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Safari in Tanzania and Kenya

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DH has requested a safari next year, but I'm the family trip planner, so the ball's in my court now. It looks like August or September would work for us. Being semi-retired, we can take as much time as we want, but the longer we go, the more it costs, so that limits us a bit. I'm thinking 3 weeks door to door--but we can be flexible about that. We haven't set an exact budget; like many other people, we want a good value.

For the past few days, I have been reading guidebooks, surfing the Internet, asking friends, and reading the forums--not sure if I'm starting to get a handle on things or am just getting more confused. As I read, every park/reserve starts to sound wonderful, so I'm trying to figure out where we want to go and how long to spend at each stop.

Right now, I'm thinking about some combination (in a logical order) of Serengeti, Masai Mara, Ngorongoro Crater, Amboseli--and I'm not quite sure what else. Are those good choices? Other spots suggested to me include: Samburu, Lake Nakuru, Lake Victoria, Ol Pejeta. Is there something I'm missing? Something I should skip?

Is it recommended that I come up with my own itinerary, including accommodations, and then email it to several tour operators and get quotes? Or do I just give them an idea of what we'd like and let them propose a trip?

We don't want bare bones camping, but aren't rich enough for a luxury trip. How specific do I need to get with the tour operators? It doesn't have to be fancy, but I'm not fond of a hole and two footprints as a toilet. Does that make me too much of a princess?

We'd rather not spend hours and hours getting from one park to another, but don't want to sacrifice seeing something special. So, some long (4+ hour) drives are OK, but now a whole bunch.

I'm not asking anyone to plan our trip, but some guidance about the process would be wonderful. Thanks!

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