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roxysea Dec 27th, 2010 01:16 PM

Advice on Safari in Tanzania/Kenya
Hi - I am new to safaris and am planning to go to Tanzania and maybe Kenya with my husband and a few friends in either October or January/February. We prefer less touristy places but also understand that some sites like Ngorongoro are popular for a reason. Can anyone help with the following?

1. Have you had any experience with Safari Legacy (formerly Tanzania Photographic Tours and Safari) operator out of Arusha? Or with US-based operators Africa Adventure Company or Rothchild Safairis?

2. What are the best places to visit during October versus January or February? We are most interested in the Great Migration and the best animal viewing, as well as a bit of culture (not touristy). Would you just go to Tanzania or also go to Kenya?

3. Also, what is the weather like during October and Jan/Feb? We are open to going in November or December too but heard it's not great because of the rain.

Thanks so much!


Nikao Dec 27th, 2010 01:56 PM

I don't have experience with the operators mentioned so can't really comment on that.
As far as best places to go; In both October and January/February I would recommend Tanzania and don't go to kenia. This because of the location of the migration.
Lake Manyara is nice to incorporate in a trip, although that is also somewhat 'touristy'. Also 1 day in the Ngorogoro crater. Besides that you can go to Tarangire in october, but I wouldn't recommend it in january/february (lots of tsetse flies and little game).
If you want to view the migration, january/february is your easiest option as the migration will be in the area around Ndutu, close by the Ngorogoro crater. If you go in October the migration might still be quite north and you would need to opt for a campsite in central serengeti (flying)
The difference between october and january/february is huge; in october everything will be very (very!) dry, so expect a lot of yellow/brown colors and short (no) grass, less water present.
This makes game viewing more easy (no chance to hide in the long grass and animals are more predictable in terms of where they are going for a drink).

In january/february everything will be very green with long grass, thick leaves on the trees etc. Looks very lovely, but more difficult to view game.

Here are 2 photo's from Tarangire to compare:


November is the short rain season, so better to avoid that indeed :)

As for camps I can recommend the tented camps of Asilia (Olakira in Ndutu, Olivers in Tarangire, etc.). They are semi-permanent tented camps with around 12 tents, so no big groups of tourists :)

enjoy your planning and further research! :)

atravelynn Dec 27th, 2010 02:14 PM

1. Africa Adventure Company--I have used them for Tanzania and other Africa trips. All went great. More importantly when it didn't due to factors beyond their control, they fixed everything up, so it was back to great again.

2. Jan-Feb I'd be in the Southern Serengeti in Tanzania for the migration. In Oct, I'd probably be in the Maasai Mara for the migration or for better odds, I'd split between the Mara and the Northern Serengeti. Other than that, I'd probably do a similar itinerary at either time of year. I am assuming you are considering Tanzania's Northern Circuit--Arusha, Crater, Manyara, Tarangire, Serengeti.

Otherwise, "less touristy places" would be Tanzania's Southern Circuit of Mahale (chimps), Katavi, Ruaha, and Selous. If that was your interest, then I'd suggest Oct and not Jan/Feb. In fact I am looking to go to some of these locations, plus the Serengeti in about Sept. Flycatchers Safaris has a nice routing that takes you to the N. Serengeti and then South. Flycatchers uses basic tents so their pricing is reasonable. Other Southern Tanzanian options can get rather expensive. Most people save the Southern Tanzania Circuit for a future trip, not Trip #1, and do the Northern Circuit initially.

The Africa Adventure Co, which you mentioned above, has a chart of best parks in various months.

One thing many people have mentioned in recent years about 2 Tanzania parks, Manyara and Tarangire is that Tarangire seems to be very strong year round now, even in the wet season. I've been only in the dry season, so no personal experience.

Depending on the rains, in general the grass is shorter in Oct so it is easier to see animals.

Tanzania or Kenya or both? With adequate time and money, I would go to both and I did on my first African safari. If going in Oct with a goal of seeing the migration, I'd go to both the Mara and the Serengeti.

3. Weather is so unpredictable now, it is hard to say. I recently went in the dry season and had rain many afternoons. Just heard that the Nov rains were late in Tanzanina this year. In 2009 rains never materialized in East Africa. I think it was 2008 that people were getting stuck in the mud in the Mara for hours in Dec. due to downpours. Around March of 2010 floods actually washed away bridges and properties (and tragically killed several local people) in Samburu, Kenya and these structures are still being rebuilt.


You can look at these charts.

Serengeti and crater, a little ways down the page

Despite weather extremes I cannot recall anyone coming back from a safari disappointed due to weather. There were still great things to see regardless the season or weather.

Good luck in your planning!

Christina8462 Dec 27th, 2010 07:34 PM

And what about travelling to Kenya and Tanzania in August?

atravelynn Dec 27th, 2010 07:45 PM

Are you asking about August for yourself Christina8462?

I believe that month draws the most visitors, due to it being a popular vacation time, kids out of school, and many people are off work during Aug in Europe. Also a great time to go for wildlife conditions. Demand can drive airfares higher, but ground costs seem to be the same throughout the dry season.

I've gone numerous times in Aug and it is a good month for weather (usually dry and moderate) and wildlife in either Kenya or Tanzania (short grass, fewer water sources so animals are not hiding in woodlands). The migration can be seen in the Mara or Northern Serengeti in Aug. I've only seen it in the Mara at that time.

sandi Dec 28th, 2010 02:25 PM

If October, the northern Serengeti in Tanzania; for January/February then the Ndutu area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). As to November to early-December, even though the "short" rains, if it does, they are brief and won't inhibit safari besides rates are lower in both countries.

roxysea Dec 29th, 2010 03:46 PM

Thanks everyone! This is really helpful. Hard decision on which time to go and who to go with. It all sounds amazing. So many decisions...

Nikao Dec 29th, 2010 10:45 PM

I know the feeling roxy! :)
1 addition to the equation to consider; if you go (late) february you can witness the calving season of the migration which is just marvelous. If you go for the october migration experience you have the chance to spot the famous 'river crossings'. Also quite the experience..

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