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Brian's Art for Animals

Tanzania + Gorrillas for 2013? Help...

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After Kenya (mostly @ Lewa Wildlife Conservancy) for 5 Safari's since 2002, I think my next African Safari (early 2013) will be slightly elsewhere...

I know Safaritalk is the place to go to ask..so here I go.

I was thinking of keeping it simple (still want to try out some of those out of the way locations in Africa and someday S.A.) but anyways.. I was thinking of a Feb or March 2013 for a 8-9 day trip to Tanzania and also to try to see the Gorillas (Rwanda or Uganda?)

I have been spoiled with my trips to Kenya with discounts as either a zookeeper or once as a first timer at Olare Orok as they used my group of 10 as guinea pigs in exchange for a low low rate.

Where is a good economic and for game viewing location to the Serengeti-Mara area and then to go see the Gorillas? (I have been told in off season the Gorilla permits are now $350.00 USD)

I still would like some kind of "luxury" tent, but the camp doesn't need 3 great meals and a pool and activites like Lewa has.

I was thinking of staying at either 1 or 2 camps and then flying off to see the Gorillas and then coming back to the US. All in 8-10 days.

Are there other parks between the Mara ecosystem and Uganda/Rwanda that would be worth a stop and then I would devide up my time in the Serengeti Mara area? And if there are any tour guides or camp owners reading this, I always film my Vacations for my YouTube channel (see Safari Lewa as an example)so hopefully there will be plenty of exposure if anyone wants to work out a deal, as I know deals are usually made if a trip leader brongs several people, but this time around I think it will just be myself, my wife and MAYBE 1-2 more. Well, I hope this all makes sense and

thanks Safaritalk as I know there will be some good replies and suggestions.

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"Good economic" in Feb-Mar in Serengeti is Ndutu Lodge from what I've researched. It is not a tent. I'm doing similar contemplating for early to mid-Feb 2013 S. Serengeti but no gorillas right now. Another place you might want to check, which I have not even checked, is Flycatcher's Feb-March tented location. Their Southern circuit itinerary, which I did in Sept, is a very good deal. Thinking their Feb location for safaris may be a good deal as well. info@flycatcher.ch

 

Rwanda or Uganda? For logistics, timeframe, and overall experience I'd choose Rwanda. To save $ stay at Kinigi Guesthouse. Very simple and basic, clean, good food in the restaurant right there, closest accommodation to ranger station where you start your gorilla visits. If possible do 2 gorilla trips. I had been reading about dropping the permit price in the low season and raising it above $500 during peak times. Good deal. Does Feb really offer low season pricing? If so, that's a tremendous.

 

Good luck with your next trip and the videos!

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The cheapest accommodation that I ever advise friends to use around Ndutu is http://www.serengetisavannahcamps.com/. Olduvai Camp is also fairly reasonable I believe, but I've never been and have heard mixed reviews. The next notch up is indeed Ndutu Safari Lodge or Lake Masek Tented Camp (owned by Kibo / Tanganika Wilderness Camps). Nowhere is going to be very cheap mind! As ever, most of these places give different deals to different safari companies depending on individual realtionships, so dealing with a company and going for the all inclusive option of safari package could well be cheaper than booking direct. For somewhere different to add to the experience at that time of year, why not also look at (the rather pricier) Manyara Ranch near Tarangire? It would make for a nice contrast to Serengeti.

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With only 8-10 days I don’t think there’s much point in trying to squeeze in anywhere else.

 

So I would suggest Ngorongoro – Serengeti – Rwanda

 

I’m not 100% sure of all the details but just to give an idea of what’s possible in the time I guess a rough itinerary might look something like this.

 

If arriving at Kilimanjaro in the evening stay the night in the Arusha area and then

 

Day 1 drive to a camp or lodge at Ngorongoro in the morning approx 4hrs afternoon game drive crater

 

If arriving in Dar in the morning then

 

Day 1 fly up to Arusha and drive on to Ngorongoro

 

Then as follows

 

Day 2 full morning in the crater, in the afternoon drive to Ndutu Safari Lodge or a camp in the area

Day3-5 Game drives Ndutu area

Day 6 morning game drive, then fly from the Serengeti to Kigali and stay the night Kigali

Day 7 drive to Ruhengeri and on to a lodge at Kinigi Parc des Volcans

Day 8-9 gorilla trekking (and if time permits golden monkeys)

Day 10 return to Kigali for homeward journey

 

I haven’t stayed in any of the crater lodges/camps recently so I can’t really recommend one and likewise I haven’t been to Rwanda for a very long time so I won’t give recommendations for there either.

 

I haven’t been to any of the camps in the Ndutu area so others will be able to advise better than me, certainly Serengeti Savannah Camps looks like a great option. However I can say that while not usually too keen on lodges (big ones at least) I do like Ndutu Safari Lodge, seeing the family of genets that visit the dining room most evenings is reason enough to stay there.

 

If you need to spend a night in Arusha then a great place to stay although it’s a little hidden away is Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge as long as you don’t have to leave too early in the morning then the gardens, fish ponds and surrounding forest are great for birds and best of all (unless of course your unlucky) beautiful highland black & white colobus monkeys and sykes monkeys. Also if the weathers good you can see Mt Kilimanjaro & Mt Meru.

 

Have a look at the Coastal Aviation Schedule to get an idea of how flights from the Serengeti to Kigali work

 

I hope this helps.

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Brian, don't mean to distract from your original question, but have you considered a Rwanda/ Uganda combo? Possibly better priced than the Serengeti, but then I guess the calving season is, after all, the calving season.

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Thank you all so very much for the tips and links. Right now it is all up in the air, and in its earliest forms. I have a friend who is going to Uganda in 2 months and hopefully I can get a report on how her gorilla experience was. I liked the Mara, so that is why the Serengeti ws in there as well as the wife loves those zebras. She isn't too interested in the gorillas, that is my interest and i think it would make a great closer to the trip. I agree that les is more as i don't want to travel too much or switch camps often...thanks again and keep the tips coming.

-brian

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Hi Brian,

 

A couple of years ago I did a Rwanda/Kenya trip (um, in fact I believe my trip report is outstanding...). I chose Rwanda for gorilla trekking because my time was limited and from my research, getting to Parc National des Volcans from Kigali would be quicker than getting anywhere from Kampala/Entebbe.

 

For what it's worth, I stayed three nights near PNV. I did two gorilla treks and one golden monkey trek. All treks depart in the morning. Stayed at Kinigi Guest House. I had a great time there, great staff, but it is considerably more rough around the edges than I think most people who post here are accustomed to. I met some very interesting people while there.

 

I would try to do at least two gorilla treks if I were you. Golden monkey trekking makes a good "soft landing" if you arrive in Rwanda before heading to TZ. And get your wife on board. It's a wonderful experience.

 

With your time frame, I might just visit Rwanda. Or just gorillas and Serengeti, no other parks. Won't be cheap. Will be worth it.

 

Question for you: do you think Lewa would make a good park to visit for 5-6 nights in lieu of the Mara? This would be very early June, so high grass, possibly wet conditions.

 

 

Thank you all so very much for the tips and links. Right now it is all up in the air, and in its earliest forms. I have a friend who is going to Uganda in 2 months and hopefully I can get a report on how her gorilla experience was. I liked the Mara, so that is why the Serengeti ws in there as well as the wife loves those zebras. She isn't too interested in the gorillas, that is my interest and i think it would make a great closer to the trip. I agree that les is more as i don't want to travel too much or switch camps often...thanks again and keep the tips coming.

-brian

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I also saw on the tv traveling show with Ewan M. "Long Road Down" that Rwanda had a museum of sorts of the horrific events that took there not too long ago. It is nice to see that they tourism and a better place to live in general. I was thinking of doing 2 treks as well to play it safe. Since the video of the tourist being surrounded by Gorillas is making its way around the internet, i am sure many are now planning to meet the apes.

So about Lewa...I have spent 4 trips there all 10 days each. It is excellent for rhinos, eles and zebras and you will likely see lion and cheetah but you wont find the big prides of lions and it is pretty hard to see hyena as well. If you could do Mara 2 days and Lewa 3-4 I think tould would be pleased. And also at Lewa you can request horseback riding, and a visit to the local schools (to see lewa's conservation efforts helping locals) if you want to see that kind of stuff. They also do bush walks, and the guides are all amazing. I went my first time in early June and only got rained on once, but I still saw all the above even in the higher grass.

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I also saw on the tv traveling show with Ewan M. "Long Road Down" that Rwanda had a museum of sorts of the horrific events that took there not too long ago. It is nice to see that they tourism and a better place to live in general. I was thinking of doing 2 treks as well to play it safe. Since the video of the tourist being surrounded by Gorillas is making its way around the internet, i am sure many are now planning to meet the apes.

So about Lewa...I have spent 4 trips there all 10 days each. It is excellent for rhinos, eles and zebras and you will likely see lion and cheetah but you wont find the big prides of lions and it is pretty hard to see hyena as well. If you could do Mara 2 days and Lewa 3-4 I think tould would be pleased. And also at Lewa you can request horseback riding, and a visit to the local schools (to see lewa's conservation efforts helping locals) if you want to see that kind of stuff. They also do bush walks, and the guides are all amazing. I went my first time in early June and only got rained on once, but I still saw all the above even in the higher grass.

 

Thanks for the info. I can't decide where to go in Kenya. A very nice problem, I suppose.

 

And for what it's worth, when I went to Rwanda I paired it with the Mara partially because Kigali flights seemed easier to/from NBO than JRO. But schedules may have changed considerably in the last couple of years.

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And for what it's worth, when I went to Rwanda I paired it with the Mara partially because Kigali flights seemed easier to/from NBO than JRO. But schedules may have changed considerably in the last couple of years.

 

I don’t know how the flights compare price wise but you don’t have to fly from JRO you can fly direct to Kigali from the Serengeti

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http://www.coastaltravels.cc/flight-booking/public-booking-creation.jsf

 

You have to register to check flight schedules. From Kigali direct to several spots in the Serengeti. Very enticing.

 

 

RE your suggestion of 2 days Mara and 3-4 Lewa: I'd spend the time in the Mara for less transport and more time on the ground. Or if you really want to touch base with the Lewa people, then 2 in Lewa and the remainder in Mara, a reverse of your suggestion.

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http://www.coastaltravels.cc/flight-booking/public-booking-creation.jsf

 

You have to register to check flight schedules. From Kigali direct to several spots in the Serengeti. Very enticing.

 

That’s what I thought when I first looked at their website :) but actually you don’t need to register to look at their schedule

 

I posted the link earlier but here it is again Coastal Aviation Schedule

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This just arrived in my email from a gorilla trip company:

 

 

 

"All gorilla permits purchased before 1st June 2012 for tracking in 2012 will stay at US$500. All permits purchased after this date will be sold at the new rate of US$750. Gorilla permits for tracking in 2013 will be sold at US$750 regardless of the time of purchase."

 

That might affect your decision or the timing of it.

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Thanks for the info..keep the tips coming. Now that I am back from India and already have Alaska planned...i will be finally spending some time figuring out what/when /where i will do for my early 2013 trip back to Africa.

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Posted (edited)

Even though i would love to go back to India in early 2013,.. I think i will stick with my 2013 africa plans.. So Tanzania here i come..or maybe kenya. Due to the price i think my gorilla dream will have to wait..does anyone have any suggestions for middle of the road, average price range camps in the mara on Tanzania's side..or heck maybe even Kenya's side?

thanks..

Edited by Brian's Art for Animals

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Even though i would love to go back to India in early 2013,.. I think i will stick with my 2013 africa plans.. So Tanzania here i come..or maybe kenya. Due to the price i think my gorilla dream will have to wait..does anyone have any suggestions for middle of the road, average price range camps in the mara on Tanzania's side..or heck maybe even Kenya's side?thanks..

 

Do you mean the far north Serengeti or just the Serengeti in general?

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In general (i need all the help ic an get) as I am playing with the idea of adding the Ngorongoro Crater since the gorillas might be too much. I feel helpless, as in Kenya I have used Bush Homes and been to wilson, nairobi airports and know my way around well enough at Lewa/Samburu..but Tanzania and other parts of Africa are all new to me. And do prices at lodges usually include the jeep rides?

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Brian - we just found out that the prices for the Ngorongoro Sopa lodge in April/May 2013 is mind-bogglingly low at $109 pppn for a single room. Since you're talking about a Feb/March safari, perhaps you can eke the Crater part of your trip into April? This does not include vehicle or crater fees, but it could be worth investigating, esp. if you're travelling solo.

 

According to everything I have read, April has the potential to provide some fantastic sightings in lush surroundings and minus the crowds...

 

You might want to check their Feb/March prices too. It is higher than the April price but not terribly so.

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Posted (edited)

Brian, if you can decide once and for all which side of the border, it'll be easier to help - although I quite understand the indecision. :P

 

However, if you are talking of Ngorongoro now, can we assume you are Tanzania, northern circuit, around February or March? If so, here is a taster of what is to come (but others can do this much better than me).

 

 

In Tanzania, for northern circuit (ususally Tarangire- Manyara- Ngorongoro- Serengeti) you generally select a ground operator (Tanzania-based) or the agent of a ground operator (overseas-based) and the operator provides a vehicle with guide/driver. Fly-in is certainly possible, but it can limit you options a bit. Not many real fly-in options under $500 per person/night I think.

 

The wildebeest will be in the Southern Serengeti - probably in the Ndutu area which is outsidew the national park. That will be the most expenseive part of the trip and it may be a little crowded in places.

 

Tarangire will potentially have bargains as it is supposed to be not a good time to visit (but that isn't really true) and you can also get cheaper (but nicer) accommodation there - also at Lake Manyara.

 

...... and so on

Edited by pault

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THANKS for the info..i will check out those camps.

All the talk of crowds scare me. I have been to the Mara twice, once in Feb (crowded) and once in Jan (not crowded, but that was also when they had political riots in Nairobi)

So is mid-late Jan better then Feb for trying to beat the crowds?

As for traveling, it will be my wife and I.

Also is there any wildlife one would see on the Tanzania side that you wouldn't on the Mara side?

I have decided to go to the Tanzania side for maybe 9-10 days, so two camps would be the most I would want to go to. I would guess both sides are equally crowded as well.

Thanks again...with work being a pain (i am one of the low people on the pole to pick for vacation times), i wont be able to book for this trip until Nov, Dec anyway.

man o man i wanted to see them gorillas, but maybe some other time or year...

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Brian,

 

Good luck on sorting this! Don't let the talk of crowds put you off - there are plenty of places in the peak seasons and peak destinations where you can easily loose everyone completely. If you've got a good guide you'll still be able to find everything you want to see on your own, and (as an example of the crowding issue at Ndutu), I took my brother-in-law there one New Year - pretty much peak season. It was extremely wet and we were for a few days restricted in where we went by not wanting to get too stuck in the mud, so spent a couple of days with the crowds around the big marsh and main plains - one morning we followed the crowds to the lion pride - 6 or 7 cars. So we stopped and watched for a little, then went off and came back later in the morning (the lions were still sleeping...) and had the place to ourselves. So even in the busy areas you can be on your own at busy times. If it's not so wet and you've got a good guide you can see loads of wildlife and not see anyone except near the camps first and last things on a drive - but it is worth investing in a good guide who doesn't want to follow the crowds.

 

That said, timing. Feb is peak time in southern Serengeti for a very good reason - wildebeest calving season. And if you've never seen the wildebeest down on the short grass plains you really ought to - all the big herds of the dry season get into a single mega-herd and the experience of driving for hours and hours through unbelievable numbers of animals is like nothing else. If they're calving, so much the better - and in mid Feb they're dropping calves every few seconds. The problem you'll find is that camps book up very early for Feb - if you can only book in Nov/Dec you might well struggle to get your first, second or even third choice, though (assuming your wife is happy to share a tent with you!), one tent is often possible to find space for, even relatively last minute. Go in Jan and you'll see the animals, but it's pre-calving. Wait until March and you'll not see the births, but the babies will still be there and still be being eaten... From mid March into April visitor numbers fall fast and you should be able to have your pick of most places (though seasonal camps are usually closed in April), and you might be in a better position elsewhere in TZ to negotiate a low-season deal (and those Sopa prices on the crater are the best you'll find for the crater rim - it's even less for residents - they have to be making a loss...).

 

As mentioned already, costs are not low! The cheapest option is overland all the time. Flying in is possible just about everywhere (and saves some serious bumps), but very costly. It would open up some other possibilities for you, though - northern Serengeti is like the Mara but completely empty at that time of year, or head down south to Ruaha for a few days. It's always worth looking at the relative costs of flying one way into or out of Serengeti at the start or end, as it saves lots of time and because it avoids NCA transit fees it can be cheaper than you expect.

 

Is there anything to see in TZ you won't see in Kenya? Well, the animals are basically the same, but the wildebeest calving is something special. And the landscapes of TZ are in places quite different. For a first trip to TZ some time in Jan-March I'd be looking at making the migration around Ndutu the focus, visiting the crater if it's a must see, finding a forest somewhere (Arusha NP, or around the crater) and then doing something else fun - Natron, Tarangire or something completely different.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Brian

 

 

We are using simple dome tents (even more basic than the ones you could see on the websites of Natural High Safaris and Wild Frontiers, Tanzania). The loos and bathrooms are outside and shared. Plan is to spend 10 days split between south central Serengeti and Ndutu before moving to Gol Mountains, Natron, NCA highlands, crater. The price for 2 people sharing a vehicle and all fees and special campsites included would be USD325-USD 350pppn (excluding if you take any local flights and excluding any overnighting at Arusha/Kili) but basically includes the road pick up from Kili/Arusha.

 

What I want to say is, if you really cannot book before Nov/Dec, try the options like Ndutu lodge/camps etc then, for your chosen time of travel but if they dont work out due to availability, one option could be camping like this (or upgrading at a cost to a level comfortable to you) which you can use for March/April- Its pretty much off season post mid March but the predator action would be unbelievable, last few years the wildebeests have hung around in the southern plains at this time (end March early April) or spread on either side of Ndutu from Kusini to Endulen and then herds at golini, Naabi etc . When we started planning I think a few people (including my guide) were not convinced this was a great time for predators/migration but having been out on the field the entire March-April, he told me last week that we have chosen a great time- the predator action this year around late March into April was unbelievable with lots of cheetah and lion cubs and daily kills. Other things you can hook up for the trip, apart from the crater-which is probably at its quietest in April/May, is interacting with the folks at the Serengeti Cheetah Project, the easier hikes (Naibardaat Hills, Makarot), scenic drives. The time is great for wildflowers and seeing large herds of Eland and Giraffes is a strong possibility around Gol Mountains. The only thing you would miss out is the calving though last 2 years (2012 and 2011) the calving started early March. For April the Ngorongoro Sopa is priced at USD109 per single room which is probably the best bargain I have seen so far anywhere.....

 

Obviously nothing is guaranteed and the weather is stranger every year, but my conviction for this period has only grown in the last few months...IMHO, March has been relatively more attractive for migration viewing than Feb given, Feb is right in the middle of the short and long rains and hence predictably drier ( again all probabilities).......

Edited by Anita

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Posted (edited)

Thanks. I contacted Thompsons safari? from the US and they only book places $600ppn or higher, so that is about twice as much as I was looking. I hope for 250-350ppn. It does look like due to work my time will be mid or late Jan. Or maybe early Feb. I will look at maybe 4 days in Northeran Tanzania on the Serengeti (I will be happy to see lion, hyena, and maybe finally leopard with or without making kills) and then 4 days down to the area you all are suggesting (Ndutu) with the wildebeest even though they wont be dropping calves yet, it does sound interesting to see them all there. I would (even though I hate small planes) prefer to fly in as that saves time I would think. So from the US to get to Tanzania do you usually fly into Nairobi, or do they have an airport closer?

And does anyone prefer one mid range camp to another..and to stay in or outside the Serengeti (it seemed staying inside the park cuts down on drive time), and or any travel agents?

 

Thanks to everyone with all the great tips. My wife doesn't think we will be able to go since I will have to book last minute, but I have hope.

:)

Edited by Brian's Art for Animals

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Most arrivals for the safari circuit are to Kilimanjaro International Airport (code JRO) and you can come via Nairobi, Dar or direct from plenty of places these days. You're about an hour east of Arusha at the airport, and if you come evening time you'll need to overnight. Local flights are in small planes and are from Arusha airport, which is on the west side of town (but very close) - it's very straightforward to do these local flights, but not all that cheap!

 

Ndutu will be amazing even before the widebeest calve, so go for it! For somewhere more northern in Serengeti I'd either be looking to fly north to Kogatende on the Mara rive, where you'll have the place to yourself at that time of year (but you'll be very limited for accommodation options as the seasonal camps will all be gone). Or stick with a ground transport option to somewhere more central like Seronera which will be very busy with tourists at that time. There are a few camps just outside the park (Ikoma area) that still allow you to get into the NP each day, and they are cheaper (and well worth using May / June time when the migration comes out of the park there), but in Feb the main viewing areas from there will be around Seronera, which is a significant drive from there (1 1/2hrs), which might be a bit limiting. I'd stick to somewhere inside the park, if I wanted to avoid Seronera but still only drive from Ndutu I'd look to Moru area, or even a bit further west along the Grumeti. But camps in TZ are never cheap.

 

There are plenty of moderate priced safari companies that will tailor things to your needs - most of them operate through agents in the US and I don't know that end I'm afraid!

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