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Tanzanian Safari in Aug - Addl questions re: where and what

Tanzanian Safari in Aug - Addl questions re: where and what

Mar 29th, 2010, 10:56 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 94
Tanzanian Safari in Aug - Addl questions re: where and what

Thank you to those who responded earlier to our msg re: Singati Grumeti.

We are pretty much sold on visiting Ngorongoro Crater (staying at Crater Lodge) and Northern Serengeti (potentially Sayara Tented Camp). However, we have a few follow up questions we would love to have everyone's feedback on:

1. Still deciding on a tour operator. Looking at African Dream Safaris and Trail Warriors. Trail Warriors offers a "night in a boma" which is exciting (or is it?). Any insights or experience with either?

2. Who has the best guides (specific guide names and tour companies) in the tour operator industry? What makes a guide "the best?" Our definition of best is as follows:

a. Friendly & Polite
b. A native Tanzanian (would love a Massai warrior)
c. Knowledgeable re: where (off the beaten track/off road circuit) and when to go to get the best photo opps of the Big 5 in action. We want to avoid being a part of "a herd of Rovers chasing wildlife across the plains of the Serengeti."
d. Excellent vehicle maintenance with open top (for better photo opps) and on-board refreshments.
e. Will stay out all day on a game drive.

3. We're thinking of staying at Sayara Tented Camp on the Mara River. Does this camp have (a) Mosquito nets for all beds/tents (b) running water in the bathroom sinks/showers?

4. What does the Tarangire offer re: wildlife that isn't covered at Ngorongoro Crater and Northern Serengeti? Where to stay in Tarangire? Would a safari trip of 5 nights/6 days split between Ngorongoro Crater and Northern Serengeti be considered a waste of time and money due to a long journey for an incomplete/limited itinerary?

5. Where to stay in Zanzibar? Hint: We do like our luxury beach lodging with easy access to snorkeling/dive sites, onsite pool, excellent restaurants, massage/spa treatments, etc...

6. What about climbing Kili in August? Remember we are a family of 4 with 2 kids ages 13 and 15. Feasible? Smart? Dangerous?

Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!
dmiclat
dmiclat is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 06:07 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 16
I have not heard of Trail Warriors. Do you mean Kiliwarriors? They do Kilimanjaro and top-end safaris with Maasai guides. I have also seen WarriorTrails mentioned here but I do not know them.

We are also considering Sayari for our next safari and I am told they have running water but no mosquito netting as the tents are sprayed at night. I found good Sayari pictures on the web http://www.go-safari.com/Serengeti/Sayari.htm

We looked at African Dream Safaris three years ago but they were very expensive and don't operate their own safaris. We went with OAT and were generally happy but for our next safari I am looking at local companies.
gilsomenni is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 06:14 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Hi,

I was in Tanzania last year with my family, we did safari in Lake Manyara, serengeti, and ngorongoro. After the safari we safari we climbed kili. Your definitions a the best guide is perfect with me too and i think that's exactly what someone should keep in mind.

Climbing Kili in August is smart. The company i know which we used and offered us the best guides was Inside Africa Budget Safaris. Try them and find our more from them.

As per zanzibar, thai is my next destination , so i cant comment on that. But as per what i have heard it is a perfect island to relax.

Good luck.
JenyMagy is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 08:13 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2008
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Hi dmiclat,

I used Africa Dream Safaris and thought they were great. The guide was excellent. His name was Wilfred Fue and the breadth and depth of his knowledge was outstanding. He was superb at locating difficult species. I know ADS has the reputation on this board of being expensive, but I obtained quotes from five or six operators for our 2008 safari (a couple of which I think were on the list in your prior post), and they were the second lowest. I liked their flexibility with the itinerary, and there were things included in their quote that were not in others (visa fees and VIP processing on arrival, for example which I highly recommend). ADS has a local partner who runs its safaris, and the service was fantastic. I was pleased with our choice, found ADS to exceed expectations, and recommend them highly.

The only other question I can respond to is regarding Tarangire. The main differences you will see is the baobab trees (which do not have leaves that time of year but are still remarkable). We saw two animals at Tarangire that we did not see elsewhere, serval cat and lesser kudu. The park is much less crowded than the Crater and central Serengeti. We saw many, many large herds of elephants, for which Tarangire is known, but we also saw them in the Northern Serengeti. I know others say they saw few elephants in the Serengeti, so Tarangire provides a sure thing for elephants. We stayed at Swala Camp which was among our favorite camps of the trip. Although the Crater is a must-see, we were somewhat dismayed with the crowds (and we had poor weather, constant overcast and cold). Had I to do it over, I would spend just one night at the Crater and increase time in the Serengeti (I thought the North Serengeti was wonderful--beautiful wooded hills, kopjes and uncrowded).

Best of luck.
traveler318 is online now  
Mar 30th, 2010, 09:12 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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I believe you're referring to Warrior Trails, not Trail Warriors (seems to be some school's name for their "team"). As above, many find African Dream Safaris higher priced than others, but it can vary depending on with whom comparing.

As to Kili climb, your kids might be too young to participate, though they may be able to arrange climb to the first hut only (believe this is 2/day trip)... inquire.

Tarangire is a lovely park for ellees, but also other game - zebra, giraffe, baboons, predators, birds galore and the baobab tree landscape. If staying at Sayari in the north, then consider Oliver's Camp here (also an Asilia property... might get a discount using two of their properties). Otherwise, Treetops, Swala and Lemala are great options in the same class/price.

If doing Ngorongoro and Sayari, as you can't drive between the two straight on (ok you can but it will be one very very long bumpy, dusty day and some tour operators won't do it for safety reasons... it's the guide who drives and has to spot and can get tiring for all). You'd have to stop mid-way in Central Serengeti where Asilia has their Dunia Camp, then continue north next morning.

Otherwise, from Ngorongoro drive back to Manyara for flight to Sayari. If you fly, you'll probably be booked on a GP=game package basis, using the guides and vehicles of the camp rather than the guide you had at Ngorongoro or even Tarangire.

You rarely avoid crowds at Ngorongoro, but once in the Serengeti which is the size of Switzerland you certainly can. And if you advise your guide of your preference, he won't get you caught up with other vehicles. Once up North there are few camps here, thus few vehicles or crowds.
sandi is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 01:00 PM
  #6  
 
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The Tarangire is wonderful. As sandi says, lots and lots of elephants although in November we saw lion, giraffe, baboons and impalas too. One of my favorite camps of the whole trip was Tarangire Safari Camp - military-like tents with all of the amentities perched overlooking the Tarangire river gorge. It was just beautiful and very relaxing.
We didn't seem to avoid crowds in the Serengeti but maybe we could have more..in fact I think it was the most crowded of any of the other parks that we saw in November. We stayed at the Migration Camp in north Serengeti. It's pretty expensive but that was our 'pampering' moment. The Serena was ok too.
We did 1 night at the Serena Ngorongora then headed to the Migration Camp in the North Serengeti for 3 nights (very long drive!) then 1 or 2 nights at the Serengeti Serena then flew back to Kili. Other than the long drive, it was a really good time frame to see things.
fourwheelinit is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 01:07 PM
  #7  
 
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dmiclat,

ADS is costly and outsources the safari to a local TZ provider (Leopard Tours..I think). Young 25 somethings will drive your vehicles..Ignore.....

I like "Trail warriors", nice name

The company I went with had the best vehicles (in terms of condition/space/power outlets/fridge/free drinks etc) and also a 20+ yr experienced veteran guide who knew somethings about photography himself. Email me at tigaphotog at yahoo.com if you want more details.
TigerPhotog is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 01:38 PM
  #8  
 
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Sayari has huge rooms, while canvas they feel like super sized tents and are particularly airy and comfortable. No netting over the beds, however windows are screened.

They have big tubs, waterfall shower heads and and and, so really the bathrooms are just fine.

I would suggest that you ask them for a guide too, they have some great vehicle and because they operate camps from the Tarangire through the Serengeti have a fleet of vehicles and guides. I was recently out that way and travelled with a guide of theirs who was fabulous, knowledgeable, articulate and quite polite.
mkhonzo is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 03:13 PM
  #9  
 
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The company that I booked with in Kenya sublet the TZ portion of our safari last May to Warrior Trails - and yes, the do now offer a night in a Maasai boma, so that is the company that you are referring to.

In a nutshell, they were fabulous! Our guide Jackson was exactly what you described, knowledgable, willing to stay out, friendly & polite, etc., the whole nine yards. I believe he is a Maasai as well. The owner of the company, Clamian is for sure & he is a wonderful guy, he came & spent an evening with us, it was really memorable.

If you click on my name you will see my latest report and can read all about it, the title has the Big Five, the Samburu Five & Angry Leopards in it.

You absolutely won't go wrong though with Warrior Trails.

Also, as Sandi mentioned, if you are doing other Asilia properties, do think about Matemwe Bungalows or Retreat as that is an Asilia property. We stayed at the Retreat and we LOVED it. It's not quite in my report yet, but I'm getting there - slow but sure!
LyndaS is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 03:20 PM
  #10  
 
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I don't believe Tarangire Safari Lodge/Camp is what the OP is looking for.

Granted they have a great view, but their tents are tiny, right next to one another and the food is terrible.

OP is on the right track with Sayari and any of the other Asilian properties. And, thank LyndaS for reminding you of the Asilia props on Zanzibar. Matemwe "Retreat", though the more expensive only has 3/cottages w/ air conditioning; "Bungalows" a bit larger though no a/c, but fans. Both great options.
sandi is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 06:23 PM
  #11  
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Everyone -

"Thank you!" for your contributions and continued guidance. Your knowledge and experiences are of great value and it's certainly appreciated.

Another follow up question:

1. Do you think the following itinerary for August does justice for a Tanzanian Safari? I want to make sure we are giving ourselves enough time in Tanzania without a ton of duplicative experiences.

Day 1: Depart US to Johannesburg
Day 2: Arrive Johannesburg; Depart to Arusha; Arrive Arusha
Day 2 night: Arusha (any lodging suggestions here?)
Day 3: Arusha
Day 3 night: Arusha
Day 4: Travel to Ngorongoro Crater/NCA
Day 4 night: Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Day 5: Ngorongoro Crater safari + travel to Trail Warriors boma
Day 5 night: "Boma Camp"
Day 6: Travel to Dunia Camp
Day 6 night: Dunia Camp
Day 7: Balloon safari + travel to Sayara Camp
Day 7 night: Sayara Camp
Day 8: Northern Serengeti/Migration safari
Day 8 night: Sayara Camp
Day 9: Northern Serengeti/Migration safari
Day 9 night: Sayara Camp
Day 10: Travel to Zanzibar via Dar Es Salaam
Day 9 night: Zanzibar (Ras Nungwi Resort)
Day 10: Ras Nungwi Resort
Day 10 night: Ras Nungwi Resort
Day 11: Ras Nungwi Resort
Day 11 night: Ras Nungwi Resort
Day 12: Depart to London via Johannesburg
Day 12 night: Depart to US
Day 13: Arrive US

Our other option at the end of the safari is to just go ahead and travel to London for a 3 day/3 night mini-stay in London (We've never been). This will help us to acclimate ourselves back toward EST.

Your thoughts?
dmiclat is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 06:34 PM
  #12  
 
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This looks good for the safari part and I know nothing about Zanzibar. I wondered about the Boma Camp and would be interested in your impressions.

As for London Ministay, I don't believe it will help you acclimate to EST. I'd stay in Zanzibar over London, as I think it is easier to get to London again someday than Zanzibar. But I'd actually spend more time on safari. In Aug, I'd tack on the Maasai Mara in Kenya instead of Zanzibar.

You'll have a great time.
atravelynn is offline  
Mar 30th, 2010, 07:42 PM
  #13  
 
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"Our other option at the end of the safari is to just go ahead and travel to London for a 3 day/3 night mini-stay in London (We've never been). This will help us to acclimate ourselves back toward EST."

Might consider rather putting this on the front end to acclimate to Africa time. Better to stumble around home than on your first few days of $$$$ vacation

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2010, 05:03 AM
  #14  
 
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looks good.. your flight plan is quite hectic though... I would look at Emirates in and out of Dar rather than routing via SA.

Suggest Shangazi House just outside Arusha, clean, neat, and quiet... what struck me was the sounds in the morning... bird calls, distant chuckling chickens from a village not too far off, really pleasant welcome to Africa scenario.
mkhonzo is offline  
Mar 31st, 2010, 07:21 AM
  #15  
 
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Agree with mkhonzo.... why go all the way to JNB only to return to Tanzania via DAR to Arusha/ARK. It'll be a connnecting flight as no direct JNB to ARK. Emirates (often with very attractive fares) flies from main US hubs to DAR via Dubai. And, if wanted to forego ZNZ for London/LHR (Not!), Emirates flies DXB/LHR.

From JFK it's 12/hrs to DXB, then 5/hrs to NBO, Kenya - arrives bet 2-3pm (where you can connect to JRO... 1/hr from Arusha) or 6/hrs to DAR, Tanzania to connect to flight to ARK, if there's a late flight and won't need o/n in DAR.

Flight from JFK to JNB is 14+/hrs, maybe needing an o/n before flight to DAR next morning.

In Arusha, consider: Arusha Coffee Lodge, African Tulip, Onsea House (many more).

From Sayari (KOG airstrip), you can fly via ARK for connecting flight to ZNZ (arriving about 2pm) rather than KOG/ARK/DAR/ZNZ as it appears they have you routed.

Otherwise, looking good.
sandi is offline  
Mar 31st, 2010, 03:32 PM
  #16  
 
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I assumed the flights were set. If not, then definitely consider those changes suggested.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 1st, 2010, 06:22 PM
  #17  
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Travelynn and Sandi

We've done some additional research and budget analysis.

Below is what we've come up with as an adjusted itinerary. I would greatly appreciate your review and comments.

Also, I'd like to know if it's wise to book directly with the lodges/camps and use their safari guides vs. using a single safari guide/company for the entire trip? So far, we've had very prompt and thorough replies from Warrior Trails (Emmanuel).

Thanks!
dmiclat

Itinerary Option 1: Ngorongoro + Mara Serengeti (Migration)

Arrival & Ngorongoro
Day 1: Arrive Arusha with overnight stay at Arusha Coffee Lodge.
Day 2: Depart Arusha mid-day by rover to Ngorongoro Crater with 2 night stay at Ngorongoro Manor.
Day 3: Early morning depart for full day game drive in Ngorongoro Crater. Return to Ngorongoro Manor.

Mara Serengeti & The Great Migration
Day 4: Depart by flight to Mara Serengeti with 3 night stay at either Lemala Mara North Camp or Sayara Camp.
Day 5: Full-day Mara Serengeti game drive.
Day 6: Full-day Mara Serengeti game drive.

Departure
Day 7: Depart Northern Serengeti by flight to Arusha with overnight at Arusha Coffee Lodge.
Day 8: Depart Arusha to US


Itinerary Option 2: Ngorongoro + Central Serengeti + Mara Serengeti (Migration)

Arrival & Ngorongoro
Day 1: Arrive Arusha with overnight stay at Arusha Coffee Lodge.
Day 2: Depart Arusha mid-day by rover to Ngorongoro Crater with 2 night stay at Ngorongoro Manor.
Day 3: Early morning depart for full day game drive in Ngorongoro Crater. Return to Ngorongoro Manor.

Central Serengeti
Day 4: Depart for Central Serengeti (game drive en route). 1 night stay at Serengeti Serena Lodge.
Day 5: Depart mid-am for Mara Serengeti (game drive en route). 3 night stay at Lemala Mara North Camp or Sayara Camp.

Mara Serengeti & The Great Migration
Day 6: Full-day Mara Serengeti game drive.
Day 7: Full-day Mara Serengeti game drive.

Departure
Day 8: Depart Mara Serengeti by flight to Arusha with overnight at Arusha Coffee Lodge.
Day 9: Depart Arusha to US
dmiclat is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2010, 06:55 AM
  #18  
 
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Well, seems you've dropped Zanzibar. OK

The Manor House at Ngorongoro ISN'T at Ngorongoro, rather closer to Manyara (but not quite at Karatu... the next town). Gather you'll game drive at Manyara, which is a small park, so why 2/nts here (though there are other activities in the area; what is planned?) On Day 3, returning to the Manor after crater tour makes sense as airport to No. Serengeti is practically right there.

However, on Option #2, if driving via the Central Serengeti to the North, I wouldn't drive back to the Manor. Rather overnight on the crater rim (Sopa or Serena) or even better, the Ngorongoro Farmhouse which is right outside the Crater and you can be 1.5/hrs ahead of yourself for drive to Central.

I'm not a big fan of zig-zagging... rather move in one direction.
sandi is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2010, 01:04 PM
  #19  
 
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I'd take Sandi's suggestion one step further and just stay at Sopa Lodge. It may mean departing an hour or two earlier from Arusha, though. Sopa's own access road gives it an advantage in my view. If you want something smaller than a lodge, Ngorongoro Lemala uses that same road. It is more expensive than Sopa for a more personal atmoshpere.

If your time and budget all the 9 day trip that one gives you time in both Central and Northern Serengeti. That would be a nice trip.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2010, 01:39 PM
  #20  
 
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dimiclat, I'm now planning my 3rd safari with Clamian (Warrior Trails) and would highly recommend the company. I like the idea of booking directly with a ground operator rather than with a company which in turn hires a ground operator. The owner/operator of Warrior Trails is Masai and he gives back heavily to the indigenous communities in which he operates his company. Because he is so closely linked to these communities, I believe Warrior Trails offers those little extras and insights that perhaps others cannot.

I'd like to make a couple of comments on your most recent post:

- Unless you've otherwise requested departure from your lodgings "mid-day" or "mid-am", it seems a bit unusual, particularly when there are opportunities for game drives or cultural visits during those morning hours.

- I agree with Sandi that 2 nights at the Manor House is an unusual choice, but without knowing your specific activities (as with my comment above), it's hard to say.

- with regard to the option of booking directly with lodges & camps, others may be of more help in terms of the logistics, but my feeling is that a ground operator would likely get better pricing for you than if you were to book directly on your own. They'd also be able to advocate for you in the off chance that there is a booking error such as happened on our last trip. Asilia didn't book us into Sayari Camp for 2 nights as they were supposed to have, but because Clamian advocated relentlessly, we were booked into a private mobile camp opened up just for us by Asilia. We'd never have been able to accomplish that on our own!

- on my last trip, I did an all-drive route ending up in the Northern Serengeti. I would highly recommend you drive in at least 1 direction to/from the Northern Serengeti, so I guess I like Itinerary Option 2 best of the 2 you posted.

Have fun with the planning!
Calo is offline  

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