Two of us (adaptable female independent travellers in 30s) will be travelling in East Africa for 2 months (part of our multi-year travel, a.k.a. no big budget for safari). We have a travel route as guidance and will decide as we go. We'll also visit Kenya but haven't decided if we also want to visit the Masai Mara.
Anyway, one thing we know for sure. We would like to do 3-4 days camping safari trip around Tarangire/Ngorongoro/Serengeti around mid November before we fly out via Dar es Salam at end Nov. We prefer budget camping or tented camping safari style. But we prefer not to lock ourselves into advanced booking.
1. Do the popular tour operators ( eg: Basecamp, RoySafari, etc. per the TO list kindly shared by @noexpert at pinned post ) deal with budget camping customers? Any differential treatment cos I want to spend less? Many backpackers wrote about arranging through hostels or joining next-day departing groups, which might get lumped together in a group by different small operators. The quality is questionable.
2. Is it possible to walk in to the reputable safari companies (from the pinned list) and join a group/private tour starting next day that's open for extra participants? How many people have done this and turned out favorable for them? I read about travelers just joining tours from whatever operators they can find. And some operators are unheard of in TA. I intend to visit the companies well-recommended on TA without wandering around.
3. Last resort...what's the chance of getting these reputable operators to arrange a last minute private safari (next-day departure) for 2pax? Do you have to compromise by staying at lodges further away from next-day's starting point? Do you get any discount for arranging with the big name TZ-based operators in person? I read that many people have booked 6-12 months ahead of time with these guys. I wonder if they deal with walk-in customers...
4. How much do public camping and tented camping (with beds, chairs etc) - both with shared amenities - differ in price, in general? No exact figure is necessary. Is it worth downgrading to public camping for the sake of saving $$? We've camped at crap places before so going basic is not an issue. But I'm just curious if it makes any difference in terms of value.
I can think of the no-brainer answers to all my questions above. But any input directly from those with actual experiences are very very welcomed.
What do we want to see? Big 5/Little 5/Ugly 5. We won't cry if we miss the crossings/migration since we don't have that much time. We will enjoy whatever safari experience we get.
P.S. I've already spent days reading through the TA forum/other blogs/review sites for tips of choosing safari, costs, recommended tour operators etc. Out of so many criteria, I just know I don't want to get ripped off. We don't want to limit ourselves to $150/d and ended up at a full public camping site in the dark and stuck in a crowded minivan all day. Therefore, a fair budget deal for great value will beat cheap deals any time. Yeah, that's bit vague, I know...
Thanks for reading this. I suck at summarizing :pEdited: 20 August 2018, 00:43