Tanzania itinerary and lodges help

Jul 28th, 2004, 12:33 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 250
Tanzania itinerary and lodges help

OK so I am completely addicted and we will be going for our second trip to Africa this year and fourth in 3 years!!

Decided on Northern Tanzania - as my tour op said, it will be very different to Southern T ....... but after the great reports recently I know that however busy it is we have to see the Ngorongoro crater and the Serengeti!

I would really like the East Africa experts advice though. There are two itineraries we are looking at:

Itin 1
Early morning arrive Kilimanjaro

Drive to Manyara and 1 overnight Kirurumu

Drive to Serengeti and 3 overnights (either Serena or Sopa)

Drive to Ngorongoro and 2 overnights - Serena

Drive to Tarangire and 2 overnights - probably Kikoti but open to suggestions

Drive to Arusha (overnight stay if necessary) & then Kilimanjaro airport.

Itin 2 - similar to itin 1 but with 1 more night in Serengeti and flying back to Arusha:

Manyara 1 night Kirurumu

Tarangire 2 nights - Kikoti

Ngorongoro 2 nights - Serena

Serengeti 2 nights Serena / Sopa plus 2 nights Kirawira

Fly Arusha

The advice I most need is as follows:

1. We can go any time in Oct or early Nov - when would be best.

2. Does the number of nights in each place look right.

3. Which is the best part of the Serengeti to be in at that time of year.

4. Should we do 2 x 2 nights in different areas in Serengeti or just stick to 3 in the Seronera area?

5. Any suggestions on other lodges / camps (can't afford the high luxury of the CCAfrica lodges (Kleins, Grumeti etc)

And of course any other help, advice, hints etc on Northern Tanzania.

RuthieC is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 04:08 AM
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Wow! What luck - 2nd trip this year. Really envy you.

Ok - I can't help you with all your questions, having just been there the first time (so I'll pass the ones about the best time of year - but I'm sure plenty other will have good advice on that front). But a few thoughts on your itinerary as follows:

1. To avoid backtracking, your ideal route would be Kili - Arusha - Tarangire - Manyara - Ngorongoro - Serengeti - back to Arusha; or the other way around Kili - Arusha - Serengeti - Ngorongoro - Manyara - Tarangire.

You could also do Manyara or Ngorongoro either on the way to Serengeti or on the way back. But in your Itinerary 2 for instance, Kili - Manyara - Tarangire - Ngorongoro would be backtracking. The road from Arusha bifurcates at a point - one going towards Tarangire, the other towards Manyara - Ngorongoro-Serengeti. Check out a detailed Tanzania map - there should be plenty websites available, and you will get a better sense of what I mean...

2. I haven't heard great reports from people of the game to be seen in Lake Manyara. It is a small park with 2 notable attractions - a) The only park with tree-climbing lions (apparently the lions climb trees to avoid the tse-tse flies) and b) The birds on the lake itself - which should be similar to any of the Rift Valley lakes. From what I heard, these do not justify the time spent - a few people I met said they would rather have spent the time in Serengeti.

3. The durations at Tarangire, Ngorongoro look fine - in Tarangire, you could consider the Tarangire River Camp - it is outside the park located on the river, so you would need some more time to get to the central part of the park, but we really liked our experience there. The staff were friendly, the facilities were good, and having dinner in the tree house built in a baobab tree was a great experience. But do check on game in Tarangire in Oct - Nov; someone (I think it was sandi) mentioned in an earlier post that the park is great between July - Oct.

4. I would add a day more in Serengeti - the more time in Serengeti the better as far as I am concerned. In Oct-Nov the game should be heading down south towards the Ndutu area - check out the monthly sightings info at www.ndutu.com

5. Another interesting option is the Arusha National Park - not so high up on people's lists, but I believe you get to see lots of giraffe and black colobus monkeys (which we didn't get to see in any of the other parks)

Have a great trip
freddy123 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 04:28 AM
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I won't comment on the camps since I haven't been there for over 10 years. I will however comment on the Serengeti, the most important in my mind. Or I will say the best! Before I went last year to Kenya to see the migration, I watched this site:
They have frequent postings from the camps on the migratory route. Since its different each year, you'll want to be up to date to pick your spots at whatever time you are there. I missed the dates. I think the wildebeests stay in Kenya until later October at least. When they leave the Mara is the most spectacular sight. One day they just break out in a run and they run all day for 2 or 3 days until they reach Tanzania.
Then the Ndutu website will cover them as they approach the southern conservation area, but I don't think that is until January......not sure. Liz
Liz_Frazier is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 04:50 AM
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I see that one of your questions was about Oct or early November. One more website to check the migration is:
If this year is like the usual in rains, whatever the usual is, The later the better as relates to Oct-Nov.
Liz_Frazier is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 05:14 AM
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The Seronera Lodge is centrally located in the Serengeti so you could drive anywhere from there to see the wildlife.

My suggestion though, is to do mobile tented camping while in the Serengeti.
Campsites are located throughout the park and you could set up camp at the best location for wildlife viewing for the time of year you're considering. Just an idea.

I do believe the Seronera area has
camping facilities for tour operators as well so you could still be centrally located if you choose.

And I do agree with Freddy about Manyara. I would add another night to the Serengeti first before visiting Manyara.

The Tarangire is known for better wildlife viewing (especially for eles) then Manyara.

We stayed at Kikoti while there in July of '03 and while it is nice and small (8 tents), you do have bucket showers and it's quite a way from the entrance to the park.

You can also do night drives because they are located outside the park.

Animals do frequently cross over to the Kikoti area. We were mock charged by an ele and her two calfs blocking the road to the camp.

Remember, you cannot drive off road while in most parks in Northern Tanzania, so make sure you guys have a good zoom lens.

divewop is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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RuthieC -

>>Itin 2 - similar to itin 1 but with 1 more night in Serengeti and flying back to Arusha:
Manyara 1 night Kirurumu
Tarangire 2 nights - Kikoti
Ngorongoro 2 nights - Serena
Serengeti 2 nights Serena / Sopa plus 2 nights Kirawira
Fly Arusha<<

I'd go with Itinerary 2, but would do Tarangire first as mentioned in above post, then Lk. Manyara (if you must - Manyara didn't impress me at all).

The Serena property at Ngorongoro is excellent, but when you move onto the Serengeti, I would suggest the Serena property rather than the Sopa. The Serena is centrally located, not far from the Seronera area, while the Sopa is in the South Western Serengeti.

As far as Kirawira (Western Serengeti)- is expensive (not as high as Klein's or Grumeti River), still in October. Though new prices for 2005 come out Nov 1,'04, the period Nov.1-Dec.15 is shoulder season before the Christmas period when prices rise again.

Bear this in mind when getting pricing, unless your tour operator can get a special deal at Kirawira, which is one of my favorite camps.

There are still herds of wildebeest in the Serengeti that never migrate so even in October/November you'll find them. As to the major herds from the Mara, even when they start their return to the Serengeti, they move into the North Eastern part, then moving down thru central towards the SE area by January for the start of the "calving" season soon afterwards.

And definitely fly from wherever you are in the Serengeti back to Arusha. The schedule from Seronera (great if staying at the Serena) is a scheduled flight, while a flight from Kirawira will have to be specially reserved and is more expensive. If you choose to drive from Kirawira to Seronera to save some money, the drive is at least 2-1/2 hours.

Hope some of this helps; don't forget to let us know your final decision.

Jul 28th, 2004, 03:57 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 250
Thanks everyone for the advice and information. My husband Phil agrees that this site is more useful than any guide book we have ever bought!
Our thinking on the itinerary is now:

2 nights Tarangire (still not sure which camp)

2 nights Ngorongoro Serena

4 nights Serengeti Serena

Fly back to Arusha

The only reason we were thinking of splashing out on Kirawira or one of the other camps in the North Serengeti was the chance of catching the migration. However we would have to be really really lucky to catch it in the two days we were there and to really stand any chance we would have to delay to Nov by which time Tarangire won't be as good (I think). Also the cost of these camps and of flying charter from Kirawira to Arusha vs scheduled from Seronera to Arusha will probably take us over budget!

I'm still not sure about where to stay in Tarangire so will have to do a bit more research and also ask the operators advice.

So tomorrow we'll send this off to two or three operators and hope that the price is right!!

Thanks again for everyone's help (& Liz, it's so great to have you back.)
RuthieC is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 06:29 PM
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You are so kind. Thank you. Your last two trips were so special. I hope this one is everything you want it to be. I have missed out on going to Ruaha or Selous and if I am able to get one more trip in, you certainly awakened a desire to follow your footsteps to Ruaha. Of course SusanLynne has also strongly awakened a curiosity for Sand Rivers Camp and Selous. What wonderful people inhabit this forum. We are all so lucky to be among these special people. Liz
Liz_Frazier is offline  
Jul 29th, 2004, 05:45 PM
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Sand Rivers? Selous? Did someone mention Sand Rivers and Selous??? Fantastic camp and fantastic reserve! Fewer than 1% of the people who visit Tanzania each year actually venture to Selous or Ruaha. Which is good for those of us who go or have been, but such a shame for those who don't realize there are still areas not bombarded by the masses! Oh, how I dream about being back there, with the hippos lulling me to sleep and walking alongside Lake Tagalala, or tracking the lion spoor ... oh, I wish, I wish I was there again! See what you started, Liz! [-o<
SusanLynne is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 01:29 AM
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You guys don't let me go a moment without dreaming of the next Africa trip, do you!
Kavey is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 10:07 AM
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Uh, excuse me Kavey ... but you have come and gone twice since my last trip! The trip with your Dad and you and Pete galvanting around while stopping to do something incredibly romantic like renewing your vows! Do I detect an interest in Selous from you??? And could Selous be part of a future trip??
SusanLynne is offline  
Jul 31st, 2004, 05:42 AM
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I am beginning to come to the conclusion that aspirations and budget don't match for this Tanzania trip. So we have to compromise somewhere and would really appreciate some views on this. We were hoping to do the following:

Tarangire 2 nights - Kikoti
Ngorongoro 2 nights Serena
Serengeti 4 nights - Serena
Fly to Arusha.

We need to reduce the cost by about $250 dollars so if you were us what what would you do:

a) Spend one less night - if so where? or
b) Change the order and do Arusha-Tarangire-Serengeti-Ngorongoro and cut out the flying.

All views welcome - I really value your opinions.
RuthieC is offline  
Jul 31st, 2004, 09:28 AM
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If I had to reduce the itinerary by one night, I would do it at the Crater. I am sure a lot of people will disagree with me. Here is my reasoning. The Crater is fantastic, no doubt about it. But I was very disappointed in the number of vehicles we saw at any given time, to say nothing of the 20+ vehicles we saw following two hunting lionesses. This is not the fault of the park service or tour operators, but rather by virtue of the crater being what it is - exactly like a bowl with all the vehicles at the bottom of the bowl, thus being confined. Am I glad I went to the Crater? You bet I am! Would I go back for two days again? No, I would not. The beauty of Tarangire is that it is not as crowded as the Crater. As I said, I am sure a lot of people will disagree with thought I would throw my two cents in.
SusanLynne is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 04:42 AM
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What did you get for a quote for the ow airfare to Arusha from Serengeti? I like your iten. alot! Let me know who gave you your best rate and which companies you ask for a quote??? We possibily might try to go around the same time you are otherwise right after Thanksgiving before the Dec rush!We went to Zimbabwe & Bostwana last Feb, but it was Green season, so you had to work to find the sightings. This sounds great!!!
mfleming is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 05:10 AM
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RuthieC - If you eliminate the Crater, you will have an extra day (& 2/nts) for "something" - so if adding it to the Serengeti you put the money right back into the budget.

I agree with SusanLynne re the Crater, something not to miss, but still often lots of vehicles - we lucked out here as we managed to always be as far away from them as possible, at the other end/side of the Crater. So vehicles were never an issue for us.

But you do actually need the 2nts/1-full day crater tour to do this. Besides the drive straight from Tarangire to the Serengeti is a long one even if it will be a kind of driving safari all the way. And during October/November there is still no guarantee exactly where the migration will be. The herds might still be in the Mara, or at best the northern Serengeti.

Depending on when your departing flight leaves Kili, you can pass on the flight from the Serena Serengeti (Seronera) and do the drive back - long yes, but once in Kili you're on the plane and you can sleep your way home.
Aug 1st, 2004, 06:14 AM
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So many choices - maybe the "rob a bank" choice would solve the dilemma. D

Anyway, I don't like the idea of giving up any nights on safari, so I'm almost certain we will cut out the flying and drive back instead.

Latest suggestion from one of the operators is to spend only 3 nights at Serena Serengeti and then 1 night at Ndutu to break the journey back between Serengeti and Tarangire. This sounds a good idea so waiting for revised quote on that.

We have had quotes from both Tanzania Serengeti Safari and Roy Safaris. There's not much to choose between prices - less than $40 for the same itinerary. We've also tried the operator we used for our Southern Tanzania trip, Pulse Africa, but unlike TSA and Roy Safaris I don't think they work weekends so we haven't heard anything from them yet.

mfleming we were quoted $230pp for the flight for Serengeti to Arusha. However this isn't just for the flight - we still have to pay the extra day for the return journey of the safari vehicle & driver.

Thanks for the additional advice everyone. I'll stop bothering you now and post when we've finalised and booked!
RuthieC is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 09:42 AM
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From my experience the drive back can be tedious. On top of this you will be travelling in the heat, the road's dusty,(during the rains the roads are sometimes bad)...Breaking up the journey does help but it also means you get to spend only one night at a lodge rather than the minimum two.

In Oct/Nov the migration is concentrated in Northeastern Serengeti. The Serena and Ndutu areas and the western and central Serengeti are virtually devoid of wildebeest and zebra. I highly recommend Migration camp during this period. Besides, the camp is smaller in comparison to other lodges and the area it is located in sees very little traffic.

My preference would be to spend 4 nights at Migration camp and fly back to Arusha.

Another tip - prices in November are lower so if you can delay your trip until first week of November you should save a bit of money. Also you are more likely to see the migration returning to Serengeti from the Mara in November than October. The danger is that the rains could be in full swing by then.

I hope I haven't thrown a spanner in the works. Anyway good luck with the trip.

king is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 10:18 AM
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Susan, that's a fair point! And yes, I am interested in Selous - am always interested in beautiful reserves which tend to attract lower visitor numbers! But it won't be for a few years unless there is a lottery win!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 01:21 PM
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Ruthie - As I've posted previously, we've only traveled in November and while this is considered "short" rain season, we've never had enough rain to make our trip uncomfortable. Yes, in Tanzania one thunderstorm over night and a brief shower during one day, but never a deluge.

As king mentioned, Migration camp would be the ideal location end-Oct and November, but the cost will double what you'd spend at Serena even at November prices; besides also as previously mentioned most tour operators won't allow for the drive to be done in one day - the strain on driver/guide and you as clients, so invariably you'll have to stop mid-way.

And to reinterate - there are herds of wildebeest that never migrate and remain in the central to western Serengeti year-round - not the numbers that do migrate, but there are herds.

Stopping at Nduto at that time of the year is a waste of your time. Nduto is good late-Jan and February when the "calving" takes place. And though the drive back from the Serena in the Serengeti is long - just sleep.

Now, I'm sure you'd prefer not to hear the following, but - I can feel how anxious you are to return to Africa, specifically to the Nothern Curcuit Tanzania. But budget is budget, and sometimes anyone of us might just not have it when we need it. I would consider waiting for late-January/February and go for the "calving" season. Besides this won't require going way deep into the Serengeti, yet still having the opportunity to enjoy an "event" and there's no rain, and lovely weather overall.

I just added to the confusion, decisions - sorry!
Aug 1st, 2004, 02:32 PM
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I hate it when people talk sense (Sandi, you are starting to sound like my sensible husband who isn't quite as desperate to get back as I am

Seriously though, I'm getting very confused about what to do. We're not actually that desperate to see the migration. When we were in the Mara in September 2002 we saw long lines of Wildebeest and Zebra everywhere - we were told they were heading back south. So although we've never seen a river crossing, I still feel I've seen part of the migration.

What I really want is just to be back in Africa, out in the open, feeling the anticipation and then thrill of sighting a cat or herd of elephant, or just the beauty of the small herds of impala and giraffe. And I really want to see cheetah again. We saw so many in the Mara, but haven't seen them on either of the trips since and they are my all time favourite!

But ......... the calving does sound brilliant!

So maybe a few more months of saving into the holiday account is the sensible decision (and it may mean we can spend more than 8 nights there!)

But I don't want to be sensible!

RuthieC is offline  

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