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Advice for Honeymoon in Tanzania and Zanzibar - August 2012

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Dec 21st, 2011, 11:10 AM
  #1
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Advice for Honeymoon in Tanzania and Zanzibar - August 2012

I am a brand new Fodorite who was inspired by all the wonderful trip reports I was able to find on the site and have been so helpful in planning our honeymoon next August 2012. I am now excited to write one myself upon our return and couldn't resist posting to ask as much expert opinions as you will be willing to give us as we plan our trip.

After inquiring with a few larger, national safari operators, we decided to go local and we have received quotes from Flash Safaris and Planet Africa Safaris (formerly Green Footprint Adventures). Willow at Planet Africa Safaris has been amazing so far and I think we will end up booking with them. If some of you have recent experiences with them they would like to share, positive or negative, that would be great.

We would also love some feedback on the proposed itinerary we have built so far. It goes as follows:

Day 1: Arrive JRO in the evening (overnight at Onsea House)
Day 2: Fly Arusha to Kuro - game drive Tarangire (overnight at Oliver's Camp)
Day 3: Game drives - game walk and night drive (overnight at Oliver's Camp)
Day 4: Fly Kuro to Manyara - game drive Ngorongoro Crater (overnight at Plantation Lodge)
Day 5: Fly Manyara to North Serengeti - game drives (overnight at Olakira Camp)
Day 6: Game drives (Olakira)
Day 7: Game drives (Olakira)
Day 8: Fly North Serengeti to Zanzibar to spend a few days relaxing on the beach

We will take any advice/comments on any parts of the itinerary but would particularly love to hear thoughts on the following things:

1. It feels like a lot of internal flights and we are a bit worried about spending too much time at airports in case of delays etc. Would it make sense to drive for more parts of our safari?

2. We are very interested in doing a night safari and apparently the places that offer that possibility are limited (we were told Maramboi Tented Camp doesn't offer either a walk safari or a night safari). Have others stayed at camps in the Tarangire where that was a possibilty?

3. We are unsure where to stay in Zanzibar. We are not big resort people and would love a good balance of relaxation/isolation and activities (snorkeling and maybe a spa would be more than enough to keep us "occupied", we are definitely not looking for a ton of entertainment at all times). We are foodies, so good food and variety are key for us. We have looked at Matemwe Bungalows, Baraza, Kasha Boutique Hotel, Anna of Zanzibar, Pongwe, Ras Nungwi, and Breezes. Any comments/pointers would be greatly appreciated.

We look forward to hearing back from fellow Fodorites!
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Dec 21st, 2011, 11:48 AM
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I agree that you don't need all those internal flights. You need to find a safari operator with great guides and stick with them on the whole safari. I've stayed at Maramboi. You can walk to the edge of Lake Manyara (east side) with the Maasai, but it's not usually for wildlife (although you might see some... zebras, for instance.) You might consider doing this:

Day 2 - Drive from Arusha to Tarangire NP. Take a picnic lunch and spend most of the day in the park. End you day at the Manyara Ranch Conservancy.

Day 3 - Planned day at Manyara Ranch Conservancy. They have game drives, walks, night drives, cultural visits, horseback riding, etc.

Day 4 - Drive to Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge. Afternoon drive in Ngorongoro Crater (only half-day drives allowed.)

Day 5 - Drive to Olakira. It would be a day-long drive, but should be possible. You'd be crossing the Serengeti, so it would be a game drive. I've gone from the Ng Sopa to the Bolongonja area in one day. Absent that, you could stay for one night in the Seronera area (central Serengeti), then proceed to Olakira or one of the other camps in the northern Serengeti. Fly back to Arusha from there.

How important is the Zanzibar portion of your trip? You itinerary only has about 6 days of safari, not nearly enough to do it justice. 10 to 11 days would be better and would be worth foregoing Zanzibar if you couldn't add 3 or 4 days to an 10-day safari.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 11:57 AM
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I've only been on one safari, back in 2008, so I'm hardly an expert.

We went to three camps in Kenya and Tanzania - Bateleur at Kichwa Tembo in the Masaai Mara, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, and Klein's Camp in the Serengeti before flying to Zanzibar for some relaxation time at The Palms. We used CC Africa, but I think they are now called &Beyond.

1. Don't worry about spending too much time in airports on your internal flight - there aren't any airports! Most locations just have a windsock hanging from a tree out in a field! Your camps will most likely transport you to and from the airstrip, and they seem to know exactly the right time to get you there, because there is nothing to do but sit in the vehicle and wait for the plane (they'll also most likely be picking up passengers arriving on the plane on which you are departing). Flying is the way to go!

2. Definitely do a night safari! The only camp where it was possible for us was in Klein's Camp in the Serengeti, and the experience was amazing. At one point, our vehicle was surrounded by a pride of adolescent lions, and we just sat and watched and held our breaths in awe!

3. As for Zanzibar, the Palms is the sister property of Breezes, which you mentioned, so you get the exclusivity and privacy of a tiny property but the activities and amenities of a larger one. The accomodations, service, and food at The Palms (and at all the camps where we stayed) was superb!

My safari still remains the pinnacle of all vacations that I've ever taken - unbelievable attention and luxury coupled with incredibly scenery and sights! You can click on my user name to see some reviews I've written about my safari.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 11:59 AM
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I didn't take that many internal flights either. We flew into Arusha, drove to Tarangire. We stayed at Treetops (2 nights) and were able to do a night game drive. From there we drove to Ngorognoro (2 nights). From there we drove to the Central Serengeti (3 nights) and then flew back to Arusha and then to Zanzibar. At Zanzibar we stayed at the Fumba Beach Lodge which was a great place, very secluded, great food. Our last night they served us dinner on the beach.
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Dec 21st, 2011, 12:31 PM
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great trip you have planned!
Matemwe bungalows is awesome and from the same owner as Olakira and Olivers camp.
I did night drive in Manyara, but that probably isn't really an option when you stay in Plantation Lodge (great choice though!) Also not sure if they still offer that as a possibility.

as for the flying; Don't be worried to much with that. Flying to airstrips like these is more like a bus stop than waiting at an airport
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Dec 21st, 2011, 01:05 PM
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Amazed at having replies already, thank you! Good that some don't think flying is a big deal, that's reassuring. Definitely even more excited about the night drive!

carl170, how long is the drive from Arusha to Tarangire? We would be staying at Oliver's camp which I think is far into the park (south). And how long from Tarangire to Ngorongoro? Did you feel as though the drives were worth it in terms of what you saw?

Nikao, can you tell us more about your stay at the Bungalows?
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 05:08 AM
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bonvoyage,
In August, I would spend more time in Tarangire and less time in the N Serengeti. I might rather stay in Central Serengeti

btw- The drive from Arusha to Tarangire is just a couple of hours on a good road
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:55 AM
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A bit strange routing.

Of course you can fly from Arusha to Kuro airstrip and then it's about a 45/min drive to Oliver's. While this camp is located inside the park, they've been given permission to do night game drives and bush walks.

Then to fly from Kuro to Manyara to drive 2.5/hrs to Ngorogoro for quick crater tour, then out of there to drive back about 1/hr to o/n at Plantation Lodge... rather rushed/makes no sense. Though being at Plantation puts you closer to Manyara airstrip for flight to No. Serengeti.

Bear in mind also that if 'flying' between locales you will have different guides at each camp versus if driving, having the same guide throughout.

Consider - drive time from Arusha to Tarangire park entry is about 2-2.5/hrs on good tarmac. Then it's about 2/hrs south on dirt/gravel to Oliver's, though game drive along the way. Departing Oliver's, same 2/hr drive out of the park and then about 3/hrs to Ngorongoro Crater, where you arrive by 12N and have the 6/hrs allowed for crater tour. Once done, you can stay on the crater rim - Sopa or Serena Lodges or Lemala Camp - or exit and stay at The Farmhouse, about 15/min drive outside, but good for heading onto Serengeti next morning.

If you decide to go as far North as Olakira, as ShayTay mentiones, is doable, but a full day to get there. You may want to consider a stop in Central Serengeti (Dunia Camp, sister property of Oliver's/Olakira) for a night and head north next morning. Then fly from the North to Arusha and connect onto Zanzibar.

On Zanzibar, your choices are great though different:
- Matemwe Lodge/Main (formerly Bungalows) not too big, ceiling fans, no A/C
- Barazza, believe 14 stone buildings/rooms/suites (up/down), with A/C
- Breezes, sister property of Baraza, about 65 rooms, with A/C (full service)
- The Palms, sister property of Breezes & Baraza, 6 very well appointed cottages, with A/C.
... these three do share facilities for activities; Palms the most expensive, then comes Barazza and finally Breezes
- Kasha and Anna - both rather new, small (Anna only 5/rooms, might be too small)
- Pongwe, always in great demand, small, no A/C (probably the least expensive, if they have space)
- Ras Nungwi, on northern tip, think the best when it comes to tide issues (there aren't any), with A/C
So, I guess it's up to you, budget and availability.

Can't comment on cuisine, being allergic to fish/seafood which I'll never let pass my lips. I stick with salad/fruit and maybe chicken. Besides it's just too hot/humid to eat anything heavy.

Good luck!
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 10:35 AM
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sandi, thank you so much for all the great info. Maybe a good compromise is to fly to Oliver's and then drive back up to Ngorongoro, do the crater, drive out to Plantation and be relatively close to Manyara airstrip for early morning departure to north serengeti. Would that make sense?
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 02:53 PM
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It doesn't make sense to have guide/vehicle to drive from Oliver's via Manyara to Ngorongoro as you don't save time or money for that matter.

If you're intent on only 8/days safari and flying, then fly. However, that day from Oliver's to Ngorongoro with just about 6/hrs for crater tour and then back to Plantation... to me, just too rushed/hectic.

My 2-cents.
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Dec 26th, 2011, 08:41 PM
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Here's another option since it is your honeymoon. We went on a Tanzania safari this summer with Exclusive Resorts and the company that operated it has a Serengeti luxury mobile camp, a luxury camp in Katavi, and a private island on Lake Tanganyika. It was absolutely fabulous. I've never been to Zanzibar but you could add it as a side trip. However, a luxury resort on a private island is a great way to end a safari vacation.
Day 1 - Fly into Arusha, overnight at Coffee Lodge
Day 2 - Arusha to Manyara, drive in Ngorongoro Crater, overnight at Gibb's Farm
Days 3-5 - Three nights at Mwanga Moto camp in Serengeti
Days 6-8 - Lupita Island Resort on Lake Tanganyika - spa, water sports, relaxation, and amazing open-air rooms
If you are interested, the company is Tanzania by Firelight, www.firelightexpeditions.com

Best of luck to you!
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Dec 27th, 2011, 08:34 AM
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Msoberma - The OP is looking at a Northern Circuit safari, not even if only Lupita Island on Lk. Tanganyika in the Southwest which is quite a trek (I know flight/boat).

While Lupita Island is beautiful, it's a long way to travel, when Zanzibar with great beach accomm. options is much closer and easier.

Firelight, in my opinion, tends to be very very expensive.
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Dec 27th, 2011, 08:54 AM
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Thanks both for the input re: Lupita Island. We are making progress with our itinerary, thank you all for the useful info.

As of now, we will be driving from Arusha to Ngorongoro, go down the crater and stay at Plantation before continuing our drive to Oliver's Camp in Tarangire the following day. After two days at Oliver's, we will fly Kuro to North Serengeti and spend another two days at Olakira before continuing on to Zanzibar.

Still not 100% sure where to stay in Zanzibar (Matemwe or Southeast), but really like Anna of Zanzibar. If some of you have stayed there and have opinions to relay, that would be great. Thanks!
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Dec 27th, 2011, 12:36 PM
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You're doing a lot of backtracking to go Arusha - Ngorongoro, then back to Tarangire.
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Dec 27th, 2011, 12:41 PM
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A little bit, yes. However, short of giving up going to Ngorongoro, not sure how else to make it all work. Sandi had a great point about the crater tour being too rushed departing from Oliver's so we thought we could try it first. Talking to our agent tomorrow, maybe she will have another idea...
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Dec 27th, 2011, 05:45 PM
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No, no, no - backtracking... ugh!

How many total days do you have? Seems you're only allowing 8/days for safari and while it is doable (if tight/hectic), there are options and everyone I think of has you on an afternoon flight and not sure whether there's one out of Tarangire to Manyara or Manyara to No.Serengeti at that time. And, I'm sure you don't want to incur cost for a 'charter' vs 'scheduled' flight to do so... but with 2/paxs, maybe you wouldn't have to. Talking to myself... sorry!

If there is a 'scheduled' flight out of Kuro to Manyara and/or Manyara to No. Serengeti, then maybe what's running thru my grey matter will work. So ask your agent and if so, I'll get back to that!

Otherwise, and while what follows may be consider blasmphemy (and you've already mentioned it), you can skip Ngorongoro completely. Yes, it's unique to Tanzania, but it's not as if you will see more/less game here than you would at Tarangire and Northern Serengeti! And, certainly not being rushed to do so.

Instead:
Day 1 - Arusha - Onsea
Day 2 - Fly to Kuro/Tarangire - Oliver's
Day 3 - Tarangire - Oliver's
Day 4 - Fly from Kuro/Manyara, transfer 30/min to Karatu - Gibb's Farm for lunch and 'out-of-vehicle' time... (their cottages are lovely), can do walks in the highlands, elephant caves, visit school/orphanage, have a massage - Gibb's Farm
Day 5 - From Manyara, fly to No. Serengeti - Olakira
Days 6 & 7 - No.Serengeti - Olakira
Day 8 - Fly Kogatende via Arusha to ZNZ
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Dec 27th, 2011, 06:55 PM
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Thanks sandi and sorry, didn't mean to upset you with the backtracking Arriving in Arusha on July 30 and would like to leave for ZNZ August 6, so yes 8 days (7 nights including Arusha).

We would rather not skip Ngorongoro. In the itinerary where we fly, agent had:

-Fly Arusha to Kuro ETD 8.00
-Fly Kuro to Manyara ETD 8.40
-Fly Manyara to N. Serengeti ETD 8.40

Looked like scheduled flights but will ask. That is actually the original itinerary (minus Ngorongoro game drive per sandi's suggestion).

Hope the talk to the agent tomorrow will help clear things up! First safari experience, thanks all
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Dec 28th, 2011, 08:17 AM
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Just got off the phone with Willow at Planet Africa Safaris. Confirmed the morning flights are all scheduled flights. She recommended flying to cover all three parks in 8 days in the most cost (and time) effective fashion.

We will take any other suggestions/thoughts Fodorites may have before making our final decision. Thanks!
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Dec 28th, 2011, 12:49 PM
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Actually, it's only 2 parks if you're skipping the Ngorongoro Crater. If you're flying to Manyara in the morning and transferring to Gibb's Farm from there, you could probably do an afternoon drive there. Otherwise, Day 4 is pretty much wasted, IMO. You could still do days 1 - 4 without flying. I hate to think what this must be costing... spendy for all those flights.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 05:09 AM
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