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Difference between Game viewing in East vs Southern Africa?


Feb 13th, 2005, 12:39 PM
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Difference between Game viewing in East vs Southern Africa?

i have travelled to southern africa on several occasions but never east. given all the recent reports from both areas i figured a good time to ask some questions to the east africa specialists as my next safari will most likely be to east africa. the things i really like about southern africa safaris is teh open air vehicles, the ability to travel off road to follow special sightings, the ability to drive after dark and the relatively little number of people (the last attraction more so in botswana and zim, and less south africa).
anyway what i am wondering is are these benefits possible in tanzania and kenya. if you stay at lodges like ndutu or governors, what is the game viewing experience like. how about in ngorongoro.
i've heard such great things about these places but i dont want to be disappointed after having travelled in botswana and zimbabwe essentially secluded from civilization.
thoughts would be appreciated. thx
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Feb 13th, 2005, 12:54 PM
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You can look at my photos from Kenya in 2003 as well as others that are posted.
We stayed at Governors Main Camp. I would think you would be greatly disappointed in the lodges after staying at Mombo in Botswana. Some camps do allow night drives and some of the CC camps use their own vehicles which are open. The ones that aren't open have plenty of windows that open and in case of rain, which happens often in East Africa, you will appreciate the closed cars.
I can't answer all of your concerns, but some camps outside of game parks do allow night drives. Its different. I will have pictures of Ndutu Safari Lodge when I return around the end of March. You would only stay there in Jan through March or April. Seasons are more important in East Africa because of the migration of the wildebeests. Lots more predators at those times. There are many albums posted on ofoto from East Africa. Take a look for starters.
I think East Africa is better as a first destination as there are more animals and you won't then be surprised at the larger camps. Its really different and not as private. Many more vehicles on game drives, etc. Liz
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Feb 13th, 2005, 01:22 PM
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thx liz,
so when u were at governor's, could you drive off road to follow lions etc or did you have to stay on the roads?
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Feb 13th, 2005, 01:35 PM
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It seems like we stayed on the roads around the camp area but when we got out onto the plains we drove all over. I never felt like we were tracking anything. You can see so far when you are on the plains that you just drive to where ever the action is. It isn't at all like SA. If you look at the albums you can see many of them have similar pictures. From earlier trips I remember the drivers getting upset when we wanted to get closer to a treed leopard as it wasn't near the road and they wouldn't go over there. So that I do remember. But from the last trip, everything was just right there where we were. Liz
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Feb 13th, 2005, 01:52 PM
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If visiting in the Mara, we found no problem driving off road in the Reserve. Though others Parks/Reserves don't allow at all, or only certain areas, i.e., in the Serengeti. In some places you can go off road, others not. The Ngorogongoro Crater is always crowded, the reason as of 7/1/05, visitors will only be able to spend half-days on the Crater Floor, not all day as previously. One can book an afternoon and next morning though, but expect crowds.

However, time of year, as with Southern Africa is good when planning. Many who plan to travel during the Migration will find crowds - whether in the Mara between late-Aug/mid-Oct, or the Southeast Serengeti for "calving" wildebeest between Feb-Mar. Or the herds moving north and west in the Western Serengeti between Jun-mid/late July. And then when the herds leave the Mara moving south into the North and Northeastern Serengeti from mid-October moving south to Central Serengeti thru Dec/Jan.

It's timing, if the Migration is of importance. That's not to say there aren't other areas for excellent game viewing. Tarangire is good between mid-June thru Oct where a mini-migration takes place. It's a small park, but a favorite of many. But one also has to consider the Southern Circuit of Selous, Ruaha, Mkumi and Western at Katavi and Mahale Mountains. Both south and west are more remote, few camps, fewer tourists.

When it comes to Kenya, there are areas north of Nairobi up at Samburu, the Laikipia Area and the Northern Frontier and Mathews Range. Here, with the exception of Samburu where you'll find species not found elsewhere - reticulated giraffe, grevy's zebra, gerenuk - most other game viewing has been opened on private ranches with lovely, though often expensive accommodations - nite games drives are available. Up north you will also find available Camelback safaris, certainly a different way to find and view animals; escorted by local tribal groups which can be for half-day or a few days at great distance and mobile tented safari along the way.

There are also the various "Lakes" areas, some acid, others fresh water - flamingoes galore, rhino sanctuaries. Around the Mt.Kenya and Aberdare areas you'll find numerous "salt-lick" properties where the animals come to drink after dark - some interesting, others touristy. Meru Park, one of the least visited, has a very diverse environment and home of Elsa's Kopje, rhino sanctuary. And south there is Amboseli and Tsavo E & W, known for their elephants and other species and interesting environments, especially in the latter. Amboseli tends to get crowded and here it's on-road, but it's also a favorite of visitors.

If one has the bucks, you can also do heli-safaris, traveling to areas with no roads, way up north, setting down wherever and exploring the area.

As with southern Africa, camps located outside parks/reserves and/or on private concession lands, do have night game viewing, and off-road driving.

And to top it off, you've got the coasts of both countries with plenty of known areas - Mombasa, Kenya; and islands, i.e, Lamu, Kenya and Zanzibar, Pemba, and outer islands Mnemba, Mafia - for R&R, diving (some of the best anywhere), snorkeling, deep see fishing - you name it.

You've got lots of choices, time of year, crowds or not, on-road or off, night drives - particular interests, your decision.
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Feb 14th, 2005, 01:13 AM
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we visited Tanzania last July . This for the second time. Last time was 1990, lots has changed since then.
first of all, I had the same concerns about crowds, offroad driving, night drives etc.
Tanzania is really a lovely place. Ngorongoro is great, but you will have to deal with the other vehicles, and most of the time, when you encounter a lion or cheetah or something else worth seeing, 10 to 20 vehicles will stop at the same spot. But the crater is magnicificent.
In Serengeti we stayed at Kirawira, nice and remote, didn't have to deal with too much other tourists there.
But on the way back to the gate , in the direction of Serena Serengeti we came across a leopard. The leopard was beautiful, but the 20 other vechicles really spoiled the experience.
For me , the only reason, why I wanted my children to see Tanzania (after visiting SA, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana) was because of the vast plains, the great views and the big herds of animals.
The experience is definitely not as private as in southern africa.
We finished our trip in Selous , Sand River Lodge. I must say, as it is a very remote place, somewhat expensive, and not yet as well known as the northern parks, this was a perfect lodge to end our safari in Tanzania. In Sand Rivers, we felt like being in Southern Africa again, very personal, offroad driving, boat trips, night gamedrives.
As for the animals, we saw thousands of hippo (really!), hundreds of crocodiles, and even a pack of wilddogs! (next to the usual lions, buffalo...)
If you can visit both the northern parks and Selous , I am sure you won't be disappointed about East Africa.
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