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Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

London
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Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

As per the title we're about to book a spur of the moment last minute trip to the Serengeti. We've been to the Mara before, but this will be our first time to the Serengeti so a little apprehensive about doing it all last minute (leaving in 7 days). Therefore would greatly appreciate any input on the following:

1) The best flights available appear to be via NBO (arrive JRO 09:30, leave 9 days later 19:30). We're considering Asanja camp, how long would the transit take from JRO at this time of year?

2) We have yellow fever injections already, is there anything else to consider if transiting via NBO (connection would be within NBO airport).

3) We're both EU passport holders and citizens, is my research that we can obtain visa on arrival at JRO correct?

4) What are the current conditions like on the ground? Weather, ground conditions, animals near Asanja.

5) We prefer to stay in one place (prefer to spend more time exploring one area, local animals more thoroughly then spend time hopping around). We've done this in the past in Mara and been very happy, I assume there are no reasons why the same would not be true near Asanja?

6) Is Asanja a good choice? I'm not expecting Royal Mara type accommodation (our last Safari), but reviews suggest it is a good camp, with good food, staff and locality?

I really appreciate any help and advice. I'm accustomed to working without an operator, but usually give myself much more time putting things together.

Littleton, Colorado
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1. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

First, congratulations on being spontaneous and making this happen! You will have a wonderful time.

I have answers to a few questions:

2. Nothing else needed.

3. Yes. Just have your money ready and get in the visa needed line.

4. We just left 1 week ago. Weather was just the right temperature for me; warm but not too hot, cooler at night usually. Hard rain sometimes that didn't last very long, 1 hour at most.

5. If you want to see the migration, you might prefer to stay in 2 places to maximize your chances of seeing it. Or be prepared to drive a distance. When we were in Ndutu, the migration was not very close, but our guide was willing to drive 150 kms round-trip just so we could experience it.

I don't know Asanja at all so can't offer anything about it or answer your questions related to the camp. If the reviews say it's a good camp, that's a good indication.

Isle of Man, United...
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2. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

Well done and I hope it works out.

1. Why not KLM via Amsterdam direct to JRO? Arrive 21.30 same day as you leave London where you will start your Safari. No messy transfers in NBO.

From JRO you would overnight nearby, I like KIA Lodge right at the airport, and in the morning bright eyed and bushy tailed you can be on your way to Ansanja and the Serengeti.

Transit time I would guess at around 6 or 7 hours. No more. Weather dependant.

2-3 As above.

4. You are heading into the wettest part of the year. But the skies will be clear blue when not raining.

Driving conditions should be a mix of muddy and impossible. but fun! wildlife will still be there, they have nowhere to go.

5. I am an advocate of 'stay put and explore' stays rather than Cooks tours. Enjoy it. You are not far from Serenera/Central Serengeti if you need a change of scene one day.

6. I have never been but it seems quite upmarket. Too much for my wallet. Location is good in a wildlife rich area.

London
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3. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

Thank you so much for the very quick and helpful replies, hadn't expected any answers so soon :)

2 & 3 were potentially the show stoppers, given little time left, so glad to hear they won't be an issue.

I'm somewhat restricted on the flights as my wife is working on the day of departure. She's a nurse and leave (especially around Easter, when there's usually a mad scramble by those with young children) isn't easy to come by. Therefore she'd rather save taking an extra day off for travel, fortunately she can sleep on the plane (on return she obviously has 24 hours off before returning to work, bleary eyed doesn't go down to well in her job :D).

4) I expect it to be wet, probably better that it is for the wildlife (which is what we go to see after all) and the locals. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't heading into a flood. Got those for free in the UK recently, don't fancy paying thousands to see them in another continent.

5) As much as i'd like to see the migration, i think I'll just roll the dice once. If it isn't to be I'm "still" in the Serengeti, I'll save the moving from place to place for work :)

6) Any other places I should consider? We prefer smaller camps, Asanja seems to strike a good balance between small (not large hotel like lodge) and "affordable".

Isle of Man, United...
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4. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

6. You could try Ndutu in the NCA but to my mind you are close enough to fan out every day to change scenery without changing beds.

Bristol
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5. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

Hi there,

I think you have most of your questions answered above so I will just say that NO, you are not mad. Here is a link to my trip report from mid April last year. Even if you don't want to read the trip report look at the photos (link at the end of the report) and you will see what great viewings we had at this time of year. You can see my comments about the weather and game viewing if you want to read the report. We had a great time. I love this time of year for safaris.

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g297913-i9775-k6…

The only thing I would suggest is perhaps having a couple of days in Ndutu in the Ngorongoro Conservation area. This is a reasonable drive from where you will, be staying at Asanja and you need a different permit to drive in this area, so you can visit Ndutu from the Serengeti if you arrange the extra permit but I would suggest actually staying there for a couple of days. If you look at my photos you will see that some of our best viewings of cats was in this area.......... and we had the place to ourselves.

Have a great trip

Edit Mfuwe posted while I was typing!!

Edited: 13 April 2014, 20:57
London
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6. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

Those are some great pictures and I think what little doubt I had has been allayed thanks to everyones great replies.

I'm especially fond of the idea of missing the western homo-sapien migration (yes I know I'm one also :)), its the main reason we did the Mara in November. The prices also help of course.

Ottawa, Canada
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7. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

Having looked at the website, are you doing an all inclusive with the lodging and using their vehicles? Does it include pick up from Arusha? In Kenya, game drives are often put on by the lodging, but in Tanzania Northern Circuit, most hire car and guide via a TO who books your lodgings. I just want to know you are aware there tends to be a difference in habit, and this is why the last few posters discuss other areas to visit. You may not have these options if you are orgainizing everything through that lodging? If near Moru Kopjes as stated, you could venture out to Ndutu Conservation Area to see migration if you wish...but someone will have to arrange the Conservation Fee payments for you.

Perhaps explain your car and guide arrangements for more appropriate feedback.

London
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8. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

Given the short notice, I'm currently planning to use their vehicle and guide (private use). They've agreed to include Airport transfers as part of this, since I'm paying for the vehicle.

Ottawa, Canada
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9. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

Okay, so you will need to stay put and game drive from there. As mentioned, few places in Tanz offer this, and given its good location, I would just keep moving forward with plans. I don't think there are many other options in that area.....though Ndutu Safari Lodge, which is in Ndutu Conservation Area, has a vehicle and guide....but it is at a much different calibre of lodging...and you would have to arrange your own airport transfer which might be a headache. Sounds like you are good to go. Have a great time.

London
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10. Re: Booking last minute Serengeti trip, sanity check please :)

One more quick question, despite only transiting through NBO will we still need a Kenyan Visa on arrival? I was planning to print the form anyway, but recall they can be picky about the notes, so want to make sure I have some nice fresh ones for them also if need be. (The first time we went the agent rejected one of the bills we handed him, so I rifled through for the freshest note we had. He didn't appreciate my joke that he should like this one as I only made it yesterday :/).

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