Self-drive safari in Kenya / Tanzania

Jul 2nd, 2010, 06:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 6
Thanks Robin. I was all over your trip report before I posted that. Very good detail.

We have far less time, at most two weeks. We will likely combine self drive with a tented camp. Actually, one run by Alex Walker (Serian) in the north of the Serengeti.

One of our questions was how difficult it was to spot game in the serengeti - your trip report makes it seem like game was everywhere. Also, wondering which areas had the fewest other cars.

thanks gain!
dbeach82 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2010, 09:14 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,085
Hi dbeach82!
Glad you found the report helpful.

We didn't find either the Mara or the Serengeti that crowded. There was enough game that we could afford to avoid other vehicles. Certainly in the Mara, the bush telegraph was annoying - as soon as one vehicle from Mara Serena (Lodge) showed up at a sighting, we knew that the rest of their vehicles would arrive shortly thereafter. They have banned radios in vehicles to try to prevent crowds at kills, but the guides simply use their cell phones - so the problem continues. We would simply leave and head elsewhere. That is a huge advantage of self-driving. Also, because the special campsites are isolated and well placed (Maji ya Ndege was great, but try to get Ndovu, which has an even better view of the river), we would have at least an hour in the morning before any of the lodge vehicles arrived - this proved to be a big advantage, especially in the Mara, where twice we came across lions on a kill at dawn.

In terms of where the game was last August - there was very little in the Western Corridor (the migration had already gone through). We had our best sightings in the north (we camped at Lobo) and Seronera (in the river valley). The southern Serengeti Plains, as you would expect at that time of year, were empty.

Sorry - just re-read your post and discovered you asked where there were fewest cars, not the most game. I think the most vehicles were in the Mara Triangle, but our campsite was so well placed (beside the river) that we were on our own usually for the first couple of hours (we would start as soon as the "gates" opened) and then would choose to avoid other vehicles. Seronera was also quite busy but again, it is a big area so you can avoid lodge vehicles. The north (around Lobo) was the least busy and we had some of our best sightings there, especially once we discovered the Ngare Naironya Loop.

From our experience, although it was admittedly brief, I don't think you could go wrong with any camp run by Alex Walker. Serian was fantastic - very professionally run.

We found combining self-driving with tented camps worked very well. The tented camps provided an opportunity to do laundry, let someone else do the cooking (and the camps' meals were admittedly superior ), have a hot shower and a night in a more comfy bed.

When choosing your tented camps, I would highly recommend you stay at a tented camp if you are going to Ngorongoro. We would have frozen in the roof-top tent if we had camped on the rim of the crater. It was blessed cold at night! At dinner, we wore fleeces and hats. We concluded that the decision to stay at Lemala (with the heaters in the tents) was one of our best decisions of the trip. Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
Jul 4th, 2010, 12:55 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 6
Thank you so much. Fantastic advice.

Yes, we will stay at Lemala by the Crater. We're thinking of booking their "drive in" rate and just hiring a guide at the park entrance.
dbeach82 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2010, 07:43 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,085
We had the drive-in rate at Lemala, which helped somewhat with the cost. Despite everything you read, we were told by both Lemala and the rangers that we did not need a guide - we drove ourselves around the crater. One of the best aspects of Lemala is the camp is inside the park gates (no one had told us this, so we had a bit of difficulty finding the camp - go through Lemala Gate, as if you are going into the crater, to find the camp - tell the rangers you are staying at Lemala and they'll let you in) so, when we first arrived at the gate late afternoon (from Olduvai), they gave us our permit for the next day then. In the morning, we simply got into the Land Rover at Lemala and carried on down the road straight into the crater - we didn't have to go to the gate. No delay at the gate! We were first into the crater in the morning, and didn't see another vehicle for more than an hour - we had the crater (and the pride of lions that we found almost immediately at the river) to ourselves - a real privilege. Ask Lemala to pack both breakfast and lunch for you. Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
Jul 5th, 2010, 06:34 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,085
I should have given you better details about the location of Lemala Camp. It is through the Lemala Gate and then (the road to the camps is) almost immediately on the right. The camp is set up on the Acacia special campsite, (which is marked on the maps), not the Lemala special campsite (also on the maps), which is a tad confusing. So, tell the rangers that you are going to Lemala Camp, which is set up on the Acacia special campsite. Robin
canadian_robin is offline  

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