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Help with first trip to Kenya/Tanzania

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I've used this forum a few times for our trips to Europe, but this time we are venturing into Africa for our very first time. I have read many of the threads/posts, and sent emails to some of the recommended companies, but thought I would ask some questions, and get some feedback.
Background: We are in our early thirties, looking for a 2-3 week trip to Kenya and Tanzania in September 2009. We are interested mainly in the safari aspect, though village/culture and a few days on the beach would be great. Since we normally travel on our own (not with tour groups), we are definitely considering the private tour option. Also, we would rather not do budget camping, but at the same time do not require luxury. As for our budget, we are hoping to not go over $7000 for the trip and air fare. Questions..
1. I know this is subjective- but would we be better off booking a trip that the companies already have available, or having a company customize one for us.
2. What places/safaris should we not miss when we are there? We know the Maasai Mara is somewhere we really want to go. How many different safari areas should we go to while there for 2-3 weeks?
3. Should we go to Zanzibar or Lamu for beach time?
4. With respect to our budget/interests, what companies would one recommend?
Thanks so much!

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