Tarangire or Manyara?

Jan 11th, 2006, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
I agree with you Rocco, but don't look for Micato vehicles! As far as I know they are not even licensed in Tanzania.

Does anyone know who they use on the ground in Tanzania?

I saw their minibuses last week at Mara Safari Club - I am not sure what the attraction is but they sure have a loyal following for their overpriced and underwhelming Sopa/Serena itineraries!

climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Jan 11th, 2006, 05:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,367
Those minivans and drivers raised in Dar or Nairobi don't know where to look for game. It was so funny stopping for cold drinks mid day during a game drive in the Mara many years ago and overheard other tourists talking. One group was all bummed out that they hadn't seen any lion and were in one of the mini vans. We loaded up-my guide and driver from Cottars Camp- and drove off. Within eyeshot of the lodge, where a culvert went under the road, pulled off the road and low and behold, 3 lions sleeping in the heat of the day in the concrete pipe. About 50 yards or so under a tree was the king. That pretty much says it all.
luangwablondes is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,774
Ok, guys, now you have depressed me, which believe me is pretty hard to do.

What is the matter with Sopa Lodges?

I do hope we will see lions, we went on two all day safaris in SA and didn't see one lion, (or elephant for that matter)so I do hope I will this time. If not I'll just keep going back until I do.....

But, I do not regret booking with Micato, I look forward to seeing what they are like, and if they are good, wonderful, I'll book again with them; if not, I will move on to another operator. Either way I will let everyone know (well, whoever is interested I guess) what they are like in a trip report when I get back.

After reading quite a few of the reports on van congestion - especially in the Mara, I actually felt good about having booked a group safari. It gave me that 'warm mushy-good-for-the-enviroment' feeling that one gets when one uses the HOV lane with a car full of co-workers. Not that 'oh-oh whatever have I done feeling' that you get when you use public transportation on a bitingly cold winter day when it is crammed full of backpacks & people. But, just a good feeling that maybe I, in my own small way have cut down on the number of vehicles muddled around a cheetah trying very hard to do what cheetahs do best. By sharing that vehichle with 5 other people I have taken 2 other vehichles out of the system. I also look forward to getting to know 4 other people, we are a very social couple and love to meet new friends.
LyndaS is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
Great attitude, Lynda. And I repeat that I don't think you have anything to worry about! Even if they picked up your guides from a dhow off the coast you will see lions! They are hard to miss, esp. in the Seronera valley.

We all have different styles/preferences/bank accounts. You have made a decision that you're comfortable with. Enjoy your holiday.
Leely is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 11:52 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Sorry to be an accessory to depression.

If it is any consolation, I believe Micato will do an excellent job...no prior experience, but their reputation precedes them.

MY issue with Micato, and I believe others would agree, is that Micato is much more expensive than other companies that are delivering the very same product! It would be the equivalent if you bought a Mercedes from one dealer, and I bought an exact model from another dealer. Your dealer throws a ribbon on it and charges an extra 35%. My dealer is very professional and the car is exactly the same but mine lacks the ribbon. I save 35%, don't get a ribbon, but get the very same car.

Well, with Micato you will get a nice hat & totebag, as well as beautiful literature in the mail, but for what I will get for $7,500 per person, a Micato guest would likely pay well over $10,000. Here is how I spent my $7,500 with Africa Travel Resource (ATR), www.africatravelresource.com, another very reputable company that offers most of the same places offered by Micato, but offering a more customized experience with private vehicles & guides:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge, Arusha (1)
Tarangire Treetops, Tarangire (2)
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, Lake Manyara (2)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater (2)
Olduvai Camp, NCA (1)
Nomad Masek, Serengeti (2)
Nomad Piaya, Serengeti (2)
Mbuzi Mawe, Serengeti (2)

My wife andI have my own private guide & vehicle throughout, while I believe that Micato guarantees no more than FIVE guests per vehicle.

I would be very interested to learn how much Micato is charging you and whether or not they are giving you a discount for the switch to Sopa. Sopa is probably not a bad place, but is likely like a 3* hotel in the bush. Were you expecting 3 star luxury, or lack of it, with Micato, or were you expecting 5 star luxury?

There are just other options out there that will deliver a SUPERIOR experience, at least as I see things. Micato has all the bells and whistles but then puts its clients on shared safaris, I would think mostly on select itineraries rather than custom itineraries. I will give up a hat, tote bag and fancy literature any day in order to enjoy my own private safari of my own design.

I suggest that you read your cancellation policy and it would not be a bad idea to contact a couple other very reputable companies that will deliver a better product to see what they are able to come up for you. I would NOT be pleased with staying at Sopa if I had booked with Micato. Given that you are still possibly 120+ days out, your options are wide open.



For a mere $250 per person, you may cancel at this point (more than 90 days from travel).

It is a 99% likelihood that even with this cancellation charge that you could contact a reputable company like www.africaserendipity.com or www.africatravelresource.com and come up with something much better.

Don't fall victim to the hype of Micato when all they can deliver is a Sopa Lodge! Explore your options now, while you still have possibly a month to cancel for only $250 per person. I assure you that you will likey save at least double, if not quadruple your cancellation fee, and you will be able to enjoy a private safari at the lodges of your choosing (pending availability) and at your own schedule.

Good luck.

(Although I am an agent for Southern Africa, I have no business interests in Eastern Africa...I am just speaking as a consumer advocate as I have for years on this forum)
Roccco is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 12:01 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
(When I say that I spent $7500 with ATR, this is a per person price for the itinerary provided)
Roccco is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 12:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 196
Hello Lynda,

I've just become a "Fodorite" as we too have been contemplating the Stanley Safari with Micato! Like yourself, I've not been able to find anything in the forum which was particularly encouraging about travel with this company. I do hope you'll post your experiences for us! Our travel agent had a wonderful time with Micato. We have reservations about travelling with a group, and also about the use of minivans, but the security Micato offers is reassuring. We are thinking of modifying the Stanley safari somewhat to take advantage of one or two private reserves - Lewa or Richard Bonham's Ol Donyu Wuas - to get a little more of the Out of Africa experience! Has anyone stayed at these ranches? We'd really appreciate hearing about it!!
A question for anyone who can offer advice:
My husband and I have a big concern about travelling to Kenya/Tanzania which I haven't seen addressed in the forum yet (or have I missed it?) That is, the spectre of an avian flu pandemic. The information I've read on the internet concerning these two countries is worrisome. Add to this the fact that the migration route of birds in Turkey is directly through both Kenya and Tanzania! What are the ramifications if the borders are sealed whilst there? Will the tour companies offer a refund if travel is suddenly not possible to these countries?
Are there any precautions being taken about tour companies taking tourists to villages where there are live poultry?

Thanks from Canada!!!

carolines is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 02:12 PM
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Lynda -

I look forward, on your return, to reading your trip report... better the summary, which appears to be your area of expertise. I'm so impressed with what you've been able to do to the benefit of everyone, with the Index you've put together here on Fodors.

Know that it isn't unusual for any tour operator/outfitter to have to change accommodations at the last minute... it can be any reason, besides "no room at the inn." Disappointing, of course... better than not having a roof over yur head... and isn't it the safari that is the destination. How much time do we actually spend in our tent/room? As I mentioned, above, Micato and A&K do have itineraries using Sopa and Serena properties - they have a wide market of possible safari goers... they want to fill the entire basket.

At this point, unless you can be guaranteed and assured of other properties and better prices... there really isn't much "room at the inn" even for early June. June is no longer the low season; as busy as July thru October.

Have a wonderful time; report back and keep up the great work on the Index.

No lions or ellees? And I thought I was deprived in not seeing a leopard till my fifth safari.
Jan 12th, 2006, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 95

I just finished reading I'd Rather Be On Safari by Gary Clarke, and the way he described the camaraderie of a safari group almost made me wish I'd be with one! I'm sure it will be absolutely incredible.

CarrieS is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 02:33 PM
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carolines -

As the itinerary that Lynda is using, the Stanley Safari likewise uses Sopa and Serena properties on average $6,000+ /person, depending on season. If you decide to change the itinerary to incorporate the camps/parks you mention, you'll technically be on a private safari and pay accordingly - think about $2,500 or more per person.

For travel anywhere in the world where you prepay for your ground/land arrangements one has to take our Trip Insurance covering Cancellation/Interruption, etc. etc. Check the www.insuremytrip.com site for details of what is available and what exclusions - terrorism, weather, plague, bankruptcy, medical, evacuation and on and on.

What will happen, if anything - so far the bird-flu has impacted humans who have direct contact with infected birds... not human-to-human transfer. And no, I don't know of any safari goer in East Africa who has had a first hand bird-to-human up-close-and-personal visits to chicken farms.

If one was to panic over every terrorism alert or threat of plague, we'd all stay in our homes... and even that may not be safe (think mold or plastic wrap and duck tape). Right now, the concern is rain in Kenya and Tanzania to keep people alive (to eat chicken... which most can't afford) and the animals, just to survive.
Jan 12th, 2006, 03:26 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,774
I do understand where you are coming from on the price of a private you are paying vs the price of a group I am paying; but I really am looking forward to the group experience, mostly for the reasons I mentioned in my post above. Coming from years of cruising and going on some shore excursions with bus loads (and I mean 'loads') believe me, this group of 6 will feel like a private safari to me! I can recall in China our group of 12 buses - which must hold, what, 50 people each? - complete with police escort - now that was a 'group' tour!
You said you would be interested in how much we are paying - we are paying 5990. pp (US) for 14 nights - three of those nights are in Nairobi (2 at beginning, one at end) with 2 nights each at Amboseli Serena, Ngorongo Sopa, Serengeti Sopa, Kichwa Tembo, Mt Kenya Safari Club, and one at Tarangire Sopa.
This includes all entrances & tours, full board on all 15 days, two full sightseeing days in Nairobi, transfers, water, some softdrinks, some cocktails and of course that famous hat and bag! (and don't forget that flashlight....)
So to me that is a pretty good deal really - it works out to 427.86/night.
And 3 star is good for me, I have stayed at all kinds of hotels from o star to 5 star, and I am good with 3 star.
Hi Caroline-
We all welcome you to Fodors, and if you dig, you will find a few people that have been with Micato (and liked them) and a few that are going this year, like myself! When are you going? We are from Canada too - Vancouver!
Please post more! And yes, for sure I will be posting a report when I get back!

And thankyou Sandi, Carrie and Leely for your kind words - I am going to the library this weekend to find that book - it sounds great! And, Sandi thankyou for your words about the trip report index, I really enjoy doing it. And, I will probably write a report to rival the length of yours when I get back, I do get carried away writing....
LyndaS is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

I do hope you end up with others that you really hit it off with. I just think that Micato should pass along the savings of a shared safari to their cliets, that's all.

Have a great time.
Roccco is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 03:41 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
You will have a wonderful time. Although there have not been very many reports from people who traveled with Micato--everyone of them was positive as I recall. It has been said many times that a guide can make or break a trip and I have never heard any criticism of Micato guides.
bat is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 04:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,252
Regarding bird flu, Sandi's post above is quite correct. However, I would add that in nearly all cases in Thailand the human-bird contact leading to infection has been either fairly intimate or very frequent. We have had bird flu here on and off for a couple of years now and while people do need to be aware of this disease and to take appropriate action, it very much appears principally to be a risk for those who raise poultry or other birds (fighting cocks, pigeons, etc.)If you have seen such people you will know that contact with the birds is often fairly intimate - picking them up, stroking them,etc - in Asia and Africa they are often allowed in the house. Slaughterhouse workers also appear to be at some risk if precautions are not taken.

If in the future the virus mutates, it could be very dangerous; however, for the time being providing you avoid very intimate contact with birds (which you will not get with wild birds anyway)there is no evidence of any significant risk to you. Other diseases prevalent in Africa are surely more likely to get you (if you want to worry!!).

Of course the situation could change since there appear to be new versions of the virus every few months....
kimburu is offline  
Jan 13th, 2006, 04:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 95

I had to buy the book from a seller on Amazon, but I'd be happy to send it to you if you want it. I don't have room to keep all my books, so just send me an email if you can't find the book at the library.

[email protected]
CarrieS is offline  
Jan 13th, 2006, 06:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,774
Thanks Carrie, I just emailed you - I do appreciate the offer!
And Sandi, I forgot to comment yesterday on WHY I didn't see elles or lions in South Africa -
We were on a cruise, so it was 2 separate days (and 2 different reasons)in two different ports - one was in Durban, it was 3/4 day game drive during the 'heat' of the day (10:00 - 3:00)on a private reserve (Tala) that didn't have predators (chicken farm next door would never allow that...) or elephants - so that would explain that one! It was a fabulous experience none the less as the zebras, rhinos, wildebeest, giraffe, etc were all up close and personal.
The second day was in Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Park - (first word pronounced shush-louie if anyone was wondering), and even though they had elephants, leopards, cheetah and lions, it was again the heat of the day, and it is such a huge park I guess they were hiding.
while in South Africa, I did get to not only 'see' a cheetah, I knelt behind it and petted it! Okay, okay, I admit that was at Spiers Winery at the cheetah research area in Stellenbosch - but I can tell you it was the single most AMAZING 5 minutes I have ever had in my life!
LyndaS is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 05:58 AM
Posts: n/a
Lynda -

Ok, can now understand not seeing ellees.

So that's where a chicken farm is located! Predators/chickens - not a goot mix. LOL!

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