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Solo safari trip.

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I am starting to plan a solo trip to Kenya and Tanzania. The wildlife and national parks in Tanzania appeal more than Kenya. I am particularly interested in seeing Kilimanjaro (but not climbing to the summit, ideally I'd like to do a day trek on the mountain when I'm in Tanzania), Serengeti and Ngorongoro. I am planning this trip for September, 2016, I've read that Tarangrie is at it's peak in September so I'm tempted to add this to the itinerary. I have some questions:-

Are there any other parks I should consider adding to the itinerary?

I've received some quotes for a solo safari and prices are all over the place. What kind or ball park costs should I budget for a solo private safari in Tanzania? The quotes I've received vary from $300 per day to approximately $650 per day.

Some tour operators aren't answering my questions, so obviously this helps me narrow it down a little. I understand that lodges and tented camp sites vary in quality and price. How else do I choose which tour operator to go with amounst those that are addressing all my queries? I've never planned a private safari before and I doubt I'd have the oppourtunity to return to the region anytime soon. I'm approaching this as the trip of a lifetime.

Realistically, I will fly into Nairobi and depart from Nairobi. I have looked at flying into Arusha, but it's not feasible. I just can't get excited about Kenya's national parks. I was thinking maybe of Amboseli (to see Kilimanjaro, if I don't include Kili as part of my Tanzania itinerary) but nothing else is of much interest. Is skipping Kenya's parks/sights a mistake?

I am very much at a loss how to continue with the planning process and I'd appreciate suggestions from those who have already been to these destinations.

Thanks in advance.

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    Take a hard look at the conservancies in Kenya before you decide. If you're unfamiliar with the conservancy concept, they are essentially "private" to those camps that have their tents within them. They abut the national parks and are far less crowded with people than the parks themselves but can offer superlative wildlife sightings. I've stayed at Ol Pejeta, Ol Kinyei and Olare Motorogi in Kenya so far and am returning to Kenya this time to Naboisho and Tawi Conservancies (Naboisho is near the Maasai Mara and Tawi is near Amboseli, you can do game drives in the Reserves as well stay in the conservancies, most itineraries will include a day in the national parks). I felt the conservancy experience was so much better than the parks I visited in Tanzania, primarily because they were less crowded and the wildlife experience was better I think because you can go off road in the conservancies and do night drives.

    Don't get me wrong, I loved my Tanzanian (first) safari, but it says a lot that my second and third safaris are back to Kenya.

    Many of us here can suggest camps and itineraries that include the conservancies. I went with Porini camps last time, in and out of Nairobi, and I'd highly recommend them again. Shout if you're interested in more info.

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    " The wildlife and national parks in Tanzania appeal more than Kenya."
    Why--answering may tell you that you belong in Tanzania or it may mean Kenya might actually be a good option.

    "I am particularly interested in seeing Kilimanjaro (but not climbing to the summit, ideally I'd like to do a day trek on the mountain when I'm in Tanzania)"
    Seeing Kili is best done from Kenya, in the Amboseli area. Of course a day trek ON the mountain needs to be done in Kilimanjaro, Tanz. I see you mentioned that.

    Your pricing seems right, spanning the range of a group budget trip to a privately guided trip with mostly lodges.

    For flying, you can fly through Amsterdam to Kilimajaro, if that works.

    No more time now. More later.

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    September in Tanzania screams Tarangire to me. I could make a whole trip out of Tarangire in September. Do add it!

    "How else do I choose which tour operator to go with amounst those that are addressing all my queries?"

    -Are there trip reports from clients using this company?
    -Is it unlimited mileage? This is important so you can get to where the action is.
    -Do these companies give back to the communities or the support environment?
    -Post their itineraries and get comments here.

    "Are there any other parks I should consider adding to the itinerary?"

    Most first or only Tanz itineraries include the Ngorongoro Crater and I'd recommend it. At least for a night. I like Sopa Lodge for (1) access road not available to many other lodges (2) pricing. Arrange to get into the crater when it opens and carry a breakfast box. Maybe lunch box too.

    You gotta go to the Serengeti if doing a first/only Tanz safari. This is where it can get tricky and expensive if you wish to see the herds of wildebeest and especially if you want to try to see a river crossing. This is one instance where it is easier and less expensive to go to try to see a crossing in Kenya's Maasai Mara than Tanzania's N. Serengeti. But it is more expensive in N. Serengeti.

    So for Serengeti... anytime of year is good in Central and I'd suggest at least 2 nights in Central because of the quality wildlife sightings near the Seronera River and it is a good stopping point enroute to N. Serengeti.

    Now for N. Serengeti you can drive to the Lobo area from Central and there is the reasonably priced Lobo Lodge, among other options. But you can't expect to get to the river to see a crossing from there. You can see large herds, though, if they are anywhere in the area. You could drive further north to the Bolongonia area and there are some less costly tented options than the way north. I stayed at Flycatchers for example in Bolongonia, where you can drive about 2 hours to where the wildes may cross, but time to wait for a crossing is limited with 4 hours of transport/game drive time required. Or you can stay way farther north in the Lamai or Serengeti Mara areas of the Serengeti. You'll likely have to fly there. These are closest to the Mara River for river crossings, some tents right at the river, and these naturally are the most expensive tented camps.

    You could have a good trip with: Drive Kilimanjaro after your hike - Tarangire - Crater-Central Serengeti - Northern Serengeti (Lobo maybe Bolongonia). Then fly back to JRO and out.

    You could also do: Drive Kilimanjaro after your hike - Tarangire - Lake Manyara for 1 nt - Central Serengeti - Northern Serengeti (Lobo maybe Bolongonia) - Ngorongoro crater. Drive back to JRO and out. All drive, no fly.

    If possible, I'd add Arusha National Park for a full day after your Kili hike. You can walk and canoe and see the beautiful black and white colobus monkeys in a more forested habitat than the other areas of the trip.

    Another wonderful option that I added in September is parts of the southern circuit. Everything mentioned above is the Northern Circuit. From Bolongonia I flew south to Mahale for 4 nts, doing 3 chimp trackingw then on to Katavi for 3 nights. The whole thing in Sept was:

    Arusha canoe and walk for a full day
    fly to Bolongonia 3 nts
    fly to Mahale 4 nts
    fly to Katavi 3 nts
    fly back to Arusha and drive to Tarangire 3 nts

    You could add in the Ngorongoro Crater and maybe Central Serengeti after Arusha & before Bolongonia - discuss with your agent whether fly or drive is best for those segments. All flying is in scheduled charters--you are not chartering your own private plane.

    I'll stick in a link to that Sept solo traveler North & South Tanz report. I used Flycatchers Safaris, a Swiss-German company for all but Tarangire. I am English speaking and all guiding is done in English. Eben Schoeman Signature Safaris helped with the contacts to Flycatchers and also did the Tarangire part with Guide George. George is now working with The Wild Source.

    After all this Tanzania rah, rah, you might still wish to consider Kenya. Sept is a wonderful time for either.

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    Thank you for the replies.

    I'd never thought of visiting conservancies and had only looked at national parks in each country.

    I really don't know what it is about Tanzania that appeals more. I get the impression that both countries are rich in wildlife.

    I do remember reading a guide book some years when I first thought of visiting these countries and the guidebook heavily favoured a safari in Tanzania instead of Kenya. I do not recall which guidebook it was. I have requested various guidebooks from the library and hopefully, the guidebook I am referring to will crop us as I plan this trip. Idealy, a more recent edition of the guidebook.

    Guidebooks aside.... When I first started travelling aggressively, I often referred to Unesco's list of world heritage sights for destination ideas. Serengeti and Ngorongoro have always been embedded in my head since I familiarlized myself with the list.

    I'd never thought of the Segengeti to be divided in regions (Central, North, etc). It's points like this that I am focused on at present. I'm still trying to get an understand of which specific national parks (or conservancies) I should visit.

    As for the travel agents, I know there are many to choose from. I felt if I deal directly with an agent in East Africa I know which [local] company I'd be using as the travel agents outside East Africa will simply use a local operator and act as a middle man.

    I have read reviews of travel agents on Trip Advisor and I really don't know where to begin. Some companies have many glowing reviews, but if you dig a little deeper you'll notice that those reviews are from first time posters. I had contacted seven companies which are rated highly on TA (and have a TA "Certificate of Excellence" rating) by email and perhaps one or two more via their website. Of those companies, a few responded promptly, some not so promptly and some didn't respond at all.

    I've only just started the planning process and will get aggressive with the nitty gritty details in January. I've found that some of the travel agents do address my queries and others simply ignore them. I've eliminated some companies because of this.

    As for a personalized private solo trip or a small group safari, I don't mind either. I understand the later will come with a little less flexibility.

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    ForTanzania I used Access2Tanzania, which is US based but has its own operation on the ground there. I was very pleased with our entire itinerary and the whole process. They will work with what you set as a budget. My trip report from this safari in Feb 2013 is on this forum.

    Porini camps are booked through Gamewatchers, which has access to camps and guides throughout Africa, not just Kenya and not just Porini. It was an equally enjoyable experience working with their agent and again working with my budget to put the best plan together.

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    When I first started travelling aggressively, I often referred to Unesco's list of world heritage sights for destination ideas. Serengeti and Ngorongoro have always been embedded in my head since I familiarlized myself with the list.

    The World Heritage site criteria makes sense for Tanzania.

    I'd never thought of the Serengeti to be divided in regions (Central, North, etc). It's points like this that I am focused on at present.

    What is a little confusing about the north/south divisions is:

    The typical places visited can be divided into the Northern Circuit: Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti

    and the Southern Circuit: Mahale, Katavi, Ruaha, Selous.

    The Northern Circuit is the more common route. It is also usually less expensive and can be driven.

    Then within the Serengeti there are divisions:
    North (Lobo, Bologonia or Bologonjia, Kogatende, Lamai, Serengeti Mara)

    Central along the Seronera River

    Western or Grumeti

    Eastern, which has more recently become popular with camps like Namiri Plains

    Southern, where the region just below the Serengeti is Ndutu and is officially not part of the Serengeti but there is no man-made or natural boundary.

    Depending on the time of year, it is important to choose the section of Serengeti to coincide with the migration--if trying to see the migration is important to you.

    Here are some sites that help show the migration route and when it is where.

    I agree to be am wary of Trip Advisor, but it is a place to start. There are lots of good companies in Tanzania to choose from. I have been using The Wild Source in both Arusha and Colorado and have a trip in late Feb with them.

    There is also a site called safaritalk dot net that has many trip reports segregated by country so you can check out the Tanz reports and what agent was used, the itinerary, etc. And you can pose questions.

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    Thanks for the replies.

    Okay, now I understand what was meant by "north" and "central". I'd mistaken them as referrences to parts of Serengeti national park. I will read about the different regions of Serengeti national park. I am indeed interested in the migration and seeing a river crossing. It's good to know I need to choose which area of the Serengeti national park I need to stay as I was not aware of this.

    I had read many positive things about Access2Tanzania, and did contact them, however I never received a reply.

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    I don't get it. About half of all my requests for more info from travel companies are never answered.

    In Sept to see a crossing in the Serengeti, you'd want to be in the far north of the Serengeti.

    Happy New Year.

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    To be Honest if you are SOlo and you want exotic trip for your lifetime memory just do it by including 3 parks like 1 day Tarangire - 2 days Serengeti - 2 days Ngorongoro , and this you can do by joing the swap groups which are available and reliable in East Africa , the same agency connecting you through two countries , like you join the group in Nairobi the you move to Arusha - Tanzania join the another one , here is the link for signing up to the group - To join Tanzanian safaris click here . and for joining Kenyan Safaris click here . And when you will be in Arusha you can arrange day trip to have a view of Kilimanjaro Mountain .

    Happy New Year !

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