Would I be out of my mind if I did the following?

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Dec 30th, 2005, 09:44 PM
  #1
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Would I be out of my mind if I did the following?

I am feeling a little cheated by the fact that I only have 11 nights on safari with the following itinerary:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge (3)
Manyara Tree Lodge (2)
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)
Olduvai Camp (1)
Nomad Masek (2)
Nomad Piaya (2)
Mbuzi Mawe (2)
Palms Zanzibar (3)
Serena Inn (2)

So, that leads me to the big question...

Would I be out of my mind if I were to drop two nights at the Moivaro Coffee Lodge and replace them with two nights in Tarangire, even though we are talking about late February?

This is supposed to be a very inopportune time to visit Tarangire, but I am thinking that it would be worth it for the Baobab Trees and birding alone. Anything else would be a bonus, providing we are able to drive around. I keep hearing about the ash mud or something like this.

I could potentially spend Day #2 of Arusha in Arusha National Park, but I would rather be away from the crowds, if at all possible, and I think that I would accomplish this with Tarangire. Also, I think that I would probably have luck with even a booking at this late stage considering that not too many people likely visit Tarangire at this time of year.

Please, please, please come forward if you or anyone you know has visited Tarangire at this time of year and let me know what you think.

How far would Tarangire be from Arusha? Is there anyplace else in the same league as Swala? I have seen photos of Mawe Ninga and it just doesn't tickle my fancy.

The following link has some very good information on Tarangire and it says that the only months that Tarangire should be avoided are April and May. Furthermore it says that January and February are usually dry. Best of all, it says that a whopping 550 bird species:

http://www.game-reserve.com/tanzania_tarangire_np.html

Late February seems to offer a somewhat comfortable buffer from April. I am somewhat concerned that I will be burned out from so many two night stays at different places, but I am not sure that three nights at Moivaro Coffee Lodge is the way to go either.

Help me out here...there must be another option in case Swala does not work out, right? I cannot believe that CCAfrica does not have a camp here considering that they have camps in Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Zanzibar. Also, what is up with Serena not having a lodge in Tarangire? Should this be considered a bad mark against Tarangire?

Olivers Camp and Tamarind Camp would be other possible accomodation considerations, although I don't like the fact that each of them feature only twin beds in their rooms.

Help me out here...it is like having an itch that I cannot reach!

Thanks.
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Dec 31st, 2005, 08:39 AM
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Do it! So I can hear about Tarangire from a Rocco POV

Oliver's Camp sounds interesting to me too. You could be the first to post a report here (I don't think anyone else has stayed there).
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Dec 31st, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Oops, I spoke too soon. It appears that a Fodorite is staying there now - http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34683218

Also I think Eben has either stayed at or visited the camp.
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Dec 31st, 2005, 09:02 AM
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Rocco
Do you really need to spend 5 days in Zanzibar? 2-3 days should cover it fine. You can always hop a flight to Hawaii if you want to put in quality beach time.
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Dec 31st, 2005, 09:09 AM
  #5
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Hopefully I will be proved wrong, but I am not expecting ATR to make things esay for me. Although from my point of view as an operator, it would be in their best benefit to allow me to upgrade to a lodge that is 6x the price as Moivaro, thus allowing for a much better commission, I am expecting resistence and a demand for a change fee.

One other option would be to spend only my first two nights at Moivaro and then add an extra night to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Although I know this is a tiny park, any park featuring tree climbing lions, flamingos, baboon troops numbering as high as 200 individuals and 387 recorded species of birds, seems like a third night would not be regretted.

Doing so would still allow a full day in Arusha for Tanzanite shopping and exploring Arusha NP. It would get too complicated at this point to try to juggle my schedule around in Serengeti.

Also, staying that extra night at Lake Manyara may only add another $950 if I am lucky since I am already paying for the ATR vehicle/guide starting on my third day since I am scheduled to be taken to the marathon site and back.

Hopefully I will either be able to add the two nights in Tarangire, or at least the extra night in Lake Manyara. Probably will not have an answer until Tuesday or Wednesday! Grrrrr.
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Dec 31st, 2005, 09:16 AM
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Luangwablondes,

Yeah, for the price I am paying for Zanzibar I could have had a great trip to Hawaii, but it is done. The website for the Palms Zanzibar is very seductive:

www.palms-zanzibar.com

Plus, I did want the cultural experience that Stone Town will offer.

Ultimately, it was the wrong time of year to visit any of the southern Tanzania parks and I did not want to freeze for too long in Europe so I only chose to spend two nights in Amsterdam at the end.

I am really annoyed that there are not any flights that I know of between South America (Argentina & Chile, especially) to Eastern Africa. The only flight that I am aware of would be Sao Paulo, Brazil to Joburg.

There is always room for second-guessing, I suppose, but overall I am very satisfied with my itinerary...hopefully, however, I will be able to add those two nights in Tarangire, or at least one more night in Lake Manyara. It would be more critical if I were not spending 7 nights in Serengeti and 4 nights split between Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater. Now I am just trying to squeeze the last remaining juice from the orange, although my cup already nearly runneth over!
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Dec 31st, 2005, 09:51 AM
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Rocco

I mentioned this before-

Malaysia Airlines

example

The following flights are available from : Buenos Aires (EZE) to Johannesburg (JNB)
Departing on : Sunday 1st January 2006 Change date

Sun 1st Jan 2006, Buenos Aires (EZE) to Johannesburg (JNB)
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Depart Arrive Flight No. 26 27 28 29 30 31 1 No. of Stops Aircraft

20:45 12:40* MH 202 1 stop 747

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Dec 31st, 2005, 10:29 AM
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The Malaysia Airlines flight operates twice weekly (Wed/Sun) EZE-CPT-JNB. No direct flights between South America and East Africa that I can think of though.
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Dec 31st, 2005, 10:34 AM
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Hi, There is also lake eyasi and empakaai crater (sorry the spelling would be wrong), check them out. I know they are tourist visited places but donnot have info in detail. But alot of good companies have them in their circuit route, mostly eyasi. The other option is staying in tarangire but in different lodges which are in very different locations , so that u get to see the different wildlife. Best of luck and happy new year, Sonali.
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Dec 31st, 2005, 01:50 PM
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Thanks for the information on that Malaysian Airlines flight. That may come in very handy for my next trip to Botswana. I would really like to spend three or four nights in Buenos Aires and now I can forget about Sao Paulo, altogether.

Even if I cannot add the two nights in Tarangire or an extra night in Lake Manyara, I will make the most out of my two full days in Arusha. I should probably scrap the half marathon altogether, whether or not I am stuck in Arusha. There are half marathons every other weekend within an hour's drive from my home. There is just no comparing the significance of a half marathon to a full marathon.

I will just be going mad until I find out what the response of ATR is on this one. Technically, there is a $500 change fee. If it is enforced when a change would be to their own benefit (commission on a $1,000 per night lodge, Swala, rather than on a $150 per night lodge, Moivaro), that would be a really sad statement on their customer relations.
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Jan 1st, 2006, 04:11 AM
  #11
 
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Roccco, Since u are going to start paying for your vehicle/ driver guide on the third day, I would suggest you do a day trip on the third day to tarangire national park as it is only a 2 hour drive from arusha. Also 1 day in this season is enough in tarangire. This will save u all the money of cancellations which would really be a waste,normally outfitters when they are doing such expensive itiernaries should do atleast change for 1 day free, u should take this up with ATR, In my above suggestion, u will only have to pay the park entrance fees and maybe for lunch, if u drop by at some lodge. U can leave early morning, have a full day game drive and leave the park by the time it closes and arrive in arusha at around 7 in the evening, maybe u have to pay overtime to the driver which should not be expensive, Hope this helps, Sonali.
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Jan 1st, 2006, 07:06 AM
  #12
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sonali,

Thanks...that is a pretty good idea. I cannot imagine being charged more than about $100 for park entrance fees, etc. It is not a short ride from Moivaro to where the marathon is scheduled for, so ATR would have a hard time jusifying charging me too much more for gas.

Perhaps if we leave by 5:30AM that morning, we will be in Tarangire by 7:30AM, have lunch, stay until about 5:00PM and then return. Rough day for the guide/driver but I need to have that morning light and late afternoon light for the best photo opportunities. No reason why he cannot take a nap for a couple hours while my wife and I take our lunch break at a scenic spot.

We'll see soon whether or not ATR charges that change fee. My #1 choice would still be to go to either Swala or Olivers Camp for two nights.

Swala is a Sanctuary lodge, the same company that has Kusini in the Serengeti and has Chief's Camp in Botswana. I totally trust Sanctuary.

Olivers Camp belongs to the Asilia chain. Within Asilia's lineup is also Matmwe Bungalows in Zanzibar and Sayari Camp in Serengeti.

ATR lists only four different camps for the Tarangire on its website. Here they are including their ratings by ATR:

Mawe Ninga - Superb
Swala - Excellent
Olivers Camp - Very Good
Tarangire Treetops - Very Good

Well, just from reading a few trip reports on this forum, I already don't want Mawe Ninga. Swala seems like the best choice and considering the other properties I am visiting, I don't mind coughing up the extra money to stay at Swala. What, I am going to start getting thrifty now, especially at what will be the lodge to precede Manyara Tree Lodge and Crater Lodge?

I suppose if I hvae to pay the $500 change fee, then I will do it, but you can be sure that I will never use ATR again if they charge me that. I mean they will automatically be making an extra $200 per night in commission per night if I switch to Swala, so why take advantage and charge a change fee, as well?
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Jan 1st, 2006, 09:17 AM
  #13
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Hi Rocco:
I will be interested in their response also. Based on some inquiries I made in the past, I believe that they will charge you a 25% cancellation fee for the 2 nights at Moivaro and then the additional cost of Swala--but not an extra $500.
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Jan 1st, 2006, 01:01 PM
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Hi Rocco,

You might look at Tarangire Tented River Camp, owned by the folks at Kibo Safaris. They've been upgrading it and it reminds me of the tented camps in Southern Africa. I believe their website is www.africawilderness.com. It's also quite close to the entrance of the Park. Because it's on Maasai land, we were able to go walking with the Maasai one afternoon...a great experience! We also had a couple of large bull elephants come through camp one night. It was quite a sight in the full moonlight!

As to Tarangire Park itself, it's one of my favorites in Tanzania. I like it much better than Lake Manyara. I've been in June and in February...you won't be disappointed if you go. We must have seen 200 eles one February day.

ShayTay
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Jan 1st, 2006, 05:14 PM
  #15
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bat,

I would be very accepting of a 25% or even a 50% cancellation fee for those two nights at Moivaro. That would be a very minimal fee since Moivaro is only being listed as $136 per night on my invoice.

I do think I am going to be a little less accepting if ATR tries to charge me more than about $900 per night for Swala, considering that the Sanctuary website lists full board rates as $305 per person per night sharing. That is only $610 per night for the two of us and then add in another $150 per night for a guide room. Now that amounts to $760 per night. I have already paid for the guide/vehicle for one of the two subject days, so throw in another $330 for the other day:

$760 x 2 nights = $1520
$330 x 1 day = $330

Total = $1850 / 2 nights = $925 per night for Swala.

These two nights at Swala would make me totally at peace and content with my safari from start to finish.


Shaytay,

Regarding Tarangire Tented River Camp, do you know if night game drives are allowed in this area since it is on Masai land? It's website is very vague:

http://www.africawilderness.com/river/index_river.html

18 tents at this camp is bigger than I would like...twice as many as at Swala and more than I have experienced to date anywhere. That does not completely eliminate it from consideration but they will definitely be undeniable factors.

I am waiting on pins and needles for ATR's response. I just want to get this done. My first choice is Swala, followed by Olivers Camp. Olivers Camp website offers a very nice page showing what to expect in the different months:

http://www.oliverscamp.com/oca-taran...raseasons.html

Given that this will be the beginning rather than the end of my safari, I am not so fixated on whether or not the gameviewing will be at its best in Tarnagire during my visit. Just as interesting to me will be the Baobab Trees, the isolation and the birding. Plus, the very remote chance that I will see wild dogs in Tarangire, make it a must, as well. Here is the wildlife list for Tarangire:

Mammals of Tarangire
CARNIVORES:

Aardwolf
African Civet
African Wildcat
African Wild Dog
Bat-eared Fox
Caracal
Cheetah
Genet - Common
Hyena - Spotted
Hyena - Striped
Jackal - Silver / Black-backed

Leopard
Lion
Mongoose - Banded
Mongoose - Dwarf
Mongoose - Egyptian
Mongoose - Slender
Mongoose - White-tailed
Ratel ( Honey badger)
Serval Cat
Zorilla

RUMINANTS:

Buffalo
Bushbuck
Dik-dik - Kirk's
Duiker - Common (Gray)
Eland - Common
Gazelle - Grant's
Gazelle - Thomson's
Giraffe - Maasai
Hartebeest - Coke's (Kongoni)
Impala
Klipspringer
Kudu - Greater
Kudu - Lesser
Oryx - Fringe-eared
Reedbuck - Bohor
Reedbuck - Mountain
Steenbok
Waterbuck - Common
Wildebeest - (Gnu) - Common

PRIMATES:
NON-RUMINANTS:

Baboon - Olive
Bush Baby - Greater
Bush Baby - Lesser
Vervet Monkey


Aardvark
Elephant - African
Hyrax - Bush
Hyrax - Tree
Porcupine
Spring Hare
Squirrel - Ground
Squirrel - Tree
Warthog
Zebra - Burchell's



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Jan 1st, 2006, 05:22 PM
  #16
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The Olivers Camp guest comments from February do not do much to dissuade me away from Tarangire in February:

http://www.oliverscamp.com/oca-taran...ts2003-04.html
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Jan 1st, 2006, 05:43 PM
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Hi Rocco,

I'm afraid you're in for a bit of a wait -- ATR is based in the UK, and people here take their holidays very seriously. Monday 2nd January is a Bank Holiday here, so the soonest you're likely to hear back is Tuesday.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 01:37 AM
  #18
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Well, I am cautiously optimistic after doing some research looking back at my initial correspondences with ATR. In the very first itinerary I priced out with them, I had Swala in the itinerary and I see no record of them dissuading me from using Swala.

Also, looking at my current quote, I am being charged a whopping $300 USD for the transfer to the marathon site. This cannot be any higher than the transfer to Swala. It is just so odd the way that ATR constructs its invoices.

For example, in the itinerary that included Swala, I was being charged $3,383 for a 5 night overland safari and this included the guide/vehicle for 5 nights, including two nights at Swala and one night at Olduvai Camp. Then I was being turned over to another guide/vehicle once I moved onto Nomad's camps and these are priced separately.

For a 5 night overland on my final itinerary, I am being charged $2,231 and that includes my guide/vehicle while at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge (2), Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2), Olduvai Camp (1), as well as my cost for Olduvai Camp.

Given the fact that I am being charged separately $300 for the marathon day, I am assuming that the cost of the guide/vehicle per day charged by ATR is $300. Therefore, I am hoping that by switching my itinerary around, I will only be charged an extra $300 for starting a day early and then the cost of about $760 + $760 for Swala, for a total of $1,820 extra. Then if I am refunded only half of my Moivaro cancelled nights, that would be a $136 deduct, for a total of $1,784 if I were not charged a cancellation fee. Per the contract, they are entitled to an "administrative charge of up to $500" for a confirmed booking. Hopefully they will not be so extreme about it.

We'll see how it develops. Swala would just be the icing on the cake.
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 01:43 AM
  #19
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Screwed up on the math...$1,820 less $136 would be $1684, not $1784. Even if they added a $250 change fee, the cost would still come in under $2,000.

Somehow, however, I have my doubts that I will only be charged rack rates. Although ATR is not bound by rack rates, I don't think it would go over too well with potential customers if they were to be found charging more than rack rates, including the required markup for the guides room. These are well spelled out costs on Sanctuary's website, as follows:

http://www.sanctuarylodges.com/rates.aspx#swala
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Jan 2nd, 2006, 03:48 PM
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where does the guide sleep/eat especially if staying at such an expensive place as the crater lodge? I don't think he'd sleep at the foot of the bed, but seriously don't know!
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