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FlyTraveler

Outfitter for a safari in Ndutu - Feb. 2017

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Hello everyone,

I've been away from the forum for a while, missed you all. In the meantime I made a trip to Namibia and KTP last May, will start a report when I find time, but need to finish first my Madikwe and Entabeni game reserves 2015 South African TR.

At the moment I am thinking of visiting the Ndutu area in NCA in mid February with the idea to try to catch the wildebeest calving, or at least the migration there. I realize that I am quite late for booking, but doesn't hurt to send queries to various safari outfitters and camps which offer also packages.

Would you recommend such outfitters and/or camps that you or friends of yours have used. A am looking at the lower end (as far as there is such a term for Ndutu in February) of the market.

 

Could use an advise regarding itinerary, as well:

If there is availability and the prices are OK for me, I am thinking of something like:

Feb. 14 - arriving at 03:20 in the morning at Kilimandjaro airport. Transfer to a lodge / camp in Ndutu area (Ndutu Safari Lodge or some of the mobile camps - Angata, Ndutu Wildlands, Flycatcher Lagarja etc.). We are looking for the cheapest option, which provides en-suite toilet and shower and facilities to charge our camera batteries and laptop computers. Game drive and overnight at Ndutu area.

 

Feb. 15 - full day game drive and overnight at Ndutu area.

 

Feb. 16 - full day game drive and overnight at Ndutu area.

 

Feb. 17 - full day game drive possibly to Moru Kopjies in Serengeti NP and back to NCA for overnight at Ndutu area.

 

Feb. 18 - full day game drive and overnight at Ndutu area.

 

 

Feb. 19 - full day game drive and overnight at Ndutu area.

 

Feb. 20 - morning game drive in Ndutu area, then transfer to Ngorongoro crater, overnight there (en-suite toilet and shower) accommodation.

 

Feb. 21 - early morning descent to the crater floor and full day game drive there. After that - transfer to Kilimandjaro airport to catch our flight at 02:30 in the morning (on Feb. 22).

If the price is acceptable (by my standards), I am thinking of adding a couple of days somewhere in Seronera area at the beginning of the trip. I am aware that most likely the migration will be gone from there by mid-February, but perhaps it would be a good idea to change the scenery (see Moru kopjies, for example).

Any advise will be greatly appreciated.


Cheers and thanks in advance for your time!

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Hi @@FlyTraveler. I can strongly recommend Flycatchers Lagarja. Basic but very well kept camp. Excellent service and food. The people there will do anything for you. Some websites like ATR will say that Flycatchers only books their own safari clients but this is not true. I have booked directly with them on three occasions now and have received an excellent price. I will try and find the last invoice from Ndutu and PM you if I find it. If they don't respond to email right away, try again. or phone their office in Arusha. Their camp is in a lovely spot. Have a great time. very jealous!

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Hi @@FlyTraveler. I can strongly recommend Flycatchers Lagarja. Basic but very well kept camp. Excellent service and food. The people there will do anything for you. Some websites like ATR will say that Flycatchers only books their own safari clients but this is not true. I have booked directly with them on three occasions now and have received an excellent price. I will try and find the last invoice from Ndutu and PM you if I find it. If they don't respond to email right away, try again. or phone their office in Arusha. Their camp is in a lovely spot. Have a great time. very jealous!

 

Thanks very much for the information @@kilopascal! I am still only inquiring, I am not completely sure if I am doing this in February, there are several factors that I have deal with.

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Sounds like a fun, if quick, visit. I think the standard advice, if you are trying to keep the budget down, is to use a Tanzania-based tour operator, as they are usually less expensive than ones with offices in the West. There are a lot of them though, so it's hard to narrow them down - I've heard good things about Basecamp, and as I indicated in my trip report this year the guide I've used twice in Tanzania has recently started his own operation. But there are literally hundreds...

 

Note also descending into the Crater is not cheap (I believe the fees at the moment are $60 per adult and $300 per vehicle for each descent). And lodging on the rim in general can be expensive; we found Rhino Lodge to be a reasonable budget option. You could also consider a quick stop at Tarangire as an alternative, you'll see elephants and baobabs there.

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Maybe I'll see you there. I think Flycatchers is one of the more economical options. I have not used them in green season, but have in Sept.

I'm using The Wild Source for the Feb trip.

 

If not this year, you'll have good info for next year. And you can finish all those reports in the meantime.

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Sounds like a fun, if quick, visit. I think the standard advice, if you are trying to keep the budget down, is to use a Tanzania-based tour operator, as they are usually less expensive than ones with offices in the West. There are a lot of them though, so it's hard to narrow them down - I've heard good things about Basecamp, and as I indicated in my trip report this year the guide I've used twice in Tanzania has recently started his own operation. But there are literally hundreds...

 

Note also descending into the Crater is not cheap (I believe the fees at the moment are $60 per adult and $300 per vehicle for each descent). And lodging on the rim in general can be expensive; we found Rhino Lodge to be a reasonable budget option. You could also consider a quick stop at Tarangire as an alternative, you'll see elephants and baobabs there.

 

Thanks very much Zubbie15. Yes, I am looking for locally based safari operator. The crater fees are up, they used to be $50 per person and $200 per vehicle. Will send a mail to Basecamp to see if they have something to offer.

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Maybe I'll see you there. I think Flycatchers is one of the more economical options. I have not used them in green season, but have in Sept.

I'm using The Wild Source for the Feb trip.

 

If not this year, you'll have good info for next year. And you can finish all those reports in the meantime.

 

Hey Lynn, thanks for the input, I will send a mail to Flycatchers. Would be nice to see you in Ndutu.

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Thanks all for your imput so far!

I received a few offers already.

The best one seems to be by Bobby Camping Safaris (not to be confused with Bobby Tours, they are both based in Arusha and both are at the lower price end operators).

6 nights at Ndutu Safari Lodge + 1 night Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge, private vehicle. Full day game drives, one day from Ndutu to Seronera and back for $3,200 per person, which comes to about $457 p.p p.n That will include transfers from and to the airport (JRO).

I don't thing that anyone could beat this price, just wondering about the operator... Has someone heard something about Bobby Camping Safaris?

My main concern would be the technical condition of the vehicle.

 

 

 

 

I got also an offer from Serengeti Savannah Camps:

6 nights at their camp in Ndutu + 1 night at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge for $3,695 per person ($500 on top of Bobby Camping Safaris offer) and the Ndutu accommodation is a very basic tented camp vs. Ndutu Safari Lodge. Does anyone know something about those Savannah camps?

Cheers!

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@FlyTraveler Cost is just one consideration--the quality of the guiding is important too. The problem with the low cost outfits is that sometimes their guide's primary job is a taxi driver in Arusha, and must rely the radio and cell phone to find the animals. Or follow the local lodge's vehicles. Too many times with my excellent guide in Ndutu, we were stopped by these taxi drivers, asking where to find the lions or cheetahs. The conversation was in Swahlili, of course, but when asked, too many times my guide explained that the guide admitted he was clueless, hasn't been here in months, and he promised his guests to find all the cats, etc.

 

My suggestion is to press any company you are considering about the quality of your guide, his training, his experience in the Ndutu area, etc.

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If you take a realistic look at the costs 457 $US pppn it looks a bit strange to me.

 

Check by yourself. Ndutu Safari Lodge is 320 pppn in high season. Lets say 300 if he is able to get a discount but you have to pay for a Guide accommodation too. The actual fees for NCA is here. Don't forget to count the fee for your Guide and the car. As long as you want to go into the crater it is an additional crater fee of 250 US$ for this day.

 

What is left for the costs using a 4x4 car, full for unlimited kilometers on game drive and the income for your guide. It isn't enough in my opinion.

 

I would asked this company a lot of questions how they are able to pay their stuff in a normal way or does they have to rely on the tip of their clients.

 

I like to have a cheap price too but it has to be fair.

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does this rate you quoted include NCA fees or not?

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One thing I should explain further, something Botswanadreams alluded to but maybe you didn't understand the implications fully, is the importance of unlimited kilometers. My guide explained to me that drivers for a certain mass marketer of safaris are limited to 60km per day, and if that should happen mid-afternoon, you will be returned to the lodge (even if you just heard about a lion kill or wild dog sighting). Something else to ask your potential safari operator.

 

Anyone who has spent time on the Serengeti has stories about this same companies drivers--on some days appearing like a cloud of locusts--and how their taxi driving ways in Arusha show in their aggressive driving and interactions with the wildlife. The company may be near extinction by now--the owner was having legal problems--but in their heyday they had over 250 safari vehicles and were beating the bushes to find drivers. Please note the distinction between driver and guide...

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Posted (edited)

Hi, @@AKChui and @@Botswanadreams, thanks for your input. I should do my calculations, but at prima vista - if these guys (got another offer from Bobby Tours - $3,100 for 6 nights at Kati Kati Ndutu camp + 1 night at not specified crater accommodation, full day game drives) manage to provide public campsite accommodation safaris in Seronera for about $200 p.p. p.n. with private vehicle for two people, including park fees, why wouldn't they be able to offer Ndutu Safari Lodge for $460 per night? I have done excellent safari at a fabulous camp in central Masai Mara in August during the prime migration time (witnessed 5 Mara river crossings), full day game drives (dark to dark), private vehicle just for two of us (specially modified Land Rover, with removed passenger seat next to the guide and cut door, so I could take eye level photos of lions), excellent guide (the guy found Black rhino three hours after our request and a leopard for two hours) and full board for $400 p.p. p.n. including park fees ($80 p.p. per day vs. $60 p.p. per day for NCA). If this was possible in Masai Mara, why it shouldn't be possible in Ndutu area with $60 on top of the Masai Mara safari price per night?

 

I have done Ruaha NP safari for $250 p.p.p.n. private vehicle (just for two of us) with 9 hours per day out all over the park (unlimited kilometers) and excellent guide with centrally located accommodation, take a look at my TR. We ran several times into Kwihala Camp vehicles always cramped with 5-6 people in the Land Cruiser, each of them paying double+ our price. Well, we ate the same type of food every day, but we didn't care, considering the price, the location and the private vehicle. Kwihala vehicles followed us on sightings that our guide found twice for 6 days period - once a leopard in a tree and once a lion pride, so their better guiding turned out to be just a myth.

 

P. S. Just found another offer from a reputable outfitter - Duma Explorer ( a good friend of mine has used them twice for private camping safari in Serengeti) for 6 nights at their camp in Ndutu area - Chaca Camp + not specified crater accommodation for 1 night:

 

Price: USD 3250 per person assuming a private safari for two people

Adding two nights at Kiota Camp, Central Serengeti, would be an additional $995 per person.
The safari includes the following items:
All park entrance and tented camp/lodge fees,
All meals and bottled drinking water while on safari,
4WD Land Cruiser transportation while on safari including game drives between 6:30am and 6:30pm,
Guide salaries and fees,
Pick up and drop off at Kilimanjaro Airport
Edited by FlyTraveler

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just to be clear: the price you got quoted is for two people sharing the same vehicle, is it?

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just to be clear: the price you got quoted is for two people sharing the same vehicle, is it?

 

Yes, @@ice. That's correct. All prices that I have mentioned are for two people traveling together and sharing the same vehicle (with no other guests).

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Then I don't think the rate they quoted you is too high: earlier this year in high season I paid 475 $ per night staying at Ndutu Lodge (including NCA fees) as a single traveller, having my own room and my own private guide. If you split the cost for lodging, guide and vehicle over two persons, then 457 $ pppn does not seem unreasonable.

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Then I don't think the rate they quoted you is too high: earlier this year in high season I paid 475 $ per night staying at Ndutu Lodge (including NCA fees) as a single traveller, having my own room and my own private guide. If you split the cost for lodging, guide and vehicle over two persons, then 457 $ pppn does not seem unreasonable.

 

I don't think the rates I have mentioned are high, either. @@AKChui and @@Botswanadreams expressed their concerns that these prices are unrealistically low, so I tried to compare with a similar type of safari that I have done before.

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Our safari this year, subtracting out the price of the flight to Kigali, came in at $493pppn. So I certainly think your price is in a reasonable range for a good safari in that area in February.

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Just so there are no last minute surprises, you might want to ask if these prices include the new 18% VAT on tourist services...

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Posted (edited)

For the Duma option, if you go with them, make sure you confirm the location of the Crater accommodation before booking. If you browse the Tripadvisor Tanzania forum, you'll see lots of people get quotes (from many operators - not singling them out) that have them staying in Karatu. This keeps the price down, but you are outside the NCA and need to enter through the gate and drive a good distance to get to the Crater, meaning you don't make it to the floor at first light. Just something to be aware of, if they are trying to go as low as possible with the price...

Edited by Zubbie15
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Just so there are no last minute surprises, you might want to ask if these prices include the new 18% VAT on tourist services...

 

Thanks for the info @@AKChui, I was not aware of this tax.

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For the Duma option, if you go with them, make sure you confirm the location of the Crater accommodation before booking. If you browse the Tripadvisor Tanzania forum, you'll see lots of people get quotes (from many operators - not singling them out) that have them staying in Karatu. This keeps the price down, but you are outside the NCA and need to enter through the gate and drive a good distance to get to the Crater, meaning you don't make it to the floor at first light. Just something to be aware of, if they are trying to go as low as possible with the price...

 

Oh, yes, certainly. I always go through all the details even for trips which are not safaris. Thanks for pointing this out, though!

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Hello everyone,

Just to let you know that itinerary has been finalized and deposit sent to Duma Explorer. I don't remember if I mentioned before that the outfitter also operates the two camps. On day 3 they didn't have availability at Chaka Camp in Ndutu, so we had the choice of either stay at tour leader's tent (smaller, but still with toilet and shower inside) or go to their other camp in Central Serengeti - Kiota Camp. I went for the latter - it would be nice to spend one night in Central Serengeti instead of going there just on a full day game drive and returning for an overnight in Ndutu area.

 

They confirmed that all park and government taxes + Flying Doctors coverage have been included in the price. Full day game drives with unlimited kilometers in a private vehicle with camera battery charging facilities (06:30 to 18:30 h.) The accommodation for the crater will be Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge. No view towards the crater, but we arrive at dark, on the next morning leave the lodge at 06:00 h for the crater floor and from there we just leave for Arusha. I decided that in this case there was no need to pay extra for a lodge with a view towards the crater.

 

Final itinerary:

 

February 14
Day One: Kilimanjaro to Ndutu

 

Arrive Kilimanjaro Airport at 3:20am. Drive to Tumaini Cottages in Arusha for a rest. At 10am,
depart for Ndutu. The drive to Ndutu is approximately 6 hours from Arusha. View wildlife in
Ndutu in the afternoon, overnight Chaka Camp. (L, D) – tour leader room booked at present

February 15. Day Two: Ndutu

Ndutu full day of game drives, overnight Chaka Camp. (B, L, D)

 

February 16. Day Three: Ndutu to Central Serengeti
Ndutu morning game drive as you drive to Central Serengeti. Game drive in the Central
Serengeti in the afternoon. Overnight Kiota Camp. (B, L, D)

 

February 17. Day Four: Central Serengeti to Ndutu
Morning game drive in Central Serengeti. After the game drive, drive back to Ndutu. Game drive
in the afternoon in Ndutu. Overnight Chaka Camp. (B, L, D)

 

February 18. Day Five: Ndutu
Full day of game drives, overnight Chaka Camp. (B, L, D)

 

February 19. Day Six: Ndutu
Full day of game drives, overnight Chaka Camp. (B, L, D)

 

February 20. Day Seven: Ndutu to Ngorongoro
Ndutu game drive. Drive to Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge in the afternoon. (B, L, D)

 

February 21. Day Eight: Ngorongoro Crater to Kilimanjaro Airport
Early morning departure (6am) for your Ngorongoro Crater game drive. Spend several hours on
the Crater floor. After the game drive, return to Arusha and Tumaini Cottages. Spend a few
hours in a day room at Tumaini. Transfer to the airport in time for your flight. (B, L)

 


Thanks everyone for your valuable input.

 

Cheers!

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@@FlyTraveler Sounds like a great trip. I have used Duma twice and stayed in Chaka Camp at Ndutu and Northern Serengeti. They are good operators and their camps are great. Overall I think they are good value, so should fit your brief well. Who is guiding you?

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Posted (edited)

@@FlyTraveler Sounds like a great trip. I have used Duma twice and stayed in Chaka Camp at Ndutu and Northern Serengeti. They are good operators and their camps are great. Overall I think they are good value, so should fit your brief well. Who is guiding you?

 

Hi @@AndyH1000,

 

Thanks for your info. A friend of mine has been to Serengeti twice with Duma Explorer (private campsites), using the same guide and he is very happy with him. Have not asked about a name yet. Would you recommend someone?

 

Cheers!

Edited by FlyTraveler

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