help planning Sept safari

Jan 22nd, 2009, 09:10 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 15
help planning Sept safari

My wife and I have never been to Africa. We are interested in photographing the animals mostly. We plan to go between August and early Nov. Best of this time? I believe we want to go to Tarangire, Ngorongoro, and the Serengeti. I would like to go to the Mara as well since I think the migration should be there at this time. Would love input on places and companies. Private vs. group as well.
photowannabe is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 04:19 AM
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Not to be a smart a$$ but try the search function first and look through the hundreds of posts, then when you have some ideas, post them and you will get plenty of comments.

dssxxxx is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 05:27 AM
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Hi phot

dssxxxx is right! do some homework first -
NEW EAST AFRICA Trip Report Index
in which LyndaS is investing a lot of work and good intentions

when you have a general idea and specific questions- that's when this forum will help you the most


aby is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 09:10 AM
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Posts: 15
Sorry. 1st ever post. I didn't know how much to include.
Here are the companies that I have asked for quotes - mostly from suggestions here.
green foot print
introducing africa tz
base camp tanzania
good earth tours

I have checked many other websites as well. Employees of other companies - feel free to chime in, but please ID yourself as such.

I loved the plans that green footprint put together (below), but I gave them a max price and they put together 2 packages - below is 10% more than our max, the other was 30% more.

Green footprint also suggested that the great migration would still be in the northern Serengeti in September which does not match anything else I have read and makes me learly. Here is there qoute.
" I would not advise to go to the Maasai Mara after your stay in the Serengeti. The northern Serengeti and the maasai mara are comparable, but the northern Serengeti is better to visit in September as the migration is still expected in the Serengeti side. Also the Serengeti is far bigger than the maasai mara area and therefore less crowded with cars. "

In this timeframe it looks to me like the more toward October I get the animals might be easier to see due to less growth, but they are likely to be less active. Is this accurate?

The program will be:

Arrival JRO. Transfer. Onsea House

Arusha National Park. Game drive + Canoeing. Onsea House

Game drive Tarangire National Park. Maramboi Tented Lodge

Game drive Tarangire National Park Maramboi Tented Lodge

Game drive out of Tarangire National Park. Bush dinner&Night game drive. Kirurumu Tented Lodge

Biking down the rift valley. Local lunch. Afternoon Manyara NP game drive. Plantation Lodge

Ngorongoro Crater game drive. Plantation Lodge

Flight Manyara - Kogatende. Game drives Serengeti. Sayari camp

Game drives serengeti. Sayari Camp

Game drive to Loliondo. Game drives/walks. Suyan Camp

Game drives/walks. Suyan Camp

Flight Kleins - JRO. Dayroom KIA-lodge. International flight out in the evening.

photowannabe is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 09:26 AM
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In Africa you WILL be a wildlife photographer.

Here are some hints on when to go.


I copied this from a recent post. ClimbHighSleepLow posted it. It contains some months when you won't be there too.

"The famous images of thousands of wildebeests and zebras swimming across croc-invested rivers are filmed in the Masai Mara in Kenya during August, September and October. The Mara River is deep and fast-flowing - a dangerous obstacle for the herds and many will drown during the crossing stampedes.

Crossings occur several times a month; to be at the right place at the right time is a matter of luck and persistence. I recommend a stay of at least 5 -7 days in the Mara Triangle area to experience a crossing.

The Grumeti River in the Western Serengeti is also home to huge crocodiles but it is not deep enough to be much of an obstacle. In June and July the herds gather in the Western Serengeti but the water levels are often very low due to the lack of rains. They don't have to swim across the river - in many places they can walk across and barely get wet! The biggest action is when the crocodiles ambush the herds when they come to drink. To get the best footage, one often has to wait for hours at the river waiting for the herds to quench their thirst!

In the Northern Serengeti, the Mara River offers yet another opportunity to see wildebeest vs. crocodile but river access is restricted due to the lack of access roads. It takes a fair amount of luck to see a large crossing with crocodile action - late July or early November is recommended. But several smaller crossings occur from August to November!

Where and when to see the biggest herds on the open plains?

For a few months each year, the plains of the Mara-Serengeti region are dotted with animals as far as the eyes can see.

My 2nd favorite - From August to October, the big herds can be seen in the Masai Mara in Kenya. The Masai Mara is largely open plains with several ridges and high points from where to witness the herds in all directions. In addition, there are also large herds of buffalo and even more wildebeests coming from areas outside the Mara.

Thanks to controlled burning by park authorities and fresh green growth, large herds of wildebeest will often move back and forth between the Masai Mara and the far northern Serengeti area (near the Mara River). Our clients in the camps near the Mara River continue to report river crossings, large herds and very few other vehicles in this area! During these months we often combine the Masai Mara and the northern Serengeti in a single itinerary!

My favorite - In February and March, the southern Serengeti and NCA are home to the large herds and thousands of their new-born young. This area is huge and the herds can be spread out over tens of miles. For the predators (large and small) this is a time of plenty and each day brings several exciting interaction between the hunters and the hunted, including the elusive wild dogs in our secret areas!

My 3rd favorite - In April and May, long lines start to form as the young are strong enough to travel and the food resources on the plains diminish. The herds move NW towards the western Serengeti. Some lines are so long it appears never-ending. Big herds can still be seen but they move quickly - more than 20 miles in a night! The rains make traveling difficult but the rewards are incredible - fewer people and beautiful green landscapes.

What about June, July, November, December and January?

During June, July and November the migrating herds generally favor the more woody areas to the west.

The plains have dried up and the herds are looking for water from perennial rivers. Most of these rivers are near Seronera and surroundings and in the western corridor. The animals assemble in smaller herds and can often be found in forest areas where tsetse flies are bothersome and viewing is restricted. The western corridor has limited game routes and the hilly terrain will often obscure the true scope of the migration. A few special places such as the Grumeti Reserves, the areas near Lobo and north near the Mara River are open and with great viewing with no obstructions - timing is everything and you need a specialist to book you in the right places for optimal viewing during these months.

December and January are hybrid months - if November and December were blessed with good rains the woodlands will have large tsetse concentrations and zebras in particular prefer the safety of the open plains so they will lead the way to the plains where they will reduce the grass much to the liking of the wildebeest and eventually the Tommies. During rainy periods, the herds may well move quickly to the Ndutu area in the south. From there they will move great distances in all directions until they drop their young (have to stay put for a few weeks).

During dry periods in November, December and January (as in 2005/06), the Serengeti plains (with no surface water) will be void of water-dependent wildlife and you will find the herds in smaller groups in the woods in the western areas and elsewhere."

For more info on all the camps in these parks and the "perfect" safari for whichever month you decide on, try these links

Private vs. group--for 2 people, you can easily do a private trip for around the same cost as a group. If you are serious about your photography it is more important to get a private vehidle.

Where you may want to do a group is if you go to a mobile tented camp in the Serengeti, which is a more secluded, expensive option.

Some companies that have been mentioned and used successfully on this fourm and can do private trips include

Africa Adventure (Ft. Lauderdale)
Africa Serendipity (NYC)
Eastern and Southern Safaris (Kenya)
Good Earth (Tampa and Tanzania)
Go2Africa (Cape Town, South Africa)
Kiliwarriors (Virginia and Tanzania)

There are many more good companies, as well.

Happy planning and traveling.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 09:38 AM
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I posted before I saw your previous response. Roys and Green Footprints would be good too.

If pricing is too high, maybe try Sunny Safaris in Tanzania or Good Earth.

Green Footprint's statement about the Serengeti having fewer people and being bigger seems correct. I think guessing where the bulk of the migration will be in Sept is just that--a guess. N. Serengeti or Mara would be good places and if you could hit both with your time and budget, that's even better.

To save $, doing only the N. Serengeti or the Mara makes sense, as Green FP suggests.

The comment about the migration being in the SOUTH in Sept, maybe referred to South of the Mara River. That would support Green Footprint's comment that they thought the migration would be in the Serengeti rather than the Mara at that time.

But you are right that the migration is not in the Southern Serengeti in Sept. Unless Green FP tried to sell you accommodations in the Southern Serengeti, I'd assume the comment was just a misunderstanding.

I'm not an employee or any company or affiliated with any travel business. I just lots of money to many travel companies.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 10:24 AM
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I've traveled with Kibo Guides in Tanzania several times and think they're good. FYI, they are affiliated with Tanganyika Wilderness Camps, who own Maramboi and other camps and lodges in Northern Tanzania, so you might get a price break from them. However, they can book you into any location.

Last year, I was in the northern Serengeti in September. There are a few smaller herds that supposedly stay there and don't cross the border, but we were lucky in that the rains started early and the main herds were pouring back across the border from Kenya. I wouldn't count on that happening every year, though. The weather patterns are changing, so it's hard to predict what will happen. I think your safest bet is the Mara if you want to see the Migration in September. It could be that the Tanzania company is just trying to keep all of your business in Tanzania with them.
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 09:03 PM
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Thanks for your suggestions Lynn and Shay. I have contacted just about everyone you suggested. I am very excited about this trip. Lynn, thanks for the link to 'best time'. That was very cool. I appreciate the help.

One other question. If you had about 14 days, is there another park that I NEED to see other than the Mara, Serengeti, Tarangire, and Ngorongoro? Thanks.
photowannabe is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 02:06 AM
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I just want to put in a good word for Good Earth. We used them to arrange a private guided 15 day East Africa trip last July. We had a wonderful time and everything was well planned and executed. We had different guides for Kenya and Tanzania and they were both excellent and really made a difference (a big difference). Narry (out of Tampa) was easy to work with and helped us plan a trip customized to our desires. We had private vehicles which were new and as nice as any others we saw. You can see pictures and a video of our trip at, click on either Africa 2008 icons.
lbodem is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 07:47 AM
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From your itinerary it appears the 14 days are your total trip with about 12 in Africa.

Your selection of parks is good for the time of year and amount of time you have.

If it worked out you could do a 1/2-day visit to Arusha National Park in Tanzania since you'll likely be going through Arusha anyway.

I think you have a good combo as is.

If you wanted pics of Kilimanjaro then you could add Amboseli in Kenya. If you wanted different species of zebra, antelope, ostrich, and giraffe, you could add Samburu in Kenya.

But what you have allows for ample time at each location without rushing.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 08:44 AM
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One of the best tips I can give photographers?

Slow down!

There are many styles of safaris and all have their merits, but to capture the best animal moments one has to stay longer in each game rich area.

Mid-August - end of October is Masai Mara time especially for wildlife photography!

Northern Serengeti (Sayari) is good but unless you are very lucky you may not get close enough to capture much action due to many factors. Cats are a bit skittish and not seen on a regular basis. Suyan is a lovely camp but wildlife is really thin up there.

It is very easy to combine the Mara and Ngorongoro and Tarangire. I would stick to 3 parks at most - even more importantly serious photographers should stay at least 4 or 5 nights in one area.

climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 10:23 AM
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ClimbHighSleepLow, Your recent N. Serengeti comments have been helpful and candid.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 10:38 AM
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I forgot to mention one other important point.

Consider your camps/lodges carefully!

The northern Serengeti may have fewer vehicles but game density is much lower too, AND when you stay at a large camp such as the new Sayari any cat sighting will quickly have all the vehicles from camp and neighbors!

At Tarangire, Maramboi is one of the larger camps popular with big tour groups. It is also far outside the park and takes almost 2 hours to get to best areas in the park.

You can stay in the Mara very near the crossing areas in intimate tented camps at good rates nowadays! How many vehicles you may see depend a lot on your own movements.
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 10:53 AM
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Lynn, our posts crossed.

I hope everone understand what I am trying to say! I love the north Serengeti and have been talking about since I joined here.

But IMO it is not quite what the hype wants it to be and I see more and more guests want to go there because of good marketing I guess! Larger and more camps will quickly diminish its attraction (for me at least).

It simply does not compare with the Mara in terms of the overall variety and density of game. Sure, last year we saw large herds of wildebeest moving back and forth (it may/may not happen again in 09). But even then cats/hyena/etc remained elusive and the Mara visitors still had better sightings IMO.

On the other hand, perhaps we should tell everyone to go to the N. Serengeti instead of the Mara. Then I will have the Mara all to myself this summer!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 11:07 AM
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I knew what you are saying. Just telling it like it is. The N. Serengeti around Sept. remains an attractive destination for me someday.

Until someday comes, I'll be interested in the experience of others in N. Serengeti late in the dry season.

atravelynn is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 07:43 PM
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Thanks a bunch for your suggestions. I will look at my possible iteneraries/lodges a bit more closely, especially after your suggestions, climbhigh. And, thanks for sharing the video/pictures Ibodem.

Climbhigh, IYO the Mara, Ngorongoro, and Tarangire are the 3 parks to hit? It seems not many companies have you cross from Serengeti to Mara. Is there a good reason?
Thanks again
photowannabe is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 10:03 PM
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Don't forget the Loita wing of the wildebeest migration. Not all of the herds arrive from the Serengeti. I was lucky enough to witness it in mid-june last year. This was just before the Serengeti herds crossed over into the Mara. As mentioned before, the Loita wing doesn't get due credit........... The Predators were around in plenty, too!
HariS is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 06:12 AM
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photowannabe -

??Mara, Ngorongoro, and Tarangire are the 3 parks to hit? It seems not many companies have you cross from Serengeti to Mara. Is there a good reason?<<

If only visiting as far as Ngorongoro, it' a very very long drive thru the Serengeti, along coast of Lake Victoria and then crossing border into Kenya for drive to the Mara. This is a full-day of driving.

For travel Aug-Sep, "save the best for last" which would be the Mara. You can arrive JRO, for visit Ngorongoro and Tarangire. Then flight from Arusha to Wilson in NBO for connecting flight to the Mara.

sandi is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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Hari has it right! We forget at times to mention that the Mara see huge wildebeest herds from early July until late November thanks to these Loita herds that follow a different pattern than the Serengeti herds!

Photowannabe, please look at my map:

You can see there are two main roads connecting the Mara & Serengeti. The western one has no gates or nothing and you drive along merrily and oops - you innocently may find yourself in the Mara! Turn back quick when you get to a big hill after crossing a small stream!

The eastern gate (Bologonja) is actually a gate with not-so-friendly "officials"! Outfitters are not allowed to cross. Even private vehicles cannot cross anymore I hear.

I suggest you fly between the Mara and Tanzania.

Mara - yes! No question you should go.

Tarangire - great park in September. Wild dogs and cheetah sightings have been very good1 But stay inside or as close to Kuro Airstrip as possible. Map here:

Ngorongoro - A must-see for a first-timer IMO and within easy reach of Tarangire.

You can also stay in Kenya for the duration of your safari!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 12:18 PM
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I would unhesitantly recommend Roy Safaris located in Arusha, Tanzania. I planned a private, 2-week safari for 2 persons with Roy Safaris and it was truly a perfect trip-of-a-lifetime. They are a local, family-owned safari operation with very high standards. Their vehicles are superbly maintained, their guides incredibly well-versed in flora, fauna, culture, geography - and speak 4-5 languages on top of it all. Check out their website (, but more importantly, send them an email as soon as you have an idea about your budget, timeframe & itinerary. The cost of a private tour when arranged by a local company is no more (if not less)that the cost of a big-operator group tour. Also, the flexibility of being on your own is invaluable.

MsTravel is offline  

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