Tanzania in March? And other assorted questions

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Aug 1st, 2005, 09:02 AM
  #1
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Tanzania in March? And other assorted questions

Planning a safari trip for March and I am confused about whether or not that is a good time for my at the moment sketchy itinerary. Money is not an issue, but time is. I have exactly 3 weeks including travel time from NYC. So, here are the questions:
1. March an okay time to go to Tanzania region?
2. Looking at Ngongoro Crater, Serengeti, and then maybe up to Masai in Kenya. We want to spend the last 4 days of the trip in Zanzibar for scuba.
3. Based on the above stops, which order would be best?
4. How many nights each place?
5. How do we travel in between?
6. Does it make sense to find a guide to take us from place to place and stay with us the whole way, or do we just need to get between destinations with a guide?

I just started looking at all of this and frankly, it is really overwhelming. Any suggestions, even a brutal critique is welcome. I can take it!
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Aug 1st, 2005, 09:39 AM
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As many here will tell you, March is a great time to go to TZ. But it's very high season, so you need to get cooking with your accommodations bookings if you're talking about March 2006.

Rocco is planning a late Feb. trip--see if you can search and find his and other Feb/March TZ posts; there are plenty.

If time is an issue, you could skip the Mara this time of year.

I'd looove to be able to go in March. Lucky you!

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Aug 1st, 2005, 10:00 AM
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bwanamitch
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I don't remember all the trip reports, but all my other sources tell me that the longer rains start around mid March, and that January/February would be a much better choice for Tanzania. Am I wrong?

Mitch
 
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Aug 1st, 2005, 10:04 AM
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You're probably right, but I thought long rains were April/May. (Hmm, it's weather, so I bet it varies.)

So maybe first half of March would be a safer bet?
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Aug 1st, 2005, 10:30 AM
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Most northern Tanzania itineraries are conducted as driving safaris or one way drives combined with a one way flight to or from the Serengeti and Arusha. In this case the same driver/guide would accompany you throughout and provide both your transportation between parks and conduct your game drives. There are a few exceptions where the camp may require you to take game drives using their vehicles and guides (usually high end camps located on private conservation areas) but not that many.

If you want to end up in Zanzibar, I would visit the Masai Mara first as I don't like the idea of crossing back and forth between countries. Your Masai Mara portion can be either a driving or flying safari. If driving, the distance from Nairobi is about 6 hours. You'd make your way back to Nairobi (either fly or drive) afterwards, then make your way from Nairobi to Arusha/Kilimanjaro (1 hour flight or 5 hour shuttle) and start your northern Tanzania driving safari from Arusha. At the conclusion of your Tanzania portion, you could fly from the Serengeti to Arusha/Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar.

There's also a road border crossing on the western side of Kenya/Tanzania which is another option but the drives are long and you would need to break it up into 2 days overnighting somewhere in between. So you could leave the Masai Mara, overnight at Speke Bay on Lake Victoria and drive to the Serengeti the following day (about 10 hours total). This would allow you to bypass backtracking through Nairobi/Arusha. Then you would start your Tanzania driving safari in the Serengeti and make your way back to Arusha/Kilimanjaro in a sort of circle and fly to Zanzibar at the conclusion. This western border crossing is called Isebania on the Kenya side and I believe Sirari on the Tanzania side.

There has been some mention on various message boards of the possibility of crossing directly between the Masai Mara and Serengeti if you're traveling in your own vehicle, but I don't know if any tour operators are willing to do this and what it entails.

As Leely said, you might want to nail down your Tanzania accomodations soon. Good luck with your planning!
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 06:06 AM
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Thank you! This sounds like too much flying back and forth. Would it be more reasonable to just skip Masai Mara? Can anyone recommend a tour company to assist with all these logistics?
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 06:30 AM
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That's a very nice block of time, and many safari visitors to Tanzania travel the northern safari circuit (Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro and Serengeti). You can drive between all them -- well, actually, you would drive with a guide. From Serengeti, you could fly to Zanzibar.

March 2006 is not that far off, and many lodges fill up quickly. I haven't used them, but there are good reviews for Roy's Safaris, and in any event, it may be checking out there and others websites for suggested itineraries. If money really isn't a concern, you could spend twice as much and go with Abercrombie & Kent, Micato or a high-end US operator, but you could do the same trip much less affordably with an Arusha-based operator.

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Aug 2nd, 2005, 07:26 AM
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Wow, did I type that -- lots of typos. In last sentence, I meant "less expensively" or "more affordably" but you get the drift.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 09:38 AM
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I agree it's a lot of flying around and you can certainly spend all of your time in Tanzania alone and experience things at a slower pace.

There are several Tanzania based tour operators including Roys, Good Earth, Tanzania Serengeti Adventures, as well as out of country agents such as Africa Travel Resource that are frequently mentioned here. All of the above will put together a custom itinerary for you. Look through some of the other threads here and you'll find many more recommendations other than the ones I've listed.

I would put together an itinerary outline with the type of accomodations you prefer (or chose specific accomodations) and contact a few tour operators for quotes. Keep in mind that for Tanzania in March availability may be limited at this point, so you may have to accept alternate accomodations or be waitlisted for your first choice with a backup option confirmed. Good luck!
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 09:51 AM
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bugswife,

This is a fun website to look at their maps/accommodations. Obviously, some places aren't listed, but it's somewhat comprehensive:

http://www.africadreamsafaris.com/lodges/serengeti.html

Anyway, you can poke around on that for a while to get an idea of what you might like. I think Africa Dream is pretty expensive, however (although didn't you say money was no object??).

bwanamitch's safari portal is also fantastic.

Warning: looking at this stuff can be addictive. And, as a few people have mentioned, you may not get your ideal accommos this late.

However, you will still certainly have a fabulous time! Beautiful, stunning area.

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Aug 2nd, 2005, 01:28 PM
  #11
sandi
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Welcome to Africa!

Many of the accommodations for March '06 in the Southeastern/Central Serengeti where the "calving" season of the Wildebeests takes place - probably booked. Not to say, that other options aren't available, such as mobile camping; or being waitlisted for lodges, permanent tented camps or semi-permanent camp of which there aren't all that many in these areas and most are rather small (few rooms, few tents).

But all isn't lost until you contact some of the outfitters to ascertain what is available and if available you're going to have to book immediately... because there'll be someone right behind you waiting for the space - it's prime time.

If budget is not a problem and mobile camping is all that is available, expect to pay in the range of $500+/pp/pn - yes expensive, but everything is included - accommodations, three meals, game drives and usually your liquor bill.

As Patty mentioned, there are drive options between the Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania, but the distances are long and if using either you'll have to overnight somewhere - Nairobi if in the East or Speke Bay in the West. Besides, at this time of year you don't want to be as far West as the Speke Bay overnight would bring you.

Also, as Patty mentions, for travel in March I'd fly into Nairobi and do the Mara first - consider something like:

Day 1 - Lv. JFK (via AMS on KLM)
Day 2 - Arv. NBO - o/n here - many choices, prices
Day 3 - Fly to Masai Mara - o/n here Serena Lodge, Mara Intrepids or Mara Explorer Camps
Day 4 - Masai Mara
Day 5 - Masai Mara
Day 6 - Fly from Mara to NBO, lunch, drive to Amboseli - o/n Serena Lodge, Ol Tukai Lodge, Tortilis Camp
Day 7 - Amboseli
Day 8 - Drive to Namanga border, transfer vehicles here, drive to Arusha, lunch, afternoon cultural tour - o/n Arusha (it'll give you a breather before doing the Tanzania circuit) - o/n Serena Mountain Village, Ngurduto Lodge, Movairo Coffee Lodge
Day 9 - Drive to Tarangire - o/n Tarangire River Camp, Kikoti, Tree Tops Camp or Swala camp
Day 10 - Late morning drive to Ngorongoro Crater - lunch, afternoon Crater Rim Walk - o/n Serena Lodge or Crater Lodge
Day 11 - Morning Crater Tour - afternoon opion to do Olmorti (sp) crater walk - o/n Serena Lodge or Crater Lodge
Day 12 - Drive via Olduvai Gorge (brief stop) continue to accommodation in Southeast or Central Serengeti - lodging will be limited - check what is available, or request semi-permanent camping with EMC (Exclusive Mobile Camping) or mobile camping as provided by your safari outfitter
Day 13 - Serengeti
Day 14 - Serengeti
Day 15 - Serengeti
Day 16 - Serengeti
Day 17 - Fly from Centra/Seronera Serengeti (via Arusha) to Zanzibar - o/n lots of choices, varied prices. If scuba a serious interest I'd choose a resort on the Northeast coast of Zanzibar or Ras Nungwi (northern tip); or consider flying onto Pemba Island which has excellent scuba sites - o/n here Fundu Lagoon.
Day 18 - Zanzibar or Pemba
Day 19 - Zanzibar or Pemba
Day 20 - Zanzibar or Pemba
Day 21 - Fly from ZNZ or Pemba to JRO for evening homebound flight.
Day 22 - Arv - JFK

If you have to cut, then omit Tarangire, reduce Ngorongoro to 1-nt (omit Olmorti Crater) or 1-day Serengeti or Zanzibar/Pemba.

As indicated above, except for the Mara and time in Zanzibar/Pemba, you will have your own guide/driver (and mobile camping crew in Serengeti, if this is your choice or only optio). In Mara you will share game viewing in lodge/camp vehicle with other guests - no more then 4.

Any of the often recommended tour outfitters found on this board - Roys, Good Earth, ATR, others - should be able to handle this itinerary with no problem whatsoever. Your only concern for March travel is availability... but mobile camping is always an option.

Hope this gives you an idea of how to schedule your time.
 
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Aug 4th, 2005, 12:30 PM
  #12
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okay, too confusing. I just spent an hour on the phone with African Adventures (Andre), and he is sending me some itineraries. They come highly recommended by friends, so I think I will give them a shot. I will post the itinerary when we pick it, with all the details. Thank you!
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