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Planning a honeymoon to Tanzania/Zanzibar - Looking for advice.


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Hello everyone. New member here living in the UK and as the title suggests, I'm currently in the stages of planning our honeymoon. We havent had a lot of luck with the wedding so far so fingers crossed its going to be third time lucky - 1st we were booked to have it in Cyprus with Thomas Cook who went bust, Then Covid put a stop to it in June this year so fingers crossed that by July 2021 we will have covid under some sort of management and life can go on.

I have been very lucky in life and have travelled a lot, I have also been lucky enough to do the Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, but I've never been to Tanzania or Zanzibar so I'm a little at a loss how to go about this.

I want to avoid booking through an agent if I can because I am working on a mid range budget and I know that if I book everything myself I'm more likely to get the most 'bang for ya buck' as they say. Anyway, to my questions:


If you had 5 night or 7 nights in Tanzania, where would be your 'must see' points

 

Where would you stay that was the best 'Bang for your buck'

 

If you have ever visited Zanzibar, where would you recommend staying, and are there any other beach destinations you would recommend over Zanzibar?

 

I got friendly with the guide when we done the Gorillas, since then her has set his own company up so I will be using him as our guide, I just mainly need to know what to tell him we want to do/stay.

 

We are young(ish), I'm 34 and she is 28 so we are having to watch where we are spending our money, but I don't want her to feel like its not her honeymoon when it comes to the accommodation if that makes sense.

Anyway, I cant wait to see your replies and really appreciate anyone that puts the time into helping. Thank you in advance.

Culley





 

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Pictus Safaris

Hi @Culley- a big welcome to the forums. There is an awful lot of knowledge here, so I'm sure you'll have plenty of advice headed your way!

 

There's a huge amount to go at in Tanzania, and you've picked a good time of year to visit. As you may know, Tanzania has a number of tourist 'circuits' (most prominently the 'Northern Circuit' and 'Southern Circuit'). The 'Southern Circuit' takes in a number of reserves in the south of the country, including Ruaha NP and Nyerere NP, and these are amazing destinations, but for your first visit to Tanzania, I'd recommend looking at the more popular 'Northern Circuit'.

 

This takes in a number of very popular areas, beginning and ending (usually) in Arusha. The reserves typically visited on this circuit are:

 

  • Tarangire NP
  • Lake Manyara NP
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Serengeti

I could write an essay on each destination, so I'll try to keep it brief. Tarangire is an excellent first stop, a real highlight is the huge elephant population, and in recent years leopards have become increasingly well seen. I would recommend at least one night here, possibly two. Lake Manyara is also excellent, and is home to a well-known population of tree-climbing lions, as well as dry-country species and nocturnal species rarely encountered elsewhere (for example, it's an excellent spot for Aardvark and Aardwolf). Based on the fact that this is one of your first safaris, I'd suggest (possibly to the chagrin of many others) that this may be the park you are most likely to leave out of your itinerary, if you have to - if not, one night is sufficient. The Ngorongoro is probably one of the most famous wilderness areas in Africa, stuffed full of game, and it is easy to see the 'Big Five' here. It is, however, expensive, and most only spend one night here.

 

Then we get to the Serengeti. A large area, and a sensational destination. In July, I wouldn't bother with Ndutu in the south-east, and would instead recommend heading to Seronera (for big cats, particularly leopard and cheetah), before focussing on the Grumeti area. In early July, it is likely (but not guaranteed) that the Great Migration will be in the Grumeti area and, if you're lucky, you may get to witness thousands of wildebeest and zebra thundering down the banks of the Grumeti. If you are visiting later in the month, the herds may have already moved north, where the Mara River crossings occur, and these northern plains are a sensational area for game viewing, especially for lion and cheetah. Overall, I'd suggest spending 3-4 nights in the Serengeti depending on how much time you end up having to spend, if possible, and at least two nights in an area well situated for the Great Migration.

 

Regarding the most 'bang for your buck' - this is an age-old question. There are scores of lodges on the Northern Circuit, many excellent, and many very pricey. It sounds like you'll be using a single guide and vehicle throughout, so it may be worth considering public campsites in some areas, or more budget lodges outside of some NPs (e.g. Tarangire) - this all depends on your taste and budget. My advice would be not to stress too much about this - you will see amazing wildlife pretty much regardless of exactly where you stay, but of course it's important to ensure you stay somewhere you feel meets your standards. Given you're honeymooning (congratulations!), I'd probably suggest taking a look at mid-range to high-end lodges operated by the likes of Singita.

 

Zanzibar is, again, a great destination. I'm assuming you're visiting solely for a beach break, rather than some of the wildlife that is prevalent in the south of the island. Stone Town (on the west coast) and the beaches of the northern coast can get a little busy, although the north is where you want to focus on diving in my opinion. I prefer areas on the east of the island, as the beaches are stunning and often quieter (although July is high season) - perhaps take a look at areas like Jambiani.

 

I'd be happy to help further - as I say, other members will have oodles of advice to share. You'll have an amazing adventure, good luck with your planning!

 

Tom

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Atravelynn

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.  You've had some bad luck in planning this trip. Hopefully that's all done. 

 

Definitely try for 7 rather than 5 nights.  Assuming you'd like 3 nts in Zanzibar, that leaves 4 nts for safari.  If night #1 is your arrival and you overnight around Arusha, then really 3 nts for safari.  Since you have your guide, you won't be flying in, so I'd suggest putting Tarangire at the top of your list.  It's a 3-ish hour drive from Arusha.  There are less expenses lodges that are very nice there, as noted above. I'd suggest Tarangire Safari Lodge or Sopa Lodge. 

 

Or, you could choose a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Ngorongoro Crater, about the same driving distance from Arusha.  The less expensive lodges at the crater  have beautiful views of the crater.  The best view is Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge because it was the first lodge put up way back by the gov't.  Sopa Lodge also has great views of the crater.  It is cold at night and I know Sopa has a fireplace that could be romantic for a honeymoon.  You could do both the crater and Tarangire. The drive time between them is also about 3 hours.  I have done a Tanz trip of just the crater and Tarangire, but my 7 nights included no beach time.

 

" you will see amazing wildlife pretty much regardless of exactly where you stay" I very much agree with @Pictus Safaris.

 

Good luck!

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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madaboutcheetah

I'd recommend Ikuka safari lodge in Ruaha if you want to go to someplace less crowded for your honeymoon .......

 

In the Serengeti, one of the options you should look at is the Northern Serengeti in Kogatende/Lamai ......... 

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AfricIan

Hi @CulleyI'd echo @Pictus Safaris& @Atravelynnthoughts on sticking with the 'Northern Circuit' although we've not been to any of those parks.  We have been to Selous & Ruaha and whilst Ruaha remains one of my favourite parks it's either a very long drive or expensive flight to get there.

 

For Zanzibar, have a look at Pongwe Beach http://pongwe.com or Mchanga Beach http://www.mchangazanzibar.com/ - for an alternative beach only stop, I was going to suggest Ras Kutani as a fabulous honeymoon place but unfortunately it looks like it closed in June :( however on the same stunning 2km beach ~33km south of Dar there is the Amani Beach Hotel https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/travel/darpr-protea-hotel-dar-es-salaam-amani-beach/ which might be worth a look.

Its been many years since we were there (Ras Kutani 2009, Mchanga 2010, Pongwe 2014) so places may have changed hands or not be quite as they were back then but I hope this helps a little.

 

All the best with your planning and after so many setbacks I hope 2021 is good for you

 

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Thank you so much to all those that have replied, Its turned out to be a lot more complex than I had originally thought to book - some companies are quoting 6000 per person for almost the exact same s another that's quoting 2500. So I'm picking through it all and figuring it all out. I will go through each of your posts and research everything in detail. Thanks again, I will keep coming back to see if there is any other responses. Oh, and just in case I was misunderstood, the 5/7 days was referring specifically to the safari, I am still hoping for 7 nights in Zanzibar. And yes, this is purely for the beach (and diving ;))

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AfricIan
19 minutes ago, Culley said:

I am still hoping for 7 nights in Zanzibar. And yes, this is purely for the beach (and diving ;))

In that case I'd discount Ras Kutani, although there was (is?) a wreck offshore it's easy snorkeling. I'm not sure there is any serious diving there. Pongwe ran diving trips when we were there

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ExtraordinaryAlex

Guys, sad to report that I am pretty sure Ras Kutani is closed, closed. One of my favourites, so a sad goodbye.

 

Now to the original question, you have some great answers above. To add my own comments:

- Pongwe is a great good value option for Zanzibar, I'm a big fan.

- Safari- this will most likely be 50%+ of the cost of your trip. I'd say it's a misconception that booking it yourself will be cheaper than a tour op, as tour ops get very good rates that are much lower than public rates. So at least worth a try, especially if you are going to northern Tanzania, where if you are doing a driving safari you will need a tour op for the vehicle anyway. 

- Most bang for buck- this v. much depends what kind of trip you want. Budget camping safari is likely to be $200-$250 pp day all in, sharing a minivan for game drives and staying in campsites, but you can expect to have someone cooking for you and putting your tent up. These do exist in Southern Tz but Northern much cheaper to access, so I'd go there. Mid-range-staying in say the equivalent of 3* (though it is hard to apply such critera to safari) lodges and tented camps (where you would have a bed and some kind of ensuite bathroom). Again, prob cheapest to do this in northern TZ and do a driving safari starting and finishing in Kili. Likely to cost about $350 ish pp/day up and you'd prob have your own private vehicle for this, potentially a 4x4 minibush or a pop up cruiser/landrover. Top end of mid-range is prob about $500 pp day, and this is where fly in safaris in Southern Tanzania would come into their own, as you may get some fab special offers that help keep the costs in this range. Plus you have the real diversity of activities you don't get in the north. A two centre Ruaha option could be really interesting. 

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ExtraordinaryAlex

Sorry, just noticed you have your guide already, so presumably he'll be acting as your tour op- ignore that bit!

 

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You could just get in contact with Africatravelresource.com. They are an excellent UK based safari specialist company and will discuss with you in considerable detail your requirements, and produce several options for your itinerary, within your budget, and it will be cheaper than booking it yourself. They can arrange everything for your safari.

 

With regard to your guide, does he have in-depth experience of guiding in the locations you would be staying in Tanzania ? If not then you should reconsider. Also you don’t have to go with your own guide, allowing the tour operator to arrange everything , including transfers between locations, and including using each camps own guides is the way many people do a safari, and the cost is unlikely to significantly differ from having your own guide who travels with you.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, ExtraordinaryAlex said:

Guys, sad to report that I am pretty sure Ras Kutani is closed, closed. One of my favourites, so a sad goodbye.

 

That's a real shame, only been the once but great memories.  A truly outstanding beach and the sea doesn't disappear when the tide is out!

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