Help with Tanzania Itinerary

Nov 4th, 2006, 02:25 PM
  #1  
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Help with Tanzania Itinerary

I am planning a trip to Tanzania in July, 2008 and wanted any input on the following:
Overnight Arusha
2 nights Tarangire (Swala or Olivers)by road
2 nights Crater (Serena)by road
2 nights Central Serengeti (Olakira)by road
3 nights Western Serengeti (Grumeti)by road
3 nights Northern Serengeti (Sayari)by road
Fly back to Arusha

I have priced this out based on 2007 prices and it's a little more than I want to spend. I like the small, tented camps rather than the large lodges. I can only go in July or August. I know some of you might suggest I go to Kenya (in August) instead, but I really want to go to Tanzania. Do I cut out Tarangire Park or Northern Serengeti (Sayari)? Julian, I know you just returned from some of these camps, so any info you can give me (or anyone else) would be appreciated.

Raelond
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Nov 4th, 2006, 02:53 PM
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Hi Raelond,

I'll post more details in my trip report (and pics in the Safari Photo Album) but the Mara Triangle portion of the Serengeti (where Sayari is) is contiguous with the Mara, so between Sayari, Olakira, and Grumeti (do you mean Grumeti River Camp?) you have all of your bases covered.

At the time of year you plan to travel, the Migration is likely to be in either the Western corridor or the Northern Serengeti/Masai Mara, so I'd definitely keep Sayari in the itinerary. If you don't like crowds you might consider dropping Olakira, though that region does give you the best chance of seeing a leopard.

The dry season is the best time to visit Tarangire, and it would be a shame to miss it out IMO. Under current park regs Tarangire is the only place on your itinerary where you would have the chance to do walking, so this may also be a factor in deciding which camp to drop. However, there is a petition in place to make the Mara Triangle a wilderness zone in which case walking would be allowed at Sayari as well.

I haven't stayed at Swala, but I highly recommend Oliver's -- great intimate camp, great guiding, and very good game-viewing as well. The new tents are among the most spacious I've stayed in, and the area where the camp is located is pretty much tsetse fly free. Swala is posher if that's a consideration.

Personally, I'd consider flying between the Crater and the Central Serengeti, unless you want to stop off at Oldupai on the way.

Cheers,
Julian
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Nov 4th, 2006, 04:25 PM
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I think this trip looks great and Julian made some great insights. Julian, I would love to hear more about Olakira Camp as I am staying there in early January. What did you think!!!??? And Raelond, good luck on planning the rest of your trip. Be well.
Lolazahra is offline  
Nov 4th, 2006, 08:20 PM
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Julian, thanks for the information. I'm now thinking maybe I should fly from the Crater to Grumeti River Camp and dropping Olakira Camp as you suggested. I am looking forward to your trip report.
raelond is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 08:44 AM
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You're going back! Great! Looks good to me with lots of time in the Serengeti.

atravelynn is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 11:52 AM
  #6  
bat
 
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Julian:
How do you fly from the Crater? back track to Manyara airstrip?
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Nov 5th, 2006, 05:44 PM
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Hello,

I really enjoyed Olakira -- it was the most rustic of the camps I stayed at, but was very relaxed and informal which I really enjoyed. My guide was fantastic -- very enthusiastic and knowledgable, and a very skilled photographer to boot. I have some photos that I'll post in the Safari Photo Album when I get a chance. In January the camp will be down in the Ndutu area which should be great.

I'd definitely fly from the Crater to Grumeti (to be honest, I'm not sure it's even possible to drive that distance in one day). You'll need to fly from Manyara airstrip, which is about 1.5 hours from the Crater. There is a Crater airstrip, but it's rarely used due to the high likelihood of fog at the Crater.

Cheers,
Julian
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Nov 5th, 2006, 05:56 PM
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Julian (and Raelond), we drove from Ngorongoro to Kirawira in one day and it was fabulous...driving through Masailand and then past Oldupai and into the Serengeti, stopping at the Simba Kopjes for lunch, and game-viewing the whole way - I wouldn't have missed it for anything although I realize that it's not everyone's cup of tea. It's absolutely doable though.
Calo is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 06:07 PM
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Hi Calo,

Good to know that it's possible to do that drive -- out of curiosity, how long did it take? The drive between the Crater and Olosokwan was projected to be something like six or seven hours, which was way too long.

What time of year did you travel?

Cheers,
Julian
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Nov 5th, 2006, 06:15 PM
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Raelond, further to your question about cost cutting a bit on your itinerary, here are a couple of options for you to consider...

You might want to investigate Tarangire River Camp. I don't know that I've seen any negative reports here about the camp. It has 18 (I think) tents which is a larger camp than you were hoping for, but it would be quite a saving over Olivers. Of course it is less luxurious than the other camps you've chosen, but I personally think it's a delightful camp. We plan to stay there again in 2008. Whatever your accommodation choice, I agree with Julian that it would be a shame for you to skip visiting this very picturesque park!

I wonder how much you'd save if you drove from the Crater to Grumeti rather than fly? As I mentioned in a previous post, we really enjoyed the drive.

A camp option to replace Olakira would be Mbuze Mawi which has just 16 tents. We stopped there for lunch one day while game viewing in the Central Serengeti and thought it looked like a very nice camp. I expect it would be less expensive than Olakira. I am also looking into Kirurumu Serengeti mobile camp (if anyone has any info on this).

I guess the other option would be to shorten your 3 night stays to 2 nights at Grumeti or Sayari. This is a slightly disingenuous suggestion as we are planning for 3 nights each at Mbalageti and Sayari when we go.

Happy planning!
Calo is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 06:33 PM
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Julian, I believe our Crater to Kirawira drive took about 6 hours at game drive speed and included stops at Oldupai, Shifting Sands, Naabi Hill, and for lunch. With lots to see, and great story telling by our guide along the way, the drive seemed to go by quickly. We went for 2 weeks at the end of June/beginning of July.
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Nov 6th, 2006, 05:40 AM
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sandi
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On my first trip to Tanzania, we also did the drive from Ngorongoro to the Western Serengeti - Kirawira (Grumeti River is about another 15/min drive). We departed Ngorongoro after breakfast, about 9am, stopped at Oldupai. While this could have been a short stop we got to talking with an interesting guy and didn't leave hear till about 11am.

We then drove through the Serengeti, with game viewing stops along the way to the Serena Lodge where we stopped for lunch. It was nice to get out and stretch our legs, freshen up and enjoy a leisurely sit-down lunch.

Leaving here, it was about 2 or 2:30pm and again with game viewing along the way, a stop at the Grumeti River to catch the Nile crocs, arrivd at Kirawira at about 4:30-5pm. So, yes, it was a long day, but a great day and lots of game along the way.

The drive from Ngorongoro to the Northern Serengeti, i.e., Migration Camp or Klein's isn't recommended (nor do most outfitters allow their guides to be on the road that long) as a 1/day trip; often stopping for an overnight mid-way, at the Serena Lodge of Mbuzi Mawe Camp; continuing north the next morning.

But from Ngorongoro to the West is certainly doable.
 
Nov 6th, 2006, 07:53 AM
  #13  
bat
 
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I think that the mere length of the drive is not the only factor--it makes a difference if it is a "game drive" drive--in that case it is like being on an all day game drive but instead of coming back to the same location, you arrive at your new one. I would not back track to Manyara to fly to the seronera valley from the crater rather than driving and it sounds as if the longer drive to the west is also doable--depends on your preferences.
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Nov 6th, 2006, 04:28 PM
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Bat, I agree with you that I would not back track to Manyara in order to fly to Olakira Camp. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed planning this trip as there seems to be so much to consider. Planning my Botswana/Zambia trip seemed easy compared to this. Maybe it's because I had such an amazing first trip to Africa, I'm concerned that this one will pale in comparison. I know one should not compare. Sandi and Calo, thanks for advising that one can drive from the Crater to Grumeti River Camp in one day. I suppose it's important to have a good ground operator that has comfortable vehicles (something else to consider). I still don't know if I should drop the Central Serengeti (Olakira Camp) altogether or stay at a large lodge (which I dread) instead. Would I be missing a lot that time of year (July) if I didn't stay in the Central Serengeti?
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Nov 6th, 2006, 05:28 PM
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"Planning my Botswana/Zambia trip seemed easy compared to this."

The good thing is you're starting to plan now for 2008 which gives you lots of time to figure things out.

"I still don't know if I should drop the Central Serengeti (Olakira Camp) altogether or stay at a large lodge (which I dread) instead."

Have you checked out Eben's list of Inside Serengeti Seasonal Camps: http://go-safari.com/Serengeti/KiliwarriorLuxury.htm
There are lots of options other than Olakira.

If you're driving from the Crater to the Western Serengeti, and then from the Western Serengeti to the Northern Serengeti, you WILL cover some of the Central. Also, we were on day-long game drives with our guide EVERY day and got to see lots of the Central Ser. by driving there (game driving the whole way) from Kirawira.


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