Road conditions around Selous, from Kasaki, Morogoro, Saadani, Ushongo up to Arusha

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    the Netherlands
    Thanked: 0

    Default Trip report: Road conditions Selous, Kasaki, Morogoro, Saadani, Ushongo and Arusha


    I just finished a self drive trip in Tanzania with a Defender 110 in August. Beautiful country. I noticed that on the forum there is only limited recent info on road conditions around Selous in particular and Tanzania in general. Looks like self driving in Tanazania is less common than in the more Southern Africa countries. Therefore below my trip report on part of our route.

    Some general remarks
    We used Tracks4Africa both on Gps and the iPhone iGo app. In the South of Tanzania they were both reasonably accurate but in the North the performance was less, especially the app was even suggesting u-turn routes through Kenya. Our feeling is that routes are less travelled compared to the more southern countries. Also different from earlier experience is that the travel times are 25-35% longer than predicted by T4A: we noticed that the IGo was more accurate in time than the Garmin Base camp predictions. Still great value and since in Tanzania there are virtually no road signs you can not do with out a gps and without T4A.

    In general the gravel roads we encountered consisted of rather hard underground with a thin soft layer on top, some times stoney sometimes more sandy but we decided not to lower tyre pressure to avoid punctures. Most of the off road tracks below are adequately graded but you will have to cope with stretches of rather deep humps and dips slowing you down considerably. Tar is almost everywhere in good condition and with hardly any potholes with the exception of the track between Same and Moshi. There a very frequent police stops but they do not pay a lot of attention to self drivers. Be careful with the very frequent speed humps!

    The camp sites we encountered especially in the South (for instance Kilimatembo and Saadani) have less facilities than for instance Botswana and Zambia. In the North you can find decent campsites like Kudu lodge, Twiga and Zebra but in August they are crowded by tour and overland groups and you can not make a camp fire in most of the cases. We heard a lot of people complaining about the xxx camp on the rim: we have not camped there so we can not judge, but looks like it is cold and overcrowded. Also camping n the parks is rather expensive and the difference with package prices for game drives like in the Selous River lodge is smaller than we have experienced before. Obviously this might be different in other parts of the county: just a small sample.

    Finally, prices to stay in the parks are sky high. 50 USD per person and in Selous 65 USD. A Tanzania or Eastern Africa registered car is only 20.000 Shilling (10 euro). But a car from. Southern are between 40 USD per day up to 200 USD in Ngorogoro.

    The route in more detail
    From Dar to Selous we travelled the B2. We started from the more touristic Slipway and ended up in a traffic jam of 1,5h. We started at 6.30 am which is clearly not early enough. You need a good map or gps to get out of the city since there are virtually no road signs. From the outskirts of Dar it is tar all the way up to Kibiti around 130 km from Dar: some potholes but in general in pretty good condition. Tank stations are getting less and less frequent the further you get and the station in Kibiti had run out of Diesel, which we understand happens more often. After that through Selous up to Morogoro there is no tank station. Notice that you can only pay cash at the tank stations. Also the Selous game reserve despite information the Tanapa national parks site does not accept credit cards yet.

    In Kibiti turn right just after the tank station. We first had an orange gravel road: the first 30 km in rather bad shape, after that it improved a little. From Mkongo the road was recently graded and in excellent conditions for 25 km, after that the road is a bit more sandy but still ok: 40km per hours as a typical speed. We reached Mtemere gate after 6.15h if we correct for traffic jam and fuel stop.

    We stayed at the Selous River camp, excellent! Beatiful spot at the river and Jason and Belinda are very friendly and helpful. You can choose from bringing you own tent, spacious tents from the camp or very pleasant mud houses.

    Selous is a beautiful reserve and although wildlife is not dense after a few days by car and boat in the park you will have seen a lot of animals. Conditions in the park in August are good. There has been hardly any rain lately. All the river loops are ok to do by 4x4. The main road through the park was recently graded and with exception of the last 5km so good that you can do it by a 2wd. There is even a bus going through the park! If you push for it you can reach Matembwe gate in little over 2 hours. Off course this will be totally different in the wet season. Just before Matembwe gate there is quit some tseetsee, in the rest of the park it was ok.

    New for us was that from Matembwe gate there is a new road opened into the Mikumi park. It was not clear if this road brings you to the other site if the park to the A7 and since we had no gps coordinates for Mikumi with us we decided to go to Morogoro via Kisaki.

    Really a beautiful route! You will see colorful villages, hills and flatlands. We crossed on a Thursday and there was market in Kisaki and Mvuha: great to see. The route is at some places slow going but no problem with a 4x4. It is all the way gravel up to Morogoro with exception of 3 stretches of 5 km tar which are rather steep but can be done in 2nd high gear. Do not forget to horn because busses come down the hill at full speed! The road is quite narrow at some places and there are some steep edges, but nothing too scary.

    Approaching Morogoro it is getting quite busy and you have to be watchful for bikers, motorbikes, busses and trucks. It took us 6.15 hours to reach Mbuyuni Farm close to Morogoro. Excellent place to relax after the drive. No campsite but they do have 3 self catering beautiful houses with view on the mountains.

    From Morogoro we travelled to Saadani. The first part on the A7 connecting Dar with Dodoma is extremely busy and busses and tracks drive like maniacs. The 3lane up hill is used by busses coming down as well. After Chalinze on the A14 it is getting much more relaxed and the road is in good condition. A few km after crossing the Wami river turn right on the gravel road. Nice route and not difficult. At one place a tuck crashed through a bridge and we had to do a detour through villages: not easy but great experience! After the Saadani Mvate gate the road is excellent all the way up to the public camp site on the beach. This was a bit of a deception however, it is used by busses as a stopover, a lot of swimming school kids, but you can imagine how toilets and showers look after 5 buses! I don't know if this is happening frequently.

    We had a major breakdown with our car in Saadani: diesel filters and pump having difficulties and the Diesel was ashgray. The managers Graeme and Candy were wonderful and mechanics at the Safari Lodge were very helpful and did a great job in repairing it! We learned from that the bridge in the Southern part of the park is re-established so that you can enter the park from Bogomoyo and Dar more easily. Our Brad guide still mentioned that you had to take a d-tour.

    The road in the Northern part of Saadani is quite bumpy and slow. We hardly saw wild life, probably not our lucky day but we got the impression that density of game is still low.

    Outside the Saadani park the road upto Ushongo is varying between nicely graded to very bumpy. It tooks us almost 3 hours.

    In Pangani you have to cross the river by Ferry. Rather efficient and quick. In our case the managed to get 3 cars and a bus and 20 motor vehikels on the deck. We reached tar of the xxx in around 2 hours starting from Ushongo.

    The tar road from Tanga to Arusha A14 and B1is under big repair. You will encounter new broad tar stretches but also very narrow parts around Same with deep potholes. Really scary at times when busses overtake you and you are balancing on the edge of the road and you can not go around potholes. After Same this improves a lot. We crossed the A23 between Moshi and Arusha during rush hour, very very slow and ever few km the police is checking cars. Also passing Arusha can be chaotic, especially the stretch between the city center and Arusha airport towards the A104 can easily take 30 min.

    The A104 From Arusha to Tarangire the road is excellent tar. After the turnoff to the park the managed to have bumps every 200 m. The park it self was nicely graded and well signposted. Even the ranger tracks are ok, although sometimes quite bumpy and slow going. The swamp is beautiful ! Enormous herds of Elephant, Zebra and Wildebeest. The Elephants are not skitty!

    From Tarangire to Karatu the road is again excellent tar. The escarpment above Laka Manyara is easy and you have beatify, views. starting from Kudu Lodge in Karatu to Nogororo we used a tour. You can do it you self, but be prepared for a rather steep descend on gravel in to the valley without vangrail xxx. Fortunately it is one-way although we encountered one vehicle coming up. One of the safari vehicles had an accident and ended up on its side after the driver decided that steering up the mountain was the only way to avoid dropping in the ravine. Especially the first few hundred meters is steep and bad gravel. The rim it self is a strange substance from gravel and old tar I guess, easy to do but lot of turns. The crater itself is an easy drive. Lots of vehikels off course, but the views on the big herds are fabulous. Leaving the valley is on a stoned path; steep and large part you will have to do in high 1 gear. Low is not necessary. Also one way lane.

    All in all I would really recommend this route! You will encounter very different landscapes, from subtropic to mountainous, colorful villages and friendly people especially in the South. In the North the parks are fabulous although traffic at some places is very chaotic and people close to the parks in the North are less open and friendly than in the South.

    Enjoy! Hope it is useful info!

    Last edited by tomxtom; 2014/09/14 at 10:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Cape Town
    Thanked: 2419


    Thanks Tom, very useful info.
    Tony Weaver

    1991 Land Rover 110 Hi-Line S/W 3.5l V8 carburettor
    Cooper Discoverer STT tyres, four sleeper Echo rooftop tent
    2012 Mitsubishi Outlander.

    Previously Land Rover 1968 SII, 1969 SIIA, 1973 SIII, 1983 Toyota HiLux 2litre, 2006 Land Rover Freelander TD4 HSE.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Thanked: 0


    Thanks Tom for the informative trip report. I would like to ask you a couple of questions about Saadani. We will be travelling south from Peponi Beach ( just South of Tanga ) to Bagmoyo. Do you think it is worth a stop over in Saadani ? Are there any park fees involved & can you recommend a good campsite

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Thanked: 3


    Thanks Tom for your interesting report. Were did you trip originate? I am interested on current information on the Tunduma border post (Zambia into TZ at the southern end), and any other border posts you may have crossed through? Many thanks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Thanked: 0


    Tunduma is disorganised chaos.... have a big bowl of happy before you head there!

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