Saturday, 25 August 2012

Serengeti NP, Tanzania - Getting there

Maasai walking in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

We hadn’t been to the Serengeti in almost a year, and were itching to get out into the bush on our own.  The last time we’d done a long trip as self-drivers it had been when we’d driven to Tanzania from Botswana.  Since then, Kruger – our Mitsubishi Pajero – had been sold, and after a year of searching, we’d finally got ourselves an old (1996!) Toyota Landcruiser and transferred our rooftop tent onto it. 

After servicing and a test trip to Mikumi NP, Kilimanjaro our car – or Kili as we call it – was finally ready for a trip to the Serengeti. 

A fair amount of planning needed to go into the trip.  Although you don’t need to book in advance for camping, the Tanzanian Parks Authority (TANAPA) have made things a bit complicated by not allowing you to pay cash for the park and camping – you need to use pre-paid cards where you have deposit the fees into a specific bank.  That works fine in Arusha (the gateway town to Serengeti) where everyone knows the system, but in Dar es Salaam, nobody knows about this – not even the designated bank! 

Luckily, we contacted Ngomi and Selma – the tour operators we use when not self-driving, and they graciously helped us out in sorting out the TANAPA card and a different card for the Ngorongoro Crater, which we didn’t even know about until the last moment...  (Thanks Ngomi and Selma - Without it we would have been sitting in Arusha for 2 days frustrated and unable to get to the Serengeti!)

Vervet monkey

The drive from Dar to the Serengeti gate takes us about a day and a half, so it was up and leaving by sunrise on Friday to try and avoid the heavy traffic in Dar.  Still, it took us 3 hours to do the 110kms to Chalinze, before we turned north to Arusha.  Road works along the highway cost us more time, and we finally got to Arusha by sunset.  How the guys do the 600km from Dar to Arusha and get there by lunchtime is beyond us – it took us almost 12 hours! 
We did stop near Moshi to meet up with Ngomi and Selma to get us the paperwork and cards before heading to Arusha for the overnight rest before tackling the trek to Serengeti.  Kili had managed to get us there without any problems on our first long haul trip, but 2 of our jerry cans hadn’t survived as well as that, and we spent some of the time at our accommodation in Arusha washing diesel off the back of Kili ;)

Day 1 >>

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