Trip Report of a different kind - Tanzania

Reply

Nov 23rd, 2005, 12:45 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
Trip Report of a different kind - Tanzania

Disclaimer: This was not a typical safari as game-viewing was not the priority. I just wanted to:
a) update the GPS/lodge/road information for my Google Earth site www.go-safari.com, and
b) scope out new safari routes with a long-time guide and friend and to tap him for information!

A] Our route & itinerary:

1. Arusha NCA Piaya (Loliondo) Olosokwan (Loliondo) - Overnight at Nomad Loliondo Camp
2. Mara Region of Northern Serengeti Overnight at Sayari Tented Camp
3. Grumeti Reserve Area Central Serengeti Overnight at the Serena
4. Southern Serengeti (Kusini & Ndutu) Overnight at Ndutu
5. NCA via Endulen Lake Eyasi Karatu Overnight at Octagon Lodge
6. Lake Manyara Overnight at Kirurumu Tented Camp
7. Tarangire Overnight at Sopa
8. Arusha

B] Migration Update:

We saw large herds crossing the Mara and run past Sayari going south.
We saw plenty of smaller herds between Migration Camp and Sayari
South of the Serengeti Serena we saw big herds streaming from the Western Corridor woodlands towards the central plains
We saw plenty of herds in the tsetse-infested woodlands between Moru Kopjes and Kusini.
We saw large herds on the plains north of the Kusini-Ndutu road.

Ndutu was a dustbowl. It has not rained there yet so the migration will wait before turning further south. It has rained a lot to the east of Ndutu near Endulen and the plains there are turning green.

In mid-November the migration appeared scattered between the northern & southern Serengeti and residents were joining the long lines. When the rains come in the south they will most likely leave the woodlands and move closer to Ndutu and beyond. But nobody knows for sure!

C] Google Earth maps update:

After our comprehensive swoop, go-safari.com is now the most accurate source of non-commercial information and images about safaris in Northern Tanzania! All the camp managers and owners I talked to promised to support me in keeping the maps accurate. Several of the mobile safaris companies are now using the maps to educate their agents, driver/guides and clients about the camp locations!

During our 12-hour days we verified the locations of just about every lodge, tented camp and camp area. I added many new pictures and HiDef video will soon be added to the pages to compliment the text.

Tarangire Lodge/Camp Update:

1. Boundary Hill Lodge in Tarangire made it through a huge wildfire but it wont be completed for at least 3 months. If you look at my pictures you will agree that it will probably take much longer as much of the plastic piping,etc were destroyed. They also need to add better fire protection. The place seems very vulnerable.
2. Treetops Lodge has fire roads and the lodge survived the fire
3. Sidai Camp suffered badly and is closed indefinitely.
4. The deal between Naitolia Camp and Kirurumu Lodges/Camps fell apart. Tamarind Camp is once again the only Kirurumu property in Tarangire.
5. Just a short distance away, the new Elephant lodge is open for business but with new construction. Not bad but obviously designed for larger tour groups.
6. Whistling Thorn camp is also nearby but under construction. Time will tell. The NW corner just outside Tarangire is getting crowded with lodges and competition will be stiff.
7. Inside the park things have not changed much but one can now also buy entry permits at the Ranger Post near Kikoti! We will see how long this last!

Loliondo Update (warning a controversial posting but it is an honest assessment from me who spend 2 days driving through the area. I am going back in late December to see if the rains will change the situation):

1. Loliondo was disappointing. Even my friend Chris was surprised to see so many Maasai and the huge herds of cattle that we encountered the whole way from Piaya in the South to Olosokwan in the North. The combination of hunting (I marked the location of the UAE operation on my maps) and the influx of Maasai from Kenya are too much for this area. At least one seasonal camp decided to postpone their setup this season with the hope that the Maasai will move away once the rain starts. To illustrate my point, the Nomad Loliondo Camp operates on a very small concession between Kleins camp, the UAE area and the hundreds of Maasai bomas. This area is just not wild anymore and not rich in game and I was very happy to leave the crowded Loliondo and enter the Serengeti.
2. The growth in numbers of Maasai must be putting pressure on the UAE hunters to reconsider their Loliondo concession. The unhappiness with these macho men and the way they operate is growing and it came up in many conversations we had with local Maasai while exploring the area. The bomas are increasing around the UAE operation and it is getting harder for the rich oilmen to pay off everyone to leave during hunting season. Maybe the time has come for them to pack up their prostitutes and guns and vehicles and leave for good.
3. The southern Loliondo area near Piaya was very dry and also covered with Maasai and cattle herds of 100 or more roaming the area. Nomad and Sayari (their first time down there) are now moving to Piaya and I am visiting them again in December to see how they are coping with the large numbers of Maasai and cattle. There is a slim hope that the Maasai will soon move further east so their cattle dont mix with the wildebeest and possible diseases. Otherwise Piaya will be an interesting mix (clash?) of cultures and interests this coming season. To further complicate matters, one cannot drive direct into the Serengeti from Piaya (a warden must be collected at Naabi to help protect the sensitive Gol areas and to the north).

Serengeti Lodges & Camps update:

1. The new Grumeti Reserves camps are now open. For the first time Tanzania can compete with the likes of Singita and such! Please look at my pictures on go-safari.com of the Sasakwa Lodge and Sabora Plains Camp. Video footage is coming soon. These are the most luxurious accommodations options in Tanzania (really!) and the concession is huge. The guides are mostly from Southern Africa with solid resumes and they have new open vehicles. The wildlife is increasing (we saw lion and plenty of other wildlife in just a few hours). I can write more about these later if you are interested.
2. As you probably know, Little Kusini will not happen due to lack of water in the area.

NCA Lodges & Camps update:

1. Ndutu Lodge has been upgraded. They finally got rid of the ugly stable-like rooms and replaced them with normal chalet-style rooms. I posted new pictures. Ndutu Lodge has always been unpretentious and they do things in a matter-of-fact way that continues to bug me but yet I also go back (thanks to the location)! Meals are served in a style that reminds me of hostels you sit down and the waiter brings your bread, soup and main course followed by desert and coffee/tea. There is little discussion about the choices (you can request special meals at registration), portions are small and the waiters seemingly want you to finish your meal as quickly as possible its unlikely to be offered another glass of wine! Larger tour groups tend to crowd the public areas (lounge and fire pit) and couples or singles may find themselves somewhat isolated. I wish the owners would focus more on service.
2. If you ever visit shifting sands, please note that there are 2 dunes. The bigger dune is always crowded. Nowadays the Maasai herdsmen like to stand on top of the dune so they are automatically included in your pictures! And then they expect some compensation afterwards! It is better to drive north for 5 minutes to the smaller dune with no tourists and herdsmen.

Seasonal Camps Competition:

1. The competition between the seasonal camps is stiff. One the one hand, the traditional camps such as Nomad offer very basic accommodation (smaller tents with smaller beds and basic furniture) and thunderbox short-drop toilets where one must throw sand over ones deposits. Safari vehicles are the normal Landcruisers with hatches. The new standard set by the new kids on the block (Sayari, Olakira, EMC, and others such as Sanctuary) offer bigger tents with flushing toilets and modern design concepts creating rather comfortable surroundings on par with luxury lodges! In addition Sayari has open safari vehicles and the camps have great locations. It will be interesting to see if Nomad decides to upgrade their seasonal camps in the near future. In Piaya for example, the differences between Nomad and Sayari will be very telling as they are not too far from each other.
2. On the mobile front, the competition is also stiff. Nomad mobile camps set the original standard but others such as Wildlife Explorer and newcomers such as Unique Safaris have beautiful tents some with flushing toilets - and these guys are also booking many of the better camp sites thanks to increased occupancy from the support by international agents. Nowadays, the competition for the better camp sites during the migration periods are very tough and bookings are done a year or more in advance! The smaller operators (and companies that dont specialize in camping) have virtually no chance to get the prime sites.







climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 02:40 AM
  #2
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
To answer the many questions about North Camp vs South Camp vs Tree Camp at the Crater lodge, here are my opinions:

For pictures of the 3 camps: visit http://www.go-safari.com/NCA/Craterlodge.htm. New video to follow.

Tree Camp - In the front row, smaller and ideal for families or small groups. Own dining room/lounge with the best views over the crater. Rooms are smaller than North/South and the views are not as good from the rooms.

South Camp - Just behind and mostly to the left of Tree Camp. Own dining/lounge with large patio area and IMO with better views than the North Camp lounge. Rooms are large with uncluttered views.

North Camp - In the back row and mostly to the left of South Camp. Own dining/lounge with smaller patio area and decent views. Rooms are the same as South Camp but most look over the back of the South Camp rooms so the views are fine but not uncluttered.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 02:49 AM
  #3
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
climbhigh.....

Only if one is right on the ground can we get first-hand "Great" information.

Much appreciated!
 
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 06:25 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,309
Thanks Climbhighsleeplow. This is just the kind of information I, and many others, are looking for.

Ive been able to have a look at Google Earth and your maps are amazing.

Nyamera is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 06:39 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,129
ChighSl,
Thanks for all your much appreciated hard work - very valuable info.
Sherry
cybor is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 08:10 AM
  #6
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
climbhighsleeplow:
Thanks for the report both for its detail and frankness. If the news about Loliondo is disappointing from the view of someone scheduled to stay at Nomad's Piaya camp, there is a ray of hope regarding the UAE possibly departing.
bat is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 08:24 AM
  #7
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
chsl:
I was looking at Widlife Explorer's website because you mentioned it--they have a concession they call Ngaroi--they say it borders the serengeti and NCA. Do you know where that is?
bat is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 09:00 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
Really very interesting information. Thank you so much.

And I hope you had a good time?
Leely is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 09:26 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
Hi Leely

Yes, we still had fun but it was hot - 38 degrees in Tarangire and the rooms in both Tarangire Sopa and Serengeti Serena were almost unbearable.

At Serena they have fans which help but because there are no screens on the balcony doors it cannot be opened at night - bad!

The Sopa have screens but the room layouts don't allow for draughts. Phew, it was hot!

And since we had to drive during the mid day heat, the tsetses really bit me in Tarangire and SW Serengeti. It only takes 2 or 3 of these creatures to make for a miserable drive! We did not use a aircond vehicle and I wish we had - my choice was to get bitten or to suffer from the heat with closed windows!

But we saw so much - I wish I can write it all down!

Bat

There are at least 2 seasonal camps near the Serengeti border and between Kirurumu Loliondo Camp and the NCA. Wildlife Explorer is one.

I will map these in December when all the camp sites are occupied and all the camping companies are out in full force!

Also, the special camps near Ndutu are changing quite a bit. I have to redo my mappings there in December.

BTW, I will be spending New Years eve and New Years day at EMC in Ndutu.

Eben


climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 09:28 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
Oops, let's make that wind "drafts", not beer draughts!!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 09:42 AM
  #11
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I was wondering whether you weren't perhaps bending that elbow!
 
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 09:51 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Eben,

Thanks for all the feedback.

I wonder if the Maasai's presence has anything to do with this latest development in my itinerary with ATR. On my updated invoice, updated to show my latest payment, it says the following for my days at Nomad Piaya:

"Note: This may be changed to Olosokwan Camp if the weather and game-viewing are better up there at this time, in which case there may be a charge of around $75 per person to cover the additional cost of the departure flight."

Huh??? Will somebody please tell me where Olosokwan is in relation to my other two Serengeti stops, Masek & Mbuzi Mawe.

Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 09:54 AM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
Indeed, the room was too hot so we were bending elbows at the bar all night where it was cooler!

During the warm season there are two Swahili words one need to survive "baridi bia" - COLD beer!!!

climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 10:00 AM
  #14
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
Thanks Eben. I looked at your updated website--it is really looking good. I see what you mean about Sayari and the Grumeti Reserve lodges (I also went to the GR website, through your link of course). Quite lavish. Pricing must be sky high for the GR lodges.
bat is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 10:01 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Something is definitely suspicious about the possibility of switching me to Olosokwan. Either ATR has overbooked Piaya or there are genuine concerns about the Maasai's presence.

When I look up Olosokwan on ATR's own website it says the following:

"This excellent semi-permanent tented camp is open between July and November, when the game-viewing in the area is at its best. Its location outside the park means that in addition to the usual vehicle safaris, walking and night safaris are a speciality ..."

So, why is ATR trying to tell me that one of their camps that is intended for July - November would be better than Piaya???

The time is now to start making waves, so Eben, Sandi, Leely and all of you other East Africaphiles, please advise.

With the two nights at Piaya, should I try to get an extra night at Olduvai and an extra night at Masek. This would give me the following itinerary:

Manyara Tree Lodge (2)
Crater Lodge (2)
Olduvai Camp (2)
Nomad Masek (3)
Mbuzi Mawe (2)

Or should I insist on Piaya and not take them at their word that they are considering a substitution to Oloskwan for the reasons they provided. Another option would be to insist on all four nights at Nomad Masek, if available.

What do the rest of you make of this. This seems like it is no better than sending me up to Kirawira at this time of year. I did not choose ATR to be steered in the wrong direction.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 10:09 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
As a comparison, this is what ATR says about Piaya on their website:

"This excellent semi-permanent tented camp is open between December and June, when the game-viewing in the area is at its best. Its location outside the park means that in addition to the usual vehicle safaris, walking and night safaris are a speciality ..."

Have any of you others who have booked with ATR received notification of a similar possible substitution?

I had slight concerns about staying as far north as Mbuzi Mawe but Oloskwan is even further north, not far from Lobo and Klein's. Closer to the Masai Mara than to Nomad Piaya, possibly.

Any feedback will be greatly appreciated, as I will be taking ATR to task on this once I have a better understanding.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 10:15 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,510
Climbinghigh THANK YOU for so much great info.
One question. How did the fire affect Tarangire itself are there huge areas destroyed. We loved it there and are planning on spending a couple of nights there when we are back in Feb 2007.
Thanks again J
jules39 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 10:24 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
Rocco,

I know I'm a lot more laissez faire than you when it comes to nailing down an itinerary, but I'd probably take them at their word and assume they will change only "if the weather and game-viewing are better up there at this time."

Also, it seems to me that ATR plays a little fast and loose with the names of Nomad camps. Perhaps Eben has better info about this.

But, of course, call ATR and find out exactly what the deal is.

Good luck!
Leely is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 10:35 AM
  #19
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
rocco:
Did you receive something recently? My original spreadsheet makes a reference to the possiblity of shifting to Olosokwan "if the weather and game-viewing are better up there at this time." I did not pay much attention to it because I thought that it was unlikely that it would be better there in Feb. The language is in my original spreadsheet from May so it does not seemed aimed at the current sitation per se. It struck me as "boiler-plate" language.
bat is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 23rd, 2005, 10:53 AM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,354
Rocco

You can see the locations of Nomad Piaya vs Nomad Olosokwan on my Serengeti Map. As well as the locations of Mbuze Mawe, etc.

Nomad also has mobile camps that can move more frequently.

I stayed at Olosokwan camp two weeks ago. You can see my pics here:

http://www.go-safari.com/Serengeti/Nomadlol.htm

You really don't want to be near Oloksokwan in Feb!!! It is WAY TOO FAR North and you will probably spend your game drives inside the Serengeti anyway. In such a case your wife will enjoy Klein's camp more and you get an additional CCAfrica discount.

The truth is, for game drives longer than a couple of hours, Nomad go into the Serengeti. Their concession area up there is good for shorter drives only.

This is turning out to be interesting!

I don't know what ATR has in mind but if you cannot get them to keep you at Piaya, ask them to book you at Sayari in Piaya (unless you want to wait for my trip report in December). My guess is your wife will enjoy Sayari more and I think you will like the open vehicles!

Eben
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:44 AM.