Help for Tanzania Itinerary

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Oct 12th, 2005, 11:03 AM
  #1
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Help for Tanzania Itinerary

Hi,

Here I am yet another person who needs help with a 10 to 12 day Tanzania safari itinerary to begin mid January 2006. I am well traveled in southern Africa, but have found planning this one so difficult, but apparently I'm not alone. Have been very impressed with the info on your forums.

Regarding booking agents, I've narrowed it down to ATR and Tanzania Serengeti Adventure. While Tanzania Serengeti is considerably cheaper for a comparable itinerary, ATR seems so much more professional. Has anyone traveled with TSA and are they reliable?

Am also undecided about safari lodges/camps. While we appreciate the luxury of CCA lodge, we also like the adventure of a Olduvai Tented Camp or Ronjo Flycamp that seem to be heavily promoted by ATR. In fact, I don't even know how many days to spend where in northern Tanzania--maybe 5 nights.

We are also planning to spend 3 nights in Selous and 2 nights in Ruaha. We prefer the small, intimate camps. Here the dilemma is Sand River Selous or Selous Safari Camp. In Ruaha, the decision is Mwagusi or Jongomero. By the way, is Jongomero really a CCA camp? I heard it is, but it isn't listed on their website.

Any advice/recommendations will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.




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Oct 12th, 2005, 11:15 AM
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Here is a link to a report from a trip to Selous and Ruaha.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34649444

amfs will be returning from her honeymoon in a week or so--she will have spent a night at Olduvai--but for Jan 06 you may be in a time crunch to make some decisions.

Have you seen the posts about Eben's website that maps the various camps and gives links to pictures? www.go-safari.com
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Oct 12th, 2005, 11:23 AM
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Thanks for such a quick reply. I have been reading Eben's remarks and that's where I gained respect for all the folks who have been offering information. Am going to take a look at the links you posted now.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 11:53 AM
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Oh, I am so envious! I remember Dick Snyder's trip report and him saying that the best of all possible safaris might be to somehow combine Serengeti and Ruaha. Okay, maybe those weren't his exact words.

I'm going with ATR, but not until next June, so I'm afraid I can't be of much help. I think someone JUST got back from a safari with Good Earth, but he/she hasn't yet posted a report.

If you go with ATR they will likely steer you to the "rustic" camps, Ronjo et al. Not a problem if that's what you want. TSA gets good marks on this board, but I don't recall reading anything recently. And of course people also rave about Roy Safaris.

Personally I wouldn't want fewer than 4 nights in the Serengeti, but if you're short on time (and because you're fortunate to be doing the Southern circuit), you coulld get away with three. Six nights Northern would give you a little more wiggle room, though.

Looking forward to hearing others' suggestions.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 12:22 PM
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Here's a trip report from someone who traveled with TSA recently -

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34683315

I don't think there have been any reports here of Selous/Ruaha in Jan. My understanding is that the game viewing in these parks is best during the Jun-Oct dry season. I'd be very interested to hear what your impressions of these parks were for this time of year when you return.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 12:46 PM
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Hello,

I would suggest a mix of rustic and luxury camps -- perhaps a few days in the Serengeti with Nomad Tanzania followed by 1 or 2 days at Crater Lodge.

Personally, I think that Northern and Southern Tanzania are each worth a separate trip. However, if you do want to do them both in one trip, I would suggest something along these lines:

5 days Serengeti (Nomad Tanzania)
1-2 days Ngorongoro (Crater Lodge)
3 days Selous (Sand Rivers Selous)
2-3 days Ruaha (Mwagusi)

The Nomad camps and Mwagusi are more rustic, whereas Crater Lodge and Sand Rivers are both very luxurious. Selous Safari is not as luxurious as Sand Rivers but is still quite luxurious. Neither Jongomero or Selous Safari (owned by the same company) are CCA camps, though they were CCA camps a few years ago.

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 12th, 2005, 01:11 PM
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Thanks everybody for all the great information so far.

I have wanted to do the southern circuit for years. The year my husband passed away we were going to do it. Now I am traveling with a friend who wants to do the northern circuit. I, of course, am mainly interested in the southern circuit and realize that this isn't the best time of the year to do it. Oh, well, we'll hope for the best. We did safari in KwaZulu Natal during the rainy season two years ago and it turned out better than I thought it would.



Thanks Julian for clearing up the Jongomero/CCA confusion.

You guys are great!



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Oct 12th, 2005, 01:15 PM
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Hi safarilover

I cannot comment on the outfitters but I can offer some opinions on the wildlife and "adventure camping" in general!

The situation has changed in Tanzania over the last 2 years. There are now more camping options available to suit a variety of budgets. As a result, there is no reason whatsoever to be pressured into lodges or camps simply because of existing agent/lodge relationships.

In your case, you it will be cool to mix the experience of the Migration on the wide open plains with your tradional bush safari in Ruaha.

In January 2005, the migration pattern favored the Moru and Gol areas of the Serengeti, with some movement south towards Ndutu. Camps near Piaya and Moru had the best opportunities to see the wide open plains just dotted with wildebeest as far as the eyes could see.

In Feb the pattern shifted around and often, with a million animals disappearing virtually overnight - going west and south west before returning to the south east and dropping their calves just north of Ndutu at the end of Feb/early March.

With some uncertainty and no crystal ball, I suggest you consider splitting your time between at least 2 seasonal camps near Gol (at Piaya), Ndutu or (3rd choice) Seronera (south or east camps). Your budget and availability will dictate your choices. As it stands you current suggestions fall outside this triangle of choices!

A split 4-5 nights will be good but I wonder if want to visit Ngorongoro as well?
Eben
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Oct 12th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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Eben,
What if she had 6 nights for Northern and 5 or 6 for Southern (not including any delay in Arusha or Dar b/c of flight schedules)? How exactly would you do that in January?

Sorry to be slow. I can't seem to wrap my brain around this one.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 01:29 PM
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Eben

You are so helpful! This is what I needed to know. Now if you can just help me out with some names of camps in those areas--maybe one rustic and one more upscale. What I can't seem to locate is a Serengeti map with the the lodges/camps so I know what is where. That has been the worst part about planning this trip.

And, yes, Ngorongoro is on the itinerary.

Leann

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Oct 12th, 2005, 01:58 PM
  #11
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safarilover:

In case you start heading in a Nomad direction (seasonal camps in the Serenget/NGA areas Eben mentioned) and you go to Selous--Sand River is Nomad affiliated and you can save money for a certain number of nights. I think that it is 5 nights at one camp or 9 nights at a combination of camps. You might check into that.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 02:16 PM
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Leann,
Eben's website has downloadable maps with the locations of most lodges and camps in northern Tanzania including the Serengeti -

www.go-safari.com

You'll need to install Google Earth (if you can) to view the files.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 02:18 PM
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The camps are here:

http://www.go-safari.com/Serengeti/serengeti.htm

The Northern Circuit part is easy to design and Julian mentioned Nomad as an excellent seasonal option. EMC, Sayari, Explorer and others are all wonderful but these are not cheap as you can see from the rack rates in the link above!

There are other options if these prices blow your budget.

Leely makes a good point about flights. For example, down to Jongomeru the flights (Coastal) leave Arusha on Tue/Fri/Sun and return on Mon/Thu/Sat.

So you may have to start with that part of the itinerary and work backwards!
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Oct 12th, 2005, 02:26 PM
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Wow! Now I suddenly have more options. When I am finished this note, I'll be out to all the suggested websites and spend a few hours researching. Will be taking a good look at Nomad as Sand River is probably my first choice in Selous. If it would tie in with other Nomad properties, this would be ideal.

Ideally, we could do 5 nights north and 5 nights south. And, yes, I would like to do this without spending any overnights just waiting for a flight the next day.

Leann



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Oct 12th, 2005, 02:46 PM
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Hi Leann,

Any chance you can add another day or two? Five days for Northern Tanzania seems a bit short. If you only have five, I would suggest 4 in the Serengeti and 1 at the Crater.

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 12th, 2005, 02:58 PM
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The flights between Ruaha and Selous also only operate 3x weekly (I believe on Mo/Th/Sa but double check). Flights between Selous and Dar Es Salaam operate daily. So you'll need to figure out which order works best depending on the flight schedule.

I don't know where you are, but if flying from North America or Europe, KLM flies into/out of both Kilimanjaro and Dar, so you can fly into one airport and out of the other to avoid backtracking.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 03:02 PM
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Hello,

There is a flight schedule on Mwagusi's website (www.mwagusi.com). I'm not sure how up to date it is, however, so I would double-check before making any plans based on it.

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 12th, 2005, 03:05 PM
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Well, I don't want to shoot these two companies down, but I have had recent dealings with them and won't be using either one. I'm planning a trip to Tanzania in June and asked for proposals from several companies, including these two.

Re: ATR - the fellow who responded to my request kept sending me emails that had attachments that for some reason I could not open. I told him I could not open them, and asked him to please send me the proposals and pricing in emails, not attachments. He then sent another attachment, I sent another "please don't" email, and after that I didn't get anything else from him.

Re: TSA - my experience has involved miscommunication, and is similar to some views expressed by Eben to another writer about the advice from this company. Right from the start, I made it very clear that my main goal was seeing the migration. The rep suggested Mbalageti at the end of June, early July. I suggested earlier in June as I had read some things about the migration usually being in the western Serengeti in early to mid June. He replied that his recommendation was still the same: late June/early July. I then emailed the camp directly and was told I would need to be there in early June. So, according to the camp itself, I would have missed the migration by going in late June/early July. But, that wasn't all, after several emails in which the price was stated, and even confirmed by the company after I sent an email seeking clarification, when it came time to finalize arrangements, all of a sudden the price rose about $400 per person for our one week in Tanzania.

So, as I said, I'm not trying to shoot down these companies, but would recommend to anyone contemplating using one of them, especially TSA, be sure to ask questions, don't assume that what you want is what will be done, follow up and check with other sources before finalizing contracts. Interestingly, as someone else on this board has done, I also checked references for TSA and they were all excellent. There was just one complaint and it was about a TSA person being late at times to pick them up. Good luck!
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Oct 12th, 2005, 03:40 PM
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Thanks everybody.

Julian, I will see if I can talk my traveling companion into 5 nights in the north. Time is not a problem for me; if we're going to spend the money to get there, I at least want to see as much as we can.

Wjsonl, appreciate your comments on both companies. I haven't had any trouble opening ATR's attachments. I have been a little concerned, though, with the communication from TSA. When I asked about Sand River Selous vs. Selous Safari Camp, they replied that I would be happy with either one. Not the kind of answer I was looking for. Have you selected a company yet? If so, which one? Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of time to finalize this.

Patty, we'll be leaving from New York (live in Delaware), and then flying to Cape Town after our Tanzania stint. Makes the international flights tricky, too. Am inclined to do South African Airways into Joburg, then Dar, unless somebody can get me something significantly cheaper on another airline.

Leann
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Oct 12th, 2005, 04:23 PM
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Leely just about hit it on the head--I would think of a mix of northern and southern if and when we can return. And, I think I would take Ruaha over Selous. I suggest checking with Foxes of Africa if for nothing else then flight schedules as they have own planes and flexibility might add to decision making. Others more familiar with Selous particularly the camps might have more to share and that might offset my partiality towards Ruaha. In any case, I am looking forward to reading more reports and seeing more photos!! Need another fix as withdrawal is setting in! Good luck in the planing.
Dick
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