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.