find ourselves in unpleaslant accomodations, etc. Does that seem reasonable $2500 during low season?
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Jan 24th, 2006, 07:47 PM
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Let me preface this all by saying I have only been to TZ once and am taking my 2nd trip this June.

I am trying to wrap my brain around your itinerary.

To me it looks like:
Day 1: Arrive Arusha, overnight Novotel

Day 2: To Tarangire o/n Sopa

Day 3: Tarangire to Manyara?
o/n--I'd pick Kirurumu based on comments on this board and elsewhere. It would be nice to be in a tent, even if not in the park proper.

Day 4: Manyara to Ngorongoro
o/n: stay wherever's cheapest here; it's all about the view anyway.

Day 4: Ngorongoro

Day 5: Ngorongoro to Serengeti via Olduvai (stop at museum, shifting sands)
Ndutu or Serengeti Camp. Hmm, is this necessary given the time of year? Check the thread called "Eben's Migration Geomety" here--you may not need this stop and could head straight to the action.

Day 6 and 7: Serengeti Moru kopjes
Probably staying at the Sopa? Someone recently mentioned they thought the Serena was a smidge closer to the game-rich Seronera valley, but I'm not sure. Sopa is probably okay and if it works in your budget, why not?

Day 8: fly from Serengeti to Arusha to Stone Town
overnight Dhow Palace

Day 9: Overnight Dhow Palace

Day 10: Overnight Dhow Palace, day tours to Jozani forest, etc.

Day 11-14: Matemwe

Day 14: Matemwe to airport and fly home.

Okay, I think this is too much time on Zanzibar unless you are really into relaxing on the beach and committed to doing the various excursions in and from Stone Town as described.

Please take a day from Stone Town and add to the Serengeti! You won't regret it.

$4500 IS definitely high even given the highest end accommodation possibilities you've listed. (Unless I'm getting the 2 Matemwes confused; one is pricey, the other not so much.)

Please continue to tinker with your itinerary and ask questions. This is your trip, and there are experts on this board who can really help you better than I can.

Best of luck!
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Jan 24th, 2006, 08:13 PM
  #5
santharamhari
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Peter, i think Sonali is one of the best people to answer your questions......sonali, where are you?

She travels there all the time and knows all lodges and distances and proximity to various lion prides etc etc

However, i feel ndutu that time of the year will be a bust!!!!!!
 
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Jan 24th, 2006, 08:31 PM
  #6
bat
 
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Peter Joanne:
I did not mean that Sopa lodges are bad, I just meant to ask whether you were trying to do an all lodge trip. If not, then the serengeti camp could be a nice change. As leely mentions Kirurumu would be a nice tent camp to break up a lodge itinerary. Ask the operator who is proposing the serengeti camp where it is located. Matemwe Beach Bungalows is showing on the Asilia website about $400 per day for a double. That is on the expensive side for Zanzibar. So you could spend less in Zanzibar to allow you to spend more on safari.

It is easier to evaluate the 3 proposals and the cost of each by seeing them as separate itineraries. So you might show each of the 3 with the proposed price for that particular itinerary to get better advice.
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Jan 25th, 2006, 04:37 AM
  #7
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Peter Joanne:
For some reason I woke up thinking of your post. I think that I got confused and that your proposal may be for the other Matemwe property--the Matemwe Beach Village (sometimes called Matemwe Beach Guesthouse) rather than the one I gave you the price for (Matemwe Bungalows).

To double check, ask what type of unit and the price. Matemwe Beach Village has a range of units from standard to suites, to its super luxurious Asali suite--and prices range from under $200 (double, half-board) to over $300. Matemwe Bungalows on the other hand is now an all-suite property with its price around $400 for a double with full board.

Here are the websites for each:

For Matemwe Beach
http://www.matemwebeach.com/

For Matemwe Bungalows
http://www.matemwe.com/
prices for Matemwe Bungalows are on the Asilia website at
http://www.asilialodges.com/

I still think it would be best if you put in each separate proposed itinerary with its proposed price.
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Jan 30th, 2006, 03:32 AM
  #8
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Finally got an answer. It is the Matemwe Beach Village. I have tried to digest all the info and questions. I went back to my rough book and read up some more. It looks like we should move at least one of our nights in the Serengeti to the Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp which apparently is better situated to see the migration in June. (comments?) I am waiting to hear back from the operators we have dealt with for their comments. I will then post the final itinerary for comments from you and others. Should I start a new thread or continue this one? How does it work? (Sorry, frist timer).
Peter
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Jan 30th, 2006, 06:30 AM
  #9
bat
 
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Peter:
You can keep this thread. When you have new itineraries, post them with the price and then wait for comments. If you do not receive any comments and your thread is dropping lower in the index, you can bring it back to the top of the index by posting your own response--either a message or a simple "t" (for toppping) to bring it back up.
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Feb 7th, 2006, 03:44 AM
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This forum has been fanstastic. I went back to the itinerary and reworked it trying to take into considerations the comments and information I have read. Below is the final itinerary (I hope) - we have a preliminary quote. We are waiting for the final quote from 2 operators that I have been working with. I still have some questions about the itinerary, all comments are appreciated.

ITINERARY

25May06/Thursday
AMSTERDAM /KILIMANJARO
Amsterdam (Schiphol) to Kilimanjaro (Kilimanjaro Airport)
Flight number KL 0571
Departure time 10:25 Thursday, May 25th, 2006
Arrival time 20:05 Thursday, May 25th, 2006
Overnight at Mount Meru Game Lodge

26May06/Friday Day 1 Safari
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
Drive over the Maasai plains into Tarangire National Park Game viewing Tarangire National Park Visit local Maasai village
Accommodations: Tarangire Sopa Lodge

QUESTION: we were told by one operator to not visit Tarangire because it is muddy and the animal get hoof-rot so there is a little mini-migration out of the park around May/June. Can anyone confirm this?

27May06/Saturday Day 2 Safari
TARANGIRE/LAKE MANYARA
Dawn game viewing Tarangire National Park Drive across rift valley via Mto wa mbu and game drive in Lake Manyara National Park.
Climb the escarpment.
Mto Wa Mbu Cultural Tourism Program
Accommodations:
Lake Manyara Hotel
OR
Kirurumu Tented Lodge

QUESTION: whcih would you pick?

28May06/Sunday Day 3 Safari
LAKE MANYARA/NGORONGORO
Dawn game drive in Lake Manyara National Park.
Morning ethno-biological walk with a Maasai guide to the edge of the rift.
After lunch continue up the escarpment and proceed to Ngorongoro highlights (via Karatu, stop at fabric market).
Afternoon game drive in Ngorongoro Crater
Accommodations: Ngorongoro Sopa

29May06/Monday Day 4 Safari
NGORONGORO CRATER AND CONSERVATION AREA
Dawn game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater Crater Highlands Trek: afternoon hike with Maasai guide in the beautiful nearby hills, visit a Maasai village.
Accommodations: Ngorongoro Sopa

30May06/Tueday Day 5 Safari
NGORONGORO/OLDUVAI GORGE/SERENGETI
Morning drive to Olduvai Gorge, visit archeologicl museum. Afternoon head to Serengeti.
Stop at the remarkable Shifting Sands of the Maasai.
Accommodations: Ndutu Safari Lodge

QUESTION: Should we stay at Ndutu Safari Lodge for two nights? It looks very nice.

31 May06/Wednesday & 1June06/Thursday Day 6 & 7 Safari SERENGETI Drive to Moru Kopes - a likely area for an early June migration, and also one of the most beautiful areas of the Serengeti.
Visit the Gol Kopjes (Cheetah)
Drive towards the west to see the migrating herds (if possible)
Accommodations:
Serengeti Serena Lodge

QUESTION: Should we stay one night at Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp, it looks very nice?

2June06/Friday
SERENGETI/ZANZIBAR
Fly Seronera Airstrip to Zanzibar
Arrive Stonetown, Zanzibar 13:50
Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Dhow Palace Hotel

3June06/Saturday Day 1 Zanzibar
STONETOWN
Breakfast at Dhow Palace Hotel
City Tour of Stone Town (Zanzibar Doors, Old Slave Market, House of Wonders and local market, visit Mangapwani for lunch and visit slave chamber and beach, enjoy Dhow trip.
Accommodations: Dhow Palace Hotel

4June06/Sunday Day 2 Zanzibar
STONETOWN/CHANGUU (PRISON) ISLAND
AM Spice tour & visit Jozani Forest (see Zanzibar Colobus Monkeys)
PM Visit Changuu Island for snorkeling and see giant tortoises
Accommodations: Dhow Palace Hotel

5-6-7-8June06/Monday to Thursday Day 3 to 7 Zanzibar ZANZIBAR BEACH Transfer to coast hotel
Accommodations: Pongwe Beach Hotel HB

QUESTION: Many have said good things about Matemwe Beach Village, but Pongwe looks like paradis, worth the extra $40 per person per night?

9June06/Friday
ZANZIBAR/DAR ES SALAAM/AMSTERDAM
Zanzibar to Dar Es Salaam (Dar Es Salaam International)

Dar Es Salaam (Dar Es Salaam International) to Amsterdam (Schiphol)
Flight Number KL 0569
Departure Time 23:15 Friday, June 9th, 2006

10June06/Saturday
AMSTERDAM/MONTREAL
Arrival Time 07:15 Saturday, June 10th, 2006

Amsterdam (Schiphol) to Montreal (Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport)
Flight Number KL 0671
Departure Time 15:25 Saturday, June 10th, 2006
Arrival Time 16:40 Saturday, June 10th, 2006

THE END

Preliminary Quote:
SAFARI $1885 USD per person (2 people)
SAFARI $1565 USD per person (4 people)
PLUS
ZANZIBAR $1040 USD per person Pongwe Beach OR $720 USD per person at Matemwe Beach Village
720 USD per person

What do you think?
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Feb 7th, 2006, 04:44 AM
  #11
 
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Hi, I think u would be better of at areas in central serengeti or moru in june. Central serengeti has huge number of resident wildlife and predators any time of year. Try being close to the area for more nights. Moru area is good for spotting rhinos as there is a scantuary there, ndutu should be quite dull in june.... Sonali.
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Feb 7th, 2006, 04:47 AM
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Also I would not mind skipping tarangire in may/june as there would be more game near manyara... the animals migrate, Sonali.
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Feb 7th, 2006, 07:50 AM
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Sonali has made some excellent points.

I very much like Tarangire, but have visited only in early July; it was quite dry and game was plentiful. Late May I would guess is pretty iffy.

I'd probably pick Kirurumu at Manyara because it's a tented camp, although not a "luxury" property.

I'd avoid Ndutu at this time of year and drive straight through to central Serengeti given your time constraints, but perhaps others have differing views on this? Mbuzi Mawe is a tented camp; the Serena is a big lodge, although most who stay there enjoy it. If it were me and budget weren't an issue, I'd probably choose Mbuzi Mawe.

I'm curious to see what others have to say. The basic skeleton of your itinerary looks good to me, but everytime I see a safari itinerary (including my own) I think, Oh, too short, to short!

Good luck.
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Feb 7th, 2006, 09:28 AM
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Also, I've read on this board that the beach at Pongwe is paradisiacal, so to me that's worth an extra $40. And I wasn't really all that into the spice tour.
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Feb 7th, 2006, 01:46 PM
  #15
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Thanks for all the input. I just heard back and Serena Serengeti and Mbuzi Mawe are both booked - they are suggesting Seronera Wildlife. I have read the threads and it looks like Wildlife is better situated for viewing animals. As for Ndutu, I will ask about not stopping there are going staight to the central Serengeti.

Also, I have been advised that Dhow palace is closed when we will be in Zanzibar. Chavda Hotel is being offered as an alternative.
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Feb 7th, 2006, 02:00 PM
  #16
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I have been researching the Moru area, which sonali74 mentioned is better in June. From what I can gather, it is in the Western Serengeti. In terms of accommodations: Grumeti River Camp, Kirawira Camp and Mbalageti Serengeti are possibilities? (help!) Should I request one of these places?
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Feb 7th, 2006, 03:22 PM
  #17
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Grumeti is too far west for end-May, as well may be Kirawira and Mbalegeti. If our visit last year at the same time, the wildies were still in the Central, while the zebra were in Nduto.

Besides, the prices for these are in the range of 600+/nt/person. And the return flight from Grumeti airstrip is also more expensive.

Your choice.

In Stone Town, Tembo House is the sister hotel to Dhow Palace, but it's small with only about 35 rooms. You may also want to check Beit al Chai, small with only 6-rooms across the street from the Serena Inn. Haven't been able to find a website, but it's the same owners as Blue Bay Resort And check Emerson & Green, the prices aren't all that much higher than Dhow or Tembo. And remember, it's hot and humid here, even more so when in Stone Town, something to consider here an when at the beach.

 
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Feb 7th, 2006, 07:05 PM
  #18
 
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Well western serengeti will be too far away for the migration to reach in june, you could try sopa lodge for moru, its the closest, Sonali.
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Feb 8th, 2006, 05:52 PM
  #19
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All the advice has been very helpful - I sent them back to he drawing board. I am dealing with two operators: Roy Safaris (which I know several from this forum have used and recommend) and the other is Swala Safari (member of Tanzania Association of Tour Operators and licensed to operate safaris by the Tanzania Tourist Agency Licensing Authority). Has anyone heard of or used Swala Safari (www.safaris-tz.com/default.htm)?
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