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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    Hello psrochajr and welcome to the forum.

    What a wonderful trip you are planning. Karibuni (welcome) to the wonders of East Africa.

    I strongly advise that you go via Ndabaka gate for many reasons.

    First of all, there have been security issues through the route you showed on Google maps via Fort Ikoma.
    Secondly, Google maps is a work of fiction on timings - that route (that has had security issues) will be a rough, probably unmaintained, track through shambas and community grazing lands - it might take you more than two days to drive it and the question is where you could safely camp.
    Thirdly, the road from Sirari/Isebania to the Ndabaka gate is a good, quiet tarmac road.

    The route from the Mara Triangle, Kenya to the Seronera area of the Serengeti, Tanzania is a two - possibly three - day drive. We have done a similar route through the Ndabaka gate from western Kenya and did it over two days. This is because of the distances and roads involved and not necessarily because of how long a border crossing will take.

    I look forward very much to hearing about your planning and, more importantly, hearing about your trip once you have completed it.

    Safari njema!
    Can you elaborate on "security issues"? I understand that sometimes these things are sensitive, so no worries if not. However I felt that frequently I have worried about security issues and most often I wasn't able to get past vague allusions, which made it hard for us to understand and mitigate the threat. This has been both for work in Kenya (some time ago) and more recently in our travels.

    Aside from that, I second that the route to Ndabaka gate is easy going tar from the border south. Our experience at the border, both directions, was reasonably efficient, though of course those things can depend on the day.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by CalDriver View Post
    Can you elaborate on "security issues"? I understand that sometimes these things are sensitive, so no worries if not. However I felt that frequently I have worried about security issues and most often I wasn't able to get past vague allusions, which made it hard for us to understand and mitigate the threat. This has been both for work in Kenya (some time ago) and more recently in our travels.
    I based this on a few things I have read and/or heard about for that remote piece of northern Tanzania. First of all, please see post 29 on this thread https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...87#post3517087

    Secondly, poachers seem to operate out of this area. Please see the monthly archives from the Mara Conservancy website where the Kenyan rangers work very hard with their Tanzanian counterparts particularly in the Lemai Wedge. Here is an example https://www.maratriangle.org/novembe...1/october-2019

    The old books from the days of professional hunters operating in this area, tales are told of hard countryside with thick black cotton soil.

    I do not think the route that Paulo was asking about is suitable for someone on his first trip to East Africa in a hired vehicle.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2019/12/31 at 09:05 PM.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
    Search does not reveal...
    Is it possible to cross the border from Masai Mara in to Serengeti?
    Or must is be the long drive around?
    I crossed from the Masai Mara into the Serengeti on a southbound trip from Addis Ababa to Pretoria in 2001. Initially, upon arrival at the Kenya border post, I was informed that it was not possible to cross at this border post. However, while standing next to the customs desk at the border post, I noticed the carnet of Colonel Hans Swart, who crossed at this border post a few days earlier with his Defender 90. Hans was attached to a peace-keeping operation in Uganda, upon completion of his stint he drove back to South Africa with his wife Elisme. I was informed that Hans and Elisme followed the correct procedure to have their passports stamped at Wilson Airport in Nairobi. While at the Border Post, another vehicle or two arrived, all with their passports correctly stamped at Wilson Airport. They were allowed through without any holdup. Eventually I was also allowed to cross, despite not having an exit stamp in my passport. This required some explaining at the Tanzanian border post. Upon arrival at Seronera Camp I was required to visit the Migration Office near the airstrip to obtain an entry stamp in my passport. From my understanding the crossing from Masai Mara into the Serengeti was a legal and regular process, travelling in either direction, with the proviso that the correct procedure is followed.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by HW Short View Post
    I crossed from the Masai Mara into the Serengeti on a southbound trip from Addis Ababa to Pretoria in 2001. Initially, upon arrival at the Kenya border post, I was informed that it was not possible to cross at this border post. However, while standing next to the customs desk at the border post, I noticed the carnet of Colonel Hans Swart, who crossed at this border post a few days earlier with his Defender 90. Hans was attached to a peace-keeping operation in Uganda, upon completion of his stint he drove back to South Africa with his wife Elisme. I was informed that Hans and Elisme followed the correct procedure to have their passports stamped at Wilson Airport in Nairobi. While at the Border Post, another vehicle or two arrived, all with their passports correctly stamped at Wilson Airport. They were allowed through without any holdup. Eventually I was also allowed to cross, despite not having an exit stamp in my passport. This required some explaining at the Tanzanian border post. Upon arrival at Seronera Camp I was required to visit the Migration Office near the airstrip to obtain an entry stamp in my passport. From my understanding the crossing from Masai Mara into the Serengeti was a legal and regular process, travelling in either direction, with the proviso that the correct procedure is followed.
    I am completely baffled by this. Are you absolutely sure that you crossed at Sand River/Bologonja? This border crossing was closed in 1977 and remains closed to this day.

    Please see this press report from 2017. https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/news/bu...0yz/index.html

    And also see this blog post from a traveller in 2019. https://markandstefanontour.com/2019...-karibu-kenya/

    There are no border officials at either the Kenyan Sand River or the Tanzanian Bologonja. There might be some Park Rangers nearby.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    I am completely baffled by this. Are you absolutely sure that you crossed at Sand River/Bologonja? This border crossing was closed in 1977 and remains closed to this day.

    Please see this press report from 2017. https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/news/bu...0yz/index.html

    And also see this blog post from a traveller in 2019. https://markandstefanontour.com/2019...-karibu-kenya/

    There are no border officials at either the Kenyan Sand River or the Tanzanian Bologonja. There might be some Park Rangers nearby.
    Yes I confirm it was at Sand River / Bologonja. It was a well-used gravel road in pretty good condition. After crossing into Tanzania, we followed the road southwards to make our first pitstop at Klein Camp. The border officials at no stage indicated that we were not allowed to cross for the reason that the border post was closed; their issue with us was that they could not allow us to cross because we had not followed the correct procedure by going to the Migration Section at Wilson Airport first. Let me also confirm that our travelling party consisted of three South Africans and a British citizen. Two days before us Hans and Elisme Swart also crossed at Sand River, both travelling on South African passports. I recall at the Kenyan side there were serious attempts to request for a bribe, which were not entertained by us. However, when we arrived at Bologonja, the officer in charge had to be called at his house (this was around noon) for which the nominal fee of one bottle of Amarula had to be offered.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    I have just rechecked my map used during the 2001 trip, as well as my travelogue, and can confirm the border crossing was at Sand River / Bologonja. According to my travelogue this was the 54th border crossing completed by my vehicle - it currently stands at 83. Out of this total of 83, only border crossing 54 has the comment "Bribe" next to it.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by HW Short View Post
    Yes I confirm it was at Sand River / Bologonja. It was a well-used gravel road in pretty good condition. After crossing into Tanzania, we followed the road southwards to make our first pitstop at Klein Camp. The border officials at no stage indicated that we were not allowed to cross for the reason that the border post was closed; their issue with us was that they could not allow us to cross because we had not followed the correct procedure by going to the Migration Section at Wilson Airport first. Let me also confirm that our travelling party consisted of three South Africans and a British citizen. Two days before us Hans and Elisme Swart also crossed at Sand River, both travelling on South African passports. I recall at the Kenyan side there were serious attempts to request for a bribe, which were not entertained by us. However, when we arrived at Bologonja, the officer in charge had to be called at his house (this was around noon) for which the nominal fee of one bottle of Amarula had to be offered.
    As I said, this is completely baffling. But it must be remembered that what you are saying took place 19 years ago. As this border crossing was closed in 1977, that is probably why the B (bribe) word was used...

    I am not questioning what you or the Colonel did 19 years ago, but this is “muddying the waters” for the original poster and/or Paulo from Brazil.

    I am Kenya born and bred and have also done numerous African border crossings right down the continent (and never been asked for a bribe). We have also come down Lake Turkana from Ethiopia when we had to register with immigration and customs once we arrived in Nairobi a week or so later.

    There is no border crossing at Sand River/Bologonja at the present day - now 2020.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2020/01/02 at 01:31 AM.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post

    I strongly advise that you go via Ndabaka gate for many reasons.

    First of all, there have been security issues through the route you showed on Google maps via Fort Ikoma.
    Secondly, Google maps is a work of fiction on timings - that route (that has had security issues) will be a rough, probably unmaintained, track through shambas and community grazing lands - it might take you more than two days to drive it and the question is where you could safely camp.
    Thirdly, the road from Sirari/Isebania to the Ndabaka gate is a good, quiet tarmac road.

    The route from the Mara Triangle, Kenya to the Seronera area of the Serengeti, Tanzania is a two - possibly three - day drive. We have done a similar route through the Ndabaka gate from western Kenya and did it over two days. This is because of the distances and roads involved and not necessarily because of how long a border crossing will take.

    It's been a while that I read 4X4 Community forum and posts and I always realized the good will and the efforts the members take to help each other. It is something to praise in any case. But when the help is devoted directly to you the feelings are even better. Thanks for your tremendous help, Wazungu Wawili.


    I will follow your recommendations and take the route south to Bunda then to Ndabaka gate after crossing the Isibania-Sirari border. Route will look like that: https://goo.gl/maps/SNBwTyKZK7FWwVCp7


    (I know Google Maps isn't that reliable but I'm using it because it's easy to show the route here - if someone knows a better way please tell me)


    You and others have said here that the route from Mara Triangle to Isibania border then to Ndabaka gate and finally to Seronera would take around two or even three days. About that, I have two questions:


    - in general, which roads conditions should I expect in Masai Mara (especially in February)? I mean difficulty level of the sand/gravel, maintenance of the roads, signs etc.


    - realistically, how long it will take in each of the three parts of the suggested route? From Mara Triangle to the border, from the border to Ndabaka gate and finally from that gate to Seronera. That is for me to plan where to stop and sleep.


    Again, thank you all for the enormous help.


    Paulo

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Guys, that might be off topic and if so please just ignore and I'll try to make it to be deleted. Just some practicalities questions you maybe know the answers:


    - which prepaid simcards should I buy for two or three weeks in Kenya and for the same amount of time in Tanzania? (the best one for each country)


    - if I want to take some cash with me, is that true US dollars are recommended over euros or pounds?


    - how is the credit card acceptancy in both Kenya and Tanzania?

    Thanks again.

    Paulo

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by psrochajr View Post
    Just some practicalities questions you maybe know the answers:


    - if I want to take some cash with me, is that true US dollars are recommended over euros or pounds? US$ are definately preferred over Euros or Pounds in East Africa. It is wise to have a stash of US$ just in case credit cards or ATMs give you problems.


    - how is the credit card acceptancy in both Kenya and Tanzania? The most widely accepted are Visa credit cards, Master Card less so. Other more exotic credit cards will be a problem. ATMs to draw local currency, are widespread, often also in the smaller towns. Just inform your bank beforehand so that they do not block transactions from weird and wonderful locations. Also be aware that individual ATMs often quite severely limit the amount of cash you can draw per transaction and per day. We found it best to each carry both a credit and debit card so that mutiple withdrawals could be made to make up a decent ampount of money. They issue you money in local currency and the exchange rates are usually better than if changing US$ at a bureau. Credit cards are fairly widely accepted with some notable and relatively unpredictable situations such as some fuel stations. The "lines" are often down for credit card comms and some add up to 5% for credit card transactions.

    Thanks again.

    Paulo
    Incidentally I absolutely endorse Wazungu that the Sand River bridge cannot ordinarily be used as a border crossing between Kenya and Tanzania.

    I cannot recall the best simcards, but Safaricom is widely used.
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    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

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    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by psrochajr View Post

    You and others have said here that the route from Mara Triangle to Isibania border then to Ndabaka gate and finally to Seronera would take around two or even three days. About that, I have two questions:


    - in general, which roads conditions should I expect in Masai Mara (especially in February)? I mean difficulty level of the sand/gravel, maintenance of the roads, signs etc.


    - realistically, how long it will take in each of the three parts of the suggested route? From Mara Triangle to the border, from the border to Ndabaka gate and finally from that gate to Seronera. That is for me to plan where to stop and sleep.


    Again, thank you all for the enormous help.


    Paulo
    Karibu (you are welcome), Paulo.

    The roads in the Mara Triangle are good, well maintained roads. There is no sand in the Mara - it is black cotton soil (a clay). The main roads are made up of murram (a laterite) over the black cotton soil. In February the roads within the Mara Triangle will be fine as February is the hottest and driest month.

    However, once out of the reserve, it is a different matter. The maintenance of the roads is up to the county government hence the road from Oloololo to Migori is likely to be rough, but taken slowly and, with no rain, you will be fine. As for road signs, in the Mara Triangle there are road signs on the main tracks, but not on the grass tracks. As for signs once outside the reserve, don’t bank on there being any. I recommend you get Tracks4Africa for your GPS.

    Caldriver gave timings on a post earlier in this thread from Oloololo to Seronera via Isebania/Sirari and Ndabaka gate. He found somewhere to camp at Bunda.

    This is what I would do:
    Day 1: early start from the Mara Triangle, overnight either Bunda or at Musoma (earlier in this thread there is a discussion as to where to camp at Musoma). We have camped at Tembo in Musoma. Or if you are making good time, then there is, apparently, camping near the Ndabaka gate outside the Serengeti. Or we have stayed at the very nice Speke Bay Lodge on the lake not far from Ndabaka gate.
    Day 2: enter the Serengeti NP and drive to Seronera. This road is likely to be very corrugated and all recent reports say it isn’t in a good condition. Again, taken slowly and carefully and having a nice game drive it will take about 6-8 hours I estimate. Also be aware that it takes quite a lot of time to pay park fees etc at the gate and this should be factored in. You are also likely to need to refuel and buy some provisions before entering the Serengeti. You will need to do that in Musoma or, I presume, Bunda.

    On your other queries, cash is king. Take cash USD. But you will need cash Kenyan shillings and cash Tanzanian shillings. Park fees are paid by credit/debit cards - Visa is best. You will be paying for fuel with cash shillings hence you will need a fair amount. ATMs are relatively widespread in Kenya, but the area of northern Tanzania that you will be passing through is relatively unpopulated. There will be money changers and/or an ATM at the border crossing, but then nothing until Musoma (I don’t know about Bunda as I have only passed through there). Food shopping either from kiosks or small shops will be cash shillings.

    Safari njema!
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2020/01/02 at 12:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Something that I didn't know until almost now is that if you plan to visit Tanzanian parks driving a foreign registered vehicle (whichever the origin) you must pay 150 USD against 35,000 TShs (around 15 USD) for those driving Tanzanian registered vehicles just because of the vehicle's origin. That's per day.

    In my case, for having rented a vehicle in Kenya I'll have to pay 150 USD/day instead of 15 USD/day for each day I stay in a Tanzanian park.

    I understand those who wants to protect your own market against free competition but even though charging 10 times more for vehicles from abroad seems to be too much.

    I decided renting a car in only one country because my itinerary is a kind of circular route between Kenya and Tanzania and having the same car everyday would save time and bureaucracy.

    When you guys go to Tanzania with your own vehicles do you have to pay such a hefty fee? Or it is something that goes only for rented vehicles?

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by psrochajr View Post
    Something that I didn't know until almost now is that if you plan to visit Tanzanian parks driving a foreign registered vehicle (whichever the origin) you must pay 150 USD against 35,000 TShs (around 15 USD) for those driving Tanzanian registered vehicles just because of the vehicle's origin. That's per day.

    In my case, for having rented a vehicle in Kenya I'll have to pay 150 USD/day instead of 15 USD/day for each day I stay in a Tanzanian park.

    I understand those who wants to protect your own market against free competition but even though charging 10 times more for vehicles from abroad seems to be too much.

    I decided renting a car in only one country because my itinerary is a kind of circular route between Kenya and Tanzania and having the same car everyday would save time and bureaucracy.

    When you guys go to Tanzania with your own vehicles do you have to pay such a hefty fee? Or it is something that goes only for rented vehicles?
    That is mostly correct. Please see this Tanzania National Parks’ fees and tariffs document. https://www.tanzaniaparks.go.tz/uplo...0to%202020.pdf. You will see that vehicle fees for the Serengeti NP are USD40 for all foreign registered vehicles per 24 hours BUT this is for vehicles up to a tare weight of 2,000 kgs. Over 2000 kgs the cost is, indeed, USD150 per 24 hours. However, when we have visited Tanzanian national parks in our Kenyan registered vehicle, we have only paid USD40 although a Land Rover is, probably, over 2000kgs. There have been recent reports of some people driving Land Cruisers and Land Rovers paying USD40 and other reports of having to pay USD150. You might have to try and argue your case with the rangers at the gate and be able to prove what the tare weight is of the vehicle you are hiring.

    This all relates back to what I was discussing earlier in the thread about the Sand River/Bologonja border crossing being closed. Let me give you some history. Tanzania has always been wary of “big brother” Kenya and things came to a head at the collapse of the first East African Community in 1977. Tanzania then closed all its borders with Kenya until the mid 1980s. During that time, the already thriving Kenyan tourist industry became even more sophisticated whilst the Tanzanian tourist industry stagnated with complete government control under Nyerere’s socialist policies. When most of the border crossings were reopened and the relationship between the two countries improved, Tanzania stopped all Kenyan tour operators from entering into Tanzania - they had to set up separate Tanzanian registered companies which was fair enough. The Tanzanians wanted the tourist revenue to remain inside Tanzania. But the legacy of this remains to this day in such things as the higher cost for foreign registered vehicles within Tanzania National Parks (when they say “foreign vehicles”, they really mean those from their neighbour, Kenya as that is where most foreign vehicles would come from, but it does, of course, affect all foreign vehicles).

    So, yes, you are going to have to dig deep into your pockets or hire a vehicle in Tanzania and drive it up to Kenya. Kenya parks and reserves do not charge higher fees for foreign vehicles.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2020/01/04 at 01:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Paulo

    I have thought of something else which may well scupper your plans for driving a hired Kenyan vehicle into Tanzania. I presume that the company you are hiring the vehicle from in Kenya (and please let us know which company you are using) knows that you plan to drive into Tanzania and that they have told you about the bureaucracy involved in exiting Kenya at one border crossing and re-entering Kenya at a different border crossing?

    The original Kenya registration document (known as the logbook) for the vehicle has to be lodged with Kenyan customs at the border crossing and they keep it there. If you returned through the same border crossing, that is not a problem as you collect it on your return.

    However, if you had wanted to re-enter Kenya through a different border crossing, then there is a system, but it is time-consuming and quite complicated. I know because I have done this. The system is that the logbook can be lodged with Customs HQ which is near Nairobi International airport, one is then given paperwork and have a few days in which to exit Kenya. On one’s return to Kenya, one has to go back to the Customs HQ to collect the original logbook. Unless the hire company is doing this for you, you may well find yourself deep in Kenyan bureaucracy and Nairobi traffic. Furthermore, there is only a few days grace for exiting Kenya which would mean that you would not have time to visit the Mara. When we did this process, we were given 3 days to exit Kenya, but we pleaded a weekend and were then given 5 days to exit Kenya.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2020/01/04 at 01:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    I based this on a few things I have read and/or heard about for that remote piece of northern Tanzania. First of all, please see post 29 on this thread https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...87#post3517087

    Secondly, poachers seem to operate out of this area. Please see the monthly archives from the Mara Conservancy website where the Kenyan rangers work very hard with their Tanzanian counterparts particularly in the Lemai Wedge. Here is an example https://www.maratriangle.org/novembe...1/october-2019

    The old books from the days of professional hunters operating in this area, tales are told of hard countryside with thick black cotton soil.

    I do not think the route that Paulo was asking about is suitable for someone on his first trip to East Africa in a hired vehicle.
    I forgot how good the Mara Conservancy monthly reports. These little tidbits from you, Tony and others are gold, thank you.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    If I recall correctly, when we were southbound we stopped in Tarime, Tanzania, and there is a bank w/ ATM there where we got shillings. We fueled in Bunda, and I think there is a bank there, but I can't remember for sure.

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by CalDriver View Post
    I forgot how good the Mara Conservancy monthly reports. These little tidbits from you, Tony and others are gold, thank you.
    Karibu, Caldriver. Yes, they are excellent and give us all a glimpse into the complex and costly realities of managing wildlife in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. The Mara Conservancy are to be applauded and encouraged in the excellent work they are doing.

    Rudi tena!

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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    As I said, this is completely baffling. But it must be remembered that what you are saying took place 19 years ago. As this border crossing was closed in 1977, that is probably why the B (bribe) word was used...

    I am not questioning what you or the Colonel did 19 years ago, but this is “muddying the waters” for the original poster and/or Paulo from Brazil.

    I am Kenya born and bred and have also done numerous African border crossings right down the continent (and never been asked for a bribe). We have also come down Lake Turkana from Ethiopia when we had to register with immigration and customs once we arrived in Nairobi a week or so later.

    There is no border crossing at Sand River/Bologonja at the present day - now 2020.
    In 2001 this is the information that guided Hans Swart and myself. At that stage it was an official border crossing point
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  19. #39
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    Default Re: Masai Mara to Serengeti - can cross?

    Quote Originally Posted by HW Short View Post
    In 2001 this is the information that guided Hans Swart and myself. At that stage it was an official border crossing point
    We all know how “accurate” guide books are...

    As can been seen from the photos you sent of the 2000 edition (but with data, probably, from 1987), it states “officially ... you need to be a resident of East Africa, and there is no customs post”. It is amazing and baffling that you managed to do it 19 years ago - although you are still probably logged as an illegal in Kenya on their system having not officially logged out of Kenya in 2001.

    It was not an official border crossing even in 2001 when you talked your way across without proper immigration and customs clearance out of Kenya. I hope you read my bit of history about relations between Kenya and Tanzania in one of my posts to Paulo from Brazil.

    As I said, this is confusing for the original poster and Paulo from Brazil.

    There is no official border crossing at Sand River/Bologonja at the present time.

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