If like us you grew up watching the Big 5 on National Geographic documentaries,watching the footage of the African savanna with it's it's vast plains, brilliant sunsets and abundance of wildlife, then you would probably agree that it is an experience of a lifetimethat many people dream about.
We say why dream? The world is changing and animals are quickly disappearing with the likes of the black rhino, elephants and lions hitting the endangered and even extinct lists across different African nations.
Where to go?
So you have seen and heard of the Serengeti, Masai Mara and Kruger National Parks, but which one is better? Where are they all? We suggest and focus on what is known as the Northern circuit in Tanzania, East Africa - the home of the Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater.
Why do we like the Northern circuit in Tanzania so much out of these three well known parks? In our opinion, parks in this circuit are more authentic and with some of the world's most precious ecosystems. It's proper safari terrain that needs a quality 4x4 with a skilled driver who is also a knowledgable guide. Safari vehicles are not permitted to drive off the designated tracks, ensuring the injury and disruption to the local wildlife is minimised.
Learn about the Northern circuit parks in Tanzania:
An African safari needn't cost you a fortune, there are many pricing options available that are limited only by time and availability. Planning a safari can be overwhelming and even a little scary who do you trust? Are they reliable?
If you are on this page we are guessing that you are doing your research and seeing what's out there, reading reviews and working out the most cost effective way to book this safari of a lifetime. You will no doubt read many stories where people have had bad experiences with their tour operator taking money, vehicles breaking down, a passenger getting injured enroute.... like we said it can be scary stuff trying to work out who to trust.
Below we have included some information that we want you to think about when planning your safari that will help give us the right information to provide you with the most relevant safari package:
• How much time can you devout to your safari?
The more time you can spare, the deeper into the Serengeti you can go with greater chances of some amazing wildlife encounters. If you only have up to 4 days to spare, then you really won't have time to travel overland to the Serengeti as this is a long drive that needs time and patience. Instead we would suggest with such a short time frame, that you focus on Tarangire and Lake Manyara National parls as well as the Ngorongoro Crater.
If you have time on your side then we would say dedicate three nights in the Serengeti as a minimum, a night in Tarangire and a night on the crater rim or just outside depending on your budget.
If you can spare even more time, then we would suggest a visit to meet the last remaining hunter gatherers of this region the Hadzabe (Hadzabe & Datoga tribe addon) who speak using clicking sounds just like the Kalahari bushmen.
Another option is to add Lake Natron onto your itinerary where you can watch the Lesser Flamingo feed on the high alkaline content lake and even add on a day trek up Old Doinyo Lengai meaning Mountain of God to the local Maasai people.
• What type of accommodation are you interested in?
Camping conjures up many different ideas in people's minds when we suggest this option for safaris.
Yes there are public campsites where you can "rough it" but we prefer to recommend the mobile and semi-permanent camps set up within and outside the mentioned national parks. These get you close to nature but still give you all the creature comforts like electricity to charge your camera batteries, warm water for a well deserved shower after a day on dusty safari, ensuite bathrooms and delicious cuisine cooked from locally sourced produce.
These are our favourite as they are great value for money, support local business owners and usually support the local communities through employment, purchasing produce, guiding opportunities etc.
Not all such camps hold such sustainable and ethical practises, but we have weeded out some gems that we can recommend and know that they are doing great work in the communities where they are located.
Some people just don't feel comfortable without a solid wall around them and we understand that, there are many lodges both within and outside of the national parks that we can recommend.
• What time of the year will you travel?
The seasons as you would have already read, really determine where the animals will primarily be located based on food and water source access. Additionally road access can be greatly affected during rainy season, often shutting off roads and recently there have been many known landslides in the region making it not the greatest time for safari travel.
In this part of Tanzania (Northern circuit) April/May and October to mid November are generally the times when many campsites will close as well as tour operators operating on skeleton staff due to the rainy season. It's not to say that you can't travel at these times, but we would say you need a seasoned traveller with time on your hands.
Most people prefer to travel to Tanzania's Northern circuit for safari in the months of June to September and January to March. November and December can be popular too but often has some rainfall. This applies to the Northern Circuit parks of Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.
If the annual Wilderbeest migration is on your hit list then try to come on safari in November to May depending on which parts they are travelling through when you arrive - it's never a guarantee and you should always allow a minimum four nights in the Serengeti if this is your priority.
• How many of you will be travelling?
It goes without saying that if you can get a few friends together the cost of your safari can drop dramatically. Why? Because you are hiring the safari vehicle per day and that is quiet a big expense for one or two persons to burden alone.
This is why many people on a budget look at joining travellers in the same situation on a pre-confirmed group departure. At the moment this is not a service that we offer for safaris. We have experienced this ourselves when we were travelling on a budget and you can often find yourself sharing your safari with people who don't share the same interests and perhaps want to rush through certain areas or they just might be loud and annoying.
Do you really want to share this often once in a lifetime experience that cost you so much with complete strangers who could potentially ruin your experience? If money plays a important deciding factor in your trip then aim for 4-6 people in your group.
Even numbers work well in twin and double rooms but triple share is also an option in some places else they will charge a single supplement for that solo person.
The other reason to think about numbers is many companies will happily tell you to fill all the seats in the vehicle to bring down your cost,BUT, if all seats are full it can be a little too crowded when it comes to popping up the roof and viewing the wildlife especially if you are all keen photographers wrestling for elbow space.
We think four is a great sized group for safari vehicle space, accommodation as well as a nice group size for everyone to agree on what they would like to do and see.
If time is an issue and money is no object you can fly to the national parks on small aircraft, but generally you need to be staying at one of the high end lodges/campsites.
• What are you interested in seeing?
To some people this seems straight forward - wildlife right? But in which way:
All of these things will impact what we recommend as part of your itinerary so please let us know when asking for your quote.
• Is this a special occassion?
Oh we love those warm fuzzy moments! We especially love to help make them, so if you are planning an African safari wedding proposal, looking for a unique wedding celebration, on your honeymoon or wedding anniversary then please let us know and we are more than happy to help customise a special itinerary for you.
• Corporate groups and Film crews:
We can help you too please let us know your requirements, timing and budget and we will prepare a quote complete with full logistical support.
Some other important things to keep in mind...
There are many factors to take into consideration when planning for such an adventure.
No matter where you travel in the world, safety is paramount and we can't emphasise enough that you should only book with operators that demonstrate a commitment to the training of their staff/guides. Every single safari company in our opinion should be investing in training their staff not only in areas to do with guiding but also on safe driving techniques and wilderness first aid (not basic first aid since you are in remote locations usually far from professional medical assistance).
Aside from selecting local operators based on their commitment to sustainable tourism practises, we also partner with these companies based on demonstrated commitment to safety and ethical tourism practises. That means we only collaborate with partners who offer fair wages and work conditions to their staff as well as demonstrating a genuine commitment to staff training and development.
Safety comes at a price and whilst we don't make claims to have the cheapest packages, we do say that we offer you probably the safest, sustainable and ethical safari in the region.
Our local partners are professionals and experts in what they do it's not just a business for them, they share our common passion for wildlife and the environment. Our partners invest in their annual staff training programmes to ensure that you – our guests can relax and enjoy your holiday comfortable that your guides and crew have been trained to international standards in first aid and wilderness guiding.
Fitness & Health:
Many people ask us what fitness level they need to be able to go on safari. The fact is that most of the safaris people book involve you sitting in the 4x4 vehicle for the duration of the trip and only walking about for toilet breaks, hotel, shopping etc. so really no fitness is needed.
You should however have a good level of health as you will be staying in remotely located places with little to no professional medical assistance near by. This means if you have heart conditions, known allergies, back issues, dietry requirements etc you need to let us know through full disclosure when you complete our mandatory medical questionnaire provided at the time of booking.
Some people try to hide their health problems thinking that they will be fine and then a situation arises during their tour and there are all sorts of problems. We can't emphasis enough, please be honest when you complete these forms and even better please rethink a safari company who does not ask you for such information.
Our professional and qualified medics will review your questionnaire for any areas that we need further clarification, we will then email you and if necessary ask for your Doctors contact details so we can clarify any areas of concern.
This is for your benefit, if we are well informed and prepared we can help to minimise any major medical emergencies that may arise.
If you take medication, it may just be that you need to carry extra preventative or maintenance medication. We do not claim to be medical experts and will not be held liable, any information provided is purely an extra part of the service and done so in good faith. Please consult your medical practitioner for clearance before confirming your travel arrangements.
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= socially responsible & sustainable tourism
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