Trip with Roy Safaris: Excellent!

Aug 23rd, 2005, 07:29 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 24
Trip with Roy Safaris: Excellent!

Dear all,

some of you may still remember: Before our departure in July I promised to keep you posted about our experiences with Roy’s in Tanzania.

Having returned just two days ago I can report now that we really had a great trip, which did not only meet all our expectations, but also offered some nice surprises. In particular our request of being as secluded and “private” as possible even while travelling not very far off the beaten track was fulfilled to an almost incredibly high degree. We really did not expect to enjoy magnificent sunsets in the Serengeti being absolutely in the wild or having a campsite close to Kibo Hut for the two of us completely alone. And we enjoyed Sansibar in an environment which gave us the impression that we are the only guests on that nice island…

Our very special thanks go to Sanjay, Director Operations at Roy’s, Camilus, our bird specialist and great safari guide, and Elias, the best mountain guide which you can have on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

For those who are interested in details, please see our itinerary below and feel free to ask.


27.07: Arrival at Kilimanjaro airport in the evening, transfer and to Serena Mountain Village Hotel.
28.07: Full day at Serena Mountain Village, briefing at Roy’s in the afternoon.
29.07: Drive to Tarangire National park. Game drive in the park. Overnight at special campsite Terminalia.
30.07: Full day game drive in Tarangire. Overnight at Terminalia campsite.
31.07: Morning game drive in Tarangire, then drive to Lake Natron for dinner and overnight at Lake Natron tented camp.
01.08: At 01h00 transfer to the base of the Mt. Oldonyolengai. Climbed the summit with a local guide from Lake Natron area. In the afternoon visited the waterfall and the shore of Lake Natron with thousands of flamingoes.
02.08: Drive to Serengeti National park. Overnight at special campsite Kori.
03.08: Game drive, move on to special campsite Kibumbu (incredible sunset!).
04.08: Full day game drive in Serengeti.
05.08: Morning game drive, then transfer to Ngorongoro for dinner and overnight at Simba B special campsite.
06.08: Drive to Empakaai crater rim. With an armed ranger descended (by walking) into the crater in order to see the volcanic lake. Visit Ngorongoro crater in the afternoon. Overnight at Simba B Special campsite.
07.08: Drive to Arusha (we skipped the morning game drive) and onward to Marangu for overnight at Marangu Hotel.
08.08: After an early breakfast, transfer to Marangu gate for pre-registration and drive to Rongai gate (Nale Moru village)- Altitude 1950m. Trek to the first camp on the edge of the moorland zone. Dinner and overnight at First Cave camp (2600m).
09.08: After breakfast trek to the second cave (3450m). Leave the main trail and trek towards Mawenzi for dinner and overnight at Kikelewa cave (3600m).
10.08: Acclimatisation at Kikelewa cave
11.08: Trek to Mawenzi tarn hut campsite. (4330m).
12.08: Acclimatisation at Mawenzi tarn.
13.08: Trek to Kibo hut, where a campsite above the hut had been already reserved for us (4750m).
14.08: 01h00 climb to Gilman's point (5685m) and onward to Uhuru Peak (5896m) for Sunrise. Descend via Kibo hut to Horombo hut camp.
15.08: Descend to Mandara hut to Marangu gate (1830m). Transfer to Marangu hotel.
16.08: Transfer to Kilimanjaro airport flight to Zanzibar, tour Stone town in the afternoon. Transfer to Matemwe Beach Village, Asali Suite, which is a dream!
17.08: Matemwe Beach Village-Asali Suite.
18.08: Matemwe Beach Village-Asali Suite.
19.08: Matemwe Beach Village-Asali Suite.
20.08: Transfer and flight via Dar es Salaam and Amsterdam home.

MarcusW is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2005, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Thank you so much for reporting back, your trip sounds wonderful.

I'd be delighted to read ANY additional info you're willing to share, whether it's about your thoughts on each area, the game you saw, what your accommodations were like and everything and anything you're willing to share!!!

Kavey is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2005, 08:12 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Hi MarcusW. Welcome home! Glad you had a great trip...! Just wondering, what did you think of the Oldonyo Lengai climb? My husband and I climbed it in January and I'd be interested to know what you thought, etc....

Oh and I agree with Kavey - a full trip report would most definitely be appreciated and enjoyed
alwaysafrica is offline  
Aug 24th, 2005, 01:22 AM
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Kavey, alwaysafrica, thanks for your interest!

Due to heavy time constraints I will not be able to write a full and detailed trip report during the next two weeks, but I will check this forum and try to answer questions as far as possible.

Oldonyo Lengai:
A very tough climb as the route is extremely steep. We are experienced in mountaineering and therefore had no difficulties ourselves, but we recognised very well that this climb is pretty demanding. Whether it is rewarding or not depends on the actual weather conditions, I’d say. When we arrived at the top everything was completely covered by thick clouds and we did not see anything (no sunrise). Later on though the clouds lifted and a spectacular scenery emerged: All chimneys of the volcano smoking like a factory in the early morning light. I spent up there more than one hour absolutely alone after all other climbers (including my wife) had started to descend – and I will never forget the absolutely unique impressions…

Thoughts on other areas visited:

Tarangire is a really great place for bird watching. We enjoyed it very much. But besides of birds we also ran into the absolutely unlikely scenery of a lioness directly facing a zivet cat. This one was amazing even to our safari guide.

Lake Natron:
The flamingos were absolutely incredible – but they are not always there. We did not expect to see so many of them and we even were able to approach them fairly close.

Due to late rains this year we still saw left-overs of the migration in the Western Corridor. Very large herds of wildebeests and zebras. And of course predators: Lions at a fresh zebra kill, two leopards, and – our personal favourite – cheetahs, one also at a kill. We were also very impressed by the landscape, particularly in cheetah land (the kopje area). The “special campsites”, which are nothing else than a designated area in the wild, which you can get reserved to set up your own camp – completely unfenced and without any infrastructure – are an experience in itself. Hyenas may well take away the shoes in front of your tent…

Not really out favourite, as it appeared somehow like “Africa in a bottle” to us. Too many cars, too much dust. But: Where else in the world do you ever have the chance to see a black rhino in the wild. We were lucky enough to have this privilege.

Empakai Crater:
A nice walk, but the access road is extremely rough and dusty. In my opinion it is not really worth the effort.

Rongai route to Mt. Kilimanjaro:
It was a big surprise for us to find it still possible to escape the masses at this popular mountain. With the help of our guide we managed to spend all nights on very quiet and secluded camp sites – most of the time almost without any noise. It was also really worth to spend eight days on the mountain and after this thorough acclimatisation both of us finally reached Uhuru Peak. I even took an extra effort and visited the ash pit (Reusch crater) after summiting and here I had my personal Kilimanjaro experience, absolutely alone just opposite to Uhuru peak. I even descended down to Kibo hut on my own route, which is much faster and lies in the east of Gilman’s Point. We also enjoyed the rain forest on the last day (around Mandara hut and below) very much after seven days of only limited water supply.

Stone Town:
Not really spectacular in our opinion, more ruins than attractive buildings. The market is perhaps worth a visit, but you do not want to bye any food there.

Jozani Forest:
The red Colobus monkeys are extremely friendly and not shy at all. Very pleasant experience.

Dolphin Bay in the south of Sanzibar:
Fairly good chances to see dolphins pretty close. You can even try to snorkel with them, although it was pretty crowded with boats when we were there (August is absolutely high season in Zansibar).

Serena Mountain Village at Arusha: A very beautiful location, to be recommended.
Marangu Hotel at Marangu: Although ideally situated for a climb I have to say BEWARE! They operate on the basis of a two class society there, first class being their own “climbing clients” and then comes the rest, to whom the give various kinds of trouble. Even when you have booked another night there after the climb, they do not allow you to leave any luggage behind. The manager/owner (obviously of western origin) is extremely arrogant and shows even racist tendencies.
Matemwe Village Hotel – The Asali Suite: A unique experience at a very affordable level. You need to book far in advance though.

Hope this gives some impressions.
MarcusW is offline  
Aug 24th, 2005, 11:18 AM
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Hi Marcus,
I'm so happy you had a great time and welcome home.

Thank you for following up and letting everyone know how things went. It sounds like a fantastic trip.

Thanks again.
Leely is offline  
Aug 24th, 2005, 11:35 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 396

Can you talk a little bit about what the camping conditions were like? I'm considering a private camping trip which sounds like what you did.

linjudy is offline  
Aug 24th, 2005, 11:56 AM
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MarcusW -

Welcome Home. Sounds great and wonderful to hear about some stops/alternatives rarely posted about here. Also, the tours in Zanzibar were good to hear of.

I realize when you first arrive home you want to get as much posted as possible - lest one forgets - but if you remember details as you go through your photos, I'm sure we'd like these tid-bits. Thanks for sharing.
Aug 24th, 2005, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,846
Glad to hear everything worked out well with Roys. I'd also be interested to hear more about the camping aspects of your trip. Roys has budget and semi-luxury options listed on their website. What type of camping did you choose? I'm very interested in doing a private camping trip in northern Tanzania, but I need something semi-comfy (like with showers and cots)

Were all of the campsites on your itinerary private? How far in advance did you book this trip? What was the reason for moving the camp location in the Serengeti after the first night? Was it to take advantage of better game viewing or because of campsite availability? Could you tell me what area of the Serengeti those two campsites are located in? How long was the drive from Tarangire to Lake Natron? Thanks!
Patty is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 12:20 AM
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Hi Judy, hi Patty,

Here are our personal views about safari camping in TZ:
We have chosen the camping approach as a matter of taste and not with the intention to save money. It was not exactly our first trip to Africa (although the first one to TZ) and we simply feel closer to the spirit of African wildlife staying in a tent instead of a well-protected lodge. The nice surprise was that this is particularly true in Tanzania with its so-called “special campsites” inside of NPs. You cannot be more in the wild than on such a “campsite” and when you open your tent at night and direct your torchlight out you will definitely find several pairs of shy eyes reflecting in the dark. If you can enjoy such a feeling, then you must go for it - particularly in TZ.
But beware: I am talking about “special campsites” here, not about public ones. The latter I would not recommend at all, at least not during the high season. Public campsites tend to be very crowded (at least in heavily visited areas) and I have seen sanitary conditions in one of them (Simba A at Ngorongoro) which are simply beyond acceptability. I cannot imagine anybody really enjoying a stay at such a filthy and noisy place. What a difference with Simba B, the “special” one not far away!
Therefore I suggest (and received reconfirmation on this also from our own safari guide): If you do a camping safari, then you better go for “special campsites”! As a consequence your tour operator has to provide you with everything you need, including shower-tent, mess and toilet-tent and you have to bring all your water with you in the car. This will then probably be called “semi-luxury”. Roy’s did a very good job in providing us with the necessary infrastructure and we had shower every evening and a fresh-water buck in front of our tent – until it was taken away by a hyena one night…
The campsites which we used are absolutely marvellous, unspoiled and clean (with the partial exception of Simba B) – and that’s also how you are supposed to leave them after your stay there. Insects may be an issue. In Tarangire the tsetse fly is widespread (but active only during daytime, particularly in hot hours), in the Serengeti we were invaded once by (non-aggressive) ants. I propose to bring not only insect repellents by also a strong insecticide just in case you need to clear your tent. Mosquitos were not really an issue.
Booking in advance is absolutely necessary and your tour operator has to pay to the NP administration for the reservation, but we learned that with “special campsites” there is some flexibility even when you have a confirmed booking already. In essence you can arrange a change at any time provided the requested site is free.
Patty asked a very interesting question: Why did we stay only one night at Kori (Northern Serengeti) and then moved on to Kibumbu (Central S.). Well, the answer is trivial, but the consequences were uncomfortable: We simply ran out of available days during the planning process and therefore had to compromise. The car ride from Lake Natron to Serengeti is very long and rough – approximately 6-7 hours, almost as much as from Tarangire to Lake Natron (8 hours) - and we also wanted to see something of the Northern Serengeti. Therefore we stayed at Kori. In the hindsight I would say that it is definitely not a good idea to stay one night only at a particular campsite as this involves far too much overhead. Setting up/tearing down a fully equipped “semi-luxury” camp takes your staff (usually only one guide and one cook for a group of two or three clients) between two and three hours and can hardly be done without light. Therefore you better avoid any ONS..
A truly relaxed “semi-luxury” camping safari using “special campsites” would consist of three nights or more at each campsite. We will think in this direction next time…

With this I hope to have answered your questions.

Sandi, so far I had only a first glimpse at our pictures. The Colobus monkeys at Zanzibar turn out to be great actors. Beside of this I realized once again how beautiful the different vegetation zones on Mt. K. are. It is really worth spending eight days there, as we did!

MarcusW is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 02:17 AM
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Thanks so much for all the extra detail - very useful.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 03:11 AM
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Marcus -

Great information regarding your camping experiences - where, how and why.

When we were on Zanzibar while we didn't schedule any day-tours, ie., Jozani Forest - we just wanted to relax - we did pass thru Jozani on the way to our beach resort. There are police directing traffic here as people heading to the beach resorts often try to stop to feed the Colobus; of course, brings them to the trees over the roadway, if not onto the road itself. We were encouraged to move on, but driving slooowwwwllly we could see these little characters in the trees.

We look forward to seeing your photos when you get to them. Thanks again.
Aug 25th, 2005, 05:07 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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What an interesting trip-and quite unique. Look forward to the pictures.
Sarvowinner is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 06:05 AM
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Thank you all for your nice reactions – and please keep asking, if you think that our recent experiences might be useful to you!

As fas as pictures are concerned, please do not expect any to appear on the web soon. This will definitely take time.

Two more details came to my mind which I did not mention so far:

At Lake Natron a walk to the “waterfall” (one hour in each direction) is definitely rewarding. You can swim in a clear and warm mountain stream there and have a (cool) shower in the water falling straight off what is the western edge of the rift valley. The scenery is similar to wadis of northern Oman – an amazing contrast to the absolutely dry and almost barren surroundings. (If you go there, don’t forget to bring sandals as you have to walk in the river before arriving at the waterfall – and bring a bath suite as your local guide might be pretty embarrassed when you swim naked…)

Another observation was the effort by the TZ NP authorities to distribute the ”load” of visitors a little bit more equally over various areas of the Serengeti NP. Their approach is establishing different “zones” within the park, where different rules apply. The most important aspect (probably) is the permission to drive off-road in certain areas of the park. This gives you the option to approach closely in case of an interesting game sighting, while in the more frequently visited areas of the park it is forbidden to leave the established tracks (at least in theory). In particular when spotting a cheetah in the vast and wide grassland of the kopje region driving off-road might be an interesting option and also possible without causing damage to the vegetation (as long as the ground is dry). I have the impression that the different zones are (not yet) very well known (even to safari guides), so you may want to have a look at the detailed map in main entrance gate complex.

Have fun!
MarcusW is offline  
Aug 26th, 2005, 07:09 AM
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Thanks for the detailed descriptions and explanation of the camping!
Patty is offline  
Aug 26th, 2005, 08:22 AM
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just to keep my portal site up-to-date: is Matemwe Village Hotel the same place as Matemwe Beach Guesthouse (

Aug 28th, 2005, 11:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 24
Hi Mitch,

The description at does not seem to be updated (2004 prices only), but apparently refers to the same place which we booked under the name of Matemwe Village Hotel/Guesthouse.

Special there is the Asali Suite.

MarcusW is offline  
Aug 29th, 2005, 11:51 AM
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Thanks for all of the descriptions. Re the Asali suite, did you have a view of the ocean from the suite? The plunge pool, is it cool water or heated water? I could not tell if it was more of a hot tub/jacuzzi type of pool.
bat is offline  
Aug 29th, 2005, 10:36 PM
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The Asali Suite is located directly at the beach, Bat. It even has a “private beach” attached. There is a lot of beautiful vegetation around the suite, but you can open the whole front of the main room to have a beautiful ocean view. The plunge pool is filled with cold fresh water which makes sense as the ocean itself is so warm that you can spend hours in the water there without getting cold.

And you will particularly enjoy the private breakfasts and dinners there, which are prepared and served exclusively for the two of you directly at the suite, if you wish...
MarcusW is offline  
Aug 30th, 2005, 02:56 PM
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Thanks for the follow-up on the Asali suite--sounds fabulous.
bat is offline  
Aug 30th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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Dear Marcus,
Great to hear that you loved your trip - love knowing that when I am back home that the planning and money was worth it!

A couple of questions/notes -

- what happened with the lioness and the civet?
- I have to agree with you regarding the viewing of a large number of flamingoes - it it amazing!
- also about Ngorongoro - I was there with 2 nieces in Feb 02, and it was packed with vehicles, which was most obvious around the toilets but we also got to see 3 black rhino, my only real sighting as I do not count one sighting in South Africa when I really couldn't see a rhino shape at all, just something moving with speed through the bush. We were fairly close considering it was black rhino!

You really did have a varied trip, so look forward to anything else when you have the spare time.

austkaye is offline  

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