Trip Report form 12-22 to 1-5 trip

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Jan 10th, 2004, 04:32 AM
  #1
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Trip Report form 12-22 to 1-5 trip

We have just returned from a wonderful trip to Tanzania and wanted to provide a report for those going soon. We booked with Nomad Tanzania and had a very knowledgeable guide, Emmanuel Njawa. We spent the first two nights at Rivertrees Inn outside of Arusha. We took the KLM flight from Amsterdam to Arusha that arrives late at night and wanted to recover for a day before starting our trip. Martina (Rivertrees owner) has a wonderful property with great food, hospitality, and a pool right on the Usa River betwen the Kilimanjaro airprt and Arusha. We had breakfast every morning looking out on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru.
We then went to Lake Manyara for two nights and stayed at the Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Have never stayed anyplace so nice but it was great!! They have 10 lodges with a maximum of 20 guests. Lake Manyara was a great place to see elephants, buffs, giraffe, impala, gazelle, baboons (lots), warthogs (one with a den on the path to our lodge), gazelle, birds, zebs, etc. We did not see many big predators.
Next we spent one night at the Crater. We were supposed to spend two nights at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge but they overbooked and would not honor our booking from March. Nomad Tanzania and Bushtracks (booking agent in USA I used) both said they have had problems with Serena doing this in the past couple months. BEWARE!! We stayed one night at the Plantation Lodge outside of the Crater and had a nice stay but far from the Crater. The Crater was an interesting experience in that you see lots of animals but as posted previously but it is crowded. When our booking was messed up, I took previous posters suggestions and we spent one night in the Crater area and then spent an extra night in mobile tented camp in the Sernegiti Ndutu area. That was a good decision.
We then drove to the Ndutu area of the Serengiti and spent 4 nights in a shared moblie tented camp. GREAT!! It is very dry as the area has not received the short rains and they did not receive good long rains this year. Many of the waterholes were almost dried up and the animals will probably have to move back to central Serengeti if it does not rain. However, we had a great time. Lots of animals!! Zebs had babies from November, lots of giraffes with babies, elephants (though we saw more in Lake Manyara and Northern Serengeti), lions with kills, 16 Cheetah (one was a Mom hunting with her three "teenager kids"), hynena, jackals, gazelle, eland, some buffs, impala, foxes, warthogs, wildebeest, wildebeest, and-did I mention- more wildebeest!! They had not dropped calves yet although we did see one calf- Wildie Mom must have gotten mixed up on the birthing cycle!! We also had more good bird sightings. Great experience to see and hear the migration!!
Next we spent three nights in the northern Serengeti and another shared mobile tented camp. GREAT also!! It was not crowded and we saw many predators and other animals. We saw more lions and it was more relaxed as we were only vehicle watching them. Lots of elephants, giraffe,impala, bushbucks, gazelle, buffs, etc. We flew back to Arusha from Klein's Camp airstrip and then had a day room at Rivertrees Inn before boarding the flight back home. That long flight back has to be the worst part of thr trip!! UGH!!
We did do a more luxury version of a safari than my previous trip to Kenya 10 years ago. (This was due to my husband's health.) However, we had a great time and if you are interested in a higher end trip I would highly rec. this company. Hope this info helps anyone planning a trip. Great country and great safari.

lisasc is offline  
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Jan 10th, 2004, 07:32 AM
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Thanks for sharing your report! So glad you had a great trip... will there be any photos for us to share?
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Jan 10th, 2004, 08:36 AM
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Enjoyed reading your report. Can't wait to go!
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Jan 10th, 2004, 01:29 PM
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Yeah, yeah - photos, please!!!
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Jan 11th, 2004, 08:03 AM
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Thanks for the feedback. As I am sitting her in the USA with high today of 40F, I wish I was back in Tanzania. Last Saturday I woke up in a tent after a night of listening to a lion calling (in the distance) and an impala in rut (close to the tent). Oh I already want to go back!! I wish I could post pics but my husband has a 35mm not a digital. Sorry!!
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Jan 11th, 2004, 08:11 AM
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Lisa, have your film shop put them on a disk (maybe they'll let you pick like you would for additional prints) -- but believe me, so many can go on a disk they may just do them all. Then you can upload the ones you want to a webpage for sharing, making yourself a screen saver, etc. I used to scan my pictures, but now the processors will do it so inexpensively it isn't worth the time anymore
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Jan 12th, 2004, 03:17 PM
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lisasc,

Thanks for the wonderful report. I am considering going around the same time next December and this is a big help.

Overall, were you pleased with Nomad Tanzania?

How was the vehicle?

How was the guide?

How full was the Lake Manyara Tree Lodge during your stay?

In retrospect, did you feel that the first two nights at Rivertrees Inn was beneficial or would have rather have had those two nights on safari?

Thanks in advance.
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Jan 13th, 2004, 11:02 AM
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I'm glad that you saw so many animals at Lake Manyara! We were there a few weeks earlier and had a similar experience (although we did see several lions) and absolutely loved the accommodations and romantic atmosphere.


What wonderful sightings you had in the Serengeti. We weren't as fortunate, but it certainly leaves room for next time.
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Jan 15th, 2004, 04:50 AM
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Roccco,
Glad to provide more info on our trip!! We were very pleased with Nomad Tanzania. They were great to work with and run a great safari. A couple of examples--I really like a Diet Coke in the morning with breakfast. I know it must be a southern thing When they sent the food request/health card I mentioned Diet Coke for breakfast--if possible!! Well, we had Diet Coke for breakfast, Diet Coke in all the lodges and Diet Coke in the cooler in the Landrover. They even knew that Americans like drinks cold and kept the stuff cold for me!! In the middle of the Serengeti that was above what anyone should expect!! At one lodge they could not get Diet Coke and got Diet Pepsi-no big deal--but they kept apologizing. Second example--When Serena did not honor our booking for the two nights on the rim of the crater, Nomad booked us at Plantation Lodge for the first night and then Serena for the second night. I asked if we could stay at the Plantation Lodge for the first night and then spend an extra night in the mobile tented camp in the Ndutu area of the Sernegeti (Based on previous posters suggestions-Thanks Fodorites!!). Emmanuel, our Nomad guide, called the office and within an hour they said no problem and it was arranged. When we arrived at the tented camp in the Serengeti, we were the only guests for the first night. Wow-- a private camp just for us!! The shared mobile tented camps are Nomad camps and small. The camps had 3 tents with a maximum of 6 guests. There are 10 staff members to work a camp. We had a private guide/Rover during the day and then shared camp at night. It was great. Nomad does work with English speaking clientele but we were the only Americans in any of our camps. We met Aussies, Brits, Swiss & Irish travelers at the camps we stayed in. Maybe this is due to Americans fear of travel--everyone did say that very few Americans were traveling.
Nomad Tanzania uses Toyota Landrovers with three roof hatches. Our vehicle was in excellent condition as were the other vehicles we saw that other clients were using. One of the members of the camp crew is a maintenance person and the vehicle was checked and cleaned each night. We did some off-roading and Emmanuel could drive and the vehicle could handle it!! Here in the States, I had a Jeep Wrangler that I drove in some tough spots and I was impressed with his 4 wheeling!! I am sure not every client wants to off road like that but I think that is why we saw so much game as we were away from the "main routes."
Our guide was excellent. His knowledge of the animals and the entire ecosystem was impressive. All the guides we met that were with other clients were great also. I think being a native Tanzanian, he had an great appreciation for his country. His English, and the English of the other guides, was superb. I know Nomad employs Native and International guides so I guess it is just your preference. There are some posts I have read about this issue but we liked having a native guide.
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge was not crowded. It only has ten tree houses with a maximum of 20 guests. The May 2003 issue of Conde Nast Traveler has a two page pic of the property on pages 176-177. It is listed under the 2003 Hot List of top new hotels. I would stay there again in a heartbeat!! It is owned by CCA Africa, the same company that owns the Crater Lodge where I think you said you wanted to stay when you were at the crater. We enjoyed Lake Manyara Park also.
And last, Rivertrees Inn question. I would not stay two nights myself. My husband has health issues and we stayed so he could rest up from the flight. It was a good decision for us. I would stay one night. I think, reading your post, that you plan to take the KLM flight from Amsterdam to Arusha. That flight arrives late in the evening. Rivertrees is between the airport (one hour outside of Arusha) and town. Rivertrees will serve you a wonderful dinner upon your arrival. You can have a great night sleep before breakfast looking out on Mt. Kilmanjaro and Mt. Meru. Martina is a great host and it is a wondeful property. They have a website-- www.rivertrees.com.
I hope this info helps. All the people we met were also stopping by Zanzibar to hit the beach. Those that had been had great reports. Wish we had added that and Mahale Mts. Park (to see the chimps) to our trip.. Next time!!!
I also rec. you get Mark Nolting's book "African Safari Journal" because it has lots of good info and maps of all the parks in Africa. Our USA booking agent sent us a copy and it provided lots of good info.
Thanks to all for the replies and hope this info helps others. I really appreciated all the info here to help plan this trip.
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Jan 15th, 2004, 05:32 AM
  #10
sandi
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lisasc -

I to am still a 35mm user and put my photos into albums and rather like it that way.

However, I decided to put together an album of my African (and other destinations) trips for online use so scanned all the photos. Sure it was time-consuming, but once I got the hang of it and using the AOL Picture program, was putting the albums together in a snap. Now my trips taken during the last 8-years are available, just ask SusanLynne - she's been around the world with me and now is waiting on my Australia trip which I promise I'll have to send to her shortly.

So those pics you wish to share can be scanned and if you have a picture program available, it's an option.

I've enjoyed reading your trip report even if a few mix-ups - things happen, but your tour operator was able to handle, which is what it's all about, and the attention you received especially having your Diet Coke - just ask, and it's done.
 
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Jan 15th, 2004, 11:46 AM
  #11
 
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Lisasc:
I just read your post. Thanks for the information. Tanzania is on my short list of places to visit. I laughed when I read about the Diet Coke for breakfast. I don't drink Diet, but I do like Coke or Mountain Dew for breakfast. It indeed must be a southern thing! By the way, does the sc on the end of lisa stand for South Carolina by any chance?
Thanks.
Joey (from South Carolina)
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Jan 17th, 2004, 11:43 AM
  #12
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Joey,
Guilty as charged!! I am a Texan by birth but I am married to a Carolina boy!! I came by the Diet Coke addiction from my home state!! You would enjoy a safari to Tanzania!! Go for it!!
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