Tanzania Safari Questions

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Sep 13th, 2005, 08:14 PM
  #21
 
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Sorry, lifelist, I should have clarified: my friend and I have been to TZ before and so we're skipping Manyara, although I think it's a lovely park with TONS of elephants. Our extra 1-nighter is at Ronjo in the Serengeti.

Maybe, if it turns out your family is amenable to rustic, you could skip Olduvai and add a night to the Serengeti?
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Sep 13th, 2005, 08:17 PM
  #22
 
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sorry to hijack, Leely what is your final itinerary?
Thanks,
Dennis
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Sep 13th, 2005, 08:22 PM
  #23
 
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Dennis (and maybe this will be helpful to you, lifelist, we are also travelling in June),

Moivaro
Moivaro (to recuperate from 2 long-haul flights)
Mawe Ninga
Mawe Ninga
Ngorongoro Wildlife
Olduvai Camp
Ronjo
Nomad Mbalageti
Nomad Mbalageti
Nomad Mbalageti
Moivaro

fly home

Party of 3, roughly the same price as lifelist's quote.
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Sep 19th, 2005, 12:36 AM
  #24
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Just an update to what I'm doing - I'm going to do one more round of questions/itinerary changes, and then drop all but 2-3 of the operators.

I've asked Roy's to look at replacing Swala/Treetops with Tarangire Safari Lodge or Tarangire River Camp. I've also asked them about recommendations for accomodations closer to Lake Manyara as a possible replacement for Gibb's Farm. And, I asked about the Nomad Camps.

Hopefully, their pricing will get more in line with the rest, otherwise I'll have to drop them from contention. Unfortunately, I haven't heard from them in a few days, so I hope they respond soon.

I'll ask EAST to replace Boundary Hill Lodge with Tarangire Safari Lodge or Tarangire River Camp and see what they come up with. I'll also ask them to look into an alternative for Gibb's Farm.

Lastly, I'll ask ATR to look at replacing Olduvai Camp for another night at Serena. I only get three nights in the Serengeti rather than the four I originally asked for, but it does make sense for this itinerary.

The comparison will come down to price and how much camping I want.

Oh, and with regards to my Kilimanjaro Climb, Roy's offered me a Machame climb for around $1400 - they did mention they'd subcontract this out, but didn't say who would do it. ATR offered me a 5-night Rongai climb which simply isn't long enough. However, this all may be moot as I'm now leaning towards a Western Breach route. Tusker appears to be a good operators and their schedule works with the safari plans in terms of doing the climb first and then the safari. If I did the climb post-safari, I'd look at Mountain Madness, Kiliwarriors, or Thomson. All four operators are around $3000 for a Western Breach route. Of course, this blows my budget out of the water, but that appears to be a common occurrence around here...

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Sep 20th, 2005, 07:41 PM
  #25
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O.k., so I heard back from EAST, and they tell me that the Boundary Hill Lodge is pretty much done except for two rooms and that they're already receiving guests. They also mentioned that it's only 50 meters from the park boundary, but it still looks far away from the main areas to me. So, I was quoted Naitolia, Sidai, Tarangire Safari Lodge, and Tarangire River Camp. They all come out to the same price (+/- $30), so no change to the price of the itinerary.

If I did go with EAST, I'd have to choose between Tarangire River Camp and Tarangire Safari Lodge. The other places mentioned by EAST just seem out of the way and nothing really to recommend them over places in the park.

From Climbhighsleeplow's pictures, Tarangire River Camp looks the most interesting to me.

So, at around $3k pp for 3 people, EAST has the best numbers so far. Heck, I could probably replace Ngorongoro Serena with the Crater Lodge for one night and come in at around $3300 which would make for a pretty great itinerary.

Is there any reason why they would come in so much cheaper than Roy's or ADS? I imagine I'd have to question them pretty closely to figure out where the hidden costs are, if there are any. Any tips on what to ask about? The nice thing about ATR and ADS is that they're very detailed in their quotes.

Still waiting to hear from Roy's.
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Sep 21st, 2005, 09:45 AM
  #26
 
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"Is there any reason why they would come in so much cheaper than Roy's or ADS?"

I have no idea...Some operators are more expensive than others. You could ascertain whether their drivers have unlimited mileage or not That's one thing you don't want to cut corners on.

Roy came out with the higher quote for me, but again by the time I got serious I was only dealing with Roy and ATR. And then it wasn't really an apples-to-apples comparison. I just got confused and gave up!

Make sure you ask for references (ph. #s or e-mail contact) from your operator's former clients.

I too like the looks of Tarangire River Camp. climhigh's photos really make it appealing.

I think you're doing a great job and your itinerary is really shaping up nicely. Perhaps I should have let you "go first" and then just copied you.

(I wish I had never learned how to do these smileys; they're horribly addictive.)
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Sep 21st, 2005, 11:34 AM
  #27
 
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Leely-did you ever finalize your itinerary? i'd like to see it if you did or i missed it...you're one of my inspirations for the next trip and curious what you decided on.
Dennis
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Sep 21st, 2005, 11:39 AM
  #28
 
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Dennis - I thought I was your new muse... ;-)

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Sep 21st, 2005, 12:00 PM
  #29
 
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Aloha Dennis,

I posted the final itinerary (yes, final; I sent money and everything) on this thread. Should be up there.

Had I been in my right mind,I think for the time of year we're going I would have skipped Olduvai and done either 2 nights at Ronjo or one night at Manyara (Kirurumu) instead. But this itinerary, while not Fodors-perfect, should still prove extremely enjoyable.

Of course now that everything's booked I'm starting to freak out about being "alone" in a tent in the middle of the Serengeti. I'm a light sleeper. Will this be scary?

Good luck, lifelist! I love your trip as planned so far, and the price is very fair.
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Sep 21st, 2005, 12:13 PM
  #30
 
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Leely - You sound a lot like me! I almost did a similar trip with ATR until I decided on Zambia. Regardless, I think the Olduvai Camp looks very cool, and the walks with the Maasai also look great. Even if it's not prime time, I'm sure there will be some animals around... YOu can point this post out to me when I finish my Zambia plan and start second-guessing MYself!
Sharon
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Sep 21st, 2005, 12:18 PM
  #31
 
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Thanks for the kind words, cooncat. And, yes, ahem, where exactly IS that Zambia itinerary?

(Sorry to veer away from your post, lifelist.)
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Sep 21st, 2005, 12:26 PM
  #32
 
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It's getting there, girl, it's getting there!!!
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Sep 21st, 2005, 12:40 PM
  #33
 
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You're in the top three but since you we both are going to Zambia, wanted some of Leely's "fun" planning east africa.
Leely-sorry I completely skipped your itinerary, and I'm the one who asked it on the 14th. doofus!
Dennis
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Sep 21st, 2005, 02:59 PM
  #34
 
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OK! That's fair.... ;-)
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Sep 21st, 2005, 03:11 PM
  #35
 
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Hello Lifelist,

I thought I'd throw out another operator for you...Kibo Safaris. I've been to Tanzania with them a couple of times and really am impressed with their guides and properties (they use their own camps and lodges for the most part). I'm going again next year (May 25 to June 8) and there are spaces left on the trip. The cost is $3430 and the itinerary:

First Night - Moivaro Coffee Lodge
Arusha NP - Moivaro Coffee Lodge
Tarangire NP - Tarangire Tented River Camp (2 nights)
Lake Manyara NP to Karatu - Ngorongoro Farmhouse
Lake Eyasi/Hadzabe Bushmen - Ngorongoro Farmhouse
Ngorongoro Crater - Ngorongoro Farmhouse
Central Serengeti - Mobile Tented Camp (4 nights)
Karatu Orphanage/School Visit - Ngorongoro Farmhouse
Back to Arusha

I'm fairly certain Kibo does Kili climbs, as well. In addition, some of us will be going on to Zanzibar for a few days.

ShayTay


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Sep 22nd, 2005, 09:47 AM
  #36
 
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Fly into Arusha by yourself, pay $10 for someone at the airport to take you to Arusha, get a hotel room and get some rest. Next morning walk down the street and bargain for a guide and land rover to take you to Ngorongora Crater and/or Lake Mnyyara(sp?)--both are really great! Guide and land rover used to cost about $100/day, now its probably twice that amount BUT YOU HAVE SINGLE OCCUPANCY OF THE VEHICLE NOT CROWDED LIKE ON A TOUR!! You might even be able to hook up with someone locally to share the safari with you, or you can bring a party along with you. Be sure and make hotel reservations before getting to Arusha, and try your best to get a reservation at Gibbs Farm near the Crater Park. The food is the best and the rooms are the cleanest you will see in the country, and they even pack a lunch for you to take on safari. If possible make it your headquarters. Rooms used to cost $70, but must be double that by now. In fact, I would recommend scheduling your trip around the times when you can get 3-4 day stay at Gibbs Farm, and make it the headquarters base of your stay in Tanzania. Tanzania is a real friendly country, and if you are adventuresome, you can take care of all the arrangements yourself upon arrival like you would do in Houston, Boxton, or Cleveland--except hotel rooms have to be booked in advance. You will have to work real hard to spend $3,000 on the safari portion. Don't forget that you can bargain a bit with the safari land rover drivers, though not with the hotels. Hope this helps! I have done all this by myself several times and have had absolutely no problems except people trying to rip off on currency conversion. i vernon
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Sep 27th, 2005, 12:11 PM
  #37
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Hmmm, interesting direction this thread took.

Well, Iíve heard back from ATR and EAST, and as it stands, Iím leaning towards EAST.

EAST is still pushing Boundary Hill Lodge, which is understandable since they own it. Climbhighsleeplowís map really helped me understand where it was located relative to other parts of the park. So, Iím still not sold on their location. On the other hand, I had first wanted Mawe Ninga, and their location isnít that much better. The one big advantage Boundary Hill has is that they include cultural activities and night drives as part of the stay.

Both ATR and EAST have stated that it doesnít really matter whether we stay at Kirurumu or Gibbs Farm since Gibbís is only 20 minutes away. ATR points out that they like Gibbís because itís a different type of experience vs. the other lodges. Iíd have to agree that it adds a bit to the mix of accommodations. One advantage Iím thinking Kirurumu has is that weíre closer to more activities than we would be at Gibbís Farm. Thereíre the ethno-botanical walks, the cultural activities at Mto wa Mbu, night drives, and scenic flights if we stay closer to Lake Manyara (however, this argument would seem to favor the Lake Manyara Serena over Kirurumu). However, all of this adds to the costs Ė I could get cultural tours and night drives for free from Boundary Hill. So, it would be a decision between: Boundary Hill Lodge/Gibbís Farm or Tarangire River Camp/Kirurumu.

An interesting note: EAST mentioned that Thomson Safaris now owns Gibbís Farm. Ownership of these lodges sure changes quite a bit.

ATR is still recommending a one night stay at Olduvai. Their reason being that they think itís such an unusual property that itís worth adding. It would be mainly used as a launching point for the Serengeti, so I can understand that Ė do a morning game drive at Ngorongoro, then head towards the Serengeti Ė stopping by the museum and whatnot before stopping at Olduvai Camp; rather than staying another night at Serengeti Serena.

Lastly, I asked EAST to change the two nights at Serengeti Serena for Mbuzi Mawe. It took a bit of doing to find an alternative to the Serengeti Serena. Iíd never been happy with this stop since the Serena didnít seem all that interesting, though Iím sure itís a good property and has a good location in the central Serengeti. At first I wanted to do a little camping, but EAST said it would add $350pp to the quote to arrange luxury camping, and they couldnít think of an alternative to the Serena that would be in the same class. Iím the one who suggested Mbuzi Mawe, and after some checking, EAST discovered that this would be a great option and that we would actually save $10 pppn over the Serena.

So, Iíve presented everything to my family for consideration and Iíll have to go see them and figure what theyíre comfortable with. I like the EAST quote since I think it represents good value for the money and has an interesting mix of activities. I also like how the itinerary builds in luxury in terms of the accommodations and has a mix of different places to stay. It looks good for a first trip.

The ATR itinerary seems a bit heavier weighted towards game-viewing, which is fine with me, but Iíd like my parents to have more options to do other activities or just to hang out at a nice lodge if they donít want to go out on yet another game drive. The ATR itinerary is something I would do if it was just me, though my parents could surprise me and want to go for it. Hopefully, a decision will be made this week or next.

To recap, hereís the EAST itinerary:

Moivaro
Boundary Hill Lodge (or River Camp)
Boundary Hill Lodge (or River Camp)
Gibbís Farm (or Kirurumu)
Ngorongoro Serena
Mbuzi Mawe
Mbuzi Mawe
Kirawira
Kirawira

Price is a little less than $3k pp for 3 people, and about $2700 pp for 6 people. This includes a flight back from Serengeti to Arusha.

Oh, and I have no idea what Roys is up to. First I was dealing with Agnes (for Susan), and then she stopped replying for a week and then I got an e-mail from Shamsin (for Susan) and he hasnít replied since my last e-mail, so I think theyíve pretty much taken themselves out of the running.
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Sep 27th, 2005, 12:40 PM
  #38
 
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lifelist,

I didn't have any problems with communication with Roy, but I would think that they will come in at a higher price than EAST.

And you're right: this is a nice itinerary for parents. Nice price, too. I think I'd try to get the River Camp, just based on climbhigh's alluring photos.

Good luck.
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 02:01 PM
  #39
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O.k., here's another update for those of you keeping score...

Roys finally came back with a response. As noted in another thread, the agent I was dealing with had contracted Malaria, which would account for the slow response. So, I've been handed off to another agent.

Interestingly enough, the new agent came back with a quote that was significantly less than the one originally quoted. In fact, they came in a few hundred dollars per person less than the EAST quote! I don't know how this happened as the changes I requested weren't significant enough to account for the lower quote. Either the original agent was mistaken in her quote, tried to get more money out of me, or Roy Safaris is monitoring the board and decided to reign in their price point to compete. I asked the agent about the differences in the quote, but he declined to answer. I did ask him to confirm the quote - he did, and apart from a minor change, it was the same.

In any event, it resulted in an even lower price for me - so it's all good. In fact, the new quote is low enough that I've decided to add a couple of nights at the EMC mobile camp. Even with the luxury camping, the quote is nearly the same as EAST's.

So, it looks like I'm going with Roy Safaris and have indicated as much to them. I'm still trying to tease out the hidden costs in the itinerary. (e.g. airport transfers) I'll wait until we get further along in the process before informing the other operators (ATR and EAST). I am a bit concerned with availability at some of these properties and whether Roy will be able to get the bookings.

I'm also prepared to commit to Tusker for my Kilimanjaro climb. Their scheduled worked out best for me as I wanted to do the climb before the safari. Dates for the safari is limited to a small window as my parents have other travel plans in June.

Tusker suggested I let them quote out my safari portion. They use Hoopoe as their safari operator. I got the quote today, but it was far too high, which I found surprising since the quote had all Hoopoe-owned properties. I would have expected that they'd have deals worked out with their own places.

Here's the preliminary final breakdown:

Kilimanjaro Climb
Western Breach Route with Tusker
$2880

10-Day Northern Circuit Safari
Roy Safaris
$3011 pp (for 3-people, private safari)

Safari Itinerary:
Moivaro
Tarangire River Camp
Tarangire River Camp
Gibb's Farm
Ngorongoro Serena
EMC Mobile Camp
EMC Mobile Camp
Kirawira
Kirawira
Moivaro Day Room

(Usual inclusions, plus flight from Grumeti to Arusha; airport transfers not included)

All that's left is to figure out airfare. NWA/KLM's website keeps coming back with prices around $3500 pp for a RT economy out of SFO, which is nuts. That drops to around $2350 if you stop over for the night in AMS. Tusker has a deal with a consolidator, and they've indicated they can get airfare for around $2k plus tax.

What I'll probably end up doing is use frequent flier miles to get to London, and buy a ticket for the rest of the trip. Airfare for LHR-JRO is about $1000-1200 on KLM or Kenya Airways. I'll have to build in some buffer days before and after the LHR-JRO trip to mitigate delays on the SFO-LHR portion, but that'll just give me an opportunity to see London. My parents may do the same.
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 02:29 PM
  #40
 
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So, who will be "camping"? Your parents? They're okay with that? It sounds like a lot of fun to me, and then if they want to relax by the pool at Kirawira, well they'll have earned it by then.

I think the itinerary...it makes me very jealous, let's just put it that way.

I also had some pretty nerve-wracking moments trying to get flights SFO-JRO, but it worked out eventually. Hang in there--if your schedule allows for buffer days, you should be fine.
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