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Self-drive trip questions for N. TZ

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Nov 22nd, 2013, 10:41 PM
  #1
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Self-drive trip questions for N. TZ

Hello, I am new to this forum and new to Africa. Did Nam/Bots trip in 2012 and just got back from Kruger and now we are definitely hooked on finding animals in their environment, but driving on our own. Love the independence, freedom, and sense of real adventure this kind of trip affords us.
So now I am planning a self-drive safari through the parks of N. TZ mostly camping and self-catering, but staying also in budget lodges every few days. We will have a 4x4 Hilux with a roof tent and are looking to travel in August, together with my sister and her husband and two GPS systems. Getting to and around Arusha NP, Tarangire, and Lake Manyara seems easy and pretty straight-forward. There is food and fuel on the way and camping is either at public campgrounds or more expensive special campsites.
It seems, however, that self-driving in the vastness of the Serengeti has its own problems. We are looking at spending 8 consecutive days camping there, and I don't see any budget lodges in the park, unless someone considers $750 per person per night budget.

Here are some of my questions that I hope some of you experts will be able to answer.

1. Is it possible to leave the park at either the Ikuma gate or the western Corridor gate, sleep outside the park, restock and refuel then enter the park again? Is there even gas and food available outside these gates?

2. How will this affect the entrance fees?

3. Having 8 nights in the Serengeti, what area should we spend the most time in, considering we want to see most animals, but fewest crowds . Don't even know if that place exists!

4. Has anyone driven from Lobo area to Mara River and is it worth it to , maybe, hopefully, see the tail end (literally) of the migration)

I appreciate anyone's input and suggestions. Thanks.
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Nov 23rd, 2013, 08:42 AM
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1. Is it possible to leave the park at either the Ikuma gate or the western Corridor gate, sleep outside the park, restock and refuel then enter the park again? Is there even gas and food available outside these gates?

We have not used Ikama gate, but I doubt very much that there is fuel or shopping available there. The closest shopping at the Ndabaka Gate would be in Bunda, which is 25km to the north of the gate along a good road. We have purchased fuel there but not groceries. We buy all non-perishables and most perishables in Arusha before heading out and then shop at local markets for fruit and vegetables. There is a market in Bunda. There is a lodge (Serengeti Stop-Over ) just outside the gate, but I am not certain that they offer camping.

http://www.serengetistopover.com/facility.htm

It may not be practical to camp outside the park and drive in every morning. The road through the Western Corridor is appalling, and it took us 5.5 hours to drive from Seronera to Ndabaka - a distance of just 143km.

2. How will this affect the entrance fees?
Entrance fees are for 24 hours and, in that period, you can come and go as many times as you like.

Having 8 nights in the Serengeti, what area should we spend the most time in, considering we want to see most animals, but fewest crowds . Don't even know if that place exists!

The Seronera area will have the most animals, but it will also be the most crowded. We like to camp at Moru Kopjes (about 40km south of Seronera) - away from the crowds but still many animals. With 8 nights, I might be tempted to spend a couple of nights in the Lobo area. We saw a lot of animals there, but the drive north was a wee bit of a trial - very rough road and through tsetse country.

4. Has anyone driven from Lobo area to Mara River and is it worth it to , maybe, hopefully, see the tail end (literally) of the migration)

We debated this (driving north from Lobo) for our upcoming trip in August 2014, but had to shorten the trip - we simply ran out of time. We are crossing the border and driving into Kenya at Isebania so, given that we will see the migration in the Mara, we eliminated the Northern Serengeti. I would have loved to camp up there. There are no campsites near the river, but you can get within easy driving distance by camping at Bologonia.

In case you haven't seen my trip report from our 2009 self-drive through Tanzania and Kenya, you may view it and many photos at the link below. I have not yet completed the report from 2012, but the two trips were very similar. CR

http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Trav...9504315_zcbkVx
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Nov 23rd, 2013, 12:07 PM
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Bert-and-bin, candadianrobin, I was hoping you would reply as you have become a house-hold name here. I keep quoting you when I talk to husband about trip. Loved your report and the wonderful pics as well. You are so detailed and thorough and aim sure you have helped a lot of fellow travellers. I basically want to do the same trip, but without Kenya, since my provider's car can not do border crossings. Also the company you are using is too pricey for us since we take a lot of trips and travel half of every year, now.
Is Bolongonia a special campsite?

Thanks for the food advice, it may make it easier that way than drive all that distance and not find any groceries.
I think you wrote in your report that there is expensive gas at Seronera?

Have you ever traveled in June around there? Would love to catch some greenery.

Thanks so much for all your great tips and generosity of sharing what you have learned. I am sure I will have lots more questions.
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Nov 23rd, 2013, 01:52 PM
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CaliNA - Glad to see you found Robin for info as I suggested to you on your TA thread.
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Nov 24th, 2013, 07:25 AM
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Guess I'd better head over to TA!

KaliCA
I am so happy to learn that my report has been helpful. Back in 2008, when we made our first self-drive in Botswana, I found an incredibly detailed trip report that was so helpful. I vowed then and there to return the favour for my fellow travelers.

Safari Drive is expensive, but they are exactly what my DH and I need. We like to travel on our own, so it is very reassuring to have them as back-up if things go wrong - which, luckily, they rarely do.

At Bolognia,there are two special campsites. As far as I know, the closest public campsite to the river in the north is at Lobo, although there may also be one at Klein's Gate.

In 2012, our average cost for diesel was Tsh2190.6/litre – the range was from Tsh2118/l (Mto-wa-Mbu) to Tsh2319/l (Seronera). We also bought diesel on the crater rim, in Arusha and Bunda. All diesel must still be paid in case.

We have never traveled in the green season (our jobs dictate that we must travel in August), but I would love to at some point - maybe when we retire.

Feel free to ask as many questions as you like. Robin
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