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Tanzania Itinerary - March 2008

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I've been actively reading this forum for several weeks now and relied heavily on many of your trip reports to finalize our itinerary for our upcoming trip to Tanzania. Unlike many of you, we did not plan this months in advance, so we relied heavily on our travel agent to help find available properties in our price range. My wife and I are 29 years old usually do independent travel without the help of travel agents. After doing our research, we felt that independent travel was not feasible for this sort of private safari, so we read up on the agents used by many of you.

After ready many posts on this forum and reading countless trip reports, I contacted four travel agents that have been highly recommended on this site. We gave specific dates (less than two months from now - during high season), said that we preferred tent camps or smaller lodges to large resorts, and mentioned a few other requests. One agency didn't write back at all and two others provided us itineraries that almost exclusively used the larger lodges (Serena and Sopa). One even said "depending on the season of your trip" even though we specified the dates in our request. While I have no doubt that the other three are excellent companies, the timely and personal service we got from the other company (Naipenda) made our decision quite easy.

Naipenda Safaris went much further and provided an itinerary that was creative and definitely tailored to our requests. While we ended up going with a relatively standard Northern Circuit itinerary, Jo at Naipenda was terrific in helping us find the type of lodging that we wanted (smaller, more intimate, independent places.) We changed our mind on Jo several times, and she was quick to adjust with a perfect plan. She also helped us arrange our flight from Seronera Airstrip to Zanzibar and helped with lodging in Zanzibar.

So, here is the plan we booked. Any feedback would be welcome, although we've already sent in the deposit and told Jo we would make any more changes :-) Despite our desire to avoid busloads of tourists at the lodges, I did want to try the Ngorongoro Serena for one night, and we are on a waitlist for that. I'll be sure to post a detailed trip report when we return!

I do have one specific question - Does anybody have tips for getting exposed to the African culture aside from the made-for-tourist "cultural programs" such as Mto wa Mbu? Jo did recommend and we strongly considered the Kisima Ngeda Tented Camp to visit the hunter/gatherers people, but we decided against that given the relatively short length of our trip and the fact that this is again specifically for tourists. Are there are local markets / towns that rarely see tourists that people can recommend? Obviously something not too far out of the way is preferred.

MARCH 2008
01 - Arrive JRO, meet and transfer to Mt. Meru Game Lodge (

02/03 - To Tarangire National Park - Maramboi Tented Camp (

04 - Game drive Lake Manyara National Park and continue to Bougainvillea Lodge (

05 - Game drive Ngorongoro Crater - Bougainvillea (TBD Serena wait listed)

06/07 - Serengeti National Park - Mbuzi Mawe (TBD) or Naipenda mobile tents

08 - To Southern Serengeti - Ndutu Safari Lodge (

09 - Transfer to Seronera Airstrip and fly to Zanzibar - transfer to Pongwe Hotel (

10/11/12 - Activities of choice - Pongwe Hotel (beach front)

13/14 - Transfer to Stone Town - Zanzibar Palace - Rosewood Room (

15 - Transfer to Airport and fly ZNZ/DAR

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