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East Africa Safari 1st Time- Summer 2016

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My wife and I are looking for advice for the best wildlife viewing safari package(s) in East Africa Length 17-23 days anywhere from Late June to Mid August 2016

Must sees:
The Great Migration in the Serengeti/Mara Maasai
Ngorongoro Crater
Rwanda/Uganda Mountain Gorillas
Maasai tribe Visit
Balloon Ride over The Serengeti

Optional:
Nile Perch Fishing Lake Victoria
Zanzibar
Mt. Kilimanjaro area
Tarangire
Lake Manyara
Victoria Falls (If time and budget allow)

Witnessing the most species of animals for photography is the #1 goal especially:
Giraffes,Hippos,Rhinos,Big Cats,Gorillas,the Big 5, etc.

We don't mind a fast paced on the go vacations as that is how we usually travel. We like fit in as much possibly in the limited time that we have. We would like to spend almost all of our time in National Parks and very little time in large cities

Accommodations don't have to be anything fancy just highly rated and safe for budget travelers. Mobile safari/camping is perfect for parts of the trip.

Will be flying from Portland, Oregon (PDX)
Dates are flexible from late June- to August 2016.

Would like to keep trip total around $15,000 with flights if possible.

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    I'll reply since no one else has. I would contact a safari planner. There are several recommended here. I have personally used Access2Tanzania for Tanzania and Gamewatchers for Kenya and would recommend them both. They can work with you on an itinerary based on your time and budget. A2T also now handles Rwanda, and can hook you up on gorilla trekking. Any safari planner can also facilitate a hot air balloon ride in either Kenya or Tanzania.

    In my experience, each time you change camp/location on the ground, you essentially lose 1/2 to 3/4 of the day by the time you move, get settled in to new locations and wait for the next chance to go on a game ride, which are usually pre-dawn early morning and after 4 pm late day. I'd expect to lose a whole day or more if you're adding in places like Victoria Falls, which isn't at all near the Eastern African locales you otherwise list. I would minimize the number of times you move to maximize the amount of time you're out on game rides. "Fast paced" and safari really don't go hand and hand. You're very at the whim of uneven roads and third world transportation infrastructure so keep that in mind. It's not like visiting London where you can hop from sight to sight with ease, checking them off the list. Getting to exciting game sightings can take time and patience. Some days you might not see much, other days you might be spoiled for choice. You may want to linger at a sleeping lion pride to see if/when they wake up, what they'll do. Just be aware of that.

    There are a few ongoing threads here that cover many of the same questions you have about itinerary. Look at those and maybe come back with more specifics. If your 17-23 days includes travel time from Portland, you're going to essentially lose 2 days each way, which brings you to 13-19 days to spread across a very expansive list of locations.

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    Because of the number of days you mentioned, you need about 4 or five different places to visit.

    in that case of Kenya i will advise Mara for Great migration where you see them crossing the river. You can pitch a tent in Mara or use budget tented camp if you like.Mara is part of Tanzania and carry's majority of the camps for accommodation so getting a place wont be a big deal during peak seasons. Also if you have a tight budget just discuss out with whoever arranging to see what he can offer. I find cheaper to book in Kenya than overseas.

    I will also combine other regions with mara for you that is Nakuru for bird watching specially the pink flamingo that changes the color of the lake to pink, black rhino sanctuary and see the most endangered species of rhino. visit Thomson falls and lewa downs for horse ridng in private ranch of lewa and easily sea the elephants. boat riding in Naivasha and the water-back and monkeys at sopa lodge.

    In Nairobi you will visit giraffe mania and sheldrick elephant orphanage and have some time feeding the ophaned animals.

    before departure visit Tsavo west for a wonderful game drive and experience a hard of elephant. You can also have a game drive at Nairobi national park. The only National in world that is within 4 km distance from the cbd. it has all the big animals to see.

    hoping that you will get between 13-14 days in Kenya

    see the below schedule
    ITINERARY

    Day 1: UK/GERMANY to Nairobi Depart the UK/Germany on your overnight flight to Nairobi.

    Day 2: Nairobi On arrival , transfer to the Sarova panafric (sarova group). This large, centrally-located hotel was one of the city's first premium hotels. Tonight you’ll enjoy a welcome dinner. Stay Overnight.

    Day 3: Nairobi to Amboseli Today you'll begin your safari experience, driving out of the city to Amboseli National Park/Tsavo west where you'll arrive at serena Lodge in time for lunch. In the afternoon you'll head out on your first game drive in the national park. Amboseli is a land of giants, where huge herds of elephant stand strong against a dramatic backdrop of Africa’s highest mountain: Mount Kilimanjaro. It's easily accessible and offers effortless wildlife viewing. Your accommodation in Amboseli is Serena Lodge, which sits in a particularly scenic spot with views of Kilimanjaro and the wetlands and has 80 chalet-style rooms. Stay: Serena Lodge. Accommodation is full board.

    Day 4: Amboseli to Aberdare After breakfast you will travel back to Nairobi and then out towards the Aberdare Mountain Range, with lunch en route at the Safari Park Hotel. Once you reach Aberdare you'll check in at the Aberdare Country Club in order to transfer to its unique sister property, The Ark, which will be your spectacular viewing perch for the night. In the heart of the Aberdare National Park, The Ark's design is based on Noah's Ark. It overlooks a floodlit waterhole and salt lick, attracting a whole host of game both day and night. Four viewing decks with balconies allow up-close wildlife viewing without even leaving your accommodation. There's also a ground-level photo hide and an on-call viewing service to ensure that you don't miss a thing. Rooms are recently renovated 'cabins' set over three 'decks'. Stay: The Ark. Accomodation is full board.

    Day 5: Aberdare to Shaba Transfer back to the Aberdare Country Club for check-out and continue north to Shaba National Reserve, crossing the equator at Nanyuki and arriving in time for lunch at the Sarova Shaba Game Lodge. Shaba is the heart of Born Free country – it was home to Joy and George Adamson for many years. A small remote reserve, it sits in a protected area to the east of Samburu and Buffalo Springs, with a dry landscape that is inhabited by rare species including the Grevy's zebra and reticulated giraffe as well as big cats, elephants and impressively diverse and colourful bird life. This afternoon you'll enjoy a game drive in the reserve, hoping to spot all of the above, before returning to the Sarova Shaba Game Lodge for dinner and a two-night stay. The chalet-style rooms here sit in a mini indigenous forest and overlook the Ewaso Nyiro River where you might be lucky enough to spot elephants or crocodiles. Stay: Sarova Shaba Game Lodge. Accomodation is full board.

    Day 6: Shaba Today you have a full day to explore Shaba, heading into the reserve on morning and afternoon game drives. Stay: Sarova Shaba Game Lodge. Acconodation full board.

    Day 7: Shaba to Lake Nakuru to Lake Naivasha Leave Shaba after breakfast and drive to Lake Nakuru via Thomson's Falls – a pretty waterfall where there'll be a brief stop so that you can take some photos. On arrival in Lake Nakuru you will have lunch at the Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge before a game drive around the national park and along the lake shore. Look out for the large herds of rhino that are often spotted in the park as well as lions and abundant bird life. Later you'll proceed to the Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge, set in 200 acres of beautiful green lawns on the shores of Lake Naivasha with rooms housed in characterful cottages built from local stone. Stay: Lake Naivasha Sopa Lodge. Accomodation is full board.

    Day 8: Lake Naivasha to Maasai Mara Today you will travel to what is probably the best known wildlife-viewing area in all of Africa: the incredible Maasai Mara. Check in to the Sarova Mara Game Camp and have lunch before embarking on an afternoon game drive. Big cats rule the landscape here, with prides of lion, families of cheetah and solo leopards all inhabiting the open plains and the bushland. Other species you can hope to spot are herds of elephant, hyena, buffalo and hippo. Return to the Sarova Mara Game Camp where you'll stay for two nights. This large tented camp enjoys a good location, looking out to the plains dotted with wildebeest, zebra and antelope. Tents are classic and spacious, with canvas walls, wooden flooring, a permanent roof and a large wooden deck. There's also a swimming pool, a large main restaurant with live cooking stations and two bars. Stay: Sarova Mara Game Camp. Accomodation is full board.

    Day 9: Maasai Mara a full day in the Mara awaits you today, which you can discover on early morning, late morning and afternoon game drives. There's also the option today to take a hot-air balloon ride over the savannah at sunrise. This is one of the most iconic safari experiences and is throughly recommended. Stay: Sarova Mara Game Camp. Accomodation is full board.

    Day 10: Maasai Mara to Nairobi After breakfast you will transfer back to Nairobi for your return flight to your home country, arriving the following day. Or you might like to extend your time in Africa with a relaxing beach stay. B.

    • The huge elephants of Amboseli
    • A night in the unique lodge, The Ark
    • Visit a small 'dry country' reserve with rare species
    • The lakes of Nakuru and Naivasha
    • Multiple game drives in the Maasai Mara
    • Optional balloon safari

    You can check with us for further details and find out how much we can offer on HOSY SAFARIS by dropping us an email from the website. wont give the link here because of the obvious policy.

    Best of your time planning
    Director - Hosy safaris

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    Personally, I wouldn't stay any place less than 2 nights, preferably 3, to maximize your time on the ground. The above itinerary has you packing and unpacking every day or every other day, which is really a waste of time.

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    The ops wish list is for Tanzania so am confused why Kenya is being suggested.

    Concur with amyb - contact a couple of tour operators with your wish list and then come back here for some feedback on the various itineraries.

    I recently saw a side bar here on Fodors with a list of their top tour operators - Africa Serendipity out of New York was listed - I was very happy with their service - ask for Sandi.

    Try to avoid staying in any camp just for 1 night - for me 3 or more is preferable - 2 nights only if you must.

    Research camps to see what type of accommodations suit you best. I always like to mix it up between tented & lodges so my dollar goes a bit farther. Tented is my preference but tends to cost more.

    I experienced the migration (no river crossings) in the western corridor of the Serengeti (close to Lake Victoria) a few years ago in mid May so am guessing by end of June they'll be further north close to the Kenyan border. There are websites showing where & when the herds should be altho not always accurate due to various factors, but at least it's a guideline.

    All tour operators can arrange for a balloon ride - be prepared to pay about $500 USD.

    Most camps can also arrange for a visit to a Maasai village - some are cheesier than others so look into that.

    Plan on 23 days if you can as you'll be losing days during the international flight portion plus if Rwanda is included.

    Have fun planning!

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    Be careful @ justinwojo with some of the posts on above they seemed as they posted by tour operators and not travellers ....remember this forum has many fake travellers who in truth are tour operators but they use this forum to fish people to their business and act as they are travellers .

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    Thank you Christabir
    Yes hosy safaris are tour operators, even our travelling is purely business for the good of our clients. We can`t deny about that.

    We cannot also allow wrong information pass our eyes because we know so many people have paid before exuberant prices for very very poor services and end up giving a generally negative report that affects the whole region because of one persons selfishness. AS IT HAPPENED WITH SOMEONE WHO BOOKED STANLEY WING PACKAGE AND RECEIVED VERY SUBSTANDARD SERVICES and then he ended up blaming everything including the city of arrival.

    we prefer that you check our sites and also see if what you are paying is equivalent or less to the actually market value. Like why should one pay 100$ more for balloon safaris when I can correct that.

    This camps give contracts to both international and local tour operators so definitely you get the same service regardless of who booked you. so you are left to look for the best deal in transport arrangement, accommodation and choice of attractions.

    Get the information to help you decide and budget but not change your mind because of the information by booking with me.

    I don't want the same to happen

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    One thing you might want to consider is that with an East African visa, you will have entry to Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, all for $100. The Serengeti and Ngorongoro are, obviously, in Tanzania and will require a separate visa.

    Also, Victoria Falls is on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, so you may wish to save that for a subsequent safari.

    Lastly, you might want to look into flying into one city and out of another, as you wish to cover several countries in only 2-3 weeks.

    I hope this helps. Your trip sounds exciting.

    Your African Safari--a safari planning resource

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    First of all information about wildebeest migration is important. Know when wildebeest migration are in Tanzania. Wildebeest migration are in Serengeti from June to September mid.Note that Lions and Leopards depend on Wildebeest migration and associates like grant gazelle, zebra and thompson gazelle for prey.

    Balloon ride in Serengeti is possible and wonderful wildlife experience.

    Sport fishing and boat cruise in Lake Victoria is nice tour. From Serengeti to Lake Victoria is stone throw distance.

    Watch out.

    See big herds of Elephants (huge) in Tarangire, Buffalloes, lots of wildlife at River Tarangire plus amazing undulating landscapes.

    Ngorongoro Crater has wonderful Geographical formation including broken caldera, biggest crater on earth, Rift Valley and Black Rhinocerous

    Then it is easier to fly from Kilimanjaro International Airport to Kigali Rwanda for Gorilla tracking.

    Travel Plan:

    DAY 01: Arrive Kilimanjaro International Airport, transfer and Overnight at hotel in Arusha or Moshi.

    if you overnight in Moshi, you can also View Mount Kilimanjaro.

    Day 02: Tarangire National park

    Day 03: Serengeti

    Day 04: Serengeti

    Day 05: Serengeti to Lake Victoria shores overnight in Mwanza

    Day 06: Lake Victoria sport fishing

    Day 07: Lake Victoria Mwanza to Serengeti

    Day 08: Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater via Olduvai Gorge

    Day 09: Ngorongoro crater tour

    Day 10: Lake Manyara tour and then to Arusha.

    If time and budget allows:

    Fly from Kilimanjaro Airport to Rwanda Volcano National Park for Gorilla tracking or Uganda Bwindi National Park.

    3 days 2 nights is enough.

    Day 4 flight from there to Zanzibar for nice beach areas for white sand sun bathing, diving on coral reefs.

    Above ideas can help you decide better. Consider timing and movements of wildlife.

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    "In my experience, each time you change camp/location on the ground, you essentially lose 1/2 to 3/4 of the day by the time you move, get settled in to new locations and wait for the next chance to go on a game ride, which are usually pre-dawn early morning and after 4 pm late day. I'd expect to lose a whole day or more if you're adding in places like Victoria Falls, which isn't at all near the Eastern African locales you otherwise list. I would minimize the number of times you move to maximize the amount of time you're out on game rides. "Fast paced" and safari really don't go hand and hand."
    Right! I like that advice

    And fast paced and photography really don't go hand in hand, either. But fast paced and getting a cell phone shot or quick P&S shot of as many animals as possible probably does go hand in hand. Even so, if you are on the road (highway, no animals) between destinations all the time, you will see less of what you came to Africa to see. In contrast if you zip around within a park from species to species very quickly (which I would abhor, but it may be in line with your goals) you will maximize species #s.

    Must sees:
    ---The Great Migration in the Serengeti/Mara Maasai
    I would go more toward late Aug then mid-June whether Tanz/Serengeti or Kenya/Mara. More expensive and less crowded in N. Serengeti than in Mara.


    ---Ngorongoro Crater
    My suggestion is to have at least 2 visits, a morning and an afternoon, which can be an all day visit. I like Sopa Lodge for location with a less-used access road and for pricing. Also views.

    ---Rwanda/Uganda Mountain Gorillas
    If just for gorillas, I'd go with Rwanda because (1) easier logistical access (2) IMO based on numerous trips in both Uganda and Rwanda, Rwanda has the slight edge for viewing. But either can country provide a great trip for gorillas and more.

    Securing gorilla permits will be Step #1 as those can be in high demand. If possible do 2 visits in case your one visit is in anyway compromised such as by a heavy downpour, you are not feeling well, a leopard has scared the gorillas into difficult terrain, forest elephants mean you have to detour. Not that these things are common and just about everybody sees gorillas on every trek; the trackers and staff really work hard for that. But I don't like one offs. Also each visit is different so it is not to be able to compare them.

    You may wish to do this first so your conditioning pays off early in the trip and you are not "getting soft" with a couple of weeks of sitting in a vehicle.

    ----Maasai tribe Visit
    Easily arranged. Many opportunities. Let your agent know in advance.

    -------Balloon Ride over The Serengeti
    Arrange in advance and don't have it be your grand finale activity on the last day with no backup day. Wind and weather can affect the decision to launch. Give yourself more than one shot at it. As mentioned above, this is expensive. Ask yourself WHY you wish to do this, then make sure the balloon ride fulfills those reasons. I've run into quite a few people who thought the balloon was the highlight of their safari. I did not.


    Optional:
    ---------Nile Perch Fishing Lake Victoria
    Cannot help out with this

    --------Zanzibar
    Often tacked on at end, easily done. I have not gone personally. Very do-able. If mainly for beaches, though, consider your beach opportunities at home. If for culture, history, snorkeling, unique primates, then enjoy!


    ----------Mt. Kilimanjaro area
    Is this to see the mountain? If so, it is visible from Arusha and you may want to spend a night or two there upon arrival. To climb just a little ways up for the heck of it? To enjoy the upscale camps in the area that offer walking and horseback riding activities? If to walk up a ways or go to the camps in the area, then near the start or the end of your safari makes sense. If you wanted to climb Kili, that's a separate endeavor, but it does not appear climbing is a goal.


    ----------Tarangire
    The later toward August the better. A great elephant park. I like Tarangire Safari Lodge (that sometimes goes by names like Tarangire Tented Lodge) for the spectacular location overlooking a waterhole. This is not a secluded, luxury camp and is very hotel-like, but the location is great. Do include enough days (maybe 3) for day trip to the Silale Swamp, which is also an elephant magnet.

    Tarangire is typcially included on Tanz itineraries, usually after leaving Arusha, before the Ngorongoro Crater or Lake Manyara, enroute to the Serengeti.

    ----Lake Manyara
    Good for baboons and Blue Monkeys (different species for you.) One night is sufficient, even one visit.

    ---Victoria Falls (If time and budget allow)
    If you think you might ever be able to visit Southern Africa, save Vic Falls for that trip.


    As an outline that you could present your agent

    1 Arrive Kigali
    2 drive to PNV
    3 gorilla trip 1
    4 gorilla trip 2 and drive back to Kigali (maybe even fly out that night to save a day)

    5 Fly Kigali to Kilimanjaro airport in Tanz and drive to Kili area
    6 Kili area
    7 Kili area and drive back to Arusha, perhaps in time for afternoon visit Arusha Nat Park in search of black and white Colobus monkey

    8 Drive Arusha to Tarangire
    9 Tarangire
    10 Tarangire many itineraries do just 2 nts here

    11 Drive to Lake Manyara

    12 Drive to Ngorongoro, in time for pm crater visit
    13 morning visit in crater and drive to Central Serengeti
    14 Central Serengeti
    15 Central Serengeti (perhaps only 2 nights here if you need to save a day)

    end of drive, now fly
    16 fly to N. Serengeti (Mara Serengeti area, near Mara River)
    17 N. Serengeti (Mara Serengeti area, near Mara River)
    18 N. Serengeti (Mara Serengeti area, near Mara River)
    19 N. Serengeti (Mara Serengeti area, near Mara River)

    20 Fly to Zanzibar
    21 Zanzibar
    22 Zanzibar
    23 Depart Dar and fly home

    The more important seeing a river crossing is to you, the more I'd urge you to add another day or so to N. Serengeti, although 4 nts there is a good amount of time. To save time and $, many itineraries have 3 or less.

    If you wanted to cut something, the first thing I'd cut in the above itinerary is time around Kilimanjaro.

    Also, ask whoever you book with for DRIVE TIMES BETWEEN LOCATIONS.

    If $15K is for the whole trip for you both, see what Overseas Adventure Travel or Lion World Travels or Good Earth offers and compare to something like the above itinerary. If $15K is per person, then a private trip for the 2 of you that proceeds at a pace you control, whether zipping around the plains or leisurely lingering, or a combo, can be arranged.

    Whatever you choose, have a fabulous safari!

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    I've been posting on this forum since our first safari trip in 2004, and atravelynn has given you excellent advise - just wanted to let you know she's got some real "chops" when it comes to planning a safari in East Africa.

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    Thanks for everyone's input! I/we are in the process of planning a first time Africa trip to Rwanda for a Double Gorilla trek (4 days?) and Tanzania (7 days?) for a safari. Debating which months to travel.... Feb? OR June, July, August? Unless I can find a travel companion, I would be traveling solo.
    I am thinking moderate accommodations. Would really like to see the Great Migration or at least view the calving in Feb(?). I am from SF, California and our climate is mostly cool- averages 60s. Would February in Tanzania be unbearable for someone who is use to moderate temperatures?
    ANY tips/info you could provide would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

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    Linus my first safari was to Tanzania in February and with two friends from Napa. It was hot, but they didn't seem too bothered by it at all. We did just miss seeing actual births of wildebeests in Ndutu (it's hard to be there right the minute it happens, we pulled up just after on a few) and the wildebeest migration is there then but it's not dramatic river crossings like in Kenya, just a tremendous amount of wildebeest in one place at one time.

    I used Access2Tanzania to book that safari and I just booked a Rwanda gorilla trekking trip for next February with the their sister company (run by the same people) Treks2Rwanda. Karen there is a gem, she was just as good now with our itinerary as she was a few years ago! I highly recommend you reach out to them. Pricing is good, just tell her your budget and she'll work with it. My trip report from our safari is on here if you click my name and look back to Feb 2013. Good luck!

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