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What Where How When ??

Old Jul 29th, 2007, 03:59 AM
  #1  
chacheetah
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What Where How When ??

The WHAT: Safari! WHERE: Kenya or Tanzania??
HOW: Other than utilizing the Africa crazed ( and I say that with sincere affection) Fodorites, how do I choose my outfitter?; WHEN: June or Sept. 2008 (this I know by my readings: June - Tanzania; Sept.- Kenya)
Can I get the pros and cons of each please.
Our budget level is probably mid to high...no tents w/o elec.; all inclusive; fly vs. drive - (age!)
From what I've read, I am interested in the variety of Kenya - from the Northern area to the Mara. Tanzania - Serengeti and the Migration. Time does not allow me to do both.Ten days on safari, two days travel. Would like to keep it at 6,000 p/p if possible. Would go over if it were some fabulous place or experience, etc. that I'd never see/do again.
Thanks for your help! CC
 
Old Jul 29th, 2007, 07:54 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
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Chacheetah, I'm sure you'll get lots of advice, but I wonder if you've found the New East Africa Trip Report Index?:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=4

It's a great place to start investigating some of the What Where How When you're looking to answer.

Does your $6000 per person include your international air fare? If not, you'll be able to create a very nice itinerary for 10 days on that budget.

With regard to choosing an outfitter, your choices beyond what are recommended on the forum are huge. Just be careful that the company is reputable, easy to contact and responsive to your inquiries. If you find one you can always post on the forum for recommendations.

A variety of locations and experiences is always a good thing to consider for an itinerary. For example, Tz has a lot more to offer than just the Serengeti and the Migration and I don't know of anybody who would recommend you spend your 10 days doing only that. Both countries have lots to offer. Having said that, if it's only the migration you're interested in seeing in Tz, you could probably work out a 10 day, 2 country itinerary.

You'll also have to consider whether you'd like a group (prescribed) tour, or a private customized trip. Don't let the notion of a private safari being expensive put you off that option. Often a private safari itinerary can be created for about the same cost as a group tour.
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Old Jul 29th, 2007, 08:48 AM
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chacheetah
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Calo - thanks for responding.I did not include international air in the figure. This is what has happened -I have been primary caregiver to my elderly dad for two years and upon his passing this past spring my siblings decided to give me the money from the sale of his truck as a gift as long as I took a much needed trip. I think they would assume we (husband is included too, thank goodness, or there would be hell to pay!) would be lying on a beach. Oh no, you can tell by my screen name I am very much into wildlife and been dreaming about a safari forever. I contacted a few local t/a's but they were putting me on a standard tour in a group and that is not what we want to do. I contacted Micato, A&K, and a few other "names" and they too were higher than what I could do, even some of the "group travel" - I guess its because I chose high season. I want to meet other travelers outside of a group, be on my own schedule (you can imagine why!) chill out when I want. I also want to fly between MOST camps (over 3 hours or more) and most groups drive. I know that adds to the cost, but is well worth it to my joints. So where I live (mid south) the t/a's are more accustomed to groups etc and have told me a "custom safari" would be way out of my price range. I do not agree with that mainly because I have been reading this forum for years! I have skimmed through the travel reports and gleaned quite a bit from them. I was just looking for maybe more up to date advice as I know camps, rates,etc,change frequently. I did get on the sites for operators (Tanzania) and (Kenya) as advised but became totally overwhelmed and put it aside. Now my dear family is after me to put it together NOW. No procrastinating anymore, they say. So,if I want to go 2008, I need to work on it now. I am thinking I need to stay with one country because of the flying and my need for above average accommodations. I am paying for air;but I am sure I can work that out. Sure do appreciate the advice and if anyone is allowed to give names of honest, t/a's who could help out I would sincerely be most appreciative. I have never tried to put together a trip so far away. We've always traveled where I could directly make reservations, so putting this in someone else's hands is quite daunting. It is a lot of money to us. Any comments are welcome. Cc
 
Old Jul 29th, 2007, 09:00 AM
  #4  
chacheetah
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Calo, a P.S. I noticed on a thread you mentioned, "Your Guides.." Are you allowed to say where you are and who you are with. If not, is someone else allowed to who knows? Just asking as a newbie. CC
 
Old Jul 29th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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Cc...well, this is a much deserved realization to your dream safari, surrounded by both happy and less happy circumstances. It is generous of your siblings to regocnize and appreciate your care of your Dad.

You are looking at a great time now to book soon for next year. As I'm sure you've read, some of the smaller camps get filled up sometimes a year in advance. I've already booked my safari for July 2008 in Tz!

Typically, safari goers like at least 2 and preferably 3 nights at any one location "in the bush" so that they don't feel they're hopping around from place to place without a chance to sit back and put their feet up once in a while. Camp rates for a year from now are set.

Your need for above average accommodations is easily met in either country with abundant upscale lodges and camps. My personal preference is for tented camps. These vary in terms of levels of luxury, some with over-the-top accommodations and service. Probably your first major decision to make is which country you want to visit, then you can start planning an itinerary.

Some typical trips to Kenya in Sept:
Arrive in Nairobi and head to Samburu before flying to the Mara.

Some typical trips to Tz in June:
Arrive in Arusha and fly to the Serengeti. Drive back by way of the Crater and perhaps Tarangire. (Or do the reverse...driving from Arusha to the Serengeti by way of the Crater and flying back).

I am in Canada and I'm booked for next year with Warrior Trails. The owner was my guide last year when he was working for Roy Safaris (which you'll see mentioned on the forum as a very highly regarded ground operator).

Have fun with the planning. There's lots to think about and it can be a bit overwhelming, but there's a ton of experience and help here on the forum.
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Old Jul 29th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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Chacheetah, I am goint Feb. Like you a dream long hoped for. we talked to a no of CO. All with offices in US. Just felt better about that. Have settled on Africa Adventure CO. in FA. We to opted for private whle we are 4 they have done a great job of giving us the high end and mid range for about 6k. Big highlite is the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. Look it up. We will have one flight in tanzania but the rest of trip is planned so the longest drive appears to be about half day with stops along the way. we will stay in tanzania. We are adding 3 days on the end to go to Zanzibar. Good luck Janet
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Old Jul 29th, 2007, 01:08 PM
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chacheetah
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Calo and Janetmac; thank you both. I have run out to my B&N bookstore to get maps,book etc. and read up. When I get ideas of my "ideal" itinerary I will post for all to comment. We appreciate the response just to get us off the dime...or rather, the $12k CC
..And yes, don't I have great family!!
 
Old Jul 29th, 2007, 02:20 PM
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chacheetah, while it is good to plan this trip a year ahead (as some of the smaller camps do fill up), please don't feel so rushed you make hasty decisions. The process of carving out the right trip for is part of the adventure. You will have a wonderful time and it sounds like you are someone who will really appreciate what Africa has to offer.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 06:27 AM
  #9  
chacheetah
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Thank you Clematis..I do need to stop,think, take a look and investigate all options. I guess I am so excited and I see everyone making reservations for 2008 that I got in a panic. BUT, I need to do what is in our (my husband, family, dog!)'s best interests. Thank you for calming me down!
I have decided September is the best month for us so at least I have one check off the list - and therefore I need not worry about seeing the Migration in Tanzania...could still go..or Kenya and maybe catch it. I will continue to read this informative forum and elicit what I can out of everyone's post. Thank goodness I am not planning a wedding/honeymoon as so many seem to be. I'd be a wreck! Cha-Cheetah (you can tell what I want to SEE!)
 
Old Jul 30th, 2007, 06:32 AM
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Just a quick hello to say....nice screen-name!!!

Rgds,
Hari
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 09:06 AM
  #11  
chacheetah
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Hi Hari, and thanks..I read your posts alot, so I feel as though I already know you..and many more frequent posters here.
As you can tell, I have a particualar fondness or cheetahs! Where is the best place for them if anyone knows - Kenya, or Tanzania?????ChaCHEETAH
 
Old Jul 30th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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I was in Tanzania and only saw one cheetah from a distance, hidden in grass, in the crater. I had to use binocs to see and there is no photo. In South Africa, I saw one close at one camp and saw several very close, and quite active, at another camp. My problem with Tanzania is that they do not allow off-road driving. So that means you cannot drive up close to the animals. If they happen to be close to the road, and many are in the crater, then you're in luck. The crater was incredible and amazing, don't get me wrong. But elsewhere in Tanzania, it was hard not to compare the viewing to SA, where the ranger would just drive through the brush to get as close as possible without disturbing the animal. That is just our personal experience, but we had a SA couple in the vehicle with us for three days and they made the same comment. I say this because I know this is a special opportunity for you and you've never been to Africa before and seeing cheetah up close is at the top of your list. Now perhaps if you go with the right outfitter, who specializes in East Africa (that is a must), they can help give you the trip you want. I know nothing about Kenya, so hopefully the experts will share their thoughts about seeing cheetah there.

Another reason I said don't rush is because on our first trip to Africa, I enquired with one TA in the states. I had an itinerary I had already worked up and asked for his pricing. He gave me one total price in a faxed sheet and refused to to price the lodges individually. I had only talked to him on the phone once, so his time invested was brief.

He had made a provisional booking at the camps and lodges before he even gave me the quote. His reasoning may be fine, he didn't want the camps to be full if I decided to go with his company.
However when I said thank you but I wasn't going with his agency, he did not cancel those bookings. It was a deliberate act and I had to telephone and fax several times. Finally, I faxed the president of the travel agency and still no help. This went on for weeks. My new TA had to work with the camps, begging them to contact him and get him to release those initial bookings because they would not double book.

I have never read on Fodors of anyone else having this problem, so perhaps it is unusual.

But I think as you plan your trip, the one thing you want to say to anyone first is that seeing cheetah is at the top of your priority list. I just spent 10 days in Tanzania this year and only saw that one head, far away. I would not wish that for you, on your special trip.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 10:48 AM
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Hello Chacheetah,
I havenít been to Tanzania, but Iíd say most people who go there are luckier than Clematis in their cheetah sightings. In the Mara itís not uncommon to have them on top of your vehicle.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 11:29 AM
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And yet, I didn't see a single cheetah over 4 days in the Mara (atypical, I know).

But I've seen them in areas of Kenya which were supposedly not prime cheetah territory and even in a very populated area outside of one reserve.

What I want to stress is that there are no guarantees with game viewing and much of comes down to luck.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 12:45 PM
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"I have a particualar fondness or cheetahs! Where is the best place for them if anyone knows - Kenya, or Tanzania?????

ChaCHEETAH, we have had excellent luck finding cheetahs in Tanzania on each of our three trips, mainly in the southern Serengeti short grass plains but a couple at Lake Manyara and a couple at Ngorongoro (where there are too many hyenas and lions for cheetahs to breed, but a couple of males are often seen).

Contrary to what others say, there are places you can drive off-road and get close to them too. The driver we use is very good at watching gazelles at long distances and figuring out if they are being hunted, and a couple of times we've spotted a head or once just a hyena harassing something and driven over and found cheetahs, so it takes a bit of effort to locate them sometimes if you want to find your own (instead of just listening on the radio for sightings).

Here are some links to pics ...
January 2007 we saw 20 cheetahs total, searching for them on only four game drives. Best day was 10 sightings (mom + cub, mom + 3 small cubs, 2 males, 2 males), also a five cheetah day ... for sample photos ...
http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/ta...07/cheetah.htm

April 2006 we only went after them twice, to Gol kopjes in south Serengeti, and saw nine there (plus a single while driving elsewhere) ... great moment when one hopped onto the roof of the jeep ...
http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/ta...06/cheetah.htm

January 2006 we didn't see as many in very dry conditions, I think 7 or so, but were able to photograph a stalk and kill on a wildebeest so no complaints ...
http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/ta...etah_T4710.htm

There are fewer in the Mara but some are very habituated (used to humans) and easy to photograph once located, so if you go there let your driver know cheetahs are high on your list and they *should* be able to find them.

But for sure we feel confident we can locate them in the Serengeti

Bill

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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 01:07 PM
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Clematis - Absolutely hate when agents or outfitters hold your space before you've even indicated interest, let alone received their quote. Ugh! I know just how frustrating it must have been trying to get the space cleared by the TA you finally booked through. I've had similar on my end, in reverse, being the agent trying to get space that was held by another for clients who chose to book with me.

chacheetah - Over the years, I've had more success with cheetah in Kenya. Have only seen one (sad to say) very old cheetah gal in Tanzania - in 12/years. But, that's not to say you can't or won't find cheetah in Tanzania.

As others have indicated, game, regardless the species, can't be guaranteed, but guides do want to know your interest and if it's cheetah, just say so. They'll do their utmost to oblige. If traveling in September, with the migrating herds in the Mara, the predators follow looking for their next meals. So the lions, hyena, cheetah... with luck the leopards, won't be far behind, if not already waiting for their prey.

On my recent trip, we came upon 3 groups of cheetah, including Sunny's boys. And for those who remember, on my '05 trip, that beautiful gal who surprised us by adorning the bonnet of our vehicle for a good 45/minutes.

With 10/days total in-country, and planning travel for Sept 2008, you can get a good number of days in Kenya and include time, if only, at the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. It's just a matter of proper routing and doable with your budget.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 02:56 PM
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chacheetah
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Thank you Everyone! I cannot believe the cheetah pics BIll. Amazing and I cannot wait to spot my very own. I will definitely make that my number one wish when I talk to whoever helps me with this plan. Its good to know I may find them in either Serengeti or Mara, though September sounds like it is the most probable followed by October, so far. Again I thank all the fodorites for good wishes and good ideas. ChaCHEETAH
 
Old Jul 30th, 2007, 04:48 PM
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Chacheetah, Sandi is a TA who specializes in East Africa so if she is saying in all those years of travel there she has only seen one old cheetah in Tanzania, I would respect her opinion. I think her idea of Kenya with just a stop at the Crater in Tanzania is a great one.

Bill, please tell us where in Tanzania you are allowed to drive off-road? My three different guides in three camps said it was not allowed. We even had to drive for over an hour once to get to an approved site for a picnic (no cooking) as well as he said you are not allowed to just stop anywhere. We hated the looks of the first one (it was like an amusement park with so many vehicles, maybe 50, and every picnic table filled), so we drove a long ways to a hippo pool that only had a few cars (and of course, by that time it was way past lunch hour).

Would love to understand if you just had a gutsy guide who did not follow the rules or where these specific areas are where you can legally drive off road in Tanzania?
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 05:53 PM
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Bill, please tell us where in Tanzania you are allowed to drive off-road?

Clem, you're allowed to drive off-track in parts of the NCA (Ngorongoro Conservation Area) outside of the actual crater floor. We stay at Ndutu lodge to take advantage of this (it's on the border of the Serengeti and the NCA) and there are spaces for half a dozen or so camping groups and mobile tented camps there as well.

In Serengeti NP you are not allowed to drive off-road some distance around Seronera (I think it's 18 km radius or something like that) but are allowed to drive off-road further out, except that they shut this down after heavy rains to keep jeeps from digging heavy ruts in the grass. When we were in Serengeti in April 2006 for example there was a sign stating off-track driving was prohibited after March 22 due to heavy rains.

I understand this is under review due to heavy tourist traffic and may be repealed but that was the rule when we were there (it's posted in the Serengeti entrance station at Naabi Hill).

It's more feasible to drive off-road in the Serengeti south plains rather than thru the woodlands, so practically speaking it seems this is taken advantage of mainly in the south during the migration, but there's not much game on these plains except when the migration is "in".

You have to stay on the roads at Lake Manyara and, so far as I know, at Tarangire (maybe exceptions for the camps well away from the entrance, not sure), so that's why we spend much of our time around Ndutu when we can expect the migration to be in full swing (sometimes we are right, sometimes not).

My three different guides in three camps said it was not allowed.

Which parks did you visit? I can tell you went to Ngorongoro crater, which has banned off-roading for years due to heavy traffic.

Would love to understand if you just had a gutsy guide who did not follow the rules

No, our guide was very meticulous about following the rules, as are most of the guides I've met. They could lose their license to guide if they break the laws and are caught and there aren't many good jobs like this in Tanzania, so they are careful.

Bill
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 08:14 PM
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Bill,

What's a good time of the year for Southern Serengeti? April/May?

Ndutu should have cheetah action Feb/March?

Thanks,
Hari
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