Southern Circuit Safari planning
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Feb 21, 2013 2:17 PM Last Post By: koelan
Dec 2, 2012 3:27 PM
Southern Circuit Safari planningHi
I am planning trip to Tanzania in 2nd part of January next year (first timer). I am going to travel with my wife. I was thinking about taking this trip in three parts: Dar Es Salaam with day and night life, safari at Southern Circuit and finally relax in Zanzibar – snorkelling/diving.
My question relates to safari:
I was thinking about Selous, Mikumi and Udzungwa Parks. To save money and to experience something different I was thinking about taking a train to Kisaki and start my safari experience from this point by arranging transport to a nearest lodge in Selous. Make a deal with some nice (mean “good value for money”) company (the most transparent so far seems to be www.wildthingsafaris.com – any experience with this one?) and have a camping experience for few days with them (driving, walking and boat safari) before moving to Mikumi/Udzungwa and sleep in medium-range lodges/accommodations.
The only thing is – this company is flying from Selous to Dar and then send you by vehicle to Mikumi. Is it possible to avoid this flight to cut costs and go from Selous to Mikumi other way?
Other questions are: how many days shall I designate to stay at each park to make it just right (not too short, not too long) and what will be the best option to come back to Dar |Es Salaam– vehicle or maybe go back to Kisaki and take train again? Or maybe flight straight to Zanzibar? I am planning to stay at East Coast at Jambiani Beach in Sea View Lodge (apparently the best option for small budget according to some opinions – again - any experience anyone?)
I will be grateful for any suggestions.
Ps. By the way – if anyone likes this plan and want to join safari part to drop down the costs – you are very welcome!:)
Dec 2, 2012 7:46 PM
My suggestion is that,if you take Selous's safari,no need to Mikumi NP as star attraction in Mikumi are hippos and eland,lots of hippo in Selous but I am not sure about eland.By that time,January,the road from Selous to Mikumi i don't think if will be good due to weather,so the option is to come back Dar es Salaam.Tchao
Dec 3, 2012 6:49 AM
2Wild Things totally bona fide and been around for quite a while. They own a basic but comfortable and very nicely located camp at Udzungwa.
There's no need to fly. Many tour companies do an itinerary to drive from Dar to Selous (not that much rain around this year and the roads are fine.) The major rainfall doesn't start till March or April, so January is usually fine by road. However your idea to go by train to Kisaki is good too, provided you tee up a car to meet you there.
I'd suggest 3 nights Selous, drive to Mikumi stay 2 nights - a range of options from budget camping depending on your company (the Park has recently upgraded all the public camp grounds) Park Bandas, budget guest houses at nearby Mikumi town or tented camps within the Park. Loads of animals in Mikumi and very very visible including leopard and lion prides, large numbers of elephant. Above poster obviously had a poor safari pole sana.
Udzungwa is about a 2 hour drive next day. Either stay one or two nights depending on the hikes you want to do. The last day leave early and its easiest to return to Dar from Udzungwa by road via a longish day 7 hours driving - give or take depending on traffic close to Dar. That would give you a good circuit 6nights/7days.
The South is lovely right now and greening up after a few short rains storms.
Dec 6, 2012 12:53 PM
3Thank you very much for your advice. Based on that, some emails, itineraries and own research I have managed to come to some conclusions (detailed plan of my safari below);
Although I still need help of someone who experienced road from Selous to Mikumi at January:
- some say you can only expect the road to be passable during the dry season from July to October, some say it’s ok – I am confused...
- is it not too much to drive through difficult terrain for a one day? How long will it take to get there, starting from one of the lodges based next to the river?
- Is it more than one way to get to Mikumi from Selous - all the way through Morogoro to Mikumi Park Gate? Or this way can be cut short?
Other doubts: after this long drive will I still enjoy night safari same day? Have anyone of you done that before?
Regarding Udzungwa: being there for such a short time (one night) - what is really recommended to see? I was thinking about this 2 hour trek (each way?) up to Sanje Waterfalls with highlight of jumping to this pond over there (if there is enough water – some say it might be tricky :) What time will be better to go though - afternoon or early morning? Or go somewhere instead - any other suggestions ?
Regarding way back from Udzungwa to Dar Es Salaam: apparently it’s about 7 hours drive. Would it be reasonable to get plain to Zanzibar instead to save time and inconvenience, even if that is far more expensive? Is this $190 per person per flight a good value for money?
Based on some respond I assume that I will not save money by chosing flight option and booking my trip to Mikumi airstrip only because driver need to come back to Dar Es Salam anyway so price stays the same?
Finally - is it a low season (January)? Prices seems to be a bit high (based on some information I was hoping on $150 day pp) - I know people need to make out their living over there considering all park fees, vehicle rental etc. but I was hoping for some lower rates because of time of the year?
I do not know how pushy I can be about the price of the safari to try to drop it down to not look like an ignorant. I would rather not go for camping - definitely preferring to stay at tented camps to not loose on quality of whole experience.
Unfortunately based on quotations so far it looks like I will be forced to reconsider this whole trip – it’s just simply too expensive. On the other hand – go to Tanzania and not go to safari – even thinking about that makes me feel sick
I will really appreciate all your help!!!
Detailed plan of my safari:
PETER X 2 PAX – REVISED ITINERARY
SOUTHERN SAFARI (Selous, Mikumi & Udzungwa Mountains) 5 Nights/6 Days (1 Double room)
Day 1: pick up from DARESSALAAM and drive to SELOUS GAME RESERVE.
“Morning drive form Dar es salaam to selous (approx 5hrs drive) arrive for hot lunch then short rest, late afternoon go out for boat safari in Rufiji river where you will see a lot of huge crocodiles, hippos, elephants as well as a number of aquatic spp, evening go back to the lodge/camp for dinner and overnight”
Day 2: ALL DAY SELOUS GAME RESERVE
Full day to be spent for game drive in selous game reserve with picnic lunch, evening return to the lodge/camp for dinner and overnight (with sunset viewing right on the bank of the Rufiji River)
Day 3: SELOUS GAME RESERVE TO MIKUMI NATIONAL PARK
“Early morning walking safari(2-3hrs) with our famous walking safari guide(bushman) with armed game ranger, return to the lodge/camp for breakfast then drive to mikumi with game drive en route in the reserve, arrive in late afternoon and have evening at leisure at the camp/lodge. after dinner go out for night game drive in mikumi national park ( 3-4hrs) then return to the lodge/camp for overnight.
Day 4: MIKUMI NATIONAL PARK
Full day day game drive with picnic lunch in mikumi national park. Return for dinner and overnight at the camp/lodge.
Day 5: MIKUMI TO UDZUNGWA MOUNTAINS
After breakfast drive to the Udzungwa Mountains with a possibility to do morning game drive in Mikumi (?). Arrive at Udzungwa before or after lunch depends on what you will decide.
Embark on an approximately 2 hour trek up to Sanje waterfalls. The hike is a bit
steep in places depending on the water level you can have a refreshing dip
in the plunge pools once you reach the top of the falls. Back to the camp for dinner.
Day 6: UDZUNGWA TRANSFER TO Dar Es Salaam
After breakfast relax at the camp before transferred to Dar Es Salaam with picnic lunch on the way.
End of service
Day 6: UDZUNGWA TRANSFER TO MIKUMI AIRSTRIP
After breakfast relax at the camp before transferred to Mikumi National Park with
picnic lunch to Mikumi Airstrip to connect your flight. (flight not included)
End of service
USD$190 per person for a flight ticket from Mikumi to Zanzibar ( including fuel
USD$260 per person for a flight ticket from Mikumi to Zanzibar then from
Zanzibar to DaresSalaam (including fuel surcharge).
Dec 6, 2012 8:37 PM
Dec 6, 2012 10:49 PM
Dec 7, 2012 5:46 AM
6Agreed road from Selous takes around 7 - 8 hrs into Mikumi NP. I have not heard of any night game drives in Mikumi unless planning to start in January? You'd best check that one out. Also it is not possible to do a morning game drive in Mikumi and go for a hike in Udzungwa. It is a 2 - 3 hour drive from Mikumi to Udz HQ where you wait to register and pick up a compulsory guide. And of course the same back again. The trek to Sanje waterfall and swim will take 4 hours. So that is a full day excursion if staying in Mikumi. If you stay at Udz its less travel time of course.
The plane to Zanzibar from Mikumi normally departs between 2pm or 3pm, thus allowing a morning game drive that day.
If you wanted to cut the price further but still experience a great safari, why not focus just on Selous or just on Mikumi? If you cut Selous, you could add on Udzungwa while in Mikumi. If you cut out Mikumi and Udzungwa, you could stay longer in Selous and do boat and walking safaris. You see the same animals in both Parks, so I am not sure why it is necessary to add many expensive miles and use up day's travelling between different Parks, when you can settle in and thoroughly explore one Park or Reserve.
Dec 7, 2012 11:53 PM
7I greed with Kareno about repeating the same thing in different Park,stick with Selous possibly only with Udzungwa/Selous with Lutindi Tour-East Usambara/Amani Muheza,if you come with some perators,it is cheap.I have asked a certain tour guide yesterday about night game drive in Mikumi NP,it is allowed,make sure your car is in good conditions.Thanks.
Dec 8, 2012 6:29 AM
8Thank you for your suggestions.
I was thinking about drive from Selous to Mikumi mainly because of experiencing something different on the road. Yes it might me inconvenient but is it not worth it in terms of seeing variety of interesting things on the way? I do not really know - maybe it's just boring drive?:) Maybe you are right and I just should stick to Selous... ?
Dec 8, 2012 6:46 AM
Dec 9, 2012 12:58 AM
Jan 18, 2013 12:19 AM
11Just some ideas/experiences to think about:
- I'd skip Mikumi.
- I would consider Ruaha! Probably my number 1 park ever (over the Selous in terms of animal viewing). You can do that quite cheaply: we bussed to Iringa town. And rented a car+driver for 4 days there (an excellent guy!). Entry fees in Ruaha are much lower then Selous and you can camp or sleep in the old banda's near the HQ for 20USD per head.
- If you go to Zanzibar mainly to dive/snorkel/swim I would certainly have a look at Mafia in stead of Zanzibar. It's personal but Zanzibar was for us rather the low side of our trip. We loved Mafia however. Until a couple of years ago Mafia only had a couple of posh lodges, now there are enough budget options around. And the diving/snorkeling is much better then around Zanzibar.
- Can't advice on Udzungwa, must be nice. We trekked through the Uluguru's near Mgorogoro in stead.
Southern Tanzania beats the North with ease! So great choice anyhow!!
Feb 21, 2013 5:20 AM
I am hoping to go this September, wondering what price you were quoted for the itinerary you posted? I know it will be more for high season, but it is along the lines of what I would be interested in.
Why did you prefer Mafia over Zanzibar?? I have been looking at both...
Feb 21, 2013 2:17 PM
13Well, let's put it this way...
Frankly, it's like comparing apples and pears really.
Zanzibar = historic, reasonably atmospheric but touristy and, to us, not overly interesting (at least not living up to it's myth) Stone Town + beach/beach/beach of which quite a high proportion type fenced of resort stuff + half-attractions as a forest with some monkeys, a butterfly garden etcetera.
Mafia = an island that counted just a handfull uberclass lodges only in the last years joined with a limited number of mid-budget places. = superior diving compared to Zanzibar + a chance to snorkle with whale sharks the right time of the year (we saw no less then 10 in what had been a 2-2,5 hour boattrip on which we met...0 other tourists + beautiful little islands right next to 'main island' Mafia + some locals with ideas / enthousiasm & the drive and energy of a 'destination on the rise' -.....Zanzibar's beaches (none of Mafia's can rank among Zanzibar's).
So actually....it's a question of preference.
Ours was in full and undoubted favour of Mafia.
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