stevento

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  1. I ended up changing our itinerary. Unlike nearly everyone else on this forum, the idea of 10 days of game drives just didn't sound appealing to any member of my group. 3 days sounded just about right. So instead of Kenya or Tanzania alone, we decided to spend 5 days in Namibia and 3 in Kenya. This is the final itinerary, as shown in this thread: Day 1 18.30 NYC-CAI. Day 2 Land in CAI in the 11 AM. 12 hr layover. Tour CAI, get back to airport, change, shower, board 11PM CAI-JNB. Day 3. Land in JNB at 7AM. Unfortunately, early flight not available, so JNB for 6 hrs. Change, shower, board 13.15-14.10 to WDH. Catch a charter flight to Opuwa Lodge. Overnight Khowarib. Day 4. Drive with Kunene Tours to Kunene River, exploring the landscape. Overnight Kunene River Lodge. Day 5. Kunene River lodge to Epupa Falls, further exploring landscape and Himba villages. Overnight Epupa falls Lodge . Day 6. Hike along the Kunene, drive from Epupa to Khowarib Lodge. Day 7. Early charter flight to Kulala Lodge in Sossusvlei. Day 8. Sunrise tour to Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. Day 9. Early charter flight to WDH to catch 11.15AM WDH-JNB-NBO. Land at NBO 8.30PM. Overnight NBO. Day 10. 8.40AM Wilson - Mara. Stay at Serian North. Day 11. Mara. Day 12. Mara Day 13. 11AM-12 Mara- WIL. for 19.40 NBO-ZUR-NYC I used ATR to book Serian and Kulala only, as well as some transfers and domestic Kenya flights. I rarely use agents to book trips because I am the kind to spend many hours researching it myself. If I actually worked half the time I spend on researching trips, I would have paid for them many times over...but I enjoy it. This one, though, has so many moving parts, it's really kicking my butt
  2. Thank you all so much for your help. Just about ready to finalize everything. It's a little crazier than my itinerary in post #22...but juuuuust the right level of insanity for us. Aug 23 - Sep 5. Day 1 18.30 NYC-CAI. Day 2 Land in CAI in the 11 AM. 12 hr layover. Tour CAI, get back to airport, change, shower, board 11PM CAI-JNB. Day 3. Land in JNB at 7AM. Unfortunately, early flight not available, so JNB for 6 hrs. Change, shower, board 13.15-14.10 to WDH. Catch a charter flight to Khowarib Lodge. Overnight Khowarib. Day 4. Drive with Kunene Tours to Kunene River, exploring the landscape. Overnight campsite at Kunene River Lodge. Day 5. Kunene River lodge to Epupa Falls, further exploring landscape and Himba villages. Overnight Epupa falls Lodge (or Okahirongo River Lodge, or Serra Cafema if possible). Day 6. Hike along the Kunene, drive from Epback to Khowarib. Day 7. Early charter flight to Kulala Lodge in Sossusvlei. Day 8. Sunrise tour to Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. Day 9. Early charter flight to WDH to catch 11.15AM WDH-JNB-NBO. Land at NBO 8.30PM. Overnight NBO. Day 10. 8.40AM Wilson - Mara. Stay at one of the conservancies (working on that). Options would be Off-Beat, Encounter, Rekero Naboisho, Serian North, others. Day 11. Mara. Day 12. Mara Day 13. 14.45-16.15 AM Mara- WIL. for 19.40 NBO-ZUR-NYC or Day 14. early 5 AM NBO-IST-NYC with 6.5 hrs in IST for a quick city tour. I am just about ready to book the airfare, and looking for last minute input/advice/suggestions/recommendations.
  3. thank you for your input. Hoanib does look very cool...but the cost of the coast trip gives me pause. $5K/night for a party of 4...steep. I am actually leaning towards #3, if I ever get to speak to the Kunene people....
  4. can you share more or what you did on your travels, pluses, minuses, itineraries, things seen? Forum search did not reveal very much. EDIT: found this thread Very helpful
  5. We are planning to spend several days in the north of Namibia, to be followed by 2 nights Sossusvlei. I've come up with 3 options. Option 1. WDH-fly to Hoanib Skeleton Coast for 3 nights - fly to Kulala Desert Lodget - fly to WDH. Hoanib Camp looks spectacular, but it is incredibly expensive for 4 people. We have a very generous budget, but $30K for 5 nights is definitely a deterrent. Option 2. WDH-Fly to Okahirongo Elephant lodge for 1 or 2 nights - drive to Okahirongo River Lodge for 1 or 2 nights - fly to Sossusvlei for 2 nights at Kulala - fly to WDH. Not sure how much that would be (waiting to hear back from TA and the lodges), but probably a lot less. Judging from their 6 night package, significantly less. But I am not sure if there is a visit to the coast itself. Option 3. WDH-Fly to Khowarib Lodge - Kunene Safaris to drive around the north, with camping accommodations- Khowarib - fly to Sossuslve-WDH. The least expensive option (no actual costs yet, waiting to hear from the co...tough to connect with time differences and no weekend hours)....however, I have not broken the great news about camping to my wife and 2 teenage daughters...who are decidedly NOT campers at heart. I can probably convince them to do 1 night for contrast though. Again, not sure if the visit to the coast can be arranged...very likely not. Any input on these options would be greatly appreciated.
  6. I would like to clarify that all of this travel is in business class, most of it on flat beds. Which puts it somewhere between traveling in a sleeper car and being shipped across the world in a tight, poorly ventilated crate. I would not attempt it in coach. Biz makes it very doable. I've come off 8 hr flight from London, 11hr flight from Buenos Aires, 12hr flight from Tel Aviv, 16hr flight from Jo'burg, gone home, showered, and gone to work. Botswana is a very expensive add-on. Again, due to peculiarities of miles travel, WDH-ADD-NBO flight is free (completely free), but WDH-JNB-MUB and MUB-JNB flight would not be. It would take us longer to get to MUB from WDH than to NBO. I actually looked into a road transfer from WDH to MUB, as that would probably make more sense...roughly 9 hrs and $1000 if anyone was curious. So it works out to $25K for 3 nights. We have a very wide budget...but this is stretching too much. I get that this is the trip of a lifetime...trouble is, we take 3 lifetime trips a year. Kids are teenagers who are used to this style of travel. This would not be any more intense than the usual trip...all of ours are usually 3-2-3 nights trips, except this one will have a couple of overnights. No, the more I look at it, the more I like it. I like it a lot.
  7. Thank you all so much for replies. As a few of you suggested, I did look at Namibia and Botswana, and what I saw blew me away. I have spent the last week trying to get an itinerary down. A preliminary itinerary would have been 3 nts Hoanib lodge in the north, 2 nights in Kulala lodge in Sossusvlei, and 3 nts Botswana TBD. What am I finding is that the Botswana extension is incredibly pricey and is not particularly convenient from Windhoek. With no direct WDH-MUB flights, we'd have to spend the night in JNB anyway. The NM prices out at roughly $5K pp, and BW is the same. So, how this for an insane itinerary. Day 1 Leave US. Day 2 Land in CAI in the AM. 12 hr layover. Tour CAI, get back to airport, board CAI-WDH (via ADD or JNB) Day 3. Land in WDH. Likely free day, as the flights for the north take off early. If so, long layover in JNB to see if there is more to the city than Soweto that we saw last year (most likely visit the Cradle of Humankind as we are interested in arche- and pale- ology) Day 4. Depart for the north. Stay at Hoanib. Day 5. Hoanib. 3 nights because if so, they offer excursion to Skeleton Coast. Day 6. Hoanib. Day 7. Depart for Sossuvlei. Day 8. Sossusvlei Day 9. Depart Sossusvlei to Eros. there is a 13.35 WDH-ADD-NBO, which we would hope to make. Land at NBO at 1.20 AM. Day 10. Depart for Maasai Mara. Day 11. Maasai Mara. Day 12. Maasai Mara Day 13. Maasai Mara to WIL.Late flight NBO-ZUR-NYC or Day 14. early NBO-IST-NYC with 6.5 hrs in IST for a quick city tour. I understand Namibia should classically combine with Botswana, but I frankly don't see a major advantage to that. We wouldn't be saving any time - just the opposite, as getting home from MUB is more difficult than from NBO...much more time consuming...much much more expensive... Is this crazy? Or is this just crazy enough to work?
  8. He is very persuasive, isn't he?
  9. It's interesting you say that, because I've spent more time researching this trip than many others combined - and I am a planner (I am one of those crazy people who is most excited about a trip when he is planning it, and least excited when he's about to go on it). But that was my point - if there isn't much difference between Tarangire/Serengeti and Amboseli/Mara, then the easiest logistics win, and that would be Kenya in our case.
  10. Thank you for your replies. I wanted to clarify that ATR's quote was less than others. I think it wasn't clear from my post. I think I will do what was suggested and reach out to camps directly. As we are only talking about 5-6 days, and so 2 or at the most 3 camps, with fights in between, I might as well do that.
  11. sadly, one of those destinations had to be scrapped. We were supposed to travel to Barbados this morning, and an hour before we were planning to leave, my wife came down with a horrible stomach flu. Worst I've ever seen. As we were only going for 3 days, we had to cancel the entire trip. We live in NY. As I mentioned, we usually travel on frequent flyer miles. For those unfamiliar with that style of travel, where one goes and how one gets there depends more availability of tickets than personal preferences. Sometimes, it makes for strange combinations...like Zurich and Serengeti...Senegal and Morocco would not fit into the itinerary.
  12. We are in the final stages of planning our August E.Africa trip, and would appreciate some help. Several months ago, as recommended here and elsewhere, I contacted a few operators, local and international, such as ATR, ExpertAfrica, www.itstartedinafrica.com, Good Earth Tours, and some others. I talked to a few, and got somewhat conflicting advice. Some (ATR) very strongly recommended Tanzania over Kenya, others (Expert Africa and nearly everyone else), just as strongly felt about Kenya. I am generally a skeptical consumer, but for whatever reason, I found the ATR agent extremely convincing, and had him prepare an itinerary. The itinerary was for 5 nights (2 Tarangire, 1 Ngorongoro, fly to Kogatende for 3 nights), and is priced around $13,000 for 4 people. Their local operator is Tanganyika Expeditions aka MKSC. When others prepared a similar itinerary, their cost was considerably higher, even for the same lodges (Mawe Ninga, Olduvai Camp, Lemala Mara, or Serena NgoroNgoro instead of Olduvai). Checking their reviews online, I could find very little anywhere...other than most people calling them "very overpriced compared to others". I found just the opposite. I need to make a decision in the next few days. We travel a lot, and usually I am very decisive - but find myself very hesitant to pull the trigger here. My concerns. What my ATR advisor tells me is completely opposite to what everyone else is saying. For instance, in Tarangire, he considers Mawe Ninga to be the best option, second only to Oliver's at triple the price. Everyone else calls it a very simple and basic camp with better options elsewhere. Yes, I know MKSC owns MaweNinga. My ATR advisor strongly recommends Olduvai Camp, with a signifcant detour. Everyone else says it's in a bad location with nothing to see but Maasai cattle. Yes, I know MKSC owns Olduvai. My ATR advisor very strongly recommends Tanzania over Kenya. According to him, Kenya cannot rival Tanzania in terms of quality of safari, wildlife exposure, and much less crowds during peak times. Everyone else says "they like Tanzania but love Kenya". I wouldn't care one or the other, but it is so much easier for us to get into NBO than JRO (for various reasons). In fact, even if we go to Tanzania, we are likely to go through NBO, which means additional flights and additional visas and additional times spent in airports. It would have been easier logistically to just stay in Kenya if we are going through NBO. When asked, ATR did provide me with a quote for Kenya. If we were to go with 3 nights in Amboseli (Tortilis) and 3 night in Maasai Mara Naibosho conservancy, at Encounter. The quote was for $17.5K for 4 people. I am not sure that I am comparing apples to apples as Tortilis seems a lot nicer than Mawe Ninga or Olduvai Camp. And perhaps most concerning is the fact that there are absolutely no reviews of either Africa Travel Resource or MKSC anywhere. there are mentions on Fodors and TA, but nothing substantial and mixed overall. Other companies have hundreds of reviews.... Yes, the ATR agent seems to have a strange mind hold over me...I tend to believe everything he says...sorry, have to run, he asked me wash his car now...
  13. thank you all for your thoughtful replies. I am very pleasantly surprised at the tone. I am used to asking questions on TripAdvisor where I have to constantly defend my style of travel. Ask any expert over there and everything takes at least a week. We've been traveling 5-6 times/yr for many years, and have never spent more than 3 days in any one location, be it the most happening urban getaway or the most remote rural mountainside retreat. Just the way we like to travel. Of course, the opposite of that is FlyerTalk...everything can be done on a layover. That's more our style. We do like to travel fast, and we may not spend enough time in one destination, but that just lets leave yearning for more and looking forward to returning...which we do...often. Crossings was the major factor for Tanznania...as Serengeti North is much more remote and inaccessible, we were told the crossings there can be viewed with less company. But, if as you are saying, witnessing a crossing is very much a matter of luck, and far from guaranteed if we are not willing to invest a day waiting for it - that makes Tanzania less attractive. Given that it's easier for us to get to NBO vs JRO, and off-road and night safaris would be very welcome, and we would likely be staying in conservancies - should that tip the scales towards Kenya? If doing 2 nights Amboseli, 2 nights Laikipia, 2 nights Mara - is there a lot of time wasted on travel? I understand most of these safaris are fly-in, so traveling between is not a game drive type of transportation, as apparently would be between Seronera and Kogatende... so it seems that if we go to Kenya, 2 nights Amboseli 3 nights Mara would work out best. In that case, that leaves a whole lot of time to our trip. Zanzibar just doesn't turn us on. Not to offend anyone, but on most images it looks really really dirty. There may be beautiful beaches farther afield, but they don't excite us either. One possibility is Madagascar. It's only 3 hrs away from NBO, and actually works really well with our travel plans. I can't figure out if this is something that is of interest to us though. Another is Switzerland. Yes, I know. Super weird combination. We generally prefer a more contiguous theme to our trips...but it works extremely well with the travel itinerary (frequent flier miles travel presents very unusual combinations sometimes). I'd prefer something a bit more exotic than Switzerland though.
  14. thank you all for replies. first, what do we want out of our safaris? Well, obviously we want to see animals, especially the inter- and intra- species interactions. I completely understand how many can spend weeks doing that, getting to know the habits of each species, learning to differentiate individual animals, understanding the group dynamics. Totally get that. And we may quite possibly do that one day. At this point, we travel in short fast paced trips, but often return to places we've visited for more in-depth look. I understand that to some, flying half-way across the world for a few nights seems ludicrous, but it fits our lifestyle the best at this time. Why not Botswana? Why not indeed? Certainly we've considered it, especially if combined with Namibia it may make for a fantastic trip. And it would make more sense to come back to East Africa in 2018 or later when we are all over 15 and can include Uganda or Rwanda on our trip. At this point, for some reason I've become very emotionally invested in a Tanzania or possibly Kenya trip...would be a bit difficult to change gears. Budget is a consideration. We travel a lot. A lot. Before we take this trip, we have booked plans to visit Barbados, Thailand, Cambodia, Patagonia, Easter Island, Atacama, Arizona, and Utah, that's in the next 5 months alone. So even though we usually fly in business class and for free, x4 trip costs add up quickly. So I would rather not spend more $20K or so on this trip if I can help it (ex airfare). Thank you for suggesting different experiences. We will try to incorporate some. I hate to sound like a broken record, but all of us seem to be suffering from short attention spans...a market, a hike, yes - for an hour or two. No more. Consider it a disability. So from a transportation standpoint, NBO works better for us than JRO. If it is Kenya, why Laikipia over Amboselli, for a first time visitor? I understand less crowded- but I've been told Laikipia feels fenced in somewhat...is it not true? In Kenya, it sounds like a river crossing would be a complete disaster, with hundreds of vehicles lined up to watch 10 min of glory. Is Tanzania considerably better? If we never leave the conservancy, would we be missing a lot? Thank you so much!
  15. We are a family of 4 who is planning to go to East Africa in Aug/Sep 2017. I hope my post does not come off sounding ignorant or pretentious, as that is not what I am trying to do. I am trying to decide whether we should go to Kenya or Tanzania, given our interests. We like to be on the move, do not like crowds, prefer 4-5 star accommodations, and like variety in our travel experiences. We are very well traveled, but do not like to spend a lot of time in one place. I have never spent more than 3 nights in any location. That being said, we prefer not to move nightly, if it can be helped. We do not have budgetary constraints - while we tend to be frugal in our travels, we gladly pay for truly unique experiences. We like luxury, but do not require it. In fact, I like contrasts - so if a 5-star tent or lodge is preceded by an authentic camp with far less luxury, it willbe just fine. Just not cheap for cheap's sake. This will be our first time to East Africa. We were considering 5 or 6 nights, however we have concerns that game drive after game drive can become repetitive. We have been to South Africa (Mala Mala), and found 3 nights to be just perfect. With that in mind, I am not sure which one to choose, as I am getting conflicting recommendations. One operator I spoke with recommended Kenya for varied experiences and quality of safari. The other strongly recommended Tanzania as in his opinion, Kenyan national parks are extremely crowded, Mara river crossings have hundreds of vehicles, and private reserves in Maasai Mara will be far from the river. He was very persuasive and I was leaning towards his recommendation. So our itinerary involved 2 nights in Tarangire (Mawe Ninga), 1 night in Ngorongoro/Olduvai area (Olduvai Camp), and 3 nights in Northern Serengeti (Lemala Mara). I was just about ready to book when I started having second thoughts. My concerns: 1. 6 days of game drives. Seems like we are doing the same thing every day. Does it not get repetitive? I know that seeing a pride of lions for the first time was magical, wouldn't the tenth time be much less so? 2. Similar landscapes. I realize that there significant differences between the regions' ecosystems, especially Ngorongoro, but judging from images, the landscape is somewhat similar. Again, I am concerned that seeing the same thing for 6 days will make the experience less enjoyable. 3. Adding other locations/experiences. We are likely to include Zanzibar on this trip, not for the beach but for the culture and history. Alternatively, we were considering Mahale National Park, but the expense in money and time may be too great to justify it. If it is truly as unique experience as some describe, we may include it. Rwanda/Uganda is not possible due to one of the kids being 2 weeks shy of her 15th birthday at the time of travel. 4. This is what everyone does. Tarangire/Ngorongoro/Serengeti is a well-worn out path. While it is on the beaten track for a reason, we prefer to stay away from crowds. I am not sure how possible it will be on the main circuit during peak season. I would appreciate some advice. Given our preferences, would you recommend Tanzania or Kenya, and why? What itinerary would you recommend? What unique experiences can be added to it? What rarely visited but unforgettable places can be worked into it? Thank you so much!

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