Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Johannesburg
    Age
    57
    Posts
    169
    Thanked: 223

    Default Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    Hi all,

    Please can you help me see the wood for the trees. There is just so much info on this forum and elsewhere so that after months of reading and research I’ve reached analysis paralysis. Really need some fresh eyes on this.

    Have done a lot of prep on the details / minutia but missing the big picture and the order in which to do this.

    Some context / parameters: we have streamlined our business in such a way (hopefully) that we can travel for extended periods, but still earning an income for all those park fees. Am hoping we can make it work without compromising the freedom of travel. Let’s see. Clients have been surprisingly open and this certainly would never have been an option pre Covid.

    The plan is to leave Johannesburg on 23 Jan 2023 (yes in 3 weeks time), tour for approx. 3 and a half months, store our vehicle in Uganda(*) mid May, fly back to SA for 2 months (work) before flying out again Mid July. Tour again for approx. 2 months before making our way back down (to reach SA late Sept) to wrap up projects here.

    The reason for wanting to store in Uganda despite there being good options elsewhere is twofold:

    1. Return flights to SA are significantly cheaper than out of Kenya or TZ
    2. My insurer has been picky about wanting to know exactly where / how vehicle is stored, wanting written confirmation, need to trickle charge so tracker stays on, security etc. etc. and The Haven in Jinja have been very responsive setting all this out. Insurance company have finally agreed to cover us and I don’t want to jump through those hoops again if I can avoid it.


    So two blocks:

    • Late Jan to mid May
    • Mid July to mid Sept


    Want to slow down the pace of travel
    compared to how we do shorter trips and some of the above touring time will need to be dedicated to work, but in concentrated bursts rather than being ‘always on’. We may well take accommodation for these periods (have already spotted some suburban garden cottage options in Nairobi on Airbnb that may work).

    Our focus for 2023 is East Africa
    , so Tanzania (we have been briefly once before), Uganda & Rwanda, (1st time for both), and Kenya (to all intents and purposes my first time bar a guided tour in a UniMog to Tsavos, Samburu and Turkana when I was in mu early 20’s, which doesn’t really count).

    Possibly Burundi for a look see.

    Focus mainly national parks / wilderness but we like cities and the coast too. We like birding (but keen amateurs rather than serious twitchers). We are not keen hikers or climbers but the odd day walk would be good.

    My initial plan was to push through as quickly as possible up through Western TZ into Rwanda before the rains set in, but too rushed and felt like going from one rainy season slap into another. So thinking Rwanda and Uganda (or at the least the bulk of travel there) best left to the second block

    The latest rough plan (there have been many many versions) at the moment:

    • Jan week of 23rd (JHB – ZIM – Matopos – Hwange)
    • Feb week 1: Into Zambia, Livingstone, south & central Kafue in brief (sure, limited to largely to spinal road, but want to get more bush in early)
    • Feb week 2: quick diversion to Copperbelt (nostalgia visit), select northern waterfalls
    • Feb week 3: Into TZ @ Kaseya border, Lake Shore Lodge
    • Feb Week 4: Katavi
    • March Week 1: Double back, Mbeya, Kitulo NP (flowers), Ruaha dovetailed by Kisolanza
    • March Week 2: Follow Caldriver’s route to the coast (Songea, Lindi, Kilwa (ruins)
    • March Week 3: up the coast – one or more of Dar Es Salaam/ Bogamayo, Pangani / Tanga
    • March Week 4 into Kenya, Amboseli & Surrounds
    • April Week 1: East and West Tsavo
    • April Week …..


    OR just move faster…I guess the big question is how best to make use of March and April / early may?

    I don’t mind getting wet provided it clears up from time to time and rain not incessant. Given the ongoing drought in Kenya presume this is highly unlikely so tending to Amboseli / Tsavos / Samburu over this period.

    Although I do have some concerns about visiting some of these parks given the ongoing drought. Some of the media footage has been horrific and to see wildlife in such poor condition and under such stress (never mind livestock, communities etc). All need our support but how distressing will this be? It is difficult to gauge situation on the ground. Media footage on one hand, and then travellers'' Instagram posts where in fact looks like greened up from recent rain in Nov/ Dec (although my understanding is that these have still been WAY below normal) – and even in these Insta shots the elephant look very gaunt.

    Getting wet is one thing. Getting stuck in the mud is another. Am looking for guidance as to which routes and parks are more all-weather (i.e. more sandy / rocky / better roads) in the wet vs. avoid at all costs if had a lot (or even some) rain (black cotton, sticky clay etc).

    Also which are better left till July and following from a temperature point of view (less hot). E.g. Turkana

    The areas / sights we want to take in (by country) as follows (in no particular order)

    Kenya (KWS fees now tiered so can take advantage of low season rates if that works. Low season = March to June)

    • Mombasa
    • East and West Tsavo
    • (Really want to see a big tusker)
    • Amboseli
    • Flamingoes (Naivasha?)
    • Nairobi (as work base maybe but also for a bit of urban life)
    • Samburu (and Big North – relying heavily on WW’s report of dodging Omicron here)
    • Aberdares / area around Mt Kenya
    • Maasai Mara (would like to visit twice – once in March / April if poss) and then again later in stage 2 when the wildebeest migration is there. Not chasing crossings but would love to see the herds)
    • Marsabit / Chalbi Desert / Lake Turkana (security concerns allowing, following Caldriver’s routing but probably not as far north as Sibiloi)
    • Kakamega


    Tanzania

    • Coast generally – in the plan for March – too hot and humid?
    • Lake Natron area (never been) (possibly from West through Serengeti)
    • Lake Manyara and Tarangire (we visited both before – Dec / Jan – so leave for stage 2 so can see at different part of year)
    • Ruaha revisit (currently in the plan on the way up)
    • Udzungwa?
    • Nyerere NP (def not in the wet I gather), so maybe on way down


    Rwanda – I think settled on leaving for stage 2?


    • Lake Kivu
    • Kigali (urban life + genocide museums)
    • Volcanoes NP
    • (About a week / 10 days - Probably accommodated rather than carpark camping)


    Uganda – leave all for stage 2 or some in April / May?


    • Jinja – store vehicle mid-may
    • Kidepo – assuming drier and more all weather as so far north but am I wrong? Do-able April / May?
    • Queen Elizabeth NP
    • Murchison Falls
    • Semulike
    • Bwindi – jury is out on gorillas, but understand that if happens then def stage 2
    • Rwenzori
    • Fort Portal / crater lakes


    Sorry this is a long and rambling post but useful (for me at least) to get my thoughts down. Rainy season not ideal but these are the cards we hold. And they are v exciting.
    So how to make the best of it …
    Thanks in advance
    Dana

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    UK
    Age
    66
    Posts
    2,451
    Thanked: 2256

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    This is a “holding” post. I will reply in detail in a few days time.

  3. The Following User Says Thank You to Wazungu Wawili For This Useful Post:


  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    UK
    Age
    66
    Posts
    2,451
    Thanked: 2256

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    Meanwhile here is some more reading for you. Although these were some years ago, many things don’t change.

    Uganda 2014
    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-February-2014

    Rwanda 2014 https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-February-2014

    Uganda 2016
    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...t-January-2016

  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Wazungu Wawili For This Useful Post:


  6. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    UK
    Age
    66
    Posts
    2,451
    Thanked: 2256

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    Karibuni East Africa, Webster!

    A wonderful trip you are planning, but I am concerned about the timings. Travelling in the long rains would not be comfortable or easy with many minor roads in parks and reserves inaccessible. The “long rains” are a monsoon and it can rain very heavily all day: I have known 8 inches of rain in 8 hours. The other thing about being in East Africa during the rains is that the great mountains would not be visible for many days or weeks: such a shame to miss those great vistas that East Africa has in abundance. Furthermore, the savannah grassland of the great parks of East Africa is the infamous black cotton soil.

    Having said that, people do still go on safari during the long rains, but it is the off-season and many lodges and camps shut down and the staff go on leave.

    My advice to you is to get north as quick as possible in January/early February. Just batter on up the main roads through the southern African rains to reach northern Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda to enjoy the dry season of February and early March. The long rains are generally from mid to late March in Kenya.

    The current drought is mostly in northern Kenya and the Horn of Africa although Tsavo and Amboseli are still in drought conditions although there has been some rain recently.


    My advice is:

    • Go north as quickly as possible.
    • Do the Zimbabwe, Zambia and southern Tanzania things on the way back south from mid July to September.
    • Do the Northern Tanzania - Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Serengeti etc. - in mid February
    • Kenya - from say, second last week of February (doing the Tsavos, Amboseli, coast first before the rains start).
    • Kenya - northern areas probably okay when the rains have broken, but do not do the Chalbi desert route if there has been any rain.
    • Then Uganda.


    Second tranche:
    • Uganda.
    • Rwanda.
    • Burundi is, I think, still off limits and I don’t know if the borders have reopened.
    • Then western Tanzania and Lake Tanganyika.
    • Southern Tanzania (although the flowers won’t be in bloom at Kitulo)
    • Zambia.


    I am struggling to see how you can do Nyerere NP (the Selous) with your timings and avoiding the rains. It has serious black cotton soil and to be avoided during the rains. If you did it on your way north, you will be losing time to see Kenya and northern Tanzania before the onset of the rains. On your way south, it would be a big trek across the country from Rwanda/western Tanzania. Perhaps leave Nyerere NP for another visit?

    Let me know if I can help further.

    Safari njema!
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2023/01/02 at 05:47 PM.

  7. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Wazungu Wawili For This Useful Post:


  8. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    UK
    Age
    66
    Posts
    2,451
    Thanked: 2256

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	B96815A2-A889-4483-B1B9-F94C93811653.jpg 
Views:	61 
Size:	76.2 KB 
ID:	675914

    This might be helpful for you.

  9. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Wazungu Wawili For This Useful Post:


  10. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Johannesburg
    Age
    57
    Posts
    169
    Thanked: 223

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    Greetings WW from a very soggy Johannesburg - happy New Year and all the best for 2023.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to look at this for us - the spreadsheet is especially useful esp. showing the Johannesburg rainfall figures as comparison for better context.

    Ja, I did think there was going to be a need for a revisit...had wanted to avoid pushing hard up the tar (and doing Tunduma again) but I see your point, so will look at it again, maybe moving "straight" on to Kenya (which is exciting virgin territory) ahead of northern TZ circuit (as we have been before), but still fitting in Kitulo for the flowers on the way up (and possibly Ruaha).

    We will have to play it by ear in terms of what the rains look like ...and keep things as flexible as poss (also given uncertainty as to how this work / travel hybrid story will pan out).

    Am sure will have lots more questions esp on Kenya - will post in the country specific forum. Just one quick question, of Amboseli / Tsavo East / Tsavo West, and the Mara (specifically the Triangle) which if any are easier going in the wet....or are they much or a muchness?


    So back to the planning tetris....

    Thanks again - helps us to see the bigger picture
    Dana

  11. The Following User Says Thank You to Webster For This Useful Post:


  12. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    UK
    Age
    66
    Posts
    2,451
    Thanked: 2256

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Webster View Post
    Greetings WW from a very soggy Johannesburg - happy New Year and all the best for 2023.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to look at this for us - the spreadsheet is especially useful esp. showing the Johannesburg rainfall figures as comparison for better context.

    Ja, I did think there was going to be a need for a revisit...had wanted to avoid pushing hard up the tar (and doing Tunduma again) but I see your point, so will look at it again, maybe moving "straight" on to Kenya (which is exciting virgin territory) ahead of northern TZ circuit (as we have been before), but still fitting in Kitulo for the flowers on the way up (and possibly Ruaha).

    We will have to play it by ear in terms of what the rains look like ...and keep things as flexible as poss (also given uncertainty as to how this work / travel hybrid story will pan out).

    Am sure will have lots more questions esp on Kenya - will post in the country specific forum. Just one quick question, of Amboseli / Tsavo East / Tsavo West, and the Mara (specifically the Triangle) which if any are easier going in the wet....or are they much or a muchness?


    So back to the planning tetris....

    Thanks again - helps us to see the bigger picture
    Dana
    Karibu!

    I think there is no avoiding Tunduma (which is not too bad really) if you want to head north as quick as possible. And then, yes, you can go to Kitulo to see the flowers, a short visit to Ruaha - all as part of the trip north. So, through Zambia (in their rains), up the Great North Road, Tunduma, Mbeya, side trips to Kitulo Plateau and Ruaha NP, Kisolanza near Iringa, Dodoma, Arusha, Namanga/Oloitokitok border crossing to Kenya.

    All the national parks in Kenya have all-weather murram main roads, it’s the side roads that aren’t. So, Amboseli and the two Tsavos are National Parks. The Maasai Mara Game Reserve does have some all-weather murram roads - these are better maintained on the Mara Triangle side. The smaller tracks and roads are not all-weather and will likely to be closed during the rains. But getting into the private or public campsites in the Mara Triangle might be a challenge if the rains are particularly heavy - they are small tracks through the bush to the campsites. We have had some interesting slides/wallows getting to our favourite private campsite in the Mara Triangle even in the dry season if there has been a thunderstorm!

    The other thing to bear in mind is the fact that the animals are dispersed during the rains and thick grass does impede game spotting.

    Keep me posted on your new plan!
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2023/01/02 at 08:05 PM.

  13. The Following User Says Thank You to Wazungu Wawili For This Useful Post:


  14. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    UK
    Age
    66
    Posts
    2,451
    Thanked: 2256

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    We will be in Kenya 17th January to 16th February on the “roads less travelled”.

    PS: I know of Kenyan friends of friends who are travelling south to Cape Town setting off from Nairobi in the next few days - heading south into the southern African rains…
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2023/01/04 at 02:12 AM.

  15. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Johannesburg
    Age
    57
    Posts
    169
    Thanked: 223

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    [QUOTE=Wazungu Wawili;4990476]We will be in Kenya 17th January to 16th February on the “roads less travelled”. QUOTE]

    Enjoy! Where are you headed? Will follow with interest.

    Have re-worked our trip North. Set to enter Kenya around 17 Feb. Busy plotting Kenya bit now...

  16. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    UK
    Age
    66
    Posts
    2,451
    Thanked: 2256

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    [QUOTE=Webster;4991483]
    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    We will be in Kenya 17th January to 16th February on the “roads less travelled”. QUOTE]

    Enjoy! Where are you headed? Will follow with interest.

    Have re-worked our trip North. Set to enter Kenya around 17 Feb. Busy plotting Kenya bit now...
    Going to see my family. But will also go off on safari. Haven’t decided where yet. We are fortunate to have been to almost everywhere in Kenya.

  17. The Following User Says Thank You to Wazungu Wawili For This Useful Post:


  18. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Bogotá
    Posts
    453
    Thanked: 311

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Webster View Post
    ...

    The areas / sights we want to take in (by country) as follows (in no particular order)
    Lots of great advice from WW to which I can add nothing of value.

    To give you some thoughts on possible destinations you might like to have a look at http://unochoenafrica.blogspot.com which covers our longest wander through East and Southern Africa, during which we sought to optimise timing for the climate, and largely succeeded.

  19. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to alannymarce For This Useful Post:


  20. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Johannesburg
    Age
    57
    Posts
    169
    Thanked: 223

    Default Re: Making the most of East Africa in the rainy (hopefully) season and / or drought.

    Thanks Alan - for the link to your blog but also your input in many of the recent planning threads. My research file has many ''Alan's notes" but I have never looked at your blog in its entirety which am doing now - what a great trip!

    For now we are heading to Kenya fairly quickly, ''doing" SE Kenya and coast followed by north. If rainy season travel gets us down too much we may return south to Zambia for April / Early May and drive home rather than store in Uganda. And drive back up to East Africa late July. Lots of driving (but we like that!).

    Unfortunately we don't have complete planning freedom given work etc.

    Thanks again
    Dana

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may post new threads
  • You may post replies
  • You may post attachments
  • You may edit your posts
  •