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How full of tourists are the safari areas right now?

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How full of tourists are the safari areas right now?
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Hi, everyone.

I'm thinking about a safari to Tanzania in the Serengeti region, as well as Ngorongoro Crater region. I have two options I'm looking at, one is a group tour done by a travel company and the other is would be done privately just for myself, with a company that specializes in flying its customers out to more remote regions to give them more private viewing opportunities. Both have advantages, so I'm having trouble choosing between the two.

I've been told that the group tour option looks pre-packaged, and that those companies typically drive to popular safari spots where you're sort of surrounded with other tour company vehicles and you don't get as much of a chance to see the wildlife because you're competing with other people. That's the reason for the title of the question, I'm wondering if that's really a consideration with the COVID situation right now, or if tourism has, indeed, picked up enough that this can pose a problem for wildlife viewing.

Also on my bucket list is meeting the Hadza tribe, which both companies are able to do. The group tour would have me stay at a lodge near Lake Eyasi and drive me out to meet the Datoga tribe and also the Hadza. The private option would only be meeting the Hadza, but it would involve flying me out to the Yaeda Chini Valley from which I would need to take a 4 hour drive and camp locally to meet them, so sounds a bit remote. It is important to me to get an authentic experience and learn the ways of the Hadza, so maybe this is the better option. However, I've also read that in some cases the Hadza closer to main tourist areas are actually dressing more like their ancestors thousands of years ago, just because this is what tour operators tell them tourists want, whereas Hadza in the more remote regions wear more modern clothes, which they've received as gifts from researchers. I've also heard that alcoholism is destroying the traditional culture in both local and remote Hadza communities, and that it's more pronounced in the closer communities. So I can see benefits of either close or remote communities.

What I don't want is to get an experience that feels like it's just put on for tourists, or to ask the local Hadza why they practice the things they do, only for them to not know themselves, due to how much tourism has destroyed their culture. I've had that problem when trying to learn about local people on other trips. I've also been told that some of the Datoga events that are listed on the group tour, like meeting the blacksmith are very commercialized and not authentic.

Any advice on this would be appreciated, as meeting the local tribes is one of my primary interests on this trip, and one I don't want to get messed up due to it being too touristy.

Beyond that, the group tour does have some options that aren't offered on the private one, such as a canoeing safari along the shores of Momella Lake, and a historic tour of Stone Town in Zanzibar.

Any advice in helping to choose between the two would be appreciated, bearing in mind that what I'm looking for is an authentic experience, and not anything touristy. Main considerations right now are having good viewing opportunities of the animals on safari, and having an authentic experience when I meet the tribes, particularly the Hadza. Canoeing safari and Stone Town are nice to haves, as long as they're authentic. The last thing I want is something like seeing a tribal dance, and then when I ask questions about it, to be told the dancers don't even know what the dance means because they only do it for tourists.

Thanks in advance!

Edited: 31 August 2021, 08:53
26 replies to this topic
melbourne
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1. Re: How full of tourists are the safari areas right now?
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I've been told that the group tour option looks pre-packaged,

I would wonder who told you that as they probably have their own stake in the answer....for me it would depend on the company and what sort of group tour it is....but at the moment there are not that many tourists 25% I would say so your chances of being the only group in a lodge or camp are great also you might be the only group at a kill even in the crater.

For example in 2019 I stayed at Sope lodge large and pretty full in the morning we went early down onto the crater floor and were the only group at one group of lions and only the second vehicle at lions sleeping in the middle of the road so great guides will give you the best experience...irrespective of what type of tour.

Also on my bucket list is meeting the Hadza tribe, which both companies are able to do.

it is important to me to get an authentic experience and learn the ways of the Hadza, so maybe this is the better option. The only company I would do this with would be Dorobo Safaris if you want an authentic experience....they are the "experts' in this area and have worked with the tribes in that area for years. The closer you stay to hotels in Lake Eyasi the less authentic the experience will be.

I've also been told that some of the Datoga events that are listed on the group tour, like meeting the blacksmith are very commercialized and not authentic. ...This would be my view as well so I suggest the further away from Lake Eyasi the better.

as meeting the local tribes is one of my primary interests on this trip, and one I don't want to get messed up due to it being too touristy.

What you save by not doing that flyin safari to remote areas pay Dorobo to take you to the Hadzabe

such as a canoeing safari along the shores of Momella Lake,...a great experience...

and a historic tour of Stone Town in Zanzibar....anybody can do this tour booked locally but yeas both a plus but if your interest or main interest is the tribes then try and fit that in as well.

Any advice in helping to choose between the two would be appreciated,

I really don't know your budget and would love to know which fly in company you are considering and the cost between the two options.but you have my opinion on visiting the tribes at Lake Eyasi.

One of the biggest hassles with group tours is that some in that group will love the tribal dancing often put on by waiters for example at hotels and some not even members of the tribe they are depicting...Group torus are the worst for this type of tourist activity....my view only.

to be told the dancers don't even know what the dance means because they only do it for tourists.

yes you can find people from different tribes dressed up as Masai even though they might likely be from another tribe and are acting out the part.

Dallas, Texas
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2. Re: How full of tourists are the safari areas right now?
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Lots of great advice as always from NoExpert and a spot-on shout out for Dorobo Safaris for authentic interactions with the local tribes. Also great insight into tribal-tourism as a whole!

My question would be what remote locations is your fly-in safari promising you? Not to be a sceptic but it could possibly be that they are not that far from the regular circuit ... there are several airstrips throughout Serengeti for example that service areas that drive-in safaris also frequent - I could be wrong of course - just would be interesting to see what areas or camps they are offering and then we can advise whether these will truly by much more remote than the group tour locations.

If you post the 2 itineraries it would be easier to compare - a group tour does not always necessarily follow the beaten path either.

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3. Re: How full of tourists are the safari areas right now?
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Thanks for the great responses!

The group tour is done by DestinationPartners. This is the itinerary: https://www.destinationpartners-nyualumminitravel.net/tanzania

Meeting the Hadza is an add-on not listed on the main itinerary. Their itinerary for this is:

Day 1 Tuesday 05 Oct. 21 Arusha

Transfer from Kilimanjaro Airport to Arusha

Overnight at Mount Meru Game Lodge-Standard for check-in and dinner

Day 2 Wednesday 06 Oct. 21 Arusha - Lake Eyasi

Depart for Lake Eyasi, a rewarding detour on a safari trip for those looking for something remote and off the

beaten path. This area is known for the Hadzabe bushmen who subsist entirely off the bush and by bow

hunting. The weather is nearly always very hot, as the lake is located in floor of the Rift Valley, the oldest rift in

the world.

Lake Eyasi is a scenic detour enroute to the Ngorongoro, specifically for those who are seeking something off the beaten path. Various birds including

flamingos and pelicans can be seen in the lake depending on the season. The north-eastern tip of the lake lies in the shadow of Oldeani Mountain on the

edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Lake Eyasi lies in one of the oldest parts of the Eastern Rift Valley, it runs northeast - southwest for a distance

of about fifty miles below the impressive three-thousand-foot escarpment, which forms the south-eastern boundary of the Serengeti National Park.

The major highlights of visiting this region include visiting the lake and interacting with the local tribespeople. The region is most popularly known for the

presence of famous hunter-gatherer traditional tribespeople including the Hadzabe, Iraqw and Datoga tribes who have lived in this area for thousands of

years. The Hadza tribespeople survive without any interference from the outside world - still involved in a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. They have lived in this

area for over fifty thousand years. A chance to meet and interact with these tribespeople can be a great learning experience.

Arrival for Lunch at your lodge.

Later in the afternoon visit the Wadatoga blacksmith who still work the old way (homemade bellows and all).

Datoga & Blacksmith tribe; this are pastoralist community based in keeping livestock

Blacksmith; is the knowledge of ironsmith and recycling the metals

The client will visit the ladies at main house and share story with them

Participating in local food preparation:

- Grinding corn

- Milking cow

- Beading the traditional skin cloth

- Singing tradional songs

- Visit the blacksmith factory

- Learning recycling the metals by melting

- Making arrows ,knives and bracelets etc

Overnight at Lake Eyasi Safari Lodge-Standard including breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 3 Thursday 07 Oct. 21 Lake Eyasi

Early morning with the Hadzabe Bushmen (East Africa's last true hunter-gatherers), seeing them on their way

to hunt. Hadzabe tribe (last true hunters and gatherers)

Visit hadzabe village in the morning

The client will interact with the family members to share story about lifestyle

Join for hunting experience

- Learning survival skill

- Learning traditional medicine

- making wood bows and arrows

- Gathering some fruits and wild berries

- Back to the village s and interact with the ladies

- Traditional target learn with bow and arrows

- Traditional dance and say goodbye!

Other activities - Nature walk to (To be booked and paid direct):

- Walking to chemchem forest

- Birds watching

- Onions plantation

- Visit lake eyasi - seasonal alkaline lake

- sundowner on the rock platform

Lunch at the lodge. Afternoon at leisure

Overnight at Lake Eyasi Safari Lodge-Standard

Day 4 Friday 08 Oct. 21 Lake Eyasi - Arusha

Arrive at the Arusha Coffee Lodge where you will enjoy a meal in the lush green gardens. After lunch you may

have some time to visit Shanga, an uplifting local community social enterprise which employs people with

disabilities to create unique handmade gifts.

Drop off Mt Meru Game Lodge to start NYU Alumni Tanzania program

The flying-in tour is done with Nale Moru, which I've read some good reviews about. They are the ones who told me the group tour looks pre-packaged, so you're correct that they have an interest in selling me something.

Their itinerary is:

Day 1 Arrival

Kilimanjaro

International

Airport

To

Arusha

Katambuga Lodge

Full Board

Meet&Greet at Kilimanjaro Airport

Private Transfer to your hotel in Arusha

Time permits, sightseeing.

Safari brief.

Day 2 Northern

Serengeti

Chaka Camp

Full Board

Early morning breakfast.

15 minutes transfer to Arusha airport to board a light,

scenic aircraft to the Northern part of the Serengeti

National Park.

Flight departure time: 08:00AM

Flight arrival time: 9:30 or 10:00AM

Upon arrival welcome by your private safari guide and

immediately start your safari, exploring Northern

Serengeti unique environments and the Mara River

wildebeest Migration

Dinner and overnight

Day 3 Northern

Serengeti

Chaka Camp

Full Board

Full Day game drive including picnic lunch in the bush.

Dinner and overnight

Day 4 Central

Serengeti

Nyumbani Tented

Camp

Full Board

4 hours transfer to Central Serengeti, game viewing

enroute to the camp.

Sundowner and storytelling with Manongoi, a masai

tracker and retired warrior.

Dinner and overnight

Day 5 Central

Serengeti

Nyumbani Tented

Camp

Full Board

Exploring the remote Eastern Serengeti searching for the

big cats.

Day 6 Southern

Serengeti

Ndutu Lodge

Full Board

Morning balloon ride in Central Serengeti (from 5:30 am

through 10AM, the ride is only 1-1.5 hour)

Continue driving into the Southern part of the Serengeti

and visit the most important palaeontological sites in the

world Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli

Picnic lunch en route

© Nale Moru Travel 2021

Dinner and overnight at Olduvai Ndogo,

Day 7 Ngorongoro

Crater Tour

And drive

To Karatu

Plantation Lodge

Full Board

Today tour the infamous Ngorongoro Crater

Picnic lunch near the Hippo Pool

Late afternoon drive to plantation lodge on the outer

slope of Ngorongoro Northern Forest Reserve.

Day 8 Yaeda Chini

Valley

Private mobile camp

Full Board

After breakfast you will drive to the remote Hadza

community (app 4 hours), our supply car would have gone

a day earlier to set up a camp.

Meet with the last local hunter gatherer tribe – the Hadza

People

Learn about their way of life living off the land, collecting

honey and seasonal berries, digging for tubes and roots,

hunt birds and mammals, making tools, having a

conversation around campfire

Day 9 Yaeda to Karatu Plantation Lodge

Full Board

Join the early morning hunt for small mammals and fresh

honey from the tree, including a chance to observe unique

relationship between Hadza and honeyguide.

After lunch drive back to Karatu to rest and refresh

Day 10 Kilimanjaro

Airport

Morning at leisure.

Time permit you can go on voluntary hike or coffee tour

in some of the oldest estates in the country.

Transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport for your return flight

We wish you a safe journey back home and hope to

welcome you again in East Africa

*** End of Trip, for now ***

The prices for both are in the same ballpark, both just under $10,000. The group tour is slightly more expensive, but also has more days.

Edited: 31 August 2021, 11:05
melbourne
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4. Re: How full of tourists are the safari areas right now?
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I suppose you want some honesty or you wouldn't have posted..

Both tours have you staying at Karatu instead of actually inside the crater area especially on the Rim.

The group tour has you outside the parks for most of the trip and Maramboi is about 40 mts from the park gate and a very cheap lodge option used by group tours for that reason.

The cultural interaction with the tribes at Lake Eysai with the group tour will be set up for tourists some love it others hate it.

With the private trip the experience will be more authentic if that is possible when putting on a show for a tourist.

US$10000 for both trip for what your getting I think is a lot.

What has attracted you to the group tour the other guests or just found it?

Day 6 of the Private tour has you staying at Ndutu for one night in October I wouldn't been there many times hot dry and dusty a few thompson gazelle around nothing else and then back to central for the balloon does not make sense. Nyumbani tented is in the Eastern Serengeti great for the migration when moving South but your time up North might be wasted as the migration might /could have moved on. and this trip has you then driving to Karatu and next day back tracking to Ngorongoro and then you have 2 nights at Plantation lodge why not stay at Ngorongoro on the Rim those two nights.

Basically for your money I think you can do far better than what is offered.

Edited: 31 August 2021, 11:36
melbourne
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To summarize the private trip maybe others will comment

October safari

Day 1 Arrival Arusha to Katambuga Lodge FB

Day 2 flight to Northern Serengeti

o/n Chaka Camp Mara River wildebeest ( if your lucky)

Day 3 Northern Serengeti

Day 4 Central This actually is eastern Serengeti good for October.

Nyumbani Tented basic a cheaper option but nice.

4 hours transfer to Central Serengeti, (probably more than 4 hours)

Day 5 Central Serengeti but actually Eastern

Day 6 Southern Serengeti Ndutu Lodge This part of the trip makes no sense

Morning balloon ride in Central Serengeti

Dinner and overnight at Olduvai Ndogo, ( does not make sense maybe me)

Day 7 Ngorongoro Crater

And drive To Karatu Plantation Lodge

So you driving to Karatu for o/n then back to the crater the next morning to arrive around 10.00 am when most of the wildlife is asleep except fro Rhino of course who start to come out into the sun.

Late afternoon drive to plantation lodge near Karatu waste of time driving back and forth

Day 8 Yaeda Chini Valley so actually only 1 night here would not bother with so little time

Day 9 Yaeda to Karatu Plantation Lodge Do I see three nights at Plantation Lodge not worth it even though a nice place to stay.

Day 10 Kilimanjaro Airport Morning at leisure.

I think you can do far better for US$ 1000 per day.

melbourne
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6. Re: How full of tourists are the safari areas right now?
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Arlo

I am stuck at home in Lockdown so have nothing better to do than read your itinerary and comment on it.

Hope it helps a little bit.

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Thanks - I absolutely do want honesty and I appreciate it. The group tour is being done as an alumni program for my school, so that was how I found it. Just happened to be given right at the time I wanted to do a trip to Tanzania anyway, so seemed like a good fit.

I suspect the reason for not doing the Crater rim with the private tour is to keep costs low. I had told them I wanted to keep it under $8,000 and even with this it's close to $9,000 - about $8,900.

I've also looked at Thomson Safaris, and they also charge about $10,000 per person for about one and a half weeks. It seems like every safari company I look at charges about $10,000.

The things I want to do are:

1) Have an authentic meeting with one of the last hunter gatherer tribes, spend a few days with them, and learn from them as much as possible. Probably the Hadza but doesn't have to be.

2) Something similar with a pastoralist tribe, such as the Maasai but doesn't have to be as long. Does need to be authentic and not touristy.

3) Watching the herds of animals, preferably getting to see the Great Migration, if possible.

4) Getting to see the different species of wildlife inside the Ngorongoro Crater.

5) Getting to see the evidence of early human hominids, such as the Laetoli footprints.

6) The canoeing safari and tour of Stone Town would be nice, if we could fit it in.

7) Hot air balloon ride with champagne breakfast.

What do you think is a good price and number of days for including all of these things?

melbourne
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Any advice in helping to choose between the two would be appreciated

If I had to choose only between these two and no other trips and no changes to the itinerary and had a spare 10,000 grand I would do the group tour, not much authentic in it but neither does the other and you will see far more and you will have a far more interesting wildlife experience.

melbourne
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9. Re: How full of tourists are the safari areas right now?
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Didn't see you last post

What do you think is a good price and number of days for including all of these things?

My answer

What I would do is email a few local tour operators as you have a specialist list of interests and ask them for a quote and tell them exactly what you want to do and see and then see which ones respond and answer your wishes and which ones ignore them and send you a canned trip.

Then email a few agents or safari planners who specialize in Tanzania like the Safari Specialist and see what they offer...

I would start here

https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g293747-i9226-k13155443-Looking_for_a_Tour_Operator_Mark_11_and_things_I_ve_noticed-Tanzania.html

A group tour will not do all those things you want as they have their own program which will never fit with your you will need a private safari put together by somebody with some time....

1) Have an authentic meeting with one of the last hunter gatherer tribes, spend a few days with them, and learn from them as much as possible. Probably the Hadza but doesn't have to be. Yes it can be with them but not the way you have it offered

This is one of the better options but also with the Masai camping down near Terat or Lolkisale or even better Lake Natron but more touristy...but still off the beaten path or walk with the Masai from Ngorongoro to Lake Natron 3 -4 days this will be authentic...any local tour operator can arrange it.

2) Something similar with a pastoralist tribe, such as the Maasai but doesn't have to be as long. Does need to be authentic and not touristy. see above

3) Watching the herds of animals, preferably getting to see the Great Migration, if possible.

One of my favourite pastimes any TO can plan such a trip for October 3 days up North and and then 3 days Southern Serengeti

4) Getting to see the different species of wildlife inside the Ngorongoro Crater. Then stay on the Rim and go early...don't forget Tarangire it is fatastic in October none of the trips offered so far have this....

5) Getting to see the evidence of early human hominids, such as the Laetoli footprints.

Go to Olduvai easily done and Lake Natron.....also there

6) The canoeing safari and tour of Stone Town would be nice, if we could fit it in.

can easily fit in zanzibar and Momella.

7) Hot air balloon ride with champagne breakfast. do it from Central Serengeti or even Tarangire.

What do you think is a good price and number of days for including all of these things?

US$ 450 to 600 per day depending on number of nights in the parks and number of safari nights and quality of accommodation all different variables....ask some tour operators.

I will post a rough itinerary if nobody else does later today to give you an idea.

melbourne
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10. Re: How full of tourists are the safari areas right now?
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You would need about 18 days to fit all that in properly including Zanzibar at the end. at US$ 500 per day around 10,000 grand. How long do you have?

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