Vic Falls & Botswana/Tanzania safari


Mar 1st, 2012, 03:03 AM
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Vic Falls & Botswana/Tanzania safari

We will be in Nairobi, Kenya next Apriil/May and want to take 7-8 days to see Vic Falls and either Botswana or Ngorongoro. We've been to South Africa and the Kenyan safaris and would like to visit some other country, I thought 2 days at Vic Falls and 5-6 days on the safari. What do you Fodorites suggest, how would the logistics work out? I know Botswana/Vic Falls would be closer, but we need to get back to Nairobi for our return flights. And would end April/early May be good to see the game? Thanks
geetika is offline  
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Mar 1st, 2012, 07:06 AM
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geetika, I think Vic Falls and Tanzania would be logistically challenging. I'm not sure if there are any direct flights from Livingston to JRO or Arusha. if you have to fly thru Joburg, that's a whole day gone just flying, and then it does take at least 4 hours or so to drive from JRO to your initial safari destimation. Perhaps just stick to TZ and save the falls for another time? We were there in 2005, and while it was an awesome sight, it pales in comparison with being on safari.

April/May is the rainy season in TZ, but the crater and Manyara should be fine year round. Based on our recent experience, a little rain may actually be very pleasant. 7-8 days in northern TZ would be an awesome trip (as I know you've read from my trip report
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Mar 1st, 2012, 08:35 AM
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You could do it, but it would be lots of moving around at high transport costs in a short time.

1 day travel from NBO to Vic Falls
2 days at Vic Falls
1 day fly back to Kilimanjaro
1 day at Lake Manyara, unless you want 3 days at the crater which allow for some hiking or extra crater visits.
2 days at the crater
1 day From the crater to JRO, allow 5-6 hours. There is a 3 pm ish and a 6 pm ish JRO to NBO. Then fly from NBO that night home

For flight specifics see

How's April/May? Rainy time but should be fewer crater visitors at that time.

You'll see animals in the crater anytime.
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Mar 1st, 2012, 09:24 AM
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Posts: 396 is another good site for int'l flights. I actually booked our NBO-JRO (precision) and ZAN-DAR (coastal) on there, and it worked great.

Looking at it, it may actually take you 2 days to go from Livingston to JRO, and the best connection is 2 stops.

So, I still think it's way better to skip the falls this time if you want to go to TZ. Another option is to combine it with Botswana, and then fly directly from Joburg to Nairobi where there are some good non-stops.
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Mar 2nd, 2012, 12:45 PM
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I'm exhausted.
Best check for flights between NBO and VFA (Zimbabwe... often thru Johannesburg/JNB, South Africa... strange schedules, expensive, 4/hrs flying time, maybe an overnight required in JNB before flying next morning, 2hrs to VFA)... or to LIV (Zambia... believe via Lusaka with even stranger flight schedules).

All to spend a day at the Falls! As unless you plan bungee jumping or water sports, you don't need more time.

Besides, the Falls are at 'high flow' during this time, where it's difficult to see much, have to wear raincoat/hat, difficult if at all possible to take photos... to wet to expose camera to the elements. Too misty and noisy, which you can hear from a mile away.

I'd forego VFA altogether and just visit in Tanzania.
From NBO, you can go by road at 8am (Shuttle Bus, $40 one-way, about 5/hrs) to Arusha, OR 1/hr 8am flight to Kilimanjaro/JRO Tanzania, fare about $265+/person. On arrival, met by guide/vehicle for drive to Tarangire, elephant park (other game also), Ngorongoro Crater, then to Ndutu or Southeast Serengeti, where the wildebeest are 'calving' their young. Return via Lake Manyara, back to Arusha and finally Shuttle Bus, 2pm or flight about 7pm to NBO - homebound.

Day 1 - NBO to Arusha (bus) or JRO (flight); met for drive to Tarangire - o/n
Day 2 - Tarangire - o/n
Day 3 - Drive to Ngorongoro; crater tour - o/n
Day 4 - Drive to Ndutu/Southeast Serengeti - o/n
Day 5 & 6 - Ndutu/SESerengeti - o/n
Day 7 - Drive to Lake Manyara - o/n
Day 8 - Drive to Arusha, 2pm Shuttle bus arriving NBO/JKIA airport by about 7-8pm; or flight from JRO direct into NBO/JKIA for evening flight home.

Apr/May is low-season, lowest prices; all lodges open as are permanent tent camps; the seasonal/mobile camps are usually closed during the 'wet.' Even if it does rain, rarely daily, all day, or any at all. If wet, some roads might get muddy, but none of this will inhibit safari... the game have nowhere to go, but be there for you. All is green, flowers blooming and lots of babies of all species.
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Mar 6th, 2012, 02:42 AM
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Oh oh, looks like my calculations were all wrong, I knew TZ & VF wouldn't really make for a circuit but didn't realise I was so far off! Guess I should either do just TZ or else VF and Botswana. We've been to Kenya several times and South Africa too and aren't really planning another safari anytime soon again, which is why I so want to see VF on this trip.

Will try and rework my plans, how would Oct/Nov be in Botswana, or else Feb "Green Season"? And what about the Zambian safaris, are they comparable with those in Botswana? Am more interested in the game rather than the actual camps, so long as they are neat and clean and I have a comfortable bed.

Yes, intra-African flights don't come cheap, need to see if I can use some of my miles on these sectors. Thanks a ton for all your input and suggestions, these certainly won't be my last questions! My apologies for not replying earlier, but I wasn't able to see your comments, something which happens every now and then with my account, had to report it to Fodors and they set it right.

Thanks again and have a great day
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Mar 6th, 2012, 08:18 AM
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I think the really special thing about Botswana is the Okavango Delta, there's nothing like it, and it would be very different than what you experienced in either Kenya or South Africa. If I were you (and have been to kenya/SA many times), I'd do VF, Chobe or Linyanti, and Okavango. Nov-Mar is rainy season, but lots of people seemed to have great experiences.
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Mar 6th, 2012, 09:38 AM
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Thanks linjudy and Paul. I was actually thinking of the Okavango Delta and Chobe national park, need to work out a good period to go there. Thanks again guys, cheers!
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Mar 6th, 2012, 07:25 PM
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Geetika, I was in Botswana two weeks ago in the Okavango delta. Despite this being the Green or off season, we had an extraordinary safari. I have a Trip Report here:
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Mar 8th, 2012, 01:09 PM
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You mean you have some 7-8 extra days?
As you know flight travel in Africa is horrendous. Expect delays and it is expensive.
I don't think going to Vic Falls is worth the travel time it is going to eat up.

Now, Chobe, that is the best safari experience! You can check flights and see if you can swing at least 2 nights in the park which should make you very happy.

Check flights and plan that first.

I agree with Sandi if you want to spend all your time in safari but there are some side trips if you want to to the beach.

(I am not sure this one works as 8 days is pretty tight)

2. Nairobi-flight to Botswana- Chobe- Delta
Can you fly home from Botswana?

3.Nairobi- Serengeti train to Mombasa and head to the (Diani) beach...Once you arrive in Mombasa you take a ferry to the beach.
Take train back to Nairobi

My suggestion is try to head to Botswana. You know E.African safari and the crater is not much different.
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Mar 8th, 2012, 01:16 PM
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Please be careful with intra-Africa flights. Delays are very common and can eat up a day if this should happen.
Use land transportation or trains whenever possible.

If something should happen at least you can hire a car and be on your way a lot faster than air travel.

As a last resort a truck driver can you a life if his route matches yours. Ex. Mombasa to Nairobi.

I spent a lot of in Africa and avoid flights at all cost.
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Mar 9th, 2012, 03:06 AM
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Yes, I can take about 7-8 days off after a meeting at Nbo and want to go someplace in East Africa. I know Zan is said to be lovely but I really want to do a safari, that's something I never tire of. Am looking at Vic Falls with either Botswana or Zambia, which I hear is very good too. I haven't seen the Mara river crossing either, so there's another and much simpler option logistics-wise, depending on when Nbo trip pans out. Anyway, thanks, will come back to you as and when my plans firm up...
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Mar 9th, 2012, 06:41 AM
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Had replied earlier this morning but don't know where that post, as well as several others, disappeared! Anyway, here I go again...

Yes, can take off about 7-8 days after a meeting at Nbo and want to see some places in east Africa. I know Zan's said to be lovely, but would much rather go on a safari, can never get enough of them. Am seriously considering Botswana or Zambia, with Vic Falls; haven't seen the Mara crossing either, so that might be another more practical option logistics-wise, depending on when I schedule my meetings in Nbo. Will come back to you once my plans take shape
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Mar 9th, 2012, 10:05 AM
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In April - May, I don't think you'll see any Migration crossings. The herds should be in the central Serengeti at that time. If you go to Botswana or Zambia from Nairobi, you lose a couple of days to travel there... One day from NBO to JNB, overnight there, then a flight from JNB to either Bots or Zam the next morning. If your international flight leaves from NBO, figure on the reverse to get back there. Leaving from JNB would cut out a day.

I'm not sure why Travel2eat is so opposed to internal flights in Africa. It's the only feasible way to get most places. One of my friends recently traveled on the Nairobi - Mombasa train and said it was a horrible experience. Most people get seasick on the Dar - Zanzibar ferry, and why would anyone in their right minds hitchhike with a trucker in Africa?
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Mar 9th, 2012, 03:04 PM
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Travel2eat... is way off base. I'd ignore these comments.
Air is best to cover the long distances, especially if you have the time and budget. Likewise, I would never take the train, and for sure would never ever hitch a ride with a truck driver... anywhere in the world!
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Mar 9th, 2012, 07:40 PM
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Agree with sandi, travel2eat gave the scariest tourist travel advice for Africa. Trains?!?! Hitchhiking!?!?!

regards - tom
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Mar 12th, 2012, 05:41 AM
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I'm so sorry! I am not offended.
Lol!!!!! OMG! Guys, I forgot I was in Fodors!
I volunteered in Arusha once a year for 3 years and know these routes pretty well.
This is also the reason why I have never been on fancy safari, because I was already there in a position with the local population.

I do enjoy reading everyone's upcoming trips! I get excited for y'all because Africa is friendly and welcoming, and I know it will be a memorable experience.

I am young, blond, pretty, and well traveled (more than 120 countries on my own) and I have never had a problem getting around with strangers!

They have even saved my life during times of emergency which did happened while I was vacationing in Mombasa (riots), Beirut (bombs), Phuket (storms),
and our car was seized in Llasa.
A ride from a stranger literally got me out of harm's way.

In Mombasa in Diani Beach there are no taxis and the matatus stop running early in the evening. In Nkoaranga there are no taxis, either. There are no taxis in the Stans.
I can name a boatload of countries where you are looking for alternative transport which is essentially hitchhiking.

During the riots in Kenya a truck driver did drive us away from a hot zone. They had literally started looting and setting places on fire not too far from our beach hotel.

I prefer trains because they are easier and faster than airports.
I don't know if it was my luck but
flights are always delay!
3-5 hours! Maybe y'all are taking independent planes to get from camp to camp, and I have never experienced this.

I will agree the Mombasa-Nairobi is not the Orient-Express, but it is charming and relaxing if you buy a first class cabin. The cabin is much bigger than your standard Asian train and it has a large window.
(Later on I had the opportunity to enjoy the Orient-Express in Machu Picchu)

I am truly a Fodors girl at heart, but sometimes your standards get a little twisted living in 3rd world countries. Lol!!!!
In my Tanzanian village there was no electricity
after dark. Lights out after 6 like the Army!
So, maybe reading a book
in bed at night in my own train car becomes luxury.

Have fun on your Safari and never think that an African won't be there to help you.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 09:12 AM
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Many thanks T2E for your reply, very interesting, very educated. And like I said in another thread you must have "street smarts" to travel like you do. That's fine, more power to you. Me, I have been pickpocketed three times in one afternoon on Los Ramblas Spain And when I safari I carry several $$K of camera equipment that is bulky, awkward, and heavy to carry. Plus I'm not an attractive young blond female anymore (in fact never was!!!). Add all that up and I'm but more of a perfect tourist target for assault and robbery. But anyway, your perspective is appreciated and valued so please continue to contribute here.

regards - tom
ps - FWIW, more personal info about me in my Fodors profile, click on cary999
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Mar 12th, 2012, 01:30 PM
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There you are! Thanks cary999.
Saw your 'first time.' Did you do the Lion Walk in Zambia?
You do it with 8-10 month old cubs.
So, cute! Great for your photography.

I only posted my description so that others wouldn't think that I could intimidate the locals.
Sometimes I get that 'moment' when I think, "Wow, I could really disappear with this person if they really wanted it like that."

It is just using common sense and reading people, and asking God to keep you safe out there.
I am sorry to hear about your attacks. It is never a nice feeling and sours your experience.
I put my hotel key and money in my bra.
When I pay all the ladies are like, 'me too!' Lol!!!!

I was only mugged once. It was my fault and it happened in Rio during Carnivale. I didn't take my necklace off because I was running late.

During the Kenyan riots it was so scary. The shops and the ferry shut down right before NYE to avoid looters. You were stuck in Diani.
They re-opened the ferry sometime later. I had already planned to take the train back to Nairobi and about an hour into the ride we were told to go back to Mombasa, because they were stoning the trains and lifting the tracks off the ground.

We got to sleep in the train and in the morning the tourists were looking for a way out.
It was so quiet on the streets. We got word that the airport had scheduled a flight to Nairobi and all we needed to do was get there.
I asked for a taxi and a tuk-tuk showed up!
They said the roads were safe and I headed for the airport.

After about 15 minutes I saw the huge crowds rioting.
I was freaking out because I was in a tuk-tuk with ALL my belongings! (I was headed to Cairo next)

I thought for sure I was going to at least get robbed, because people were running wild with bed frames and
mattresses over their heads, and all kinds of things.

The streets were littered with broken bottles and many people had broken bottles in their hands.
The driver said they had being drinking for days and that is where the bottles came from.
The tuk-tuk was going so slow to avoid popping a tire and all I could hear was 'mzungu.'

I was freaking out! I thought they were announcing the tourist and I think I even started to cry.
This is the only time out in the field that I worried for my life.
But a lot of people just stepped to the side to let us drive by. Many were telling me not to worry that they were not going to hurt me and not to be scared. That they were only protesting their elections.

Five minutes later another rioting mass crowd and the same thing.
Except this time a man yelled at us in Swahili. He threw a bottle and it hit the tuk-tuk. Men rushed over and tackled him to the ground. Shortly after I saw a military truck coming around the corner with soldiers standing in the back.
I just thought this is not good and when I turned around I saw the airport entrance and was so relieved.
I remember tusks at the entrance but now I can't be sure.
This is probably my only scary day in Africa,
and the locals were still nice to me.

I didn't realize how bad things were until I arrived in Nairobi and was listening to the radio on my way to the hotel.
They talked about the killings, rapes, and destruction.

Back on topic. How safe are the fancy camps?
When you are on fancy safari you have to worry about your camera equipment?
What kind of safety precautions for you and your camera equipment are taken
at the fancy places?

On the overland truck safaris you lock everything in the safes, and then they have security that stays with the truck 24/7.
Even when we stop in town and park the truck to shop it never stays alone.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 04:44 PM
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I wouldn't recommend the Lion Walks in Zambia/Zimbabwe. They can't release lions that have been growing up interacting with humans in the wild. They sell them for canned hunting...
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