We booked a 14 day Safari after requesting itineraries and quotes from half a dozen companies with high ratings from TripAdvisor travel forum. Coordinated with B2B Company rep ANNIE a transplant English speaker from U.K. living in Tanzania. I believe excellent communication in the form of quick email replies adjusting the itinerary and confirming international payment transfers was key in booking what was essentially a last minute safari plan completed in about 7 days a few weeks prior to leaving. I strongly feel I lucked out having a native English speaker to coordinate the booking. Trip would not have happened without her on the other end.
Our guide was Charles (one of about 10 guides who work for the company). Charles was so considerate and mild mannered (totally ZEN) that my wife and I felt as though were the only ones on Safari , which if your going for a couple's Safari/ Honeymoon etc may be exactly what you want. He was quite knowledgeable and had many bird identification resources to share with us. Everything was "no problem" and he handled all the check ins for parks with zero fiascos.
Charles was ULTRA attentive to our Safari priorities which for us included waking early, patiently waiting for good photo opportunities, avoiding getting scammed and filling the in vehicle fridge with beer and wine from time to time. He was also on board with explaining cultural considerations or awkward translation moments to smooth things over when dealing with locals in a way that let you know he was our representative looking out for us. Driving skill was quite good. Maneuvers well to get great views of wildlife.
planned about 2 days in each location:
Tarangire: Tarangire Safari Lodge (tented camp); excellent facilities, food and views; watch out for Tetse flies on game drive (not at lodge)
Manyara: Isoitok Camp Manyara was a very swanky tented camp, Very attentive staff and cool southwest vibe in Maasai scrub setting West of Manyara proper. Manyara was a cool park with a jungle feel and good bird views ( very glad we went despite some neg reviews)
Ndutu: Awesome park for large cats in late feb due to wilebeast migration late Feb; Halisi tented camp was the most bare bones of the trip ( would look into others perhaps)
Serengetti: My favorite park; Kisura Camp was a nice tented camp (wooden floors!) around rock kopjes (expensive beers though)
Ngorongoro: pretty geology, has rhinos, but somehow feels less wild than other parks. Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge was an old school (aging) lodge with fantastic view and swanky dining service
Lake Natron : views of a lake and rift escarpment are nice, nothing to do really at lake unfortunately once you make the 1/2 hike through mud; the wildlife here is lacking and the heat was oppressive in Feb (had to wear wet clothes day and night). The highpoint was hike (canyoning) to a waterfall with a fun Maasai guide named Yaku. Halisi tented camp did OK with being at the ends of the earth and all. Would not waste more than a day in this location and with the drive not sure if worth it.
What I would have done different:
Sight unseen I thing Annie and I made an excellent trip. In hind sight would have added extra days at Tarangire and Serengetti.
Would have brought extra small Tanzanian or US bills for tips because the tented camp staff solicit tips from us at the end of each stay and line up at send off after hinting they share tips at the end.
Would have loaded up on cheap beer and wine in Manyara to break out when some camps gouge above the average 3 bucks for 500 ml beer (some charged $5 for beer) or up to $30 for wine bottle
Would not hesitate to book with Bush 2 Beach again. They have their act together. Probably on the pricey side at nearly $410 USD per person per day, but I would have no way of knowing if this is a competitive daily avg price for the the mid range to deluxe camps/lodges plus park fees booked. We felt it was well worth it in the end for a hastily arranged and well executed safari through North Tanzania.
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