Sands River or Ruaha River?

Jul 23rd, 2005, 11:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 71
Sands River or Ruaha River?

Given the choice, which one would you choose if you were looking for game, fishing and a camp suitable for teenagers? Both are in southern Tanzania, aside from the cost factors, which would offer a good variety of activities?
BahamaBreeze is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 12:30 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

I wish you the best of luck with this safari, but unless you book your trip very soon, you may find it very difficult to find lodging for 13 people and on top of that, unless the funding is all coming from the same source, you may find some of the 13 people drop out of the trip for one reason or another.

I do not know if you have priced out the trip yet, but I do think you should budget about $500 per person per day for the Tanzanian destinations you are considering excluding international airfare. For a group of 13, that is $6500 per day. With a trip to each the Serengeti and the Selous, I would imagine that you would be spending a minimum of 11 nights on safari. Is your group prepared to spend $71,500 on top of the international airfare that will likely add an additional $20,000 to the trip?

I, myself, am very excited about visiting Tanzania, having just booked my first East Africa safari for February 2006. However, I was surprised at just how expensive it was for the best camps/lodges.

Are you sure that Tanzania is the right place for a group your size?

Another option would be Zambia. The teenagers would love all of the Victoria Falls activities and there is some pretty serious fishing that takes place in the Zambezi River. Furthermore, South Luangwa is an amazingly beautiful park.

I do think your price would fall to perhaps $350 per person per day sharing in Zambia, and this would be a savings of over $2,000 per day.

If Zambia were an option that you were willing to explore, I would suggest you take a look at the following game lodges/camps:



SOUTH LUANGWA (Puku Ridge or Chichele Presidential Lodge)

There are really some amazing places in Zambia and the pricing is the best in all of the African safari countries, in my opinion. Transfers between the different parks is incredibly easy and you could either fly in and out of Lusaka (direct flights from London) or you may choose to fly into Johannesburg and then up to Lusaka.

Although it may sound scary, Zambia is the home of the walking safari and no place is reputed to do it better. I have done a few walking safaris and there is nothing like it. Also, another specialty of Zambia is its night game drives. Most places in East Africa do not offer night game drives, but they are provided each night in both South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi. You see SO MUCH at night that you would never see in the daytime, such as increased leopard sightings, honey badgers, cirvals (a smaller cat than a leopard or lion but still nothing you would want to mess with), mongoose, hippos on land, crocodiles on land, and more.

With a group of 13 people, you are guaranteed to have two private vehicles for your use at whatever camp you visit. Another consideration should be the vehicles. While East Africa has pop top vehicles, Zambia has open sided vehicles. I have not yet experienced pop top vehicles, but I will say that I really enjoy the open sided vehicles, as it makes me feel like I am part of the action. Plus, on your night game drives, to just be able to have your guide turn off the engine and then lean back in your seat and look up at the stars...WOW! You have never seen so many stars!

The final thing I would advise is that choosing the right tour operator may really make or break your trip. One operator may be 20% more expensive than another operator, and for 13 people the impact is HUGE. I am not in a position to advise you about Tanzania, but with two prior visits to Zambia and leaving at the end of next month for my 3rd Zambian safari, I certainly know a thing or two about Zambia.

If you decide that Zambia may be the right place for you and your family, don't hesitate to e-mail me and I would be happy to give you a good tour operator connection.

I apologize for this post being off-topic, but I did see that BahamaBreeze was looking for suggestions on a destination in a very recent prior thread, so it is not as if BB is 100% committed to Tanzania, but rather still trying to figure out where will be best.

Best of luck with your safari, wherever you go!
Roccco is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 02:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 71
Thanks Roccco! I have been actually following many of your posts on this site!

I was actually considering Zambia at first, but then with the addition of two other families (unrelated to my own, but very good friends), that has now complicated matters. I have not yet thrown out the possibility of doing Zambia (I really wanted to go there as well as Zimbabwe, but that was voted out) I have asked one tour operator (AA) for a quote. I will contact you for some others....

Your numbers were enough to stun me! However, I know my family's budget and if we have to bring everyone's desires down a notch, and still provide a bit of what each person desires, then so be it. With all the help on this board, a fun trip for everyone is almost guaranteed!
BahamaBreeze is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 02:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,367
Having been to both places, I would advise Sand River hands down.

Your looking with teenagers being able to do a variety a of activities, Cruising or fishing on the Rufiji, bushwalks alone are far superior than what is at Ruaha. There are interesting places to visit in the park also if the above and game drives are not enough.

With a group that size, there might be some negotiating power.
luangwablondes is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 09:10 PM
Posts: n/a
Hi Bahamabreeze,

We stayed at Sand Rivers July 2004. We were 2 families : 4 adults , 6 teenagers (ages between 13 - 18).
It is really a great place to go on safari. The kids (and also us, the adults) just loved cruising the Rufiji (with hundreds of hippo and crocodile) in it. On the bushwalks the girls(and women) went one way (one of us didn't want to get too close to dangerous animals) and the boys (and men) went another way. They came across buffalo and lions!
Also, the rates at Sand Rivers (don't know about Ruaha) are all inclusive.
So whatever you want to drink (be it african wine, gin and tonic...), it is all included .
Our boys (the 18y old ones), being European, just couldn't resist the temptation !
Just one remark, ask for a room not too close to the dining room , the frogs in the little pool nex to the dining room are pretty noisy in the evening!!
All of us find that Sand Rivers is one of the best, if not the best, lodge we have ever visited.
Rooms are superb, nature is fantastic, game is excellent, and being able to also do bush walks (up to 3 hours) made Sand Rivers tops!

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