Tanzania Safari - is December a good time?

Jul 13th, 2010, 01:24 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 2
Tanzania Safari - is December a good time?

Hello everyone,
hoping you can advise me. I'm planning a safari trip to Tanzania in December to include Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti.

We are looking at travelling either beginning or end of December. The beginning is a little cheaper. Would you recommend beginning or end? Especially in relation to Tarangire which I hear may not have much to see in December?
many thanks!
akhan is offline  
Jul 14th, 2010, 06:28 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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For budget purposed, of course, before 15th or 20th Dec when rates go into "holiday/peak."

As to Tarangire, while it's considered best between mid-June thru Oct when they have a mini-migration (as it's a dry period with the Tarangire River the main water source), we've been end-Nov/early-Dec and found more game than would have been expected.

The better months for Tarangire vs Manyara often depends on the rains (i.e., Manyara better Jan-Mar vs Tarangire Jun-Oct), which when it does come, some game may leave the park for sources outside. However, as weather patterns have changed so much over the years, visitors here have raved about the amount of game at Tarangire even between Jan-Mar.

I'd visit both Tarangire (2) and Manyara (1).
sandi is offline  
Jul 14th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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Sandi - thank you that's really reassuring - we'll keep Tarangire on our itinerary along with Manyara!
akhan is offline  
Jul 15th, 2010, 01:59 PM
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We've been in early January and it was perfect -- everything green and lush after the "short rains" of mid-December.
TC is offline  
Jul 28th, 2010, 03:24 AM
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Tarangire is always great if you want to see the elephants and just generally beautiful scenery. Due to the wet season the animals will have spread out more but its still a great place.

Serengeti is the best place to be in December at anytime of the month. Stay in one of the mobile camps as they move with the migration. The migration would have come back into the Serengeti from Kenya's Masai Mara around the beginning of November. By December they should be in the center of Serengeti at Seronera. December is the best time to see it in its full glory. I'm sure you have seen glimpses of it on tv at some point.

Ngorongoro Crater is also a must see. The migration is also there but lots of animals enter between December and February.

It is best to go earlier in December for two reasons. First reason - its cheaper. Its still high season prices because of the migration and wildlife count but your not paying holiday supplement (addition cost for most accommodations during Christmas and New Year). Second reason – availability. Holiday season means everyone wants the exotic holiday spent in the bush. Unless you've booked 6months ahead or in some cases a year you maybe out of luck. Some lodges are actually fully booked on certain dates the following year.

I would also suggest that you beware of the larger safari companies. They maybe cheaper but what they save on cost is experienced, friendly and intelligible driver guides and personal interaction with your safari organizer who may have never been to any of the national parks they are selling you. Small cheap companies have the problem of you losing out on reliable working cars.

My first safari in Tanzania, when I was volunteering 5 years ago, was with a group called Albatross. The trip organised by our representative in Tanzania was pretty disappointing. One of the drivers knew only the bare minimum (and not even that) of English. The experience was rushed and what we saw was spoiled by the driver aiming towards the main tourist crowds and not enough information on the animals seen. If this was to be my only experience with the safari I'd call it 'Blah'.

Don't worry, I do have a recommendation for a great safari company!

A few years later I went back to Tanzania with friends. I contacted a friend who had recommended 'Mind and Soul Travel'. The Swedish/Tanzanian company is small but they are very personable. Our contact was Susanne, a Swedish lady who has worked in Tanzania for 10 years as part of larger companies and as a Swedish tour guide. So she knows the parks as well as any veteran Tanzanian driver guide. She was very informative with what to see in the parks during what time of year and places she recommends to stay. She also included information on tipping which is not something which you are normally told about but is very important especially if you are not accustomed to do so. Also the description of parks, accommodation and condition of roads. Any question we had she answered it straight away with personal knowledge and in full depth. Even some of the weirder questions which was sometimes replied with amusement.

Our safari was tailored perfectly to our liking. There was no rush to get to one place to another in record time. Our driver, Toyota, was excellent, his English was top-notch and his knowledge of the wildlife was amazing. He didn't follow the other cars, instead making the experience more personal by showing us the real gems of wildlife with out the disruptions from anyone else. He could spot a leopard in a tree a mile off in a moving vehicle.

Crumbs32 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2010, 07:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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"He could spot a leopard in a tree a mile off in a moving vehicle."

What was the leopard doing in the vehicle? And why didn't it already have spots?

Crumbs! That's a long advertisement.
kimburu is offline  
Jul 29th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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The only posts from Crumbs is touting this tour operator! Make of it what you will.
sandi is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 10:22 AM
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I am pricing a Tanzania safari too, and the people I have talked to say that late December is more expensive because of the holidays and not because its a better viewing time. If you can go with early December, I would do that.
FrankS is offline  
Aug 1st, 2010, 01:35 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 42
My family went 4 years ago in mid October. We went to all of the places that you mentioned. There were 9 of us in all- 5 kids and 4 adults. The weather was perfect, and we saw tons of amazing animals. We used a tour operator called Green Footprints. You can google them, I think they changed their name. They were incredible. Our guides, Alex and Makuru were Tanzanian, but both spoke fluent English, were extremely knowledgable. They were excellent with flexibility. We went canoeing in Lake Arusha with hippos, rode bikes through the countryside, had a night safari in Lake Manyara, and then a dinner in the bush. We also flew into the Serengeti and stayed at tent camp, saw the migration. The whole trip, for all nine of us for 10 days ended up being about 4,000 pp which included air from San Franciso.
If you have any questions feel free to ask! It was an amazing trip, one of a lifetime!
jdavies is offline  
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