Tanzania Notes

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Jan 8th, 2003, 09:45 PM
  #1
chris
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Tanzania Notes

Just returned from a Christmas/New Year's safari and beach holiday. Visited Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Zanzibar. Here are a few thoughts and recommendations from our trip.

Our group of 5-adults booked and made all arrangements via email and fax for our customized itinerary through United Touring Co. in Nairobi, though Leopard Tours was actually our operator in Tanzania. The price was $2495 per person including all internal air, christmas/new year's supplements, taxes, transfers, and most meals. our openjaw Swiss Air flight from/to Zurich was just about $1000pp. our itinerary was as follows:

Day 1-arrive Swiss Air early morning Nairobi, dayroom at Hotel Boulevard (fine choice for mid-range budgets) until mid-day flight to Manyara on Air Kenya/Regional Air (via Kiliminjaro & Arusha). met by driver and driven to Ngorongoro Serena Lodge for 2 nights.

Day 2-full-day game drive Ngorongoro

Day 3-drive to Serengeti, stopping at Olduvai Gorge, (see Leopard on way to lodge) 3 nights Serengeti Serena Lodge

Day 4-full-day game drive in Serengeti

Day 5-morning and afternoon game drives and Bush Dinner at Lodge.

Day 6-drive to Lake Manyara Serena for 1-night. late afternoon gamedrive.

Day 7-transfer to Arusha, stops at shops, lunch at Mt. Meru Novotel, afternoon Zanair flight to Zanzibar. 2 nights Tembo House Hotel B&B basis in Stone Town (all Stone town meals, excursions on our own)

Day 8-Spice Tour with Mr. Mitu (great lunch included!!! but so hot found it hard to enjoy), afternoon spent exploring Stone Town.

Day 9-late morning transfer to Breezes Beach Resort on full-board basis on the east side of the island for 3-nights. This resort is beautiful and the New Year's program was awesome.

Day 10-11 relaxing by the pool and beautiful beach, snorkeling safari.

Day 12-morning at Breezes, late afternoon transfer from Breezes to Zanzibar airstrip for Zanair flight to Dar es Salaam. short tour of town by driver and overnight/dinner at

Day 13-after breakfast tranferred to Dar airport for flight home on Swiss. (due to strong winds and lack of fuel was not able to land at Zuerich so diverted to Geneva overnight after flying in circles for nearly an hour in turbulence.)

 
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Jan 8th, 2003, 10:00 PM
  #2
chris
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random suggestions:
-Do not miss the drive between Ngorongoro and Serengeti December-April! We drove through the Great Migration and it is definitely a sight to see. We had originally thought of flying into/out of Seronora airstrip but so glad we didn't. We enjoyed a game drive nearly the entire way. Not to mention lots of Maasai villages and river crossings. At least do the drive one-way.

-take your malaria meds in the evening. We took Malarone and a few of us had headache/slight nasuea the first few days-at least we could sleep it off.

-the land cruiser we had with Leopard tours was quite comfortable. We can recommend Leopard/Utc, excellent service.

-we had some rain, but glad we did since it kept down the dust and temperatures. Don't be afraid to go in the short rains!


 
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Jan 8th, 2003, 10:11 PM
  #3
chris
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-though we liked Serengeti Serenas (and all the Serena's properties, we've stayed at Amboseli, Mountain Lodge, Samburu in Kenya too) and we saw animals on the "lodges" road that we didn't see many of anywhere else in Serengeti (elephants, giraffes). We would probably opt to stay closer to Seronora next again to be closer to the best lion/cheetah viewing. And maybe chose a northern location for a few days too.

-The extra Bush Dinner was very nice and tastefully done.

-Breezes Beach Resort is really special and I would recommend the holidays as a great time to go. So many extras included. (nice fireworks, huge lobster dinner, prosecco, wonderful musicians (jazz, taarab) at all times of the day, beautiful kitenges to wear to special New Year's brunch to keep)
 
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Jan 8th, 2003, 10:22 PM
  #4
chris
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-One full-day in Stone Town is probably enough for most people. It was different then I thought it would be (where's the architecture? and the museums are so-so but it is a great place to shop and the was growing on me by the time we left. Don't miss the massive market at the edge of Stone Town!

-If you're going to Zanzibar then save all your shopping for Stone Town. You can buy just about everything there (Maasai jewelery, cheapter wood carvings (not the top quality like Arusha), game park souvenirs) for much much cheaper and the prices are reasonably set in the shops, no bargaining. Zanzibar Gallery (near Tembo House Hotel) and the other shops nearby are great.

-Distances are small in Stone Town. No need to really take a taxi during the day as long as there is someone else with you. or at night if you are a larger group.

-1.5 liter bottles of water averaged about 1800tzs in lodges (500 at markets), beer about 2000 (800-1000 in local restaurants), and soda 1300 (300-500 in local markets/restaurants).

 
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Jan 9th, 2003, 02:13 PM
  #5
darlene
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Nice report chris, can you tell us more about the animals you saw at the various parks, I was at all of those areas and Tarangire also at the end of Feb & early March 2001.
 
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Jan 9th, 2003, 02:41 PM
  #6
Liz Frazier
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Chris-
Is it Mr. Chris or Mrs. Chris? Wonderful report.
You say you would opt to stay closer to Seronera next time. What is closer than the Serengeti Serena? Do you mean the Serengeti Sopa? They both look nice on the internet. Surely you wouldn't consider staying at the Seronera Wilflife Lodge would you? Did you get to see it? I've stayed there before, but it has been up for sale for many years and has been terribly neglected and in need of repair I keep hearing. Pity. It is such an ideal location.
Did you go near to Ndutu? It is in the Ngorongoro Conservation area and quite close to the Migration during the time you were there. Thanks again for the wonderful news. Liz
 
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Jan 9th, 2003, 08:14 PM
  #7
local
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Chris

I am going for business to Arusha for the first week in Feb. and at this stage it looks like if we are going to stay at the Mt Meru Novotel. Any comments on the hotel, please.
 
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Jan 9th, 2003, 09:21 PM
  #8
chris
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We saw every animal and lots of them.
-In Ngorongoro the animal highlights were 8 black rhino (at a distance unfortunately), several male lions (one in particular was very large with a black mane), all the flamingos in the lake, and a huge bull elephant that was 2 feet from our truck (he absolutely towered over us). And of course the views from the rim are amazing.

-The Serengeti highlights were cheetah with cubs watching a lioness eat their kill, after which the lioness tried to jump on a kopje, didn't quite make it and slid down like some cartoon (it was hilarious). Unfortunately we never did get a close view of cheetah but we did see many lions (but as usual most of them were sleeping), I also spotted a lioness in a tree (the driver was very excited by this and couldn't believe I spotted her). A leopard had pulled its gazelle kill into a tree next to the road near our lodge and nearly every time we drove past he was there eating it (crunch, crunch). Also saw 2 other leopard, one with a cub). a very nice close viewing of a large family of giraffe (crossed the road front and back of our truck), 3 hippos fighting outside of water (HUGE) and the Retima Hippo Pool is a lot of fun to watch in the evening when they're active, lots of babies. 2 young baboons who climbed onto the back of our truck. 2 sick buffalo had been in the lodge parking lot one night and then lions killed them after they'd been driven away. On the drive out-several lions on kopjes and a large group of hynea with a kill and of course driving through the migration.
 
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Jan 9th, 2003, 09:41 PM
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chris
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-Our one game drive in Lake Manyara was all about elephants, which was good since we hadn't really seen that many in the other Parks. Also twin giraffes estimated by our guide to be 3-4 weeks old.

-Dar es Salaam was a very pleasant surprise! So much cleaner and organized than Nairobi. A very pleasant city. The Peacock Hotel is a fine hotel choice in a good location (nothing outstanding).

-One differnce I noticed between the Tanzanian and Kenyan Parks is that in Tanzania there are less roads and they are further apart. This makes it less likely to get very close to the animals. No, I'm not in favor of chasing down the animals but sometimes you do just happen to come across them at close range.

Liz, I didn't see the rooms at the Seronera Wildlife Lodge (just the lobby area) and I understand they are very very basic (I did see one room at the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge and they did look like hostel rooms). It is a shame there isn't better lodging at Seronera since that is where the best cheetah and lion viewing seems to be. That is the sole reason I would consider staying there. If I had to do it again I might ideally split my time (5-6 days maybe) between the Serena (took about 40 minutes to drive to Seronera from the Serena), Sopa, and maybe Kleins or Migration Camp in the north. The Serengeti is so huge it would be like visiting different Parks anyway. No I didn't get to Ndutu and I am female

Local, I just had lunch at the Novotel so can't really comment on the rooms. The common areas were a bit run down but I think it's probably a fair, clean choice for Arusha. It is a large business type hotel.

I'll post more as it comes to me.

 
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Jan 10th, 2003, 08:10 AM
  #10
SG
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Hi Chris. Thanks for your notes. We are leaving next Wed for our 16day safari to Kenya & Tanzania & Zanzibar. Our UK tour operator advised us to get 6 photos for visas. That seems excessive since we are only getting visas for 2 countries. We will arrive in Nairobi airport and will reach Tanzania by road. What was your experience with visas and would you recommend that we bring cash or traveler's cheques. You also mentioned that Zanzibar was hot. Since I read that Zanzibar is also very conservative, it is frowned upon to wear shorts & t-shirts. Were you able to pay your snorkeling trip with credit card or is cash better? Thanks so much.
 
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Jan 10th, 2003, 09:52 AM
  #11
chris
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No you do not need photos, we got our visa's upon arrival at Nairobi Airport and Kiliminjaro Airport with no problems.

Bring at least enough US$ to at least pay for your visas otherwise traveler's cheques are the way to go ($50 cheques are more useful than $100). It's not always possible to get US$ once you're there, they usually give you change in local currency. We brought way too much $$$ with us (in cheques and cash), about $50 per couple per day is probably safe unless you plan on buying a lot (the big tourist shops and the lodges take cc's). We spent less than $10 per day per couple on all our drinks (wine is about $20-25). Laundry at the lodges was $12 per smallish load. Mr. Mitus spice tour in Zanzibar was $10 per person (worth it for the lunch, I think Zantour charges $18 and doesn't have lunch), packets of spices you can get for $1 each in several shops.

Temps in Zanzibar were in the low-mid 90's. I did dress conservatively in Stone Town to be respectful (t-shirts and long cotton skirt). But I did see lots of female tourists (mostly European) wearing shorts, bare midrifs, and sleeveless shirts. At the Resort of course dress as you like. Temps on safari were much cooler in the low 70's. Evenings a fleece/sweater is much appreciated.

Our snorkeling trip was through our resort's activity center so we just signed it to our room. Sorry probably not much help.
Have fun, I wish I was going back!
 
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Jul 24th, 2004, 08:07 AM
  #12
 
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Topping for Jules.
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Jul 27th, 2004, 07:11 PM
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chris your notes were so inspiring! We just booked a 14 day honeymoon in tanzania and zanzibar, staying at the serena lodges at the crater, than driving to the serengeti lodge...then off to lake maynara. we will than be staying at the breezes beach club. while it sounds like you had a great time and saw many creatures...do you think it it is fit for a romantic adventure...in other words would you you pick these lodges for your honeymoon? what are the room like at the serena lodges? they seems quite sweet on the internet As well...did you feel safe?
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Jul 28th, 2004, 05:27 AM
  #14
sandi
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abbykaz -

You don't mention when you are going on your honeymoon trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar. How many days will you be spending during safari - how many days at each Lk. Manyara, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti? Then I pressume you're heading over to Zanzibar. There was a recept thread Kenya/Tanzania trip report by "Cronen" who stayed at Breezes when on Tanzania and commented it was almost all honeymooners. You might find her entire trip report interesting to read.
 
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