First of all - this is going to be a very long message... going to include it all - so please be patient for me and I am SO sorry for this entire post!!! I appreciate any help/feedback.. anything I can get. Every post adds more to my understanding!
Need help with my itinerary/choosing a company. I know this is asking to much and I hate myself for doing so. However, this trip will cost over $23,000++ for me (paying for the trip entirely) and I don't usually have that lying around (been saving for a long time) - might be my only trip for a couple of years so I am very nervous and anxious and I want to make this perfect! Even if it means paying a bit more for certain aspects - my initial estimate was $3,000-$5,000... already over budget but I have a plan to make the rest by January.
Also.. I feel like I need to say that TA is my only advice/honest feedback that I have going for me which is why I keep coming back with ridiculous posts. I did consult Fodor's Guide... sorry to say this but it was pretty useless - good starting point - not worth $20 - could have spend 10 minutes on the forums here and learned more!
-3 People (me), mother (57 years) and brother (25).
-Leaving Detroit (DTW) for Thursday January 15 -> Arriving RJO on Friday January 16 @8:45PM ****May Possibly add an extra day at which we will leave on January 14 and arrive on Thursday 15**** <-- leaving one day early will save approximately $300 in flights!!! Will need approval from my future boss though. I can make this work though!
-Leaving RJO on Saturday January 31 to arrive on Sunday Feb 1 (this is FIRM! My brother starts rotations in February)
Also through the process of posting here, I learned that Canoeing with Hippoes is a big no-no (dangerous) and that "off roading" in Serengeti is extremely harmful to small animals/plants. I had no idea that was the case - imagined it to be differently... guess I was ignorant there. Thanks to those who explained this to me
Onto the post:
I have a couple of questions first:
1- What are your thoughts on Travelling Doctor Insurance?
2- Night Game drives - are they worth it? What time do they start (since I thought they go from 6AM to 6PM)? I understand they are provided in Lake Manyara and Tarangire - which would you recommend?
3- I read that Canoeing in Arusha National Park or Lake Manyara can be fun? What can I expect to see and which would you recommend?
4- Some companies suggested adding Game Drives in Arusha Park... how do game drives rank in Arusha Park vs other parks? I'm thinking a Canoe + Walking Safari in Arusha park and leave game drives to other park...
5- Serengeti park is HUGE!! How large (amount of driving) is it? I know there is Ndutu (South), a lot of mention on Central Serengeti plains... I'm assuming with game driving you move from one location of the Serengeti plains to another... sorry it's hard to image
6- Driving from one location in another... I was looking at the map - the parks seem to flow from one to another. The drive from location to another - is it just that? Or it is like an "en-route" game drive? Sorry I'm trying to understand this. I'm not used to driving a couple of hours at a time (again I haven't been on many trips).
Now onto the itenerary:
I contacted 9 companies from the sticky post #4. Heard from all companies back except Access 2 Tanzania.
I compiled a chart pdf form...
^GOOGLE Drive - Reliable (never used google before - but wanted a "trusted" site to share for TA).
[EDITING POST] Just noticed, link doesn't show but the "http" does. Just click on it. If don't trust since can't see directory... use: …google.com/file/…
-Included transfer times/types of activities etc to the BEST of my abilities (there are more details on the actual e-mail which I can include)
-Included pricing/company names
-All companies include "unlimited" safari miles (park times being the limit at 6AM and 6PM) and private car
-All rooms = Triple Accommodation
-Included Lodge names + RATINGS. These ratings are TRIPADVISOR exclusive (ex, 4.5 stars = based on TA review ratings)
-Roy/Hoopoe/Good Earth Tour Safaris shorten the safari by a couple of days. Roy + Hoopoe said it would cost upper $7000 if it were for a full day
-Looks like if "flights" are included in the itinerary the price is $$$
-I didn't realize how expensive some lodges can be >.....<
-Personally I felt that Easy Travel and Tours Ltd was easy to deal with and they were VERY fast to answer my questions and come up with an itinerary
What are your thoughts? I know certain companies handle safaris different, have different lodges, guides etc.... I'm trying to see which "routes" (aka the circle - Arusha to one location to another and back to Arusha) work out best.
Again I am leaning towards Easy Travel and Tours Ltd - if I were to go with them I'm thinking instead of:
A- Visiting Mt. Meru on Day 2, I would visit Arusha National Park and do a half day walking safari + canoeing.
B- Instead of a hike the last day (assuming I would be VERY tired at the end). I might add an extra day at Tarangire or Lake Manyara any thoughts? Which means "day 15" itinerary would be the last day.
C- I'm thinking of doing a Night Drive - I heard the Tarangire one is fun. But that means we have to stay at Tarangire Lodge (Easy Travel recommends on at Lake Manyara). From my understanding it's a MUCH more expensive place... can't find pricing anywhere (but I found that Maramboi Tented Camp is over $500 for triple room).
D- Finally since I'm adding an extra day (if possible) - thinking of adding it to Ngorongoro... sorry not sure what's available there... but according to Fodor - it's got a great "rim walk" and the most dense animal concentration or something
Again so sorry about this really long post..... and I will read and appreciate any posts/feedback/advice given here.
ThanksEdited: 07 April 2014, 19:30