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First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

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PA
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First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

I'm going to ask this both on the Serengeti and Mara forums since I realize that opinions will vary and I'd like to hear them all. I am struggling with going to either TZ or Kenya for my first Safari trip. This for me, like a lot of people is a big trip that I have dreamed about and so I want it to be a very special trip focused on the animals and the people and culture. I don't like the sounds of the crowds in the Mara, but it still seems like everyone who goes writes that it was a spectacular experience. I heard (don't know if it's true) that it doesn't make sense to go to both on the same trip as it's so similar. So, if anyone would like to give some advice to a first timer, I'd really appreciate it. I am planning a Safari trip for 2015 and would want to spend about 10 days.

Thanks so much! Hope this isn't a stupid question.

Sharon

nyc
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1. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

There really isn't a right or wrong answer. On the Kenya Forum the replies will be that, on the Tanzania Forum, that will be your replies.

Lots can depend on when traveling and also budget.

Between June-early Oct the herds move from the Northern Serengeti into the Mara/Kenya; between Aug-Oct/Nov there remains in the Northern Serengeti those herds still in large numbers, that didn't move into the Mara. So both areas are good.

However, while there are more choices - lodge/camps - in the Mara at various budgets, in the Northern Serengeti there are less choices, most of which tend to be rather costly.

Whether the Mara or No.Serengeti, you may encounter 'river crossings'

But as often noted, even for this year '14, seems the herds are arriving early from the Serengeti to the Mara and if as last year when right in the midst of the herds being in the Mara, they up/returned to the Serengeti only to then return to the Mara for more weeks than would have been expected.

All depends on the rains and grazing plains which vary from year-to-year and what wild animals decide to do and where.

It is not unusual for some travelers to visit both the Mara and No. Serengeti, but best way to do so would be by air (about $475/pp) rather than via land (10/hr trip).

However, if you have only 10/days, it's not recommended to attempt visiting both countries,,,, besides Visas and Yellow Fever inoc for entry to TNZ from KEN, remember that rates in Kenya do tend to be somewhat lower.

Also, what other interests and/or areas you wish to visit whether for elephants (2 areas KEN, 1 in TNZ), rhinos (more still/easier seen in Kenya), unique species (as Samburu other northern Kenya parks), wild dogs can determine the country.

As above, no right/wrong answer.... your decision.

PA
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2. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

thanks 4sandi! I appreciate your thoughts on this. I had pretty much settled on Kenya, but then had a tour operator really start pushing me towards TZ and the Serengeti. The concerns raised were the crowds in the Maasai Mara and this particular TO's opinion that there are no other Parks worth visiting in Kenya. So, I decided to check in with my fellow travelers on here. We don't have the time or resources to do everything in one trip, so no matter what, I won't get to experience it all. So have to make some choices and know that I can hopefully come back! Anyway, as far as other interests, I was interested in Amboseli, but mostly for the views of Kilimanjaro, and I was seriously considering going to the Samburu region or possibly Lewa. I was really interested in the Rhino sanctuary, the different scenery, and some of the lodges looked beautiful. On the Tanzania side I would of course want to go to the Ngorongoro Crater, but not really sure beyond that. We are two 50 something women, leaving the husbands at home, so not looking for a romantic trip but a moderate amount of comfort. Thanks again for any other thoughts.

Sharon

Edinburgh, United...
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3. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

Even as a Tanzania lover through and through, I feel slightly protective of the other poor parks in Kenya- many of them are fabulous. I would wholeheartedly disagree with whoever told you Kenya only has one park worth visiting. Not sure where they've been, but having been to almost every major reserve in Kenya and Tanzania, many of them more than once, I think that Kenya is just incredible and I would definitely put some of the Kenyan reserves as well up there with the best in Africa. You mentioned Lewa, and there're numerous other conservancies in Laikipia that are amazing, Amboseli is glorious at certain times of year and Meru is a wonderful hidden gem. It sounds as if you've already heard how wonderful Tanzania is (it is), but to balance the coin, both countries have a tremendous amount to offer, so I am sure you would have a fantastic time in either.

Alexandra Matts- Travel Director- Extraordinary Africa

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4. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

If your TO told you Kenya has only one park worth visiting, I'd choose another tour operator. it's just not true!!

To avoid the "crowds" in MM proper, consider staying instead in one of the bordering conservancies. I did not find the "crowds" there, even in August during the migration!

I understand about the moderate amount of comfort you mention.(: Some lodges--even the moderately priced ones--have on site massage available, to sooth t muscles which may be a bit achey from the bouncing rides through the plains!!

Oakland, CA
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5. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

p.s. I meant, i did not see the so-called crowds in the Masai Mara, even during migration 2 yrs ago. This year i am staying in one of the adjoining conservancies instead, and am curious to see how it is different

nyc
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6. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

Any tour operator who says 'Kenya has nothing else to offer but the Masai Mara' should have his/her head examined. Can only assume they've never set foot in the country. Shame! Shame!

As calinurse, to avoid crowds during peak migration in the Mara arrange to stay at a camp on one of the adjoining conservancies. Here, besides game drives even into the Reserve, once you leave there and on private lands you can also enjoy bush walks/meals and night game drives, none of which are permitted within the Reserve.

And as mentioned above, the areas north of Nairobi as Meru, Lewa, Laikipia, Samburu and still farther afield are amazing for game and certainly not crowded with small intimate properties where visitors are treated more as house guests than tourists.

If comparing the Northern Circuit Tanzania with overall Kenya, except for the Ngorongoro Crater that is unique to Tanzania, you are still limited to a 6/hr visit here and while some think the Crater is fascinating, others feel it's just 'ho-hum' and often the travelers have already seen every species by the time they arrive at the Crater (depending on the routing).

During the 19/yrs I've been visiting both countries, have gone into the Crater only once and that was more than sufficient as I wasn't all that impressed. And recently a friend heard a women just up from the Crater floor comment 'the worst ever.'

Do a bit more research re other Kenyan areas and those that might well fit into your itinerary.

Oakland, CA
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7. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

Thanks Sandi.

I suspect the Ngorongoro Crater 's reputation now is sort of "rating on its laurels'

in 1971 when i was there, it was indeed amazing!! FULL of animals!! i think in succeeding yrs/decades numerous droughts have devastated the once huge population. Sad.

PA
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8. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

Thanks everyone. I have already scratched that particular TO off my list. And I'm back on track with planning my Safari in Kenya and feeling good about it again. You have all been very helpful!!

Nairobi, Nairobi...
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9. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

HI sharon .. you can do air although its a bit expensive , many people prefer kenya over tanzania although kenyas park fees are higher than tanzania . kenya currently is charging 80$ per person per day in masai mara whereas tanzania is doing 50$ pp/day . every travellers experience is different . they levelled the road 3 weeks ago but with the migration coming and the the no of vans and landcruisers touring that route in coming days the road may be rough but since you trip is on coming year .you may be lucky coz they might have the road tarmacked . in kenya there are wide range of places to choose from

10. Re: First Time Safari - Serengeti or Maasai Mara?

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