Tanzania trip Jan 2005 - newbie needs help


Aug 12th, 2004, 08:10 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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Tanzania trip Jan 2005 - newbie needs help

Hi All,

This is such a great forum and has helped me tremendously in my planning to date. I'm working out my first trip to Africa with hubby in January. We don't have very long there (hubby running out of vacation days)and we're on a pretty tight budget. I was hoping to get some feedback on our itenerary. I've basically built it around the advise that I've seen posted on this site.

Jan 4/5: Syd - Johanesberg. (2 nights in JBO)Will probably just soak in the atmosphere in the city. Would appreciate any tips on any must sees.

Jan 6: Fly to Nairobi and shuttle to Arusha (1 night Arusha) I'm expecting to get to Arusha mid afternoon and spending the night there. Haven't decided whether to stay in Arusha or the Mountain Village Lodge 30 mins away. Have read good reports on Mountain village lodge on this forum. Any other inputs on where to stay in Arusha

Jan 7/8: Arusha - Tarangire (2 nights Tarangire River Camp or Oliver's Camp)Would appreciate feedback or alternative suggestions

Jan 9: Tarangire - Ngorongora (1 night Ngorongora Crater Lodge)

Jan 10/11: Ngorongora - Ndutu (2 nights in Ndutu) I'm not having much luck finding information on accomodation options in Ndutu. Appreciate any suggestions

Jan 12/15: Ndutu - Serengeti (4 nights in Serena Lodge or 2 nights camping/2 nights lodge)

Jan 16/17: Shuttle Arusha - Nairobi (2 nights in Nairobi). This part is fairly last minute so don't know anything about what to do in Nairobi yet. Tips would be great!!

Jan 18: Nairobi - Sydney

I'm pretty confused about Ndutu. The information I've found sometimes suggests that it's part of Ngorongoro and sometimes Serengeti. If it's part of Serengeti, I'm wondering if that would make my Serengeti stay 6 days. Is this too much time? Should I consider 2 days Ndutu, 2 days Serengeti and 2days Arusha national park instead?

Thanks again for all the great posts!!
itchifeet is offline  
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Aug 13th, 2004, 01:19 AM
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Unless I am missing something, I am failing to see why you should visit Johannesburg, at all. It is not as if it is some great city that is able to stand on its own as a destination. IMHO, while I enjoy a night or two in Joburg, it is not worth it to go out of your way to visit.

Instead, go directly to Nairobi, and if necessary, have an overnight either in Nairobi or Arusha to begin your travels.

Also, at the end, there is no need for two nights in Nairobi.

I also question the presence of Ndutu on your itinerary, especially for two nights. Perhaps you should be adding one of those nights at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (if it is too much for your budget, switch to Ngorongoro Serena), and put the other remaining Ndutu night in the bank for later in the trip.

With six additional nights (2 from Joburg, 2 from Nairobi, 2 from Ndutu), you may want to consider visiting Zanzibar at the end of your stay, as well as adding a night to visit Lake Manyara and adding one night to Ngorongoro Crater.

Perhaps something like this would work better with your available 14 nights:

Arusha - 1 night at Mountain Village.

Lake Manyara - 1 night at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge.

Tarangire - 2 nights at Tarangire River Camp.

Ngorongoro Crater - 2 nights at
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge or Ngorongoro Serena.

Serengeti - 5 nights, split between two camps. I will defer to other Fodorites for the right camps for January, as I am not aware where the best places would be for January.

Zanzibar - 3 nights at Zanzibar Serena, or if you want a little more culture, Emerson & Green in Stone Town.

As your itinerary now stands, I think you are completely throwing away the four nights being planned in Nairobi and Joburg. Plus, the two nights at Ndutu seem like they will be better spent elsewhere. There is a reason why you cannot find much information on Ndutu, and that is because most travelers probably use it as a pitstop for a beer and a restroom break.

I don't know which tour operator you are dealing with, but you would be well served to contact each of the following for pricing:

Tanzania Serengeti Adventures (www.habari.co.tz/tsa)
Roy Safaris (www.roysafaris.com)

While I find TSA to be the low price leaders on every occasion, and they include a very long list of references with every quote, complete with email addresses, there are a lot of Fodorites on this board that have had wonderful experiences with Roy Safaris. Roy Safaris is still cheaper than an Australian, American or European agent than you are likely to come across, since they will sub it out to a local company like Roy Safaris or Tanzania Serengeti Adventures, and then add a 25%+ markup.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
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Aug 13th, 2004, 02:24 AM
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Itchifeet, I 'm off to this part of Tanzania in October and on advice from others on this board I am not staying at Ndutu. However that's because October is the wrong time of year for this area. From what I've read here and elsewhere, Ndutu is exactly the area you want to be in for late Jan / early Feb because the Wildebeest should be calving in that area.

As an idea for Tarangire, you may want to look at a place called Kikoti as well. We are staying there in October so I can't report on it from personal experience yet. However it sounds a really nice place & you can do night drives from there (with the camp's own open jeep & guides). Their web link is below but also do a search on google as there are others sites with better pictures of the camp


I know that there are many more people on the board who have first hand experience of Northern Tanzania so please wait for their replies before you finalise your itinerary.

RuthieC is offline  
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Aug 13th, 2004, 04:38 AM
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itchifeet -

Along with what Roccco mentions, unless you can't get a flight direct into Nairobi (NBO), I understand why you might have to be routed thru JNB. Most people traveling to SA, usually use JNB as a stop-off before heading on to Victoria Falls, or Botswana, or to Capetown or Kruger Park. That's not to say you couldn't find something to do in JNB. But if you can get direct to NBO, I'd make this an East Africa trip and save JNB for a future trip to Southern Africa.

Flying from JNB to NBO and then the shuttle to Arusha will take a full-day. There is either an early morning or afternoon shutte and the trip takes a good 4-hrs.

In Tarangire, while Oliver's is a truly authentic camp, there is no electricity, bathrooms aren't ensuite, rather about 10-ft. behind the tent and there is no running water. Something to consider when looking at the other accommodations you have selected. At Tarangire you might want to consider Kikoti with only 10 tents versus Tarangire River, with about 35 tents.

Allowing only 1-nt at Ngorongoro, where you will be arriving rather late afternoon from Tarangire, you'll need following full day to do the Crater Tour, therefore a 2nd-nt.

The wildebeest "calving" season takes placed in the So.East Serengeti between January and February, so this is the area to be. Your options for lodging are the Ndutu Safari Lodge, Kusini Tents or Olduvai Tents (believe these last two are part of the Private Wilderness group if you want to do a search for specifics on these). Or consider Ngorongoro Camp part of the Kirurumu Tented Camps & Lodges group (www.kirurumu.com)

A good site that provides details on most camps/lodges in Tanzania is:

disregard the "star" ratings they list and they're "off", but you can find details on accommodations.

Finally, you can move up to the central Serengeti where the Serena Lodge is a good option. Then consider flying back from the center (Seronera) to Arusha and maybe consider flying back to Nairobi; or you might want to spend a few days in Zanzibar.

Jan4/6 -Fly SYD/NBO - some time to recoup from flight and next day can take in the Sheldrick Elephant Trust, visit to Karen Blixen House, Giraffe Center, dinner at the Carnivore Restaurant.

Jan 7 - Shuttle to Arusha, lunch in Arusha, continue to Tarangire (Kikoti or River Lodge)

Jan 8 - Tarangire

Jan 9 - Drive to Ngorongoro - Crater Lodge or Serena Lodge

Jan 10 - Full-day Crater viewing

Jan 11 - Drive to S.E.Serengeti - Ndutu Lodge (or others mentioned above)

Jan 12 - S.E. Serengeti area

Jan 13- Drive to Central Serengeti (Serena Lodge

Jan 14- Central Seregeti

Jan 15 - Fly from C.Serengeti to Arusha, Fly to Zanzibar. There are a number of interesting accommodations in Stone Town, including the Emerson & Green, Dhow Palace, Tembo Hotel. While hotels in Stone Town are charming it is a busy area, with commerce all day and might be noisy. About 15-minutes from here is the Mbwena Ruins hotel, small and intimate and with air conditioning. But right adjacent to Stone Town is the Serena Hotel. So, here you have a few choices.

Jan 16/17 - Zanzibar

Jan 18 - Fly from Zanzibar to NBO for your outbound flight.

Depending on when your flight arrives in NBO you can shorten this by 1-day; likewise, depending on flight schedules from Zanzibar and if you have to be back in SYD on the 18th, you might be able to adjust time here.

Though I mentioned "Internal flights" to save some road time, if these mess with the budget, take the road options, but all has to be coordinated with road time to get to next stop and flight schedules, especially to/fr Zanzibar.

I always feel that after bumping around the roads of Africa it's nice to have a few days of relaxation before heading home.

Regarding your comment that you are on a tight budget, the Crater Lodge at Ngorongoro is very expensive; the Serena here is an excellent alternative.

As others have mentioned, I suggest you contact Roy Safaris for comments on this itinerary and costs. Believe Roy will give you great advice and prices.

Let us know what your final itinerary looks like.
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Aug 13th, 2004, 10:31 AM
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Your tour operator should be able to help you with an itinerary that involves the least amount of driving time between parks and the best game viewing given the season.

We did Ngorongoro after the Serengeti--drive felt short, we arrived at our lodge in the evening, had dinner and were up as early as they'd let us into the Crater. Late that afternoon we drove to a budget (but--we thought-- incredibly nice) coffee farm outside Karatu. I think it's called Kifaru Lodge. Food was quite good. The drive to Arusha from Karatu wasn't so long and all good roads.

Re: Zanzibar. If you really want to relax you could skip Stone Town and just stay on the beach somewhere for a few days. It's entirely possible to do a day trip into town. I really liked Stone Town, but the friend I was travelling with took a couple of days to adjust to its intensity after the quiet life of safari.
Leely is offline  
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Aug 14th, 2004, 12:54 AM
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Hi All,

Thanks for all your advise.

The real reason we're going to Johannesburg is to try and save costs. We decided to use frequent flyer points to get to Nairobi as tickets for that time of year are quite expensive. Qantas goes to Nairobi via JBO and unfortunately didn't have a direct connection thus the 2 nights, but we figured it was worth it so we could afford to spend our budget on a longer safari.

Will try and rejig the plan around to include Zanzibar rather than Nairobi if possible. It sounds great!

I have contacted Roy Safari based on all the great posts on this site. I will also check wtih Tanzania Serengeti Adventures just to get an idea. Thanks for that.

I was hoping that I would catch the calving in Ndutu eventhough we're there toward the earlier part of Jan. Finger's crossed.

Kikoti sounds really nice. I'll definitely be checkin it out. Looking forward to hear your report when you get back.

Thanks for the tip re: Oliver's. I hadn't realized there was no electricity etc. I do want to and mix up the experience with a combo of "roughing it" and semi luxurious but will have to discuss with hubby Also appreciate all the info about accomodation otions. I think I'll probably try and cut out one night in central serengeti like rocco and yourself are suggesting and look into zanzibar more.

The coffee farm sounds great. I'll definitely have to find our more about it.

Again, thanks for all your help and I'll keep you guys posted!

itchifeet is offline  
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Aug 15th, 2004, 03:13 AM
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We stayed 2 nights at Kikoti Camp in late July and really enjoyed it. Very friendly staff, good tents, nice common area, great bird bath/feeder outside the main dining area. It is far from the main gate, but you can drive down south then enter the park and head back north, makes for a great all day drive.

We didn't go on the night game drive, but did go for an evening game walk, ending up on top of a hill overlooking the valley. Beautiful.

Kikoti has solar electricity, lights in tent are fairly dim but OK. You can plug camera batteries in at the front office, but otherwise no plugs.

There is running water for the toilet and sink, which are in a little extension of the main tent(you don't have to go outside) You order shower water and the staff comes by and delivers it to a gravity type shower. Works fine and is warm.
Scout52 is offline  
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Aug 15th, 2004, 06:44 AM
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Any recommendations on which would be the best tent at Kikoti for views or for animals walking near or around the tent?
RuthieC is offline  
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Aug 16th, 2004, 09:13 PM
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We stayed in one of the tents on the right side after you walk down the path from central area. I know all tents on this side have good views, assume the ones on the left side are the same.

Didn't actually see any animals from our tent except lizards and birds, but there were hyena tracks all over the path in the morning. I think things pretty much wander around the whole area.
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