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Can't Decide Between Kenya and Tanzania for first safari!

Can't Decide Between Kenya and Tanzania for first safari!

Aug 30th, 2018, 11:36 AM
  #1  
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Can't Decide Between Kenya and Tanzania for first safari!

Hi Fodorites, thank you for helping me with this commonly asked question! I'll officially make up my mind on Kenya and then read something else...and then decide on Tanzania! What a dilemma, right? I've gotten itineraries from two wonderful TOs; one recommending Tanzania, the other presenting a great option for Kenya. The trip would be in January/February.

For Tanzania, the areas would focus on Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, Ndutu, and Seronera.

In Kenya, it would be Nairobi, the Maasai Mara National Reserve combined with an adjacent private conservancy (yet to be determined).

While we are excited about seeing any and all wildlife, our ultimate dream is to see lions, cheetahs and a leopard.

The appealing part about Tanzania is that we'd be with the same guide for the duration of the trip. However, I read something recently that suggested that guides from the lodging is actually a better option as they are more familiar with the location. Good grief!

Bottom line is that I know either option will be amazing and hopefully this isn't our only time visiting Africa so we can return one day to explore more. However, I'd so appreciate your input!!!
ThingsAreLookingUp is offline  
Aug 30th, 2018, 12:20 PM
  #2  
 
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Hi "Things" !
I admit to a quite unobjective bias toward Kenya.

Re: guides, I've done it both ways, and preferred the option where you go out with the driver/guides (sometimes the same person, sometimes two people) who are affiliated with the camp. The last trip, I worked with Gamewatchers for a fly-in safari from Nairobi (which deserves at least a day of your time, imho) to Samburu/Ol Pejeta/Olare Motorogi which is one of the conservancies adjacent to the Masai Mara Reserve.
Assuming budget is a factor (lol, as it is for most of us!) I found going with one guide the entire trip , traveling overland vs flying, staying in larger lodges vs small tented camps, cost less. I believe that in TZ it is more likely have one guide as you change camps (but not sure about that).

Others here will recommend their favorite companies. But for an idea of how a fly-in safari might work for you, try Gamewatchers. https://www.porini.com/about-us/contact-us/

Good luck, and enjoy!!
CaliNurse is offline  
Aug 30th, 2018, 12:27 PM
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For the time period you are going, I think Tanzania has the benefit of the migration being present. January is early, but February is often the peak of the herds in the short grass plains. We spent time in mid Feb in Tanzania a couple years ago. We saw herds as far as the eye could see, babies galore (even a birth), and only a little rain. The wildebeest in the crater gave birth a couple weeks earlier than in the Serengeti so there were thousands. The other benefit to a private safari with your own guide is you can do all day game drives. With shared game drives using the lodge's vehicles, you often only go out for a few hours, return, rest and go out again. Just my 2 cents, and I haven't been on safari in Kenya, just to Nairobi.
traveler318 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2018, 01:06 PM
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How much time do you have for this Safari ??
Percy is offline  
Aug 30th, 2018, 01:16 PM
  #5  
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HI Percy, due to our budget it's looking like 9 nights.
ThingsAreLookingUp is offline  
Aug 30th, 2018, 01:18 PM
  #6  
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Thank you for your 2 cents, traveler218! Yes, definitely part of the draw of Tanzania was the Wildebeest herds. Did you see many predators because of that as well?
ThingsAreLookingUp is offline  
Aug 30th, 2018, 01:23 PM
  #7  
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Thank you CaliNurse! Yes, budget is a factor (boo!). As for Nairobi, I didn't want to miss the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Nairobi National Park.
ThingsAreLookingUp is offline  
Aug 30th, 2018, 01:48 PM
  #8  
 
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Originally Posted by traveler318 View Post
For the time period you are going, I think Tanzania has the benefit of the migration being present. January is early, but February is often the peak of the herds in the short grass plains. We spent time in mid Feb in Tanzania a couple years ago. We saw herds as far as the eye could see, babies galore (even a birth), and only a little rain. The wildebeest in the crater gave birth a couple weeks earlier than in the Serengeti so there were thousands. The other benefit to a private safari with your own guide is you can do all day game drives. With shared game drives using the lodge's vehicles, you often only go out for a few hours, return, rest and go out again. Just my 2 cents, and I haven't been on safari in Kenya, just to Nairobi.

I agree with this.

Right now Tanzania is your better bet for the months you are going.

Get a private guide, you are going all this way, and the cost is not exactly cheap so do not share a vehicle with anyone else.

I had a private guide all the way from Nairobi to Samburu to Lake Nakuru , Masai ...Serengeti...Ngorongoro Crater...Lake Manyara... Arusha.....Amboseli National Park and then back to Nairobi
.

I did the whole loop of both Kenya and Tanzania with one guide that drove us all the way.

If you have others in the vehicle, then someone is always standing up to take a picture and by the time your turn comes up ...the animal has moved on.!!

So you will sitting anxiously waiting to take pictures.

Here let me post a picture of what it is like IF you do not have a private guide




So get a Private Guide and go and do what you want when you want
Percy is offline  
Aug 30th, 2018, 04:14 PM
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My first safari was the loop in Tanzania you’re proposing, in February. We too went for the herds from the migration and found them in Ndutu. In terms of predators, there were a few cheetahs, but otherwise nothing significant around the herds. We did have good lion sightings in Tarangire and Serengeti National Park. It’s not the migration like you might think of iwith the river crossings, but it is large herds. But just that.

I’ve been to Kenya 3x in February and there’s a reason I went back. Particularly in the private conservancies, the sightings far surpassed what I’d seen in TZ. Because you can off-road in the conservancy (you can only off-road in Ndutu in the itinerary you propose) you can get much closer to sightings and it’s also far less crowded (only vehicles from the camps in the conservancies can game drive there). We saw one leopard in the Serengeti, about 30 yards off, up a tree. We were on the closest road with 50+ other vehicles. When the leopard moved, it was chaos with all the vehicles jockeying on the road for a better position. My next safari in Olare Motorogi Conservancy in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, the leopard came up a river bank and walked right next to and past my vehicle. Close enough that I could have pet her. There were 2 other vehicles there, from my camp. For big cat sightings, you’ll be hard pressed to beat the Mara. That’s why I keep going back (trip #4 in 2 months). Combine this with another conservancy, maybe up north in Ol Pejeta (for rhino) or Samburu or Amboseli (for elephants) and you could do well in 9 days. I’d do at least 3 nights in the Mara, 4 may be better. It’s that worth it. Most conservancy stays include one full day into the Reserve but to be honest the last 2 safaris I have opted not to take advantage of that because the sightings in the conservancy have been so good.

I’ve been once with Gamewatchers (Porini), once with Aslia and once with Offbeat in the Mara. I’m going back with Offbeat. Hands down the best guides and the single best spotter I’ve ever seen. He was amazing. The three are similar in style and comfort in camps and vehicles. You decide your schedule. You can go out for sunrise to lunch then again 4 p.m. to dinner, or all day. They will pack breakfast and lunch for you as needed. I prefer earlier for sunrise and to see the cats coming in from the night!

Good luck! If you’re like many of us, you’ll be planning your next one on the way home!

Last edited by amyb; Aug 30th, 2018 at 04:18 PM.
amyb is offline  
Aug 30th, 2018, 06:48 PM
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My first two safaris were in TZ. Second two in Kenya. If (when) I go back, I'll return to Kenya. I don't know why or how, but Kenya really captured my heart.

Which is not to say I didn't love those first two safaris. Tanzania is great and you would have a good experience there.
Leely2 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2018, 07:48 AM
  #11  
 
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have only done 2 safaris in kenya over last 2 years and all in private conservancies like amy b says, the ability to offroad, do walking safari, night safari and minimal crowds cannot be ignored.

kenya and its people really touched us which is why we chose to return. also amazing animal viewings, including kills.
plambers is offline  
Sep 4th, 2018, 08:49 AM
  #12  
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A BIG thanks for your input amyb, Plambers and Leely2!! I'll do my best to follow up with a trip report to pay it forward.
ThingsAreLookingUp is offline  
Sep 13th, 2018, 01:15 AM
  #13  
 
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I have no experience with Tanzania, but some friends were Kenya and sent back the most beautiful photos.
Whichever option you choose, I hope you have the best time ever.
chasisboi is offline  
Sep 13th, 2018, 04:08 AM
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I have been to Kenya in February and can agree with what amyb said. It's a great time of year to be there.
sundowner is offline  
Oct 7th, 2018, 02:16 PM
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I haven't been to Kenya. I will be taking my 2nd safari to Tanzania in a few weeks. Our first safari was a once in a lifetime trip. Well--------- as soon as we got home we knew we just had to return to Tanzania. Yes, if you book with a local tour operator our of Arusha you can have the same guide the entire time. This made the safari even more wonderful. We didn't want to be in any vehicle that had people we did not know since we wanted to always be in control of how long we stayed viewing, leaving in the morning and returning in the evening, we never went back the tent for lunch - brought a boxed lunch. We didn't want to miss something wonderful just to eat lunch at a table. Read the Tanzania forum on tripadvisor.com You will learn a lot and get more help than you can imagine! That is where I got all my information that helped me plan and book our safari myself without using a travel agent. Most people on that forum do it that way.
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