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Best Travel Info/Guide

The idea of this guide is to help you decide where in Tanzania you should go. We know that clients can easily get bamboozled by too much information. We hope this short guide will be enough to set you on the right course, without being too detailed, and as such it is not meant to be definitive. For further details we strongly recommend that you look at our vast website which discusses all the national parks, beaches and islands with in depth info.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 WHEN TO GO
The climate in Tanzania is equatorial, with little seasonal variation in temperature, however rainfall does vary considerably. The best time to travel is July to October, when Tanzania is hot, dry and sunny with low humidity, and the game viewing is great. The short rains come in November and the long rains in April and May; in between the rains (December to March) is another good time to travel.

WHERE TO STAY?
The next consideration is which park will offer the best game viewing and activities for your travel dates –this is especially critical if you want to witness the great migration. Each park has a good range of accommodation to choose from according to your budget and personal taste, including mobile camps, small tented camps, permanent lodges and large hotels. Tented camps can still be extremely luxurious (often with private plunge pools and all the bells and whistles), though the semi-permanent mobile camps that track the path of the migration do lack permanent plumbing.

BUDGET AND TIMINGS
Safaris are not cheap, and although the beach hotels are considerably cheaper than the safari lodges, the beach hotels are quite expensive compared to other beach locations. Roughly speaking, safari lodges in the South of Tanzania tend to cost between $450 and$1,000, those in the North between $750 and $1,500, and beach hotels between $200 and $600-all prices in US dollars per person per night. It is also important to note that safaris are tiring and we only recommend up to about a week on safari.

SPECIAL OCCASIONS
Whether it is your honeymoon, holiday of a lifetime, birthday celebration, or a family reunion, we will plan it with you, and ensure that it is a memorably superb trip. Hot-air ballooning over the plains of the Serengeti, diving with

whale sharks, tracking lion on foot, chartering your private jet, or simply relaxing on a private island–whatever your dream, we can make it happen.

Tanzania is wonderful for romantic holidays and honeymoons for so many reasons; it is one of the easiest countries in Africa in which to combine a first-class safari with beach time on an idyllic Indian Ocean island, and its assorted highlights can be easily combined in a neat itinerary with minimal flying time.

The National Parks and Reserves of Tanzania are the best in Africa for wildlife viewing, and most people choose to explore them for at least part of their stay. Most clients take their safari in either the parks of the North (Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Manyara, Tarangire) or the lesser known parks of the South (Selous, Ruaha, Katavi, Mahale) and the pros and cons of each are discussed below. Most visitors to Tanzania end their time at a beach lodge on one of Tanzania’s islands (most commonly Zanzibar) or on its Indian Ocean coastline. Getting there and getting around Dar es Salaam is the main hub and is served by a number of airlines from Europe including KLM(Delta), Swiss and Emirates-though not British Airways. If you cannot get to Dar directly the next best hub is either Nairobi or (from the States) Johannesburg, both of which are accessible with many airlines. It is also worth noting that KLM fly directly to Kilimanjaro, which can save a flight up from Dar. There is a good western-owned network of flights connecting all the parks and islands with main hubs in Arusha, Dar and Zanzibar which makes travelling within Tanzania a breeze. As a very rough rule of thumb you should assume $200 per flight, and with the exception of Katavi and Mahale, there are several flights a day between the parks, hubs and islands.

FURTHER AFIELD
For other beaches, it is worth mentioning the islands in the Quirimbas archipelago of Northern Mozambique. These islands are a short (though expensive) flight from Dar and offer a truly ‘barefoot luxury ‘experience with amazing untouched reefs and a real frontier feel. Mauritius and the islands of the Seychelles are accessible via Nairobi, although this often involves a ‘dead night’ in a city hotel. The other countries of East Africa are a short hop from Dar, allowing good combinations with the Masai Mara in Kenya or Gorilla trekking in Rwanda etc.  Southern Africa is accessible via Johannesburg (with daily flights from Dar), and there are flights to Victoria Falls a few times a week via Nairobi.

NORTHERN OR SOUTHERN TANZANIA?
The big decision is: safari in the North or the South of Tanzania, and how long to spend on safari?
The South of Tanzania (where the most popular parks are Selous and Ruaha) is far less visited than the parks of the North, and allows short or extended walking safaris, safaris by boat, as well as safaris by open -sided vehicle. The parks have small (usually tented) lodges which tend to be better value than the tented lodges of the north. Since it is cheap and easy to fly in and out of Selous due to the relatively short distance, Selous is perfect for a short (3-to 4 -night), and reasonably cheap safari. For those looking for a longer safari in the South, the combination and contrast of Selous and Ruaha is superb. The North of Tanzania (where the most popular parks are the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti) is much more visited than the South.It is possible to escape the crowds by heading to the far North of the Serengeti but otherwise you will see many other safari vehicles. The annual migration of the wildebeest in the Serengeti is justifiably one of the most spectacular sights on the planet and is seen year round in the Serengeti.

The Serengeti is also one of the best parks in Africa in which to see the cats. Though very crowded, the Ngorongoro Crater is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Price-wise the North is about 50% more expensive than the South and the flights are longer and more expensive. As a general rule not all the North camps offer walking safaris nor is it possible to do a boat safari. As well as being expensive, safaris are tiring, often involving long days in a land cruiser starting before dawn and most clients tend to take a short 3-to 4-night safari in the South, or a 5-to to 8-night safari either in the North or South. Longer safaris are possible but the experience can get a bit repetitive.The iconic Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Great Migration (which together comprise most people’s idea of ‘safari’), and Mount Kilimanjaro are all to be found in the North. However, so are plenty of tourists and as a result, prices are higher than in the South and it can be harder to achieve the authentic African wilderness experience. Activities in the North are constrained by National Park regulations and as a general rule night drives, walking safaris and fly camping are not permitted (though as with all rules there are exceptions).

The Serengeti, where most people spend the majority of their time, is justifiably famous for its huge concentrations of game, especially predators, and of course the migration all year round. Huge expanses of short grass plains make game viewing exceptionally good. The Serengeti is justifiably famous for its huge concentrations of game especially the predators, and of course the migration all year round. There are 4 main regions – the North, the Western corridor, the Central Serengeti and the Ndutu Plains, and where to stay will depend on the time of year .

The diverse and unique Ngorongoro Crater, though a ‘must see’, is surprisingly small and most people find that one day there is quite sufficient. You cannot avoid seeing many other vehicles, often bumper to bumper. The key decision is whether to stay on the rim of the Crater itself (in one of the large hotels such as the Sopa or Serena) with fabulous views, or half way between Manyara and the Crater in an area called Karatu, (half way between Manyara and the Crater) (in a hotel such as Plantation Lodge) which is less busy and allows for more activities including visits to local villages. Tarangire is a great park in season (July to October), especially for elephants, though it is plagued by tsetse flies. Lake Manyara is a small national park worth visiting only for a morning en route to somewhere else.

WHERE TO STAY
As mentioned, the lodges in the North tend to be more expensive than those in the South. At the top of the scale are fantastic lodges like the Crater Lodge and Sasakwa at about $1,600 per person per night. Most of the good camps tend to be between $800 and $1,000, including Faru Faru, Sayari, Olakira, Nomads, Oliver’s, and Serengeti Under Canvas. In this price bracket are mobile tented camps (such as Olakira), permanent tented camps (such as Sayari), and permanent lodges (such as Klein’s). It is hard to find any good tented lodges cheaper than this, though it is possible to take a driving circuit and stay in hotels which do not have their own vehicles (such as the Serena or Sopa chain, Plantation Lodge, Kirurumu) for about $600 on the basis of 2 people and $500 on the basis of 4 people.

SOUTHERN TANZANIA

The South of Tanzania includes Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park, each very different from the other but both of which offer outstanding game viewing and a fabulous safari experience. Fewer visitors here mean lower prices (in the region of $400-$700 per person per night), better value for money and plenty of isolated wilderness where you won’t see another person.

As the Selous is a game reserve rather than a national park, a wider range of activities is on offer including walking and boating safaris, game drives in open-sided vehicles, and fly camping. The parched red earth of Ruaha is a perfect contrast to the green and watery Selous. Even fewer visitors make it to Ruaha than to the Selous and it also offers game drives in open-sided vehicles, fly camping and walking safaris.

As the South is always fly-in/fly-out, it is ideal for a short 3- or 4-night safari, although to visit both Selous and Ruaha would require longer. The parched red earth of Ruaha is a perfect contrast to the green and watery Selous. – its parched red earth landscape contrasts with the green and watery Selous. Even fewer visitors make it to Ruaha than to the Selous and it also offers game drives in open-sided vehicles, fly camping, and walking safaris.

Further West
Very few people venture further to the West of Ruaha, and for that reason we do not devote much space to the next two parks. First up is Katavi National Park; a huge wilderness with vast plains (similar to the Serengeti), huge herds of buffalo and many prides of lion. And finally on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Mahale Mountains National Park is a unique location where one can trek with chimps in the morning and snorkel and sunbathe on the lake in the afternoon.

Where to stay
The cheapest good tented lodges are owned by Adventure Camps (Lake Manze in Selous and Mdonya Old River in Ruaha) at around the $400 mark. Next up are the SSC properties (Siwandu in Selous and Jongomero in Ruaha), as well as Mwagusi in Ruaha at around the $600 mark. And at the very top are lodges like Beho Beho and Sand Rivers (both in Selous) and Greystoke in Mahale at about $1000.

We offer a real choice of different guiding standards, at different cost levels. All are substantially better guides than the (generally very disappointing) average standard that we saw in Tanzania when researching. In brief, we offer two standards of guide:

  • Superior guide Your guide will be pleasant and personable; they’re an established safari guide with at least 3 years of bush experience. They will have conversational English, and will be able to correctly identify virtually all species of animals and most birds – and also have some knowledge of their behaviour. They’ll have a good understanding of the local cultures, and often speak some of the local languages. They will generally admit what he doesn’t know, and use references to try and find out the answers. Superior guides are used in all of the trip ideas mentioned here.

KARIBU SANA

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