sdfamily

July/August 2018 Family Trip

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Am finally getting some itineraries together.  Have phone call set up with A2T on Friday.

 

In the meantime, a couple of questions:

 

If doing Tarangire then Ngorongoro first, is there any benefit to staying a night or two in the Central Serengeti before going to the Northern Serengeti?  FWIW, we are looking at either the Nomad or Serian camps in the North.  So, we would lose our private guide/vehicle after Ngorongoro and go directly north and use the camp vehicles/guides?  The time of year is late July / early August.  

 

If we were to spend our Serengeti time in the North, would you recommend splitting time between the camps South of the river (e.g. Serian Serengeti North) and then go North of the river (e.g. Serian Lamai) or does it really matter?

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I'd recommend just fly to kogatende and stay put in the northern Serengeti.

 

as to the Serian camps, you will be able to easily access both areas by staying at either camp (bridge crossing depending on water levels)

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I love Ndutu so I'd pick spending some nights there first before you give up your private guide.  It's fantastic in February and I know the cats don't all migrate and you can go off-road.  Probably the second best place to see cheetah in the wild.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, sdfamily said:

Am finally getting some itineraries together.  Have phone call set up with A2T on Friday.

 

In the meantime, a couple of questions:

 

If doing Tarangire then Ngorongoro first, is there any benefit to staying a night or two in the Central Serengeti before going to the Northern Serengeti? First of all, you don't want to cut short other parts of your trip to include Central.  Here is the benefit of Central IMO:  

1) You could keep your private guide longer, driving from Ngorongoro to Central.  Unlike many transfers that are on a highway with minimal wildlife life, this transfer would be primarily in the Serengeti (though no driving offroad.) Then you'd fly north to Kogatende from Central.

2) Cheetahs are more common in Central than Northern Serengeti and my own experience follows that.

3) Central, along the Seronera River, is one of the best spots for leopards in trees. (I am 4 for 4, leopards along river.)  Though you may be 50-100 yards away from the leopard and there may be other vehicles, sometimes dozens.

4) The Retima Hippo Pool is easily accessed from Central Serengeti.  Dry season is a great time to be there and even though you are likely to see hippos, this place is unique.

5) The Seronera River attracts a variety of wildlife all year long.

6) If adding Central means you are spending more days on safari, that is always better.

7) If you had the time, but wanted to keep costs in check, a great central location is Seronera Wildlife Lodge.  Not a secluded tented camp, bustling buffet, many people, but price, location, and wildlife on the grounds are great.

The downside of Central Serengeti IMO:

1) If it reduces your days in Northern to 3 or less, your odds of seeing a river crossing also get reduced a lot.

2) Central will have more vehicles than Northern, except perhaps at crossings, where cars gather.

3) The landscape in Northern is generally more attractive than Central.

 

Quote

FWIW, we are looking at either the Nomad or Serian camps in the North.  So, we would lose our private guide/vehicle after Ngorongoro and go directly north and use the camp vehicles/guides? Right, people who spend time in the north that time of year are generally very keen on river crossings.  If your are too, that's a perfect melding of goals.  If you are not interested in waiting for wildes to cross, do let your agent know in advance and let the camp manager know upon arrival.  The time of year is late July / early August.  Perfect for crossings.

 

If we were to spend our Serengeti time in the North, would you recommend splitting time between the camps South of the river (e.g. Serian Serengeti North) and then go North of the river (e.g. Serian Lamai) or does it really matter?  Don't split.

 

32 minutes ago, madaboutcheetah said:

I'd recommend just fly to kogatende and stay put in the northern Serengeti.

 

as to the Serian camps, you will be able to easily access both areas by staying at either camp (bridge crossing depending on water levels)

Madaboutcheetah had a great visit in June to this area.  He also included Kusini (very near Ndutu), which I see @wildlifepainter just mentioned.  If time allows, Ndutu (or Kusini next door) could be good for cheetah and lack of people.  Those would be the two big draws in dry season for this area. 

Edited by Atravelynn

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Thanks so much for all the info. 

 

I will just stick to one camp in the northern Serengeti.  Whatever camp we end up with we will probably pay for a separate vehicle as we have as 12 YO.  Any idea if there are 4 of us that we would end up with one anyways?

 

Looking at camps in Ndutu / Kusini.  In July/August it seems like lots close down.  Will do some more research.

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Re: the vehicle, when you talk to A2T, see what their proposal is.  When we did the safari in Tanzania, we had an A2T guide the entire time and our own vehicle.  If your itinerary makes it feasible to have him drive between locations, that might be an option for you.  He left us at each camp/lodge at the end of every day and picked us up the next morning.  He (his name was Said) was quite excellent, still one of my favorite guides.  Our route was Arusha --> Tarangire --> Manyara --> Ngorongoro --> Ndutu --> Serengeti.  He put us on a plane in the Serengeti and then he had to drive back to Arusha on his own.  Just an option, again, depending on your itinerary.

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8 hours ago, sdfamily said:

Thanks so much for all the info. 

 

I will just stick to one camp in the northern Serengeti.  Whatever camp we end up with we will probably pay for a separate vehicle as we have as 12 YO.  Any idea if there are 4 of us that we would end up with one anyways?

Do check into the camp policy on children.  12 may require your own vehicle.  I don't know if most 12 year olds would have the patience for potentially long waits at crossings.  It can be trying for adults who are highly motivated to get some good photos!   In the north, waiting for crossing is a main attraction and expectation of just about everybody who goes there.

 

Looking at camps in Ndutu / Kusini.  In July/August it seems like lots close down.  Will do some more research.  Ndutu Lodge is always open.  I've never stayed there because I've gone to Ndutu in high season/green season and it books 18 months in advance!  But July/Aug should be no problem getting in.  @madaboutcheetah stayed in Kusini at Sanctuary Lodge in June and remarked that a guide there said July-Aug was prime cheetah time in the area!  The place I stayed, Kimondo Camp--as you note--is not there in dry season; it moves north.  In fact, you might consider looking into Asilia's Kimondo Camp in N. Serengeti in July/Aug.  Asilia tends to be a little less expensive than Serian and Nomad.  I found it really high quality--great tents, very fancy food, etc.  Also look at The Wild Source's Njozi camp for the north.  A bit more basic tents, but still fancy food.  It's where I've chosen to stay my last 2 visits to Serengeti (not in July/Aug) and I am looking at it for an Aug visit.

 

Here's one more thing to consider as you piece together your plan.  If you stay in Kusini (way south in Serengeti), you can make it to Central Serengeti and back in a day.  I just did in Feb.  The drive there and back may have sightings as you are in the Serengeti, passes various kopjes (big rocks), etc.  It took us about 3 hours on the way up when we stopped a lot for sightings.  and more like 2 or 2.5 on the way back with fewer stops.  That time of year, it could be empty plains.  But even in empty plains, interesting birds or a serval cat could pop up.  On our one-day drive from Kusini to Central we stayed with a leopard at the river about an hour and saw a leopard kill!  You can also make the drive to Central from Ndutu as a full, one day outing.

 

 

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In addition to ATR, I would recommend you get quotes from Chalo Africa ( run by @Sangeeta on this forum that many here have used to rave reviews) and the Wild Source based in Colorado. Others have had good experiences with Expert Africa based in the U.K. 

 

Advce here is mostly spot on. I would strongly recommend wherever you decide to go to get a private vehicle. In Botswana for example the PV allowed us to stay out all day that is always a critical component of my safaris. 

 

You seem to be pretty far down the path of where you want to go - I had taken my kids several years ago ( they were about the same age as yours then) to East Africa when we did a whirlwind 2 week trip in both Kenya and Tanzania. Prior to that we had been to South Africa as our first Safari destination. 

 

Best of luck. 

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Ok..working on collecting some quotes.  I still have a couple of questions.  Pricing is interesting since we have 2 kids that fit in different age brackets for discounts.

 

Ndutu/Central area:  Should we spend 2 or 3 nights in this location?  Camps being looked at are: Dunia, Namiri Plains, Kiota, Sanctuary Kusini

 

Private guide vs. fly-in: I'm trying to figure out what would work for our family.  It seems the better guides would remain with you the entire time, all the way into the north.  This means longer drive times, but I think more economical for 4 people vs. flying.  Do the camp guides really know the area better?  Also, some quotes have been fly to Kuro, fly to Manyara, fly to Central, fly to Kogatende, fly back to Arusha.  Seems like a lot of flying.  Most have guide stay until Central and then we would fly to Kogatende.  Is that a better balance? Is the drive from Central to Kogatende really that bad?  My concern with having one guide would be, what if we didn't like them.  Also, are the camp vehicles more 'open' vs. the other kind? 

 

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

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For a July/August time frame ...... I'd urge you to strongly consider the bulk of your serengeti stay in Kogatende (options ranging from Asilia/ Nomad/ Serian/ Lemala) etc etc., 

 

Local guide from Arusha vs Camp guide ........  I've had far better experiences using the local camp guide!  ... To each their own, though!

 

Namiri Plains is fantastic; so too is Sanctuary Kusini (Either would warrant 3 nights minimum)

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Ok...I've got a few options I'm tweaking.

  1. Rivertrees-2N, Kuro Tarangire-2N, Gibb's Farm-1N, Nomad Entamanu-2N, flight to Kogatende, Nomad Serengeti-3N, Nomad Lamai-3N, flight to JRO.  First part would have private Nomad guide and vehicle.  Second part would have private Nomad camp guide and vehicle (hopefully same guide for both Nomad camps). 13 nights
  2. Rivertrees-2N (tour/hike in Kilimanjaro area), Tarangire Safari Lodge-3N, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge-2N, Kiota Camp-3N, Lemala Kuria Hills-3N, flight to JRO.  Same private guide and vehicle for entire trip. 13 nights
  3. Arusha Coffee Lodge-1N, flight to Kuro, Oliver's Camp-2N, flight to Manyara, The Highlands-2N, flight to Seronera, Namiri-2N, flight to Kogatende, Olakira-4N, flight to JRO. 11 nights 

I like 1 and 2  as we get to do some other things besides just safari activities: hike/local lunch near Kilimanjaro, Manyara treetops walkway, etc.

 

1 and 3 are about the same price and more expensive than 2.  Obviously, some of the accommodations in 1 and 3 are not in the same price category as some in 2.  I'm working on getting the options more apples to apples.

 

Option 3 is way too much flying (IMO).  I'll working on an Asilia option with less flights.

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Option 3 is puzzling with a two night option for Namiri - it's way too short a time line .... It's an approx two hour drive (maybe 3) to Namiri from Serenera.  Is there any reason your agent will recommend that? 

 

Why not ask them to re-price your trip with 3N Olivers, 2N Highlands for the walking and 4 Nights Kogatende?   

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Still working on Asilia reprice.  In the meantime, I have three alternatives about the same price.

  1. Rivertrees-2N, Kuro Tarangire-2N, Gibb's Farm-1N, Nomad Entamanu-2N, flight to Kogatende, Nomad Serengeti-4N, flight to JRO.  First part would have private Nomad guide and vehicle.  Second part would have private Nomad camp guide and vehicle. 11 nights
  2. Rivertrees-2N, Tarangire Safari Lodge-3N, Lemala Ngorongoro-2N, Kiota Camp-3N, Lemala Kuria Hills-3N, flight to JRO.  Same private guide and vehicle for entire trip. 13 nights
  3. Kaliwa-2N, Kuro Tarangire-2N, Kitela-1N, Nomad Entamanu-2N, Nyumbani-2N, Nomad Serengeti-4N, flight to JRO.  Same private guide and vehicle for entire trip. 13 nights 

Thoughts?  I'm leaning towards #3 as there are 4 nights in the Mara Serengeti and Nomad gets such great reviews.

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Option 4

 

Rivertrees

Rivertrees 

Tarangire Safari Lodge

Tarangire Safari Lodge

Wayo Camp Manyara

Rhotia Tented Lodge

Rhotia Tented Lodge

Sanctuary Serengeti - 6 N

 

1st portion would have Wayo private guide/vehicle.  2nd portion would have camp guide/vehicle.

 

This is significantly less per person ($2000) than the other options.  Remember, we are a party of 4.

 

I would likely add another night to Tarangire, subtract a night from Serengeti and add a private driver in the Serengeti.  Thoughts?

 

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Sanctuary Serengeti - do you refer to their mobile camp in Kogatende or Lamai? 

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I think it's Lamai, but I will clarify.

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38 minutes ago, sdfamily said:

I think it's Lamai, but I will clarify.

 

Should be good - They also have a high standard of guiding at Sanctuary ....... 

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I'm still going round and round.  After reading several trip reports from people with kids/teenagers, I think we need to vary the routine a bit.  I think being in the same closed pop-top vehicle for 13 days is going to drive at least one of my kids crazy.  Now, here's what I've got.  I think it gives a good variety.

Private guide and vehicle from Arusha: Arusha Coffee Lodge (1N), Little Oliver's (2N), Ngorongoro Sopa (2N)

fly to Kogatende: Ubuntu (3N) 

fly to Masai Mara: Encounter Mara (3N)

 

I think I like it.

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