Africa & the Middle East Forums

Post New Topic

Recent Activity

View all Africa & the Middle East activity »
  1. 1
  2. 2 Private Guide for Cairo
  3. 3 African Safari/BeachTrip possible in 2 weeks?
  4. 4 Zimbabwe - Game Viewing in Hwange and Mana Pools?
  5. 5 Texting from US to Israel
  6. 6 Itinerary Ideas
  7. 7 Son of Cecil shot by trophy hunter in Hwange
  8. 8 Once again last minute short trip to South Africa
  9. 9 recommendations for first Africa safari?
  10. 10 Lamu Island or Diani Beach
  11. 11 Skip Victoria Falls for more Cape Town?
  12. 12 Trip Report first family kenyan safari trip report
  13. 13 Dubai for 3 Days (2 nights)
  14. 14 Naukluft Hiking Trail travel companions wanted
  15. 15 Passport pages stuck together
  16. 16 Self drive tour south africa
  17. 17 Packing for a month in Southern Africa
  18. 18 Tanzania-An organized trip or on our own?
  19. 19 Flight to italy then To Romani
  20. 20 Minor Children & Birth Certificates?
  21. 21 Duba activities - help deciding
  22. 22 Eilat
  23. 23 recommendations for AI islands
  24. 24 Trip Report Trip Report: Tanzania Northern Circuit Safari with Earthlife Expeditions
  25. 25 Petra from Israel
View next 25 » Back to the top

Which Safari: Ultimate Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe) or The Best of Kenya & Tanzania

Jump to last reply

I previously asked about the OAT trip to Botswana, Namibia & Zimbabwe for my fiancé and her mother. Now that we have set a wedding date it looks like her mother is not going and my fiancé (Jayne) and I will be going for our honeymoon. They had picked Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe trip as her mother had already been to Tanzania. Since neither Jayne nor I have been to Africa I question if this is the best trip for us and am considering a Kenya, Tanzania trip instead. These are both through Overseas Adventure Travel leaving in October 2007. Which is probably a better first trip to Africa with an emphasis on game viewing? Is the weather okay in October?

Ultimate Africa: Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe

Day 1 US to London

Day 2 London to Johannesburg

Day 3 Discover Johannesburg

Lodging: Holiday Inn Garden Court Johannesburg Airport

Day 4 Fly Johannesburg to Victoria Falls/Transfer to Chobe National Park

Day 5 Wildlife Viewing Chobe National Park

Day 6 Explore Chobe National Park

Lodging: Baobab Safari Lodge

Day 7 Fly to Namibia via Kasane to Caprivi Strip - Sunset Cruise Kwando River

Day 8 Explore Mudumu National Park / Sunset Cruise - Kwando River

Day 9 Game Drive

Lodging: Lianshulu Bush Lodge

Day 10 Fly to Okavango Delta via Kwando, Botswana (Moremi National Park)

Day 11 Explore Okavango Delta/Moremi Area

Day 12 Explore Okavango Delta

Lodging: Wilderness Tented Camp

Day 13 Fly to Hwange National Park Area/Enjoy Game Drives

Day 14 Wildlife Viewing in Hwange National Park / Game Walk

Day 15 Game Viewing Hwange National Park

Lodging: Linkwasha Tented Camp

Day 16 Fly to Victoria Falls

Day 17 Victoria Falls

Lodging: Ilala Lodge

Day 18 Fly to Johannesburg/Depart to US

Day 19 Arrive in London / Connect to US / Arrive in US


The Best of Kenya & Tanzania

Day 1 Depart US

Day 2 Layover in Amsterdam / Arrive Nairobi, Kenya

Day 3 Karen Blixen Museum/Giraffe Center

Lodging: InterContinental Nairobi

Day 4 Overland to Sweetwaters

Day 5 Game Viewing Sweetwaters / Chimpanzee Sanctuary Visit

Lodging: Sweetwaters Tented Camp

Day 6 Overland to Amboseli National Park/Game Drive

Day 7 Game Drives / Maasai Village Visit

Lodging: Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge

Day 8 Overland to Tarangire/Game Drive

Day 9 Game Drives

Lodging: Burunge Tented Camp

Day 10 Overland to Gibbs Farm via Lake Manyara / Game Drive

Day 11 Guided Trail Walk/Karatu Village and School Visit

Lodging: Gibbs Farm

Day 12 Coffee Roasting / Overland to Ngorongoro

Day 13 Game Viewing

Lodging: Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge

Day 14 Overland to Serengeti National Park / Visit Olduvai Gorge/Serengeti Game Drive

Day 15 Game Viewing

Lodging: Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge

Day 16 Game Viewing

Day 17 Serengeti Game Viewing

Lodging: Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp

Day 18 Fly to Arusha / Depart to US via Amsterdam

Day 19 Fly to US

Thanks in advance.

  • Report Abuse

    Bobcaat - i might as well get in first! Botswana is a stunning destination - we have never travelled to Kenya and Tanzania and other Fodorites here can better tell you about that destination.

    We travelled to Botswana in 2005 for our first safari - a 9 day camping trip with wilderness Safaris - Botswana wildlife viewing was really good - it wasn't wall to wall animals, we had to go looking for them - but the bush, the colours, the delta it was all exciting, real, wild and we hardly saw another person. As being in wilderness and not seeing another vehicle for days at a time was important to us - i believe Botswana can better deliver the "Only people on earth" feeling. others may disagree.

    Your itinerary looks good. good luck in your decision making!

  • Report Abuse

    October gets hot in Botswana and has been termed “suicide month” due to the extreme heat. But the game viewing is really good then. Check Maun and Victoria Falls weather in the links below. If you are sensitive to heat, I would not do the Southern Africa trip.

    Not as hot in Tanzania, as you can see from the next two links.

    Here is the link to your previous post and the comments on the Southern Africa OAT itinerary.

    My comments on East Africa OAT:

    Day 3 is a good way to overcome jetlag and includes some nice activities in Nairobi.

    Sweetwaters—only place in either trip you’ll see chimps, though these are not wild. They have been rescued. Nice floodlit waterhole. Good place for rhino. You get to experience a tented camp.

    Amboseli—could be really dusty this time of year. Probably some views of Kilimanjaro. Good elephant viewing. Serena is a big lodge, very nice, but a bustling, large operation. Would not be my first choice of accommodations. I’ve visited the lodge, but never stayed there.

    Tarangire—not familiar with the accommodations, but a tented camp is nice and I’d trust OAT to have good lodging. Since Tarangire is a good ele destination, it would make more sense to spend the Amboseli days somewhere else, unless views of Kili are important to you. The Amboseli to Tarangire haul is a long one and I noted the game drive upon entering Tarangire is made up of just your drive to camp.

    Gibb’s Farm—Delightful and outstanding food. An hour or so away from Manyara, but a charming accommodation. You could visit the village and school without spending 2 nights here just haning around the plantation, which is too much time here in my opinion, despite the outstanding food. The morning of the third day you’re still on the premises roasting coffee and whatnot. Granted, it is a COFFEE plantation, but I personally don’t come to Africa for bean roasting. Maybe the fact that I don’t drink coffee has me less enthused about this. Others might find this stop a nice bonus in addition to traditional safari activities. I see it as precious game viewing time wasted.

    Manyara, visited from Gibbs. Oct is not Manyara’s best time of year. It is Tarangire’s best time.

    Ngorongoro Crater—that will be a highlight and Serena is supposed to be a lovely accommodation. All is good here.

    Serengeti—Serena Lodge is in a good area year round so 2 nights here is ok. I’d prefer one night in transit and 3 at Mbuzi Mawe. Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp is a nice way to end. The Northern Serengeti is where you want to be in October if you are in the Serengeti. But if I could choose, I’d choose the Maasai Mara in October. The later in October you leave, the better for your Serengeti stay.

    Arusha day—fine.

    I did some pricing on the OAT site, using my own city of departure, and came up with
    Southern Africa = $5945
    East Africa = $6195
    I would not choose between these 2 based on price, which is about the same. If I had to choose between the 2 OATs, I’d first consider the heat in Southern Africa. Next, I’d decide if a shot at the migration or at least some of the initial herds of the migration was something I wanted to see, although the East Africa itinerary is not that well suited for the migration viewing.

    See these migration links:

    Finally, I’d ask myself and my fiancé if the tradition of seeing a waterfall on a honeymoon is important, though October is the driest time with the least water, but it’s still Victoria Falls.

    If those questions did not point to one of the two trips, I’d flip a coin and start my packing list. Either itinerary will produce a memorable trip and OAT is reliable. Tell OAT it is your honeymoon and they'll probably arrange something special on an occasion or two.

    But, I am wondering if you could take that $6200/person (or about that amount depending on where you live) and back out about $2000 for air (maybe less) and see what you could do with $4200 for a private honeymoon trip for just the two of you. That would be more romantic than a group of OATs and if space is still available you could tailor the trip exactly to your wants. Maybe even include some beach time at the end. Beach time is typical of romantic getaways like honeymoons. Or maybe no beach and all safari, but it would be up to you.

    Something like this maybe, though the order of camps could change. I’d go as early in October as you could to do the following:

    1 Arrival Arusha
    2 Tarangire—Tarangire River Camp
    2 Crater—Serena or Sopa
    1 Transit to Nairobi
    2 Samburu--Serena (or Amboseli if you wanted Kili views, I’d suggest Ol Tukai based on good reviews from others)
    2 Sweetwaters
    1-2 Nakuru—Lion Hill is good, but there are some tented options
    3 Mara—Serena or a tented camp, of which there are many at varying prices, but generally they cost more than a lodge.

    For a few nights at a beach, remove Sweetwaters or Samburu along with Nakuru. Personally, I prefer safari time when in Africa and have never gone to Zanzibar or similar, but I understand how it is an attractive destination.

    Africa specialists used successfully by Fodorites that could help you with your own itinerary include, but are not limited to:
    Sunny Safaris
    Good Earth
    Eastern & Southern Safaris
    Africa Serendipity
    Africa Adventure

    Congratulations and I hope Mother-in-law is not too disappointed that she is out of the safari. Interesting you did not propose all 3 of you traveling together. Ha Ha.

  • Report Abuse


    Thanks for all of the information; it is very kind of you to take the time to help. We have decided on Tanzania & Kenya. I believe you are correct that we can probably find something ourselves, rather than through OAT, that will meet our desires at about the same price. I looked at a number of companies and I have requested some additional information from Good Earth. I like the idea of a private vehicle and they seem to have very good reviews. This will be a safari trip for game viewing so we will skip the waterfalls and beach. We are Scuba divers so most of our previous vacations have been beach destinations. We like Good Earth's Explore Serengeti Mara trip but we will probably add 2-3 days to the trip (another night in the Masai Mara), maybe a couple more tented camps as most of their accomdations are lodges. I know Jayne would like to add a Ballon Ride over the Serengeti. The current itinerary without the additional days is:

    1 - Travel from Washington DC to Nairobi via Amsterdam
    2 - Arrive Nairobi - stay Norfolk Hotel
    3 - Amboseli National Park
    Amboseli Serena Lodge
    4 - Lake Manyara National Park
    Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
    5 - Ngorongoro Crater
    Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
    6 - Ngorongoro
    Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
    7 - Serengeti National Park
    Serengeti Serena Lodge
    8 - Serengeti
    Serengeti Serena Lodge
    9 - Serengeti
    Migration Tented Camp
    10 - Fly to Nariboi
    Norfolk Hotel
    11 - Fly to Masai Mara
    Mara Serena Lodge
    12 - Masai Mara
    Mara Serena Lodge
    13 - Fly to Nairobi and continue to US

    Thanks again to all for everyone's help.

  • Report Abuse

    1 - Travel from Washington DC to Nairobi via Amsterdam
    2 - Arrive Nairobi - stay Norfolk Hotel
    3 - Amboseli National Park
    Amboseli Serena Lodge
    See how accommodation at Ol Tukai changes the price. I'd suggest Ol Tukai based on the comments of others who have stayed there.
    4 - Lake Manyara National Park
    Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
    5 - Ngorongoro Crater
    Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
    6 - Ngorongoro
    Ngorongoro Serena Lodge
    7 - Serengeti National Park
    Serengeti Serena Lodge
    8 - Serengeti
    Serengeti Serena Lodge
    9 - Serengeti
    Migration Tented Camp
    I'd do 2 at Migration Tented Camp and only one at Serena Lodge
    10 - Fly to Nariboi
    Norfolk Hotel
    11 - Fly to Masai Mara
    Mara Serena Lodge
    12 - Masai Mara
    Mara Serena Lodge
    I like your idea of a couple more Mara nights in a tented camp.
    13 - Fly to Nairobi and continue to US

    That should be a great honeymoon trip.

  • Report Abuse

    In October, it might be better to go to the Mara earlier rather than later. I might also skip Amboseli and opt for Tarangire instead unless you really wanted the Kili view.

  • Report Abuse

    Thanks again for the replies, I forgot to mention that if space is available we will go in September rahter than October. The Wedding is Sept 1st, the original october date was based on the availability of the OAT trip.

  • Report Abuse

    If you can go in September I would suggest the Mara with the Migration is best (if you can find a place to stay). Much better than Serengeti (Mara is actually the northern Serengeti).

    I have not been to Tanzania, others who have been to both hopefully with share their thoughts. However, I believe you will see the same animals in Kenya that you would see in Ngorongoro (although probably higher chance of seeing rhino).

    I would suggest following classic Kenya itinerary:

    1 - Travel from Washington DC to Nairobi via Amsterdam
    2 - Arrive Nairobi - stay Norfolk Hotel
    3 - The Ark or Mtn. Lodge
    4-6 Samburu, Serena Lodge or Larsen's Tented if can afford (some different animals in Samburu, also higher odds of seeing a leopard)
    7 Sweetwaters
    8-9 Lake Nakuru
    10-12 Masai Mara
    Mara Serena Lodge (or under canvas, we loved Little Governors)
    13 - Fly to Nairobi and continue to US

    Just a thought

    Kevin from California

  • Report Abuse

    If it is September, then Kevin's itinerary would be wonderful. If possible, I'd add another day in the Mara because that's where the action is. I'd even do 2 in Samburu, which is standard, to get a 4th in the Mara.

    This Kenya itinerary does not have Amboseli. Was that a priority for you? Somehow I thought it was. If so, you could take a day from The Ark and/or a day from Nakuru. If Amboseli is not a priority, then I would not chop off anything and just start getting some pricing.

    This itinerary does not take you into Tanzania. You would not miss any wildlife by excluding Tanzania. But if including Tanzania was important and you wanted to see the famed Ngorongoro Crater and a bit of Tanzania, then I'd do:

    1 - Travel from Washington DC to Nairobi via Amsterdam
    2 - Arrive Nairobi - stay Norfolk Hotel
    3 – 4 To Arusha and on to Tarangire for 2 nights
    5 – 6 Ngorongoro
    7 Back to Nairobi
    8-9 Samburu (or Amboseli if that was important, but Tarangire would give you good elephants so Amboseli is not necessary unless you really wanted views of Kilimanjaro. You can see Kili driving from Nairobi to Arusha)
    10-12 Masai Mara
    Mara Serena Lodge (or under canvas, we loved Little Governors)
    If possible add one more day in the Mara for 4 nights, extending the trip a day.
    13 - Fly to Nairobi and continue to US

    Notice you have a down day when going between the countries. If you stay in Kenya you do not lose a day to travel mid-trip.

  • Report Abuse

    Again I wish to thank everyone who has helped us put together our safari; it appears we are very close to finalizing our plans.

    We started with a safari with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) for a trip to Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. This was a trip my fiancé and her mother were taking in October; when we set a date for our Wedding of September 1st, my wonderful future mother-in-law decided to back out of that trip and give it (or comparable trip) to us as a Wedding present (Honeymoon). We decided we would like to go to Kenya and Tanzania instead and were going to change to an OAT trip to Kenya and Tanzania. It was suggested on this Board that we should investigate safaris with other companies and it may be possible to put together a better, possibly a private safari for a similar cost. Thanks again for this advice.

    I did some research and was working closely with a company that put together an itinerary that we were very excited about with a very good price. We wanted to book that safari but it turns out they cannot get the proposed accommodations in Serena and Sopa lodges. We adjusted the itinerary but still had four nights without accommodations. On March 16th this company stated they would try to find accommodations or make an adjustment to the itinerary to put together a safari for us; our schedule is very flexible. I have sent a request for an update but as of today (18 days later) we have not received any updates from this company. We contacted Serena directly and they stated they have availability for the nights that the travel agency stated they could not get us into the Serena Lodges. This was a disappointment and since we have not heard back from them I am not sure what happened.

    Therefore we contacted three other safari companies for pricing and availability of a private safari. I was getting concerned as these other firms were higher in price or could not put together a safari within our price range. In frustration I considered going forward with the OAT trip. But I sent a number of questions to OAT concerning their safari including whether each party is guaranteed a window seat. While the OAT website describes their vehicles as “In Kenya, closed-sided 7-seater vans with roof hatches and in Tanzania, closed 4 X 4 vehicles with roof hatches, all with window seats” in reply to my email Ms. Shirleyann Jones of OAT stated “Each passenger is not Guaranteed a window seat, that is why seats are rotated everyday.” That was a deal breaker; we were not paying this much money for safari without being guaranteed a window seat. I guess in their website they mean each vehicle has window seats; not that the passengers have a window seat.

    So I believe we will be going on the Africa Adventure Company’s 14 day “Galloping Gnus” safari to Kenya and Tanzania but modified as a private safari for two people. It is a little more than the OAT trip but it goes where we want to go, including the Masai Mara and stays at accommodations we prefer. It was suggested on this board that we skip the Serengeti and spend the time in the Masai Mara, which this itinerary does. So it looks like our itinerary will be:

    Sept 5 – Depart Washington DC/Dulles Airport to Amsterdam.

    Sept 6 – Day in Amsterdam
    Hotel TBD (at our cost)

    Sept 7 – Fly from Amsterdam to Nairobi, Kenya.
    Nairobi Serena Hotel

    Sept 8 – Fly Nairobi (0800) to Kilimanjaro. Drive to Ngorongoro Crater. Optional afternoon Hikes.
    Ngorongoro Serena Lodge

    Sept 9 – AM and Afternoon game drives in the Crater.
    Ngorongoro Serena Lodge

    Sept 10 – Drive to Lake Manyara. Afternoon guided nature walk and afternoon game drive.
    Lake Manyara Serena Lodge

    Sept 11 – Drive to Tarangire Park. Activities include game drives in park, nature walk with Masai guide, optional night game drive, tribal visits or hiking.
    Kikoti Camp

    Sept 12 – Tarangire Park. Day and night game drives / Bush walks.
    Kikoti Camp

    Sept 13 – AM game drive then drive to Arusha for lunch. Afternoon at leisure with optional activities (N’giresi Village Cultural Tour, Tenguru School and Village, City Tour and Shopping, Arusha National Park, Momella Lakes Canoeing).
    Serena Mountain Village

    Sept 14 – Fly Arusha to Nairobi / Fly Nairobi to Masai Mara
    Siringet Mobile Camp

    Sept 15 – Masai Mara – full day of game viewing
    Siringet Mobile Camp

    Sept 16 – Masai Mara – Hot Air Balloon Ride
    Siringet Mobile Camp

    Sept 17 - Masai Mara – full day of game viewing
    Siringet Mobile Camp

    Sept 18 – AM game drive/ Fly to Nairobi / Depart for US
    Nairobi Serena Hotel Day Room

    Sept 19 – Arrive Washington DC

    I have a couple of questions for the company; would it make sense to fly direct to Kilimanjaro rather than going through Nairobi on the inbound flight and will we actually have both an AM and Afternoon game drive into the Crater on Sept 9th? I am still trying to obtain more information on the Siringet Mobile Camp; there is not much information out there that I have found.

    Any information on the Siringet Mobile Camp would be greatly appreciated. I know it is six miles South of Mara Intrepids. Also, any information on the optional activities on Sept 13th would also be appreciated.

    It seems we are very close.

  • Report Abuse

    Flying into Kilimanjaro makes sense (unless the fare is a lot higher). You'll need to overnight in the Arusha/Kili area as the KLM flight arrives in the evening, but you'll be able to start your safari right away the following day without having another flight.

  • Report Abuse

    I did speak with AAC and on Sept 9th it is an AM game drive to the crater floor (6 hours) and an afternoon game drive in the crater rim area, but not down to the crater floor again. Also, we will change this to fly from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro airport with an overnight at the Serena Mountain Village Lodge rather than flying into Nairobi.

    We are getting excited.

  • Report Abuse

    You should be excited. Sorry you had to work so hard to get the trip in order. Oh well, it’s good practice for the marriage. ;)

    Nice move for the international arrival flight.

    Here are comments on spending all day or half a day in the crater.
    I would do a whole day, taking a box breakfast to beat the crowds and taking a box lunch for a longer stay. That’s what I did last time. The previous time I stayed the whole day but ate a regular breakfast. I'd do this even though it might cost more. But I’m more gung-ho than average. The thread above gives balanced points on the issue.

    I saw your other post on Siringet Mobile Camp. I’ve never heard of it. AAC would offer only sound options so I would have full confidence in that camp. There has never been a dud in numerous trips I've done with them. The place will probably be a highlight of your trip. My only hesitation with this mobile would be that there are many wonderful permanent tented camps in the Mara that probably are less expensive. But I don’t have the cost for Siringet and I don’t know if there is availability at the other camps when you want to go.

    Be sure AAC knows this trip is your honeymoon.

    For Arusha, where I have never been--I’d try to see the Colobus Monkeys in Arusha National Park as my #1 priority.

    Thank you for sharing your OAT research on seating. I am shocked. That would be a deal breaker for me too. I’ll be sure to note that and mention it when others ask about OAT.

    By the way, I'd love to see a bobcat!

  • Report Abuse

    Just when I thought we were done and was prepared to make a deposit on the trip outlined above; Good Earth Tours came through with our itinerary and accomdation confirmations. They were slow in getting back to us because they were having difficulty in getting confirmation from the lodges. So finally we have made a deposit with Good Earth Tours for a private safari to Tanzania and Kenya.

    5 Sep Depart Washington, DC to Amsterdam
    6 Sep Day in Amsterdam. Hotel TBD
    7 Sep Arrive Arusha. Mt Village Lodge
    8 Sep Tarangire. Tarangire Sopa Lodge
    9 Sep Tarangire. Tarangire Sopa Lodge
    10 Sep Ngorongoro. Ngorongoro Serena
    11 Sep Ngorongoro. Ngorongoro Serena
    12 Sep Serengeti. Mbuzi Mawe Camp
    13 Sep Serengeti. Migration Camp
    14 Sep Serengeti. Migration Camp
    15 Sep Fly to Nairobi. Serena Hotel
    16 Sep Fly to Masai Mara. Mara Simba
    17 Sep Masai Mara. Mara Simba
    18 Sep Hot Air Balloon. Mara Simba
    19 Sep Masai Mara. Mara Simba
    20 Sep AM Game Drive. Fly to Nairobi. Dayroom at InterContinental Hotel. Depart
    21 Sep Arrive US

    We are go to the Ngorongoro Crater floor on the afternoon of 10 Sep and the morning of 11 Sep. We are checking to see if we have time to visit the Giraffe Center in Nairobi on 15 Sep. We are wait listed for the Mara Serena in the Masai Mara.

    Thanks again for all of the help and information. We would never have thought we could get a private safari for almost the exact same price as a group trip and never would have looked. We have made the deposit and bought our air tickets; now we have to wait and wait and wait; and plan a wedding.

    Thanks again - Bob

17 Replies |Back to top

Sign in to comment.