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Yippeee! It's finally itinerary planning time---help!

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Jan 8th, 2012, 08:05 PM
  #1
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Yippeee! It's finally itinerary planning time---help!

I was planning to go back to Africa last year, and had a great opportunity that I had to let go due to work and personal concerns--a huge disappointment to say the least.

But now I am in the planning phase for a trip to Tanzania and Rwanda in October--- super excited and know it's gonna happen!

Please comment on the preliminary plans:
overnight Arusha Hotel
2 nights Tarangire=Boundary Lodge
1/2 day Ngorogoro Crater=o/n Sopa Lodge
2 nights central Serengeti=Wilderness Camp
4 nights N. Serengeti=Olakira Camp

From here, will head to Rwanda, but don't have any plans yet. From what I've read here, I should spend a few nights there and 2 days gorilla trekking---correct?? Where to stay? I don't need luxary, but do like clean, warm and comfortable.

Now I'm wondering if I should add another day in the Crater?

Appreciate your comments!
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Jan 8th, 2012, 11:47 PM
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live_aloha;your itinerary is quite well and it seams you have a lot of interest in Gorillas.You need to book a for a permit in advance.The Tanzania portion seems to be missing one more night at the crater.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 08:12 AM
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No need for another night at crater. Crater tours are limited to 6/hrs, thus 1/nt is sufficient. However, if you wish another crater tour next morning, you can ($200 for the vehicle to enter crater floor), then head to Central Serengeti, but no need for a 2nd o/n at crater.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 09:19 AM
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Sounds great! It's similar to an itinerary I'll be doing in July/August... perhaps the same safari planner? I'm using Bill Given of The Wild Source. We weren't able to get into Olakira, but that was the first choice.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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Great, you have an option on 1 or 2 crater visits, which you'd arrange before leaving home.

"I don't need luxary, but do like clean, warm and comfortable. "

Kinigi Guesthouse--restaurant on premises, nice outdoor veranda, great birding, friendly staff, walking distance from ranger station where you start the hikes, very reasonable in cost.

If you can afford the cost of 2 gorilla permits, do so. In the afternoon of one of your visits, consider going to Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village. If time permits in Kigali, visit the Never Again Memorial.

Looks like a wonderful trip.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 04:18 PM
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Crater visits or gorilla visits?
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Jan 9th, 2012, 10:54 PM
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Thanks for your responses!

pody22, you are absolutely correct about having a lot of interest in gorillas. I realize it comes at a price, but just seems like something I need to do.

sandi, good point about not needing another overnight stay. If we decide to go again the next day, is this a spur of the moment option or something that needs to be arranged in advance? Is it $200 per person or per car?

ShayTay, yes, plans are being made through Bill Given. He planned my safari to Kenya 2010 and did a fantastic job. Encouraged me to stay at Offbeat Mara Camp and it ended up being my favorite spot! I actually have you to thank for connecting with him,,,,so thank you!

atravellyn, Kinigi Guesthouse sounds like the perfect place,so appreciate the recommendation. I really do want to focus on seeing more birds on this trip, so great to know this is good spot to do so. BTW, this may sound like an odd question, but does it have a fireplace? (it has nothing to do with birds). I'm not familiar with Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, so can you tell me a bit about it? I understand the Never Again Memorial is something I should not miss, so really would like to include that. Do you think I could fit both of those in? If I want to do 2 gorilla treks, would I need to spend 2 or 3 nights there to fit everything in?
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Jan 10th, 2012, 05:54 AM
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... it's $200 for the vehicle (NOT per person).
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Jan 10th, 2012, 10:20 PM
  #9
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Thanks for the good news, sandi!
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Jan 11th, 2012, 12:03 PM
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Live_aloha, I'm glad that you're working with Bill... great guy and knows his stuff. We're scheduled for Offbeat Mara this year before our Tanzania safari and I'm looking forward to it. You could probably do two Crater drives if you left Boundary Hill Lodge early and drove directly to the Sopa. You'd do an afternoon drive in the Crater that day. Then, you could do a second drive the next morning and continue on to the central Serengeti after that drive. As Sandi notes, the fee is $200 per vehicle, per drive. You might check with Bill about the "spur of the moment" thing. The mornings are great for wildlife in the Crater. The Sopa has its own road down into the Crater and if you went down as soon as the gate opened, you'd probably have some good luck. Absent the second Crater drive, you'd just continue on to the Central Serengeti that morning.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 01:53 PM
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No fireplace in your guesthouse but there is one in the restaurant area.

I copied this from my trip report.

Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village

I asked about doing something cultural while in Kinigi and Kirenga suggested Iby’Iwacu. This project offers an opportunity to local people who may not directly benefit from Volcanoes National Park and who may have been involved in poaching. It also allows young Rwandans a way to learn about their own culture in the process of sharing it with visitors.

A guide for the village escorted me to various stations to meet a traditional healer and learn about his herbs, to see how millet was ground and give it a go, to watch a bow and arrow demo and take a shot, and to visit the king’s palace. It was under construction by numerous skilled workmen but some of the interior rooms had been completed and I was given a tour and explanation of those.

There were items for sale spread out on a blanket but no vendors were present and no need for bargaining. I bought a basket.

The gentleman who oversaw the the bow and arrow shooting was extremely enthused about his demonstration as well as the upcoming drumming and dancing. He added his own animated narration to the explanations of the village guide. Later he got to play the part of the gorilla in the final interpretive dance. It was worth going to the village just to give him the opportunity to participate in the activities and have such a good time.

When I got home and reviewed the video Kirenga had shot and narrated of some of the events at the village, I learned this enthusiastic archer and gorilla portrayer used to be one of the most successful poachers in the area.

The staged activities and demos were interesting, but what I found most fascinating was the traditional drumming and dancing. The participants dressed in traditional costumes, like those I had seen at the National Museum, which included flowing straw lion manes. The performers were very talented and put tremendous energy into their drumming and dancing. Some of the bystanders even joined in and then I was summoned to participate as well. That was fun and completely optional. I got to drum too. They were outstanding performers and it was a privilege to see them.

At the end there was an opportunity for a donation. Later I found out there was a cost to visit, but Kirenga covered that for me because he likes to support this project. I can recommend supporting it too! Bring your dancing shoes or dancing gorilla tracking boots.


-----------
You can visit Iby’Iwacu after your gorilla visit since that is in Kinigi.

Never Again can be visited upon arrival in Kigali before the 2.5 hour drive to PNV. If you o/nt in Kigali after your last gorilla visit, you can visit when you return to Kigali. I think it stays open until 5 pm, but check. If you o/nt in Kigali after your last gorilla visit and then fly out the next day, you may be able to visit the memorial before your flight out.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 05:32 PM
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ShayTay, when are you going to Offbeat Mara? It's on my radar for my next trip. Also thinking about Meru.

live_aloha, I also stayed @ Kinigi. I have a trip report up here if you click my name. Have fun planning!
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Jan 11th, 2012, 09:17 PM
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Yes, Leely2, some of the ladies going on our Tanzania safari are doing a "pre-trip extension" in Kenya. We're going to Offbeat Meru, then on to Offbeat Mara. They have a special, "Stay 6 and Pay for 5". I split it 2 - 4, because I wanted more time in the Mara. They also don't have single supplements. We'll be there in July, arriving in Meru on the 19th.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 11:36 PM
  #14
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ShayTay, Thanks for the info on getting to the crater, etc.
And yet, another question: If I had to choose between an afternoon drive or an early am which would you recommend? Hit or miss/hard to predict?

I'm glad to be working with Bill again, too! He has the patience of a saint (soooo many emails before my last trip)and, as you said, knows his stuff. And,from what I've read, is involved in research projects that benefits wildlife and the people (and their livestock) that share the same environment--how cool is that?

Have you stayed at Offbeat Mara before? It's a great, intimate camp. The camp hostess (Penny) and her co-hostess (Emma) are no longer there. Our guide, Joseph (Masai)was excellent, but I understand all of the guides there are as well. The food was outstanding AND the alcohol was free!!!

atravellyn, thanks for your info. Love your writing style--so descriptive and always an entertaining, yet informative read. Iby’Iwacu sounds like a definate must-do--appreciate the recommendation! And the opportunity to buy a basket? Love it! I brought home 4 baskets from my last trip with the intent to give them away, but ended up finding the perfect spots for all of them so kept them all.....

A fireplace in the restaurant area is great news!

Leely2, looking forward to reading your trip report, thanks for the link! It is fun planning, isn't it? Part of the joy in planning is just taking that next step from the contemplative phase to the planning phase, and knowing it's gonna happen!
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Jan 12th, 2012, 08:35 AM
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I've only done all-day drives in the Crater... haven't been there since they finally implemented the half-day rule. It's hard to say, though, if the morning or afternoon is better. I've seen good stuff at all times of the day. If you get a boxed breakfast at the Sopa and hit the gate the first thing in the morning, that might be your best bet. You'll be ahead of the vehicles coming up from Karatu (Plantation Lodge, Gibbs Farm, Ngorongoro Farmhouse, etc.) You would have packed and checked out before you entered the Crater, so you'd just head out at midday and proceed to the Serengeti, probably stopping by Oldupai (Olduvai) Gorge. That afternoon drive to your central Serengeti camp will be a game drive in itself. If you do the afternoon drive, then you'll need to leave Tarangire early and go straight to the Crater. If you decide on the morning drive, then you'll have more time in Tarangire, perhaps do a Masaai village visit, drive around the markets in Mto wa Mbu or Karatu, etc. There is also an orphanage I like to visit near Karatu, Rift Valley Children's Village. I sponsor a young boy there. If you decided to visit, you'd need to set that up in advance. You might also be able to visit a school in Karatu. I'd suggest lunch at the Farmhouse if you decide to do this.

Have I stayed at Offbeat Mara? No, but I'm looking forward to it!
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Jan 12th, 2012, 07:52 PM
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Thanks for the Offbeat info, ShayTay. Sounds like you've got another great trip planned. I'll be in Kenya in June. Haven't done too much planning yet. Decisions, decisions. (And $$$, $$. Yikes.)

live_aloha, Rwanda is unforgettable. You'll love it.
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Jan 12th, 2012, 10:16 PM
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Thanks ShayTay and Leely2, I am sooo looking forward to this trip!

The orphanage and school sound like great additions to the trip. My son's partner (my travel partners for this trip) is a teacher, and would also be interested in a school visit, so appreciate the suggestion and how to fit it in to the itinerary. I'm a health care provider, so would also like to visit a medical clinic (maybe they have one at the orphanage?). Would love to spend some time providing care if at all possible. But I guess that's another trip and another topic on the forum.....
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