What country is best?

Old May 6th, 2005, 04:40 PM
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What country is best?

What country is the best for safari? My husband and I would like climb Kilimanjaro and then do a safari in 2007. I want to see lions, giraffes, elephants, rhinos, hippos, zebras, maybe cheetahs. Where is best? I think we would rather be out in the open, then in the bush. What's best? Thanks!
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Old May 6th, 2005, 05:51 PM
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Best is subjective, based on what time of year you are going, what you hope to do, what you want to see, and your budget.

Obviously you'll be in Tanzania after the climb, so logistically and economically, staying in Tanzania may suit your needs. You could easily add Kenya as well.

Good Tanzanian & Kenyan reserves for seeing:

Serengeti, Tan (what part of the Serengeti is best depends on the time of year)
Ngorongoro, Tan
Tarangire, Tan
Masai Mara, Ken
Manyara, Tan is pretty good

I've seen them in all the above reserves except Manyara. In fact in Tarangire and especially Manyara, you can see the tree climbing lions, if you are lucky, though I have not been lucky there. On one trip I saw lions daily in the Mara.

Most national parks in Tanzania and Kenya have lions.

They are all over, fortunately. Some parks in northern Kenya have different species of giraffe than the rest of East Africa. For example, Samburu and Lewa Downs have the reticulated giraffe, that differs from the Masai giraffe.

Amboseli, Ken
Ngorongoro Crater
Masai Mara
Samburu, Ken

Above are great for eles and I've had hours of enjoyable ele watching in each.

Most national parks in Kenya and Tanzania have elephants. The Serengeti depends on where you are and there are more where there is denser vegetation.

Everywhere except landlocked parts of the Serengeti and the drier, more desertlike environments of Samburu and Lewa Downs.

My best hippo viewing in East Africa has been at Manyara and the Masai Mara.

Lewa Downs, Ken
Ngorongoro Crater
Lake Nakuru, Ken (known for flamingos)

Some other private reserves/ranches also have them. Sweetwaters in Kenya has some rhino, but is really known for its chimp sanctuary. I've not been to Sweetwaters.

These are trickier to see than some of your other listed animals. Both black and white rhino are in Lewa Downs and you can track them on foot, as well as view them in vehicles. I saw at least a dozen in 3 days without trying at Lewa Downs. Several were even viewed from a camel. I've had good and poor rhino viewing in the crater and I did not see any at Lake Nakuru, although they are there.


Huge herds are found during the migration in either Kenya or Tanzania. Depending on when you go, you can position yourself to see herds in the Serengeti and/or Masai Mara.

Some parks in northern Kenya have different species of zebra than the rest of East Africa. For example, Samburu and Lewa Downs have the rare Grevy's zebra, which differs from the more common Burchell's that are all over.

Masai Mara
These flat, open areas are the best for cheetah and are where I've seen the most in East Africa.

I have seen them in the Ngorongoro Crater. Others have reported sightings in Tarangire and Amboseli.

I did not mention the more remote southern Tanzanian parks of Selous and Ruaha, which would have good elephant, lion, zebra, hippo, and giraffe populations. These would offer a more secluded experience, which I am looking forward to someday.

The term "bush" is misleading. It does not mean in the midst of thick brush or bushes. It just means out in the wild, whether it be open savanna or thicker jungle.

In Kenya or Tanzania just about everything is primarily open and plains-like with some thicker vegetation here and there. You would want to avoid game viewing in Arusha, Tanzania and Aberdare, Kenya if you wish to be in the open.

You mentioned your one major activity of climbing Kilimanjaro. I assumed the rest of your safari itinerary to be primarily viewing from a vehicle. But if you would enjoy walking safaris, on level ground, or canoeing, then Zambia or Zimbabwe may better suit you.

South Africa and Botswana would likely provide all of the animals listed--perhaps in one day's outing! But that's a lot of travel.

Two other plusses for staying in East Africa, besides cost and logistics. You can see the migration and the Ngorongoro Crater is a world wonder.

If you give us a time of year you are going and how long you plan to be on safari, we can offer more help.

Though I have never climbed Kilimanjaro, the advice I always hear is pole pole, (polay, polay) meaning slow in Swahili. I have also heard this used to describe myself and my safari-mates upon arriving back from a game drive when we are trying to locate and collect all of our gear. Have a good trip and please post again if you wish.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 06:25 PM
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Since Kilimanjaro is your main focus (it should be for safety reasons), I suggest you read this informational site first to learn more about the climb itself:


To help you decide when/where to go after the climb, you can visit the following site (warning - it's commercial but I think the information is helpful in your case):


Just select the month of the climb at the top and it will show you the best options in East Africa.

The, once you narrowed down the options a bit, we can all discuss it here! Hope this helps!
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Old May 7th, 2005, 04:25 AM
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We will probably be traveling in or around August. I spoke with a friend of mine who said there is more water in Botswana, and you can see elephants playing in water. Do you not see this in Tanzania? Maybe this sounds stupid. Some of the photos of Botswana that I've seen on the internet seem really beautiful! It doesn't matter if it's a great distance, b/c how often am I going to be going to Africa for a safari? So I figure, while down there, might as well see what I can!
alzaloum is offline  
Old May 7th, 2005, 05:12 AM
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alzaloum -

Except for the desert elephants found mostly in Namibia - elephants in almost every other safari country, go for water at least twice a day. And in most instances they frolic in water. Many are lakes, swamps, mudholes - but plenty of water.

And while right now you might be thinking this will be your first trip this way - from the threads you'll read here - most of us a repeat visitors, lots of repeat visitors... to the same country or different ones each trip, then they comes back and start all over.

atravelynn gave you good information of the environments and where many animal species can be found.

So you'll have to decide how much safari time you have after your Kili climb, your budget, type of accommodations - lodges, permanent camps, semi-permanent camps, mobile tent camping (adventure, semi-lux, or luxury) - and time of year which you indicate as August.

August is excellent for the Wildebeest Migration taking place in the Masai Mara, Kenya; there's a mini-migration at Tarangire in Tanzania (not far from Kili). You'll probably like to visit the Ngorongoro Crater. Maybe some beach at the conclusion of all that climbing and safarian.

Read thru threads on this board you you'll get an idea of the options available for safari. Then with more or your information re budget, type of accommodation, how many days - we'll help from there.
Old May 7th, 2005, 02:15 PM
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So it is August! A great month in all of Africa. How long do you think you'll be on safari?

I've seen elephants in water in numerous places, but I think you are right about Botswana having a lot of water, certainly in the Okavango Delta.

When you mention the photos on the Internet of Botswana, when I look through my photo albums, labeled by country, Botswana is certainly a winner. Followed by Kenya. While I am not the greatest photographer, my skills are consistent from country to country.
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Old May 8th, 2005, 04:50 PM
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I'm going to be finishing my ob-gyn residency in June 2007, so this trip is going to be a reward to myself! My husband and I would like to go for 2-3 weeks. We're thinking climb Kili, do a safari, and then relax on Zanzibar. (Although now I'm reading all these scary stories about people dying on Kili and it's giving me second thoughts.) I'm thinking maybe we should go with a professional expedition outfitter like Mountain Madness or Alpine Ascents for the trip!
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Old May 8th, 2005, 06:31 PM
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I think going with a professional is a good idea for the climb, based on other comments I've read from those who have climbed.

Your budget might also dictate whether you would prefer to safari in East Africa or Botswana. Botswana is more expensive as a rule. But luxury camping safaris in small groups make Botswana much more affordable. Budget participation camping safaris make it even more affordable, but this board is not really the place to seek info on those participation options.

Ironically, in 1997 I traveled with a woman, who was celebrating the completion of her ob-gyn (and her husband) on a luxury Wilderness Safari Company mobile safari in Botswana.
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