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For the experts: what would YOU do?

Los Angeles...
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For the experts: what would YOU do?

Here is a question for the experts. I have posted before on this and a few other forums, and since then I have been lurking, but sadly don't feel like I'm much closer to coming up with an itinerary, so I thought I would just ask the experts on Kenya and Tanzania (and you all have been wonderfully thoughtful and knowledgable) what YOU would do personally, given your own interests and travel style and budget and philosophy. 

Here are the only conditions, our flight schedule (Both on Turkish Airlines, in case you were curious.):

Arr Nairobi November 7 at 2:10am

Dep Nairobi November 19 at 3:40am

So if you were on those flights, where would you go and what would do given your ownpersonal circumstances and prefences? For what it's worth, I hope you don't consider this a post from a lazy person asking you to plan my trip for me - I have bought the wonderful Real Guides to Tanzania and Kenya, the Bradt guide to Tanzania and Fodor's Kenya and Tanzania, and read them all basically cover to cover. The problem is, it's hard to prioritize...

Thanks!

Tom

Ps pardon me if you've seen the same question on the Kenya forum. I think there are strong arguments for either country, or both.

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Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

Well teh obvious answer given time of arrival in NBO is go straight to bed in NBO and don't stir far that day. Get some sleep.

Now this is where personal preference kicks in and I can only tell you what I would do but we are all different and my visit would not be my first to either country. ( I would not have landed in NBO in the first instance.....)

Ten/Eleven days is not really long so go for quality.

November means no herds in Maasai Mara but Amboseli should be good. However I would still head for TZ due to imminent "little rains" and visit Ngorongoro and Tarangire before trying to catch the migration in the Eastern Serengeti.

I am writing this as though I was you on a first trip.

For myself I would head for Ruaha and the Selous but that is because I have seen Serengeti and the Crater etc., several times already and would be looking for quality not quantity.

Hope this has helped.

I am sure that whatever you decide will result in a wonderful trip to either country.

Edited: 17 June 2011, 10:14
Findlay, Ohio
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2. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

If it were I, then upon arrival in Nairobi I would go to a local hotel and sleep for the night. The next morning I would have the shuttle pick me up at my hotel and take the shuttle to Arusha.

From Arusha I would go to Tarangire for 2 or 3 days, then go to Ngorongoro Cratger for at least a day, then onward to the Serengeti for 3 or 4 days staying in the Eastern and Central Serengeti. I would then fly back to Arusha from the Serengeti. In Arusha I would have some cultural events planned which would take me away from Arusha and spend some time in Arusha shopping for souvenirs. From there I would either catch a shuttle back to the Nairobi airport or get a flight from Arusha to Nairobi.

What this would almost surely guarantee you is that you would see many more animals then you ever expected to see, and all in their natural habitat.

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Saint Paul...
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3. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

I would consider my travel companions and their preferences. Do you have any? If so, please tell me a bit. And it would also be helpful to any other tidbits about yourself because for me, personally, there could be about 3 or 4 different travel styles that I might choose for myself depending on my purpose of the trip. Could you tell me a little more?

London, United...
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4. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

Head for the Selous Reserve and look at staying at the old Boma hotel in Mikindani to recuperate. http://www.mikindani.com/ . They are a localy run hotel partnered with TradeAid and do great work in a beautifull corner of Tanzania away from the crowds. I lived down the road in Masasi for 2 years and love the area.

and make sure you have SafariAlert on your iPhone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWoogYURhqg

Edited: 17 June 2011, 14:17
London, United...
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5. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

Head for the Selous Reserve and look at staying at the old Boma hotel in Mikindani to recuperate. http://www.mikindani.com/ . They are a localy run hotel partnered with TradeAid and do great work in a beautifull corner of Tanzania away from the crowds. I lived down the roadfor 2 years and love the area.

and make sure you have SafariAlert on your iPhone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWoogYURhqg

Los Angeles...
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6. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

Hi Brian,

Sure, here's a bit more about us: I will be traveling with my wife. We're mid-30s, no kids; she is from Colombia and I am from the US, we live in Los Angeles and we bought the tickets to Nairobi because it seemed to be the right combination of ticket price ($975 each including a stopover in Istanbul - figured we'd never see that again!) and chance to see a part of the world I had always wanted to see.

It will be her first time in Africa, my second (I was in Mali 10 years ago). In terms of travel style, I would say we like to cover a lot of ground, mostly because I am the type of person who is always curious what's around the bend. BUT, obviously when it's the type of place to that rewards moving slowly and digging deeper, we're all for it as well - what I mean is that we're not the types who would choose sitting around a pool over seeing something new.

In terms of what we'd like to see, we are not bringing along a list of species or birds to check off, and we will take pictures but we're not worried about getting the perfect shot - we would much rather just sit and enjoy the wildlife. In terms of specifics, my wife would like to see flamingoes and elephants, and I would like to see lions, giraffes, and zebras. From what I can tell, all of those should be pretty easy to see unless we have bad luck (in which case we will be zen about it). We feel like we're incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Africa to begin with, so everything else is gravy in many ways.

Budget is definitely important, but not everything. We cannot afford the luxury lodges, nor would we probably choose them if we could, as I suspect they are quite isolating from the locals. We'd be just fine with a shower and a toilet and clean sheets, BUT please note that we would even do without those for a couple of days if it meant that we could see or do something we otherwise wouldn't be able to. We probably can't afford to fly around too much either, but wouldn't be opposed to flying wherever it made sense or to avoid backtracking - In general I prefer the sense of place that you get from traveling by land.

Re the question of To Zanzibar/Lamu or Not To Zanzibar/Lamu, I'm torn between the appeal of its exoticism and the chance to see a different culture, and the strong suspicion that it will be somewhat disappointing given the expense of getting there (although it would certainly be much more expensive to take a special trip there some other time, and it's cheaper than being on safari).

I hope that helps. I would love to just get a car (and driver) and go on a road trip, perhaps a nice loop through Tanzania and back up into Kenya, but not sure that's the best plan.

Thanks again to everyone for this wonderful resource - I'm happy to help anyone planning for South America or the USA.

Cheers,

Tom

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Findlay, Ohio
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7. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

If you are content to be in a tent you might try arranging a budget camping safari, where they will take a tent to pitch for you and have cook along to prepare all your meals. Many folks like this better then staying in lodges and it is by far the least expensive way to do a safari. For the most part when you are on the safari you will be far away from the locals, except for those working in the tourist industry there. Most Tanzanians don't go on safari. I have taken Tanzanians on a safari who are close to my age and this was the first time they were in the parks.

Most first timers will do what is called the Northern Circuit, for good reasons, and this would include Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti; and that's what I would again suggest for you. This will ensure that you see a multitude of animals, more then you will imagine.

Also, flying into Nairobi is not all that bad, especially for the price you got the tickets for, flying from the West Coast. This is a savings of about $500 each which is substantial. To get to Arusha where the safaris kick off you will either need to take a flight to Arusha (cost about $200) or take a shuttle bus of which there are plenty plying that route from about 7:30am to 2:00pm. Cost for a shuttle will be about $35 and take about 5 hours depending upon how long it takes you at the border. You will also need to get a Kenya transit visa for going and coming, I think the cost for that is about $20. You can get your visas at the airport in Nairobi for Kenya, and at the border crossing if you are taking the shuttle, cost for a Tz visa for US passport holders is $100; if you are flying into Arusha you can get your visa at the airport.

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Isle of Man, United...
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8. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

<<I would love to just get a car (and driver) and go on a road trip, perhaps a nice loop through Tanzania and back up into Kenya, but not sure that's the best plan.>>

Well you asked what we would do and that is right on the money for a first visit. Take the northern trip by getting to Arusha by shuttle from NBO and meet your local agent. Then after Serengeti take the hop to Zanzibar and after your sybarism there fly direct back to NBO for your fight home.

Ask away.

(I think you picked up on Lamu on your Kenyan post. Consider Mafia if ZNZ is not your scene.)

nyc
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9. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

Nov 7th -

Arriving NBO middle of morning from LAX, suggest you spend nite here (unless... are you stopping in IST for a few days?... the haul isn't all that bad.) But at that hour you still won't be at hotel till 3:30am earliest... go to sleep and choice

1) of afternoon sightseeing in NBO with o/n and next morning Shuttle Bus to Arusha, OR

2) if you don't want the sightseeing, then it's either an 8am Shuttle Bus or 2pm to Arusha day of arrival... your choice.

So depending on what you decide, then

8th or 9th Nov - Shuttle to Arusha (if 8am you can commence safari; if 2pm, you overnight Arusha)

10th Nov - To Tarangire - o/n

11th Nov - Tarangire - o/n

12th Nov - To Ngorongoro; crater tour - o/n

13th Nov - Drive via Oldupai to Central Serengeti - o/n

14th, 15th Nov - Central Serengeti - o/n

16th Nov - Fly to Arusha; connect to flight to ZNZ, Pemba, Mafia - o/n

17th & 18th Nov - ZNZ, PEM, MAF - o/n

19th Nov - Fly to NBO for homebound*

*you may have to fly late 18th Nov to NBO for early morning departure 19th Nov.

.

Saint Paul...
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10. Re: For the experts: what would YOU do?

Thanks for all the great details. This is very helpful. Let me think about it a bit and will be back to you later tonight.