I just posted a trip report pertaining to our recent visit, September 2013, to the southern parks of: Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi N.P., Udzungwa Forest N.P. and Ruaha N.P.
I wanted to create a second post with the name of the parks in the title so searches could more easily locate the report. When I was researching the trip it became obvious that there is much more information pertaining to the northern circuit than the southern circuit and I relished each time I found a new posting pertaining to the southern parks or the lodgings that we were staying at.
In October 2010 we did a safari which included the parks in the northern circuit (Tarangire, Maynara, Lake Eyasi, Ngorongoror Crater, and Seregeti), the following observations are limited to my very small sample size of one safari to each location.
Immigration/Visa - We got our visas at JRO (Kilimanjaro) and Dar (Dar Es Salaam). Kilimanjaro seemed a little better organized but we were out of the airport with visa in hand in less than 60 minutes at both locations. Neither time were we checked for Yellow Fever certificate as we flew from Amsterdam and Istanbul respectively.
Tsetse Flies & Mosquitoes - We were very fortunate on our northern trip as I was bit only twice during the entire stay. The southern trip was entirely different. We had numerous pockets of tsetse flies in Selous especially near the Matambwe gate, and most of the drive from Seolous to Mikumi. The flies were also present in Ruaha but not to the same extent as in Selous. (I realize this is based on only one trip, and weather patterns and time of the year play a major factor.) The flies can really leave a welt and they do hurt when they bite, but I wouldn’t choose one destination or another based on the presence or lack there of tsetse flies). Not really any mosquitoes on either trip.
Dining Options – More food choices were available during our northern trip, probably because the lodges were larger. Typically a dinner meal was bread, soup, and a choice of three entrees for the main course, plus dessert. In the southern parks you were asked upon check-in if you had any special dietary needs. If there was none, all guest typically had the same meal. The largest of the resorts that we stayed at in the south provided a buffet for dinner.
Animal Viewing – The animals in Mikumi and Ruaha appeared just as accustomed to safari vehicles as their northern cousins. Zebras and wildebeests in Selous appeared a little more skittish than the other parks, but the large animals in Selous: elephants, lions, and giraffes did not see us as a threat. The most number of vehicles I saw at one location in the southern circuit was five at a tree with a lion pride under it in Selous and at a leopard sighting in Ruaha. The northern parks can get a lot more congested at a good sighting. We saw more animals during our northern circuit safari.
Personal Attention – The management at the southern lodges are very personable. They greet you upon your arrival, while you are dining, and upon your departure. Again these lodges are much smaller than most of those in the north. (At three of the five southern lodges we, a group of four, occupying two tents, were the only guests)
Preference – Both circuits have their advantages and it is definitely a personal choice. For a first safari the Serengeti is really special, and we were able to see all of the big cats. In the southern circuit we saw lions along with one leopard.