Serengeti help!

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Feb 25th, 2013, 09:03 AM
  #1
JEF
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Serengeti help!

I will be making plans for 2014 to go to Tanzania/Serengeti. What is the best time to go weather wise if you could pick any month/s. would love to do about a 12 day trip. Suggestions on companies to use would be great! interested in seeing the wildebeest and any of the BIG 5. I know this has been discussed and I will be told do some leg work and I am, just nice to hear what people think who have actually gone and used a particular company or specifics that you can share. Budget is about $8,000. Very interested in photography. Any help or any advice on anything that you know would be greatly appreciated!
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Feb 25th, 2013, 09:15 AM
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Natural Migrations did a really good job of my itinerary back 2012. I have been to Tanzania a couple of times in various seasons so can say without prejudice that any time of year is great. Now I'll wait for those to chop my neck because I have stuck it out...

To qualify: I too am an avid photographer and enjoy capturing landscapes in all moods, light etc, so I find the wet season pretty dramatic too.

If you want to see the migration, you will between March & August. At that period the herds are moving north toward Kenya. As they move you will need to pick your lodging to be near the herds, so for Jan - march find somewhere in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, March - May if you can find camps that are open in the Seronera region this is a good location. June & July try and position yourself in the western corridor and then Mid July to early September find a camp in the northern Serengeti.

The Aug/Sept period is normally a high demand time requiring early booking. It is also a really awful time to be chasing the migration because that is what everyone is doing, so take care in selecting your camp so that you are at least a distance from the main traffic areas.

Plan for 2014..
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Feb 25th, 2013, 10:22 AM
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I just got back from Tanzania on Saturday (two days ago). The migration was in Ndutu then (near Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater), and we spent three days there. There were animals in the other parks we went to, but that was the most populous, literally wildebeest and zebras to the horizon in every direction.

We used Access2Tanzania, who were fabulous. I'm just now catching up and will do a more complete trip report shortly, but I'm ready to go back right now!!!
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Feb 25th, 2013, 10:42 AM
  #4
JEF
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Thank you so much for your advice! Do the companies you used give you bottled water for your drives? Anything that you may think is helpful that I may not thing of or maybe you didn't until you were in Africa.
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Feb 25th, 2013, 10:49 AM
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Jef, yes, there is bottled water in the vehicle (at least with A2T) and also all the camps/lodges provide bottled water so you don't even brush your teeth with tap water. They are very invested in you not falling ill, so they seem to think of everything.

I would take less clothing. For 2 weeks, I took 5 pairs of pants/shorts and 7 tops and it was too much. I also took a fleece and a windbreaker, hearing that the mornings are "cold" but coming from Boston where it was 20 degrees when I left, I needed neither. 60-65 in the early morning felt tropical to me. I was comfortable in short sleeves the entire time.

I would also take a thermal mug with me next time. The coffee there is to die for and I would have loved to have a mug of it with me on the early morning game drives!

Whatever you do, do not pass up the early morning drives. Every day that was our most productive drive in terms of quality wildlife experiences. Sometimes around sundown was good too, but hands down early mornings (on the road by 6 am) were best.
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Feb 25th, 2013, 11:02 AM
  #6
JEF
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amyb, thank you. how was the weather for you. may go this time next year.Did you get to see the wildebeest? Any place you stayed stood out to you?
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Feb 25th, 2013, 11:08 AM
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I went to TZ in mid June, which was just the end of the rainy season and everything was pretty green. It wasn't too hot and we had no rain during the 12 days we were there. The migration at that time was in the Seronera and western corridor areas of the Serengeti - both areas we stayed in, so we saw plenty of wildies and zebras.
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Feb 25th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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The weather was wonderful. Almost too warm in Arusha, where we were the first and last days. But once in the parks, it was 80-85 and dry heat, not humid like we get here in Boston.

The Ngorongoro Farmhouse is gorgeous and very splurge-y. I loved the tented camps though. We stayed in those in Maramboi, Ndutu and Serengeti. You can hear the animals around you all night (waking up to roaring lions) and it's as close to nature as you get. I thought all our accommodations were excellent, I'd return to them all.

Yes, the migration was in Ndutu where we spent a few days, so we saw literally hundreds of thousands of zebra and wildebeest. I do not exaggerate in the least. As far as you can see in every direction. Lots of newborn wildebeest calves too. It's a great thing to experience. Also saw a couple of lion prides, two pairs of lions mating, a pair of zebra mating, two cheetah stalks (but unsuccessful kills) and many, many solo or coalitions of lion and cheetah siblings. About 400 elephants in one watering hole in Tarangire, about 200 hippos in a pool in Serengeti. It is almost unbelievable writing it here, it doesn't seem real!
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Feb 25th, 2013, 11:52 AM
  #9
JEF
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amyb, WOW! I cannot wait to go. Everytime I read about the trips and see pics, it is truly incredible!!! Thank you for all of your help, will look into eveything you said.
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Feb 25th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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I'd highly recommend The Wild Source in Colorado. Bill Given is a wildlife biologist and, as such, is highly focused on putting you in areas with the best wildlife viewing for the time of year you go. He also has hand-picked guides and now has his own outfitting company in Tanzania. I've been to northern Tanzania 5 times (February 1x, June 2x, early August 1x and September 1x). As noted, the Migration herds will be in the southern Serengeti (Ndutu area) in that February timeframe. However, it can be rather hot then (100 degrees when we were there.) The weather is more pleasant in the June - August timeframe (cooler.) In June, the Migration herds "may" be in the Seronera area or the Western Corridor. But the first time I was there in June, they had already moved into the private reserves north of the Western Corridor, where you can't travel unless you are a guest. Usually by September the Migration herds have mostly moved into Kenya's Masai Mara. I think my favorite time has been the early August timeframe. Last year, we were in the Serengeti in three areas: Seronera in the central Serengeti (good resident wildlife there, but also lots of vehicles), Bologonja in the northeastern Serengeti (preferred camp was full) and the Lemai Wedge in the northwestern part up next to the Masai Mara. This was my favorite area; the Migration herds were all around us and we saw a couple of crossings of the Mara River which runs through this part of the Serengeti.
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Feb 26th, 2013, 05:25 AM
  #11
JEF
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ShayTay, thank you. will check out the wild source!
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Feb 26th, 2013, 06:32 AM
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Here is a chart of when to go where base on weather/animal movements. As weather becomes less predictable, the usefulness of any chart is reduced. Still a good guide, along with the comments of Shaytay, above.

http://www.africa-adventure.com/dsp_besttime.html

The more interested you are in photography (serious amateur or pro) the more important it is to have a private vehicle to reduce the vehicle shake caused by others and to spend time with the subjects you wish for as long as you wish.

Actually a private vehicle for two people is reasonable in comparison to a lot of group trips. Even for one, like me, it is do-able, if you avoid the high end properties.

Bill at the Wild Source has provided lots of people with great trips and I'd like to use his company some day. You can also check out The Africa Adventure Co, see above link on where to go. I've used them in the Serengeti and other places, all was great. My next Serengeti trip (10 nts in Serengeti) is in a couple of days with Eben Schoeman Signature Safaris. http://www.ebensafaris.com/search/label/Home I was impressed with my guide and arrangements on the last trip with him. He helped me with a Flycatcher Safari which is a Swiss German company serving mostly Swiss and German clients. An economical option even in pricey N. Serengeti. Great!

To save money, you can choose lodges over camps in central or southern Serengeti. If you choose a group trip of about 6 in a vehicle through OAT or Africa Adventure or Lion World or whoever, that can save some money, especially if air is included. Your 12 days will likely be in Tanzania though, not all in the Serengeti. To get 12 in the Serengeti, you probably have to do a private trip. The Ngorongoro Crater was mentioned above. If you have 12 nights, at least one should be spent at the crater, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can arrange 2 visits to the crater, spending one night. The crater is next to the Serengeti and transport between them can be done in under half a day.

If $8K is for land only and you have 12 nts, then that is $667 per day. That can work for a private safari.

I'll stick in a link to my trip report that included the Serengeti in Sept 2011.

http://safaritalk.net/topic/7679-north-south-tanzania/
The parts about Serengeti are posts #9 and #25-#27. Numbers are in the upper right corner on the green stripe.


Finally, since you mentioned you want to see some of the Big 5, you might want to consider the Maasai Mara in Kenya in addition to or instead of the Serengeti as an option. Either or both will provide you a fantastic trip.

Keep us posted on your planning. Exciting times ahead.
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Feb 26th, 2013, 07:43 AM
  #13
JEF
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atravelynn WOW thank you so much! This is a great start. three of us (of up to possible 6) are meeting this weekend to go over what we would like to see and do and come up with some sort of plan. Yes 7-8K is for land only, we want to pick a company first of course reliable, but then, that they have the water, snacks, food all included so we do not need to worry about anything other than enjoying and taking pictures of a lifetime!want running water and toilets but want to get full safari effect. thank you all!!!
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Feb 26th, 2013, 12:43 PM
  #14
 
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I am leaving for my trip on July 18th and went through African Brothers. One thing I did find out in all my research is different tour operators charge different prices for the same
accommodations in the same tent camp. As much as $3,500 per person so shop around.
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Feb 26th, 2013, 08:15 PM
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If you have 3 then definitely do a private trip. With 6, you'll be able to really spread out the fixed costs of driver and vehicle.

In Tanzania bottled water is usually included. At lodges sometimes you buy your beverage with the meal, be it water or something else. At camps usually water is included. All meals/food are normally included along with water in the vehicles.

What's not included is the entry visa, tips, trip insurance, sometimes small fees for laundry in camp.

Some companies include evacuation insurance (Flying Doctors) as part of the trip cost.

Running water and ensuite flush toilets are typical unless you are doing a budget camping trip. Always good to check, though.

You may wish to consult 2 or 3 companies initially and then narrow it down to one based on their suggestions. That way you get different perspectives and ideas and have some checks & balances so as not to be overcharged $3500.

Here are some more Serengeti reports from that site.

http://safaritalk.net/topic/10294-ta.../?hl=serengeti

http://safaritalk.net/topic/9593-ser.../?hl=serengeti

http://safaritalk.net/topic/8351-our.../?hl=serengeti


http://safaritalk.net/topic/8039-nor.../?hl=serengeti

http://safaritalk.net/topic/8039-nor.../?hl=serengeti

http://safaritalk.net/topic/7908-of-.../?hl=serengeti

http://safaritalk.net/topic/7094-ser.../?hl=serengeti

Have fun at your group meeting. You can post ideas and questions raised.
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Feb 27th, 2013, 05:03 AM
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And here is a report in progress as I write.

http://safaritalk.net/topic/10310-ta...c-trip-report/
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Feb 27th, 2013, 06:02 AM
  #17
JEF
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atravelynn, thank you so much you have been great!
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Feb 27th, 2013, 08:41 AM
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My trip report, in progress. I'll eventually cross-post here, but without photos:

http://safaritalk.net/topic/10344-ta...ime-on-safari/
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Feb 27th, 2013, 09:29 AM
  #19
 
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Will be traveling as a single, need to find a trip that would not make me odd person out. Had a bad experience years ago, so somewhat reluctant to travel to remote spots as a singe.
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Feb 27th, 2013, 09:29 AM
  #20
 
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A good sourse for information about Tanzania and safari companies is at Travel Advisor:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum...-Tanzania.html

Well recommended and at a good price Basecamp Safari Tanzania at

www.basecamptanzania.com/safaris.htm
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