Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page >

Feedback requested on northern Tanzania driving or flying safari

Notices

Feedback requested on northern Tanzania driving or flying safari

Old Feb 20th, 2020, 10:01 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Feedback requested on northern Tanzania driving or flying safari

Hi everyone,

I am gathering information on safari options in northern Tanzania and an extension to Zanzibar for myself, husband, and our two sons, who will be ages 16 and 18 at the time of travel. We would like to travel between June 26-July 11, 2021. Our main requirement is having a passionate guide who is happy to educate us about wildlife, plants, history, ecology, and who allows us to enjoy our game drives leisurely without feeling rushed to head back to camp. We would like a private tour, and we prefer smaller lodge or tented camp sites. I have received three itineraries, and I'm leaning towards The Wild Source. I would appreciate feedback on the proposed itinerary from Wild Source, and also feedback on whether driving safaris are better than flying safaris. Specifically, with Wild Source, we are looking to drive between the camps, and then fly from Kogatende Airstrip to Zanzibar (with likely a connection in Arusha). My sons and I think we would like the driving between camps (transfers would act like game drives), but I've been told by a local travel agent that the drives are very long and it makes for a very long day, and that flying between camps would be more enjoyable. The local agent also informed me that camp guides are more knowledgable than guides that stay with you the entire time. Bill from The Wild Source felt the opposite was true, since the circuit guides tend to be the more experienced, whereas resident camp guides are just starting out. The exception would be in Botswana, where camp guides have much more experience and are most knowledgeable.

The Wild Source guides seem to have favorable reviews, and I like that they have biologists and a big cat research team. I've also asked a million questions, and Bill always seems to answer with such detail that elevates my comfort level in selecting them.

Lastly, we added the Zanzibar extension, since my husband is a big beach person, a way to entice him to go with us, really. Right now, I'm still trying to convince him that safari would be amazing, even with the support of his parents telling him how wonderful their own Kenya/Tanzania safari was. If my husband decides not to come with us, we will skip Zanzibar and extend our stay in the Serengeti or Tarangire. This would be our first safari, and has been on our bucket list for about 10 years now. My younger son really wants to see river crossing activity and huge crocodiles. I would greatly appreciate any insight and feedback. Thank you so much!

Option 1: The Wild Source itinerary - driving safari; with the same guide the entire time; unlimited mileage; all day game drives are default
- Arusha (1 night) - African Tulip

- Tarangire (2 nights) - Lolkisale Camp; includes walking safari and night game drive; would depart very early to see Lake Manyara on the way to the Ngorongoro Crater

- Ngorongoro Crater (1night) - Lion's Paw; would also have a quick stop at Oldupai Gorge on the way to Central Serengeti

- Central Serengeti (3 nights) - Nyumbani Collection

- Northern Serengeti (3 nights) - Njozi Camp; can help collect data for big cat research while out on our game drives

- Zanzibar (3 nights) - Matemwe Beach House

Option 2: Local travel agent using Ranger Safaris
My local travel agent is recommending a flying safari. Same parks, but we fly from Lake Manyara to Central Serengeti, then from Central Serengeti to Northern Serengeti, and then to Zanzibar. I have not yet received accommodations list.

Option 3: Mango Safaris itinerary - itinerary only as a privately guided safari in Tarangire and the crater; would have to pay additional for guide in Northern Serengeti. There seem to be a lot of additional costs not already built in to the quoted price. I actually had to already inform Mango that I couldn't select them, since the due date to decide before they released the rooms was yesterday, and also because we were opting for a longer guided safari. But, they said if anything changed, to let them know.
- Arusha (1 night) - Rivertress Country Inn
- Tarangire (2 nights) - Kuro Tarnagire (also see Lake Manyara); night drive would be additional cost
- Ngorongoro Crater, Karatu (3 nights) - Gibb's Farm
- Fly from Lake Manyara to Kogatende in Northern Serengeti
- Northern Serengeti (3 nights) - Serengeti Safari Camp (does not include any guided game drives)
- Zanzibar (3 nights) - Pongwe Beach Hotel

Last edited by cvilletravel; Feb 20th, 2020 at 10:06 AM. Reason: typos and additional content
cvilletravel is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2020, 11:10 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We also went on a 2 week safari with our teens. I was conflicted between Kenya and Tanzania but once I saw all the driving and long distances required in Tanzania, I decided on Kenya. We also did fly in safaris. Roads are bumpy, unpaved and it is slow going. I'd assume the same in Tanzania. Drives from camp to camp can be fun as they are like a safari but I don't think that is what your transfers will look like.

Also, the shortest we ever stayed at a camp was 3 nights and that was only once. all other camps were 4 nights, which is really ideal. 3 nights flies by as you only go out for an afternoon drive on the day of your arrival and no drive on the day of departure.

So no real comments specifically but more for guidance, imho. Ps-our once in a lifetime safari repeated itself the next summer, and we repeated our 2 week safari and added a week at the beach. we really liked bill and he was very helpful but we went with someone different. you will have a wonderful time.

plambers is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2020, 11:34 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 214
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Can't comment on the camps, but I've done the driving safari two times with one flight at the end (like your first itinerary, although we flew to Serengeti and drove back). I agree with the assessment that having your own vehicle and guide the whole time is the way to go, rather than relying on camp staff and vehicles, especially if you have to share. And even with bush flights, time is lost in getting to and from the airstrips, waiting around, etc. And although some distances are long, there is much to see and only the stretch between the Ndutu area and the crater is tiresome. But even that isn't that long or bad.

I would note the Mango itinerary has you at Gibbs Farm which is quite some distance from the crater. So three nights there seems like you'll just spend lots of time getting to and from the game areas.

So a vote for the private safari with your own guide the whole time.

Best of luck.
traveler318 is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2020, 12:08 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you for the replies. Yes, I noticed that Gibb's Farm was quite a distance from some of the parks. I don't want to spend a lot of time driving from the camp to the parks each day during our short stays. I'll already be doing plenty of driving going from camp to camp.

plambers - you do bring up a good point about the 3 nights, and how quickly that can go by. maybe i add a night in tarangire. unfortunately, i only have a couple weeks.

An update - it looks like my husband will not be joining us on safari after all. He simply is not interested at all, and would rather our sons and myself enjoy and take our time marveling at the wildlife, landscape, etc. He is a realist, and knows that he'll quickly lose interest after a couple days. We went to the Galapagos in 2016, and he only stayed one week. The boys and I stayed an additional week, and still felt like we could have stayed longer. Now that the time has come to make a final decision, he does not want to come. So, now I have to re-consider whether or not to do a trip extension in Zanzibar.

cvilletravel is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2020, 03:47 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,379
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Cvilletraveler, I haven’t stayed in those camps but I have done the itinerary the Wild Source proposes and I have gone on a Wild Source Safari in Kenya. You can’t go wrong with Bill, he really knows his stuff. His was my favorite of my 5 safaris so far. My next safari will be with him after I return from Zambia.

My preference of what you provide is his itinerary. It is the same routing I did. I stayed at the sister camp to Njozi in the Mara and it was exceptional. Ping and Paul Kirui are legendary guides in East Africa who finally stopped working for other camps and built their own with Bill. Ping runs the camp in the Mara and guides from there and Paul does at Njozi. If you were to pick this, you’re getting the very best guiding in the region. Google them both, I believe they were Condé Nast recognized for many years. My next East African safari will be just those two camps with those guides. Hands down.

The one thing to be clear on is that the driving from Arusha to Tarangire to Manyara and Ngorongoro is not like a game drive. It’s on paved roads and through towns. It’s when you get to the Serengeti portion that the transfers between camps are like game drives because you’re in the park. I didnt know any better on my first safari (which is when I did this routing) and you do spend a LOT of time on the road and that eats into time spent game driving. Keep this in mind especially on 1 night stays in places, because that’s essentially half a day of driving and not seeing wildlife. You do need your own vehicle and driver/guide for this route because the distances are far enough that no camp is going to send its drivers out to move you between camps like they would in the Mara or Serengeti proper.

The second itinerary, if flying from Manyara to the Serengeti appears to be skipping Ngorongoro Crater, yes? If I were to drop anything, it’d be Manyara. Ngorongoro is incredibly interesting because it’s an entire ecosystem on the floor of a volcano, when else will you see that? If you’re in the neighborhood, I’d take the time to see it.

I personally have never added the beach on to safari, but I live within 10 minutes walk of the ocean so I can sit on a beach whenever I want. What I can’t see are lions, elephants, leopard, rhinos and hippos in the wild whenever I want, so I do what I can to maximize that time. Maybe take the time you set aside for Zanzibar and extend stays at some of your stops?

My trip report from 2013 for this route is on here, if you’re interested. No photos but plenty of gushing words. Your first safari is magical. Your kids will love it.
amyb is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 06:41 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
amyb - Thank you so very much for your post! It was certainly reassuring to read your feedback about Bill and The Wild Source. I will definitely check out your trip report!!

Since I made my first post about our safari trip, my husband has decided not to join us on safari. He recognizes that this trip has really been a dream trip for our sons and I, and he doesn't want to burst our bubble by being tired, grumpy or a downer. The boys and I are huge wildlife enthusiasts, but my husband not so much. (As a side note - the four of us traveled to the Galapagos in 2016, so we have firsthand experience with wildlife encounters. My husband spent a week in the Galapagos and had more than his fill, whereas our sons and I stayed an additional week and still felt we didn't have enough time there!)

Back to Tanzania - the price person cost that I've received was based on 4 people on the trip, and now that it'll be 3 of us, the price per person goes up since we're still looking at one private guide and one private vehicle. I've asked Bill (Wild Source) to try to find ways to stick with the same price per person, but perhaps look into staying longer at some locations (e.g., some camps have a buy 4, get 1 night free), maybe come back a little earlier (12 nights total instead of 13 nights), and try to find triple rooms as opposed to booking 2 double rooms, as a way to keep costs down and within budget. I felt really bad about this ask due to this major (and 11th hour!!) change, but it's best to get this right.

We'll skip Zanzibar, and we'll stick with the driving safari.

As a way to keep the with the original price per person, I am thinking of coming back 1 day earlier and spending 5 nights in Northern Serengeti. It also increases our chances of seeing river crossings, which is what my younger son really wants to see. 5 nights will also allow us to fully immerse ourselves in the safari experience without feeling rushed.



Would appreciate feedback on the proposed itinerary below:

- Arusha (1 night)



- Tarangire (2 nights) - Lake Manyara en route (skip Manyara since we'll only have a few hours here? i know someone who went there in Nov/Dec and said it was her favorite park by far, but we'll be going in June/July, so not sure if it'll be the same experience; i also thought Manyara would be good for the diverse bird species, and I love birding.)



- Ngorongoro Crater (1 night) - the thought here is that we'll stay only about 10-15 minutes from the crater and can beat the crowds in the morning



- Central Serengeti (3 nights)



- Northern Serengeti (5 nights) - Njozi Camp

Thanks so much!
cvilletravel is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 07:39 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,379
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, I'd see if Bill can work it to keep the price down by staying in place more nights. I liked Tarangire a lot. I think perhaps why I didn't like Manyara is that it was literally a stopover on the way to the Crater. We were there midday (when admittedly, most everything is sleeping off the heat hidden away) and only until the park closed. We stayed at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse, and I don't remember it being too far from the crater at all. We were at the Crater when the gates opened and stayed until about 3 pm when we moved on.

The one question I have is if you can manage to make it from Ngorongoro to Central Serengeti the same day after touring the crater. Either way I think you might have a challenge getting from Tarangire to the Crater or the Crater to the Serengeti with the time on hand. But leave that to Bill to figure out!

I think you'll do fine without your husband if you can get the price nailed down. A lot of camps have family tents which may be an option for you. And yes, some do have 3 beds. I would think cutting the flights to Zanzibar will help lower costs some. I think your proposal is fine, but you may need another night at Ngorongoro just for logistics of not being able to make the drive from or to your next/prior destination on the same day as a visit to the crater.
amyb is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 09:20 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you amyb! I just finished reading your trip report from 2013. Beautifully written with lots of detail, and I couldn't help but find myself smiling with your safari stories. So sorry to read about your challenge returning back home, though.

I think the thought was that we would do a morning game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater, and then head to Central Serengeti, arriving in time for dinner. So, I don't think we'll be in the crater until the afternoon.

Yeah, I have to trust that Bill can schedule the travel time between Tarangire to the Crater and then from the Crater to Central Serengeti. When I proposed some ideas when I was first inquiring, I thought 2 nights in Central Serengeti and 2 nights in Northern Serengeti would be great, but Bill assured me that 2 nights is really just one full day and that I would be compromising on quality and our safari experience. So, I trust that Bill would let me know if the scheduling just isn't going to work out.
cvilletravel is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 06:02 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,379
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, cville. I’d completely forgotten what happened coming home, I had to go read! It obviously didn’t startle me enough to never go back, I was planning my next one within a month of getting home. It makes me laugh though to read how excited I was by everything. I think the first impala and zebra I saw I took a million shots of each.

Bill’s right about 1 night stays. My rule is 3 nights. It prevents having to pack up again too soon and also gets you at least 5 game drives. I’ve found the longer I really enjoy settling in and getting to know the staff and the resident wildlife.

I have another friend working on an itinerary with Bill for June. Between the two of you, you’re really making me miss East Africa this year. I hope Zambia lives up to expectations later this year for me!
amyb is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 11:31 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi amyb - I'll have to make sure to bring several memory cards with me! I'm sure that I'll want to take a million photos, too!

Would love to hear about Zambia when you return!
cvilletravel is offline  
Old Feb 24th, 2020, 07:13 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 8,050
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This sounds like a great trip. We did something very similar to what you are planning except for fewer nights in the Serengeti. I have heard good things about the Wild Source and think you have a great plan in mind. Enjoy!
KTtravel is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2020, 03:16 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
thank you KTtravel - i think we'll do 3 nights in Tarangire instead of 2 nights.
cvilletravel is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
raphaekg
Africa & the Middle East
7
Sep 17th, 2011 07:13 AM
RuadhCamel
Africa & the Middle East
13
Oct 6th, 2009 12:26 AM
RuadhCamel
Africa & the Middle East
4
Sep 2nd, 2009 11:37 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO