Six weeks in Africa: Tanzania + Southern Africa

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Apr 12th, 2012, 06:58 AM
  #1
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Six weeks in Africa: Tanzania + Southern Africa

Hi all,

Me and a few friends have six weeks in July and August to travel this summer, and we are starting to put together an itinerary. Our initial idea is to do a two part trip consisting of the following.

Part 1: Tanzania

We heard that June is the ideal time to visit the Serengeti for a chance to see migrating wildebeests cross the Grumeti river. Would early July most likely be too late for this? What is the ideal amount of time to spend there? Also, are there other parks we should consider instead of the Serengeti? I pose this last question because the wikitravel site actually says that the Serengeti gets packed with tourists, and Ruaha National Park is (according to locals) much better.

Part 2: Southern Africa

In the second leg, we are hoping to do a road trip that starts in Capetown, goes up the Skeleton Coast into Etosha, cut east and visit the Okavango Delta, before turning south and ending the trip in Johannesburg. What would be the ideal amount of time for this type of trip, and would it be worth doing in mid July / early August? Any driving concerns we should be aware of? Route suggestions or interesting stops along the way?

Would love to hear any general feedback on this plan, or any hidden "off the beaten path" destinations that we can incorporate. My friends and I are experienced at traveling in developing countries, and generally enjoy active, outdoor activities. None of us have been to Africa before though, so we would also be interested in visiting unique towns to experience the local culture.

Thanks in advance for the help
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Apr 12th, 2012, 08:21 AM
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mvz, I can only comment on the northern Tz portion of your plans. Others will comment on Ruaha and Part 2.

July is peak season in Tz and as such, you may be at the mercy of where you can get accommodation at this late date, unless you're planning a camping safari?

Early July might not be too early to see a river crossing; I saw it in early July 2008 in the Northern Serengeti at the Mara River. That year, there were NO migrating animals in the western corridor...they were all up north. In late July 2011, we saw hundreds of thousands of wildebeest mustering at the Mara River, but only a few made a half-baked attempt to cross. This is an unpredictable event that is dependent on the rains. At the very least, you'd see the herds. There is also a lot of resident game in the Serengeti that you'd see.

A typical northern safari circuit itinerary for July also includes Tarangire National Park (famous for baobabs, tree-climbing pythons, and large herds of elephant in the dry season), the Ngorongoro Crater (world heritage site, full of animals), and perhaps Lake Manyara National Park.

I spent a night in a Maasai boma last year - it was one of the highlights of my 3 safaris to Tz. You mention being interested in cultural experiences, so you might want to consider this.

I hope you can solidify your plans soon - July isn't too far away! Have fun with the planning.
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Apr 12th, 2012, 08:46 AM
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In July, start in Tarangire NP, continue on to the Ngorongoro Crater, then into the Serengeti. You can split your time there between the central (Seronera) and northern parts of the park. As Calo notes, however, you might find most places booked by now.

One poster here, canadian_robin, did a similar self-drive trip in southern Africa. This is a link to their journal and photos from the Bots portion of the trip:

http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Trav...6570901_CHCFz5

On the first page, you'll find a link to their South Africa and Namibia portion of the trip.
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Apr 12th, 2012, 09:39 AM
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Thanks for the great info guys. That blog is extremely detailed and thorough -- exactly what we need!

One general question though: does it make sense to do BOTH Tanzania and Southern Africa in the same trip? Are the experiences different enough to warrant the extra cost of a one-way ticket from DAR to CPT? In terms of 1) seeing wildlife, 2) seeing unique landscapes, and 3) experiencing the African culture, do you think this itinerary makes sense for 6 weeks, or would we be better of choosing one or the other?
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Apr 12th, 2012, 03:18 PM
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I've done a self drive in S Africa. With the excellent National Parks system they have, it can be affordable. We also found some camps that we can afford and be taken care of (I find self-catering exhausting after a while). In addition to robin's report, I know of a few people (first time Africa visitors) who self drove in Namibia inexpensively. robin, I believe, also self drove in Zambia. More difficult, but doable. We met a couple who also drove to Mozambique. So southern Africa is definitely a self-drive destination. If you click on my name you can find our trip report, with costs and camps. It was three weeks of fun. In combo with cr's report, a six week trip is easy to plan. I'd love 6 weeks!!

I don't know how easy a Tanzania self drive would be. We've not been yet. Personally, I'd do just one area. But 6 weeks gives you enough time. I would rather immerse myself in one area. Go to the other one next time (yes, there will be a next time).
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Apr 13th, 2012, 05:32 AM
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Thanks christabir. Any idea what we should expect to pay for a land rover rental (per week)?
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Apr 13th, 2012, 06:17 AM
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Self-driving would seem to be more time-consuming than just doing a tour with an outfitter that knows their way around. As Christabir suggests, you might want to stick with one area, most likely southern Africa for the amount of time you have. Their infrastructure is better than Tanzania's, too. In some areas, such as in the Ngorongoro Crater itself, I don't think you're allowed to "self drive" anyway.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 03:41 AM
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For more great reading, here is canadian_robin's report of their self-drive in Kenya and Tanzania:

http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Trav...38901400_BHybf
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Apr 15th, 2012, 08:53 AM
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"...expect to pay for a land rover rental (per week)?"

Avis works out of JNB - http://www.avis.co.za/main.aspx?ID=367&SOR=0168232L

For Group I SUV looks like around $700 per week.

regards - tom
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Apr 15th, 2012, 12:18 PM
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mzv - it depends on the SUV you want. If you need a "tricked out" LR with all the gear included, you're looking at a specialist and well over $1000/week. If you just need an SUV big enough for your party and all your stuff, you may be able to get one through Avis. For S Africa, an SUV is fine if you use the national parks accommodations that include beds, kitchens and utensils. If you're camping, you'll need all the gear. I believe they call that "Caravanning" in southern Africa. Google it and see what you get. And check out CR's postings. She does it often.

How many are going? Any more than five could be a problem - too much stuff and too little space for you and your stuff.
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Apr 17th, 2012, 10:27 AM
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Thanks all!

Based on some of your responses, we've gotten in touch with Discover Namibia Tours (Gemma Dry) and they're preparing a 2.5 week self-drive itinerary for us that runs from Windhoek to Livingstone. Tentatively it will look something like:

1. Windhoek
2. Sesriem
3. Sesriem
4. Swakopmund
5. Swakopmund
6. Damaraland
7. Etosha
8. Etosha
9. Etosha
10. N'Kwazi (Caprivi Region)
11. Shakawe
12. Moremi
13. Moremi
14. Moremi
15. Chobe
16. Chobe
17. Victoria Falls

Would love to hear feedback on whether this is too rushed, or if we are overlooking a major stop that could bring something special.
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Apr 18th, 2012, 08:45 AM
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Sorry mzv - can't help with Namibia. It's a big place, though. Have you mapped it to see how far it is between camps? Give yourself plenty of time - roads can be unpredictable. Moremi and Chobe are excellent. The beginning of your trip will be about scenery and vistas, then wildlife after that. Is this what you are interested in?

So where are you going for the next three weeks? I highly recommend S Africa. Their National Park system is excellent. The people are even better.
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Apr 18th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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The remaining three weeks will likely be spent in South Africa. Definitely want to see Jburg, Capetown, and maybe go diving in PE.

If you have some additional recommendations, I'd love to hear them
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Apr 18th, 2012, 10:24 AM
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The diving off the KwaZulu Natal coast is in the top ten (according to "experts"). That said, I would fly from Vic Falls to CT, do the city any way you want, then fly to JNB and drive to Kruger, drive through Swaziland and head to the KZN coast. There are some interesting diving camps in the Kosi Bay area. Then drive back to JNB. (you can do CT at the beginning or end). I'm a safari girl, so I would add Hluhluwe NP into my plan and maybe Mkhuzu. But Kruger is spectacular! A must do, IMHO.

Sounds like lots of fun. Six weeks is quite a luxury.
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Apr 18th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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"any hidden "off the beaten path" destinations"

Wouldn't call that itinerary off the beaten path. More like the Coca Cola Trail. If you want to go off the beaten path, I suggest something else -- in Botswana, or Zimbabwe and Zambia would make more sense. Remote, wild, lots of wildlife, small villages, and not camping with 2 dozen or more other people.
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Apr 19th, 2012, 02:01 PM
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We too are planning a trip to Namibia through Botswana to VIC Falls. Our itinerary maps yours almost exactly. We have not done it yet, but my research suggests that there will be a couple of days with 6 hours of driving, but overall a manageable trip and I think 17 days will be about right. We will be going later in the year, so we would love to read your trip report when you get home!

We did 4 weeks self-driving in South Africa a few years ago. Here is a link to my trip report - it may give you some ideas.
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...-mauritius.cfm
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Apr 25th, 2012, 07:22 AM
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Hi luangwablondes,

Just curious about your comment about the "Coca Cola trail". What exactly will the experience be like at these destinations? Will we be camping out with a dozen other tourists and then following the same routes through the parks in a line of cars? Is it going to feel like we're driving through the Six Flags safari in NJ?

Also, I'd love to get a sense for what you think would be some of the more interesting, lesser-known destinations in Botswana. Thanks!
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Apr 30th, 2012, 01:35 AM
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If you want wildlife, wonderful landscapes, desert, quite roads, then Namibia is not to be missed. Some areas not mentioned is The Spitzkoppe & Erongo mountains in the Erongo Region, very small towns of the beaten track are Usakos & Karibib, lots of rock art in the caves, rare desert plant welwitschia. I have visited in July not so busy with tourists, hot days cold nights.

August is the wettest month in Cape Town but a good time to see whales.
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