Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page > First-time Tanzania Safari - Seeking Brutally Honest Critique

First-time Tanzania Safari - Seeking Brutally Honest Critique

Reply

Feb 20th, 2009, 11:35 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,863
First-time Tanzania Safari - Seeking Brutally Honest Critique

Considering a mid-June too-short trip to Tanzania with our two sons, 15 and 18, before the older one heads to college. We have just 13 days, including two that we must spend in Amsterdam (plus two traveling). We love cutural encounters and usually like to be off the beaten track, but feel compelled to see Tanzania's greatest hits. Our outfitter wants us to add a night in the central Serengeti and stay one night less at Mbalageti, but we prefer not to hop around too much. Would also like to avoid package tour lodges.

Here's the itinerary. Appreciate expert opinions:

Day 1,2 - Arusha - Aremuru River Lodge (visit orphanage supported by friends)
Day 3 - Tarangire Tented Safari Lodge
Day 4,5 - Lake Eyasi - Kisimia Ngeda Tented Camp (hunt with Bushmen)
Day 6,7,8- West Serengeti - Mbalageti Tented Chalet (see migration?)
Day 9- Ngorongoro Serena (walk with Masai)
Day 10 - home
crosscheck is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 21st, 2009, 06:36 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
>>Day 1,2 - Arusha - Aremuru River Lodge (visit orphanage supported by friends)
Day 3 - Tarangire Tented Safari Lodge
Day 4,5 - Lake Eyasi - Kisimia Ngeda Tented Camp (hunt with Bushmen)
Day 6,7,8- West Serengeti - Mbalageti Tented Chalet (see migration?)
Day 9- Ngorongoro Serena (walk with Masai)
Day 10 - home<<

My observation:
- You don't need 2/nts Arusha, after school visit you can head to Tarangire and have 1-1/2 days.
- The drive from Tarangire to Lake Eyasi will be long and bumpy arriving afternoon; probably won't go out with the tribes till next morning, but can depart after that not needing 2nd night. But it very very long drive to Western Serengeti.
- Most only go as far as Ngorongoro, after Eyasi; if agent suggesting Central, that's the shorten what will be a very long drive Day 6. Drive time between Central-West is about 2/hrs which can be done next morning.
- Drive from Western to Ngorongoro will be long and doubtful you can make an afternoon crater tour; would have to be next morning (tours are limited to 6/hrs) then head back to Arusha.

Consider instead:
Day 1 - Arv JRO, - o/n Arusha
Day 2 - Arusha morning, visit school; after drive to Tarangire - o/n
Day 3 - Tarangire - o/n
Day 4 - Drive to Lk.Eyasi - o/n
Day 5 - Lk.Eyasi, morning hunting w/tribes; drive to Karatu (located outside Ngorongoro) - o/n Ngo Farmhouse (this will break-up an otherwise very very long drive to the Serengeti)
Day 6 - Drive to Western Serengeti - o/n
Day 7 - Western Serengeti - o/n
Day 8 - Game drives in western; afternoon head to Central Serengeti for - o/n (shortens drive to Ngo next day)
Day 9 - Drive to Ngorongoro, probably will have time for afternoon crater tour, but definitely walk with Masai - o/n
Day 10 - Ngo; morning crater tour; drive to Arusha and homebound.

Above takes in the same parks, but shortens some drive times.
Hope this helps.
sandi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 21st, 2009, 08:12 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
What was "brutal" was some of the long drives in itinerary #1.

I like Sandi's itinerary.

I don't know sort of activities and involvement you had planned at the orphanage. It might take the entire day, especially if you are meeting with these friends. Then I can see you wanting 2 nts Arusha. The other reason a second night might work at Arusha is that you could add Arusha National Park for a couple hour visit. It is the most forested area you will see with a chance to see colobus monkeys. There are big giraffe herds there. You can walk and canoe, activities your boys might like.

In my investigation of Lakey Eyasi, I have found that two night stays allow for hunting with the Hadzabe in the morning and then a visit to members of the Dagota tribe in the afternoon. You may be able to visit with the Dagota tribe in the afternoon of your arrival day, though.

The one night in Central Serengeti allows you to cover ground between Western and Central for a better chance at catching the migration, wherever they may be.

Your family will have an outstanding trip with both cultural interactions and nature.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 21st, 2009, 10:19 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 204
Re: drive from West. Serengeti to Ngorongoro. I stayed at Mbalageti last year and we were able to get to the Crater and have an afternoon game drive, arriving at our hotel on the rim about 6 p.m., so it is definitely doable. We elected to skip the Olduvai visit en route, but we did detour for game drives in both the Seronera and southern Serengeti around Moru Kopjes. I think we left Mbalageti at a reasonable time too (maybe 8 am?), and stopped for lunch. It's a long day, but not horrible, and the crater was less crowded in late afternoon than the next morning (even leaving at 6 am). I'd personally rather do that then move lodges and have single nights. Just my two cents.
traveler318 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 21st, 2009, 01:38 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,863
Thanks so much, everyone, for your prompt responses. Will tweak the itinerary and try again. Would love to hear from other June travelers to weigh in on the Western vs. Central Serengeti dilemma.

atravelynn and sandi - Working on tweaking our itinerary based on your suggestions. I think that some of our long drives (Eyasi to Mbalageti and Mbalageti to Nrongoro) incorporated game drives...Would that have made them less brutal? I do like the idea of shortened drives, but my gut tells me that my family will not want to move around that much.

traveler318, I just glanced through your trip report. Reading between the lines, it seemed as if you like Mbalageti, but didn't LOVE it. That is intended to be our splurge destination - Do you think we should reconsider?
crosscheck is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 21st, 2009, 01:55 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
Yes, the drives between destinations includes game viewing which adds still more time to the distances.

In the western corridor, you won't find many lodging choices. Besides Mbalageti there is Kirawira and Grumeti River, both lux. For seasonal camps there's Nomad's and &Beyond's Tanzania Under Canvas even more expensive. You might consider camping with own cook, but this will be more rustic than any of the former.

Even with three 1/nighters above (Eyasi, Karatu, C.Serengeti), realize everyone lives out of their duffles, unlike a resort/cruise stay where you unpack once. It's the distances and terrible roads you should take into consideration and from Eyasi to W.Serengeti as originally shown is (again) brutal.
sandi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 21st, 2009, 11:33 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,863
Excellent research, atavellyn - beginning to appreciate the new forum. Will digest all of this and come back with more questions.
crosscheck is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 22nd, 2009, 09:58 PM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,863
I just went over all of this with my family and everyone thinks we're moving around so much that nobody will want to do game drives when we arrive at our destinations. (It's not the problem of unpacking, just that we like to relax and get into the rhythm of where we stay and this itinerary - even with Sandi's tweaks - seems exhausting.) We're also a little concerned that the Serengeti/crater area might be too touristy for us.

Will it feel like Yellowstone where dozens of cars are stopped and people are lined up with binoculars all looking at the same bear?

A friend said we should consider Selous instead (where we could do bush walks), but I feel as if the migration and Ngo are so iconic that we shouldn't miss them.
crosscheck is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 23rd, 2009, 08:39 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 204
Corsscheck,

I liked Mgalabeti quite a bit, I just liked a Migration and Swala Camps better overall. However, in June, I don't think Migration Camp would be as good a location as Mgalabeti, and Mgalabeti's lunch and dinner were a bit better. I'd certainly recommend Mgalabeti (and in many ways, its tented chalets were nicer than the tents in the other two places). I can't comment on the other western corridor camps, some of which cost a lot more.

I will comment on the "too touristy" question. Ngorongoro was quite crowded at times, and was the one place where I felt overwhelmed by other safari goers. Not so in the Serengeti, especially the western and northern corridors. We especially liked our game drives north, as we saw very few other vehicles. Around Seronera was more crowded, but still not like the Crater. Even the area around Lobo was not crowded, and we had three separate cat sightings between Lobo and Migration Camp all to ourselves. I cannot comment on Selous, only having been on the one safari, but I think the Serengeti is one of the most precious places on earth, and would say you would really enjoy your time, especially if you stray somewhat from the more crowded center.

Best of luck.
traveler318 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 23rd, 2009, 04:28 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 617
Since I'm included in Lynn's links above, I'll chime in here, crosscheck.

In the case of the long drive to Mbalageti, you won't go on a game drive once you get there...the drive to the camp is the game drive. So your itinerary won't actually seem as busy as you may be thinking. Also, keep in mind that it's up to you to let your guide know what you want to do every day. If it's just sitting around the camp/lodge for the afternoon rather than spending the entire day out on a game drive, that's just fine.
Calo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 23rd, 2009, 05:36 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
If you threw in a flight at the end, it would decrease the drive time and increase the price.

See scheduled flights.
http://www.regionaltanzania.com/arusha.asp

Flying back to Arusha at the end, you could go to the crater enroute to the Serengeti, breaking up lengthy drives.

Day 1 - Arv JRO, - o/n Arusha

Day 2 - Arusha morning, visit school; after drive to Tarangire - o/n

Day 3 - Tarangire - o/n

Day 4 - Drive to Lk.Eyasi - o/n

Day 5 - Lk.Eyasi, morning hunting w/tribes; drive to Ngorongoro and overnight somewhere; I liked Sopa for its own access road.

Day 6 Into Crater where I think you can spend 6 hours now. Afternoon hang out at Sopa with beautiful views and I saw tree hyrax and a troop of blue monkeys that migrated through about once a week. Ele and buffalo in an area inaccessible to guests were visible from the room at sundown.

Day 7 Drive to Western Serengeti - o/n

Day 8 - Game drives in Western Serengeti- o/n same place as day 7

Day 9 Game drive, not just transportation to Central Serengeti.

Day 10 Early game drive, flight back to Arusha.

I am not sure of the drive times on Day 5 or Day 9.

I think you'd like the crater and Serengeti for this first trip more than Selous. The unique cultural opportunities are more readily available doing the Northern Circuit that you have rather than the Southern Circuit with Selous.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 24th, 2009, 04:29 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,863
This is all extremely helpful. atravelyn, your itinerary makes a lot more sense. Will keep everyone posted.
crosscheck is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
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


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:52 PM.