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active travellers seeking itinerary help

Los Gatos...
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active travellers seeking itinerary help

I wanted to get help from the Tanzania/Africa experts on building an itinerary for a 10-14 day trip for my family. This is the dream of a lifetime for me, my wife and our 9 year old.

"What do you want to see?", you will ask. Well, I guess the answer to this question is easy. We want to see animals (lions, cheetah, zebras, giraffe, elefants, hippos, wildbeasts, hienas, birds, etc), the Serengeti migration, and take our best shot at seeing animals crossing a river, like the Grumeti, if we are lucky.

Probably the other relevant question is "How do you want to see it?" The answer to that one is as follows. We love confort and pampering in the morning and late evening, but are adventure/active travellers during the day. We have gone to Brazil several times and the highpoints of our trips are always the deserted beach or waterfall at the end of a 3 hour hike, or floating down the Sucuri river in the Pantanal. In Egypt, we obviously hiked the mountains from the Valley of the Kings to the Temple of Hapshesut in the summer, and in Colorado went down (and up!) the Grand Canyon hiking and not in mules (with an 8 year old this was no joke, but we all agreed it was tremendous fun and rewarding!). We would NEVER take an organized tour that involved sightseeing with an "air conditioned bus with 25 other people," if we had any options. However, we love to get back to a great hotel/lodge with great service, good food, etc.

So, having some adventure like hiking, rafting, canoeing, surfing, balooning, swimming, or going to undiscovered places is a major plus. Therefore, the following questions arise:

a) If I want to give a shot at seeing the migration and stay in th Grumeti river lodge, when should I be there?

b) We have added a baloon trip from the Serena Safari lodge in our itinerary. Any other ideas of cool things to do?

c) The current itinerary we had an agent build for us is for the first fortnight in July and includes the following:

- 2 days at Klein's camp

- 3 days at Serena Safari Lodge (including Baloon trip)

- 3 days Grumeti

- 2 days Ngorongo Crater Lounge.

I realize that this may be a stupid question for Tanzania lovers, but is this too much time (8 days) in the Serengeti, particularly because we will be going from place to place and everytime you move you sort of reset the type of game drive you make?

Should we try to make a two day trip to Uganda or Zanzibar or Kenya instead (or in addtion) to something in the above? Or Lake Manyara?

Are there any other activities that you can think of in or around these areas? will we see hyppos and elephants in the itinerary above? My guess is no, and if this is correct, what should we add?

Is July a good time to be in these places? early or late? If I want to use a semi scientific approach to maximize my likelihood of seeing animals crossing the Grumeti river, can I get a history (say, over the last 5, 10 or 20 years)of when this crossing occured? Am I crazy?

Thanks for your help!

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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1. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

I will suggest several things that you might enjoy doing while in that area. I would first suggest visiting the small groups of Hadzabe bushmen who live around Lake Eyasi. They are the last of the hunter/gatherers in this part of Africa who still speak a click kind of language. Most people find a trip there very interesting. This is South of the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. If you like treking you could add this to this part of the safari.

On the time of year that you are to be there, you are putting a lot of planning into the river crossing and you may miss it. Typically this happens in the June/July timeframe, but who can predict the rains. Last week I overheard a conversation in the Equator Hotel bar where a person who had just returned from the Western Serengeti said that the migration was moving North, but then it started to rain and the migration animals actually turned back and began to move South. When the rains stopped then a little while later they turned again and returned to traveling North. So, how can you time this precisely - you can't.

If you want to see a lot of elephants and giraffe you may want to spend one day at Terengeri, not too far from Ngorongoro. They typically have gobs of them.

There are hippo ponds in the Crater and other places so you'll be certain to see these.

Animals more difficult to find and see are cheetah and leopard. But if you find the migration you'll most probably find the preditors also.

Eight days is a lot of time in the Serengeti, but no one other then yourself knows exactly what you want to do. You might want to make some side trips while you're there. This will be a lot of overland driving and it may get a bit too much, but again I don't know what you can tolerate.

You might want to fly over to the Gombe park for treking and visiting the Jane Goodall chimps. Some find that very interesting and worthwhile. I think that Coastal Air has flights to there and you could catch a flight there from the Western Serengeti or perhaps out of Mwanza.

One last thought. Don't try to pinpoint wild animal movement. They don't move on a timetable, and it would be too bad if all your hopes and dreams were not fulfilled if they aren't where you have calculated them to be. Too precise of planning may ruin your trip. Try for more variety and let serendipity play a role in your safari. For example, try to put in some cultural things to do into your planning for while you're there. One safari company has a motto which says "Come for the animals; stay for the people" which I think is appropriate for a Tanzania safari.

And finally an answer to your last question - Am I crazy? Probably, but that will keep things interesting. Have a great trip.

Los Gatos...
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2. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

Karl:

Thank you very much for taking the time to write such a great reply. Any other ideas, please let us know!

Boston
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3. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

This is an interesting thread. My family (including 2 boys ages 12 and 14) are planning a trip August 2007 and are concerned that by going to the Serengeti, that we will have missed the migration. We thought about going across the Isebania border to Masai Mara. Is this worthwhile or too much trouble?

Thanks!

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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4. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

Haiku... In August the migration should be (emphasize the should) in the NW Serengeti. It's a long drive from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara but the shortest route is the Isebania border crossing, rather then going all the way back to Arusha then to Kenya, then to the Mara. You're other alternative would be to fly.

You cannot cross from the Serengeti into Kenya's Masai Mara. That border is closed, most probably because Kenya wants to protect its tourist areas and Tanzania the same. Perhaps if the East Africa Community becomes a reality that will be possible, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Carmel, California
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5. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

Haiku,

If you don't go to the Mara, you may want to consider staying at a seasonal camp such as Sayari which is located in the NW Serengeti near the Mara border if this is within your budget.

Boston
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6. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

Thanks Karl and PattyC for your replies.

Do you think the best idea is to go to Seronera or to the NW Serengeti Lodge and not do the Isbenia-crossing to Mara? I understand that it is a 9 hr trip from S. Serengeti to Isbenia to Mara. I'd prefer not to go all that way if the migration hadn't even made it up there. Most std itineraries base themselves out of Serena Serengeti. Is there much marginal increase in the wildlife experience by going to any of these other more northern choices?

Thanks again!

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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7. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

Haiku... It will most probably be at least a nine hour trip, and the roads will not be paved. I always try to avoid this unless absolutely necessary; and in this case I wouldn't think it is necessary. There's plenty to see and do without subjecting your kids and yourself to this. But some are very intent on seeing something specific and if you think that a nine hour bumpy ride is worth it then go for it.

Carmel, California
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8. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

It's all a gamble based on where you THINK the migration may be. If you have enough time, perhaps you can split your stay between the central and NW Serengeti areas? Also if you want to do a balloon flight, I believe these only depart from the central Serengeti.

Boston
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9. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

Thanks Karl and Patty.

I've resolved in my mind that it is indeed unrealistic to try to go out of our way for a migration that may not be we are.

Instead, We will go for Northern Tanzania: Arusha to Tarangire to Lake Manyara to Ngorongoro to Serengeti Central and perhaps Serengeti NW.

What do you think about seeing the Hadzabe at Lake Eyasi or going to Terengeri for more giraffes?

Thanks!

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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8 reviews
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10. Re: active travellers seeking itinerary help

Haiku.. Most people enjoy a side trip to the Hadzabe people at Lake Eyasi. Many people who travel to Tanzania only see the animals and miss the people (except for their guides and cooks). I always encourage people to get to learn about the people of East Africa, you will not be dissappointed IMO.