First time to Tanzania and I need help

Feb 4th, 2006, 08:54 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 40
First time to Tanzania and I need help

I'm trying to plan a trip, hopefully for early June 2006, to Tanzania. I've looked on line, I've talked to friends, and I've read books. Unfortunately, the result is that East Africa is so great that you wind up wanting to do more rather than less and it's very hard to narrow the search and actually make a decision.

At this point, I know where I want to go, but I have not been able to decide on an operator. I had pretty much narrowed it down to Thomson Safaris and National Geographic. They are both a little expensive, but I'm traveling with my mom and we are not looking for anything too rustic (of course, we don't want to be pampered wimps either). I finally made it to these boards earlier this week and, while I've seen several posts recommending Thomson, now Roy Safari has also been introduced to the mix. I've seen nothing but good reports about Roy and, in fact, many posts seem to indicate that Roy goes to the exact same places, including accommodations, as Thomson, but at a fraction of the price. Is this really the case? Are the accommodations the same? Is the level of service the same?

I'd appreciate any advice you can give.
atw74 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 10:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,305
With National Geo, you are going on a set itinerary. It leaves on only certain dates, with a certain number of people, on a set plan. National Geo subcontracts out the actual safari to someone else.

Thomson is very reputable and you will see lots of favorable reviews of them. They are widely considered to be pricier than many other operators but some believe they are worth it. With them, and also with a company like Roy's, you can design your own itinerary exactly the way you want it, for just you and your mom, staying where you want, as long as you want. You pick the accommodations, as luxe or as rustic as you want. You pick the dates. (They also offer group ones with set itineraries and departures, but private ones cost very little more.)

You can do a test if you want. Take an itinerary that you like from National Geo and/or Thomsons. E-mail it to Roy's (and maybe some other companies) and ask them to price it for you as a private safari for 2 people. See what they come back with.

We designed our own itinerary and sent it to several different operators (including Roy's). We ended up going with Good Earth Tours (Roy's price was very competitive although not quite as good). Take a look at some of our photos & planning info at

A couple of great websites for helping you plan are (with lots of info on which areas of Tanzania are best in any particular month, where the migration is at different times of year, advice on accommodations, maps showing where various accommodations are located within the parks, etc.) and (with lots of photos of various accommodations and cool map features using Google Earth.

Good luck!
lisa is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Great advice from Lisa, with which I would agree. Things are booking up quickly so I would act quickly for early June.

atravelynn is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 12:27 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
Did I miss the length of your trip?

Ditto to what Lisa and atravelynn said, especially the part about booking quickly.

Don't know whether this is important to you or not, but it's come up recently so I thought I'd mention it: Roy doesn't take CCs (I think). When dealing with an in-country operator one is usually required to wire the deposit. I've done this and it's no big deal (to me), but I understand that for some people it's an issue, so you may want to consider it.

When we were planning our trip for this upcoming June, the operators we contacted were all within a couple hundred dollars of each other, including the "budget" operator we used on our previous safari. So I don't think prices vary THAT much once you've got a good idea of when you'd like to travel and where you'd like to stay. But we weren't looking at Thomson, which I understand is fairly pricey.

If you can, do try to stay at leat 4 nights in the Serengeti. You won't regret it.

Best of luck.
Leely is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 03:59 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 544
Lynn, leely and lisa, u are right on the mark,
have a grreat trip, Sonali.
sonali74 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 04:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501

You might want to check out the individual camp websites as well -- whilst the ADS website is a good general resource, the information on the indivual camps is rather out of date since the website was last updated in 2004.

jasher is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 04:32 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 130
I am booked and will be traveling with Thomson's in March. I have been planning this safari for over a year and can't say enough about how patient, informative and helpful the people at Thomson's have been. When I found this board I saw many posts about how much higher Thomsons was, but after seeing several priced itineraries from different companies here, the difference just doesn't seem that great to me. I know there are many here that will rave about Roy's, just thought I would speak up for Thomsons. The real tale will come in my trip report, but I have never come across any negative comments about Thomson's thus far.
countingdown is offline  
Feb 6th, 2006, 04:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 40
Thanks very much, everyone, for the insights. I see what you are saying about National Geographic. I think what attracted us to that one was that it seemed like the perfect itinerary for us, including the length of the trip (2 weeks is pretty much the max of what I can take off at one time). I think I will take Lisa's suggestion and email that or a similar itinerary to a few operators (including the accomodations I want) and see what they come back with. I spent yesterday morning making a pros and cons chart (aided greatly by the websites you all suggested), so I'm really trying!

In particular, Lisa, your site was very helpful and your pictures were just fantastic!

Thanks again.
atw74 is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 09:51 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 21
Look at it is the operator we used. They will custom make the trip to suit you. You will have your own guide and vehicle can modify to stay in tents, lodges or both for however many days you want. Great service. My agent was Craig Thomas. L Baird
aLarryB is offline  

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