Tanzania planning - it's never too soon.

Sep 1st, 2006, 11:50 AM
  #1  
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Tanzania planning - it's never too soon.

After my recent trip to Africa I thought about going to Namibia, but have decided on Tanzania. Unfortunately we won't be able to go until July, 2008. I have started planning already, because for me planning is half the fun and I can also get an idea of the costs. Any comments on the following would be appreciated.

2 nights Tarangire Park (Oliver's Camp)
2 nights Ngorongoro (Serena Lodge)
3 nights Olakira Camp
2 nights Grumeti River Camp
3 nights Sayari Camp
raelond is offline  
Sep 1st, 2006, 01:14 PM
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Hello Raelond,

I'm starting to work on a 2008 trip as well, so you're not alone!

I'll be staying at three of your camps during my trip this October, so you'll have some firsthand feedback shortly. Oliver's has recently undergone a complete refurnishment and the photos look very impressive.

I don't know how flexible you are with your timing, but July is a transitional month where the Migration can be either in Tanzania or Kenya -- many people opt for June or August because July is so difficult to predict. I missed the migration on my first trip because we thought it would be in Tanzania but it wasn't.

If you do go in July, the geographical breadth of your Serengeti camps will, with luck, make sure that you see the migration at some point. However, I'd suggest expanding your stay at Grumeti River Camp to 3 nights - the river crossings are spectacular and a longer stay will increase your likelihood of seeing one.

For the Crater, you may want to consider Crater Lodge -- staying at two CCA camps will make you eligible for some discounts.

Finally, I'm not sure if you're set on Northern Tanzania, but if you're not you may want to consider Southern Tanzania, which is much more remote and unexplored (and has nice large populatios of wild dogs!).

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 1st, 2006, 03:25 PM
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Hi Julian,
I appreciate your comments. I have to travel in either July or August as I am a teacher. I took a leave of absence in June when I went to Botswana, but I can't do that again. Seeing the migration is not all that necessary. I would be happy if I could experience the kind of game viewing I had in Botswana. I picked Serena Lodge rather than the Crater Lodge to keep some of the costs down as these other camps seem to cost as much as Wilderness camps in Botswana. We would fly to Arusha after Sayari Camp. I picked Sayari Camp because of its remoteness, so I will definitely look into Southern Tanzania.
What camps are you staying at?
raelond is offline  
Sep 1st, 2006, 04:46 PM
  #4  
bat
 
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Julian:
IMO Crater Lodge is SOOO much more expensive than the Serena that the small discount for a 2 CC Africa camp stay is almost meaningless. You have to be able to afford these lodges (or striking distance) in the first place to make this kind of recommendation helpful.
bat is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2006, 02:29 AM
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Hi Bat,

Definitely true -- just throwing the idea out there for consideration as not too many people know about the discount. Given that Grumeti is quite close in price to Crater Lodge ($600 ppns vs $700 pppns) I thought it might be an option. I've stayed at Crater Lodge and really do believe it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Serena is certainly the next best choice in the Crater.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2006, 02:43 AM
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Hi Raelond,

I'm staying at Oliver's, Nomad Tarangire, Olakira, Sayari, and Crater Lodge on my trip.

I've stayed at Crater Lodge before (Tree Camp) and it was incredible, but the other camps are all new to me, and I'm really looking forward to my trip. I'll be sure to post a trip report when I get back (hopefully I will be done with the Mother of All Trip Reports by then!)

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2006, 07:55 AM
  #7  
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Julian, what is your opinion about the Nomad camps? Should I be considering one of them instead of one of the camps I picked? From what I have read I understand Olakira Camp will be in the central Serengeti for the months of June and July when the migration is in the area. Your trip sounds great! Will you have the same guide throughout your trip?
raelond is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2006, 10:17 AM
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Hi Raelond,

My first stay with Nomad will be at Nomad Tarangire in October, so I'll report on that when I get back. They've gotten excellent reviews by many people here, so I have high expectations.

In terms of catching the migration, Nomad do relocate their camps every two weeks which could potentially give you an advantage over a stationary camp. Each tent at Nomad's camps also has its own vehicle. However, the Nomad mobile camps look decidedly less posh than the Asilia camps.

Olakira will be very well-situated, and given that you are staying in three very different sectors of the Serengeti (Central, Western Corridor/Grumeti, and Northern) you should be well covered by your current itinerary.

My trip is a bit unusual for an East Africa trip in that I'm combining flying and driving rather than driving everywhere. I did a lot of driving on my first Tanzania trip and found it both boring and painful (and that was before I was in the car accident that caused my current back problems). I may do a road transfer to Tarangire, but will then be flying to the Crater and flying from the Crater to Olakira (in October Olakira is in the Loliondo area, much further north than it will be when you are travelling).

This means that I won't have a single driver-guide for my entire trip, but will have guides based at the camps. On my previous trips I've found the local knowledge of my camp-based guides invaluable, and I'm very curious as to how my trip will compare to the more traditional East Africa trip using a single driver-guide.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2006, 03:52 PM
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Hi Raelond,
Just wondering if you're planning a night in Arusha before heading out to Tarangire. If so, where do you think you might stay? As you know, we're planning our second trip to Tanzania for 2008 as well, and I think we're leaning toward the Arusha Coffee Lodge.

I'll be interested to read feedback from others about Sayari and Olakira camps. We're contemplating Exclusive Mobile and Serengeti Safari Camps. So much to think about and choose from!

I agree with you, Raelond...planning is half the fun! Keep us posted as you work through an itinerary.

Cathy
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Sep 3rd, 2006, 09:07 AM
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Hi Julian,
Having only experienced the wonderful guides at each Wilderness camp I visited in Botswana, I was wondering what it would be like to have one driver/guide the entire time. Would it be better to fly in to each camp, as you are doing and then use the guides from each camp, who I presume would have more knowledge of the area surrounding that particular camp. Do the camp-based guides share their sighting with the driver/guides? When it comes to cost, the vehicle, the driver and his accommodations would be part of the cost I presume. I wonder how this would compare to flying to each camp.

Cathy,
I haven't thought about our first night in Tanzania as yet. I would love to compare costs of doing a Tanzania trip with the camps mentioned and a Botswana trip in August using Kwando camps, as I loved Botswana so much I wonder how it could get any better!
raelond is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 09:34 AM
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One of the factors when comparing the cost of flying vs driving is the number of people in your party. In general, if you have two or more passengers to share the cost of the vehicle, driving will be less than flying on most typical itineraries where you're staying 2-3 nights at each location and moving on. For single travelers (unless you join a group), driving isn't very cost effective and a flying itinerary may be less. You can get an operator to price it both ways.
Patty is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 09:54 AM
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Hello,

I also considered Arusha Coffee Lodge for my overnight on arrival, but I ended up choosing a place closer to the airport because my flight arrives late (I'm taking the KLM AMS-JRO flight). I'm staying at River Trees, a country house hotel a bit outside Arusha:

http://www.rivertress.com

I've also had wonderful experiences with camp-based guides in Botswana and South Africa, so I'll be very interested to see what it's like in Tanzania, where most people seem to have a single driver-guide. I've found that local knowledge of predators' territories and habits has been key to some of my best sightings in Southern Africa.

I had a single guide on my last trip (with A&K) and he was pretty good -- very knowledgable and a good host, if not as passionate as some of the guides I have since met in Botswana and SA. With a single guide, getting a good one or a bad one can make or break your trip, as a glance through the East Africa Trip Report Index will show.

I'll definitely ask whether the local guides share their sightings with the roaming driver-guides.

The per-night cost of a camp goes down (by a variable amount depending on the camp) if you have your own guide, but your costs will then include his accommodation, vehicle, food, etc so whether one or the other is cheaper probably depends on the camps you pick. I did find that the flights were amazingly reasonable, and I'm surprised more people don't use them to avoid some of the long road transfers.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 10:13 AM
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Julian,
Do CCA camps offer a lower full board rate if you're traveling with your own vehicle and guide? Their website gives the impression that they only offer game package rates.

raelond,
That's another consideration. Some camps don't have different rates for fly-in vs drive-in guests and you must take their game package, although the majority of camps do. I think most of the camps you've listed offer both full board and game package rates. The only one I have a question about is Grumeti.
Patty is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 10:21 AM
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Hello,

CCA camps have a single rate, which means that if you do a drive-in safari you will be paying for the CCA guide as well as your own. In my experience in both Tanzania and Southern Africa, CCA's guides and vehicles are excellent.

Some people who have travelled to East Africa and gotten stuck with a less than stellar driver-guide have really appreciated being able to use the CCA guides and vehicles while staying at CCA camps.

FYI Another company which only offers one rate is Nomad.

For those companies that do offer two rates, the price difference between the two rates varies from company to company.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 10:31 AM
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Thanks for confirming that.
Patty is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 11:42 AM
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bat
 
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For CC africa camps, the vehicles are shared vehicles? If so, that might be a disadvantage. At the Nomad camps, there was a guide/vehicle per guest group (ie a couple had their own driver/guide; our group of 3 had our own driver/guide).

Julian when you mention that Nomad moves the camp every 2 weeks that is accurate but I don't believe they move it drastically to follow the migration. Here is what the situation was at Ndutu last Feb--camp moved every 2 weeks WITHIN the private campsite area of Ndutu. This was done to keep the camps fresh and to allow a little time for the campsites to recover. There were no plans to move the camp from the Ndutu area to the central Serengeti for example--even though given the lack of rain and that the migration had not massed on the short grass plains, there were many wildebeest there.

I think once these seasonal mobile camps move to their new area, they pretty much stay in that area until the next seasonal shift.
bat is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 12:08 PM
  #17  
bat
 
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BTW, I should clarify about Nomad having a guide per guest group--that is true for the serengeti and loliondo camps--Mahale/Katavi/Sand River are different I believe--although I have read that at SR they try to give each guest group their own guide.
bat is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 12:17 PM
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sandi
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Grumeti has a FB and GP rates. At Nomad's you can use your own guide.

As to camp guides vs your own guide - depends on the guide. The good ones, know the areas as well as the camp guides... they're there every week or so.

CCA rates in Kenya & Tanzania will vary, depending on the property and, of course, your outfitter (the rates they get) whether you have your own guide or use camp guide.

There are those camps that only offer GP rates for fly-in/out only.

raelond, on your itinerary, you can stay at all camps on a FB basis. Though I would say, for July, Sayari may not be the best choice. Beautiful camp and location, though. Besides, the drive from Grumeti River to Sayari is quite a distance. Do I assume correctly, that you'll be flying from Sayari to Arusha/JRO?
 
Sep 3rd, 2006, 12:42 PM
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Hello,

Vehicles at CCA camps are shared if you use their guides (like in Botswana). You can always book a private vehicle if you choose to fly in.

Bat is correct in saying that only Nomad's Serengeti and Tarangire camps have one vehicle and guide per tent -- vehicles at the other Nomad camps (Chada Katavi, Greystoke Mahale, and Sand Rivers Selous) are shared.

I've dropped an email to CCA about the game package vs full-board question -- I'll post the reply here when I receive it.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 4th, 2006, 08:14 AM
  #20  
bat
 
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raelond, sandi, julian and anyone who might know--I am curious about how Asilia works (Oliver's, Sayari, Olakira)I know that you can bring your own guide; I think I read that you can arrive and use a guide there (Oliver's for sure, not so sure about the other two)--does Asilia also offer a guide who will travel with you from place to place--so that in Raelond's itinerary they would go from Oliver's to Ngorongoro, etc?
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