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Help Newbie in Planning For Trip to Tanzania-Kenya

Help Newbie in Planning For Trip to Tanzania-Kenya

Old Nov 26th 2006, 8:43 am
  #1  
Pjbphd
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Posts: n/a
Default Help Newbie in Planning For Trip to Tanzania-Kenya

I'm putting together a trip to Kenya and Tanzania for a group of about a
dozen friends from the United States. We've never been to Africa before and
I'm looking for some help. I've read the guides and surfed the web but I'm
hoping this group can help me with some basic questions and decisions.



We traveled together before and don't mind going a little rough, a tent
safari will be fine. If we're going that far I hope to spend several weeks
so I'm thinking between 20 and 25 days for the trip. As with most, we're
interested in the large animals, but also birds and culture. Like everyone
else, we'd like to get off the beaten path but I'm realistic that we'll
probably be following the tourist routes. It would be nice to avoid too
many other tourists at any given place.



My first question is pretty open - where to go, or at lest concentrate our
time? I hear lots of wonderful things about Arusha, Ngorogono, and of
course the Serengeti. Is it realistic to see them all ion only three weeks
or will we spend our entire time traveling? To put it another way, if you
had never been to Africa and had three weeks, where would you go?



Next is probably related to the above question; when to go? I realize most
tourists go in the summer dry season and I assume that's because the
wildlife is concentrated at the waterholes. I also read that the Serengeti
is better in the early winter for mass migrations. I'm sure there are other
good times although it makes sense to avoid the heavy rain. Any
recommendations?



Finally I'd like any recommendations for safari companies. I've heard some
good things about Bushback Safaris and Djoser. The latter is a Dutch
Company but they do have a U.S. office. Of course with the internet that's
not even really important. Thompson and Robin Hurt have also been
recommended but they seem pretty expensive. Any good, bad or other
experiences with these or other companies?



Thanks in advance for any advice. I'm looking forward to the responses.



pjb
 
Old Nov 26th 2006, 8:46 am
  #2  
Pjbphd
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Help Newbie in Planning For Trip to Tanzania-Kenya

Sorry, I should have added if you wish to you can email me at pjbphd at cox
dot net.

Thanks

pjb


"pjbphd" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
    > I'm putting together a trip to Kenya and Tanzania for a group of about a
    > dozen friends from the United States. We've never been to Africa before
    > and I'm looking for some help. I've read the guides and surfed the web
    > but I'm hoping this group can help me with some basic questions and
    > decisions.
    > We traveled together before and don't mind going a little rough, a tent
    > safari will be fine. If we're going that far I hope to spend several
    > weeks so I'm thinking between 20 and 25 days for the trip. As with most,
    > we're interested in the large animals, but also birds and culture. Like
    > everyone else, we'd like to get off the beaten path but I'm realistic that
    > we'll probably be following the tourist routes. It would be nice to avoid
    > too many other tourists at any given place.
    > My first question is pretty open - where to go, or at lest concentrate our
    > time? I hear lots of wonderful things about Arusha, Ngorogono, and of
    > course the Serengeti. Is it realistic to see them all ion only three
    > weeks or will we spend our entire time traveling? To put it another way,
    > if you had never been to Africa and had three weeks, where would you go?
    > Next is probably related to the above question; when to go? I realize
    > most tourists go in the summer dry season and I assume that's because the
    > wildlife is concentrated at the waterholes. I also read that the
    > Serengeti is better in the early winter for mass migrations. I'm sure
    > there are other good times although it makes sense to avoid the heavy
    > rain. Any recommendations?
    > Finally I'd like any recommendations for safari companies. I've heard
    > some good things about Bushback Safaris and Djoser. The latter is a Dutch
    > Company but they do have a U.S. office. Of course with the internet
    > that's not even really important. Thompson and Robin Hurt have also been
    > recommended but they seem pretty expensive. Any good, bad or other
    > experiences with these or other companies?
    > Thanks in advance for any advice. I'm looking forward to the responses.
    > pjb
    >
 
Old Nov 26th 2006, 9:21 am
  #3  
Liz Leyden
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Help Newbie in Planning For Trip to Tanzania-Kenya

In message <[email protected]>
"pjbphd" <[email protected]> wrote:

[snip]

    > We traveled together before and don't mind going a little rough, a tent
    > safari will be fine. If we're going that far I hope to spend several weeks
    > so I'm thinking between 20 and 25 days for the trip. As with most, we're
    > interested in the large animals, but also birds and culture. Like everyone
    > else, we'd like to get off the beaten path but I'm realistic that we'll
    > probably be following the tourist routes. It would be nice to avoid too
    > many other tourists at any given place.

If you're on your own, either driving yourself or with a local
driver-guide (which I recommend) you can easily get away from other
tourists: just avoid the Big Cats!
    >
    >
    >
    > My first question is pretty open - where to go, or at lest concentrate our
    > time? I hear lots of wonderful things about Arusha, Ngorogono, and of
    > course the Serengeti. Is it realistic to see them all ion only three weeks
    > or will we spend our entire time traveling? To put it another way, if you
    > had never been to Africa and had three weeks, where would you go?
You've got the right idea of not trying to fit too many locations into
one trip.
In three weeks you've got quite a lot of leeway.
If it was me, in Tanzania I'd do the normal 'northern circuit' and
consider adding on Selous. This is easily doable in three weeks.
I wouldn't spend much time in the Serengeti if the migration was in
the Mara. in that circumstance, I'd definitely go to Selous.

In Kenya, it would depend on what time of year I was going.
Assuming the migration was in the Mara, I'd do five nights at
Samburu/Buffalo Springs, two to four nights in the Highlands, maybe
before and after Samburu, three nights at Lake Baringo (for birds)
three nights at Nakuru, five nights at the Mara, choosing location
according to where the migration 'should' be.
If the migration wasn't in the Mara, I'd skip it and spend the time in
Amboseli.
if birds are a major interest, maybe also consider Kakamega Forest,
though it's a long, rough drive there and back!
    >
    >
    >
    > Next is probably related to the above question; when to go? I realize most
    > tourists go in the summer dry season and I assume that's because the
    > wildlife is concentrated at the waterholes.
Not really, that's more Southern Africa. It doesn't seem to happen the
same way in East Africa. It's pleasanter in the dry season and you're
not always dealing with mozzies and flies.
Of course, it's cheaper in the wet season.
And, by the way, the seasons have been very variable recently.

    > I also read that the Serengeti is better in the early winter for mass
    > migrations. I'm sure there are other good times although it makes
    > sense to avoid the heavy rain. Any recommendations?
In late January/early February, the wildebeest are dropping their
young in Serengeti, so a lot is happening then. Choose the location of
your camp accordingly.

In Kenya, the wildebeest start crossing the river normally in
mid-August, though they were two weeks early this year. :-)))

If there happens to be an El Nino event, all bets are off.
    >
    >
    > Finally I'd like any recommendations for safari companies. I've heard some
    > good things about Bushback Safaris and Djoser. The latter is a Dutch
    > Company but they do have a U.S. office. Of course with the internet that's
    > not even really important. Thompson and Robin Hurt have also been
    > recommended but they seem pretty expensive. Any good, bad or other
    > experiences with these or other companies?
I'll leave somone else to advise you about camping companies.

Slainte

Liz
(Lots of info and hints on my website, nothing to sell!)
--
http://www.v-liz.com - Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Galapagos
 
Old Nov 26th 2006, 10:52 am
  #4  
Bill
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Help Newbie in Planning For Trip to Tanzania-Kenya

    >pjbphd wrote:
    > I'm putting together a trip to Kenya and Tanzania for a group of about a
    > dozen friends from the United States. We've never been to Africa before and
    > I'm looking for some help.

I haven't been to Kenya but was in Tanzania twice this year, 14 days in
January (dry season, wildebeest migration) and 10 days in April (wet
season ... very VERY wet for us). Going back for 13 days next January
...

    > We traveled together before and don't mind going a little rough, a tent
    > safari will be fine.

These are relatively inexpensive if you stay in the mass campgrounds,
which can be noisy and unsanitary (or so I hear ... we stayed in
mid-range lodges). Camping can be more expensive if you get a private
camping outfit, but is the way to go if you want to camp in comfort and
can afford this.

    > If we're going that far I hope to spend several weeks
    > so I'm thinking between 20 and 25 days for the trip.

That would be a wonderful trip! I'm jealous ...

    > My first question is pretty open - where to go, or at lest concentrate our
    > time? I hear lots of wonderful things about Arusha, Ngorogono, and of
    > course the Serengeti. Is it realistic to see them all ion only three weeks
    > or will we spend our entire time traveling?

You can certainly see the northern circuit in Tanzania in two weeks
(fly to Arusha, then hit Tarangire and/or Lake Manyara, then Ngorongoro
Crater -- which will be the most densely populated with tourists-- then
Serengeti. These are all relatively close to each other.

Then the other ten days or so either in southern Tanzania or in Kenya.

    > if you had never been to Africa and had three weeks,
    > where would you go?

Serengeti between mid-January and mid-March for the height of the
wildebeest migration for 10 days or so, with another week split between
Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara. This is exactly our itinerary for next
January (except only 7 days in the Serengeti).

    > Next is probably related to the above question; when to go?

If the migration is the main thing you wish to see then the 'typical'
best dates for Serengeti are what I mentioned above, when the zebras
and wildebeest are on the short grass plains, or August - October in
Kenya's Masai Mara, when the bulk of the migration is up there.

If the migration isn't the main thing you wish to see then the typical
advice is to avoid November (moderate rains) and April - May (heavy
rains) but all the other months have things worth seeing. But we had a
good time last April, especially for birds.

    > I realize most tourists go in the summer dry season and I
    > assume that's because the
    > wildlife is concentrated at the waterholes.

Also kids are out of school ...

    > I also read that the Serengeti
    > is better in the early winter for mass migrations.

This is definitely true, at least for the area between say Ndutu and
Seronera. This is where I'll be.

    > Finally I'd like any recommendations for safari companies. I've heard some
    > good things about Bushback Safaris and Djoser. The latter is a Dutch
    > Company but they do have a U.S. office. Of course with the internet that's
    > not even really important. Thompson and Robin Hurt have also been
    > recommended but they seem pretty expensive. Any good, bad or other
    > experiences with these or other companies?

For Tanzania we used Roy Safaris, a mid-sized company (I think 20-25
jeeps) with a reputation for good gear and excellent well-trained
guides. I would recommend them highly. You can see their camping
options on their web pages. They are relatively low-cost.

Of the ones you mention Thomson's has an excellent reputation but is
more expensive. I don't know the other three. Sunny's has a pretty
good reputation as a low budget, camping outfit (check you are getting
'unlimited mileage'). Leopard Tours is one of the largest, with I
think 120 or so jeeps, and their best guides are very good but they
have a lot of turnover so you might end up with a newbie guide.

Between Sunny and Leopard and Roy's and Thomson's you should be able to
put together a great trip. All of these are based in Arusha.

Asking for a guide who 'knows the birds' will usually get you an
experienced guide since it takes a while to learn birds well.

Here are some photos we took on our two trips ... April was good for
birds but I wouldn't camp in April due to the rains ...
http://members.aol.com/bhilton665/africa/

Bill
 
Old Nov 27th 2006, 4:19 am
  #5  
Rita Daggett
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: Help Newbie in Planning For Trip to Tanzania-Kenya

    > I'm putting together a trip to Kenya and Tanzania for a group of about a
    > dozen friends from the United States.

With 12 or so of you going, its worth looking at 'tailor-made'; 'assisted
camping' with your own driver-guides and other camp assistants may not work
out much more than 'organised' and might leave you with some flexibility 'on
the spot' to go to the best place at the time.

--
Rita Daggett
 
Old Nov 27th 2006, 4:39 am
  #6  
Dave Patterson
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Help Newbie in Planning For Trip to Tanzania-Kenya

I suggest you contact Bushbuck Safaris in Arusha:
http://www.bushbuckltd.com/ and let them know you
are OK with a camping safari. Tell them
"Dave Patterson" suggested you contact them.
We (Africasafari.com) used them for 15 years
for all our Tanzania clients till we sold the
this year.
FYI - One important factor in pricing any safari
is the number of vehicles & driver/guides you need.
They have new 6-passenger Land Cruisers that
could mean that - if there are 12 of you - two
vehicles would be sufficient. I had one group of
7 family members this year that used just one vehicle,
with one of them riding up with the driver.
It's not THE most import consideration, but it
is a significant part of the pricing.
When to go to east Africa? Avoid late March through
mid-May. That is the lowest of the low s
eason,
because rains are most likely then.
Migration is - as others have posted - interesting during
the calving period early in the year, and by July, the
migration is so far north toward Kenya, I think it is too
late to try and see it in TZ. I customarily suggest late
May/intoJune for Tanzania.
 
Old Nov 28th 2006, 9:08 pm
  #7  
Hans-Georg Michna
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Help Newbie in Planning For Trip to Tanzania-Kenya

On Sun, 26 Nov 2006 14:43:33 -0700, pjbphd wrote:

    >I'm putting together a trip to Kenya and Tanzania for a group of about a
    >dozen friends from the United States. We've never been to Africa before and
    >I'm looking for some help. I've read the guides and surfed the web but I'm
    >hoping this group can help me with some basic questions and decisions.

You could carefully consider a self-drive safari. For newcomers
that would be easier in Kenya because of the better
infrastructure and the not quite so long distances. Kenya is
generally a bit more accessible than Tanzania.

    >My first question is pretty open - where to go, or at lest concentrate our
    >time? I hear lots of wonderful things about Arusha, Ngorogono, and of
    >course the Serengeti. Is it realistic to see them all ion only three weeks
    >or will we spend our entire time traveling? To put it another way, if you
    >had never been to Africa and had three weeks, where would you go?

Have a look at http://www.michna.com/kenya.htm . This page
contains a lot of useful and fresh information for your
planning. It is geared towards a self-drive safari and also
contains a complete travel plan.

If you want an organized camping safari, I would recommend to
fire off an email to Judy & Mike Rainy <mjrainy at
africaonline.co.ke> (please replace at with @). They do tented
safaris in Kenya, full service, and if they're not outside your
budget, they may be your best choice. Mike Rainy is a zoologist.
Both are very knowledgeable, interesting persons, so you can get
better information on this trip than with a standard safari.
Mention my name.

If you're aiming for a low-budget safari, there are companies
that do this with open trucks and tents. Normally I wouldn't
like these, because I'd be very hesitant to travel with many
people I don't know, but if you're already 12 people, you'd
dominate the group or could perhaps even get a smaller truck all
by yourself. That could yield an outstanding performance-price
ratio and a very nice safari for a group that size.

Hans-Georg

--
No mail, please.
 

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