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4 week Tanzania self guided trip planned for 2013; suggestions please

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Hi all,

My wife and I live in northern British Columbia and are planning a safari to Tanzania for 2013. To do an African safari has been a life long dream of ours. We have more time then money and are experienced campers so our plan is to go for 4 weeks on a self guided trip utilizing the campsites at the various parks and reserves. To optimize our chances to see game I thought to hire a guide for parts of the trip. Important to us is to avoid busy areas so we get a feel of wilderness experience. We would also like to see a diversity in ecosystems, such as savannah vs. old growth forest with primates, woodlands vs. river safari. We like to do some photography so would like to be able to spend time to get good shots and create opportunities to get close to animals. The best time for us would be the month of August. Some of the parks that seemed interesting to us are: Gombe, Katavi, Tarangire, Sadaani, Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Mkomazi, Mikumi, Selous, Mahale Mountains, Ruaha.
I hope you can help me with a number of questions we still have;
1. Would Dar Es Salaam be the best place to fly in to?
2. I was planning on renting a Land Cruiser or similar vehicle. Do we need that for what we are planning to do?
3. Where would be a good place to rent the car? What are reasonable rates for renting a Land Cruiser?
4. Should we hire a guide for the whole period to travel with us? Or arrange guides for the specific parks we visit? Where would we find a reputable guide?
5. Can special activities such as night drives, game walks, boat trips and special tent camps be arranged privately and ahead of time?
6. Would a trip including the North and South parks be too much driving for the 4 weeks we have planned?
7. Are supplies, such as water, gas, food, readily available along the way?

Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you in advance for helping us with the planning of our trip.

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    Can't answer specific as regards 'all' road travel, as I would never consider this, so hopefully others may help. And, I'd suggest you post this on Trip Advisor www.tripadvisor.com/forums - select Tanzania. Many more on that Forum who may have useful/specific input.

    However, don't believe you can get to Gombe, Mahale and Katavi by road, individually or between (no roads). You might have to fly to Mwanza or somewhere on the west of Tanzania to pop into Gombe. If you're interested in the chimps, select Gombe or Mahale, not both.

    Flights can be limited and costly, but to cover some of the longer distances, worth the expense.

    You can certainly do a 'camping' safari in the North or South; West will be more challenging. If camping on a self-drive, you have to realize that you'll be watching the roads and also trying to spot game... might be best to have a guide/vehicle and cook with you. It's not like you'll find a market for provisions around the next bend... you won't.

    Tanzania is a very large country and while the northern, southern and far western Tanzania areas can be visited, best you fine-tune, exactly where you 'must' visit. There maybe no reason to visit all you see as you can be duplicating efforts.

    There are few paved highways, few road signs, will have to know how to repair vehicle, know where campsites located (whether you need pre-reservations), petrol stations (have extra cans with), speak the language (once out of main tourist areas, where English is spoken... not so in outlying areas).

    Good luck!

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    ive considered doing selfdrive myself.. until I was on safari again last september and really noticed 'all' the selfdrivers just driving by good sightings... it's just amazing what a guide will spot that you'll never find yourself!

    That said I would recommend a nice mixture of selfdriving/camping and guided safari.
    For instance you could go into Ruaha and camp for a few nights, then spend 2 nights in a tented camp (including guided gamedrives) and so on..

    Especially in Selous you should also take the time of year in consideration when self driving.. you will want to avoid any rain as the roads and terrain get hard to drive through (or even impossible)

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    1. Would Dar Es Salaam be the best place to fly in to?
    I suggest flying into Nairobi. The migration will be in the Masai Mara. Although it has been a while since I checked, 4x4s are less expensive in Kenya. The downside is that foreign vehicle fees can be much higher while in Tanzania.
    2. I was planning on renting a Land Cruiser or similar vehicle. Do we need that for what we are planning to do? You will need a good 4x4. The quality of roads in Tanzania- to get to the places you want to visit and while there leave much to be desired.
    3. Where would be a good place to rent the car? What are reasonable rates for renting a Land Cruiser? Visit the 4x4 hire page of my website- www.luangwablondes.com It lists a variety of companies you can contact in various starting points you may consider. I don’t have any commercial interests in any of those hire companies.
    4. Should we hire a guide for the whole period to travel with us? Or arrange guides for the specific parks we visit? Where would we find a reputable guide? Park rangers can be hired at a few of the parks, but you probably won’t feel the need to do that. I have driven East Africa several times on my own. Used to be difficult, but with the Tracks4Africa digital maps on a gps, makes it real easy to navigate.
    5. Can special activities such as night drives, game walks, boat trips and special tent camps be arranged privately and ahead of time? You should definitely make an itinerary(and reservations) or maybe the company you decide to go with can do that for you. August can be a busy time of year.
    6. Would a trip including the North and South parks be too much driving for the 4 weeks we have planned? I think you have bit off more than you can do in one month. I haven’t ‘mapped’ it out, but I suggest something like: Nairobi, the Mara, Serengeti, Lake Natron, Manyara, The Crater, Tarangira, Ruaha – via Dodoma is no pleasure cruise and will take you a couple days. Traverse the Selous NP- coming in from the North(Morogoro) and departing to the East. Then head to Dar and visit Zanzibar for a couple days. Never been to Saadani, so can’t say if it is worth it. Lots of options for returning to Nairobi, depends on your interests. Look at the Tracks4Africa map. IF you need to cut a couple days out, leave out Natron. But that route has the opportunity to drive where few people go, interact with Masai in their villages, and the view coming down the escarpment to Lake Natron is spectacular.
    7. Are supplies, such as water, gas, food, readily available along the way? Restocking opportunities are not as common as in Southern Africa, but if you plan well, it will never be an issue. Fuel is available, bottled water, beer if that floats your boat , and if you don’t plan well, you won’t starve anyway because basics are always available in local stores.

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    Have you had any experience driving in Third World countries on unpaved tracks with few signs? Once you get to a park or game reserve, will you know where to go in it to see game? I can understand doing a self-drive in Kruger, but I can't see doing it in East Africa.

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    Thank you kindly for the replies, very helpful. I am still in the early stages of my planning and this will help me fine-tune our plans.

    Sandi: Thanks for suggesting the other forum. I will do that. I will have to sit down and calculate how an inland flight would fit in our budget. It may be a good idea. It does sound like doing both north and south is going to be quite a bit of travel and I could see that we might "double-up experiences. Something to look into further.

    Nikao: I was hoping to be able to hire guides on occasion, as much as we can afford. Being a guide myself, in Northern BC, I realize that having a guide can be very beneficial. If only we had more money....

    Luangwablondes: Thank you for the detailed reply. That is very helpful. Your answers raise a few more questions for me.....
    The migration; that is definitely high on our list and we would not want to miss it. Could we encounter it as well in the Northern part of the Tanzanian Serengeti, at the time we are going?
    Thank you for the referral for the 4x4s, I'll check into that.
    I'll see if I can come up with a more detailed itinerary so as to plan the amount of travel better. It does appear that doing both north and south is a bit much. I was wondering if you would have an idea of the average travel time on the roads in Tanzania, that way I'll have a better idea of how much distance we can cover on our trip.

    Thanks again for all the help.

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    I am now in Nairobi airport on way home. Based on our experience I cannot see how you could do a drive yourself. Perhaps in Kenya and South Africa but based on our experience in Tanzania it seems very hard to me. Few paved roads, few, very few road signs. Hard to us to tell which was off road driving, and which was on., Rangers hidden with. Field glasses waiting to fine off road cars. Cars, four wheel of course, stuck in mud or ruts including rangers truck stuck (our guides got them out). Guards at night on patrol for our safety from animals.
    In parks and conservAtion areas very few places to buy supplies. Plus water scarce. Our vehicles had extra fuel tanks and tow ropes plus other repair stuff. Our guides said gps did not work where we were.
    This is just my impression. Game not easy to spot while car moving by driver unless very experienced.
    But..there was very good report on this board by couple who dud self drive. There was link to blog with lots of details and photos. They slept on top of van alternating with one on guard.
    Good luck!

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    I would normally continue commenting, but there are other so called experts that haven't done the actual self drive in East Africa throwing out ridiculous inaccurate 'factoids' that I would need to address in the process. So I pass.

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    "I was wondering if you would have an idea of the average travel time on the roads in Tanzania"

    As I wouldn't consider driving in the south or southwest, I can, however, provide 'estimated' drive times (without stops for game viewing) for the Northern Circuit, as:

    Arusha/Tarangire - 2-2.5/hrs -good tarmac
    Arusha/Lk.Manyara - 2/hrs - good tarmac
    Tarangire/Lk.Manyara - 2/hrs - great tarmac
    Manyara/Karatu - 1-1.5/hrs - great tarmac
    Karatu/Ngorongoro (NCA) - 2-2.5/hrs - great tarmac
    Ngo/Ndutu (NCA) - 2.5-3/hrs - dirt/gravel/ruts/mud
    Ngo/Central Serengeti - 2.5-3/hrs - dirt/gravel/ruts/mud
    Central/Western Serengeti - 2/hrs - dirt/gravel/ruts/mud
    Central/Northern Serengeti - 3-4+/hrs - dirt/gravel/ruts/mud
    No.Serengeti/Arusha - 1.5/DAYS (an overnight somewhere is strongly recommended) - dirt/gravel/ruts/mud to Ngo, then great tarmac to road heading to Arusha which is only good tarmac.

    And, there are speed limits whether on tarmac (thru populated areas) and then within park boundaries.

    While some distances are reasonable, when combined and also attempting game viewing, besides the other vehicles (people walking, cattle, bike riders, etc.) on the roads, gotta be aware always.

    Hope this helps.

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    Hello to a fellow Canadian (Alberta)! My DH and I are currently living in South Africa for a year, while he is on sabbatical at the University of Cape Town. I have a house full of Canadian guests at the moment, so don't have time to do your questions justice.

    In the meantime, however, I have provided a link to a trip report and photos from a four-week self-drive that my husband and I completed through Kenya and Tanzania in August 2009 (the trip included Lake Manyara, the Serengeti and Tarangire). The report includes a map of our route, the itinerary, and will provide answers to several of your questions.

    The journey was one of our favourite African adventures, and we are undertaking a very similar self-drive this August, just before returning to Canada. Hopefully, you will find the report helpful. Happy reading! CR

    http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Travel/Kenya-Tanzania-2009/9504315_zcbkVx

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    Elainee: thank you for your response. I'm sure there will be some challenges to this trip, but that is part of the fun for us! Living in northern Canada I am not new to getting cars out of the mud, and negating bush roads without signs. So I hope that helps a bit when we do our trip in Tanzania. I also think we will hire either drivers, or guides for part of the time. From what I've read so far others have done it and lived to tell the tale... Thanks for the warnings.

    Luangwablondes: Thank you for your help. I understand the problem.

    sandi: That is a big help! Now I can sit down and make an itinerary and calculate the time that's required. Lot of work all this planning!

    robin: must be nice to leave the cold behind! I have not had time to read the link you sent, but I will. I'm sure it will be helpful and if it's Ok I'll fire back some questions as soon as I've read it...... Thanks for the help!

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    canadian_robin -

    I'm so glad you saw this thread. I knew there was a Canadian couple who had done a self-drive - Kenya/Tanzania - but couldn't recall who it was and I'm no good with the search function here on Fodor's. Though not something I'd consider even if I had been drunk :) (seriously)... you pulled it off! You go girl!

    The information in your trip report should be helpful to skeenskater and enable him to decide their best options.

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    Thanks Sandi!
    We have just returned from a 4-week self-drive through Botswana and Zambia - the latter was definitely our most challenging destination yet. I will be posting photos once my poor DH manages to work his way through them - all 7000 of them!

    skeenaskater
    We went to the Kalahari Desert for Christmas and nearly died of the heat (+40 every day) - such a delightful change from the -30 that we would normally experience for the holidays! :-)

    Since you are planning your visit for August, you should definitely include the migration in your itinerary. Although it is not as predictable as we would all like, you're most likely to see the migration in the Mara in Kenya at that time of year. The Mara and the Northern Circuit in Tanzania combine very nicely for a self-drive and, if it were me, I would limit myself to those two destinations, rather than also trying to include the south. That would be a lot of driving! Driving through both the Mara and the Serengeti/Northern Circuit would ensure that you see the migration.

    In terms of driving times - we always take the driving times given, double them, add an hour, and we are then about on schedule. Driving in Africa always takes far longer than we expect and we hate to be rushed.

    For the Mara and the Northern Circuit, it would make more sense to fly to Nairobi (rather than Dar Es Salaam), and then either into the Mara from there or to Arusha to begin the Tanzania leg of the journey. On our 2009 journey, we flew to Nairobi and then into the Mara, where we picked up our 4x4 vehicle. We ended the journey in Arusha. This August, we are doing the journey in the opposite direction - beginning in Arusha (flying from Cape Town to Nairobi and then Arusha) and ending in the Mara (and then flying from there back to Nairobi).

    In terms of self-drive vs guided trips, we have always traveled without a guide. Let me hasten to add that we have nothing against guides - we simply enjoy the freedom of self-drive. We have self-driven in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia and, so far at least, we have survived. We are not great risk takers and have no special training. We are both 50+, but grew up in camping families and have spent much time in the bush. In preparation for our first trip, we both took a 4x4 course (a 4x4 is a must in Tanzania) and a first aid course. We rent our vehicles from a company that provides extensive in-country back-up - help is just a satellite or cell call away - and we have had to use this service (we had vehicle difficulties in Zambia because of dirty fuel). I would not consider making one of these trips without that in-country support because we are only one vehicle/2 people - if we were traveling in a group with more than one vehicle, we would perhaps not feel the need for this back-up.

    In terms of logistics - although we travel without a guide, we include stays at tented camps in our itinerary, which allows us the opportunity to interact with local guides. We learn much from them, and it is good for my DH, who does much of the driving, to have a break. I would not agree with the above suggestion that we see less because we travel without a guide - not true at all. We have been extremely fortunate with our sightings. Staying at camps also allows us to partake in walks - something we can't do without a guide.

    We found navigating around Tanzania and Kenya fairly easy. Elainee is correct when she writes that, once you get away from the major cities in either country, there are very few signs. Most visitors travel with guides, so I guess signs are deemed unnecessary.The Mara area was the worst - tracks going every which way and not a sign to be seen. We travel with a GPS (and took a course to ensure that we knew how to use all of the features) with Tracks4Africa, and paper maps as back-up. On the few occasions that we have become lost (actually, I can only think of two - once north of the Mara and once in Zambia), the locals have always been able to assist us. Communication has never been a problem in any country - we have only ever encountered one small village where there was no English spoken - the villagers still managed to assist us and send us on our way.

    We travel in a vehicle with long-range fuel tanks, jerry cans with extra fuel, and a 20-litre water tank. It is fully equipped with everything we need - bedding, towels, a roof-top tent, full emergency/repair gear (and the company ensures that we know how to use it - there is a lengthy briefing when we pick up the vehicle - everything is taken out of the vehicle and reviewed), a basic food kit, kitchen gear, a first aid kit, - everything! We have never had difficulty finding supplies. We simply plan very well ahead and know where fuel and food is available. In one instance, we provided a tented camp with a very detailed grocery list, and they shopped for us. Anything is possible - you just have to plan well.

    With one exception, we have always felt perfectly safe on our self-drives - you can read about our run-in with poachers in the Serengeti in my report. However, it was an isolated incident, and has not discouraged us from continuing to travel independently. We have always felt very safe even though, at times, we have looked as though we have been beamed in from another planet. You do need to be comfortable in that situation.

    Feel free to ask any questions you like. CR

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    Hi Robin!

    I read your trip report. What a wealth of information, and such wonderful pictures. Great read. It has gotten us even more excited to go and experience this. The trip that you did is very much like I envision our trip to be. We too enjoy the freedom and wilderness experience which is why we want to do a self drive/guided, with occasional guided days for walks and such.

    I am still undecided as to include the South or not. I think your itinerary for the Northern circuit makes good sense, but..... high on our list of things we wanted to do is a boat/canoe trip in Selous or Ruaha. This may be a good question for you or anybody who knows about this on this forum; are there any boat/canoe trips, preferably multiple day, on the Northern Tanzanian region, in August?

    Alternatively, if one had the option between a northern or southern circuit self drive for 4 weeks; any suggestions on which one of the two would be the "once in a life time trip"?

    For the northern circuit I thought to fly into Nairobi and then first try to see the migration. Would you rent the LandRover in Nairobi or fly first to Arusha and rent it there? I understand that we would have a better chance to see crossings of Wildebeest earlier in August in Kenya? We have to keep the lodges to a minimum due to a tight budget, unfortunately. So I was thinking of getting the LandRover right from the airport. From reading your trip report Arusha seems like a nice starting point. So....I'm not sure what the best starting point would be...

    The other question I have regarding the starting point of the trip is in regards to the cost of a foreign registered vehicle in Tanzania. As I understand it, there is an extra charge each time we enter a park if we rent the vehicle in Kenya. Would it therefore be more cost effective to rent it in Arusha?

    I'd also be very interested to hear from you how you managed your photography. Lenses to suggest and particularly charging of batteries. Do the LandRovers have a cigarette lighter type power point? I was thinking to bring a power converter if the LandRovers have a powerpoint for that. What did you find most useful for camera stabilization in the LandRover; bean bag? How about a liftable rooftop, and separate tent on the ground, in stead of a roof tent: any ideas about that?

    Many thanks again for all the help. (Here in Smithers we have 4 feet of snow and -10C. +40C sounds pretty nice right now!)

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    I read your trip report. What a wealth of information, and such wonderful pictures. Great read. It has gotten us even more excited to go and experience this. The trip that you did is very much like I envision our trip to be. We too enjoy the freedom and wilderness experience which is why we want to do a self drive/guided, with occasional guided days for walks and such.

    Staying at tented camps along the way is a great way to take advantage of some great guiding. By combining self-drive with tented camps, we enjoy the best of both worlds. Glad the report was helpful!

    I am still undecided as to include the South or not. I think your itinerary for the Northern circuit makes good sense, but..... high on our list of things we wanted to do is a boat/canoe trip in Selous or Ruaha. This may be a good question for you or anybody who knows about this on this forum; are there any boat/canoe trips, preferably multiple day, on the Northern Tanzanian region, in August?

    I am not aware of any canoe/boat trips on the Northern Circuit other than on Lake Victoria, and I am not certain that those would be very exciting - you certainly don't read much about them. Hopefully, someone on this forum may know of other boating opportunities in the north. The only time we have spent on water is a houseboat tour on the Chobe River as part of our Botswana self-drive, and canoeing on the Zambezi River this past October when we were in Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. Both were amazing!

    Alternatively, if one had the option between a northern or southern circuit self drive for 4 weeks; any suggestions on which one of the two would be the "once in a life time trip"?

    We have no experience with the south whatever, but there are some great reports on this forum that include the southern parks. It would be unfair of me to push the north when we have not experienced the south, I will only say that we loved the northern circuit and that it combines very well with the migration in Kenya - something to consider if you are traveling in August.

    For the northern circuit I thought to fly into Nairobi and then first try to see the migration. Would you rent the LandRover in Nairobi or fly first to Arusha and rent it there? I understand that we would have a better chance to see crossings of Wildebeest earlier in August in Kenya? We have to keep the lodges to a minimum due to a tight budget, unfortunately. So I was thinking of getting the LandRover right from the airport. From reading your trip report Arusha seems like a nice starting point. So....I'm not sure what the best starting point would be...

    When we made our trip, Safari Drive would not allow their clients to drive from Nairobi to the Mara - things were a little unsettled in Kenya at the time and they were worried that we might have difficulty finding our way. That was why we flew into the Mara and picked up the 4x4 at Serian Camp. I wouldn't recommend driving from Nairobi to Arusha unless the highway is finished, and I doubt it is. We are flying into Arusha from Nairobi and going from there. Arusha will be a great place to start - good shopping, banking and, because our journey will end in early August, when the migration in the Mara will be at its best, we wanted the Mara at the end.

    The other question I have regarding the starting point of the trip is in regards to the cost of a foreign registered vehicle in Tanzania. As I understand it, there is an extra charge each time we enter a park if we rent the vehicle in Kenya. Would it therefore be more cost effective to rent it in Arusha?

    It is expensive to drive a foreign registered vehicle in Tanzania (I think we paid $50 per day, but the current fee will be on the TANAPA website) but, since most of the Safari Drive vehicles are UK registered, it didn't make any difference whether we picked up one of their vehicles in Kenya or Tanzania. That is definitely one question to ask any company you rent from - many are based in JNB and have SA registered vehicles.

    I'd also be very interested to hear from you how you managed your photography. Lenses to suggest and particularly charging of batteries. Do the LandRovers have a cigarette lighter type power point? I was thinking to bring a power converter if the LandRovers have a powerpoint for that. What did you find most useful for camera stabilization in the LandRover; bean bag? How about a liftable rooftop, and separate tent on the ground, in stead of a roof tent: any ideas about that?

    We carry a laptop, a portable hard drive and a third storage device (PICTURE PORTER ELITE). We download our photos every evening and they are stored on these three devices. We do not keep the photos on the cards. The Land Rovers do have a cigarette lighter for charging and we bring two inverters (one just for backup), purchased at Canadian Tire.

    For stabilization...now don't laugh....we have used bean bags but we have since discovered noodles - those long Styrofoam devices that kids use in swimming pools. We cut them (in about 3) to fit the width of the windows, and then score them lengthwise (half way) so they fit/slide on the windows. We cut each noodle in three beforehand (so they fit in our suitcases) and that width seems about right. They are very light and take up little room in the suitcases. They don't fall off and you can leave them on the windows as you drive. We saw a gentlemen using them in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and thought it was pure genius!

    We travel with two cameras. On our first trip, we took one camera and kept switching lenses - big mistake! Way too much dust! When we returned home, my DH spent hours taking dust spots off our photos. We have a Nikon D80 and a Nikon D90, and use mostly 18-70mm on one and 70-300 on the other.


    Safari Drive will provide a ground tent if clients request one - so they can travel with 3 or 4 people in one of their vehicles (although it would be mighty crowded). Personally, I feel safer up on the roof - we have had many predators and elephants on our campsites.

    I have only ever seen vehicles with a lift-top roof being used by a tour group (in other words, on larger vehicles) - I am not certain that they are available for rental privately or on smaller vehicles.

    Many thanks again for all the help. (Here in Smithers we have 4 feet of snow and -10C. +40C sounds pretty nice right now!)

    You're most welcome! We are off to the beach - we are to hit 30 here today! The only drifts we will see today are sand drifts! :-) Robin

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    Hi Robin,
    "You're most welcome! We are off to the beach - we are to hit 30 here today! The only drifts we will see today are sand drifts!" - Yeah, rub it in! ;-)

    Thanks again for the very helpful reply. I contacted Joe at SafariDrive. When traveling from Arusha there is no border crossing from the Serengeti to the Mara so we'd have to drive all the way around via Victoria. He does not advise it. So now I have to make up my mind what best to do if I want to see Wildebeest crossings. Do you think there is a good chance to see them in the northern triangle of the Serengeti?

    "For stabilization...now don't laugh....we have used bean bags but we have since discovered noodles - those long Styrofoam devices that kids use in swimming pools. "
    - That is a great idea!

    "I have only ever seen vehicles with a lift-top roof being used by a tour group (in other words, on larger vehicles) - I am not certain that they are available for rental privately or on smaller vehicles."
    - I found some companies that have the pop-up roof for rent. But I think my wife will prefer to be off the ground ;-)

    Thanks again!

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    Sorry - our internet was down for a couple of days!

    Jo is quite correct - there is no direct route from the Serengeti to the Mara. However, depending on your route in Tanzania, the Isebania (Kenya)/Sirari (Tanzania) border north of Lake Victoria should not be that far out of your way. We will drive to that border from the Seronera/central area of the Serengeti, overnight at Lake Victoria, and be in the Mara the following day. However, Jo must have a reason for not recommending it. Did he say why?

    Not certain whether you would see the migration in the northern Serengeti. If you search this forum, you should find some good threads about the migration, including maps of the route and when the wildebeest are found where.

    Smart woman your wife! Off the ground is good! Robin

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    I recently read that vehicles with Tanzanian registration plates were not being allowed into Kenyan parks... perhaps that's why? I wonder if you'll need to rent separate vehicles in each country.

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    " Sorry - our internet was down for a couple of days!" - TIA? ;-)

    "Smart woman your wife!" - She is; but please don't let her hear I said that! That said, I would still like the pop-up roof for added spotting and photography room....

    "Jo is quite correct - there is no direct route from the Serengeti to the Mara. However, Jo must have a reason for not recommending it. Did he say why?"
    - He gave me 3 reasons: long detour, security issues, difficult roads/navigation for inexperienced tourists. I still have to answer his mail, but non of the reasons is a big issue for me, and from reading your trip report it sounds like the Mara would be a real nice addition to our trip, especially since we got 4 weeks.

    "Not certain whether you would see the migration in the northern Serengeti. If you search this forum, you should find some good threads about the migration, including maps of the route and when the wildebeest are found where."
    - I had a look at the migration pattern and timing. From what I see the northwest corner of the Serengeti should give us a good chance to see some crossings, in early August.
    We decided to limit our trip to the northern circuit only. It just seemed a bit too much to combine the north and south. Maybe for a next time.....

    "I recently read that vehicles with Tanzanian registration plates were not being allowed into Kenyan parks... perhaps that's why? I wonder if you'll need to rent separate vehicles in each country." - Hmmm, I have not heard that but I'll look into it.

    Thanks again for all the help!

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