Trip rep Tanz/Kenya Feb 05

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Mar 9th, 2005, 10:57 AM
  #1
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Trip rep Tanz/Kenya Feb 05

I know if I don't just write and post this now I will never get it done so here it is.
Thanks to everyone who offered advice before we left.

There were so many highlights to this trip I can’t begin to rate them in order so I am just going to do a brief run down on each park and I would love to answer any questions anyone may have.

Booked everything through 2afrika. Did their affordable Tanzania safari & the Great White Mt safari in Kenya. The Kenya trip they re-arranged so we did not have to start in Nairobi but went straight to Amboselli. Had 6 in our vehicle in Tanzania and 4 in Kenya. I would definitely use 2afrika again.

Got our visas at Kilimanjaro airport for Tanz and the land border for Kenya with no problems just US$50 & a form filled out for Kenya which we downloaded and filled out before leaving home.

Predator’s safari were the Tanzania operators. I have heard lots of good things about them but we had a less than perfect guide. Not bad by any means but just not willing to work with us on some things. When we brought this up with the manager of Predators when we got back to Arusha she got very defensive about it and turned it back on us a little even though what we had been asking for where things she recommended. All in all this did not damage our trip in any way but if I was organizing a safari though a local operator I would have to get a very good deal from predators and if I went through 2afrika I would talk to them about a specific guide this is what others I spoke to who had traveled with them before had done and they had arranged this.

Naked Wilderness were the local operator in Kenya and I have absolutely nothing but praise for them and would definitely contact them directly. Thomas in the office was nothing but professional and our driver Jonathon was just great always concerned that we were happy with departure times etc. We were early birds and photographers and he caught on quickly that we like to be out a little earlier for the morning light etc.

Tarangire: Had read a few accounts prior to going that this was not the best time of year to head here however, we thought it was just lovely. Saw huge hoards of elles, ostrich, lions in trees plus more and it is a beautiful park.

Lake Manyara: More tree climbing lions. Lots of giraffe. Watched a family of elles playing in a mud hole for ages. The young ones were just adorable as they got in over their heads (literally) and then scrambled to get out and then played around almost saying “I meant to do that”! They were just having so much fun, it was fantastic.

Ngorongoro Crater: Absolutely spectacular. Saw every animal in close quarters except no leopod and the rhino were at a distance. Saw four cheetahs chase an impala but no kill so they just rested in the sun so we could admire them. When we go to the lunch spot there were quite a few vehicles and non of us really wanted to hang around there too long so once we had eaten we asked our driver if we could head out again which we did and were treated to spending some time alone with a pride of lions right on the roadside. The crater is definitely a must especially for a first visit to Tanzania. I had been there more than 10 years before and it was better than I remembered and my husband felt it was the best day of the trip for him for his first visit to Africa. Heard some conflicting reports as to what is going to happen with crater visits. Half days only and someone told us that you would not be able to do 2 half days back to back. I asked the manager of the safari company when we got back to Arusha and she said they had not been given all the restrictions yet so it will be interesting to see what eventuates.

Between Ngoronogoro & Serengetti but still in the Ngorongoro conservation area we were lucky to come across a bit of the migration. There were literally thousands of wildies & zebra as far as the eye could see. This is also where we say the vultures at work for the first time making short work of a wildie carcass. The noise was amazing.

Serengetti: The definite highlight was watching a cheetah hunt & kill a reed buck within 6ft of our vehicle, incredible. Saw our leopards here too!

Amboselli: As we first drove in and saw dozens of huge dust devils everywhere and it looked so barren I though we wouldn’t see much wildlife here. The dust devils were really quite fascinating and in the late afternoon they certainly helped create some great sunsets. I was of course wrong thinking I would not see much wildlife. Lots of elles, a big male lion dragging the remains of a wildie to a hiding place before he sank into soft grass in front of us exhausted from his efforts. Also we were rewarded with fantastic views of Kili for nearly the whole day both days. One morning was memorable for something so simple has heading out very early and coming across a heard of buff stomping up the dust as the sun rose behind them creating an incredible orange glow. Just beautiful.

Serena Mt Lodge: This is an interesting place. No big game but it was nice to be up in the mountains and spend time just watching the activities of the animals around the waterhole.

Lake Nakuru; I have to say I did not think Lake Nakuru was a particularly pretty park. But it is fantastic for the flamingos & rhino closer than you ever need them to be.

Maasai Mara: Yes the drive from Lake Nakuru to Mara is still a long bumpy 5-6 hours!!!
Stayed at Sienna Springs Tented camp and just loved it. It is a beautiful place and very relaxing. We had three nights so we opted to do one full day out to the Mara river. Saw hundreds of hippo. Lots of lion & cheetah also. The other day we opted for a half day out in the morning and then spent the afternoon relaxing.

Bottom line it was an absolutely fantastic trip.

Now we are pouring over our photos and video and reliving it all.

Our big consternation now is where to go on our next trip. Southern Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia or we both have a urge to head to Bhutan. Can anyone help??!!!!

Safe & Happy travels.

J
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Mar 9th, 2005, 12:04 PM
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Thanks for posting, Jules, and welcome home.

It sounds like a great trip--I am jealous about lots of rhinos.

I'm in the same boat as you: where to next? Although I've been on this board a litttle obsessively lately, so maybe for me the answer is clear. And it's hard to imagine going to E. Africa without spending time in the Serengeti...
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Mar 9th, 2005, 12:06 PM
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Thank you for the trip report! The details about the visa, the number of people in the vehicle, etc. are helpful... You had some amazing sightings!

If you have an urge for Bhutan, consider reading Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa. She goes to Bhutan on a two year teaching contract and falls in love with the country and the people.
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Mar 9th, 2005, 12:56 PM
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Dreaming, Thanks for the book recomendation, I will look it up.
J
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Mar 9th, 2005, 01:12 PM
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Thanks for the candid comments and animal sightings. How lucky to see lions in the trees more than once. Indeed appears to have been a fantastic trip.
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Mar 9th, 2005, 01:19 PM
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Thanks for the trip report! Did you mention your issues with Predator's Safaris to anyone at 2afrika? I think it would be good for them to get feedback about their ground operators, positive or negative.
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Mar 10th, 2005, 03:37 PM
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Jules

Thanks for the trip report. What was the best park / area in your opinion for game.
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Mar 11th, 2005, 02:37 AM
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Thanks for the report...
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Mar 11th, 2005, 05:52 AM
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Napamatt; The greatest concentration of game was definately in the Ngorongoro Crater it is a place I would not miss. However, I also have so many highlights from other parks. The tree climbing lions were fantastic to watch, the sheer vastness of the Serengetti is magic and the cheetah kill we saw there was amazing. Tarangire is so pretty and we had a wonderful time enjoying the elephants at play in Lake Manyara. I would not have passed up the time we spent at any of the parks because each had special unique moments.

Happy & safe travels.

J
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Mar 13th, 2005, 04:34 PM
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Jules, welcome back and thanks for the report. I am probably am turning green with envy as you got a full view of Mt. Kilamanjaro!!! I concur with other comments as to sharing your issue with Predators and 2Afrika. I had just the opposite experience (great guide with Predators and less than good one with Naked Wilderness). Guess it goes to show no one company is perfect. Thanks for sharing.
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Mar 18th, 2005, 01:35 PM
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Hi Jules39 - your trip sounds amazing.

Could you possibly email your itinerary and the name of the recommended companies you ussed. I am just starting to plan a trip for 2006 and really need some help getting started. We want to do about 10 days in Kenya/Tanzania and your itinerary sounds very close to what I have been researching.

THank you, [email protected]
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Jun 16th, 2005, 11:17 AM
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great information jules 39. I am currently "thisclose" to booking 2afrika for a 13 Kenya and Tanzania tour. (waiting for them to call me back) May I ask how many people were in your tour?
 
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Jun 16th, 2005, 12:55 PM
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toughpixel,
We did two diff tours the 10 day affordable safari in Tanzania and then 9 days in Kenya which they reconfigured for us to run out of Arusha to Amboselli so we didn't have to backtrack from Nairobi. On the Tanz portion there wer 20 people BUT only 4 or 6 in each vehicle and we didn't really see the other people except at the lodges. If there was a particularly good sighting the drivers would radio each other so we may pass on the road but you didn't travel around in convoy or anything. In Kenya there was 4 of us and we had a wonderful driver guide there. I was very happy with 2Afika and would not hesitate to recommend them. We are already pretty set that our next trip will be a return to Africa and for at least a portion of it I will be talking to 2Afrika. Would love to answer any more questions you may have.
Happy travels

J
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Jun 16th, 2005, 04:26 PM
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thanks jules39. 2Afrika still has not gotten back to me, which makes me a bit nervous, but they get nothing but great recommendations, so I'm sure it will work out. I just don't want to be part of huge mass of people on a tour bus. I understood the jeeps are usually 4-6, but were the buses between parks those giant tour buses?
 
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Jun 17th, 2005, 05:47 AM
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No we travelled between the parks in our own small vehicles. You didn't feel like you were part of a huge group because you did all the organizing with your driver guide and travelled with the same 4 0r 6 people. The only time we saw the other groups was at the lodges to have dinner or share stories from the day. Don't worry about being part of a huge tour bus in Europe! We chose 2Afrika because of the recommendations we got on this board and certainly we have no regrets. If there is any other info I can help with please don't hesitate.
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Jun 18th, 2005, 12:52 PM
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thanks jules39...that puts my mind to rest.
 
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Jul 3rd, 2005, 09:05 PM
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experiences with 2Afrika??
After exchanging 2 email with 2Afrika, asking for one change in the itinerary (at 2Afrika suggestion) it's been nearly two weeks since I have heard anything! Sent two email inquiring on the status as well as one voice mail and nothing. I'm a bit nervous as no money has exchanged hands but I want to go in Sept and if they can't book us, i want to find another tour operator.

Question: Anyone else have communications problems with 2Afrika? It does not speak well for how the the safari tour may go...
 
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Jul 4th, 2005, 05:22 AM
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I think my experience was similar. They responded very promptly to my first call and even seemed open to the idea of customizing one of their itineraries. But when I left a message with the requested requested changes, the agent never returned my call. Since I had other organizers who were far more responsive to customizing our safari, I just dropped 2Afrika.
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Jul 5th, 2005, 12:10 PM
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Hi Jules39,

Do you think you could tell me the name of the bad guide you had at Predators? We have booked a trip with them for November, and I want to make sure we don't end up with a bad guide. If you're not comfortable posting his name here, you can send me an e-mail at [email protected]

Thanks!
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Jul 5th, 2005, 01:04 PM
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Girlstar I did not say our guide was bad just not keen to work with us with earlier starting times etc as we would have liked. This was accentuated for us when our Kenyan guide was the total oposite. His animal & tracking skills were excellent. If I found myself on a trip with him again I would not be devistated at all. I did hear excellent reports about Frank who drove another van for predators so maybe you could request him. Do they give you the option to request a specific guide?
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