safari in Tanzania

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Jun 1st, 2013, 11:31 PM
  #1
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safari in Tanzania

My wife and I want help planning a trip to Tanzania and possibly Uganda. We will be arriving late October after 5 days at Kruger Park. We know we want to visit Tarangire and Ngorongoro crater. We are undecided about including Serengeti, and we're interested in flying to Uganda to visit the chimps at Kibale Park and see a different ecosystem. We will have 8 or 9 nights after arriving in Kilimanjaro. Any advise about whether to go to the Serengeti, and/or visit Kibale (or Gombe?),this time of year would be most appreciated.

We want to have a variety of bush experiences, from mobile tent accomodations to some lodges. We are quite experienced with camping and backpacking and very much enjoy being "in touch" with the nature around us. Our primary interest is in seeing African wildlife and learning something about them and their environment, so experienced, knowledgeable and communicative guides are very important to us. We want to have the experience of really being IN nature, so we want to sleep out with the sounds of the bush around us, we want time during safari drives to sit, listen and absorb the experience, and we'd love to include a walking safari or hikes. We really want to see cats, elephant and giraffe.

We'd like any helpful advice about an operator and/or itinerary to match our interests.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 03:07 AM
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We used Warrior Trials, last week for Tarangire, and we'd have no hesitation recommending Nicholas, he's been the only guide we've ever had that's actually taught us stuff!
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 03:26 AM
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October? After Kruger, why not go to Botswana and/or Zambia? As nice as Tanzania is, why not save a N Circuit Safari for another time? If you are going to Tanazania, the Serengeti is not to be missed. My next safari in Tanzania I would gladly drop one day to add two days for the Serengeti(even in October) btw- Tarangire Safari Lodge is a place I think you would like, and it fits the pocket book
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 04:01 AM
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Ulunick,
My post should read 'I would gladly drop one day {IN THE CRATER} to add two days in the Serengeti.' The high cost of a Crater visit just to share a small area with numerous other safari vehicles just isnt as valuable to me as two days my beloved Serengeti where I can go wherever I want to avoid the crowds
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 10:13 AM
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If the 8-9/days upon arriving JRO includes Tarangire and Ngorongoro only and also Uganda... just too tight a schedule. It's easier to do 3/days Rwanda than 4/days for Uganda if gorillas* are a must.

*best also to check if/when 'permits' are available as limited # issued daily, then plan around these. Current permit fees are $750/Rwanda and $500/Uganda.

And if arriving at South Africa, from where do you depart for home? Have you even checked international air schedules/fares/hours of flight.

Time is taken up by int'l airline schedules (some rather costly) between countries besides checkin/security time, Visas where applicable and Yellow Fever inoculations and proof of same for transit to/from/between countries.

At first look, seems you're trying to fit 10/lbs of 'stuff' into a 5/lb bag, so you may have to forego something or extend your visit.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 06:09 PM
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If you're already in Tanzania, I'd suggest going chimp trekking in western Tanzania. I was at Mahale NP in 2009... great area for chimps!
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 04:54 AM
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I would counter Frank's feeling on Ngorongoro with my own. Our day there was wonderful. It was the only place in our entire trip that we saw rhino, and four of them at that. I didn't feel the area was "small" at all (what, 8000+ sq
km?) and the geography is incredible (on the crater floor you're in the volcano!). We had plenty of up close encounters with lions, hyena, wildebeest, zebra. While we were there in February so maybe it varies month to month, I never felt that there were tons of other vehicles. I think the most I saw at any one point was maybe 5 others at the rhino spot.

I would caution adding day(s) to Serengeti if one means the National Park, as you're not allowed off-road there to get closer to the animals any more than you are in Ngorongoro. Now Ndutu is another matter...but I think probably best during migration season?
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 09:58 PM
  #8
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You guys are all SO generous with your feedback and advice - thank you all. We'll check out Warrior Trails. Any other tour operatot recommendations? At this point we're pursuing a private safari, so we'd appreciate hearing experiences with private versus group trips. Now we're considering flying into Entebbe for Kibale, then either flying to Kilimanjaro or driving on sfari across the Serengeti to Ngorongoro and Tarangire - does that seen feasible within our timeframe of 10 days?
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Jun 4th, 2013, 05:21 AM
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I can highly recommend Good Earth Tours for a private safari with excellent guide. They are a Tanzanian operator with an office in the US. They allow deposits on Credit Cards and have prices that are competitive. Whenever I need quick service, I know I can call Narry or Baracka in their office here. Once I was in panic mode, and their answering service forwarded my call to Narry when he was out of the country
http://www.goodearthtours.com/

btw-There is an East African Safari trip report index here on Fodors, look through it. And in my earlier post, I didnt mean to give the impression amy took. I was trying to elevate the Serengeti, not discourage you from going to the crater. The crater is a 1st time MUST do
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Jun 4th, 2013, 05:37 AM
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I must sound like a broken record by now, but we went with Access2Tanzania in February and I loved it all from start to finish. The planning stage was wonderful, with excellent communication with Karen, the US rep/owner here in the US. They have their own salaried guides (not subcontracted) and vehicles in Tanzania as well as staff on the ground there to do all the bookings. My trip report is here with more detail than you'll ever want, by clicking on my name. I wouldn't hesitate to work with them if I return to TZ.
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Jun 5th, 2013, 07:03 PM
  #11
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Wow, you guys are GREAT! I haven't used a travel forum before, and I'm so impressed by your generosity of time and information. We've been talking to Access2Tanzania, and I'll be sure to check out Good Earth Tours. We're still up in the air about Kibale in Uganda, wondering whether we have time for it. I think it's one or the other, chimps or Serengeti. We're intent on Tarangire and Ngorongoro. Someone at Thomson Safaris suggested Mahale for chimps - any experience with them or with Mahale? BTW, Thomson is pretty expensive, but they do some wonderful community development and conservation programs.
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Jun 6th, 2013, 04:00 AM
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You are welcome Ulunick,
Mahale is quite a distance, which in my book looks to be an expensive add on in both time and money. Have you looked into Lake Manyara? It can easily be seen in just one day, offers a rainforest type safari, inexpensive, and is close to the Crater and Tarangire and it would allow you to see the Serengeti too. There is an EXCELLENT lodge there (Kirurumu) that will offer you a walking tour of a local landscape and village led by a Masai

Our Lake Manyara highlight:
We are eating our boxed lunch at one of the lookouts and our guide rushes us back into 4x4. We make an Indiana Jones escape through the dirt roads for about 15 minutes just to stop a look at monkeys and baboons?? huh(we can watch those anywhere here)? Our guide just tells us to wait. Then a few minutes later we feel the earthquaking, the primates vanish, then the high pitched sound of tree branches and trunks being torn as a herd of elephants breaks thru the forest and passing on both sides.

Our guide saw the elephants breaking through the brush way in the distance and got us to a location in time to see them pass
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Jun 6th, 2013, 07:13 PM
  #13
 
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Hi Ulunick.

5 days Kruger, then 8-9 days and you are thinking about Tanzania plus Uganda.

Given your background and goals... "We want to have the experience of really being IN nature, so we want to sleep out with the sounds of the bush around us, we want time during safari drives to sit, listen and absorb the experience, and we'd love to include a walking safari or hikes. We really want to see cats, elephant and giraffe..."

I agree with FrankS about staying in Southern Africa and including perhaps Zambia.

But if chimps are something you really want to see, then East Africa is what you want.

If you have 8-9 days, I agree with Shaytay to do your chimp tracking in the premier chimp destination of Mahale in Tanz.

I used Flycatchers for Mahale and for N. Serengeti in mid-Sept. Very expensive to do Mahale as a private trip or to do N. Serengeti in Oct. as a private trip. Other places/times of year in Tanz are much more economical as a private trip. For private Tanzania travel, I have used Eben Schoeman Signature Safaris. You might find him easier under Kiliwarriors.

Good luck!
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Jun 7th, 2013, 10:55 PM
  #14
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Good Earth quoted us $3,100 for the trip to Mahale, inclusive of airfare - does that seem reasonable? It's more than we want to spend, and the timing's difficult with flights only on Mondays and Thursdays. We'd appreciate feedback on whether to drop it from consideration. Base Camp proposed 2 nights at Ndutu - has anyone been there? It's not a place I've read about. As always, thanks for sharing with us.
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Jun 8th, 2013, 12:56 PM
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The extension to Mahale will be expensive almost regardless which outfitter and even if using the lowest cost accommodations here.

Regarding Ndutu, this is an area part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and ideal to visit when the wildebeest herds arrive to 'calve' their young, which happens in February. So, best to visit the area anytime from late-Dec thru Mar when the herds start to arrive, calve and hang around before commencing trek north from sometime in April onward. As you are traveling in October/early Nov... I'd prefer to stay in the Central Serengeti which is north of the Ndutu area.
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Jun 8th, 2013, 05:08 PM
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Check out The Wild Source in Colorado. They have their own outfitting company in Tanzania and are now setting up their own safari camps, too. They also have some of the best guides in Tanzania, as well. They have planned several safaris for me. Bill Given is the owner and a wildlife biologist, so he knows were the best wildlife viewing is at any time of the year.
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Jun 8th, 2013, 09:29 PM
  #17
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All the tour operators seem to structure their itineraries heavily on the Serengeti. Is that just because that's what they're used to doing, or is the Serengeti that spectacular? In late October the herds will be in the north, right? Is the Seronera area good for wildlife that time of year? We'd like to avoid the long trip to the north, and the herds are not our priority. What do yo think?
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Jun 9th, 2013, 07:49 AM
  #18
 
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The Serengeti is the size of Switzerland, where different times of the year in certain areas are better for game than others. That's not to say areas not best during a given period are void of game, but different.

Example:
Jan-Mar - good to be at the Ndutu area of the NCA for the calving
Apr-May - the long rains
June-July - Western Corridor, some also in Central
Aug-Oct - Northern Serengeti
Nov-Dec - herds moving south to Ndutu passing thru Central

Central has year-round water, so there's always game. But if staying in Central during October and while you can arrange a daytrip to the North, it's a long haul of about 4/hrs each way. And remember when on the Equator there is only 12/hrs of daylight and vehicles have to be off park lands by dark.

Though no one can guarantee exactly where game in volume will be found, many choose to split time between Central and North during Oct.
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Jul 24th, 2013, 02:04 PM
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Would highly recommend Born Free Safaris. Just got back from 2 weeks in Tanzania, including Terengeire, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and the Serengeti. Camped 11 of the 14nights. Simply incredible experience. Guide was extremely knowlegeable, the animals were plentiful and incredible, and the whole camping experience "out there in the wild" was spectacular. We woke up one morning in the Serengeti and drove less than 1/2 mile to see a pride of 30 lions catching a morning cat nap after the hunt the night before. They avoid camps and tents, so we were never in any danger, just a fascinating way to realize we were truly "out there in the wild".

Born Free is a great company to work with. Everything went off without a hitch.
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Jul 30th, 2013, 05:22 AM
  #20
 
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We went to Tanzania and Uganda this April. In northern Tanzania we stayed in a remote tented camp, Alex Walker's Serian, and heard the lions at night. The tour operator, Tanzania Odyssey, was great. Here's our blog post about the safari, http://latitudeb.com/serengeti-safari/. In Uganda, we spent ten days exploring the southern part of the country. I volunteer with a tourism NGO there that arranges home stays with local families. We did some really cool things like learning how to make banana beer in the middle of a banana plantation. I also recommend Uganda Wildlife Education Centre right near the airport in Entebbe - you can book a private tour. Here's our Uganda post, http://latitudeb.com/uganda/.
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