Tanzania update





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  1. #1
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    Default Tanzania update

    Some logistics updates from a recent trip:


    Isopa border post: courteous and efficient immigration and customs officials. We were the only travelers at the border so no queues or touts at all. Apparently this is standard so those in the know tend to use this crossing if they can. Visas issued at the border: South African passport holders do not need to pay for a visa, Europeans $50pp.



    Road from Zambian/Tanzanian border at Zombe/Isopa through Sumbawanga to Lake Shore Lodge near Kipili village. Excellent graded dirt (unlike the Zambian side from Mbale to Zombe which is a washed away goat track and requires some patience) or excellent pothole free tar. Draw some Tanzanian shillings at the auto banks in Sumbawanga on your way through (and if you think you need anything else e.g. praziquantral, Sumbawanga is a good place to try get it).


    Lake Shore Lodge: Location per T4A.
    Excellent. Chris, Louise and team are wonderful hosts and their lodge is beautiful and comfortable without being over-the-top pretentious. Kayaking on a wind free evening before sundown and a superb dinner on the lake beach are just two of man happy memories. Taking the Lake Shore Wanderer to Mahale NP and back was one of the highlights of our many travels. It's out of the way but we will find a reason to come back soon.


    Mahale Mountain National Park: judging by the vehicle parked there it seems possible to drive right up to park HQ entry from the north end. I recall debates on this from on this topic. You will still need a boat to get you and your gear to the TANAPA bandas but I guess local fishermen will oblige. Pay park fees at the airstrip on the way in (6.01044 S 29.76379 E). Need to hire guide and ranger to accompany you to see the chimps.


    Kipili to Katavi National Park. Easy driving. Dirt from Kipili to Namanyere (where you can get fuel), tar to Kizi (shown by T4A and some older maps as Chisi) and Kibaoni then dirt to the Katuma river where you will find the sign posts to the old and new ranger stations, the Ikuu public camp and various private camps and lodges.

    Katavi NP: Possible on Monday's and Thursday's only (the days the aircraft fly guests in) to pay park and camping fees at the Katuma airstrip near the NEW ranger station (shown by T4A as "ranger station") on south bank of the Katuma river, not to be confused with the OLD ranger station at Ikuu at 6.89644 S 31.18614 E next to Hippo Pools (where you cannot arrange your permit at all). On other days you normally need to attend to this at the park HQ at Sitalike 46km away, but we pressed the rangers who were friendly enough to let is camp at the Ikuu public camp right near the old ranger station at the above coordinates and pay our fees the next day after our morning game drive. In fact they arranged someone to come out from Sitalike specially to open the field office located at the airstrip, which has high-speed internet connection and where you can pay be credit card. Ikuu public camp is a perfectly acceptable spot close (but not too close) to the river which in the dry season is infested with wildlife including some very big crocodiles. Katavi receives relatively few visitors so chances are good you will camp alone at Ikuu. We shared with a pride of lions from about midnight which made for a fun if rather sleepless night. If you want guaranteed solitude you can pay for a special campsite which the ranger explained was wherever you chose to make a camp anywhere in the park. Just don't pitch camp down by the river or on a game track....The Ikuu public camp has very basic toilet and shower facilities, though they are beginning to look a little run down, as one might expect with these sort of public run facilities. Given the cost of visiting these parks one would have thought it is not that difficult or expensive to provide decent facilities. With a special camp permit you could if you wanted also camp at the Kavuu picnic spot (location per T4A) which is a lovely shaded spot overlooking the plains and lake.


    Katavi to Tabora: we tried a new route not known to T4A. Instead of going through Sitalike and Mpanda we backtracked a bit to Kibaoni then headed towards Maji Moto (delightfully photogenic hub of activity and fuel available at a few filling stations including 7.24808 S 31.39122 E), crossed the new Kivuu bridge (after helping the road crew clear a stock pile of rocks being used to reinforce the new bridge; an indication that hardly anybody comes this way) and across the Rukwa Game Reserve to join the usual route to Tabora at Inyonga. To that point took about 4 hours on good and not corrugated dirt roads, including the rock clearing exercise and some off road driving to pass a truck that had toppled over on one of the steeper sections still under construction. There was virtually no other traffic (and as a result no corrugations to deal with and the scenery was superb). From there to Tabora was another 4 hours, often "pole pole" due to the extensive road works (very much a work in progress with only the last 20 km before Tabora brand new tarmac, still unpainted) or bone rattling due to corrugations and washouts or both.


    Tabora Orion hotel: Location per T4A.
    After a long days drive a welcome oasis in otherwise rather typically chaotic Tabora. Great menu, good clean rooms at $50 pn for a double room, security for the vehicle, overnight laundry service for a fair price. Cash only. Booking not required.


    Tabora to Mwanza: tarmac all the way though last 120 km a bit patchy/lumpy. Main challengess are the heavy transport trucks and buses and sticking to the speed limit of 50 km/h in the many villages en route which makes it still quite a long day behind the wheel. Traffic police everywhere. Luckily their smart, starched, white uniforms stick out like fish eagles ie easy enough to spot. But given the people and animals on the road it is wise to stick to the limit anyway. Main lesson of the day was that my spot lights needed to be covered up when driving on public roads outside the parks. A friendly warning was what I got.


    Mwanza: we didn't fancy camping on the restaurant lawn at Tunza lodge (location per T4A and gets a good write up) and swimming in the lake is a no go anyway so we opted for the tried and trusted Mwanza Yacht Club (location per T4A) lawns which were pretty enough, spacious and with decent ablutions with water hopefully not pumped straight from the lake. Supplies: fresh fruit and veg at one of the many stalls along the road. Non-perishables at the well stocked U-turn Grocery Store. T4A didn't quite get us there but for a few shillings one of the gazillion motor bike boys in town will guide you.


    Mwanza to Serengeti (Ndabaka gate): takes a while to get through the traffic then decent enough tarmac all the way, bored traffic police pulling you over for a bit of a chat before waving you on, much the same as what we experienced everywhere else in Tanzania. Fuel is available 10-20km before the Ndabaka gate.


    Serengeti logistical notes:

    • because I was late in organising this and we were not going in to the park via Arusha, I decided to use Mauly Tours, based on the recommendation on this forum, to try arrange some special camps in various areas of the park. They were very responsive (even during the weekend) and persistent with TANAPA, apparently speaking to various park officials in Arusha to try get us the spots we wanted in the Western Corridor, center and far north. In the end they secured sites in the Western Corridor and central area but, despite their perseverance, were unable to secure a special camp in the far north. I was more or less expecting that result given I'd left it very late to arrange that at this tone of year. Anyway, Mauly kindly mailed me vouchers for the Kirawira and Sero camp reservations with instructions simply to pay at the gate on arrival. Great service.
    • At the gate we exchanged the usual polite pleasantries (hello, how are you, where did you come from, where are you going to, what a great country Tanzania is, how friendly, kind and helpful all the people are, some of the fun stuff were seen in Katavi, etc etc.) before getting down to business:
    • In the end they weren't at all interested in the vouchers Mauly kindly secured and just took my word for it. Then they jumped on the phone to the ranger in the Kogatende area and after a bit of to and fro secured us exactly the two nights camping up there which I asked for and the last night at Lobo Hill SCS. Vehicle was checked in at the under 2000kg tariff without too much hassle. The guys had a bit of a side bar to reconcile the camp names we'd been discussing with those shown on their new IT system. In the end they seemed to agree which was which. On the permit obviously the new (and different) SCS names were printed than the ones we'd been discussing so this was just corrected by hand. I took a deep breath and swiped my Mastercard to settle the fees (ouwch! man these parks are pricey...), bought a map, took a picture of the list of distances to various spots in the park from the Ndabaka gate, exchanged more pleasantries, let some air out of the vehicle tires and off we went. All seemed rather easy.
    • T4A didn't show the Kirawira special camps (and I didn't feel like hauling out my extensive research notes which probably listed them somewhere since others have posted them on this forum), but the map we bought at the gate did. There were sign posts to the nearby ranger post but not (easily identifiable signs) to the special camps and being a little uncertain first-timers in the park we just double checked at the ranger post. They were not at all interested in our permit and instead someone kindly came with us to point out the spot which they designated to be at: 2.17003 S 34.13536 E. And he also kindly helped gather a bit of good fire wood. Rather hilariously, once we had dropped off the ranger back at his post and set our camp up, one of the local game guides (in a Mauly tours branded vehicle and shirt) and his guests spotted us during their evening game drive, came over to ask if we were seriously going to camp here, told us it was not allowed, but agreed that since the rangers said it was ok it was obviously ok but warned us just keep an eye out for lions - they'd spotted 5 very nearby the day before, but not yet that evening. Half an hour after sunset we were tucked up in bed and we heard the lions roar not far way: welcome to the Serengeti.
    • Fuel pump at Seronera was broken. There is an alternative called Bompas nearby at 2.43515 S 34.85359 E where various safari and research vehicles fuel. Not known to T4A. No fuel at Lobo: the official GT park map is out of date on this point.
    • Clean ablution facilities at Dik Dik public camp. The site also has a nice view across the plains.
    • Sero 2 SCS also nicely located. Our SCS was occupied by a squatting camp pirate/hijacker from one of the less scrupulous Arusha safari operators. Bit of a pain but we got sorted out OK in the end.
    • Seronera area with a radius of about 15km from the park HQ is really crowed and cat sightings attract hordes.
    • Lobo: we retreated from Lobo Hill SCS (nice) to the Lobo public camp due to a large fire near Lobo Hill that night. The PC is truly disgusting and the baboons are a problem. Avoid it if you can. It is the staging post for many overland groups headed on day trips to view the wildebeest crossing the Mara river near Kogatende. Game driving around Lobo Hills was very rewarding. We felt were the only vehicle out there - the crowds all head to Kogatende for the crossings.
    • Wogatende 7 SCS is at 1.75565 S 34.90864 E about 45mins drive from the Kogatende air strip at the Mara river and a wonderful location.
    • Wildebeest crossings: speak to the local guides how to do it. It's a bit of an art to hide up in the bushes away from the river, sometimes for hours observing through your binoculars, until the crossing happens, then race down for a good spot. Take something to occupy yourself while you wait: book, sort out your photos, etc, etc. Follow the crowds and you will be fine but you need to be a bit pushy. Super exciting the whole experience of doing it yourself. Tip: watch from the north bank: photo opportunities are better with the herd coming towards you. But don't expect to be alone: at the one crossing experience there must have been 20 vehicles on the north bank and 15 on the south bank. A lot of people got out of their vehicles while their guides seems to turn a blind eye, which, apart from being dangerous and illegal, I'm convinced spooked the herd at some point and the animals turned back. Otherwise the herd was so large it might have carried on for 2 hours. Pity.



    Serengeti (Lobo Hill SCS) via Klein's gate and Lolilondo to Lake Natron: 7 hours. The road is like a goat track in many places, esp between Klein's gate and Lolilondo, good in parts, lots of powder dust the deeper you descend into the Rift Valley. You need to be patient with the road but if you are it's a rewarding drive past authentic Maasai villages and great views especially once Lake Natron is in sight. No local government taxes or tolls to be paid by passing tourists. It seems a good alternative to those a bit more adventurous and reluctant to go through NCA (again). I'd be very, very, very hesitant to attempt it in the wet season: probably not passable at all frankly; definitely only for the VERY adventurous/mad.


    Maasai Giraffe Eco Lodge. Lake Natron: just south of Engerosero near lake Natron. Belgian owned, friendly Maasai run, clean and tidy, grassy and shady camp with decent ablutions, cooking facilities, bar/restaurant and great swimming pool at $10 pp per day to camp in your own tent.


    Lake Natron is a Wildlife Management Area and you need an entry ($10 pppd, half for kids under 18), foreign vehicle ($10 pd) and camping permit ($20 pppd, half for kids under 18). The TAWA rangers checking this don't accept payment of the permit fees. If you haven't arranged one before hand, the camp manager will arrange for you on site through the online process. Cash only.


    Natron to Manyara (Mto Wa Mbu). About 3 1/2 hours. In places pretty rough. Very scenic. Leaving Engerosero there's a toll gate where you need to pay a toll $35 pp in total for the three villages between and including Engerosero and Mto Wa Mbu. Cash only. You get something of an electronic receipt. Rather dodgy and I tried to talk my way past but failed.


    Mto Wa Mbu. We found a very attractive campground at 3.36318 S 35.83825 E recently built by the owners of Ajabu Adventures. Migombani camp. Overlooking Lake Manyara, under a gorgeous baobab, large rim flow pool, excellent ablutions and cooking, lush grass camp. $12pppn. We stayed only a day but wished we could stay longer. Would make an excellent base from which to explore the region incl Ngorogoro, Manyara, Tarangire. Or just to relax and recover at the pool and view. Of course, it is not undiscovered (though rather new and not yet fully marketed) so don't expect the complete seclusion of a private wild special camp. But definitely one of the best in its category we came across this year, along with Kapishya Hot Springs in Zambia. They also very kindly helped us with vehicle storage in Arusha for a week.


    Arusha to Tanzanian/Kenyan border at Namanga: easy drive of about 1h30 on tarmac. First stretch just outside Arusha is quite pretty.


    Namanga border: one stop border where you can clear out of Tanzania and into Kenya. All well organised, clear and sufficient efficient officials. Ignore the touts hawking Kenyan shillings (there's a bank inside where you can buy shillings to pay the road tax of Ksh4200), third party insurance, visa application forms and other scams. You really don't need these pests. You need to be pretty brutally firm (without being rude). Visas available at the border: 30 days and no cost to South Africans. Made no sense therefore to get the East African visa.


    TBC in Kenya section....









  2. #2
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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    G.C. once again (as for Zambia), thank you for the update and plenty of new info on Tanzania. Whilst realizing that it can be a pain in the butt to post reports, I wonder if I can in any way persuade you to provide far more detail on your visit via Lakeshore Lodge to Mahale National Park. There is no detail on this forum concerning this and there is plenty of interest.

    Another request please, if at all possible could you insert your info concerning the Serengeti special campsites into the thread at https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...27#post3608127
    Landcruiser 76SW.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    Asante sana, Golf Charlie, for this excellent update. I, too, would be very interested in hearing about your trip from Lakeshore Lodge to Mahale on their boat.

    I am so pleased that you had such a great trip to East Africa.

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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    Awesome post... Can I ask a question? We have been told that the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) have just brought out a new rule requiring all vehicles entering the National Parks to have a pre-arranged entrance reservation. Can any recent visitors confirm this and advise how you arrange entrance reservations? Thanks

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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    Quote Originally Posted by Safari Sisters View Post
    Awesome post... Can I ask a question? We have been told that the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) have just brought out a new rule requiring all vehicles entering the National Parks to have a pre-arranged entrance reservation. Can any recent visitors confirm this and advise how you arrange entrance reservations? Thanks
    I would be interested to know where you heard this rumour from. TANAPA is a government agency and any change would require a gazette notice. I cannot find anything about this either on the TANAPA website or via Google.

    Here is the current park, camping and vehicle fees from the TANAPA website.

    http://www.tanzaniaparks.go.tz/image...0Residents.pdf

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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    Thanks for a very informative update Golf Charlie.

    Are you travelling with a carnet? I ask because we are going to cross at Namanga in a few days in our SA registered vehicle and we don't have one. A friend crossed at Isebania border near lake Victoria last month without a carnet and said it was no problem there so hopefully it's the same at Namanga.

    Safari njema,

    Chaliman

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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    Quote Originally Posted by chaliman View Post
    Thanks for a very informative update Golf Charlie.

    Are you travelling with a carnet? I ask because we are going to cross at Namanga in a few days in our SA registered vehicle and we don't have one. A friend crossed at Isebania border near lake Victoria last month without a carnet and said it was no problem there so hopefully it's the same at Namanga.

    Safari njema,

    Chaliman
    Quote Originally Posted by chaliman View Post
    Thanks for a very informative update Golf Charlie.

    Are you travelling with a carnet? I ask because we are going to cross at Namanga in a few days in our SA registered vehicle and we don't have one. A friend crossed at Isebania border near lake Victoria last month without a carnet and said it was no problem there so hopefully it's the same at Namanga.

    Safari njema,

    Chaliman
    The system at Namanga will be exactly the same. Namanga is the major border crossing between Tanzania and Kenya. It is a “one stop” border post and pretty efficient (particularly on the Kenyan side).

    Safari njema and please post a trip report.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    The system at Namanga will be exactly the same. Namanga is the major border crossing between Tanzania and Kenya. It is a “one stop” border post and pretty efficient (particularly on the Kenyan side).

    Safari njema and please post a trip report.
    Sadly the procedure at Namanga was not the same. The customs officials demanded a carnet when we crossed yesterday. After a couple of hours of discussion, pleading (and mostly) waiting we were issued with a 14 day TIP to allow us to acquire a carnet or I guess leave the country. This is in direct contrast to our friend's experience at Isebania where a carnet was not even asked for. The customs official who helped us in the end asked that we please do not overstay as he personally would get into trouble as his login would be linked to our TIP.

    On the positive side there is no road tax for a 14 day stay and it was easy to buy visas at the border.

    So it seems that the confusion about whether an SA registered vehicle definitely requires a carnet for Kenya remains. Depending on the border and perhaps the official on duty you might be lucky and then again perhaps not. We consider ourselves fortunate to have received 14 days in the end as it seemed like we were going to have to return to Tanzania. Tanzania are quite reasonable about border runs thankfully as it seems one only needs to exit for an hour before you are allowed to return again and start your stay afresh. This apparently applies to both visa and TIP although happily we did not have to put it to the test.

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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    Quote Originally Posted by chaliman View Post
    Sadly the procedure at Namanga was not the same. The customs officials demanded a carnet when we crossed yesterday. After a couple of hours of discussion, pleading (and mostly) waiting we were issued with a 14 day TIP to allow us to acquire a carnet or I guess leave the country. This is in direct contrast to our friend's experience at Isebania where a carnet was not even asked for. The customs official who helped us in the end asked that we please do not overstay as he personally would get into trouble as his login would be linked to our TIP.

    On the positive side there is no road tax for a 14 day stay and it was easy to buy visas at the border.

    So it seems that the confusion about whether an SA registered vehicle definitely requires a carnet for Kenya remains. Depending on the border and perhaps the official on duty you might be lucky and then again perhaps not. We consider ourselves fortunate to have received 14 days in the end as it seemed like we were going to have to return to Tanzania. Tanzania are quite reasonable about border runs thankfully as it seems one only needs to exit for an hour before you are allowed to return again and start your stay afresh. This apparently applies to both visa and TIP although happily we did not have to put it to the test.
    Pole sana.

    The thread I have copied below shows the official documentation that is required in order to enter Kenya - either with a Carnet or a foreign vehicle “TIP”. Yes, the TIP is free for 14 days, but I have been told that it is easy to extend this but you have to do it electronically through the e-government website. Chris at Jungle Junction in Nairobi told me he has shown many overlanders how to extend the 14 day TIP.

    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...ehicle-Permits

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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    In a couple of days we’re going to Katavi. We want to spend 24hours in the park, one night camping. After that one night at River side camp, must also be spectacular now. Which NP campsite would you chose? Is it worth the extra 20usd pp for the picknick spot? Thx!
    Last edited by jorisv; 2018/10/20 at 08:11 PM.

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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    Quote Originally Posted by jorisv View Post
    In a couple of days we’re going to Katavi. We want to spend 24hours in the park, one night camping. After that one night at River side camp, must also be spectacular now. Which NP campsite would you chose? Is it worth the extra 20usd pp for the picknick spot? Thx!
    Hi joris, I presume that by River side camp you are referring to the campsite near Sitlake outside Katavi National Park? This will save you an extra day's park entry fees and is right on the border of the northern entrance to the park. Not the greatest facilities but convenient.

    For one night only, I am not sure that the Special Campsite on the Katuma River near Ikuu Scout Camp is worth the extra money. A couple of years ago the public campsite at Ikuu Scout Camp was not too bad and is immediately adjacent to the largest of the hippo pools in the Katuma River, where if dry season, you will witness the shocking and spectacular crowding of the hippos. The facilities here are pretty basic but they do have potable water from a borehole. Being close to the scout camp means that your privacy is a little compromised and you might have to share the campsite, but there are seldom more than 1 or 2 other campers. We did not use the ablutions there and am not sure of their condition but suspect will be fairly rustic.

    As far as we could ascertain, special campsites in Katavi basically mean that you could just find a convenient place to bush camp and this would probably be the case if you were with a guide. We were encouraged to camp about 1km upstream of Ikuu Scout Camp on the Katuma River and this was a fantastically private spot which appeared regularly used. I suspect that they like to keep an eye on casual visitors and we were visited by a patrolling game scout. See what they tell you when you book in. I would not sweat too much if a special campsite seems expensive or if the authorities are not keen.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

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    Default Re: Tanzania update

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post
    Hi joris, I presume that by River side camp you are referring to the campsite near Sitlake outside Katavi National Park? This will save you an extra day's park entry fees and is right on the border of the northern entrance to the park. Not the greatest facilities but convenient.

    For one night only, I am not sure that the Special Campsite on the Katuma River near Ikuu Scout Camp is worth the extra money. A couple of years ago the public campsite at Ikuu Scout Camp was not too bad and is immediately adjacent to the largest of the hippo pools in the Katuma River, where if dry season, you will witness the shocking and spectacular crowding of the hippos. The facilities here are pretty basic but they do have potable water from a borehole. Being close to the scout camp means that your privacy is a little compromised and you might have to share the campsite, but there are seldom more than 1 or 2 other campers. We did not use the ablutions there and am not sure of their condition but suspect will be fairly rustic.

    As far as we could ascertain, special campsites in Katavi basically mean that you could just find a convenient place to bush camp and this would probably be the case if you were with a guide. We were encouraged to camp about 1km upstream of Ikuu Scout Camp on the Katuma River and this was a fantastically private spot which appeared regularly used. I suspect that they like to keep an eye on casual visitors and we were visited by a patrolling game scout. See what they tell you when you book in. I would not sweat too much if a special campsite seems expensive or if the authorities are not keen.
    I agree with all this. We camped at the Ikuu public camp (which is basically just a large tree and clearing next to the ranger station and with some "rustic" ablutions). We had lions and elephant in camp so don't worry about this being tame compared to a special camp.

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