September safari itinerary--advice?

Jul 10th, 2008, 07:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 16
September safari itinerary--advice?

Hello all,
After so much reading and advice on this site I think we've pulled together an itinerary for this coming September! But would love to know all of your thoughts before making the final booking.
We are planning to go through Good Earth, private safari, 7 days 6 nights to Tarangire, Serengeti, and Ngorongoro. This is all driving (flying is too expensive). At the end of the safari we are going to Zanzibar for 5 days, so we need to get to Arusha to fly to Zanzibar. This meant we had to put Ngorongoro last and Serengeti in the middle so we'd be a closer drive back to Arusha.
Here's what it looks like:

Day 1-2: Tarangire, stay at Swala Camp.

Day 3: Drive to central Serengeti and game drive there, budget camping at Seronera campsite.

Day 4-5: Northern Serengeti, stay at Lobo Wildlife Lodge.

Day 6-7: Ngorongoro Crater, camping at Simba Campsite. We would only go into the crater for one day, Day 7, because of the entry costs. On Day 6 we can either do a final game drive in Serengeti, or get to Ngorongoro earlier and do a walk or go to Olduvai or a Masaai village. Any recommendations here? Is it going to be sad to have only one day in the crater or is it enough?

So that's it...I know it's a little eclectic. We are on a budget but wanted to try one luxury tented site, and Swala seemed like a good value. But unfortunately it means our most upscale lodging is at the start of the trip instead of the end. We could stay in Migration Tented Lodge instead for two nights, but then we would have to camp for every other night because of the cost differential. Instead, this way we have 2 nights Swala, 2 nights camping, and 2 nights Lobo Lodge, which seemed like a better deal.

I'd love to know what people think about any aspect of this plan, and also if there is another nice tented lodge in one of the three places we're going that might be worth it as our splurge instead of Swala.

Thanks so much everyone--I can't tell you enough how much I've relied on this site and oohed and aahed over your pictures and trip reports.

rachel_gb is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,846
Are you able to reverse the itinerary so that Swala is your last stop or does that not work because of availability?
Patty is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 16
Wow, can't believe we didn't think of that--am checking into availability now but I think Swala might be fully booked those nights. Thanks and will post again when I have an answer.
rachel_gb is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 11:23 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
Whether Tarangire/Swala is first or last, know that the camp is about 2/hrs thru the park from the entry, thus on Day 3 to Central Serengeti... very long drive (bet. 7-8/hrs) .

Then when leaving Lobo to Ngorongoro, very long drive (6+/hrs).

You're trying to cover long distances in a very short time and spending more time traveling. Yes, there is game viewing along the way only extending time till you arrive as your destination. By end of each day you'll be exhausted.

If, as Patty suggests you kind of reverse the itinerary, and even if budget an issue - trade-off of a single flight vs so many hours driving might be worth it.

Day 1 - Fly to Lobo area where you can have guide meet you - o/n
Day 2 - Lobo area - o/n
Day 3 - Drive (3/hrs) to Central Serengeti - o/n
Day 4 - Drive (3.5/hrs) to Ngorongoro via Oldupai and/or Masai village visit - o/n
Day 5 - Ngo - morning crater visit; drive (3.5-4+/hrs*)to Tarangire - o/n Swala
Day 6 - Tarangire - o/n Swala
Day 7 - Drive (4/hrs) to Arusha, onward

* Swala is at far southern end of park

sandi is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 06:02 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 16
Sandi, thanks for the advice--I will check into the additional cost of flying but I think it might be too much. We are sort at our upper end. But the drive does sound daunting.
Patty (and others): if we switch days around and start with Ngorongoro, our only day at the Crater would be our first day. That means leaving from Arusha that morning and not arriving for our Crater drive until around noon I think. This would be our only day in the Crater as the next day we'd depart for Central Serengeti. Is that ok or should we be there early morning?
Finally, any thoughts on flip-top versus pop-up tops for the vehicle? I don't totally understand the difference and don't know which to request.
Thanks everyone!
rachel_gb is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,846
Flip tops will have a completely open top while game viewing. Pop tops are raised for game viewing and provide shade. Some operators have canvas tops that attach to a flip top to provide shade.

Eben has some examples of the different kinds of tops on his site:

You'll find that opinions vary but I prefer to have some kind of cover.

Hope someone else can answer your afternoon vs morning at the crater question.
Patty is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
rachel -

If you do Ngorongoro first, then to Central Serengeti and onto Lobo, you'll have to allow 1/full-day to get back to Tarangire/Swala.

sandi is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 12:55 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 4
You might wanna check out, here local people and small organisations offer you trips like safaris, and you help them by visiting them.
marcvanopstal is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 05:36 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Do you have plans for the 5 days in Zanzibar? I'd cut here and add another day to your safari. But that would probably up the cost. I would suggest adding that day to the crater and doing 2 visits, but again that would boost the costs. You might be able to do a crater visit on your arrival day, as well as your departure day. You had mentioned possible regret with only 1 day at the crater.

To make the best use of your time and money and to get the best experience, I would like to have you explain why you wish to spend 5 days in Zanzibar. I want to be sure 5 is not just a number picked out of the air. My bias is to spend max time on safari because beaches and picturesque cities can be found elsewhere in the world.

With your budget as tight as it is, I would not do Swala. Instead, I'd go to Tarangire (Tented) Safari Lodge. These are tented camps that would give you a luxury tented camp experience. (Maybe not as fancy or remote as Swala, but a good experience.) The location would also require less driving (perhaps saving some costs in fuel) and I think it is better for wildlife. Then maybe you could have enough money for one more day in the crater.

September will be a nice time to go and your locations will take advantage of that.
atravelynn is offline  
Jul 18th, 2008, 10:35 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 16
Thanks atravelynn...we heeded your advice and ended up leaving Ngorongoro for the end of the safari so that we could keep open an option to extend for another day and do a second crater visit. This would then leave us 4 days in Zanzibar.
We left that much time for ZNZ because we really like the beach and snorkeling/kayaking etc., and wanted to have time to go to the forest and spice plantation while still having some relaxation time. Also we wanted to move around the island a bit--a night or two in Stone Town and then some in the north and/or east. Also, as you mentioned, longer safaris are more expensive!
We had wanted to leave a day for Arusha so we could do a day hike somewhere beautiful, maybe with a view of Kilimanjaro, but it seems that all of the parks around Arusha have very high entry fees (Kilimanjaro, Arusha National Park, etc) and that you need to be on an organized tour to get there. Is this true? Anyone have any suggestions on this?
Thanks as always!
rachel_gb is offline  
Jul 19th, 2008, 07:56 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Check to see when you have to decide on 1 or 2 crater visits. I don't know if that can be done spur of the moment or a few days in advance.

Your Zanzibar days will be fun-filled.
atravelynn is offline  

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