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Tanzania birding and wildlife trip: proposed itinerary

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Sep 14th, 2011, 08:40 AM
  #21
 
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The walk in Arusha NP is great... done it a few times. You usually walk back to a waterfall with an armed ranger.
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Sep 14th, 2011, 09:13 AM
  #22
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A few folks have mentiond Kirurumu and I'll check into it. I think that the Serena may have better birding on their grounds, which is perhaps why it was selected. Note they mention birding around the lodge in the evening. This is probably not possible in Kirurumu!

Good to hear that the walk in Arusha is great--I'm looking forward to being able to get out and walk in the bush instead of viewing everything from a vehicle the entire trip.
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Sep 14th, 2011, 01:53 PM
  #23
 
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Your itinerary very similar to mine last Feb 2011. Don't really have much to add but I'lll throw in my 2 cents anyway.

We stayed at Lake M Serena and was very nice, great meals, good location to Park. In Serengeti we stayed also at that Serena -but- I thought its location up in the hills was poor. And since heard same from others and that the Seronera is better location in Serengeti. So you're better there. Except, well, you know what I think about the Serengeti no off-roading. Might consider the Park filming permit there? Ngoronora Sopa very nice lodge, biggest rooms we had, best access to Crater. Gibbs Farm is standard stop on way back out of Ngorongoro. Four of our group did that but Per and I went back to Ndutu for two more (unproductive) nights. We then drove back to Lake M for overnight again at L M Serena. Next morning back to Arusha to the African Tulip for half day clean-up and re-packing for trip home. That was nice, having several hours in hotel before going back to JRO airport. (For the long boring wait at JRO has-nothing-waiting-area). Now if you can just wait out the year-and-half

regards - tom
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Sep 16th, 2011, 03:55 AM
  #24
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Thanks for the info/confirmation Tom. I wonder how much the Park filming permit is? Probably more than we'd want to spend. But, I think I can deal with no off-roading (after all, Kruger is the same.)

I will just have to plan some other trips to fill out the year and a half, LOL. Trying to figure out somewhere to go next summer, that's not so expensive!
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Sep 16th, 2011, 11:46 AM
  #25
 
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Filming Permit -
http://www.tanzaniaparks.com/parkfee...ed-2011-05.pdf
Go to last page section "T. Filming Fees"
$100 US per person per day

I'm -assuming- this allows off road "filming". Sanjay should know this. Yeah, another $100 per day, $200 for you both. But from my limited (2 days) in the Serengeti I'd probably go for it. You can probably wait and decide when you check into the Park entrance.

regards - tom
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Sep 26th, 2011, 05:52 AM
  #26
 
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Hi, just joined here and it might be a bit late, though you might still be interested in some advice. I'm a birder, living in Tanzania. It looks like you've rooted for the Feb 2013 version, rather than August? That's a good idea for a birder (March or April even better, to be honest), August isn't the peak time - though you'd still see loads.

Next, I usually do the lark plains as a 1/2 day from Arusha - it's not a full day's trip usually, though I'm sure you could enjoy the birds there for a whole day, especially as you're not planning any real dry country birding anywhere else. I know some of the tours tack it on to the end of a session in Arusha NP, or as a detour en route to Tarangire.

Arusha NP - if you go for the walk, you want to get there really early. Get don't ask for the standard walk, get them to take you to the top of the road on the Maru crater (as far as you can drive) and then walk back down to the ranger post. This is your only scheduled forest walk too, so you'll want to see lots! If you got for a drive instead, get them tot ake you to the smaller crater, southern side where no-one else goes. It's much easier to hop out fo the car when you find feeding flocks on this route - and it goes higher. But don't miss Momella Lakes, as there are birds here you'll want to see too.

Tarangire is great for birds - better than any other savannah park in TZ, I'd say. And the safari lodge is fine if you want to keep costs down - whilst there I'd not recommend piling in the car first thing, but rather walk up and down the escarpment in front of the tents from dawn - I usually get about 60 species in 40 mins, and then I get to enjoy my breakfast! Make sure you get a day down at Silale (if you do the other route and stay at Olivers this is easy, but a packed lunch from TSL is also fine).

Ngongorongoro crater - always some good birds here, both on the plains and at the swamps/lakes. The crater rim is also good for highland species - ask for a short detour on one of your trips over along the first few Ks of the Endulen Road (comes off the main road just near the airstrip - there are some easy highland grassland species here - Jackson's and Red-collared Widowbirds, Malachite SB, etc). In fact, I'd ask your driver to take you to Ndutu via this road if you've got time - there's some great birding in the forest further down too and you can hop out and have a look at a few points - should net yellow-crowned canary and some other nice things. But if it's been raining lots the last stage across to Ndutu is horrific and not worth it!

Ndutu - lots of camps as well as the lodge, during the season (make sure you're on the NCA side, not Serengeti NP side though. It's worth visiting despite increasing numbers of cars in peak season (which it will be in Feb, with wildies calving - awesome sight though!). You should get most of the Serengeti endemics around here too.

Seronera - lots of people, rather similar birds to Ndutu, to be honest. (But great for Leopards!) There's almost no chance of the migration being here in Feb, and you're not going to get many new birds.

Mbalageti - the western corridor has some special birds coming in from Lake Victoria - black-headed gonolek, eastern grey plaintain-eater, for example. It's wetter, greener and lusher than any other savannah area you're planning to go to - and much quieter. I'd chose this over Seronera, any time.

Gibb's Farm - I know it's just for a few hours, but don't mess about in the gardens here unless you have to, nip out the back to the NCA gate and go for a walk to the elephant caves (2hrs or so), the birding in the forest is much better than in the gardens and you'll definitely see more and different things here.

A few other points: if you're really keen birders I think you might want to include some time in both dry habitats and forest. At the moment you'll have a brief walk behind Gibbs, and some time at Arusha (plus some short stops if you go via Endulen), and that's it. irding in the forest is slow, compared to the savannah - you might work hard all day to find 40 species, whereas 140 is easy in the savannah, but you go back to the forest the next day, see another 40 and most of them will be different... If you really don't want to head all the way to Amani and the East Usambaras, why not look at a visit to the West Usambaras? Still the 'wrong' way, but not quite as far. And you could easily combine it with a day trip to Mkomazi NP, for some serious dryland birding. Alternatively, why not push the western corridor difference to it's logical conclusion, and head further on to Lake Victoria for a few days - lots of new birds in the coastal strip.

Thinking about it, I reckon my ideal 2-week first birding trip to TZ on a budget would be something like:

Arrive, head east as far as I can whilst still daylight - if it's Moshi, so be it. Base at West Usambaras for 3 nights - several forest walks, and a full day down to Mkomazi.
Back to Arusha, for two nights, with a day visit to Arusha NP, exiting via the lark plains. Next day head to Tarangire, 3 nights. On to Karatu for a night - evening walk in NCA behind Gibb's. Next morning do the crater drive, and then on to Ndutu via Endulen, 3 nights. Long drive to Lake Victoria, 3 nights and fly back.

Now, I know you're worried about the flying being expensive, but (1) this itinerary will save $$$ on park fees that you'd have to pay either if you were sitting in Seronera, or driving back (you still pay $50 each just to drive through NCA), (2) you'll love flying after days of driving on mud, and (3) You'd see an awful lot more birds!

PS filiming fees don't necessarily include off-road permits: you have to justify that separately as there are reasons off-roading isn't allowed anyway. Places like Seronera would be rapidly trashed if everyone thought paying a bit more allowed them to do it.

Good luck!

http://safari-ecology.blogspot.com
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Dec 8th, 2011, 05:27 AM
  #27
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Wow, somehow I missed this long and comprehensive post--I wish Fodor's had a method for subscribing to posts the way TA does! Glad I just happened to come back to check! Thanks for all the great info. I will need to digest it a bit but I'm printing it all out. So sorry that I didn't respond sooner!

BTW I agree with you about the off-roading---as limiting as it might be I am not keen on the disturbance. We managed fine with no-off roading in Kruger and Kgalagadi, still saw plenty and got great photos too.
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Dec 9th, 2011, 08:00 PM
  #28
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atravelynn, our itinerary--is here (the one on Sept 13th, from Roy's.) Its more or less final and actually booked but we could make changes if we wanted to, I'm sure, since we've paid no deposits and its so far in advance.
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...omment-7281980

In looking at it, we have 2 nights and two full days in Tarangire (since we'd arrive mid-morning), and if the viewing is great it looks like we could actually go out in Tarangire the last morning before heading to Manyara. I am not sure how long that drive is but they seem pretty close together.
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Dec 9th, 2011, 08:16 PM
  #29
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arrgh I put that last in the wrong thread, sorry.
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Dec 10th, 2011, 05:57 AM
  #30
 
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Oh yes, here it is.


19.02 2 07h00 Drive to Tarangire. Tarangire Safari lodge.
You might beat the elephants and other herds to the river since it takes about 2 hours to drive to Tarangire from Arusha and the animals do not get to the river until it warms up. It was odd, but before 9 am there was nothing going on by the water. But I am describing dry season behavior and I've never been to Tarangire in Feb, when there is water available elsehwere.

Anyway, you'll have one full day in Tarangire.

20.02 3 Tarangire. Tarangire Safari lodge.
Another full day. If you wanted you could spend this day at the Silale Swamp. Find out about the Silale activity in Feb.

Since my first night at Tarangire was an after-dark arrival, I did not have that much more time than you will have.

21.02 4 To Lake Manyara. Lake Manyara Serena. Birding around the lodge in the evening. Dinner and overnight at Lake Manyara Serena

It is less than 2 hours from Tarangire to Manyara and Tarangire Safari Lodge is near the entrance gate, so that cuts down on transfer time. You certainly could do a final morning in Tarangire. Unless you stayed until mid-morning or later, the activity at the Tarangire River might not start. In Feb, things start warming up earlier, though, which might mean the river is active earlier. Since you have 2 nights in Manyara that would make arriving in the late afternoon on the first day a reasonable option. If you had only 1 night in Manyara, then a late afternoon arrival coupled with a morning departure could cut your birding time short. You might be able to decide how to divide your time the night before departure, just arrange lunch in the correct place or get a box.


22.02 5 05h00 Drive to the gate at Lake Manyara. Biriding/game drive. Lunch, dinner and overnight at Lake Manyara Serena.
23.02 6 To Ndutu. Ndutu Safari lodge.
Looking to this next day to see if you'd want some morning time in Manyara, I think it takes about 5 hours from Manyara to Ndutu.
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Dec 10th, 2011, 12:15 PM
  #31
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thanks atravelyn for your comments, it seems like from what you are saying that things work pretty well the way they are currently laid out. We will either have nearly two full days in Tarangire or could be 2-1/2 if conditions merit and we want that extra drive before we head to Manyara. Seems like Manyara wouldn't "need" two full days. (I say "need" because I'm of the persuasion that you can never have too much time in any one place, especially with wildlife--its never the same two days in a row.) Anyway either way we could get nearly 1-1/2 or 2 days at Manyara and from what I can see, its just really one road to traverse and not very large.

The nice thing about a private safari is that we can play this all by ear, depending on sightings, weather, etc...
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Dec 10th, 2011, 03:53 PM
  #32
 
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Right you are!
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Dec 12th, 2011, 10:35 AM
  #33
 
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Atravelynn asked me to comment on Tarangire in February. I've been there at that time of year and found it to be quite productive. In one day, we saw about 200 eles. The birdlife is prolific, too. I think you'd have a great opportunity to see birds that have migrated down from Europe in February, such as the European Roller. Tarangire is still one of my favorite areas in Tanzania for the large numbers of wildlife sighting, the landscape and also the cultural interactions I've experienced near the park.
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Dec 14th, 2011, 07:55 PM
  #34
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Thanks ShayTay I've been hearing a lot of great things about Tarangire, especially for birds, so I am quite eager to go there! Don't hear very much about Manyara but with birding in a place like Africa there is rarely a dull moment...always something to see, and photograph.
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