Tanzania Safari Questions

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Mar 13th, 2005, 07:09 PM
  #1
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Tanzania Safari Questions

Hello all,

I've been doing research on a safari to Tanzania, and have been lurking about picking up information here. I am at the point where I can some direct questions. I'm looking to go in June of 2006. The budget is around $3000-3500 for the safari portion. I'm also considering a Kilimanjaro climb, and a budget for that would be around $1500. I'm travelling alone, so the single supplement will also have to be factored in with regards to costs. This would be my first trip to Africa.

So far, I've researched a number of companies, and have identified a standard itinerary that offers a basis for comparison.

TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK (This bit varies - Gibbs Farm is another option)
NGORONGORO CRATER
NGORONGORO CRATER
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

I looked at safaris from Hoopoe, Somak, Thomson, Safari Company, and Africa Adventure Company. They all have a safari that follows the above itinerary.

Accomodations for all of them are either with the Serena Lodges, or a mixture with Luxury Tented Camps. They all seem to come in around $3000-$3500 for a June safari.

The leading contender for me right now is Thomson. They get consistently good reviews and have been very responsive to my questions.

So, I have two questions:

1) I've basically stuck to "brochure" safaris with standard itineraries from these companies. Is it worthwhile to send this itinerary around to companies that do custom safaris and see if they can come up with something competitive for me? I was thinking of sending the itinerary to operators like Roy Safaris and East African Safari Company.

I haven't bothered because I'm travelling alone, so I assume that a custom safari wouldn't be an option. If I was travelling in a group, I'd be more likely to explore a custom trip.

2) Although Thomson Safaris is my leading contender for the safari, their Kilimanjaro treks are very expensive, and I can't afford them. Am I much better off choosing a company that can do both trips? Somak offers both the safari and the Kili climb at a budget I can afford, and there's the advantage of working with the same company.

Or, does it make much of a difference to book a safari with one company and a trek with another? My main concerns are really just the hand off from one company to another, and scheduling. Scheduling is the big problem as I need to make sure that one trip transitions smoothly into the other.

Thanks.
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Mar 14th, 2005, 05:00 AM
  #2
sandi
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I would definitely send the itinerary to in-country safari outfitters - Roy Safaris or others. The supplement for a single traveler even with a custom safari might not increase your price all that much. Alot would depend on the accommodations.

Depending on time of June, not till the middle of June is Tarangire that good, as the grasses can still be high from the recent rains. That's not to say to eliminate Tarangire if at beginning of month, but something to be aware of. As to Ngorongoro Crater, you probably don't need more than 1-nt, as of 7/1/05 full day Crater tours will no longer be allowed, so it can be half-day on day you arrive, then maybe morning tour next day... then continue onto the Serengeti. When it comes to the Serengeti, the ideal place to be would be the Western Serengeti, where there are limited accommodations, two of which are very expensive, but ask about Mbalageti which is a more moderately priced camp.

Since you don't list the accommodations on the itinerary you list it's difficult to comment specifically. So it would be nice to see which lodges/camps are provided by the tour operators you've already made contact.

For the Kili Climb, Roy's is an authorized Kili provider, if that is of importance. But it's not unusual for others, if Kili isn't a specialty to have another provider handle this portion... and it would be a smooth handover. But, I would defintiely do the Kili Climb first, then continue with safari.

Hope this helps.
 
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Mar 14th, 2005, 05:45 AM
  #3
 
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I did the same two years ago (Sept 02)when planning for my first safari to Tz (also solo).

I had almost booked with Thomson as they get very good reviews. Then I found a special offer in CC Africa, the trip cost only half of that charged by Thomson (in addition, CCA does not charge any single supplement)but I stayed at Crater Lodge and Klein's Camp. I then found out how expensive Thomson is.

Suggest you get more quotes from other local companies to compare, you will be surprised.
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Mar 14th, 2005, 03:50 PM
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Thanks for the replies so far. I'll go ahead and send around an itinerary to a number of operators (Roy's Safaris, Predators, CC Africa, Hoppoe, Africa Dream Safari, and Somak). It'll be nice to spam the tour operators for once rather than vice versa.

I read Rocco's post on doing a custom safari, and put together an itinerary, but I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to send the different operators.

Does one simply give the operator a list of parks one wants to visit with an overall budget and let the operator figure out what accomodations they can fit in? Or, do you tell them what accomodations you want and see what they come up with?

Also, how does the actual safari part work? Do you have a safari guide and vehicle that you keep for the whole trip? Or, do you get transferred from lodge to lodge, and you use the lodge-based safari vehicles and guides? I've been reading through the forum archives, but this part isn't quite clear. If I get transferred, what can I expect in terms of transfer fees? I know I'll need to fit in an airplane flight between the Serengeti and Arusha at some point. ($375?)

Here's the itinerary I came up with. It's essentially the same as the one I mentioned before, but more specific with accomodations:

Arusha - Moivaro Coffee Plantation ($68)
Tarangire - ?? ($250) (Figuring on Sopa or Serena here as the rest seem more expensive)
Tarangire - ?? ($250)
Lake Manyara - Lake Manyara Serena ($190)
Ngorongoro - Ngorongoro Serena Lodge ($170) (Or Sopa)
Serengeti - Serena Serengeti ($190) (I'm also thinking about Migration Camp)
Serengeti - Serena Serengeti ($190)
Serengeti - Kirawira ($335)
Serengeti - Kirawira ($335)
Arusha - Home

As you can tell, I selected a bunch of Serena accomodations, mostly because their website listed the prices for a single room during June. I just wanted something for comparison's sake. The order I visit the parks isn't very important - at least that I know of!

Africa Dream Safaris quotes at around $6500 for a safari with this level of accomodation - $3500 with all Sopa properties. However, that's with a safari vehicle all to myself!

I do intend to travel during late June - targeting a return home by 4th of July. And, I'll schedule the Kilimanjaro trek, if I do it, before the safari portion.

Whaddya think?
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Mar 15th, 2005, 04:21 AM
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sandi
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lifelist -

The pricing on the website is only a guide, not necessarily current, or what a tour operator gets.

The order of the safari is important, based on direction and definitely distance, whether by land, or if air included, where airports/airstrips are located.

At Tarangire these is NO Serena, but there is a Sopa. And if you're on a custom safari for yourself, you will have your own guide/driver throughout, until, as you listed, you plan to fly back from the Serengeti to Arusha. At the local airstrip in the Serengeti is where you will say goodbye to your guide/driver. According to what you've put together you are not staying at any camps where your own guide/driver cannot be your guide. That occurs mainly on private concession lands... camps such as Klein's Camp or Grumeti River. So no concern for you.

Your email should detail your dates, budget, where you'd like to visit and names of the lodge/camp you desire. Only then can/will the outfitter come back with exactly what you requested or alterntives if some accommodations not available; possibly they will offer options if you're going over budget.
 
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Mar 27th, 2005, 08:20 PM
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Hi, I would definitely consider Duma Explorer for both the safari and climb. I recently went to Tanzania and Kenya, and had a wonderful 5 day safari with them. Went to ngorongoro, arusha np, serengeti. I didn't climb Kili, but two friends of mine did with them. They are co-owned by a Tanzanian (Hezron Mbise), and by an American(Stacy Readal), and both Stacy and Hezron are extremely helpful and responsive. Check out www.dumaexplorer.com. They will also fit within your budget, and Stacy can help put you with a larger group if you want, to keep costs down.
Have fun!!
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Aug 1st, 2005, 06:47 AM
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lifelist - hi! I know this is months later, but I was wondering what you finally decided. My FH and I are planning to climb Kili and do safari for our honeymoon, probably next July or so. I have started researching, but since not that many people on this board climb Kili, the data is a little thin.

So, I was just wondering if you picked a company and how you finally decided.

Thanks,
Karen
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Aug 1st, 2005, 08:13 AM
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Karen:

My husband and I leave Wed. for a Kili trek and safari. We will give a full report on return on August 22. We are taking the Machame route.

Another useful source besides these boards is the reports on www.summitpost.org where people post their climbs for all kinds of mountains. A few recent reports on Kili there. Also, Lonely Planet supposedly has more posts than Fodors on Kili Climbs but I hate their travel discussion format so I haven't actually looked there.
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Aug 1st, 2005, 12:18 PM
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Hi,

I haven't picked yet. My trip became complicated when I mentioned it to my parents, who indicated that they wanted to go too. My mother subsequently mentioned the trip to my aunt, whose family also wants to go. So, my solo trip turned into a 6-person family trip. I've been trying to nail down the parameters for the trip from the various participants before sending out a propsective itinerary to various operators.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:47 AM
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Thanks for the responses! Schlegal1 - what tour operator are you using? I also plan to use the Machame route, so I can't wait to read about your trip!

Thanks again.

Karen
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 10:10 AM
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We are using Roy Safaris for all our trip (doing Safari after the trek). This is against some advice from this board that we use Roy's for Safari and someone else for the trek--we wanted to book it all with one operator for ease and I have been very pleased so far with the service from Roy's.

I cannot wait. We leave TOMORROW!!
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Sep 13th, 2005, 03:53 PM
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Hello all,

I know it's been some months since I first posted, but the safari I thought I was planning for turned out to be very different. As noted upthread, my parents decided to join me, so instead of a solo safari, I'm looking at a Safari for three people. Also, my uncle, aunt and cousin have expressed interest, so this may actually become a 6-person safari.

With all of these people joining in, I've had to figure out their schedules and what sort of accomodations they were looking for. I can travel pretty rough, but my parents need more comfort.

In any event, I'd sent out requests for a quote from about 8 different outfitters, and have responses from about 4 - Africa Travel Resource (ATR), Roy's, East Africa Touring and Safari, Good Earth. I also have a rough quote from Africa Dream Safari (ADS) based on their excellent website.

I was hoping I could get an itinerary check from the knowledgeable folks here. I still have to have more discussion with my family about what they want to do, but I thought I'd check to see if there is anything else I should consider or if there are any potential issues I may have missed.

This is for a safari with 3 people or 6 people during end of June in Northern Tanzania:

ADS:

Moivaro
Mawe Ninga
Mawe Ninga
Gibbs Farm
Ngorogoro Serena
Kirawira
Kirawira
Serengeti Serena
Serengeti Serena

$3737 pp 3 people
$3097 pp for 6 people

This served as my base itinerary that I sent around to the various operators as I liked the properties and the itinerary. They're a contender if my group is 6 people and my family doesn't want as much camping as ATR is recommending.

Roy's:

Moivaro
Swala
Swala
Gibbs Farm
Ngorogoro Sopa
Kirawira
Kirawira
Serengeti Serena
Serengeti Serena

$3890 pp (3 people)
$3695 pp (6 people)

Roy's response was that they couldn't book Mawe Ninga and suggested either Treetops or Swala if I wanted to maintain the same class of accomodation. (Mawe Ninga was only $15 a night more than Treetops.) This isn't bad as the upgrade to Swala over Mawe Ninga is probably worth the $75 extra a night, but their 6-person price is too high, and would put them out of the running if it is a 6-person trip.

ATR:

Moivaro
Mawe Ninga
Mawe Ninga
Gibbs Farm
Ngorogoro Serena
Olduvai Camp
Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp
Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp
Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp
Moivaro

$3433 pp (3 people)
$2940 pp (3 people)

To me this is the leading contender. The price is better than ADS or Roys, and they submitted a very detailed quote. There's an extra night at Moivaro tacked on at the end. The original quote had all nights at tented camps while on safari except for Gibbs Farm, which I thought was a bit much. I requested that they substitute one or both nights at Olduvai for a night at Ngorogoro and this is what they came up with. My only concern here is that this is a lot of camping, and I'm not sure how much camping my parents and aunt/uncle are in for, so that will take some discussion. However, if my family is up to it, this looks like an opportunity for a very interesting safari.

East Africa Safari and Touring; Good Earth

These guys had the cheapest safaris, but got there by substituting Mawe Ninga/Swala with Boundary Hill Lodge and Tarangire Safari lodge, respectively. They came out at $2986/$2646 for East Africa and $2950/$2700 for Good Earth. They also offered itineraries that didn't involve a flight, thus saving about $200 per person. I don't think these guys are really contending at this point, and I'd probably only consider them if budget became a real issue.

So, whaddya think? Have I missed anything? Any considerations I should take into account in my evaluations?

Thanks for the help.
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Sep 13th, 2005, 04:17 PM
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lifelist,

How old are your parents and aunt/uncle? More importantly, how spry?

I am doing a very similar itinerary booked through ATR. I am going with a friend and her mother. The mother is 60 (young!) and always took us camping when we were growing up. So for her, no problem.

My mom is another story!
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Sep 13th, 2005, 04:27 PM
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They're very spry and quite active. Both my parents and my aunt all grew up on farms without electricity in the Philippines. Heck, they grew up with bucket showers.

My aunt and uncle are in their 50s, and my parents are in their 60s. My concern isn't their ability to rough it - they're certainly up to it. It's just that it's not something they want to do a lot of on vacation anymore. It's a matter of choice rather than ability.

I think one of the things I have to do is educate them on the difference between camping as they know it, and these luxury tented camps in Africa. It's kind of hard since I've never been myself and only have the pictures and descriptions to go by.
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Sep 13th, 2005, 05:01 PM
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Lifelist

Boundary Hill Lodge? That's an interesting one! The lodge is far from completion! I am amazed that some outfitters book it already! I hope they know more than I do!

I am unsure why you consider Tarangire Safari Lodge as a downgrade from Mawe Ninga? It has one of the best locations inside the park and the views from the veranda cannot be beaten. Elephants walk through the lodge at times and the staff is friendly and capable. The tents may look older but are more comfortable than Mawe Ninga where you have to deal with thunderbox style toilets, etc. I doubt that you will see wildlife from Mawe Ninga as you will at the Safari Lodge.

Gibbs Farm is quite a drive from Lake Manyara. Why not stay at the Serena or Kirurumu on the edge of the escarpment from where you can see the lake?

What is the reasoning for the Olduvai camp stayover? What do you expect to see or experience there in June?

The Nomad camps in the Serengeti are an excellent choice. Have you considered asking Roy, etc for a Nomad quote?
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Sep 13th, 2005, 05:27 PM
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Hello lifelist:
Re making the decision about the Nomad camps, they/you may enjoy reading this article from an American Express magazine that someone posted on this forum some months ago.

http://www.departures.com/tr/tr_0505_serengeti.html
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Sep 13th, 2005, 06:09 PM
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Lifelist,

I would (selfishly) be interested in East African Safari and Tours' full itinerary. I'm set for next time, but there's always the time after that.

And I believe alwaysafrica had an amazing trip with them.

re: Olduvai. ATR really pushes that camp regardless of time of year. In our case we decided it would be nice as kind of a break from safari because you can take walks with the Maasai. Although we may decide just to take the short walk to the kopje for sundowners.

Good luck with your planning.
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Sep 13th, 2005, 06:45 PM
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Leely, here's EAST's quote:

Moivaro
Boundary Hill Lodge
Boundary Hill Lodge
Gibbs Farm
Ngorogoro
Serengeti Serena
Serengeti Serena
Kirawira
Kirawira

$2986/$2646

I was a bit unsure about Boundary Hill Lodge as I haven't been able to find any information about them aside from their website: http://www.tarangireconservation.com/

I like the fact that their a community-based company, but given their newness, I'm reluctant to give them a try.

Climbhighsleeplow,

I did not mean to imply that Tarangire Safari Lodge was necessarily a downgrade - I simply did a comparison of the accomodations and prices, and came to the conclusion that Good Earth was able to offer a better price because Tarangire Safari Lodge was simply less expensive.

Good Earth:

Moivaro
Tarangire Safari Lodge
Gibbs Farm
Ngorogoro Serena
Ngorogoro Serena
Serengeti Serena
Kirawira
Kirawira
Kirawira

$3150/$2890

It's a good itinerary and the price is attractive. This itinerary does limit time in Tarangire, but I'm sure I could get them to drop the second Ngorogoro night in favor of more time at Tarangire. I think one of the problems I have is that I'm pretty much depending on the ADS and ATR as my sources of information on these accomodations (and of course Fodors!), and neither one has a description of Tarangire Safari Lodge.

As Leely mentioned, the ATR rep was rather enthusiastic about the Olduvai camp and was reluctant to change both nights there. I guess the main attraction are the walks that are available, though I am still a bit leery of this place given the time of the year.


So, at this point, do I continue to send questions and itinerary suggestions to all of the operators? I hate to continue stringing all five of them along until I eventually choose. Or, is that how the game is played and I should let them compete a bit longer?

Thanks again for your suggestions.
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Sep 13th, 2005, 06:56 PM
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Walking with Maasai guides are available all over the NCA! In fact, all the lodges on the crater rim can arrange this as well!

In this itinerary it makes more sense to stay 2 nights at the Serena on the crater rim from where you can visit Oldupai Gorge, Maasai villages, do game drives, walk along the rim with the Maasai, or just stay put and enjoy the spectacular views into the crater.

3 one-nighters in a row in the NCA means packing and unpacking, checking in and out, driving from lodge to lodge - and each overnight is less than 2 hours from the next.
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Sep 13th, 2005, 07:29 PM
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lifelist,

I don't like that feeling of stringing operators along, either. Maybe you should talk to your parents about what they'd like most, show them pictures/websites, explain that you can still "craft" the itinerary, etc., and go from there. If price is an issue, and when isn't it?, the Good Earth and EAST itineraries could probably be tweaked a bit and still come out relatively reasonable.

I didn't push against Olduvai Camp with ATR--we have 3 1-nighters in a row, which I guess is a mistake. Now I sort of wish I had...

Actually, why Gibbs Farm at all on any itinerary if it's for Manyara? My preference there was for Kirurumu or else something in the park.

Maybe your parents and aunt and uncle would like the Serena/Kirawira itineraries better? I wouldn't mind those myself.
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