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itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

München, Deutschland
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itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

Hi everybody,

I spent the last couple of weeks searching this forum and - thanks to a lot of busy and experienced writers ;) - ended up with two itineraries from two different operators for our journey to Tanzania in december 2013. We have 2 weeks of safari adventure within the Northern Circuit before flying out of Arusha for Zanzibar over New Years. It would be great to get some opinions on the two itineraries as well as the two companies (yes I already did my homework and researched them on the web, but maybe somebody has to add something nevertheless ;)). By the way...we will do a camping trip as it seems a great way to experience African wilderness, plus our budget does make tented lodges or similar almost anfordable.

Acutally the ONLY company that managed to fit a 15 days itinerary including transfer from Nairobi into our budget ist EASTCO. They have a lot of positive reviews but also 2-3 really bad ones in late 2012. Don't want to put too much into that as there is always two sides to it, but I am also happy to hear from people who have traveld with them lately. Nevertheless...EASTCO would be my preference so far cause it seems a bit off the beaten track and not too rushed...and the lodges are a plus.

Day 1 - arrival Nairobi

Day 2 - Nairobi > Ngorongoro Highlands (Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge)

Day 3 - Ngorongoro > Serengeti (camp in Ndutu or Naabi Hill area)

Day 4 - Serengeti (camp in Ndutu or Naabi Hill area)

Day 5 - Serengeti (camp Lobo area)

Day 6 - Serengeti (camp Lobo area)

Day 7 - Serengeti > Lake Natron (camp)

Day 8 - Lake Natron/Ol Doinyo Lengai area (camp)

Day 9 - Lake Manyara (camp)

Day 10 - Lake Manyara (Ol Tukai)

Day 11 - Lake Manyara, Maasai Trek (Ol Tukai)

Day 12 - Tarangire (Boundary Hill Lodge)

Day 13 - Tarangire (Boundary Hill Lodge)

Day 14 - Tarangire

Day 15 > Arusha

The 2nd option would be slightly shorter trip with African Scenic Safaris, who seem to be a younger safari company but received good reviews. It's camping all nights.

Day 1 - Tarangire

Day 2 - Tarangire

Day 3 - Tarangire - Lake Manyara - Lake Eyasi

Day 4 - visit Hadzabe tribe @ Lake Eyasi > Ngorongoro

Day 5 - Ngorongoro

Day 6 - Ngorongoro > Serengeti (Olduvai Gorge)

Day 7 - Serengeti

Day 8 - Serengeti > Lake Natron

Day 9 - Lake Natron

Day 10 - Lake Natron > Maasai Village

Day 11 - Maasai Village > Arusha

Would be great if somebody had some suggestions on companies or itineraries or both.

Thanks a lot ;)!!!

Ottawa, Canada
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1. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

I haven't done the trip, but my gut says that African Scenic Safaris has too much time in Lake Natron and I am not a big fan of a canned Maasai Village trip. As of late, more people say it is very touristy and not that comfortable an activity. Making it all you do on the last day may be a little anticlimactic.

However, Day 2 for your EASTCO itinerary is going to be a very long haul. I would suggest you fly from Nairobi to Arusha and pick up the safari there. The drive from Nairobi would give you an extended exposure, but then I might want to alter the schedule a bit and not try to get all the way to the Crater that day.

There were some pretty scathing reports on EASTCO end of last year. Since then, they are positive with happy travellers. If you use the Search feature above and type in EASTCO, then sort by date, you may find the reports by SaraP and others who have had some great experiences with them.

Also Search for African Scenic Sararis and see what you get. I know they are mentioned on this forum, however, I can't recall many trip reports about them.

Boundary Hill is an interesting place, and EASTCOs accommodations are different from the norm. Their itinerary gives you a good amount of time in the Tarangire Conservation Area in order to do some Maasai visits, night drives, or walks.

Either are giving you a blend of cultural and away from the everyday itineraries. I like the first one best, but with a bit of a tweak for day 1 and/or 2. If you arrive early enough on day 1 in Nairobi, you can see about a transit to Arusha that day.

nyc
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2. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

As QM, Day 2 will be an entire day in transit.

Are you transiting from Nairobi to Arusha via Shuttle Bus, or will you have a KEN driver/vehicle (where you change at border to TNZ driver/vehicle) to continue to Arusha? Once in Arusha, meet up with your TNZ driver/vehicle for onward to Ngorongoro?

Drive time - NBO/Arusha - minimum 5/hrs; Arusha/Ngorongoro - 4/hrs. And you might want to stop in Arusha to stretch legs and sit down for lunch before continuing on.

On the Equator there is only 12/hrs daylight and you have to be atNgo before gates close at 6pm.

While you don't show, from where will you be departing for home? ZNZ to NBO? or other? And how getting from conclusion safari in Arusha to ZNZ? By land (it's a 10/hr bus drive to DAR, then flight or ferry to island), or flying from Arusha to ZNZ?

München, Deutschland
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3. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

Thanks for all the quick answers.

@ Quiltingmamma: That kind of is the same thing I was thinking. I am totally going for the EASTCO itinerary but we might split the driving by maybe driving from Nairobi straight to Arusha and spend a night there before leaving for the crater. Although that leaves us with quite a long journey from Germany over Cairo to Arusha. Flying into Arusha is just too expensive ;(.

@ 4sandi: EASTCO offered to pick us up from Nairobi. I am just not sure if it's better to head from the plane straight to Arusha and spend the night there OR rest one night in Nairobi before the long drive. As said...a flight from Nairobi to Arusha is hell expensive ;(. We're flying from Munich over Cairo to Nairobi and take the plane from Arusha to Zanzibar after the safari. On Zanzibar we have about 6 full days, staying there over New Years before heading back to Germany.

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

I know that flights to JRO have gotten quite expensive, so understand the thought to go to Nairobi instead. But tell me, what is the difference in cost of your expenses between Nairobi and Arusha via TO? You will have car costs, hotel costs, all these things. If you add it to the cost of a cheaper flight, is it really cheaper if it means an extra day of fees to a TO? Balance those out and see if it is indeed a savings.

If it is still significantly cheaper, and you feel a good night's sleep will put you ready for a 10 or more hours' drive, then stick to plan A.

Ever since KLM upped their fees to JRO to almost $1000 more than Nairobi, I know that I have to build in the transit time and expenses to Kenya. Usually time is money for me, but $1000 is a fair chunk of extra money - I will make the time. It can be an added bonus of learning another country.

Isle of Man, United...
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5. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

I like the first, EASTCO, trip best. the long day 2 maybe a problem but the whole thing works better. #2 just does not run smoothly and does nothing for me. Fine tune it and it will work out OK.

What time does your plane get in to NBO. If in the morning I would be inclined to head straight to Arusha and then rest up. You can lie in a bit before then heading for Ngorongoro in a more leisurely pace.

It is possible to get from NBO to the crater in a day if with the same car as you don't need to enter Arusha.

The price differential between NBO and JRO is a closer call from Europe. Whilst I do use NBO and the shuttle sometimes and to avoid the stopover in DAR, I still vote for the shortest transit times with the least connections more often than not. Less chance of delays. Get it over with and you are where you want to be not 6 hours drive from another country with another Visa and Border crossing.

München, Deutschland
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6. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

We're flying in REALLY early at 03:45 am ;(. I guess that makes it even harder to catch another flight or a shuttle without hanging around on the airport for hours. I just asked EASTCO if it might be possible to slip in another day to cut the long day 2 into two. On the other hand with that we're loosing one day in the rest of the itinerary somewhere. Don't know yet if it's worth it. Also...is there anything interesting to do in Nairobi? If it's just a lot of noise and traffic we might as well hang around on the airport waiting for the shuttle and sleep on the bus ;).

But happy to hear that my feeling was right...I also liked EASTCOs itinerary better.

Chicago
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7. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

I also like the first one better, but I'm not sure that 3 days at Manyara or Tarangire are needed. If you are interested in things other than wildlife, I might try for a visit to the Hadzabe bushmen at Lake Eyasi ,or Lake Babati and the Kolo ancient rock art as a diversion. Or you could keep it the way you have it and add in extra excursions like village visits, bush walks, night drives, but each will add expense. Just a different thought.

As for the second itinerary, day 3 Tarangire/Manyara/Eyasi is very rushed. The second is also trying to get too much packed in. You might want to skip Natron on this itinerary. You might want to try the second company pricing a more similar length trip to the first company, then compare.

Edited: 20 June 2013, 19:30
San Francisco...
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8. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

I just rechecked my flight info and cost with KLM because this thread brought me up short. We got flights from LAX thru AMS to JRO for next January for less than $1100 (USD) each. total. i thought that was a smokin' deal, and now i see i'm right! (and it is true. whew!)

Isle of Man, United...
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9. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

Strange things going on inside KLM. How come you are getting a huge long haul for less than I paid for my flight from England? Maybe next trip I will book from LAX but just get on in AMS?

I bet Trillian would love that price too.

Arriving 03.45 leaves two options. Get some sleep in NBO, somewhere like Wildebeeste Camp is reasonable. Spend the afternoon at Sheldrick elephant orphanage. You have to pre adopt to get into 'Parent's afternoon' but worth it.

Or get the 14.00 shuttle and head for Arusha.

München, Deutschland
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10. Re: itinerary december 2013 (EASTCO or African Scenic Safaris)

As we are travelling over Christmas and New Years we booked the flight before deciding if we only wanted to do Tanzania or Kenya and Tanzania. In the end Kenya doesn't seem to offer anything Tanzania cannot...at least not in the region round the boundary so we decided - or I decided...my boyfriend still needs to be convinced ;) - that there is enough to see and do in Tanzania only. Well...that's how we ended up flying into Nairobi...but it was a good deal as well ;).

As for 3 days spent in Manyara..the 1st is going from the Lake Natron area towards Manyara, 2nd game drives in Manyara and head towards Ol Tukai in the afternoon, 3rd doing a Maasai trek and visit their community in the afternoon so it's not only game driving there. Also in Tangarire it's not only game driving but also some walking and even a included night drive. So it sounds like there is some stuff to do apart from the animals.

Do you think Lake Eyasi is worth a visit. Almost every company had it in their itinerary so it might be quite touristy. Babati sounds nice for the canoing in between the hippos so.