Me and a friend are looking to spend roughly 3 weeks in East Africa later this year. We want to do the usual stuff - safari, climb Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar etc. We're fairly well travelled, met whilst backpacking in South America but neither of us have been to Africa before.
I have a few questions but any general advice and recommendations are welcomed. We aim to travel as independently as feasibly possible without be foolish.
1. We are aiming to book a return flight to Dar es Salaam then travel internally to National Parks and Kilimanjaro. Is this the best way to do it or would Nairobi be a better starting point?
2. Safari - We've read a few forum posts saying it's better to book on arrival in Africa to cut out the middle man. With 3 weeks we've a bit of flexibility but can't afford to waste too many days. How likely is it that we'd be able to get on a tour within a day or two of arrival? Is it worth it for the saving?
3. Kilimanjaro climb - Again, only 3 weeks, ideally we'd do it in 6 days. Is it best to book in Africa and get on a tour quickly? Again, worth it?
4. Internal journeys probably from Dar es Salaam to Arusha and back... Is it better to fly? What are the options like for coaches/road travel? Is reaching Arusha any easier from Nairobi?
Thanks in advance
First of all I would like to reccomend bringing a tent. In a lot of aireas it is possible to camp for very cheep. thre are many hostles and camp sites with cabins and semi permanant tents. I was just in africa on a tour and we camped the whole time.
I can not give you a lot of help as far as booking things once you get to africa as I did a tour but I can say that the company I went with ( G adventures ) was fantastic. They delt with all the transportation, the accomidation and 90% of your meals.
I would have to recomend Nairobi as a starting point over Dar Es Salaam. Dar is a large dirty and extremely unsafe city. Of the 9 weeks I was in Africa Dar was the only place I did not feel safe. I would avoide it except to go to the ferry to Zanzibar.
For your internal travel you have to take into consideration that the roads in Tanzinia are bad. not bad like in south America but bad like you have never seen before. In some places it will take you 6 hours to go 100K. keep this in mind as it will probably take you longer then you expect to go by road. This is part of the africa experence and I would recomend driving but be prepared for the time it will take. I believe there are public busses as we did see a lot while driving but I cant help you with how to catch them or figure out the schedule.
For things to see. The Serengeti is the obvious place. but if you time things right you can go to the Masi mara for the wildabeast migration. I missed it but was told by a lot of the tour and safari guides I met that it is worth seeing. If you dive then Zanzebar is fantastic. the water there was very clear and some of the best dives I have been on.
hope this helps. let me know if you have more questions.