WHY SELF DRIVE IN SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK TANZANIA
Planning to visit the Serengeti? Still figuring out whether to hire a car with road trip Tanzania for a self-drive safari, or go with one of our driver-guides? Whatever you decide, it’s good to bear in mind that the Serengeti national park is massive, and requires some logistics to be taken care of in advance. Before you travel, make sure you read our extensive practical guide and visit the Serengeti well prepared.
Can I explore the Serengeti on a self-drive safari?
Yes, you certainly can! The Serengeti is probably the most rewarding game park in the world. However, it’s also a park best enjoyed when you’ve prepared well in advance.
We allow self-drive safaris into the Serengeti with road trip Tanzania vehicles, but only with a Land Cruiser. The main road running from Nabi Hill gate to Seronera, the center of action, and from Seronera radiating to the East and West, is notorious among tour guides in Tanzania for its rough driving conditions. It’s a challenging road, with a rocky surface and washboard ribbons. Drive at limited speed (25 km/h), or else you’ll lose control instantly, with a single vehicle rollover as a result – this is NOT covered by the insurance.
Driving times to the Serengeti are as follows:
Loduare Gate (Ngorongoro Conservation Area entrance) to Ngorongoro Crater entrance: 1.5 hours
Ngorongoro Crater entrance to Nabi Hill Gate (Serengeti entrance): 2.5 hours
Nabi Hill Gate to Seronera (public campsites): 1 hour
Seronera to Lobo (public campsites in the North): 2 hours
Arusha – Seronera: 9-10 hours
Best maps of the NCA and Serengeti:
Harms Verlag (IC) Ngorongoro Conservation Area
New Map of Serengeti National Park (pictured below). Guys sell them on the street in Arusha, at the clock tower right in the middle of town.
How much is the park entrance fee for the Serengeti?
Refer to the Tanzania Practical Information section, for an up to date overview of the entrance fees of all Tanzanian Parks.
A ranger to help with wildlife spotting costs $23.60 and can be arranged at the park gate. He joins you in your car but you will drive yourself. This is highly recommended, as the Serengeti is so vast.
If you visit the Serengeti, you will transit through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) when coming from and returning to Arusha. The fee for the NCA is $70.80 per person per 24 hours, plus the vehicle fee. This is payable by all who enter the Conservation Area, even if you are only in transit to and from Serengeti National Park. Be aware that you will end up paying the NCA fee twice – once on your way to the Serengeti, and again on your return to Arusha. The only way to avoid paying the NCA fee twice is by exiting the Serengeti via Klein’s Gate in the northeast of the park, on your way to Lake Natron. Bear in mind that it’s a long and bumpy ride from Klein’s Gate to Lake Natron – a solid 7-8 hour’s drive through a remote area.
How do I arrange the Serengeti permits for my self-drive safari in Tanzania?
The permits for all TANAPA-managed parks are paid at the entrance gate by credit card (Visa or Mastercard). No prior reservations are needed. Cash is NOT accepted; neither are debit cards.
For the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, you will need to obtain an entrance quote first, before going to the gate to actually pay for park entry. The NCA office is based in Arusha and Karatu and open from Monday – Friday. You have to go there in person, it’s not possible to obtain online. This option you can select in the reservation form, when you book a car with us.
Timing your visit to the Serengeti with the annual migration
The Serengeti is famous for its annual wildlife migration: millions of wildebeest and other plains grazers on the move to fresh grass and water, with predators such as lions following in their footsteps. Whether it’s worth planning your safari dates around the migration is a matter of choice. In our experience, the Serengeti offers superb wildlife viewing year-round. With the best will in the world, you can never be sure of coinciding your few days in the Serengeti with the river crossing. Moreover, expect to pay exorbitant prices for the Mobile Camps that congregate near the river crossing, and to see plenty of other safari vehicles. Having said that, watching the frantic herds of the wildebeest migration crossing the Grumeti and the Mara River is truly spectacular, and the highlight of any safari.
December – May: The Southeast
The game movements are at their most predictable between December and April when the wildebeest and zebra congregate in Ndutu area to calf and foal. After the short rains of early November, the herds arrive on the short-grass plains feeding on the fresh, nutritious grasses. They stay here throughout January, February and March, with most wildebeest calves born in a short window of time (around February), and predator concentrations are at their peak.
May – July: Western corridor
Game viewing is pretty good here throughout the year, but peaks from late May to July, when the migration usually passes through. Millions of wildebeest migrate to the North, in a braying column of up to 40 km long! The major obstacle faced by the wildebeest on this migration is the crossing of the crocodile-rich waters of the Grumeti River flowing through the Western corridor. The crossing typically occurs from June to early July and the first herd to cross are generally at greater risks. For this reason, it can take up to weeks from when the first wildebeest arrive at the southern banks of the river, for the actual crossing to begin. Tens of thousands of wildebeest congregate at the riverside. Watching the frantic herds of the wildebeest migration crossing the Grumeti and, later on, the Mara River can be truly spectacular; there are often scenes of great panic and confusion.
July – September: Mara river
Game viewing is excellent here throughout the year, but becomes mind-boggling between August and September when the herd crosses the Mara River, close to the Kenyan border.
September – October: Lobo area
By October, the wildebeest herds are migrating southwards again, back to the Serengeti heading to Lobo area and onwards. In December, it starts all over again…
You will be amazed by the Wildebeest migration on your self-drive safari in the Serengeti National Park
Camping and affordable places to stay in the Serengeti
Going on a safari in the Serengeti is expensive. The most budget option is camping at the public campsites. There’s a cluster of seven campsites close to Seronera Wildlife Lodge and two public campsites in the North, at Lobo area. During the migration, this is a good place to stay. It’s around a two-hour drive from Seronera to Lobo.
TANAPA camping fees are $35 per person/night. You pay for the public campsites at the gate, using credit card only. You don’t need to book public campsites in advance.
The Seronera campsites lack a bit of character and are primarily set up to cater for budget group safari tours. There is a large fenced cooking area, the domain of the bush chefs of the tour operators, and a separate roofed dining area. Of course, you as an independent traveler can use these facilities as well. You will most likely share the campsite with at least 40 other campers travelling with a budget safari company. Luckily, we did not experience this in the other safari parks in Tanzania.
If you stay in a lodge or Mobile Camp, expect to pay the following prices:
Budget: $300 – $400 – Double / B&B
Midrange: $400-600 -Double / B&B
Luxury: $600-800 – Double / B&B
Can you self-drive in Serengeti National Park?
Self-drive in Serengeti National park is very possible. The Serengeti is probably the most rewarding game park on the continent. However, it’s also a park best enjoyed when you’ve prepared well in advance.
The main road running from Nabi Hill gate to Seronera, the center of the action, and from Seronera radiating to the East and West, is notorious among tour guides in Tanzania for its rough driving conditions. It’s a challenging road, with a rocky surface and washboard ribbons. Drivers are advised to drive at least at a limited speed which is 25 km/h, or else you’ll lose control instantly, with a single-vehicle rollover as a result.
From Arusha, the most accessible parts of the Serengeti are its southern plains, comprising of Ndutu and Seronera. The western corridor and Lobo are rewarding to explore, but far out. If you want to explore lesser-visited areas of the Serengeti, you are recommended to rent a safari vehicle along with a driver-guide.
The driving times to Serengeti National Park are as follows;
Loduare gate (Ngorongoro Conservation Area entrance) to Ngorongoro crater entrance takes about 1.5 hours.
Nabi Hill gate to Seronera takes about 1 hour.
Seronera to Lobo takes about 2 hours.
Arusha to Seronera takes between 9 to 10 hours
Perhaps to arrange the Serengeti permits for a self-drive safari in Tanzania, the permits for all the Tanzania National Parks Authority managed parks are paid at the entrance gate by credit card.
Serengeti National Park is part of a cross-border ecosystem including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), the Masai Mara in Kenya, and a number of smaller game reserves.
For the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, you will need to obtain an entrance quote first, before going to the gate to actually pay for park entry. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area office is based in Arusha and Karatu and is open from Monday – Friday. Self-drive Tanzania can arrange the Ngorongoro quote on your behalf.
Most travelers on Tanzania safaris arrange their visit to Serengeti during the annual wildebeest migration periods. The wildebeest migrate in a summarized migration cycle which is being dictated by local rainfall patterns on a fairly predictable pattern. The wildebeest movements are at their most predictable between December and April when the wildebeest and zebra congregate in the Ndutu area to the calf. After the short rains of early November, the herds arrive on the short-grass plains feeding on the fresh, nutritious grasses. From May – July the wildebeest are in the Western corridor and July – September to the Mara River.
It is therefore advisable for travelers on self-drive safaris in Tanzania to prepare and drive in areas where the animals are expected to be based on the time of visit to the park. Travelers will also prefer to camp in an area that is safe and they are able to do this basing on the knowledge of the migration of the animals. Travelers that would like to have a self-drive in Serengeti are recommended to book a tour guide since Serengeti is vast and one can easily get lost. We can help you have your self-drive safari to Tanzania in a less stressful way by booking our well-maintained safari vehicles as well as any other forms of necessary bookings as you would desire to have your trip successful.
6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safaris Tour to Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Serengeti National park
6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safaris tour exposes you to three of the most beautiful wildlife areas in Tanzania opening your eyes to a variety of wildlife animals. These wildlife centers include Lake Manyara national park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the astonishing Serengeti national park.
While at these exquisite locations, you will come across different animals, birds, and landforms such as; The famous big five, the Volcanic crater, and many other breathtaking natural wonders. The 6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safari will definitely be an experience to remember.
Safari in Details of the 6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safaris Tour
Day 1 of the 6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safari: Arrival
On arrival at Julius Nyerere international airport, you will be received by one of our representatives who will ensure your smooth transfer to the hotel of your preference. (ensure to specify prior to your arrival)
Day 2 of the 6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safaris Tour: Lake Manyara national park
Leave Arusha for Lake Manyara national park early in the morning. After lunch, go to an exciting bird-watching experience. Even if you are not a fan of the two-legged fellows, the beautiful bird variety at lake Manyara national park will entice you to become a bird lover.
Birds that you shall see include; the pink flamingoes, Silvery cheeked Hornbill, Narina Trogon, Crowned Hornbill Schalow’s Turaco, and many other birds. In the evening, take a night game drive and get introduced to the night world where you will catch several nocturnal animals such as the Leopard, Lion, and many other animals. Return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Lodges such as; Lake Manyara Kilimamoja lodge, Lulimac Lake Manyara Lodge, Baobab Tented camp as well as many other lodges.
Day 3 of the 6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safaris Tour: Ngorongoro conservation area
After early morning breakfast, embark on your journey to the Ngorongoro conservation area where you will find several animals enjoying the waters within the Crater.
After lunch, take on an evening game drive where you will come across animals like; Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Buffaloes, Zebra, Wildebeests, Rhinos, lions, Cheetahs, Hyenas, and many other animals. Return to your lodge of preference for dinner and overnight. (FB)
Lodges such as Acacia farm lodge, Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge, Ndutu Safari Lodge, and many others.
Day 4 of the 6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safari: Serengeti national park
Wake up early and start your 3-hour journey to the world-famous Serengeti national park. After lunch, take an afternoon game drive throughout the savannah plains where you will see several animals like Buffaloes, Elephants, Hippos, Wildebeests, Giraffes, Zebras, Black rhinos, Lions, Hyenas, Cheetahs, and many other animals. Return for dinner and overnight at your lodge of preference. (FB)
Lodges such as; Singita Mara river tented camp, Grumeti Serengeti tented camp, Ehlane plains Camp, Kaskaz Mara Camp, and many other lodges.
Day 5 of the 6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safaris Tour: Serengeti national park
Watch the sunrise on the endless plains of the savannah as you embark on an early morning game drive in search of the natural wonders that inhabit the park. On this adventure, you will come across several animals.
After lunch, indulge in a nature walk or go on a community visit where you will be exposed to the beautiful culture of the Maasai people. Return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.
Day 6 of the 6 Days Tanzania Wildlife Safari: Departure.
Wake up at ease and take a flight to Arusha and board your flight back home.
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