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Tanzania Itinerary Advice

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First of all I want to thank all of you for the wonderful information and advice you've shared. We'd very much appreciate your thoughts and comments about the proposed itinerary I've assembled using the information found here. Thanks!

Must See Animals:
Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Giraffe, Leopard, Cheetah, Wildebeest. Also would also love to see crocodile.

Interested in the great migration but not willing to focus our limited time around going to areas in the Northwest Serengeti (which I understand would give the best chance of river crossing viewing in early Nov.) at the expense of missing seeing the other animals.

Areas interested in:
Serengeti, central and North
Ngorongoro – from what I’ve read one day there with a 6 AM start will be adequate
Would like to see Tarangire

Background:
Well travelled couple in late forties, never been on a safari. After Tanzania we’re heading to South Africa and as part of this will spend 2 days on a self-drive safari in Kruger Park at Olifants Camp.


Draft Itinerary (Planning to make this a private tour):

Friday October 30th
Fly Dar to Arusha – arrive at 12:45 PM
Drive to Tarangire
Stay in Tarangire Park

Saturday October 31st
Tarangire
Drive Tarangire to Ngorongoro in late afternoon
Stay on rim of Ngorongoro

Sunday November 1st
Morning Game drive in Ngorongoro
Drive to Lobo in late afternoon
Stay in Lobo area

Monday November 2nd
Lobo area
Stay in Lobo area

Tuesday November 3rd
Game drive, drive Lobo to Seronera
Stay in Seronera area

Wednesday November 4th
Seronera area
Stay in Seronera area

Thursday November 5th.
Morning game drive in Seronera
Fly from Seronera to Zanzibar (approx. 11:30 AM flight departure)

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    Dear CDNtravellers, your itinerary looks good, but needs some amendments.

    Nov 1st: You cannot drive to Lobo after your Ngorongoro game drives. It is just too far. If you intend to stay in the Crater until 1p.m. I suggest that you spend the nigt in Ndutu or Seronera area to continue towards Lobo the day after.

    Since you intend to fly from Serengeti to Zanzibar, why don't you visit Seronera before Lobo then fly from Lobo airstrip to Zanzibar?

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    Hi CDNtravellers, thanks for posting and I will be delighted to provide my two cents.

    I’ve travelled in Tanzania a number of times and can reassure you that it is a stellar safari destination. In reading your proposed itinerary, a few red flags come up. I think this may be largely due to a misunderstanding/misconception of the logistics and distance involved in executing your safari. Aside from the Ngorongoro Crater (which can be covered in 1 day), Tarangire and Serengeti are massive ecosystems and vastly different. This seems like the classic case of trying to do everything in the shortest period of time possible. From a seasoned safari specialist looking at this itinerary, I would encourage you to make a few adjustments/considerations.

    Friday – October 30:
    First, the drive from JRO to Tarangire is approximately 3 hours. Depending upon where you stay in Tarangire, you may need to add more time from JRO to your overnight lodge. Your flight is scheduled to arrive into JRO at 1245PM – this means you won’t “hit the road” until roughly 130PM, getting you into Tarangire earliest 430PM. Your afternoon/day is nearly spent and the situation will be amplified if there are any delays (flights, vehicle issues etc.). In short, you can call this day a “transfer” day and anticipate minimal game viewing time.

    Saturday – October 31:
    You’ve indicated a late afternoon departure to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and a desire to stay on the rim. Driving time from Tarangire to NCA is roughly 3 hours – again, you will need to add more time depending upon where you stay in the NCA. If you opt for Lemala or Sopa, those properties are a bit further from the NCA entrance gate (access to Crater via Lemala descent/ascent roads). If you stay at the properties using Seneto (descent) and Lerai (ascent) roads, your driving time from Tarangire will be a bit less, but your experience in the Crater will be significantly more crowded as more lodges utilize for Seneto/Lerai roads for access. Speaking of access, the Lodoare Entrance gate to the NCA can get quite congested as well, potentially adding to transfer times. I am not 100% sure, but the gate does close in the late afternoon, so you have to leave Tarangire and give ample time to get to the NCA entrance gate before closure. Going to Tarangire for a single AM game drive followed by another long road transfer sounds less than ideal. My recommendation is to do minimum 2 nights in Tarangire – if your timing does not permit, consider omitting Tarangire or Ngorongoro.

    Sunday – November 1:
    AM game drive followed by road transfer to Lobo isn’t possible due to logistics. First, if you are going into the Crater, an AM game drive won’t get you very far/much. You should plan to spend around 6 hours on the Crater floor. The Crater floor is 102 sq. miles. It is a massive area with road networks that you must adhere to. Covering ground on the Crater floor will take a good portion of your day and the time you are allocating is not adequate for the full Crater game drive experience. You can start your Seneto or Lemala descent at 6AM – if you leave the Crater floor at, say, 12PM, this would not give you ample time to drive to Lobo. My recommendation is to do 2 nights on the Crater Rim (or in Karatu to access the NCA). If time is an issue, omit either Ngorongoro or Tarangire.

    Monday – November 2:
    Accessing the Lobo area from the NCA is a long driving day. My recommendation, especially if you opt to stay in Karatu for the Crater, is to fly from Manyara to Lobo. I understand that this is a costly option, but consider the time you’d be saving to transferring and time you will be adding to your very short planned stay in the Lobo area. Again, I think that 1 night is far too short, and if you are chasing the migration, you should note that going to the Lobo area in November does not guarantee sightings. Check out Discover Africa’s “Herd Tracker” (or simply google “herd tracker”) and it will give you an indication of where things stand with the “Migration”. As you will soon see, the migration timing has been erratic/unusual the past 2 seasons, making it increasingly difficult to predict when the migration will be passing through the Lobo area.

    Tuesday – November 3&4:
    Seronera area is extremely productive and beautiful. Dubbed “downtown Serengeti”, this area is also quite busy with other tourists. It is the single busiest area in one of Africa’s busiest parks. If you are aware of this caveat, and you don’t mind seeing heaps of other vehicles on safari, then Seronera area will produce great game viewing. My recommendation is to perhaps spend your 3 nights in the Serengeti in 1 location/camp/lodge. Note: if you want to cover the most ground, it may be worthwhile for you to have a private vehicle and guide so you can stay out for the entire day rather than the 2 game drives/day program. This will allow you to have greater range in the areas you cover.

    Thursday – November 6:
    There are now scheduled non-stop flights from Seronera to ZNZ. This would work really well.

    Assuming that time and budget is driving your proposed itinerary, my suggestion would be to slow down the pace and select fewer areas to cover. Given that Serengeti is probably a “must” for you, you should plan to spend the 3-4 nights in the Serengeti; preferably in one location. The remaining days, I suggest you spend in Tarangire or in Karatu and base your Crater safari from there (you can also add Lake Manyara on your “free day” from Karatu). The Karatu option will lend really well to flying Manyara to Serengeti as well.

    Overall, it seems like you’ve done some pretty good research to cover the areas you wish to see and experience. Given a few more days, I think the itinerary you’ve put forth will be stunning, but given a 6 night program, I sincerely think you will be best off visiting fewer areas and spending more time in locations you’ve cherry picked.

    Lastly, I noticed you will be going to Kruger in South Africa for 2 nights on a self-drive? I wanted to make sure you understand the massive distances/logistics involved in getting to Kruger from Zanzibar (ZNZ). Mango operates 2 flights per week ZNZ to JNB (Tues and Sun), but on any other day, you will have to fly via Nairobi (NBO) or Dar es Salaam (DAR) – the latter 2 options are 6+ hours of flying/transit times. By the time you arrive in JNB, you will have to overnight in the city before hiring your vehicle for a self-drive into Kruger. The driving time from JNB to Olifants Camp will take you well over 7 hrs.

    Travel safe and wishing you an amazing journey!

    Safari Njema,
    Kota Tabuchi – Managing Director: Africa – Travel Beyond

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    Most all has been answered. With a 12:45pm arrival JRO you won't arrive Tarangire till late afternoon, if for no reason the horrific traffic thru Arusha mid-day. Best to then spend most of next day at Tarangire from where it'll take about 3-3.5/hrs to Ngo Crater for overnight. Next morning a crater floor tour (limited to 6/hrs), then a stop in Central Serengeti (about 3-3.5/hrs) drive... no way you can made it to Lobo. If you'd prefer not to stop Central, then from Ngo return to Lk. Manyara airstrip for flight to Lobo (if there is an afternoon flight as often there isn't)... here you can have guide/vehicle meet you for time in Lobo or Central Serengeti.

    While here (Central) you can arrange with your guide for a picnic daytrip to Lobo (3.5/hrs) or Kogatende (4/hrs). Once concluded at either Lobo or Kogatende it'll be a morning (10-11am) flight back to Arusha/JRO or ZNZ.

    Remember that what you might see on a map is way off as distances are actually greater than shown.

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