I'll be in Arusha for a week in early-mid December for a conference and have arranged to have a couple days off (from late afternoon Friday 14 Dec, flying out to Amsterdam on Sunday night 16 Dec) to visit the area.
I am tentatively booked into the New Safari Hotel (the Impala was already booked and I don't want to pay more than that). Some others attending the conference are also going there. Is that a good choice? Is the Arusha Crown a better choice (they still have rooms available)?
Visiting the area: I suspect that mid-Dec is the start of the real high season. Do I need to reserve a trip ahead of time or could I wait until arriving in Arusha about a week earlier? I've heard great things about the Ngorongoro Crater - is that possible in such a short time (I know that some others from the conference are also interested in such a trip - we could probably fill a jeep, if needed). Is there a way to do this on a moderate budget and, even if so, is this a trip for which we should splurge on? (Where should we try to stay in the crater area?)
Thanks enormously for your suggestions. This will be my first trip to East Africa so I'm a real beginner here -- I usually travel for work to the Sahel, which is a whole different world... Tom