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Self-drive Northern Circuit Tanzania, August 2013

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Hi all,

We have finalized our itinerary for a month long self-drive in Northern Tanzania. If any of you have additional advise or info for us it would be much appreciated. We have had great help from the staff at Fortess in Arusha. Any suggestions as to how many Tanzanian Shillings we should get for provisions, gas? Any suggestions on gas stations and repair centres, especially in the Serengeti. The LandCruiser has two gas tanks with a range of approximately 800 Km. Any suggestions for GPS coordinates of the campsites?

Northern Circuit – start and return Arusha – August 2013
Aug 5: Arrival KIA at 19:35 (7:35 pm)
Transfer to Arusha by Fortes.
Overnight at Le Jacaranda BB (booked
Aug 6: Arusha
rent 4x4 from Fortes (Land Cruiser 4 door with pop-up roof) – electric fridge? – 2 spares? – extra fuel jerry cans? – water tank?
– get payment cards for parks + change money
– provisions
Over Night (ON): Lodge/Hotel; Le Sacaranda(has been booked)

Aug 7:
leave for Tarangire NP
Overnight at: 1. Mbweha Special Campsite

Aug 8:
Tarangire NP
Overnight at: same as Aug 7

Aug 9
Tarangire NP
Overnight at: same as Aug 7

Aug 10
Tarangire NP
Overnight at: same as Aug 7

Aug 11
Tarangire NP
Overnight at: same as Aug 7

Aug 12
Leave Tarangire in the morning, drive to Lk Manyara NP
Overnight at: Bagayo Special Campsite

Lk Manyara NP
Overnight at: Bagayo Special Campsite

Aug 14
Leave Lk Manyara in the morning, drive to Ngorogoro Crater
- visit Karatu
- organize a guided walk?
- provisions/gas
Overnight at: Simba Public Campsite

Aug 15
Ngorogoro Crater
- enter from east gate?
Overnight at: Simba Public Campsite

Aug 16
Olduvai, drive to Seronera
- make sure we have gas/water/supplies
Overnight at: Ngare Nanyunki

Aug 17
Seronera area
Overnight at: same as Aug 16

Aug 18
Seronera area
Overnight at: same as Aug 16

Aug 19
Leave the Seronera area and drive to Lobo region.
. Lobo Hill Special campsite
Aug 20
Lobo region
Overnight at: same as Aug 19

Aug 21
Lobo region
Overnight at: same as Aug 19

Aug 22
Lobo region
Overnight at: same as Aug 19

Aug 23
Lobo region
Overnight at: same as Aug 19

Aug 24
Lobo region
Overnight at: same as Aug 19

Aug 25
Drive north to the Bologonja/Lamai Wedge.
Overnight at: Flycatcher Camp

Aug 26
Game drive with guide from Flycatcher
Overnight at: Flycatcher Camp

Aug 27
Game drive with guide from Flycatcher
Overnight at: Flycatcher Camp

Aug 28
Game drive with guide from Flycatcher
Leave park at Klein’s gate and see if we can camp just outside the gate. Next day we would re-enter the park for a game drive in the north.

Aug 29
Self drive game drive in the north. Exit the park in the evening.
Overnight at: Flycatchers
Aug 30
Leave Serengeti from Klein’s gate? drive to Lake Natron
Overnight at: Lake Natron Camp (Public Campsite)

Aug 31
Lake Natron
Overnight at: Lake Natron Camp (Public Campsite)

Sept 1
Drive to Arusha
Overnight at: Le Sacaranda Hotel ( not booked yet)

Sept 2
Visit Arusha, maybe short visit to Arusha NP. yes, booked. just swing by. Drop off vehicle at Fortes.
Fly home ☹ (flight leaves Kili at 8:40 pm)



  • Report Abuse

    Hi Jaap! Below, I have cut and pasted some of the information that we sent to Safari Drive (the company we rented our Land Rover from) after our self-drive through Tanzania and Kenya. It will answer some of your questions.

    Trip notes - 2012 Kenya and Tanzania
    Mileage for the trip:

    Total = 2975.1km (2628.8km in Tanzania and Kenya in 346.3km)

    8th & 9th July = 43.8km in Arusha (shopping/banking etc)
    10th July = 150.8km including trip from Arusha to Tarangire
    (Arusha to Tarangire gate = 106km = 1hr45min)
    11th July = 79.2km – in Tarangire
    12th July = 82.2km – in Tarangire
    13th July = 91.7km – in Tarangire
    14th July = 121km - including trip from Tarangire to Lake Manyara
    (Tarangire gate to Lake Manyara gate = 68.5km = 1.25hrs)
    15th July = 80km - in Lake Manyara
    16th July = 124km – including trip from Lake Manyara to Lemala Ngorongoro
    (Lake Manyara gate to Lemala Camp = 82km = 2.25hrs)
    17th July = 104km – in Ngorongoro Crater
    18th July = 85.9km – in Ngorongoro Crater
    19th July = 186km including drive from Lemala Ngorongoro to Arusha
    (Lemala Camp to Arusha 186km – 5 hrs)
    20th July = 8km – we are in Arusha for the day – groceries and cultural centre
    21st July = 222.7km including Coffee Lodge in Arusha to Olduvai Camp
    (Coffee Lodge to Olduvai Camp = 222km = 6.5hrs)
    22nd July = 104.7km including trip from Olduvai Camp to Moru Kopjes
    (105km – forgot to record hours, but it took us 1.5hrs to reach Naabi Hill from Olduvai – as always, the road was very corrugated)
    23rd July = 68km at Moru Kopjes
    24th July = 141.4km including Moru Kopjes to Lobo
    (From Moru 3 to Seronera = 49km and from Seronera to Lobo 3 = 80km; Seronera to Lobo took 4 hours)
    25th July = 78.6km in Lobo
    26th July = 112km in Lobo
    27th July = 166.4km including Lobo to Seronera
    28th July = 90.6km around Moru
    29th July = 199.2km including Moru to Speke Bay
    (From Seronera fuel station to the gate took 5.5hrs due to fires/smoke and poor road)
    30th July = 288.6km including Speke Bay to Serian Camp
    (9 hours, including 1 hour at the border)
    31st July = no mileage 4x4 at Serian Camp
    1st August = 31.8km including Serian Camp to Maji ya Ndege in the Mara Triangle
    (Serian Camp to Oloololo Gate 1.25 hours)
    2nd August = 76.1 in the Mara Triangle
    3rd August = 42.4km in the Mara Triangle
    4th August = 57.4km in the Mara Triangle
    5th August = 90.6 in the Mara Triangle
    6th August = 48km Mara Triangle & then Maji ya Ndege to Serian Camp

    Regarding the various drives:

    I noted in my journal that we found the drives from Seronera to Speke Bay and Seronera to Lobo especially long. This was partly because both trips began with us having to drive north from Moru Kopjes to Seronera. Next time, we might spend a night closer to Seronera before embarking on either of these drives.

    The drive from Speke Bay to Serian Camp was fine except the stretch (C13) between Kihancha and Lolgorien, which was terrible – the road had clearly been a river during the wet season – difficult driving. I don’t know if there is/was an alternative route/detour/deviation – if there was, we didn’t see any signs. We saw no other vehicles other than motorcycles and it was clear from the tracks that only one-wheel vehicles (bicycles and motorcycles) were using the road – other than us!

    The road along the rim to Lemala is insanely busy due to ascent road closure – between the viewpoint and the Sopa Gate, we must have passed 50 vehicles, all going incredibly fast. It rather spoiled what is normally a lovely drive.

    Traffic in Arusha was terrible – it took us 40 minutes to get from Shoprite to the Coffee Lodge at 11:30am – not a problem as long as you have allowed for it.

    From Olduvai Camp to the archway entering the Serengeti is a very poor road - from the archway to Naabi Hill is slightly better.

    Seronera to Lobo – road is terrible – travel 30-35km/hour at times, but average 25km/hr – tsetses are terrible – are not able to stop for lunch – cloud of tsetses around the car.

    Our comment after driving from Lobo to Moru is that it was a long day of driving – too much driving on rough, corrugated roads.

    Mara River crossing and the road up to Mararianta (which had been very difficult on our previous trip) was in great shape - has been completely re-done.

    Section of road just north of Oloololo Gate is bad – there is a “deviation” around the worst of it.



    1st fill: Mto-wa-Mbu 14th July
    Cost of diesel: Tsh2118/litre
    Litres purchased: 67.78 litres
    Fuel consumption: 8.07km/litre

    2nd fill: Arusha 19th July
    Cost of diesel: Tsh2125/litre
    Litres purchased: 67.78 litres
    Fuel consumption: 8.9km/litre

    3rd fill Ngorongoro Crater rim 21st July
    Cost of diesel: 2181/litre
    Litres purchased: 21.7 litres
    Fuel consumption: 8.34km/litre

    4th fill: Seronera 24 July
    Cost of diesel: Tsh2319
    Litres purchased: 32 litres
    Fuel consumption: 8.53km/litre

    5th fill: Seronera 27 July
    Cost of diesel: Tsh2319/litre
    Litres purchased: 44.0 litres
    Fuel consumption: 8.50km/litre

    6th fill: Seronera 29 July
    Cost of diesel: Tsh2319/litre
    Litres purchased: 25.0 litres
    Fuel consumption: 8.56km/litre

    7th fill: Bunda 30 July
    Cost of diesel: Tsh2210/litre
    Litres purchased: 20.7 litres
    Fuel consumption: 8.99km/litre

    Total litres of fuel for the Tanzanian part of the trip: 278.96 litres

    Our estimated cost of fuel was 2300tsh/litre
    Average was actually Tsh2227 – range was from Tsh 2118 (Mto-wa-Mbu) to Tsh2319 (Seronera)

    Total cost of fuel in Tanzania: 278.96 litres x (average) Tsh2227 = ~Tsh621,244

    Fuel consumption ranged from 8.07km/l to 8.99km/l (average 8.56km/litre)

    At the Shoprite, you can pay for your groceries by credit card. We spent roughly Tsh500,000/USD300 for the entire trip except for the perishables for the Kenyan part of the trip, which Serian Camp provided.

    None of the ATMs in Arusha seemed to be working so, to get Tsh, we had to go to the Barclay's Bank near the Shoprite and stand in line for 1.5hrs. Then we had to withdraw US dollars (CDN dollars were not acceptable) using our MasterCard, which we then converted to Tsh at an exchange rate of Tsh1540 = 1USD.

    Hope this helps! Will look up the GPS points for the campsites and post them later today.

    Safari njema! CR

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Robin!

    I was hoping that you would respond to my post. You have been such a help with my planning. Thank you! Very helpful information again today. I had a hard time estimating the fuel and food costs for the trip. Now I know :-)
    I have anther question... Can we spend more then 6 hours in the crater and do we need a guide? I read conflicting reports on this.
    I tried to get GPS coordinates from TANAPA but they did not have them. So thanks for sending them, that should be very helpful as well.
    My wife and I are very excited to go on this trip; only two weeks before we leave. I'll do up a trip report when I get back. I think I have all the details figured out, but if not we will just have to "TIA" it!



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