where to go in Tanzania?

Old Oct 10th, 2004, 08:54 AM
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where to go in Tanzania?

We've got an extra week to fill after hitting the highlights, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Klein's, Manyara Tree, and ending at Mnemba. Wondering about which to hit among Selous, Swala, Jongomero,. We're going in July and are intested in wildlife including birds.

Any suggestions? and why?
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Old Oct 10th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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It appears that you're going with CCAfrica properties. That said Swala is not a CCAfrica property, but is located at Tarangire which is an excellent stop to make during July. There is a mini-migration at Tarangire between June and October and Tarangire has lots of birds. Don't know how many days you plan for Lake Manyara Tree, but I personally feel Tarangire is a better park and deserves the time over Lake Manyara. Whether CCAfrica will want to/or offer to try to book Swala is something else. If you are working with CCAfrica directly they are very protective of their own properties.

Jongomero is a CCAfrica camp in the Ruaha reserve and a very lovely camp at that. The Selous is the largest reserve in all of Africa where CCAfrica has the Selous Safari Camp. However, many people who travel to the Selous prefer Sand River Camp (not a CCAfrica property). Both The Selous and Ruaha can be accessed via Dar-es-Salaam by plane. You should allow 3 or 4-days at either of these two reserves.

So you have to decide where you wish to visit. And not knowing the itinerary of how many days/nights you're spending on the Northern Tanzania circuit, it's difficult to recommend about the Southern circuit. If you do decide to visit Selous or Ruaha I would put Mnemba at the very end for total R&R.
Old Oct 10th, 2004, 02:03 PM
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I agree with Sandi. Tarangire is a fantastic park and one of my favorites. Giant baobab trees, huge termite mounds and some of our best game encounters were in Tarangire. I am also partial to Selous. Very remote. I think that fewer than 1% of all tourists who visit Tanzania venture to Selous. We stayed at Sand Rivers and loved it. Would highly recommend it not just because it is very comfortable, but because of its location - right on the Rufiji River. The hippos lull you to sleep at night. The beauty of Selous and Ruaha is that both offer things like boat safaris and morning and afternoon hikes, and you might want to try "fly camping" in Selous. It is supposed to be quite the experience!
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Old Oct 10th, 2004, 03:47 PM
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Many thanks to Sandi and Susan for the replies. We've got 27 days. Not booking through CC, but our agent likes them, as you can see. We've got Swala booked for 4 days. Forgot to mention we've also booked Grumeti River camp. We're willing to drop Manyara tree if there is a better place to spend the time. Were intrigued by the tree climbing lions. Any particular reason you like Sand River over Selous Safari Camp? Again, we're not wedded to anything other than the best time and game viewing. We were at both Singita and Camp Okavango and actually slightly preferred the Okavango delta experience, although we actually saw a leopard kill our first night at Singita and the next day a pangolin, so we were quite lucky. Something about the delta that was just very resonant. The birds, the mokoro, the people.. With this in mind any suggestions very much appreciated.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 12:39 AM
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In the spirit of this election season, I think it is only right that I am a flip-flopper, and return to considering Eastern Africa as part of an impossible itinerary that would be divided with Southern Africa.

After talking on the phone to the directors of a company called Tusker Trail today (www.tusker.com), I am very intrigued by a couple of parks in Southern Tanzania, Katavi and Ruaha. While I would love to do one of their trips, which is entirely overland and partly participatory, at 24 days it is too long for me to do solo (I would never subject my wife to something this rugged).


However, in my conversation, I was told that Katavi was the most amazing park and that five entire nights would be spent there. Now, keep in mind, that I am talking to people that have likely been to just about every primetime wildlife park in all of Africa, so the fact that they have set aside five nights for Katavi says a lot.

Also very interesting to me is the nearby Mahale National Park for chimp viewing. While they are not the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda or Uganda, the chimps are nearly as fascinating to me.

Here is a very interesting itinerary:


I figure that if I stretched this holiday to 20 nights, I could do an itinerary such as the following:

Tarangire Treetops (2)

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (2)

Serengeti Serena (1) (this will eliminate a horribly long drive to the further Serengeti camps)

Serengeti (3) at either Klein's, Grumeti or Kirawira, whichever one will be best for gameviewing in late August/early September

Chada Camp, Katavi (3) http://www.africatravelresource.com/...CHA/TCHAa.htm#

Zoe's Camp, Mahale (3)

I would likely add either Ruaha or Selous for 3 nights, as well.

Royal Palm, Dar Es Salaam (1) (most luxurious hotel in Dar and operated by Legacy, the same group that operates the Michelangelo in Joburg)

While I would send my mom and my wife to Cape Town for five nights, I would spend one night in Joburg and then go to Simbambili for four nights. While terribly out of the way, they both really want Cape Town. This would definitely work best if I did South Africa first to eliminate 3.5 hours of flying, as I would then fly home from Dar Es Salaam (saving 3.5 hours on the returning flight).

I do think that Katavi, Selous or Ruaha and especially Mahale (located on a white sand beach) would be stimulating enough to keep them going for a few more nights. Plus, when they are in each others company, it is nonstop chattering, etc.

While I would love to see Northern Tanzania and Zanzibar, unless I had a month to devote to Tanzania, there is no way that I could do everything. As it is, I would already be leaving out either Selous or Ruaha. Ruaha is closer to Katavi and Mahale, but Selous is closer to Dar Es Salaam.

As off the beaten path as South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi are, I am really looking for unspoiled places next time around, and I do think that the Southern Tanzanian places fit the bill perfectly. I mean South Luangwa must still get about 10,000 tourists each year. While this is only 1% of the tourists that visit Kruger National Park and its surrounding private reserves (Sabi Sand, Thornybush, etc.) it is still 25 times as many visitors as a place like Katavi will see in a given year.

The only camp in Southern Africa that may experience that kind of isolation is Kafue NP in Zambia, Africa's largest
NP, yet only visited by about 1,000 tourists each year.

There are just way too many fascinating places to visit in both Southern and Eastern Africa. Although it is hard to fight the temptation to return to someplace as amazingly beautiful as South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi, I must do so in order to discover equally beautiful places elsewhere.

I was told by one of the directors of Tusker Trail that Katavi only receives 300 visitors per year! On their trips, he said, they go through villages so remote that some of the villagers have never even seen a white person, and if they have, it was likely while he was leading his last group through during previous expeditions many years earlier. That to me is fascinating, but again, that trip will have to wait.

Meanwhile, however, I have read that Katavi may be the most have the highest density of wildlife of any park in Africa.

More info about Katavi:



More information about Ruaha:


I am just having a hard time getting pumped up about anywhere in Southern Africa right now, even Botswana. While I am sure it is very beautiful, it is just too much the flavor of the month right now for me to feel completely comfortable with it. However, if I went with somebody like Mad Mike Penman on a luxury mobile tented safari, that may change things:


Now that there are three of us going, it just may make it within budget to spend about 9 nights exploring Moremi, Linyati and maybe Kwando. I was told that it is possible to camp near Mombo, thus getting the same wildlife experience without paying $2,000 per room per night.

Sometimes I wish I didn't know as much as I (think I) do. It really makes things hard when there are so many amazing places to choose from. Just a few of the places I am strongly considering:

Katavi NP, Tanzania
Mahale NP, Tanzania
Ruaha NP, Tanzania
Selous NP, Tanzania

Moremi NP, Botswana
Linyati NP, Botswana
Kwando Reserve, Botswana

Hwange NP, Zimbabwe
Matusadona NP, Zimbabwe
Mana Pools NP, Zimbabwe
Matetsi Reserve, Zimbabwe

Kafue NP, Zambia
North Luangwa NP, Zambia
South Luangwa NP, Zambia
Lower Zambezi NP, Zambia

And then there are all those last minute specials in the Kruger / Sabi Sand area that eat away at my insides, knowing that I can likely enjoy luxury lodges for well under $1,000 per night and that is for two rooms at places that would otherwise cost more than double.

Despite the positive reviews, I have no interest in Phinda at this point and no interest in Madikwe. While I appreciate the conservation efforts, I really want to see Africa at its wildest.

Thanks for listening, I just saved myself a few hundred dollars in therapy by getting this post out of my system!!!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 12:42 AM
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Never mind my mention of the Northern Circuit of Tanzania in my last post. I thought I deleted that once I saw that it would never work to do the Northern Circuit, Katavi and South Africa on the same trip.

What may work, however is this:

Katavi (3)
Mahale (3)
Ruaha (3)
Dar Es Salaam (1)
Joburg (1)
Sabi Sand (4) (I would do Sabi Sand solo while my wife and my mom would go to Cape Town)
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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 12:49 AM
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I may even be able to squeeze in a 3 night trip to Matetsi (game viewing + Victoria Falls).

Katavi (3)
Mahale (3)
Ruaha (3)
Joburg (1) (if I can find an early afternoon flight from Dar Es Salaam to Joburg, arriving in Joburg the same evening...its only a 3.5 hour flight)
Matetsi (3)
Joburg (1) (my wife and my mom would go to Cape Town for five nights)
Simbambili (4)

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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 01:00 AM
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Take a look at this aerial picture of Katavi. As stated in the link, there are so many buffalo that from the air they appear to be a great army of soldier ants.

And, where there are buffalo, lions are not too far away.

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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 11:46 AM
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Roccco, I'm sorry I couldn't read all you have here. So I don't know if you mention tse-tse flies! Katavi is infested with them. They are trying to control them. But it's not working. Too many of them. So, if the woman or even you don't mind having these things covering your truck, flying around your heads and drilling for blood. Believe me these things drill past almost anything you wear. Repellant does not work.I had a taste of these guys in TSAVO, THE MARA. But mostly in MIKUMI. What I kept telling myself was. If my ole' lady came with me. Had to deal with these flies. She would have been very pissed off at me. So be prepared to keep swatting!! Ok, I just spent 8days in Ruaha.
Heard much about Katavi. I almost went there myself. But because of the flights it would have made everything a mess. But I do believe you need a good 4 nights there. It's a long way and hard to get to. Driving, it will take at least 2 days even from Ruaha.The roads are very bad from what the pilot told me.Also, seeing I stayed at FOXES, RUAHA RIVER LODGE. Having meeting people who have stayed at Katavi at the FOX CAMP there. I would suggest checking out the FOX camp in Katavi.
Hope this helps.
Thanks, David
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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 12:18 PM
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Rocco - most people do a combination Katavi and Mahale Mountain by flying from Dar (though you can also fly from Arusha, about 4-5 hrs). You would Fly into Katavi and after your stay here, then fly to Mahale. Though you can also take a boat on Lake Tanyanika from Katavi to Mahale.

As Dave mentioned, there are roads to Katavi, but the distance and time are great; whereas there are no roads to Mahale, so one must fly or go via the Lake. I don't think STD would be very excited about flying in these small plans for such a long time. Might I suggest when you are serious about this area in Tanzania, you consider doing these two parks with a male buddy.
Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 12:28 PM
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Larry, don't drop Manyara Tree Lodge! Especially if your goal is birdwatching. Plus the lodge is just lovely, especially the evening dining. We were very fortunate to see three tree climbing cubs and loads of other animals in addition to many birds (though we're not birders, this camp contributed to our appreciation for birdwatching). The benefit of the lodge is it's location. Being on its own at the far end of the park, you can spend the last few hours of the game drive in the remote areas without encountering another vehicle.
And in July the lake should be pretty full and filled with water fowl.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2004, 11:40 PM
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I was warned about the Tetse flies in Katavi but perhaps I brushed this warning aside too easily. I have bitten by Tetse flies before and they are really annoying, but from what I am hearing here, it is a lot worse than anything I ever experienced in South Luangwa.

Anyway, I just received what I consider to be an unreasonable quote for a 6 night Katavi / Mahale package. It worked out to more than $750 per person per night. While this is only slightly more that I would pay to Wilderness Safaris or Kwando, it was more than I was expecting to pay in East Africa and is nearly double what I would pay per night for a CCAfrica package of Matetsi/Sandibe/Nxabega.

I may just elect to go with a package of 4 nights Matetsi and 4 nights Sandibe. While I can appreciate a good water camp, I don't know how much more water you can experience than the Zambezi River (Matetsi). I really don't like hopping around too much and since the consensus is that Sandibe is the best of the two Botswanan CCAfrica camps, I would be better off staying four nights there.

If not that package, another package I am strongly considering would be a combination of Kafue NP and South Luangwa NP. 2 nights Lunga River Lodge, 3 nights Busanga Plains Bush Camp, 1 night Lunga River Lodge, 4 nights Luangwa River Lodge. LRL seems to be coming along very nicely, and the owners seem to be very nice, a young successful couple (mid-30's?) that has left behind Europe and started a lodge in South Luangwa. He is involved in the financial sector while she is an interior decorator (and her skills are evident in the lodge).

Luangwa River Lodge is an entirely brand new lodge, located very near Mfuwe Lodge (but not on the main road as is Mfuwe Lodge). I previously thought that this was the wealthy Texan woman that was creating a ruckus in South Luangwa by buzzing her private helicopter all over, but it is not. She is rebuilding Lion Camp near Kaingo, and honestly, while the overall area is great, the exact location is horrible, with no water right by the camp or anything of interest.

Unless I could score Robin's House at Nkwali for a decent price, then I think Luangwa River Lodge would be best. It is the only place in the entire South Luangwa where I think massage is offered. With no currently present single supplement, I could get this place for $1,050 USD per night for my party of three (in two separate rooms). That is a great deal in high season, and while I have experienced the beauty of the South Luangwa in early June for the last two years, I have not yet experienced the gameviewing at its peak, as it will be in September.

The rooms at LRL look fabulous, as does the whole camp.


Anyway, so much for Tanzania. All that did was deprive me of a few hours sleep last night, but I am not willing to pay about 70% more for Tanzania than I am for Zambia or pay 60% more for Tanzania than I can get Matetsi / Sandibe.

Maybe I just got a bad quote, but for now it is back to most likely Matetsi & Sandibe, with Lunga River Lodge/Busanga Plains Bush Camp/Luangwa River Lodge being my next choice.
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Old Oct 25th, 2004, 09:55 AM
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As Dave says, it might be worth looking at the camps run by the Fox family. They have camps at Mikumi (part of the Selous area), Ruaha and Katavi as well as a highland farm allowing fishing & horseriding. They also run a luxury train from Dar to Mikumi & other camps in the Selous which sounds a fabulous way to start off.

All the camps are owner-managed and the family are passionate about Southern Tanzania having all been brought up there. I'm sure you could get a really good rate if you booked several nights with them. The accomodation is not of the top notch level you often lean towards, however we found it fine - and the locations are wonderful. Check out their web-site and particularlys some of the testimonials:


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