Tanzania northern circuit: best time?


Jan 11th, 2012, 07:55 AM
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Tanzania northern circuit: best time?

Hi all,

We are looking to do the northern circuit for 1 month. I was wondering what the best time for game viewing and photography would be. August? February? How about Tsetse flies and mosquitos? Temperatures? Thanks!
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Jan 11th, 2012, 08:30 AM
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February! The 'calving' season for the wildebeest in the Ndutu area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA).

It's summer season, so hot and dry (though rain can happen anytime as we've seen weather changes worldwide)... not to worry much about mossies. Still you need malaria meds. And, as to tse-tse.... well, often in brush areas rather than open plains, still not to worry, they don't carry sleeping sickness. They're just plain annoying and their bite is nasty! No repellents works on them... you'll be advised how to avoid these.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 09:02 AM
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While December to March is a rewarding period, February is best. Masses of migratory herds are on the short grass of the southern Serengeti Plains at this time. It is also the birthing season for the wildebeest and the hartebeest and it is always a thrill to watch a baby wildebeest stumble to its feet minutes after being born. The southern Serengeti is the area nearest to the other parks so you are assured of a memorable safari even if you are on a tight schedule. From a practical standpoint, in February, the land is verdant with meadows of wildflowers, the dust is minimal and there are fewer safari vehicles in the parks.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 10:02 AM
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The wildebeest thing is very rain dependent. So are the "vibrant meadows" and "minimal dust". And the rain is never predictable, except it will sometime from Dec to Apr. Good luck guessing on when. I was there, Ndutu area, last year 2011 for two weeks Feb-Mar. Some luck, wished for more.

regards - tom
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Jan 11th, 2012, 02:57 PM
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Fewer tse tses in dry season of June-Oct.

If you have an entire month, you could visit the Southern Serengeti/Ndutu at the start and end of your trip in the month of Feb. That would increase your odds of good migration activity.
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Jan 19th, 2012, 07:42 AM
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Thanks for the help. Seems like most people here like February. When I scan the safari websites however they mostly advise August. Tough decision since we've never been there. I'll do some more checking. Thanks for the help so far!
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Jan 20th, 2012, 09:01 AM
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Skeen, I think they say August for those wanting to combine a Tz Northern Circuit with Kenya, then I would agree. That might be best considering you have an entire month to spend. However, as most have said, Feb is best for concentrating on the migration in the South as you know where the migration will be
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Jan 20th, 2012, 03:55 PM
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We/you need to clarify what you want/expect to see and "northern circuit" and "southern circuit". Wildebeest or leopards? Kenya or Tanzania? Maasai Mara or Serengeti or Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA)?

You mention photography, here is what Thom Hogan an experienced wildlife photographer tour leader says about safari countries -
Although says Botswana, Hogan discusses Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, and South Africa.

regards - tom
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Jan 31st, 2012, 08:19 AM
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A month in the North. Wow.....you are lucky to have so much time on your hands!

I was just reading through these posts and thought I would drop a line. You have some great advice here from people who have clearly travelled a lot out there....so it will be interesting to see what happens to the subsequent following on this post -

Personally I would travel in the August/September period!!!!

Yes it is true that you don't get the calving when you travel in August/September and you also do not get the huge predator concentrations that focus on and around Ndutu. You will also not get a better chance of seeing cheetah hunts anywhere else in Africa! The downside however is that you are if you travel in February then you will be forced to focus around the much busier areas of the country.

Also it is worth taking on board the fact that nowhere else in the country is at its peak season for game viewing....so you get an exceptional Ndutu area but the other areas are not nearly as prolific. Take Tarangire for example... good in February....but prolific in August/September etc...which then combines with the Migration crossing the Mara river in Kogatende and also the rest of the countries parks being in their peaks. It also combines with peak season in the southern parks.

On this specific point - you have not mentioned the south, maybe deliberately. If not then I would at least suggest you consider it. The diversity of habitat as well as flora and fauna down there is exceptional. Ruaha for example, often viewed as a not first timers destination – takes first timers to Africa every day! Just watch National Geographic’s film on the lions of Ruaha that comes out in two weeks…..this park is quiet, authentic and truly unique.

Also, don’t underestimate how busy Ndutu is in February…every mobile camp is down here as well as all the day trippers from Seronera etc….it really can be VERY busy. If you have your own driver who really knows the area or stay in the Kakessio camps then you can get down to northern Eyasi and the Rift etc – you’ll get away from the busier areas for a while (these off the beaten track parts are truly stunning, offering unrivalled cultural experiences and some of the continents best walking) and February becomes a great option. But even with these extra little touches, I do question how good it is when there is so much else on offer in August/September time.

At the end of the day this is simply down to personal taste, and photographing the calving and subsequent predation is one of Africa’s finest opportunities. So, if this note does nothing but reinforce that you are happy with what you are doing already, then I’m more than happy!

Either way, it will be an exceptional trip. I’d happily sit in Ndutu for a year!

Julian – Director, Africa and Tanzania Odyssey
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Jun 28th, 2012, 06:20 PM
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Hi Julian, thank you very much for your elaborate and very useful reply. I have been out of reach of computer services since my last post so my apologies for not replying earlier. I omitted the south because I had several people advise me that it would be too much for 4 weeks. I did come up with a tentative itinerary. I started a new post for that (not sure how to link it here), but it is in the Tanzania section.
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