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Safari fatigue?

London, United...
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Safari fatigue?

Hi everyone,

My girlfriend and I are planning a 12 day trip to Tanzania in February 2014. We would like to travel independently but have the safari arranged in advance. However, I am very much in doubt of the length of the safari. We will concentrate on Serengeti and Ngorongoro as we will be there during foaling season, which normally takes place around the Ndutu area. We are considering a private 4 day tour with 1 night near Ngorongoro and 2 nights in the Ndutu area of Serengeti. From what I can read it seems that the average time spend on a safari is 7 days(ish). However, we want to avoid getting safari fatigue and also have time to see other things of Tanzania

Here is my question. Drawing on previous experience, when did you feel you had enough safari?

Any feedback would be much appreciated.

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1. Re: Safari fatigue?

Can't wait to see the responses you get. My opinion is there can never be enough let alone too much safari. We did stay 5 nights once at one camp and I got a little antsy by the end so I do think moving on after 4 days in one place is best for me. But it's a very individual thing.

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2. Re: Safari fatigue?

The very term "safari fatigue" indicates the source of the conflicting opinions on this topic. To safari means to journey. As we journey, some of us tend to be tourists and some tend to be travelers.

The distinction is not a clear line... more an attitude.

When we were working people with very limited time windows and budgets, we trended toward "tourist." We had five days in Paris and might never be there again - so we had a list of "greatest hits" and we hit them all.

I once planned a five week family camping trip in the American West... mom, dad, and daughters aged 2 and 12 in a van. I had every single night's lodgings arranged ahead of time. My planning has been compared to the planning for D-Day. We saw and did every thing on the agenda - and my family swore they would never again be the victims of my obsessive base-tagging.

That was tourism - travelling to places to achieve specific goals in a limited time.

Every year we have gotten better at being travelers. We still see and do lots of things - but we try to build in lots of flexibility to allow us to actually LIVE in other places as we journey.

Our first trip to Tanzania was 29 days. Ten days were a formal safari. 12 days were a bus journey loop through Lushoto, Iringa, Dodoma, and Kondoa. The rest of the time was hanging out in Arusha, staying at a B&B cottage.

To answer your specific question - 10 days wasn't enough, but it was good. We are going back in January for more.

If you just want to see the migration and the foaling... yeah, about 1 day would be enough of that for me. The crater - great chance to see a bunch of stuff in a natural zoo... 6 hours is enough. If you have a short list of cats to add... sure another 1 day in the Serengeti should take care of that. Throw in one more day for miscellaneous - zebra, hippos, giraffes, antelope... that's 5 days to do a basic "Yeah - saw that" tourist checklist.

It leaves out parking during a rainstorm and listening to the wind as the sun gets low on the horizon... and the resulting rainbow... all by yourself in the Serengeti where men have seen similar visions for a million years.


or the sunset in Tarangire with the baobabs and a pensive elephant


or waiting for the goshawk to perch and pose...


From the tone, I believe you want to be travelers in Tanzania so you are limiting the time on safari and saving time to see the "other things of Tanzania." But honestly - the safari aspect of Tanzania is so huge that it is hard to move beyond it to some of the other parts of the country in a short time window.

We photographed, for example, over 100 species of birds... many of them with interesting behaviors. The 40 minutes we spent with one young tawny eagle... watching him play-hunt with a piece of bark, then moving on to threaten some pond birds, then watching Egyptian geese putting him in his place... and we didn't see a lion, or a couple of lions... we saw 60 or 80 lions (I can't remember) and watched family hunting, mating, childcare, conflict with other predators...

Bottom line... spend a couple of days in Arusha or Moshi and get a little bit of town life... spend 6-7 days to do a basic northern circuit safari. Spend 3 days on an adventure... take the bus from Arusha to Kondoa, stay at the New Planet for two nights... the first and third day are pretty much taken up by the brutal ride. Spend the middle day visiting the Kolo rock paintings. Or add another day, and add Babati into the circuit, canoe on the lake or arrange some cultural activities like honey-gathering...

I've said before... my mother always made us change the phrase "I'm bored!" to "I'm boring!" If safari fatigue sets in after a few days, it means a person is a tourist and has checked enough items off the list. If one is a traveler, a month on safari might not be enough.

Edited: 16 June 2013, 14:03
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3. Re: Safari fatigue?

I,like IAB, love Tanzania. We spent 5 weeks in Tanzania recently but only 10 days of that was on safari and that was about right for us. We have done several safaris in the past and I am generally happy with this amount of time. I also really love spending time with people in Tanzania and we spent the rest of our 5 weeks at a social enterprise that we support in Moshi. Although I enjoy the animals and scenery on safari it is the time we spend in Moshi working and socialising with our Tanzanian friends that produces the real highlights of the trip for me. So for me I need to balance the time I have available to fit in everything I want to do and so whilst i would never say I have suffered "Safari fatigue" 10 days is about long enough for us. Not sure if that makes me a tourist or a traveller :-)

Isle of Man, United...
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4. Re: Safari fatigue?


I think you need to ask yourselves why you are going in the first instance. Is it a long held wish to experience Tanzania's wonderful wildlife and people or just a whim from an idea in a monthly glossy?

Your answer to that will frame your Safari Itinerary. Some folks never tire of such wonders and others want to head on when they have ticked the boxes. Lion? Yup! Elephant? Yup etc.,

I think more people are limited to what time/cash they have available to get away from work/home than they are by any boredom threshold. If that was a possibilty then it begs the question "why bother to pay all that cash and travel all that way to be bored, dusty and eaten by flies"?

Africa is not like Paris or London. Ten minutes for the Louvre, six for The Tower. If its Tuesday it must be Belgium, sort of trip.

So think about my first question deeply before you part with any cash.

IAB has it about right with asking are you a Tourist or a Traveller?

To develop Mushariff-Ud-Din (1184-1219) "A Traveller without knowledge is like a bird without wings!"

Today he would say "That's a Tourist!"

Edited: 16 June 2013, 15:10
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5. Re: Safari fatigue?

Yes I agree with Mfuwe most people are limited by cost and time, not boredom. That is certainly the case for us. If we had longer in Tanzania I might spend longer than 10 days on safari but as I said, its a balance, when trying to fit in other priorities. We are also definately limited by cost as well. We could stay in Moshi for a 3.5 weeks for less than $300pp, the same the cost as 1 night on safari!!!

London, United...
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6. Re: Safari fatigue?

Thank you for all the replies. Very interesting reading.

Firstly, although I wish I it was not so I am (as most of us) unfortunately limited by scarce resources i.e. time and cash. I wish I was able to explore every corner of the country and the national parks.

My intention with the question was to explore whether some of my limited time will be better spend on other activities. I do realise this is a very individual question but it is always interesting to learn from others:) Certainly unless you have a larger than normal appetite for wildlife there will be a point where the initial excitement diminishes. Although I have not been to Tanzania yet I can compare to a recent trip to Sri Lanka where we visited two national parks. Naturally the sight of elephant number 60 was less exhilarating than the first.

I don't deceit myself into believing I'll be anything but a tourist. Surely you can be a tourist an many ways and the choices you make when it comes to transportation, food and the people you approach (just to name a few examples) will give you different experiences. But in my opinion you will never be able to "live" in another country by just visiting.

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7. Re: Safari fatigue?

Personally, there are so many things to do in Tanzania, in addition to the fantastic wildlife, I recommend interspersing them. Make your safari longer, but add in cultural experiences and visits to some of the tribes. Get out there and meet people, and it makes your wildlife experiences even more vivid. I would highly advise adding Tarangire and Manyara also. Each park has its own ecosystem, it's own feel, and its own wildlife highlights, even though many overlap.

Washington DC...
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8. Re: Safari fatigue?

With a 3-night itinerary you almost certainly will not suffer safari fatigue. I'd probably add a couple days---I think there's something to be said for staying in one venue (but not the Crater where 1 night suffices for me) for 3-4 days, relaxing into the rhythm of the place and the game drives. But if you've got apprehension, stick with your plan. I've found more often than not that visitors I've spoken to who have planned short safaris say they wished they'd planned for longer. If you find that to be the case on hindsight, all the more reason to return someday---it happens all the time.

Edited: 16 June 2013, 17:15
Crane Lake...
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9. Re: Safari fatigue?

I can't answer your question about the lenght of a safari but I will tells you how I feel. The excitment of my (wife and me) first safari ( Feb 2012, 20 days) and seeing our first elephant, Zebra or lion in the wild has not been forgotten but is now contained when some one asks " How was your trip?" We just say it is a trip that if one can do it to do so and that time flys.

The experts on the forum are correct in saying that Tanzania will draw you back. In Oct 2013 we will be heading back again for 25 days. We will be excited to see different areas of the country and to see nature's handy work on her terms. May run across one of our first "sighting" like We can tell one from another but it is fun to think about.

What concerns me more is the last day. When I look back and see my last elephant, lion or Zebra and realize this trip maybe the last time I will ever get to see them. No matter how much time you have, ENJOY IT LIKE IT IS YOUR LAST.


San Francisco...
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10. Re: Safari fatigue?

Rasmus, whether seeing elephant 60 is as exhilarating as the first all depends on how you feel about elephants. To me, Monet number 60 is every bit as exciting as Monet number one. however, church art in Italy? i reached my saturation point of martyred babies long before the 60th fresco.

i think there is a Travel Bell curve, with "if this is Tuesday it must be Belgium" on one end, and "living in a country for weeks at a time" on the other, and most of us are a dot somewhere on the curve. i don't personally go in much for the "tourist" v "traveler" stuff, i find it a wee bit smug.

all i know for sure is, we all travel differently, for different reasons, to different places, with different goals in mind. i recently saw posted a FB this adage (and i hope i have not posted it here before): the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is....attitude!

i think most people on these forums would agree with that!

have a great trip, Rasmus! we will be going on safari for the first time the month before you!