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Author Topic: Tanzania in March  (Read 1780 times)
matt4626
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« on: July 19, 2013, 10:37:24 AM »
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I'm thinking about a photo trip to Tanzania being offered in March. I'm told this is the off season but with new born wildebeests and zebra's it seems like a good time to go. Has anyone been to East Africa in the spring? Huh
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luxborealis
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2013, 07:56:58 AM »
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Hi Matt,

I lived in Arusha for 4 years. We would head out on safari at all times of the year and were never "skunked" of great wildlife sightings.

March is the start of the "off season" as the long rains approach, mostly in April. However, the long rains are not as they sound (they are just longer than the short rains in December) and consist of two or three thunderstorms per day. I clearly remember a day out on the Serengeti when we could count seven thunderstorms in our 360 view - spectacular! It was also on an "off-season" April safari that we saw the "big five" (elephant, Cape buffalo, lion, leopard and the most difficult, rhinoceros)  in one day - a rare occurrence at any time of year. With the rains, wildlife becomes more spread out as there is good grazing/browsing everywhere. However a good guide will know where to look.

If you want to email me, I can recommend some outfitters/companies in Arusha if you are booking your own way from Europe or North America. Most people go with companies from the west, but know that they simply subcontract their safaris to local companies as one can often see by the magnetic logos on the trucks!

"Must see" places include:
  • Tarangire National Park (Tarangire Safari Lodge is a must in itself - classic Africa without the glizt);
  • Lake Manyara National Park;
  • Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area;
  • Serengeti National Park.
These are all on the "Northern Circuit" and are the places everyone gets to as they are truly spectacular. Also along the way is Oldupai Gorge where the Leakey's did their early hominid diggings. (BTW, it's spelled with a "p", not a "v" as you will learn from Olle Moita when you are there). Consider also a safari that flies you into the Serengeti then drives you out over the next week or so with Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara and Tarangire along the way (or drive in and fly out). The flight itself is worth the price of admission!

Other places to consider (depending on how long yo have and your budget) are:
  • Arusha National Park (we call it Giraffic Park) has great birds, a moist forest ecosystem and just about the best views of Kilimanjaro from Momella Lodge and further up at the look out; also has great guided walking safaris
  • the spectacular Rift Valley north of Mto wa Mbu (Mosquito Creek) to Lake Natron with the volcano Oldonyo Lengai (amongst others)
  • a trek up Kili - if you do that then give yourself a good 5 to 7 days for the best chance of success (and photos);
  • the landscapes around Lake Eyasi (between Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara) may also be worth a day or so with cultural stops to visit the Hadza people.

I could go on an on... if you have any questions, drop me a message or email. Tanzania has the wildlife, the landscapes and wonderful people that could any photographer busy for years!
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Terry McDonald
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Shalimar Beekman
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2015, 10:46:02 PM »
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Great info. I'm heading to Tanzania the first week in July. Any suggestions on what lenses to take with me? Any other equipment you'd recommend?
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luxborealis
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2015, 11:35:51 PM »
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Great info. I'm heading to Tanzania the first week in July. Any suggestions on what lenses to take with me? Any other equipment you'd recommend?

It all depends on how serious you are and how much money you have to spend. You would do well to have a 400mm or a 300+1.4xTC, unless of course you can afford a 600mm. Big game you will get with 300-400mm, small birds and small game with the 600. An 80-400 zoom will do you well. They are relatively sharp, but not as sharp as prime. So, it depends on your end purpose for the photographs.

At the same time, you can expect elephants, giraffe and Cape Buffalo to be very close - even lions. We had one lion walk up to our truck and plop down in the shade. My wife was driving - she could have opened her door and given the lioness a nice scratch behind the ears! Of course that meant we were stuck there a while as her tail was wrapped around the base of the rear tire. We followed another lioness loping along the road for a couple of km. Another time we parked within spitting distance of a cheetah on a termite mound right beside the road. Each time we were "technically" too close, but when the wildlife comes to you, there isn't a lot of choice!

Serendipity is a wonderful thing. Be prepared for anything and everything. Maybe nothing will come of it, then you round the next corner and bingo, impalas or baboons or... Whatever... are right there and you could photograph them with an iPhone and get great shots.

Can't stress enough the advantage of pre-breakfast and evening game drives. Do both and sleep during the heat of the day (just like the wildlife) or head over to the hippo pool. There's nothing more satisfying than sitting on the roof of your truck with a thermos of tea eating a chapati watching an African morning unfold!

BTW - depending on where you are, it can be cold first thing in the morning. We've had 10C mornings with drizzle in Arusha National Park in July. Even on the Serengeti or on Ngorongoro Crater Rim, it can be quite cold zipping along in an open truck at dawn.

Enjoy your trip!
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Terry McDonald
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Shalimar Beekman
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2015, 06:27:16 PM »
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Thanks so much luxborealis!

This is very helpful - I'll probably end up renting either the 300mm or the 400mm. I'm a portrait photographer so I wouldn't really have a need (or the budget!!) to purchase either of these lenses. But, I want to be able to take some good, sharp photos of what we will be experiencing. Which based on your previous posts will be AMAZING!!

The photos will be for personal use - this is a family photo trip with my husband and children and in-laws.

Thanks again!
« Last Edit: April 01, 2015, 05:02:02 PM by Shalimar Beekman » Logged

Tony Jay
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2015, 10:48:08 PM »
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You have not mentioned what body you are using but if it is a Canon think about the 200-400mm with built in X2TC - a great option as a wildlife/bird photography lens.

Tony Jay

Apologies - this lens has only a 1.4 TC!
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 05:53:07 AM by Tony Jay » Logged
luxborealis
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2015, 12:12:19 AM »
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Thanks so much luxborealis!

This is very helpful - I'll probably end up renting either the 300mm or the 400mm. I'm a portrait photographer so I wouldn't really have a need (or the budget!!) to purchase either of these lenses. But, I want to be able to take some good, sharp photos of what we will be experiencing. Which based on your previous posts will be AMAZING!!

The photos will be for personal use - this is a family trip with my husband and children and in-laws.

Thanks again!

If you're a portrait photographer, go for the longer lens to allow "head & shoulders" shots of wildlife striking that classic pose. You'd be surprised at the character in each of their faces!
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Terry McDonald
Revealing the art inherent in nature
- visit luxBorealis.com.
Have a read of my PhotoBlog and subscribe!
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