Questions on plans for a short Tanzania Safari

Oct 8th, 2007, 05:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 878
Questions on plans for a short Tanzania Safari


Bill_Hs wonderful pictures from his April Safari have made us try to figure out how we can use our extra travel time. Maybe, we can actually make this work this time! We will be in Dubai April 2009. We will have a few days to fill before we have to heard home so....It seems crazy to be so close and not use the extra time for a short Safari after looking at those pictures!! Hopefully it is early enough to get in the South Camp (our choice) of NCrater Lodge.

Based on what I have read on the board. I know it will be the wet, buggy season. I actually like the idea of the greener look, just not the flies. And it is low season. I really would like some suggestions on the best part of the Serengeti-lodge, tented camps? What are the temps like?

This is what I have come up with. Please look it over. I would love any suggestions on the best use of our time to see these two areas.

Mon, April 6- Fly Dubai, UEA to Nairobi, Kenya, then on to Arusha, Tanzania Air Emirates, 10:05am-2:15pm, 5 1/2hrs. Then PrecisionAir, 5:30-6:20pm, 1hr. Check luggage through to JRO. Arusha Hotel, A/C?? Tanzania visa $100 at airport, have form filled out and new bills.

Will have been in Dubai for several days before flying to Tanzania, so no jet lag problems. Assume we will not need a Kenya visa at this point, but could we go ahead and get it, the $50 one, while we wait around the airport. Or can we get by with getting the $20 one on our return? We know the flight times can change in the next year +, but this is what they are for April 2008.

Tues, April 7- Drive to Serengeti, 6hrs, 360km. Ndutu Lodge-NCR: Serengeti Serena Lodge: CC Serengeti Under Canvas, 3 nights.

Guess we could fly in at this point, but we would rather drive. Should we spend three days in one place? From what I am reading the herds should still be in the South to Central area. What are the best accommodations for this time of year? My husband would like a 1 or 2 night Tent experience and 2 or 3 nights at the lodge.

Wed, April 8- Serengeti

Thurs, April 9- Serengeti

Fri, April 10- Drive to Ngorongoro Crater, 4hrs, 200km. CC Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, 2 nights.

We want 2 nights together at the Carter Lodge. Could do this first if makes better travel sense, just seems nice at the end.

Sat, April 11- Ngorongoro Crater

Sun, April 12- Drive to Arusha, Tanzania, 3 1/2hrs, 200km. Fly (JBO) to Nairobi, Kenya. PrecisionAir, 3:40-4:30pm, 1hr. The Norfolk Hotel, 1 night. Have form filled out and new $20 bill. Kenya transit Visa $20 at airport, or do we need the $50 one?

Is there enough time for a short trip into Lake Manyara? Or could we stop at the begining? I guess we should be at the airport for the 3:40 flight by maybe 2.

Mon, April 13- Fly Nairobi, Kenya to Dubai, UAE. Air Emirates, 5:15pm-11:15pm, 5 hrs.

Is there anything that we can do during the day, Guess we will need to be at the airport by 3 today.

cwn is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 07:31 PM
Join Date: May 2006
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My only comment is that you are right to put NCL at the end of the trip. It's so hard to top it and the crater. Others will chime in on the rest.
Clematis1 is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 07:42 PM
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It can take quite a while to get thru entry points to the Serengeti and NCA, have you factored that into your drive times? Road from the crater towards Serengeti is very rough for first couple of hours (or was last October) and will be slow.
tuckeg is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 04:56 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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For a short trip, I certainly wouldn't waste a full day driving to the Serengeti from Arusha. 6/hrs is very generous... it'll take longer depending on where staying. And, being April, if it's wet then longer and worse road conditions.

Ndutu Lodge isn't in the Serengeti, but actually the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. There are options to fly west to Ndutu (it's now a scheduled flight, but might not be for April) or to Central Serengeti. Here to be met by your camp/lodge vehicle who will handle your game drives/activities during your time here. If you prefer a private safari, especially if staying at Ndutu Lodge or Serena Lodge, you can arrange for your TO to have their guide/vehicle meet you.

Depending on your dates and availability (even in April), you can then drive to Ngorongoro for stay at Crater Lodge??? If with your own guide then your visits to the crater will be private; if using Crater Lodge vehicles/guide, then based on their schedule with other guests sharing, unless you arrange with the lodge otherwise.

From the Crater, if a Sunday you can probably make the drive to Arusha in 4/hrs, but no less than that. Even on this well paved road, it's not a super highway. And, as flying to NBO from JRO, add another hour from Arusha/JRO.

It's doable if properly planned.
sandi is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,881

Glad you enjoyed our "rainy season" photos ... it was a very different trip than the January trips, that's for sure.

Some comments ... looks like you want 3 nights in Serengeti or Ndutu, then 2 nights at the crater ... I would fly one way given your tight schedule, either fly into into Seronera on the regularly scheduled flight and meet my guide and do a long game drive on the way to the lodge, or drive to the crater first, then go to Serengeti, then fly out from Serengeti. With 5 days this makes a lot of sense and the regular flight isn't very expensive.

You wrote ... Ndutu Lodge-NCR: Serengeti Serena Lodge: CC Serengeti Under Canvas, 3 nights. You mean one night at each? I think most of the mobile tented camps shut down in April because of the rains so check on the "UC" availability. I've heard these camps can be miserable when rains are heavy. There are a couple of more permanent tented camps like the Serena one, Mbuzi Mawe, which I think stay open if you really want a tented camp.

Anyway, you could fly into Seronera on the early AM flight and stay at MM (or UC) the first night, Serena Serengeti the 2nd night, then Ndutu would be on the way to the crater so a logical place for a third night. The drive from Serena to Ndutu is likely where you'll see the big herds, once you get south of the woodlands. It could be really nasty around Ndutu if the rains are heavy, we skipped it last April even though it's our favorite place.

As for the crater, we skipped it last April too since our guide felt that in rainy season it could be a big mud bog, with many areas unavailable for game drives. Maybe it will be OK, maybe not ... last January we actually tried to drop our last two nights at Ngorongoro and go to Tarangire or Manyara instead because of the conditions (lodge wouldn't accept a cancellation though), so after heavy rains it's not much fun. But if it's your one chance to see the Crater floor go ahead and take a shot.

Finally, you're seeing a lot of love for the Crater Lodge and if you want a swanky place it's the right place for you, but it's harder to access the crater floor from that side and unless you have your own jeep you'll be sharing a jeep with the other guests. We prefer the Sopa, which is on the other side of the crater and has a short, direct access road to the crater floor, but it costs around $400 and the CL costs around $1,800 so obviously the standards are different and Sopa is not a luxury lodge by any stretch. (But in the right spot)

Have a good trip, and say a prayer to the weather gods before you go.

Bill_H is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You don't need a visa on your first transit through NBO and on your return a $20 transit visa will suffice, so I wouldn't bother getting anything until then.

On the return, your "be at airport by" times are about right. On the morning of April 13th, you could squeeze in visits to the Sheldrick elephant orphanage (11:00am to noon only), Giraffe Centre, Blixen Museum, etc. depending on your interests.
Patty is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 06:04 PM
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Thanks everyone for the comments and answers.

I see I was expecting people to read my mind on some things. Sorry, I will try to be a little clearer.

Yes, we plan on doing a private safari, the 2 of us, a car and driver I want assistance from the time we arrive at the Arusha airport until we leave from there! So first, I need a plan, then I will look for someone to provide it. I'm guessing that the hotel in Nairbo can help arrange the transfers and other things we might need there.

The Serengeti camps/lodges listed were my best guess at places near to the most animals at that time of year. I wasn't really thinking of moving every night, just wondering what place would be best for greatest animal viewing and the time of year.

Good point about tented camps and the rain! The places I looked at did say they are open all year though.

The only thing we are set on is some time at NCrater Lodge and some time in the Serengeti. Plus the best approach for the time of year.

We will hope for the best on the weather and our chances at getting to the floor of the Crater. However we could just spend one night there. That way if the conditions are bad in the Crater, we still can chill out at the lodge for a day and use the other day somewhere else with a better chance to see wildlife. The two nights were just so we could both chill and game view.

Would it be better to add one night at Lake Manyara also?

Apparently the last day or so is doable, just getting to that point is not so good. Any suggestions for a fix for the first few days. As I said we can fly, but would rather drive.


cwn is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 06:42 PM
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The Serengeti camps/lodges listed were my best guess at places near to the most animals at that time of year

So between Ndutu or Serena or Serengeti UC then ... when we booked our April trip we were told that the bulk of the animals were likely north of Ndutu by April, and also that if the rains were heavy we would not be able to move around Ndutu very much (you have to cross a causeway near the head of the lake, for example, plus the plains get very slippery and jeeps get stuck). So we did NOT go to Ndutu in April, but probably because it had been so dry earlier the big herds were indeed south of Naabi Hill, which was most easily accessed from Ndutu.

So the experienced, smart money (our outfitter) was wrong, this time, at least about the # of animals (not sure if we could have accessed them, the tracks were iffy once off the main road).

We spent a week at Serena Serengeti that April and that was too long. It's in fairly thick woodlands and we ended up on two days driving back south of Naabi Hill (a long drive, maybe 2 hours) and into Gol kopjes. Also drove to Seronera three times (about 45 minutes away) because that's where the lions and leopards were best. We never saw any numbers of wildebeests near Serena in April 2006, not until we had driven well south of Seronera.

So at least in this year Ndutu would have been better, IF you could drive around there, but we were told that this is not the typical pattern, that the great herds are north of Ndutu by April most years.

I dunno where Serengeti UC is located, if south of Seronera then it will likely be in a good spot. Does their website indicate the location? Regardless what they say about staying open if the rains are heavy the access roads may be impassable unless they are near the main roads. This happens frequently in the rainy season (remote camps cannot be reached).

Would it be better to add one night at Lake Manyara also?

As you can see from our web pages we enjoy Manyara very much and it's excellent for birds and elephants, but it's very iffy in April. The access road runs parallel to the rift wall so when it rains heavily the road can get flooded and you can't get in very far. We were lucky and basically had Manyara to ourselves for a couple of days (this is where the baboon jumped into the jeep with my wife, so I guess not totally alone)

I think your original plan was good, 3 nights at Serengeti, 2 at Ngorongoro (assuming you can move around once on the floor).

we can fly, but would rather drive.

If you are REALLY set on driving what I'd do is stay at Ngorongoro the first night (this is fairly close to Arusha), do a game drive there, then drive to Serengeti for 3 nights, then drive back to Ngorongoro for one last night. Going all the way to Serengeti in one day is a bit of a wasted day I feel, but splitting it up like this (which is pretty much how we do it too) lets you maximize the game drive time.

Bill_H is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 07:49 PM
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The CCwebsite does not say where the Serengeti UC will be-just near the animals! I will have to talk to them direct, check out where they are and how they handle heavy rain and reservations etc, etc.

Based on your experience and what seems to be the norm in April, the Serengeti Serena Lodge is probably the best bet for our time in the Serengeti? I do understand the limited access due to rain and that there are no guarantees with the weather and the animals. Just want to maximize our chances to see a wide variety of animals and being able to get to the accommadations.

I won't rule out flying yet, but maybe we should split the time(first day/last day) in the Crater and drive. If it is raining heavily I know I would rather be confined to NCrater Lodge!!

Thanks for your imput.
cwn is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 08:24 PM
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The CCwebsite does not say where the Serengeti UC will be-just near the animals! ... Based on your experience and what seems to be the norm in April, the Serengeti Serena Lodge is probably the best bet for our time in the Serengeti?

I didn't really like the game viewing around the Serena in April 2006, too brushy and not as many animals ... I'm guessing the wildebeest migration will still be south on the open plains in April most years, for sure they were in 2006 and I think in a 'normal' year they would still be there, just maybe a bit more north of where we saw them around Naabi Hill (but not to Serena, which is outside the grasslands).

Maybe these maps from Eben's site will help you when talking to TUC ... ... click on 'central' and 'southern' Serengeti to see the areas where the wildies are most likely to show up in April. has more info on the migration and where he puts HIS camps, for April he says likely Seronera or Naabi Hill (north of Ndutu, south of Serena) ... so Moru kojes for example is right in the middle of this and probably a good bet, if that's where TUC has their camps. A guy I met on the plane in April 2006 had been camping at Moru and had some great photos, though he said there were spots the guides couldn't take them ... but at least they were able to get to camp.

I think if the camps you are looking at are in one of these areas (south of Serena, north of Ndutu) you're most likely to be near massive herds, but you need to be lucky with the rains. If you can access these areas easily then it would be a wonderful trip.

Bill_H is offline  
Oct 9th, 2007, 09:04 PM
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Thanks again for your help. I will look at those sites and use them as a reference on where to stay in the Serengeti.

I just read the glowing review several people have given Killiwarriors in the last little while. Sounds like they are a group I should put on my contact list as soon as I am settled on a plan.

My husband just looked at your pictures, he doesn't want to wait till 2009! Thanks again for sharing.
cwn is offline  
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