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22 Days at 4 Camps in Southern Tanzania - Ruaha and Selous

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Jul 4th, 2010, 12:07 AM
  #21
 
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Hi TC, thanks for the reply!

I stumbled upon your post because my husband and I have changed our plans from a diving holiday in the Maldives to a safari in Tanzania because I really miss Africa. If it is actually possible to do both on the same trip, that just sounds perfect. However, we live in Singapore with easy access to some of the world's best diving, including seeing whale sharks in the Philippines. If I have to give up great game drive days for so-so diving days, then I don't want to do it.

I did read your whale shark report, which sounds like quite an experience. That said, it also sounds like a lot of waiting and maybe the ROI is not that high.

The underwater photos are beautiful. It looks like the visibility is quite good, but maybe the fish life is not that abundant, especially the bigger species? Out of curiosity, what camera and housing did your husband use?
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Jul 4th, 2010, 11:15 AM
  #22
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Ngodeia, Here's our evaluation. We live in Minnesota -- not a spot for diving or snorkeling, so we try to squeeze it in whenever we get a chance. If we lived "in Singapore with easy access to some of the world's best diving", we wouldn't have given Mafia a second thought. It is expensive to stay there. Pole Pole resort, as part of our package, was $515 per night. The diving was extra. It is hot. There really isn't anything to do other than diving, snorkeling. The weather was iffey. During the 4 days we spent, DH was never able to dive outside the bay because of weather conditions -- therefore, was unable to get to any of the good (recommended) dive locations. The tides were only good once for a night dive. He says the water in the bay was clear, but he didn't see any specimens different than those typically found in the Pacific. Our advice to you would be - safari, safari, safari and do your diving closer to home. We loved French Polynesia and Thailand. Can't wait to get to Palau or Fiji. We're planning Egypt next and I'm questioning whether or not to dive the Red Sea during that trip. Not sure it will hold up to what we love about the Pacific.

Completely agree with your assessment of our whale shark experience. I would never repeat it, but we had been chasing whale sharks for years without success. Had to give it one more try.

Our underwater camera is just a little Sony Cyper-shot with an inexpensive underwater housing. Works fine for snorkeling and some dive shots if the light is good. Takes low res video too. We use it just for fun - not serious underwater photography.

Good luck and let me know what you decide.
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Jul 5th, 2010, 08:47 AM
  #23
 
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Hi TC, thank you for your very helpful evaluation! I think you have convinced me to just stick to what Tanzania is known for! As of now, we are looking at a week-long camping trip in the northern circuit some time during September or October or November. We've done the lodges and tented camps and are itching for the real bush camping experience!

We never did make it to the Red Sea, but when we lived in Germany, it was one of most popular dive destinations among our German friends!! I'd say go for it!!

Just as an FYI for your husband, there is a sardine run marine safari off the coast of S africa, where you follow the sardine migration and dive with predators such as sharks and whales while following the sardines! I researched into it and decided that it's too cold for us. But maybe your husband will be brave enough!!!
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Jul 5th, 2010, 09:03 AM
  #24
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OMG.....I see you can also snorkel with the sardines! I didn't think he could drag me into anything more "adventurous" than whale sharks, but I might be wrong.

If you are only going to be in the bush for one week, I would absolutely not consider the diving. We were on safari for nearly 3 weeks and then on to Mafia -- only because of whale sharks. I wouldn't give up one minute of safari for the ocean if I only had a week.

Would love to chat more about your diving experiences. Where has been the best in your estimation? Where do you still long to go?
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Jul 6th, 2010, 08:07 PM
  #25
 
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Hi TC! Well guess what?! Our plans may be back to Maldives again because there are some very good deals out there right now. Africa may have to wait again. It's been two years but it feels much longer ...

About our diving ... our experiences are very limited geographically. We've only dived in Malaysia and Indonesia, mainly because they are the easiest for us to get to. We can actually leave Friday after work and be back Sunday night with six dives squeezed in!

Right now, on top of my list is of course the Maldives! Others sites will be Sipadan in Malaysia, Spice Islands in Indonesia and the Philippines. We are actually going in several weeks to an off-the-beaten-track island called Pulau Tenggol up the ways in peninsula Malaysia. I've also heard a lot about liveaboards, but I'm not sure if that's too intense for me!

How about you guys? What's your favorite??
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Jul 7th, 2010, 05:21 AM
  #26
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Hi ngodeia, Wow! You have been to some very out-of-the-main locations to dive. They sound incredible. We spend a month in Cozumel, Mexico each winter. We are also sailors. With another couple we charter sailboats, live on board for several weeks and dive or snorkel from the boat. We've done this in a lot of the Caribbean islands, French Polynesian islands, and Thailand so far. We've also been to the Great Barrier Reef - not sailing, but on a small "cruise" ship, The Coral Princess. Since I'm not a diver (ear issues) we don't do the dive live-aboards together. DH and buddy did one to the Similan Islands while we were in Thailand. The Similans were outside the reach of our sailing charter. It was an odd situation, as the two guys were the only two aboard for that trip. I think they missed the companionship of other divers. They've also done a bit of cold water diving in Northern Ontario Canada. Hands down we would say our favorite was Fr. Poly. The reefs are amazing, but probably no more so than what you see in Malaysia and Indonesia. You are extremely lucky to have such amazing beauty so close at hand.

Would love to hear more about your upcoming trips. Our list needs to grow! Feel free to email me at [email protected] Cheers!
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Oct 24th, 2010, 02:35 AM
  #27
 
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I just found this report and I want to let you know how entranced that I have been reading it.
I've made one trip to southern Africa (2007) and am thinking of a second within a few years.
I have no idea which destination would be best for me and so I was interested to hear of your friend's "directive" to go to southern Tanzania. Any idea why there instead of Botswana or Zambia, for example? It is so difficult to select just a couple of sites! Many thanks for a beautifully written report.
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Oct 24th, 2010, 07:35 AM
  #28
 
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Great report and am glad to hear from someone who doesn't think 22 days on safari is too much since I'm headed to No. TZ in late Jan. for a long trip. Were you able to do some walking at all?
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Oct 24th, 2010, 10:28 AM
  #29
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Ekscrunchy, Thanks for your kind words. My friend looked at my main objectives -- (1) to see a lot of animals, (2) to get away from the crowds, (3) to stay in small, high quality camps with luxury amenities, (4) to have great guides (5) to get a very good value.

Botswana and Zambia didn't fit our budget. Tanzania is an amazing location for animals and southern Tanzania hasn't really been discovered yet by the hordes.

I really have no desire to see anything other than animals, animals, animals while in Africa. I know others want to go to South Africa or do the garden route or tour wineries, but not me. I just want to get out into the bush as quickly as possible and stay as long as I can afford. I would go back in a heartbeat. Have a look at my photos. Its not hard to understand why. www.tonna.zenfolio.com

Moremiles -- 22 days too long? Not on your life! I would have stayed 22 more. Did a bit of walking, but I always find that to be less satisfying than the vehicles. We aren't able to be quiet enough to sneak up on much.
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Oct 24th, 2010, 11:09 AM
  #30
 
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Thank you, TC. I just spent an hour or so reading some of the basics in the Fodor's Safari Guide book and beginning to form a few ideas in my mind for the future. There is not much more exciting than thinking about a return to Africa, but I find the sheer number of possibilities to be almost overwhelming. Time for more reading!
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Oct 25th, 2010, 05:36 PM
  #31
 
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Hi TC. I've been lurking in the background and came across your trip report some time ago. I immediately bookmarked it for future reference ... it's been really helpful in my research and planning. It was also very well written ... I felt you had given an objective and honest report. We will be using a couple of the same camps/hotels ... Jongomero and the Southern Sun ... and rejected Sand Rivers after reading your comments. They confirmed things I had read in other reviews. You've been really helpful. Thanks much!
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Oct 25th, 2010, 06:01 PM
  #32
 
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Moremiles, we went for 6 weeks to Botswana and it never got old. We'll getting up so early day after day did get a little old after a while. Unhappily we had to cancel our southerm Tanz. plans this Sept. Where will you be going?
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Oct 26th, 2010, 06:04 AM
  #33
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Many thanks, NLspirit, for your kind words. Just let me know if I can answer any questions while you plan. Its an amazing trip. When will you travel?
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Oct 26th, 2010, 08:44 AM
  #34
 
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TC. Thank you so much for offering to help. I may have questions later on and will contact you if I do. We're independent travelers and it's been an interesting experience working with safari companies. There are amazing differences in quotes and levels of service for identical itineraries. Negotiating with them is an art in itself! We leave mid September 2011 and I'm almost ready to finalize the trip. Coordinating the safari with an international flight is the next step.
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Oct 2nd, 2011, 07:30 AM
  #35
 
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TC, just ran across this and your photos. What an extraordinary trip! Love the photos!
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Oct 3rd, 2011, 05:55 AM
  #36
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Thank you very much, Grasshopper. So glad you enjoyed. It was extraordinary! I can't wait to go again.
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Oct 19th, 2011, 09:56 AM
  #37
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Topping for Sarah.
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May 25th, 2012, 06:09 AM
  #38
 
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TC
I just found your report- what a great trip and exceptionally well organized report. That along with your excellent pictures made my day. Southern Tanzania is now on my list. Thanks for sharing.
I recently came back from Botswana and my trip report and pictures are here.
http://safaritalk.net/topic/8028-bot...-green-season/
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Aug 28th, 2015, 05:59 PM
  #39
 
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Excellent report and very helpful -- right down to the packing list.
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Aug 30th, 2015, 09:14 AM
  #40
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Thanks, Samcat. Hope you're planning a trip. Since this report, I have been lucky enough to spend several weeks in Botswana doing essentially the same thing. Amazing!
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