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Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

Chicago
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Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

Hi -

I've been a little bit more overwhelmed planning this than I usually am so I figured I would turn to the experts for advice.

A friend and I are planning on doing a Tanzania safari at the end of next year - probably beginning the last couple of days of December 2012 and going into the second week of January. I have read all about February being the best month at Ndutu, but we need to plan the trip around days on which our companies in the US are closed or slow so we're stuck on the stated time. We also plan on mixing in a side trip (6 or so days), but we're not sure yet where we will go - I know Zanzibar is easy, but we're considering Cape Town too since we'll have several days.

My first question concerns the safari route - Does it still make sense to do a route along the lines of Arusha Nat'l Park, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti or is this small difference in timing (January versus February) critical? Assuming we are in the Serengeti the first week of January, will be seeing less of what we might see later in the month? I ask because we could always start our vacation with the side trip, then begin the safari some time during the first week of January . . . not sure if that makes any difference, but that could mean that we arrive in the Serengeti during the second week of January.

The next question concerns our side trip and where to go. In addition to Zanzibar, we are considering Cape Town. I realize Cape Town is far, but I'm not sure when or if I'll return and I'll certainly be a lot closer when in Tanzania than I am now in the US.

Thanks in advance for your help and please let me know if your answers depend upon me providing additional information.

Findlay, Ohio
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1. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

This far in advance a week will make little difference. The migration will be collecting in the SE portion of the Serengeti (actually they will most probably be in the Ngorongoro Conservation area, but you won't know that from the Serengeti, except for the park fees). You won't know the difference with the migration if a few thousand are missing, will you? If you find yourself short on time, and I think you will if you expect to go to S. Africa also; I would do a skip on Arusha NP and probably on do Tarangire or Lake Manyara, leaving you with Tarangire/Lake Manyara for a day or two, Ngorongoro Crater for a day, Serengeti for 3 to 4 days spending time in the Ndutu area and in the Central Serengeti. I would then fly to Dar es Salaam where you could catch a flight to S. Africa, or go to Zanzibar. This would burn up about 7 days of your time.

There are daily flights from Dar to J'burg out of Dar, I don't think there are any out of Kilimanjaro (JRO) airport near Arusha. You could also get a flight to J'Burg or Cape Town from Nairobi, which is a short hop from Arusha.

You can get flights from NYC, Washington DC, and Atlanta direct to J'burg and Cape Town. That's about a 14 hour ride. So if you do an open jaw schedule you can either get to S.A. easily or return from there easily.

I doubt if you will get good fares, this is the highest of the high seasons. Get your bookings in as soon as possible as accommodations do tend to fill up at that time of the year.

Chicago
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2. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

Thank you so much for the response Karl. Luckily, we're going to have a total of about 20 days to spend likely leaving (12/27 and returning around 1/16) so I think we might be able to fit a in a good length safari (we'd like at least 10 days), and because that's the principal reason for the trip, we will not cut that short.

Our preference was to start the trip with the safari so thanks for letting me know that the timing is fine and that the one week won't make a big difference. My preference would be to fly from ORD -> JRO, and then after finishing the safari, and as quickly as possible, fly to either Zanzibar or Cape Town (possibly Morocco, but doubtful), and return home from there.

Findlay, Ohio
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3. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

Just a thought, but I would be a little cautious about traveling to in that part of the world right now. Things in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt could overflow, and Syria seems to be boiling over from time to time and you don't want to get caught in that kind of thing.

nyc
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4. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

Trying to get to Morocco from either East or Southern Africa - ' you can't get there from here' - considering Morocco is only 6/hrs from JFK, this can be planned for another time.

As to routing, if for Dec'12/Jan'13, flight schedules and fares will NOT be available before 330/days prior date of travel... so figure early-Feb'12. Also, when fares first published they tend to be the highest. To check routing, whether to South Africa (JNB/CPT) and then to DAR/JRO (Tanzania) or via Nairobi/NBO in Kenya... see Kayak at www.kayak.com Look at open-jaw tickets, arriving in one country, departing from another... saves lots of flight time and spent in transit/airports.

This way you'll have an idea of what's entailed (it's 4/hr flight time between East and South, schedules are limited and rather expensive within Africa (No Spirit Air here :) ) Once you have an idea of your flights, you can pursue what you do on-the-ground in Tanzania and/or CPT or maybe just head off to ZNZ (easy) for some R&R.

Booking a safari almost 1/yr out, assuming Feb '12 is more than sufficient time to get the properties (lodges/camps) you want. Many reputable safari tour operators, whether in the States or those in-country, are listed here for your to contact.

Reminder - prices over Christmas into New Year and January are peak-season in Tanzania/Zanzibar and same in South Africa... it's holiday time!

Good luck!

Pasco, Washington
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5. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

Great question. Planning the same/similar trip for same time frame. Doing the northern circuit (Feb 2013m with Zanzibar and Cape Town). Coming from west coast of USA, like you, my chances of being back to Africa, slim. I have other places I want to see.

I think I have an approx 11 day safari/zanz itinerary, now trying to put CT at the front end, manage flights. I understand same, large continent, but gotta do what you gotta do right? or try to.

Chicago
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6. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

Thank you all so much for the help - you guys are terrific. My hunch is that we'll end up in Zanzibar. We'll probably want to unwind on the beach and also get more of a true African flavor than may be found in Cape Town . . . and yes, we can save Morocco for another time, and when it's warmer there. And that just means we'll have to find some time to return to Cape Town.

I'm guessing we'll fly from ORD -> JRO, then probably go JRO -> ZNZ (Karl, I like the advice you gave elsewhere to possibly save Lake Manyara for the end to make the trip from the Serengeti to Arusha more enjoyable, assuming we can do that). Then, we'll probably fly from ZNZ ->DAR -> ORD.

I'm sure I'll have more questions as we continue our planning - thanks again.

Chicago
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7. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

Another question: In requesting quotes from various safari operators, I assume they will recommend lodges/tents. I would like a luxury accommodation, but not over-the-top luxury . . . although I might be willing to mix in something 5-star-equivalent if it's really special. I would also like to mix up between tented camps and lodges and I'd probably prefer a tented camp in situations where a lodge would not be preferable logistically. Do I just let them know that?

And if it's the safari operator that recommends lodges/camps, do I have the ability to suggest a different lodge/camp for a particular location if one recommended on tripadvisor just seems that much better to me than what the safari operator chooses? Finally, assuming I have the ability to choose my own lodging, should I still have the safari operator do the booking or could I get a better deal on my own?

Thanks again for your help.

Canada
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8. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

You can choose all of your accommodation, just make an itinerary of where you want to go and the lodges/camps you want to stay at, send it to 6 or 7 of the safari operators recommeded on this forum and ask for quotes. They will get better rates than doing it yourself.

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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9. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

Don't do the bookings for lodges, tents, etc. yourself. You will get much better deals going through a safari operator. Do it yourself and you will pay the rack rates.

nyc
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10. Re: Safari planning questions for December 2012/January 2013

When sending to outfitters, if there are particular lodges/camps you wish at specific areas, say so. If not sure of others and where, ask for recommendations for both lodge/camps at your budget.

Remember: estimated budget helps outfitter overall.