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Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

Windsor, Canada
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Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

Heya,

So yet another giant post per me! I tried to compile my various questions into one post - sorry about this. Feel free to answer any, one or all questions - again any feedback or advice is highly appreciated no matter no relevant or irrelevant you think it is to the topic

So as some of you know, in the last two weeks in January, we're heading to Tanzania for a 17 day safari. I send in my suggestions and heard back from many but not all companies (YET). I send out a bunch of e-mails to many companies so I could compare and contrast their service.

I noticed that some companies are close to the $5000/person while others are over $6000/person (even shorter safaris) even with the same lodges/days spend/same car/water etc. So that helped me narrow it down. But in the meantime I have some questions

My initial suggestive itinerary that I send to the safari looked something like this (first draft… can’t find copy of second draft)

Day 1 (January 15, 2014 - Thursday): Arrival at approximately 8:40PM. Go through immigration. Head to hotel? Rest and have dinner. (Possibly somewhere close-ish to Arush National Park for the next day)

Day 2 (January 16, 2014 - Friday): Go to Arusha National Park. Have Canoe trip + Walking Safari

Day 3 (January 17, 2014 – Saturday): - Lake Manyara

Day 4-8 ~5 Days: (January 18 Sunday through January 22 Thursday): Ndutu/Seronera//Serengeti etc

Day 9-10 ~ 2 Days (January 23 Friday through January 24 Saturday): Ngorongoro. Would be nice to stay at the rim of the crater – I know there are some affordable lodges and some VERY expensive ones there. Also, I’m unsure but I was thinking a hike to Empakaai Crater would be nice and to have lunch at the bottom of the crater – maybe? Is this feasible? I understand Empakaai crater is 90 minutes from the Ngorongoro crater so it may be out of the way… not sure? What do you think?Day 11-13 ~ 3 Days – MAYBE 2 days – unsure… advice? (January 25 Sunday through January 27 Tuesday): Tarangire – Would LOVE to add a Night Game Drive here

Day 14 (January 28 Wednesday) – possibly 2 days?: Lake Babati + Kolo – Canoeing in Lake Babati – not sure of other activities – suggestions?

Day 15-16 (January 29 Thursday through January 30 Friday): 2 days (or 3 days if I spend 2 days in Tarangire) ????? NO idea. I heard Mkomazi is beautiful… not sure what can be done here… Rift Valley… Lake Natron…. suggestions?

So from this “itinerary” I got the following responses

1- Some companies recommended: Lake Babati has fisherman problems and that no activities are guaranteed, you have to go at your own risk and then set up activities as you arrive – nothing guaranteed. Others suggested for Babati + Kolo you need 3 days oO?? Thoughts on these points?

2- Mkomazi – many did NOT recommend to go there… things about “nothing to do” or “one road there” – thoughts? Only ONE company even included it in my itinerary

3- I mentioned Lake Natron – many people included that but listed NO activities there. I know the flamingos nest there – but I read it’s NOT in January and you wouldn’t be able to see them from the lake anyway. Also – looks like it’s a LONG road there… what are your thoughts? If I did include this location, where in the itinerary should I place it?

4- Many Safari were a little iffy on Tarangire Night Drive and insisted Lake Manyara Night Drive would be better and it’s more established – been going on for years as opposed to last 2 years? Thoughts on this??

5- Some strange reason most Safari companies want to spend less time in Tarangire… why is that?

6- Most Safari use 4x4 Toyota land cruiser with pop-out roof, cooler/fridge, ac plugs, binoculars, bean bags etc… so that sounds good. But they suggested the “smaller” land cruiser since we are a family of 3… I keep googling what that would look like and all I see are the larger vehicles… anyone have experience with these? Are they comfortable and how much “luggage” do they carry?

7- This is my question – in terms of “stretching legs” – I’m considering adding an Empaaki Crater visit on the way from Ngorongoro to Ndutu and lunch at the bottom – according to google maps it works… but realistically speaking what are your thoughts? It’s like what? 1.5 hr to 2 hours from the Ngorongoro Crater. It is worth a stop

Also – Strangely enough – this time around I got some good prices from Shidolya, Swala, Bush2Beach and Easy Travel (not fond of the last one since even though I told her I do not want Lake Eyasi, the TO included it – still not out of the race). The following point was actually suggested by Access2Tanzania – who I am EAGERLY awaiting their itinerary today or tomorrow (Spoke with Casey on the phone – VERY helpful and suggestive… hoping he can follow-up). He mentioned it might be better to drive out and then fly back in – finishing at Serengeti with a big bang! This was mentioned earlier to me on TA – but with the first rounds of e-mails, I was getting some higher quotas oO? So I worried this may be outside my budget. This is especially good if I can pull it off since my mother is a 57 year old lady that’s 110 pounds (small and the bumpy load/long travels may hurt). At this point, I might go back to Shidolya, Swala and Bush2Beach and Easy Travel and suggest the possibility of flying out after the safari. Should be about $200/person which if you factor in ~8 hours you’re saving – comes out to be a good deal.

So – the BIG question… should we choose to drive in and fly out – how would you rearrange the itinerary so that it flows best and minimizes driving time? Casey from A2T said he would rearrange it for time efficiency – but I have not received the itinerary yet.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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11. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

QM, I am not arguing what you are advising this family. Just you saying that there are no activities in the area.

Edited: 08 May 2014, 03:50
Windsor, Canada
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688 posts
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12. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

Thanks

So.... if let's say we drive out and fly back in... the players are Serengeti, ANP, Lake Manyara, Tarangiri and Lake Babati... that leaves Mkomazi vs Lake Natron - which would fit into a better drive in and how would you re-arrange it while minimizing driving time. For the Empakaai Crater I'm thinking of taking the hike enroute either from or to the Ngorongoro Crater - just have to figure out which direction is feasible. I did mention I would like to do the hike - but instead most (but one company) said it's not feasible and the itineraries all include Olmoti Crater Hike + Munge Falls instead.

Thanks

Baz

melbourne
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for Tanzania
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13. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

The best itinerary without backtracking would be to drive to Lake Natron 1st then from there drive up the escarpment and into the Serengeti after the Serengeti drive to Ngo...Manyara....Tarangire and finish with Babati...no flight.

Otherwise with a flight last ....visit Babati 1st then Tarangire,, Manyara Ngo. and then Serengeti fly to Arusha and then go to Mkomazi.

If you are mad keen on Natron then save the flight and drive in a circle as I mentioned.

I am almost 70 and still drive everywhere...age is no barrier to a safari except if there is an illness as well....You just do it slower.

14. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

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Removed on: 09 May 2014, 13:35
Toronto, Canada
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15. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

I'm actually doing the Empakai Crater hike on my safari beginning of August. Keep in mind that the hike down and back up can be a strenuous from what I've read and can be a bit steep. So please keep that in mind for your mom.

I'm arriving on Ngorongoro crater late afternoon and overnighting Rhino Lodge, then doing the Empakai Crater hike the next morning. Afterwards back to Rhino Lodge, overnight and next morning down in the Ngo crater itself, then driving to the Serengeti after lunch.

nyc
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16. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

In January, the last place I'd want to be is Lake Natron with temps well over 100-degrees and barely anywhere for shade. Flat/dry and dusty. Besides it's such a long drive.

Windsor, Canada
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17. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

Okay I heard back from most companies (except Swala which is why I haven't posted the itinerary compare and contract since I don't want to rule this company out since people here think highly of them).

I will eventually post my favorite companies (3 perhaps) and ask for advice/lodge advice... but before that I have a question - after asking them to rearrange for the flight back - companies that tried including Lake Natron or Mkomazi have eliminated the visit to Kolo due to time constraints. One company added Mkomazi (others didn't).... here's where the problem comes in - it adds $500/person - only one lodge Babu's Camp (so $1500) and it eliminates a full day (for the driver to drive back) and another 2 days there - so three. Then final day = driving back to Arusha. So is Mkomazi worth 3 days and an additional $500/person or should I just spend those extra days (3 of them) somewhere else in the North Safari

Windsor, Canada
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18. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

Sry I meant to say - eliminated visit to Babati and Kolo + an extra day or two somewhere else (when they tried to incorporate Lake Natron - and one company Mkomazi)

Chicago
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19. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

I think that it will depend on your priorities. For me, Kolo is a big draw, as I am interested in petroglyphs and ancient writings/drawings. Some people also like the idea of a canoe trip on Lake Babati, and there are tribes/groups of native people to visit there. If you are going just to walk around and get out of the car, maybe there are other places to do that. The same might be said for Lake Natron. I do not know much about Mkomazi, sorry.

20. Re: Lake Natron/Mkomazi /Itinerary Change Suggestions etc

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Removed on: 11 May 2015, 05:17