Adventurous self drive
We love active holidays and like a bit of adventure. When we understood that you could also book a self-drive safari through Explore Tanzania – without a guide and without someone to arrange the food for you – we quickly agreed that we had to do that. Although the latter was still a thing. I never do my shopping at home for a whole week, let alone in Tanzania. To my other half’s solemn promise that he would provide enough food, I agreed, and what a good choice that was!
The first two nights we slept in Moshi at the foot of Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately we were not allowed to see the mighty mountain because of the clouds, but we took a beautiful walk through nature in the vicinity of Moshi.
A day later we got on the mountain bike to cycle towards Arusha. The driver of our broom wagon (read: the guide who picked us up from the airport and took us everywhere for the first few days) and our cycling guide were fantastic. They showed us a lot and taught us a lot. It was very impressive to discover Tanzania on a mountain bike.
After a night in Arusha, the jeep was delivered to us. We decided to test it first and drove to Arusha National Park to ‘practice’ for a day. We were impressed by how many animals we saw right away. Insofar as there was still any doubt that we would not need a guide to spot animals, this doubt was now completely gone.
At a ranger post we got out for a while to take a walk with a ranger. Nice to stretch your legs and highly recommended.
The next day it was really time to ‘officially’ leave for the safari. We did some shopping and then left for Tarangire National Park.
We drove around there for a day and saw elephants for the first time. We slept at a campsite in the north of the park. We had a jeep with a roof tent, so setting it up was a snap and a breeze! Handy, because it gets dark early (around 7 a.m.), so you still have a long time to drive around. Wise lesson for the reader, baking a sandwich for your tent in the morning is not convenient. The monkeys happily feasted on that. Each campsite has its own enclosed area where you can cook, but definitely use it!
From Tarangire National Park we drove straight to the Serengeti. There we slept at a public camp site near Seronera, quite centrally located in the Serengeti. This central point was a very good base for the trips we made the following days. From here we could go in any direction. We saw lions, hyenas, crocodiles, hippos, snakes and even saw a part of migration in the form of hundreds of running wildebeest and zebras. Incredibly impressive!
After a long day of safari in the Serengeti, be sure to drink a well-deserved beer on the roof of the Seronera Wildlife Lodge hotel. The view is fantastic.
After roaming the Serengeti for four days, we drove on to Lake Manyara. There we slept on a fantastic campsite with warm running water, a swimming pool with a view of the lake and even a restaurant and bar. Needless to say, after a week of safari, it was wonderful. Lake Manyara is also highly recommended. We took a walk here with a ranger who explained a lot to us about tracks, droppings, trees and plants. On this last day of safari we were also spoiled with the sight of leopards and lions in Lake Manyara.
With a head full of impressions we drove back to Arusha where our jeep was picked up again. We then flew on to Zanzibar to enjoy the beautiful weather, cycle on the beach, play a round of golf, eat and drink well, but above all, relax at the pool and the sea.
A few more tips if you decide to do a self-drive (and we would definitely recommend it):
- Download the “maps.me” app. This gives you a map offline, on which you can see where you are driving.
- In Arusha there are a few ‘Western’ supermarkets that are very suitable for doing your shopping if you can’t find it on the market or if you don’t feel comfortable walking around there.
- Buy very, very, very much water. Better shy with than shy. A 5 liter bottle of water burst with us. Fortunately, they have a mini ‘visitor center’ in Seronera Serengeti where we could replenish our water supply.
- There are police every few kilometers. If they feel like it, they will pull you off the road and check some papers. Don’t stress, in the worst case you can drive on after paying 10,000 Tanzanian Shilling – although you don’t know exactly why ;).
- There is sand everywhere. Make sure you bring lockable bags or some sort of tarpaulin, so that you can protect certain items from the sand.
- The jeep has also driven through sandy landscape for years. The temperature of the engine therefore rises quite quickly if you have to climb a bit. Take it easy and make sure you have enough water with you to prevent overheating.
- The jeep has two tanks. In between, try to see if both tanks work, instead of first emptying one tank and then finding out that the car does not take the second tank.
If you still have doubts, this will undoubtedly convince you:
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