Tanzania Safari – The Good, the Bad, the Unexpected and the Amazing!! – The planning stages


I knew I wanted to go on safari with the kids at some point, but I also knew I did not want to “rough it”.  While I wanted a tented camp, I also wanted hot showers, flushed toilets, electricity, and oh, that “Out of Africa” feel would be nice.

8-13  Out of Africa

Suffice it to say, I knew I was interested in a luxury safari.  So, I decided to wait until it was a momentous year for us – which 2014 was.  Our daughter graduated from college, our son graduated from high school and hubby and I both turned 50 – great things to justify a “splurge” adventure!!  Also, I suspected this might be the last family vacation for awhile with all four of us, due to college and new work schedules.

If you have read my other posts you know when we travel I usually do all the planning by myself, however I did use a travel agent (a good friend) for our Israel/Jordan trip and I decided to contact her again for this one.  I knew she had recently been on 2-3 safaris and she knows how we like to travel.  With the myriad of options for where to go, safari companies to use, camps to stay at, it seemed a little overwhelming so a phone call to Carol seemed the place to start.

I began by stating we needed to go in June and wanted to do a South African Safari with a few days in Capetown.  Her immediate response was “Capetown in June will be like San Francisco in the winter, and if you are looking for the ‘Lion King’ feel than I suggest you consider East Africa – namely Tanzania and/or Kenya.”  Spending time in a cold/wet city was not high on our list for June, and of course I wanted that ‘Lion King’ experience!!


So, I started researching East Africa and decided on the Northern Circuit of Tanzania.  I did not want the trip to be much more than 2 weeks as we were not sure what my daughter would be doing after graduation and did not want to close off too many job opportunities due to her being gone for a long time (as it was, the job she did get started a week before we arrived home, but they allowed her to start a week late – more time than that and I suspect it may have been tough).  I did play with the idea of a few nights on the end in Zanzibar but in the end decided not to extend the trip for that.

Now it was time to pick locations and camps.  I decided a mix of lodges and tented camps was the way to go.  We went with nice, luxe and ultra luxe when picking our locations.  Since our flight would not be arriving in JRO until 7:45pm in the evening, I determined that spending two nights in Arusha on our arrival would be important, particularly since we had just a 1.5 hr layover in Amsterdam.  This would give us time to decompress after the long flights as well as give us an extra day if for some reason we missed the connection in AMS.  This turned out to be an excellent idea – we did not miss the connection but really enjoyed the extra day to settle in before heading out on safari.  I will give more details on each place we stayed in future posts but we ended up with this itinerary:

Two nights in Arusha at Machweo Lodge (this is actually just outside of Arusha)

Three nights Manyara Ranch – a permanent tented camp located in a private reserve (the Manyara Ranch Conservancy) between Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Park

Two nights at Exploreans Lodge by Ngorongoro Crater

Three nights at Singita Sabora a permanent tented camp in the private Grumeti Reserve just bordering Serengeti National Park.

Everything was booked through Naipenda Safaris which specializes in Tanzanian Safaris.


The US contact is Jo Bertone who is located in Texas and she was excellent always responding quickly to our questions.  Israel Mwanga is the contact in Tanzania and while we did not have any interaction with him before leaving the US,  he made sure we met him in person before heading out on safari, which was much appreciated.  He was very professional and we were glad to know he was available 24/7 while we were in Tanzania.

We booked about a year in advance which was good since our dates were pretty set and we were staying at some smaller properties.  We also had our friend join us who is the kid’s “big sister” and who traveled with us to Vietnam in Dec. 2011 (read about that trip here).   Once these were all booked there was not too much else to research as on a normal trip where I would plan what we would see, do and where we would eat each day.  This of course, left me open to obsess over what to pack/wear while on safari!!  However, from the online travel forums I do not think I am alone in this.  Next up – packing!!  Click here to read on!

Packing tips

Our time in Arusha and orphanage visit

Two nights at Manyara Ranch

Our stay at Exploreans Lodge

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7 responses to “Fez, Morocco 2007”

  1. I’m a tourism student at my local University and I’ve got to tell you that our English teacher couldn’t shut up about Morocco all year long. Now i see why! Too bad she hadn’t showed us such lovely photos as you have here:) thanks for making it clear for me why this place is so amazing!

  2. Thewoodies - Australia says:

    We leave for Morocco in 4 weeks and are still to confirm our internal route. Your trip has given us many ideas and confirmed some others. We hope our trip is as much fun as yours sounded and we can have similar experiences.

  3. Malaak says:

    Hi Judy. In addition to planning Jordan/Israel, I am also planning Spain or Spain/Morocco which is why I’m writing. In August 2014, we are joining several families on a week long Disney Cruise (yes the kids talked me into this!) departing out of Barcelona. It goes to France and Italy also, before returning back to Barcelona. We will spend 3 nights in Barcelona for sure after the cruise but need to decide on the rest. The majority of the group only have an additional week after the cruise. I may have a few more days but for the purpose of joint trip planning, I’m dealing with 8 nights. After the first 3 nights in Barcelona and 1 last night before departing, we are talking about 4 nights for somewhere else. So far the choices are:

    3 nights Sevilla and 1 night Granada
    3 nights Marrakech and 1 night somewhere else in Morocco

    I know you loved Morocco and want your opinion if 4 nights is enough time. If so, where else should we go besides Marrakech? Can we do overnight in the desert with just 1 night? I think the group is leaning towards Morocco since we will have docked in Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo, Pompeii with trips to Pisa and a few other places as well. As you know, I’m well traveled in West, East and Southern Africa but gave never been yo Northern Africa and am very keen.

    Let me know your thoughts. With much appreciation,


    • Judy Gambee says:

      Malaak – Sorry for the delay, we were out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday. With only 4 nights you could do Marrakech and a night one other place, but you would definitely not have time for the desert. From Marrakech it is a two day drive to the Sahara. I would consider an overnight in either Essouria (coast) or the HIgh Atlas Mtns. We have not been to Essouria but I have heard such amazing things about it. We did not spend a night in the HIgh Atlas, but did drive through there on our way to the Sahara, and found it quite interesting. I would look into both of those and see which interests everyone the most. They are both easily doable as an overnight from Marrakech. Doing Marrakech would definitely give you a completely different experience than what you would have encountered earlier in the trip – but look at the airfare costs/times to determine whether that or more of Spain would work best. Look at low cost airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair.

      The Sevilla/Granada would also be a great four day trip, and probably easier/cheaper to get to. We loved Andalucia, but we may be in the minority, but enjoyed Granada and Cordoba a bit more than Sevilla, however, I would probably still recommend Sevilla and Granada as the combo. Though in Aug. it will will be VERY hot there, in Morocco too so just keep that in mind. We absolutely LOVE the food in Spain, though we really did like the food in Morocco, though did tire of it a bit, but that shouldn’t be a problem with only 4 nights there.

      Good luck!! it will be an amazing trip no matter which you choose!!

  4. Nelleke van H says:

    This was a very useful read as we are planning a week to marocco this Easter with two young adult daughters and a grandfather…
    The wonderful world of the web…

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