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Quick opinion question: Would you skip Serengeti in September?

Quick opinion question: Would you skip Serengeti in September?

Jun 21st, 2007, 07:22 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Quick opinion question: Would you skip Serengeti in September?

Good morning, everyone. I'm looking at different private safari itineraries for around September, 2008 and it was suggested to me that it would be best to skip the Serengeti in favor of extra time at the Masai Mara Reserve area (at that time of year). Does anyone concur or disagree with that for a first time visitor to East Africa? I don't see myself returning to the area again for a long time as there are just too many other places on my travel wishlist. At least 20 years worth if I continue to take yearly vacations. I like to experience an area well and to the fullest the first time.

I'm looking to spend about two weeks between Kenya and Tanzania, including Amboseli N.P. (2 nights), Tarangire (2 nights), Lake Manyara (1 night), Ngorongoro Crater (1 or 2 nights), Masai Mara (at least 3, maybe 4 nights), and Lake Nukuru (1 night). Not necessarily in that order.

Should I look at including Samburu to my list of destinations? Should I skip the Serengeti in September in favor of more time at the Masai Mara? Is there someplace really special that I'm missing on this sample itinerary?

Thanks so much for your thoughts!
Idnas71 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 10:32 AM
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Okay, first I have to qualify this by saying that I haven't been on my trip yet (we're going this September & October). So people who have been there may have different suggestions. But I asked some of these same questions, and the advice I got from this board and from my safari operators was that it would be somewhat redundant to go to both the Serengeti and Masai Mara (particularly when moving around to so many different parks), and that we should concentrate on the Masai Mara for that time of year. Other advice that we ended up taking was that Samburu might be more interesting for us than Amboseli because it gives us a chance to see unique species in a different type of environment than southern Kenya, and also to be sure to spend time in Tarangire because that's a terrific time of year for this park. Here's what we decided on for a 20-day trip:

Nairobi - 1 night (arrival)
Mount Kenya - 1 night
Samburu - 2 nights
Sweetwaters - 2 nights
Lake Nakuru - 1 night
Masai Mara - 3 nights
Arusha - 2 nights (arrival + Arusha NP)
Tarangire - 2 nights
Lake Manyara - 1 night
Ngorongoro Crater - 2 nights
Zanzibar - 3 nights

I know a lot of people only spend 1 night (if that) at Sweetwaters, but we're there two nights so we can go lion tracking and fit in some other activities. And many people also skip Arusha NP, but we're really looking forward to going canoeing there. If I had one more night available, I would add it to the Mara. But, like you, we are thinking this may well be our only visit to East Africa and are trying to fit a lot into this trip.

Hope this is helpful. Have fun planning your trip!

MyDogKyle is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 11:14 AM
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Thanks, M.D.K.!

There is so much information here and I have read and bookmarked a lot of it. It's a little overwhelming. So many itineraries are similar, but with the slightest differences. You'd think it would not be so hard to decide.

I hate to ask questions that have been asked and asked many times over here, but it helps to have your very own thread, I think.

I really wanted to see Mt. Kilimanjaro which is why I included Amboseli. (I have no intention of climbing it, though!)

I didn't mention this earlier because it's a totally separate area, but I do also want to visit Victoria Falls briefly on this trip. Hoping to maybe do some water rafting or a boat ride here, and maybe a biplane flight that I read about.

Zanzibar is at the bottom of my list of priorities and I doubt that I'll be able to fit that in. I read that if you take a plane there, that the view of the coral reefs is really nice from the air. I wonder if I can just do a sightseeing flight/daytrip there... hadn't considered that before now.

Hope you have a wonderful trip this fall.
Idnas71 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 01:01 PM
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Here's my two cents worth after our trip to northern Tanzania and Zanzibar(so I can't tell you much about Kenya) earlier this year and to Southern Africa in 2004.

I'm guessing the experts will confirm your thought about skipping the Serengeti in September since the Mara is really supposed to be the place to be that time of the year.

You are having many short stays, which is contrary to the preference of most people on the board. However, if you want to see all the parks (as we did) on one trip, and you have limited time and funds (as we did), then that may be what you have to do. Some may suggest skipping the single day in Manyara and adding it to somewhere else, and that might be good advice, but we really enjoyed Manyara, and it is right on the way between Tarangire and Ngorongoro.

I too wanted to see Mt. Kilimanjaro, so we went to the West Kili area for a couple of days. It is pretty cool to see the famous mountain, but then again it is just a mountain, and not nearly as spectacular as many others I have seen. If you really just want to see it, you can see it from Arusha NP, albeit from a distance. I'm not sure it warrants a whole extra trip to Amboseli for a couple of days, since that will be wrong direction from the other places you are going, although you will have a better view of Kili from Amboseli.

Zanzibar is beautiful, but like my comment on Kili (and I know this is quite simplistic), it is just a beach (except for Stonetown), and you can go to beautiful beaches lots of places short of going to Africa. I don't think we saw much of the coral reefs on the flight there, and it is far too distant from your other locales to consider a day trip anyway.

Unlike my comments on Mt. Kili and Zanzibar, there is only one Victoria Falls (although there are always Niagara and others in South America), and it is truly spectacular, especially from the Zimbabwe side. It is quite far from East Africa, but if you have the time and resources, it might be worth it. If you do go, I highly recommend the helicopter flight over the falls. You can easily see the falls and do the helicopter in one day.

It doesn't look to me like you really missed any "must do's" on your itinerary, and you are squeezing a lot into a couple of weeks. I don't know how you define "experiencing an area well and to the fullest" (hard to do everything in East Africa in only two weeks), but whatever you decide to do, you will love it.
hguy47 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 07:54 PM
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Hi Idnas71

IMO Samburu is a MUST !!

It is possible to skip Serengeti in Sept

aby is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 06:13 AM
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Thank you for the further replies. That's a good point about Kilimanjaro. You can see mountains many other places. Honestly, I thought it would make a great backdrop for photos if I were lucky enough to see some game in the area.

I just got a quote back from Peter at Suntrek for a two-person private safari in a 4x4 LandCruiser, although it's not an exact price because they don't have rates for 2008 yet.

2 nights Amboseli Serena Lodge
2 nights Tarangire Sopa Lodge
1 night Lake Manyara Serena Lodge
2 nights Ngorongoro Serena OR Sopa
1 night Speke Bay Lodge
3 nights Mara Simba Lodge
1 night Lion Hill Lodge OR Lake Nukuru Lodge
Transfer back to Nairobi airport

I think I'd like to experience one of the permanent tented camps at some point on this journey instead of all Lodge accomodations. If I can cut out an extra night somewhere, I'd like to do that, too. Maybe at the Ngorongoro Crater I could get by with only one night.

Idnas71 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 06:54 AM
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We are going in Sept 2007; we received the same advice to skip the Serengeti. We decided to go to the Serengeti as this trip is a honeymoon gift from my future mother in law and it was important to her that we saw the crater and the Serengeti. She went to Tanzania last year and she really enjoyed these two areas. We get to experience three nights in tented camps in the Serengeti.

Our final itinerary with Good Earth Tours for a private safari for two.

Day 1 Depart DC to Amsterdam
Day 2 Amsterdam - Rennasiance Hotel
Day 3 Arusha - Serena Mt Village Lodge
Day 4 Tarangire - Tarangire Sopa
Day 5 Tarangire - Tarangire Sopa
Day 6 Ngorongoro Crater - Serena
Day 7 Ngorongoro Crater - Serena
Day 8 Serengeti - Mbuzi Mawe Tented
Day 9 Serengeti - Migration Tented
Day 10 Serengeti - Migration Tented
Day 11 Fly from Serengeti to Nairobi - Nairobi Serena
Day 12 Fly Nairobi to Masai Mara - Mara Simba Lodge
Day 13 Masai Mara - Mara Simba
Day 14 Masai Mara - Mara Simba
Day 15 Masai Mara - Mara Simba
Day 16 AM Game Drive-Fly to Nairobi
Lunch at Carnivore - Dayroom
Day 17 Amsterdam - Rennasiance Hotel
Day 18 Arrive - Home

The airfare and hotels in Amsterdam we booked on our own. I believe we should have skiped the night in Nairobi on Day 11 and continue straight to the Mara (as we were advised on the board); we still may try to make this change. I believe we are going to add a visit to the giraffe center in Nairobi on the last day and a hot air balloon ride in the Mara. We are really looking forward to this trip; it is our first to Africa.

Bobcaat is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 07:43 AM
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one fabulous gift !!
aby is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 07:47 AM
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before you mentioned Giraffes, i wrote that Samburu is a MUST (IMO)
now after your Giraffe question - it is a must of musts

aby is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 07:56 AM
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It is a fabulous gift and we are very fortunate. My fiancé and her mother were going to Africa in the Fall as a mother/daughter trip but when we announced our engagement she decided I should go in her place as a honeymoon. As we have been together (unmarried) since 1987 her mother is very happy that we have finally decided to get married. Again I am very lucky, both with my future wife and future mother in law.

Bobcaat is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 08:00 AM
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You can definitely get by with only one night at the Crater, doing one game drive one afternoon and a morning drive the next day. You can easily get there from Manyara for the afternoon drive, but where are you going after the Crater?

You should stay in a tented camp at least once, even though they will certainly be more expensive than the lodges. Tarangire has several very nice ones, both inside and near the park.

You are right about Kili being a good backdrop for animal photos, we were lucky enough to have a big tusker pose for us with Kili in the background while we were in the West Kili area.
hguy47 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 08:09 AM
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After Ngorongoro, Suntrek Safaris has me going to a place called Speke Bay for one overnight (though I didn't request it), and then on to the Masai Mara from there. I have inquired about maybe taking a flight from Ngorongoro to Masai Mara to save the overnight at Speke Bay.

I'm still waiting to receive some itineraries/price quotes from a few other places.

If you stay at a Lodge instead of a tented camp on the Masai Mara, is it a lengthier drive to get into the game-viewing area? I'll check into a tented camp at Tarangire instead of Masai Mara, especially if the price might be better.

Thanks for the further advice, everyone.
Idnas71 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 09:34 AM
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I'd eliminate the overnight in Speke Bay if you don't plan to spend time in the Serengeti. It's a really long drive from Ngorongoro through the entire Serengeti to get to Speke Bay. You can fly from Manyara airstrip (via Arusha/Kilimanjaro and Nairobi) to the Mara instead.
Patty is offline  

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