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Trouble Posting Replies Again - This is For Roccco Re Your Tanzania Itinerary

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Dec 19th, 2003, 04:13 PM
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sandi
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Trouble Posting Replies Again - This is For Roccco Re Your Tanzania Itinerary

Roccco -

Interesting the comments from King and roderick re accommodations at Tarangire - somehow you'll have to make a decision as to issues of water problems, level of comfort, long drives to/thru Taragire for game drives - maybe you should consider something "outside the box."

Maybe 2-nts at Lake Manyara, as from other posts there seem to better choices for lodging in this area. But again, this is a small park, and like Tarangire should not be more than a 2-nt stay.

But what really caught my attention was King's alternative suggestion and comment, namely:

>>2nts Kirawira
2nts Rubondo Island Camp, Lake Victoria as an option and alternative to going to Zanzibar
2nts Grumeti River Camp

Please note that the drive from Ngorongoro to Grumeti River Camp is almost 6 to 7 hours so it is best to fly. Kirawira is only 30 mins to 45 min drive from Grumeti. I suggest you fly to both Kirawira and Grumeti<<

What he's recommending is that you spend time only in the Western Serengeti - Grumeti River Camp, Kirawira and Lake Victoria? Completely omitting Tarangire or Lake Manyara. the Crater and Zanzibar (dont think STD would like that), doesn't make sense to me. Maybe if you had been to Tanzania previously and were returning wanting to concentrate on one area, ok - but for a first time trip???

As to the drive between the Crater and the Western Serengeti - I pulled out my diary and have the exact time it took for us to drive.

We left the Crater at 8am, and after a bit over 1-hr arrived at Oldupai Gorge. While I thought we spent maybe an hour, in actuality didn't leave till 11am (we met some people and conversations ran on longer than I recalled).

On our way again, we reached the "sign" indicating we were entering the Serengeti - but a sure sign is "as soon as you stop seeing acacia trees on the road, you've entered the Serengeti" - shortly we reach the Park registration office, where our driver signed us in, and we were on our way again. (I guess about 11:30am).

As mentioned in previous posts, along our way we stopped and saw all kinds of game - zebra, hartbeast, Tommies, gazelles, grey heron, ostrich - boy were there lots of Tommies; also tracked a pride of 11 lions someone had reported seeing the night before and found them as we cut off the road - not all 11, but about half of them.

Passing the Simba Hills on towards Seronera (approximately in the center of the Park) still seeing all kinds of game along the way taking time to stop and take photos. Granted these were long dusty and bumpy roads, but there was so much out there in the vastness of the Serengeti; we did stop at Seronera (pit stop) and spent about half-hour walking thru the open air museum there.

We reach the Serena Serengeti at 2pm, where we spent about an hour for lunch and to freshen-up. By 3pm we were on the road again, and though still a ways to go, the roads actually were getting better. We actually came upon a Public Works Project, Tanzanian style - the road was being "redirted" (regrading). We see a lion with her cubs and a wildebeast "kill" she had hidden in the bushes, lots of baboons and vervet monkeys toying with us running back and forth across the road we are driving, gazelles, and a herd of hippos out of water.

Also herds of resident zebra and wildebeast that don't migrate, as this area of the Serengeti has year-round water. As the sun gets lower in the sky, and out of nowhere, come into view 15 giraffe - absolutely amazing. Quite noticeable, as missing, there are no elephants and still no cheetah - I've given up on ever seeing a Leopard. (Note: finally two years later in South Africa, at Singita, I made "contact").

Turning into the road towards Kirawira, we drive along the Grumeti River and stop to see the birds - egrets and maribou storks (scavengers) and can see the bulging eyes of very big crocs in the water.

We finally arrive at Kirawira a 6pm.

The actual drive time from Oldapai Gorge (excluding stop for lunch, stop at Seronera, off-road driving for animal sightings, and stop at the Grumeti) was less than 5-hrs.

Sure there were stretches where we saw nothing but beautiful vistas in front of us, but we never knew what would be around the next bend and were often surprised - so it wound up being an usually long game drive.

Certainly as King suggests, flying is an option, but I wouldn't have missed that drive. We did, however, fly back from there to Lake Manyara.

It's your choice re flying both ways for the W.Serengeti. And I do hope you can somehow settle on a camp at Tarangire or maybe something at Lake Manyara - but I certainly wouldn't only spend time in the Western Serengeti.

Now, I only hope this posting reply messages corrects itself - sometimes I can, and sometimes not.
 
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Dec 19th, 2003, 05:55 PM
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Sandi,

Thanks for the vivid details on the drive from Ngorongoro to Kirawira. It doesn't really sound bad at all the way that you have explained it.

It reminds me of the trip between Kafunta River Lodge and Kafunta Island Bush Camp. While that trip was only about 3.5 - 4 hours, it was a non-stop trip on a very unforgiving road that was still showing effects of the wet season. But, like happened on your way to Kirawira, the transfer was very scenic and we came across a couple elephants, countless puku (impala), and many Thornicroft Giraffe sightings, including a group of 12 giraffes together. Besides that, we passed through a few small villages, including one where there was a big truck from the United Nations handing out food and supplies. At that point we really knew that we were in AFRICA and not the sanitized version of Africa offered up in the Sabi Sand/Kruger area.

I really got a lot of joy out of throwing Kwacha (Zambian monetary unit) to the children that ran alongside our vehicle.

Back to talking about my Tanzania itinerary, I am REALLY excited about the places that I am planning to visit. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Kirawira and Sand Rivers all look like great places, and with only two nights in Zanzibar, I will gladly recharge at a conveniently located place like the Zanzibar Serena.

I am sure that whatever I choose in Tarangire will be more than acceptable. I really do not have a problem with bucket showers at Kikoti. The bucket shower system was used at Kafunta Island Bush Camp and neither Scared To Death nor I had any problems with it at all. There are not even any floors other than the dirt/sand at Kafunta Island Bush Camp and the walls only come up to just above waist high, yet it was a beautiful camp and the room size and bathrooms were very generous and I loved my time at this camp. While I may not like it for 14 nights, for two nights, the same amount of time being planned for Tarangire, it was perfect.

Okay, here is my other concern...at Kirawira I believe that the camp has its own vehicles. I would think that would mean that a tour operator is going to drive me all the way from Ngorongoro to the Western Serengeti, only to turn right around, since Kirawira is providing me with the game drives. Is this correct? If so, it may be cheaper to fly, if cost and timelength of transfers are more important than the (game)drive through the length of the Serengeti.

Now, however, the problem that I have with Kikoti is that it, too, seems quite a distance from the park entrance. Right now I am leaning towards the very unknown quantity of the Tarangire River Camp:

http://www.wildland.com/trips/other/...river_camp.asp

Here is the description of the camp by www.africandreamsafaris.com:

Two nights full board accommodation at Tarangire River Camp. Here you will be staying at a semi permanent luxury tented camp overlooking the Tarangire River.

The camp offers a stunning view of the Tarangire River and of the park. The camp offers 10 luxury tents complete with running water in the attached shower and toilet cubicles, with hot water showers and solar powered lighting at night.

The Tarangire River Camp doesn't look like much in the pictures shown, but it is only 3.5 kms from the park entrance and comes very highly recommended by one of the tour companies that I am dealing with and is used by Abercrombie & Kent and Ker & Downey, two very exclusive companies, for their itineraries to Tanzania.

Anyway, I get excited just looking at the websites of Kirawira, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and Sand Rivers...over and over and over again. Cheap entertainment so that once I do get to Tanzania I can actually afford these places.

Thanks again for the very informative feedback about the transfer from Ngorongoro to Kirawira.
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Dec 19th, 2003, 06:15 PM
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I believe that Tarangire Tented Camp and Tarangire River Camp are one and the same camp.

Here is what another company said about it, putting me much more at ease:

After the game drive, proceed to Tarangire Tented Camp for a delicious dinner and a relaxing evening. Tarangire Tented Camp, set in a baobab grove, overlooks the Tarangire River. You can relax in the library, at the bar, or you can take a dive in the lodge's swimming pool.

---I certainly could not tell that the camp had any such amenities by the limited pictures and descriptions from other sites and I am not even 100% certain it is the same camp, but I am fairly certain that it is.

Here is the only other picture that I could find, if this is the right camp:

http://www.ewpnet.com/tarangire-tented-camp.htm

Seems like they should fire their photographer as there must be more flattering pictures out there somewhere.
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Dec 20th, 2003, 05:18 AM
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sandi
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Roccco -

You asked the following:

>>Okay, here is my other concern...at Kirawira I believe that the camp has its own vehicles. I would think that would mean that a tour operator is going to drive me all the way from Ngorongoro to the Western Serengeti, only to turn right around, since Kirawira is providing me with the game drives. Is this correct? If so, it may be cheaper to fly, if cost and timelength of transfers are more important than the (game)drive through the length of the Serengeti.<<

Since, with the exception of the "fly-back" from the W.Serengeti, and if the tour operators haven't changed the way they do things, you will have the same guide/driver from pick-up in Arusha thru Tarangire (or Manyara), then onto the Crater and the drive to Serengeti - he's all yours.

He'll want to know what your desires are, want to see, what kind of schedule, etc. Instead of going out at 6:30am you might want to go at 7am, or maybe you want a late sleep-in one day, and have breakfast at 7am and go out at 8am to 12N or 1pm. Just let him know the day before, and you'll "be set to go" on your schedule.

Granted there are certain schedules that have to be kept, as he knows how long it takes, say to get from Tarangire to Ngorongoro, and from Crater to Western Serengeti; or the fact that the day in The Crater is an early start - but if you want to leave the Crater early or stay later, he can accommodate you (though you have to be out of Crater by dusk [it closes]).

Whenever you're at a location more than 1-day, especially in the Serengeti, you have even more options. We had the same driver throughout and he was a hoot! He knew our personalities, our likes and dislikes, picked-up on our sense of humor or not and it worked very well.

With the exception of the Crater, we weren't "6:30am" game drive people, so arranged instead early breakfasts and later 8:30am-9am starts to 1pm most days, and of course, the afernoon drive.

However, on one day at Kirawira, my partner did do a 6:30am drive, back by 9am for breakfast - then the driver was free to rest, which he most definitely deserved, till be went out again at 3:30pm. We caught up with rest, postcards, our diaries and reading from the camp library (one great book on Tanzanite). The camp provided us with tea and coffee and even drinks till lunchtime - whatever we wanted.

In fact, our itinerary throughout had us scheduled for two (2) morning drives - 6:30am-9, then breakfast, then 10am-1pm; and the one (1) afternoon drive. But since we didn't want the earlier morning drive we arrange instead only one (1) longer morning drive, as mentioned above. The guide was more than accommodating; we did this on both our trip to Kenya two years earlier and then in Tanzania. It worked for us.

While all camp/lodges have their own guides/vehicles (as there are some people who may only fly from place to place; or only in/out of a particular camp/lodge) - in your case you already have a guide/driver who will be yours the entire stay - you are on a "private" tour. At the end of your stay at Kirawira, he will drive you to the airstrip at Grumeti and see you off (this is when you tip him) - then he drives back to Arusha on his own.

These guides know the areas they are traversing; they do communicate with the local camp guides if there have been recent sightings; it's not like they are in foreign territory.

Once you arrive in The Selous, that's a different situation - the Sand River will take care of your activities. Hope this helps.
 
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Dec 20th, 2003, 07:37 AM
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Sandi,

Thank you for the clarification. After seeing that Kirawira had its own vehicles on its website, I figured that they were used for all the guests.

Just curious...which month were you there? I am hoping that my June 09-12th dates will serve me well, but it may just be a week or two too early. Even earlier in the season, however, will be my June 15th - 18th at Selous. But, although it was early in the season in South Luangwa and I probably could have seen more game by waiting until August, I still enjoyed myself and appreciated that there were no crowds. The weather at South Luangwa was near perfect in June. Hopefully the same will hold true in Selous.
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Dec 20th, 2003, 10:24 AM
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Hi Sandi! Just a point of clarification, if I may ... Most of the river activities (boat trips, fishing) in Selous take place in the Rufiji River, which Sand Rivers Camp looks directly over. Sand River, which is as dry as a bone in the dry season unlike the Rufiji, is not as "activity" driven.

Roccco: Our stay at Sand Rivers was in early October, so needless to say, we did not have a problem with bugs. When you are there, you will be asked each night by the camp manager or his assistant, what you want to do the next day whether that be a boat trip in the a.m., with a game drive in the afternoon or a game drive in the a.m. with a visit to the Hot Springs in the p.m. They aim to please their clients. I would highly recommend you do a bush breakfast - fantastic! - with a park ranger and your guide to do some walking afterwards! STD may be comforted by the fact that the rangers do carry rifles, should the need arise. I do so look forward to your trip!
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Dec 20th, 2003, 10:25 AM
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Roccco: Just an added note, when you fly into Selous, you will be using Sand Rivers guides. They are fantastic, some of the best we had anywhere throughout our trip to Kenya and Tanzania!
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Dec 20th, 2003, 12:56 PM
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sandi
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Hi SusanLynne -

Thanks for all the info you've been providing on The Selous - I'm keeping a file on this area as my next (hopefully) destination in East Africa, along with other areas in Northern Kenya. But for the time, both are a ways off.

Rocco - Unless, I definitely knew it would be the "rainy" season for any destination, whether Africa, Europe, Asia, etc. - when I really wouldn't want to be visiting (though these days no one can be assured of anything regarding weather) - I have always vacationed in Africa end-November/begin-December.

That time of year, in East Africa, is known for the "short rains" and if anything the rain settles the dust, cools the air (it doesn't get humid), most often occur at night, though you can get 1/2-hr. spurts during the day; likewise when we were in Southern Africa, that time of year is known for "thunderstorms" in the Kruger area, VFA, and Botswana - and we had them in all three places.

To date, I haven't scheduled my African trips based on that fact - I just go. It's a kind of shoulder-season, the rates are sometimes lower, but most importantly, there are less tourists - that's my primary objective.

I have no idea what the weather will be in Tanzania in June, though the long rains should be over, if it even rains (these past few years have been rather dry). Temperature wise, both Kenya and Tanzania, being on or close to the Equator, have relatively constant temps year-round (with Tanzania, being a bit hotter). The mornings will be cool as will the evenings, but during the day should be lovely.

As to the animal sightings - I just take them as they come. We either see or we don't. I even have a problem with this business of "the animals sleep during the heat of the day" that's why game drives are early morning and late afternoons. We've often been out on the road, i.e, our trip from the Crater to Kirawira and we saw plenty of game as we drove thru the Serengeti.

And the trip prior when in Kenya, my partner went out on the 6:30am game drive in the Samburu area, and didn't see much of anything; yet when we went out the second time at about 10am there was game galore, everywhere.

I can't tell you any more than my own experience. You might want to simply ask the tour operator! Now, that can probably be a loaded question and they'll probably reply that game viewing is great all the time, but if you have specific questions, such as - tall grass, calving season, likely weather - you'll get a better idea.

I'm also sure there are others who read these posts who might have more concrete answers to your questions.
 
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Dec 22nd, 2003, 10:20 AM
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I also don't subscribe to the "animals sleep during the heat of the day" philosophy, and when I first visited the Masai Mara I went on late morning/early afternoon game drives, and we were the only Landrover out at those times -- saw plenty of lion, mating elephants, much river activity (especially crocodiles devouring drowned wildebeast), huge herds of wildebeast. There are no bedrooms where the animals can retire for the day, so while in the intense heat they may rest in the shade, animals are still present, especially in a game rich park such as Serengeti or Masai Mara.
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