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Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

somerset, england
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Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

Hi

These forums were so helpful to me in my planning of my safari, that now I am back from a fabulous two weeks I thought I share some of my experiences whch might help others at some point.

We booked a two week trip with Basecamp (couple of days in Arusha and a 10 day safari). Right from the start, Achmed was brilliant at answering my (many) emails - always promptly and always giving full & honest answers. One of the things I would like to compliment Basecamp on in particular is that the itinerary said "no hidden extras", and there really weren't - I was impressed that all the little extra trips like Mtu wa Mbu and the Snake Park were all included (aside for tips for guides at these places obviously). Also we never had to a buy a bottle of water for during the day at all because it was provided. Little things like that made me very glad that I booked with Basecamp. Also Achmed really cares about his customers, from personally meeting you for a cold Kili beer when you arrive to go through your intinerary, advising you NOT to drink the banana beer (very wise) and reminding you about drinking plenty of water and suncream etc.

Achmed also came to see us when we got back to Arusha after our safari. We did have a problem with one of the hotels we used (dodgy food issue) and Achmed took the problem very seriously and immediately phoned the hotel to find out what had happened whilst we were there.

We stayed at Ilboru Lodge in Arusha which we thought was lovely. We visited Arusha National Park which was a good warm up, particularly we we did a canoe trip and a walking safari in addition to a game drive.

Then we went to Tarangire, we didn't see that much on the game drives except so many beautiful elephants, however we stayed at Tarangire Safari Lodge in the permanent tents and loved that place so much! Amazing view, good food, antelope everywhere around the camp and we even heard lions roaring at night!

Then we went to Lake Manyara - this park was kind to us as in addition to the "usual" game, we saw a leopard and lions high up in a tree. We also took a night game drive here - Achmed warned us that he had received mixed reviews on the night game drive however we really enjoyed it. It was completely different to be in the park in the dark, listening to the sounds and seeing different animals like genets, bushbabies and even a civet! My advice for the night drive is that if you are expecting to see lions hunting then you will be disappointed, but if you want to take in the night, see a few different animals, watch a warthog sleeping and hippo grazing etc, then you will enjoy it.

Then onto the Serengeti - stunning! We loved every moment of it, first going up to Lobo area for a night and then back to Seronera for two nights. We had an amazing encounter where we watched a leopard hunting (unsuccessfully) and then realised that there were two leopards there not just one! At Seronera a huge hippo grazed his way past our bedroom - magical! I also liked the cute hyrax and dwarf mongoose which were all around the lodges.

After seeing the completely stunning great migration (and the many accompanying flies!) we headed to Ngorongoro Crater. I loved the view from the lodge! Our morning in the crater was good however not as much as game viewing as Serengeti. We did see a serval cat and a rhino though which was a treat!

The next day we had chosen to have an extra night at Kudu Lodge in Karatu and went back in to the conservation area to hike around Empakai crater. It was a nice way to begin "safari withdrawal", as we still saw flamingo, jackals, raptors etc and got a nice stretch of our legs too. It was quite a drive to get there but worth it, very beautiful scenery. Its not every day you get to eat your lunch looking at an active mountain!

Finally (sadly) back in Arusha we had a day or two to relax and do some shopping. We also stopped at Mtu wa Mbu on the way from Karatu to Arusha which was a nice little stop and interesting - although I did get bitten by critters when walking through the banana plantation - make sure if you visit you put tonnes of repellent on! The craft market in Arusha was good for shopping (be prepared to bargain a lot)and the Cultural Center was good for a look around for an hour or so, but very overpriced (although I did buy 2 postcards for 1$ there!!)

We mostly stayed at Hotels & Wildlife Lodges whilst on safari - I was expecting budget but was reasonably impressed. All the lodges have great views and decent restaurants/bar areas. The staff were friendly. The actual rooms are plain and the same at all the of lodges (think Travelodge) - however for the short amount of time we spent in the room, anything more would have been a waste. Manyara was the only place where hot water was a problem.

Our guide, Thomas, was absolutely amazing. He totally made the whole trip for us, he was a superb driver, knowledgeable guide, unbeleiveable spotter and an exceptionally all round nice guy. He worked so hard, never complained - even when he got stung by a bee! He was so thoughtful too (I remember the truck getting really dirty on a drive one day, and as soon as we got out to view the hippo pool, we looked round to see Thomas cleaning the windows off!).

Sorry this is so long - I could write for hours about our trip but hopefully I have covered the main points. So 54 lions, 7 cheetah, 4 leopards, the wildebeest migration, a serval, a civet and so many elephants, giraffe, antelope etc etc - I consider myself extremely lucky to have seen all of this and have visited such a beautiful country as Tanzania...I am saving up already for the next "trip of a lifetime"!

If anyone has any queries about the places we stayed or Basecamp then I am happy to help...its nice to return the favour!!!

Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

Well done Safarinewcomer. Soon to be regraded as safari2ndtimearound?

glad you enjoyed it and a nice report that will be of great help to others especially those who doubt the wisdom of dealing direct with Arusha. It worked for you.

thanks again. See you in the bush one day.

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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2. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

Safarinewcomer... Thanks for the report, and am very happy that your experience with Basecamp worked out so well. He does a great job. I'll look forward to your report on your second visit. Karibu tena.

New York
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3. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

Nice trip report. Thanks for sharing.

Hayman Island
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4. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

WOW! Thank you so much for the report Safarinewcomer..myself and four others are getting very excited about our trip to Tanzania with Basecamp. I've been waiting for this holiday for the past two to three years and you have made my day!

I have researched many companies over the years and Basecamp has always stayed at the top of my list. Achmed is very attentive and has a great sense of humour too :)

Regards,

Jacqui

somerset, england
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5. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

Thanks guys - glad you liked it (I could have written more but felt that would be a bit self-indulgent!!)

One thing I must add about booking with a local outfitter - SO much more game driving time! I had previously been to Kenya and used Somak, but having done it "properly" now, realise how short-changed I was with only 2 hour drives here and there. With Basecamp we were out all day with picnics most days, except for one or two where we did go back to the lodge for lunch, but that was after 4 hours in the morning and another 4 hours in the afternooon!

Nikki

(think I will have to change my name as can no longer be classed as newcomer!)

Isle of Man, United...
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6. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

Change your name? I would not as you lose all the back records and we would not want that.

Sign your posts "No longer a newcomer".

Best wishes. Lets hear it for the locals!!

Norwich, United...
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7. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

Thanks for the great report Niki, I really enjoyed reading it & I’m pleased to hear that you had such a great time- we have just booked a safari with Basecamp for next September, so it’s good to hear yet another excellent recommendation for them!

It has taken me months to talk my very reluctant hubby John into going on this trip – he is still not sure that a safari is "his thing" but is going along to please me ( its to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary so he didn’t really stand a chance after all these years!)

Everyone on here has been great in helping me plan this holiday, & now that it’s finally booked I feel really excited already!

We are just dong a short safari (I didn’t want to push my luck) & we are staying in some of the same places as you did – Ilboru safari lodge , Lake Manyara ( kirurumu tented lodge) Ngorongoro Crater (kudu lodge) Tanrangire (tarangire safari lodge) & then we are going onto Zanzibar ( Pongwe, Stonetown & somewhere else yet to be decided…).

The Zanzibar trip was the original plan (we both do beach holidays very easily) but once I’d cottoned onto the safari idea I was like a dog with a bone, & wouldn’t give up on it - no matter what John said!

Achmed has been brilliant - he must have the patience of a saint!

I have asked him countless questions & changed my mind several times, he suggested Kudu lodge to us as an alternative to staying at the crater to help keep the cost down a bit ( the flights were very expensive – not to mention the exchange rate being much worse than when I first enquired months ago) he has always replied to my emails very promptly & has been most helpful in trying to get exactly what we want– when the time came for us to book he won hands down because of this, so hopefully we have made the right decision.

I’m just hoping that there will be plenty of wildlife to see (I’ve read that September this year was not good in the crater & not so good for you either in November?)

This is one of John’s biggest gripes “bumping around in a dusty old truck all day & not seeing many animals”

I will never hear the end of it if the animals have gone AWOL while we are there!

As for you not wanting to write too much – rubbish! Maybe “part two” with the bits you missed soon?

Thanks again & I’m bound to have many questions over the coming months!

Lindi

Norwich, United...
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8. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

Hi Nikki

Hmmm - have just read your report on Kudu lodge – hope it improves before next year!

I’ll see if it gets better reviews over the coming months (anyone staying there please let us know how it is) or I may have to contact Achmed yet again to come up with an alternative -he did say that he had good feedback from it in the past, so wonder what has gone wrong there?

What did Achmed say about it?

Thanks

Lindi

Isle of Man, United...
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9. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

OK lindi, tell him this. If he does not see Elephants next September in Tarangire I will pose on these pages for Karl wearing only a red Bandana.

Fair enough?

Norwich, United...
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10. Re: Another excellent safari by Basecamp! (Long!)

Blimey Mfuwe -it might be worth missing the Ellies for that!!!!

Thanks -I’ll be sure to show John your post!