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Logistics advice for Tanzania: Zanzibar + Safari

Logistics advice for Tanzania: Zanzibar + Safari

Old May 11, 18, 9:56 am
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Logistics advice for Tanzania: Zanzibar + Safari

We are ticketed for a June flight into Dar Es Salaam at 9PM. And many days later, a 10PM departure.
Our objective is to spend (1) a few days on a safari and (2) the remaining on a resort in Zanzibar.

Safari: Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Tarangire, whatever. We are not at all particular on the wildlife or destination.
Resort: Probably in Nungwi.

Admittedly we've procrastinated on the planning, and hadn't at all thought about the logistics and transfers between these places.
Yes I realize we are the target demographic for a travel agency (and we might end up going this route)

Looking for tips and pointers from those who have done this, to give us some leads:
-Would you recommend starting or ending the trip with the Safari? Or sandwich it in the middle (which doesnt make sense, on paper)
-Surely we need to book a night in D.e.S. on arrival, no matter which we choose?
-Likely we'll need a night in D.e.S. before departure, for comfort and to defray risk of issues with Zanzibar ferry, flights, or delays coming back from Safari?
-Budget is mid+, and we'd like a bit of hands-off.

Just brainstorming, I think we'd need to (1) book a hotel for the night of arrival; (2) find safari operator to take care of us originating from D.e.S; (3) arrange with hotel/resort to care for us original from D.e.S.?
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Old May 11, 18, 1:14 pm
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Doing a running self-update here:

-Safaris can generally be split into the popular Northern circuit (Ngorongoro, Tarangire, etc) vs more "authentic" Southern ones (e.g. Ruaha)
-Going there by land is, erm, really unpractical
-Unless booking an all-all-all inclusive, most tour/safari operators cover logistics from the nearby airport such as Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dodoma

What it looks like we'll need to do is:
(1) Stay overnight on arrival in Dar, as close to airport as possible; avoid mess with city traffic
(2) Book next morning flight to Arusha, Kili, Dodoma airport, depending on safari chosen
(3) Book flight from airport above directly to Zanzibar/Abeid Amani airport; saves hassles of D.e.S. --> Ferry Port --> Ferry
(4) More flexibility at end of trip to get from Zanzibar back to D.e.S. Maybe take a ferry. See a bit of the city. Then stay the night for a comfortable next-day return home.
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Old May 11, 18, 10:15 pm
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Ha. Ha. I've been answering my own questions too. We used miles and have flight in/out of JNB, so am dealing with similar logistics. I already have safari booked. Intra/Inter Africa flights are expensive and can't usually be booked with miles. My best at your questions...

1 - I'd guess, although there are some weird late night flights
2 - yes
3 - would have to find out what kind of connections available, just heard back from TO today about a Serengeti - DAR flight that I couldn't find
4 - yes, do ZNZ after Safari if flying out of DAR

In Tanzania, most of the Safaris are overland with one operator and Land Cruiser / driver. If you contact them they will be able to help with logistics and availability (which might be limited for June). How much time do you have?
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Old May 12, 18, 3:50 am
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Fantastic. Another one

​​​​​​I'm used to winging-it across all continents except this one, and I'm going with the Lady who has lower tolerance for shenanigans.

Here's some more ive learned:

-many small/charter aviators operating scheduled and load-contingent flights. The can land on airstrips near the parks, rather than commercial airports, so much more flexible. Pricing is 100-800 usd depending on route/length/etc.

-precision air have scheduled routes and actually very well priced. good availability on "promotional" fares <100usd on routes such as dar-kili.

--ive contacted a few safari operators and most actually suggest the same as above: vague recommendation on staying overnight upon landing, booking a flight to destination airport adjacent to park, and their actual offer cover logistics from there on

-found operator "Uhuru" through consolidator/agent safaribookings.com, and they do have an itinerary that fully covers pickup/dropoff from dar es salaam and/or zanzibar. we'll likely go with this option to minimize hassle from our end.


We'll have 2 weeks for the trip. I'd prefer to have more days spent in the wild, but it'll be mostly based in the resorts and doing their activities (diving, day trips, etc)

Last edited by deniah; May 12, 18 at 3:57 am
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Old May 12, 18, 7:09 pm
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Try contacting Safari Infinity. https://safari-infinity.com/

They are a local and Tanzania only operator. They will be able to put together a customized itinerary for you with your own vehicle and driver. I've found them to be responsive and have put together a great itinerary for our family and budget. Much more customized and smaller camps.

We are doing 2 nights near Kilimanjaro for some day hiking, 2 nights Tarangire (Kichuugu Camp), 1 night Karatu (Gibb's Farm), 2 nights Ngorongoro (The Highlands), 2 nights Central Serengeti (Nyumbani), 3 nights Northern Serengeti (Mara River Tented Lodge), then flying back to DAR (I think). In June you will probably want to go to the Grumeti portion of the Serengeti instead of the North.

General advice is to contact 3-4 with same requirements and see who is responsive and fits your requirements best.
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Old May 14, 18, 7:25 am
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Originally Posted by sdfamily View Post
Try contacting Safari Infinity. https://safari-infinity.com/
Nice one. we have indeed contacted a few (including Infinity), and responsiveness and personalization will probably win out.

What I've learned from both FT and other sources of web, the Northern Circuit has higher density of animals, and probably more importantly, more variable landscape, whereas the South such as Selous is more trees and bush.

There's no guarantee of a type of animal, or a group of animal, anywhere, since it is highly variable depending on the season (moisture, migration pattern, etc). If one wants to see lots of stuff, spend lots of days and visit different parks or areas of parks.

The North seems better fit for first time safari visitors (or atleast for us, even if it is more touristed). The South is for those wanted more seclusion, or bird watching, or river safari.
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Old May 14, 18, 11:19 am
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We did a similar trip in June 2016: Northern circuit for 8 days then Nungwi for five. Definitely go to the beach to relax after safari.

Tarangire is incredible, Serengeti is iconic. We did not see anything special about Arusha NP except that it was a nice intro / day trip from Arusha before heading out. We're mixed on Ngorogoro - nothing special (no rhinos for us) with lots of driving and freezing nights atop the crater rim. We did get some close ups with lions there but mostly just a lot of beests and buffalos. The park with the tree-climbing lions (name escapes me now) was un-memorable. In hindsight, we would have done more than 1.5 days in Tarangire and more than 3 in Serengeti.

We stayed at Ras Nungwi which was fantastic. Good food, relaxing grounds, beautiful beach and sea. We dove and snorkeled in Nungwi one day but mostly just chilled with spa treatments and lounging.

We flew into JRO, then Serengeti to ZNZ on Precision non-stop, then out of ZNZ (to JRO then back to DOH). Easy flights, no delays.

Last edited by tomanova; May 14, 18 at 11:21 am Reason: added flight details
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Old May 16, 18, 3:36 am
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Probably a last update from me, until the post-trip follow-up.

1. Yes, Safari first to get it out of the way.
2. Our impression (and from colleagues) is that the Ngoro crater has all of animals concentrated in one place. So we ensured Tarangire + Serengeti + Ngoro in our itinerary. Almost all Northern Circuit proposals include lake Manyara, ostensibly due to proximity and logistics.
3. Finding domestic flights is much easier than anticipated, in terms of price and availability: (1) Precision Air (2) Fast Jet (3) Air Tanzania (4) Flight Link ... and probably more
4. safaribookings.com is a great resource to preview itineraries, sort by operators and dates, quickly see packaged accomodation options, etc.
5. However we contacted the operators directly, due to preference. It also shaved a bit off the price.
6. Huge gaps in professionalism and thoroughness between operators. Some we've been referred to, didn't bother to response. We've gotten a great impression from: Lion King Adventures + Shadows of Africa.

I'm dreading a bit the overnight transit stay in DAR, but otherwise am stoked for the trip
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Old May 22, 18, 3:35 pm
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https://safari-infinity.com/
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Old Jun 13, 18, 4:09 am
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Just finished our trip - middle of June to Manyara, Ngorongoro, Serengeti, and Tarangire. A few of our lessons learned for posterity:

1. Perfect weather. No exaggeration. Temp was 15 at dusk/dawn to mid/hi 20s during the day. No humidity. I had a single wind jacket for the crisp nights and mornings, which was lightweight enough to wear during the day for sun protection. Most would want a warmer sweater or coat or such. In the heat of the day in the jeep we were very comfortable.

2. No bugs or mosquitos. I was anticipating the worst but we had virtually zero insects on the duration of the trip. Obviously one brings long clothing, mosq repellents, and antimalarial medicine... but we found out we didnt need them. We would have very well been in shorts and sandals.

3. Normal casual clothing. Half the groups we saw were dressed like safari caricatures in full khaki nylon garb. The other half were dressed casually. Since the safari drives involves sitting in a jeep all day, I was in my socks/barefoot the whole day. Even hats were superfluous. There are 'safari walks', but even those are max 2-3 easy excursions on flat grounds.

4. How to pick an operator ? i.e. what differentiates them. None have exclusivity to routes or parks, or to accomodations. Besides the pre-packaged offerings you can dictate what parks to visit and what accomodations to stay at. Provided they make logistical sense of course. Essentially, your money is paying for a guide and a vehicle. Some offer built in insurance but thats a value of 25-50 USD.

4a. The vehicles. ALL Toyota Landcruisers. With the odd Land Rover thrown in. There is no "premium" grade vehicle... except we raw into a group operated by the Four Seasons, and their Landcruisers were maintained in showroom condition. But their resort is $1400/night so I can imagine the safari costs.... There are some vehicles that were in visibly worse conditions. Some were the short wheelbase and in 3-door (vs 5-door), so that would have been far less comfortable. Most have binoculars, coolers, etc. Some have wifi but connection is ultra spotty. Ours had custom parcel shelves and lots of storage and a powerstrip which were great for spending the day in - we didnt see this in others. Distinctively we had a full roll-down window, whereas others had sliding window where only half of the aperture is available for sticking your head or lens out of.

4b. The accomodations. Spend atleast 1 night in a tented lodge (permanent tents with fixed showers and etc, not budget tents). It's a great experience to sleep under the stars and surrounded by wildlife noises. A treetop lodge is also good. Otherwise you are back in town in fixed structure accomodation.

4c. The guides. I suppose there are master trackers out there. But you wouldnt know that from booking remotely. Most share tips with one-another when they pass on the roads. I felt like ours was very professional, and very diligent and effective at tracking animals. I guess you'd be well served by almost any of them, though.

5. The parks.
Lake Manyara:
included in most tours due to proximity to Arusha. Maybe has to do with park costs as well. It was our first stop and therefore cool, but in retrospect the scene is mostly dense bush and I wouldnt have missed it if I hadnt gone.
Ngorongoro Crater: incredible. photogenic all the way from the drive up to the crater rim, into the park, the odd ponds and lakes, with the green crater slopes as a background. also the most density of animal. can't miss, IMO.
Serengeti: the eastern part of serengeti is wide open plains. in the middle of the day, it is large periods of dull boredom, punctuated by a rush when running into big game or gigantic migrating herds. around dawn and dusk when the sun is low, with good quality light, it takes on on a magical quality. i still prefer the crater.
Tarangeri: should be the prettiest park as it is rolling with different types of vegetations, trees tall and wide, has both plains and bush, etc. maybe due to our luck, fatigue, the overcast weather, etc, we saw very little game, even few other visitors, and it was overall very uninspiring. It is our guide's favorite, and other people's as well, so perhaps a case of YMMV.

6. Photography: Used a system with 80mm-400mm telephone zoom, and a compact zoom camera for wide establishing shots. I wasnt left wanting for equipment, at all. Mostly operated in the 250-400mm range. A fixed 200m wouldve been too short, and a fixed 400+ wouldve been too restrictive for framing. It gets ultra dusty so absolutely bring a rocket blower and/or lenspen. No tripod, no filters, no other accessories needed.

7. Binoculars and etc. We brought along a compact 8x. Vehicle provided 10x. No different I found in the stability and tracking between both. No downside to that extra magnification. Both were great.

Lastly, we were 2 people in a long wheelbase landcruiser, which was great for moving all about, stretching out, having our gear everywhere, peeking in different directions out of the pop-up top. 3 wouldve been great as well. 4 makes a crowd. and 5 or 6.... you'd be best splitting it into 2 parties - i dont think cost differs significantly. Otherwise it seems ultra uncomfortable.

Overall, great experience and we'll probably be back sometime with kids in tow.
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