Tanzania Trip Planning - including Kili

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Sep 14th, 2005, 06:16 AM
  #1
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Tanzania Trip Planning - including Kili

Hi everyone,

I have read lots of threads here and lots of info on other websites, and asked a few questions tagged on to other threads. Now, I have emailed 6 companies with an outline of an intinerary that includes a Kili climb, a safari, and time on Zanzibar. This trip is for my honeymoon in July 2006.

The first answer I got back (the next day!) was from Tanzania-Adventures. They are official tour operators.

My request was for Kili (I asked which route they recommend and why), 4 days safari (all my FH wants), and 4 or 5 days on Zanzibar. We also want a balloon ride in the Serengeti (which is a HUGE expense, but we are splurging on it).

OK, here's what I got from them. I'll provide as much detail as I can, because I know you guys want details in order to critique!

18 day Tanzania adventure: $4,150 pp. Everything listed is INCLUDED in that price.

Day 1: Arrive in Arusha, transfer from airport, to Oasis Lodge. Dinner.

Days 2-8: Transfer to mountain. Kili climb on Machame route (this includes the acclimization day at Karanga camp). All meals. Overnight on last day at Oasis lodge.

Day 9: Safari starts. It will be a private safari, just the 2 of us. Ngorongoro Crater (overnight at Sopa Lodge, all meals).

Days 10 and 11: Serengeti (Sopa Lodge). One of these days will include early morning balloon ride (costs $450 pp, included in quote above). All meals.

Day 12: Lake Manyara, Serena Lodge, all meals.

Day 13: morning Lake Manyara game drive, then drive back to Arusha. Oasis lodge, all meals.

Day 14: Fly to Zanzibar, transfer to one of 3 hotels on the beach. Best one sounds like Baobab Bungalows, but other options are Sau Inn Hotel and Chwaka Hotel. Half Board.

Days 15&16: Beach at Zanzibar, half board.

Day 17: Transfer to Stone Town, a night at Tembo Hotel.

Day 18: Transfer to Airport and flight back to JRO to catch the international flight home.

We have the option to upgrade to luxury camping for $190pp/pd, which I don't think we'll do, and to upgrade to other hotels on Zanzibar. They suggest Matemwe Bungalows (mega bucks) or Matemwe Beach Village (mid-range), but I don't have quotes on that. We could also upgrade to Emerson&Green in Stone Town.

I'll post other quotes/intineraries as I get them.

So, what do you think?

Thanks in advance - you guys are a great resource!
Karen
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Sep 14th, 2005, 09:52 AM
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Hi kaudrey,

Okay, first things first: does FH mean future husband?

I'm no expert, so I'd wait for the real experts (and there are many of them: Sandi, climbhigh, bwanamitch, atravelynn and others).

My first thought is why the Sopa in the Serengeti? I'd go for the Serena or even the Wildlife; I *think* they're both better located for July, although I don't believe the Sopa is that far. The Seronera, esp. around the Wildlife is kinda crowded, but with good reason. We saw SO many lions there. It was pretty much constant.

Manyara/Tarangire: for July I might pick Tarangire over Manyara. But maybe this is a time issue? What's the reasoning here?

If you keep Manyara, see what kind of rates you can get at Kirurumu. It's a tented camp and gets good marks here; I also think it can be included in reasonably priced safaris. And I've been learning a LOT about reasonably priced safaris--or I've been trying to, anyway.

I'm not really familiar with your Zanzibar hotels--'cept for the Tembo, which is "tourist class," I guess, but we thought it was charming. I guess for a honeymoon I might splurge for Emerson & Green, but the Tembo has a lovely view of the water. No booze, though.

We did end up visiting Chwaka while on Zanzibar. The area, not the hotel. We had decided not to stay there, but then when we were in Chwaka we thought, "Hey, this is nice. It's pretty here." I'd probably try to swing Matemwe (the mid-range option) b/c it sounds like diving options are better there. I don't know why, but Sau Inn would be my last choice.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! And I certainly can't think of a better place for a honeymoon.


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Sep 14th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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Thanks Leely! That's a good start of more questions for me to ask. The places and lodges are what's in their standard itinerary, but we can customize it anyway we want, so this give me some things to start thinking about. I appreciate it!
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Sep 15th, 2005, 05:46 AM
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Leely - yes, FH means future husband. Thanks for the congrats! This is a dream trip for both of us (Kili for him, safari for me).

I emailed them back to ask about Tarangire - I think the fact that the safari part will be 4 days may limit this just because of distances involved, but I'll see what they say.

And I'm getting quotes for Matemwe Beach Village and Emerson & Green, to see if we want to upgrade. We probably will do Matemwe, so we can be near the diving (now we have to go get our diving certificates!)

For Serengeti, their email said Serena lodges, but the website said Sopa, so I'm not sure at this point which one we'd stay at. I'll find out.

Anyone else have thoughts?

Thanks,
Karen
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Sep 15th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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Karen,

I know your FH will only consent to a 4-day safari, but if you could squeeze out one more day...Regardless, I think you'll enjoy that portion of your trip.

Have you looked at alwaysafrica's 26 days in glorious Tanzania thread? I know they did some climbing and trekking. I believe she just added the Tarangire chapter. Also, although they roughed and that's probably not what you want for your honeymoon, I think their overall price was really fair.

You haven't yet indicated what your overall budget is, and what kind of accommodations you'd prefer. That will help people advise you.

Sorry, I haven't climbed Kili or even looked into it (no thanks), but I'm pretty sure that's one area you wouldn't want to skimp on. Safety first, after all.

Good luck, and I'm sure you'll get better feedback than mine as your plans develop.
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Sep 15th, 2005, 09:46 AM
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Congrats kaudrey:

Both of these suggestions re accommodations come from recent postings and will cost you more money--but it is your honeymoon so, perhaps worth considering.

You can also take the balloon ride from Mbuzi Mawe--Serena's new permanent tent camp in the Serengeti.
http://www.serenahotels.com/tanzania/mbuzi/suites.htm

If you upgrade to Matemwe Beach you can upgrade within it to the Asali Suite--the honeymoon suite. MarcusW posted about his stay there recently in this forum.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34666414
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Sep 15th, 2005, 10:09 AM
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Oh, bat's post reminded of another site I've checked out: thirteenmonths.com

This couple are doing a RTW; check out the Tanzania portion. They stayed at the Serena in the Serengeti and were upgraded to a honeymoon room or something, so if Mbuzi Mawe is too steep...

They also have photos, including the Tarangire Safari Lodge and Kirurumu--midpriced options if you decide you want to include some tented camps.

I do think sometimes operators can get you the best rates is you stay at properties owned by the same hotel group. So, all Serenas could save you $, or all Sopas or whatever. I

I read that here, actually.
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Sep 15th, 2005, 10:36 AM
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kaudrey:

Since you do not have your scuba diving certificates yet--you may already know this but--you can complete your PADI coursework and pool dives at home and then do your open water dives "on location" i.e. at Matemwe. This is a nice option depending on where you would be doing your open water dives at home. In my case it was a choice between cold, murky quarry water vs. clear, warm waters of Bonaire. No difficulty figuring out which I chose. 8-)
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Sep 15th, 2005, 03:13 PM
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Hi kaudry,

Congratulations and have a great trip! My wife and I used Tanzania Adventures this past January for a similar trip, however it was our 29th anniversary, not our honeymoon!

They did a great job for us. I have a trip report, mostly about Kili, here, if you are interested:
http://www.summitpost.org/mountains/...mountain_id=17

I would recommend upgrading to Emerson. It is a one-of-a-kind place.

Also, the Tarangire River Camp was our favorite safari lodge, except perhaps for the Plantation Lodge, which we didn't even leave for 24 hours. But we lucked out and had the place to ourselves that day. We felt like honeymooners at all of those hotels!

Say hi to Ronny and Gibson. William was our driver. He was fantastic
- Nelson
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Sep 16th, 2005, 07:45 AM
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Thanks everyone. Since my last post, I have now heard back from 5 different companies (Tanzania Adventures, Good Earth, Zaratravel, ATR, and Tropical Trails). Costs vary from $3,500 to $4,500 pp, not including international flights. With flights, that makes my budget around $12,000 (eek!)

I am finding it hard to compare them because they all suggest differnt lodging options and routes and of course each of them has their own opinions.

Good Earth and one other made the Western Breach sound really hard, but would it be OK with an extra acclimization day? Good Earth doesn't even to Machame anymore because they said it would be more crowded.

Also, ATR said there is a difference between the "regular Shira route" and "Shira route via Western Breach". I'm SO confused! Is there a difference? If so, how do they compare?

I'm still working on the 4 day safari thing. Since the balloon ride is a must, everyone says to do that from Serengeti - so my 4 days is either 1 day Ngorogoro, 2 Serengeti, and 1 in Tarangire, or 2 in crater and 2 in Serengeti. The variations in price on this part come from lodging options. I'm not sure what I want to do here yet.

Zanzibar - how does Matemwe Beach Village compare to Hakuna Majiwe Hotel, both the properties and the location?
We'll probably do Emerson & Green in Stone Town.

This is so hard! I've asked follow up questions of each company to try to narrow down my choices and get a better handle on what I want to do. Everyone one of them has been so detailed and quick to respond.

Thanks for any additional thoughts/comments you have. Nelson, was Machame really crowded? Good Earth made it sound like a mob is walking up the mountain.

Thanks!
Karen
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Sep 16th, 2005, 08:44 AM
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Karen

Machame via Barafu is the 2nd most crowded route to the summit. Marangu has that dubious honor!

How crowded is Machame? On a busy day, with porters, etc you can expect several hundred people in some of the camp sites. But who knows if your departure is on one of those "busy" days! You may end up with only 50 or less people at the same camps.

Needless to say when the crowds get bigger so does the lines at the long-drop toilets and the mess inside.

Shira - Barafu and Shira - Breach are the two options when you do the Shira route.

Shira - Barafu starts nice and quiet but you soon meet up with the Machame crowd and then its all the same for the last 4 days!

Shira - Breach will be less busy as you avoid the Machame - Barafu crowd but then you will have to make some crucial decisions:

VERY IMPORTANT! Don't climb the Western Breach at night and don't climb it with an outfitter who does not have the necessary safety gear and training to use the gear. At least 4 people have died on the Breach since January due to questionable decisions by their guides and outfitters.

If you are on a budget and if paying more than $3000 pp for a Western Breach climb is too much then please stick to Machame-Barafu or Rongai!

For detailed info about the routes, please visit the non-commercial http://www.go-kilimanjaro.com

Since Kilimanjaro is a dangerous mountain, please consider to "splurge on the mountain and safe money on safari".

Eben
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Sep 16th, 2005, 08:46 AM
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Lets make that:

Splurge on the mountain and SAVE money on safari!
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Sep 16th, 2005, 09:09 AM
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Thanks climbhigh. I have another question on Western Breach. Good Earth and Tropical Trails both said we could stay at Crater Camp (so we summit in the morning). However, ZaraTravel said they don't offer the option to stay at Crater Camp because it's too dangerous. We may just stick to Shira.

To avoid some of the crowds - is it better to leave during the week? Although ATR has specific days for starting treks, the others pretty much said we can depart any day we want. Would that help?

Thanks!

Karen
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Sep 16th, 2005, 09:31 AM
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Karen,

"1 day Ngorogoro, 2 Serengeti, and 1 in Tarangire": this is probably what I would do. July is a good time for Tarangire. I'm curious to hear what others think of this.

But climbhigh is right: I'd worry about nailing the Kili part down first.

You can post the various itineraries you've received if you'd like.
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Sep 16th, 2005, 09:34 AM
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Karen

Some of the budget companies have recently come to the sensible conclusion that spending a night at the Crater Camp (as shown in the beautiful IMAX movie) is dangerous without strong support teams, expensive safety equipment and longer itineraries to allow for proper acclimatization.

Plenty of budget companies still take chances and more unfortunate deaths will be the result.

I don't know if mid-week departures are less crowded. Most climbers like to summit with a full moon so you may want to avoid a full moon date!

Eben
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Sep 16th, 2005, 09:47 AM
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Karen and all who are interested in Kilimanjaro

Please consider the plight of the porters on your treks. How much money do they get if you pay $1200 for a trek when $800 go to park fees?

But don't take my word for it! There is a great non-profit organization in Moshi called IMEC. They can often be found at the park gates with feedback forms that ask about porter welfare.

As a completely independent outfit, they have excellent insight into what happens on the mountain and they are aware of outfitters with less than stellar performance.

A visit to their website is certainly recommended.

http://www.hec.org/club/partners.htm

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Sep 16th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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Karen,

It seems like climbhighsleeplow (good advice by the way!) has answered your questions with great detail and accuracy. But since you asked me "was Machame really crowded?" the answer is "it depends on what you mean by crowded". Climbhigh was correct: on our mid-January departure (one of the busy seasons) we had perhaps 100 people on the trail with us.

That said, everyone fans out during the day and we never found it objectionable. People are all moving in the same direction, which also helps immensely. There was a slight jam going up the Barranco Wall, but that just gave you more time to enjoy the view. As I mentioned in my trip report, some degree of crowds goes with the Kili territory. Avoiding crowds should not be a top priority, having a safe and fun trip should be the priority.

We spoke with several people coming down Machame who had climbed the Western Breach. To a person they all claimed it was harder than they expected. Some of them were experienced climbers. I don't know your hiking / climbing background, but if you don't have a lot of experience, especially at altitude, then I'd think hard about doing the Breach.

Also, a second to climbhigh's IMEC site. They are a good organization. The "hec" in their web address stands for "Himalayan Explorers Club", which is how they started out, but they since branched into Africa and South America, so changed their name.
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