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basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

on the lake...
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basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

We have been saving money and airline miles for a safari for awhile now, and we're almost ready to make it happen. We'll be traveling with our 2 kids, ages 15 and 13. We travel quite often to Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, Alaska, etc. Our Tanzania trip is all about wildlife viewing. What I'm trying to figure out is our overall itinerary schedule, not so much the details yet. We're going July 2014, busy season, so I know we need to plan ahead. Here's what I'm thinking:

July 3- leave home, fly overnight

July 4- land late in JRO

July 5- first full day, sleep, acclimate, regroup

July 6, 7, 8, 9, 10- five full days of safari

July 11- leave JRO for AMS (Amsterdam)

July 12- arrive early in AMS, nap, explore

July 13- full day city tour, Anne Frank House

July 14- fly home

We're most interested in the Northern Circuit. Again, it's all about wildlife viewing for us. I added the AMS stopover at the end to break up the long flight home (I've been to AMS and since we could connect there, I would love to show my family a few of my favorite sites), but it isn't a dealbreaker if we skip that part if you feel 5 full safari days is just not enough.

Thoughts on this? Am I on track? Thank you!

on the lake...
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1. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

one other thing... we do not need to fly into JRO. We will fly into which ever airport makes the most sense. Would Arusha be better? Thanks!

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2. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

You probably should spend some time reading posts on Tripadvisor to see what some of the experts recommend as to how long it takes to see each area well. You will find out that 5 days is not very long to do justice to the area. You are smart to build a day in for rest/jetlag, but if you have a shorter time, you might be best to start right away. The problem is that the safari days are very expensive because of the car/guide hire, the accommodations and food, and the park fees. You can choose from very expensive luxury, to most economical basic camping. There is not much in the middle range, but it is possible. I also, saved for a long time for my trip, and I ended up with 11 days, coming up in June. The most basic quick trip would be 1 day at Tarangire, 1 at manyara, 1 at Ngorongoro crater, and 3 in the Serengeti. This would make for a very full/rushed trip, as the driving times in Tanzania on unpaved roads are long. One way to save time is to fly within the country, especially fly 1 way to or from the Serengeti, but this adds price to the trip. Once you decide what you want, send to some of the companies (in-country companies are cheaper) to get quotes, then compare itineraries, prices, and comfort level with company. Feel free to post possible quotes here for experts' opinions. Good luck-it will be a great experience for the kids especially.

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3. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

JRO is the international airport. Arusha airport is about an hour away and is a local airport for internal flights. You will not get an international flight arriving at Arusha.

As stated above 5 days will be very rushed to do the standard Northern Circuit. For this you really need about 7 days minimum and preferably about 10. Do some research and decide where you actually want to go. Get a good guide book and read some of the posts on this forum. This will help you understand the timings. Travel in tanzania is not quick and roads are poor. It takes longer than you might expect to get from A to B. As suggested above, flying one way in or out of the Serengeti will save you a days travelling.

As you are travelling with teenagers I'm sure they would also enjoy some of the other activities available if you have time. These could include school visits (great fun), guided walks and hikes, canoe trips, bike rides, cultural visits etc but these will all eat into your game viewing time but will really add to your whole "African" experience.

You need to decide where your piorities lie then contact some TO for suggestions on itineraries.

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4. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

We are going in January and used miles for our flights. Regardless of the airline using miles can be tough. If possible determine your number of nights and have some flexibility with the dates. Once you have the flight you can easily arrange the safari. We are doing 13 nights and then adding in either Zanzibar or Rwanda.

IMO you can get to Europe again but the safari may be a once In a lifetime trip. I would maximize your time on safari.

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5. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

Inasmuch as you'll be using miles, best you get those dates firmed as soon as. Then you'll know how many actual days you have.

AMSterdam will always be there, so I'd skip this and put the time to safari so you're not rushed thru, especially if only a driving itinerary. As others, you can drive one way and fly from the farthest distance, but know that internal flights can be expensive compared to those in the States... still worth it. Just the drive between Serengeti ( the farthest distance ) to Arusha/JRO takes 1/full-day and not on the best of roads.

While prices for 2014 haven't yet been published... they start to become available around mid-13 (from June forward), so you'll have to establish some sort of budget for all participating, bearing in mind that the kids should be entitled to discounts when sharing with parents. There are few 'family' rooms to accommodate 4/paxs, so often it's two (2) rooms or tents with 1/parent & 1/child.

If you haven't done so, a good guidebook is your best friend to learn about the country, places/parks to visit, places to stay/prices - and reading thru the many threads here on TA. All before sending off to outfitters for suggested proposals/quotes. And have an idea of your expected overall budget, so you're not surprised by, either, too low or too high, the prices that come thru.

If for July, suggest the early part of the month as the 'migrating' herds are often still located in the Western Serengeti. Later in the month the herds can be scattered various areas between West and North and at North, there are few properties/camps and those here tend to be rather costly.

At minimum you should consider 10/days for safari as:

Day 1 - Arv. JRO - met/transfer to Arusha - o/n

Day 2 - Arusha; at leisure or other activity - school, local village - o/n

Day 3 - Tarangire - o/n

Day 4 - Tarangire - o/n

Day 5 - Ngorongoro; afternoon crater tour (these limited to 6/hrs) - o/n

Day 6 - Ngo; option: morning crater tour OR head out on game drive thru to Central Serengeti - o/n

Day 7 - Game drive to Western Serengeti - o/n

Days 8 & 9 - Western Serengeti - o/n

Day 10 - Fly to Arusha/JRO; dayroom till transfer for homebound flight.

6. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

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on the lake...
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7. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

Thanks everyone! We will drop the Amsterdam stopover to extend our safari time, no problem. Our main concern is more about time away from work and not so much cost, so I'll definitely take your advice on the one-way flight to or from Serengeti. While we do have flexibility and know our dates will be dependent upon flights, this is what I've tentatively revised to:

July 3: leave home, fly overnight

July 4: land late evening in JRO, stay in Arusha

July 5: first full day, sleep, acclimate, regroup??? (depends on flight arrival time...may just jump right into the safari)

July 6-12: safari (Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, Western and Central/Northern Serengeti)

July 13: fly from Serengeti to Arusha, then fly home

This gives us 7 full days of safari. Does it matter if we travel northbound (drive north from Arusha to Serengeti then fly back to Arusha) or southbound (fly from Arusha to Serengeti then drive south back to Arusha.) Is one way better than the other?

I've already been in contact with Access2Tanzania and really liked what they offered. I'm also liking what I see about Safari Infinity. I don't think I can go wrong with either company.

Thanks again!

Findlay, Ohio
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8. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

It's six of one and half dozen of another on which way you fly... either is the same.

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9. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

your getting great advice. I'd spend every minute on safari I could get... but here are a couple of 8 day itineraries to throw into the pot... one with a flight back, the other all driving...

Day 1 & 2 Tarangire. lodging Tarangire

Day 3 Lake Manyara NP, lodging on crater rim

Day 4 Early crater tour... drive to loging in central Serengeti/Seronera

Day 5-7 Serengeti, two locations

Day 8 latest possible flight back to Arusha, squeezing in as much game drive as possible...

Alternative - all driving...

Day 1 & 2 Tarangire

Day 3 Manyara NP, lodging Karatu (some relatively inexpensive options... Eileen's Trees is nice, has a pool for the kids...)

Day 4 long drive to Central Seronera... you get some nice views of the crater and some pretty good game drive in late afternoon on the way to your lodgings.

Days 5, 6 Serengeti.

Day 7 Morning game drive, afternoon drive to crater rim. Lodging ranges from expensive - Rhino Lodge, no crater view - to very expensive with crater views (lots of discussions on the forum about the pros and cons...)

Day 8 Early into the crater... do a good solid 6 hour tour, then depart and drive - exhausted and happy and probably napping - back to Arusha.

(Day 9 of any of these is your day in Arusha to recover and to buy souveniers before flying out that night...)

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10. Re: basic itinerary advice - Tanzania with teens

You might also want to try more than 2 companies, and you might want to try some that are just locally based. There is often a great deal of difference in itineraries and pricing between companies, and you can be sure you get what you are happy with. You have started with 2 good choices.