Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti





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  1. #1
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    Default Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    I am in the planning process for a self-drive trip to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. We will be camping.

    I am however struggling to get some decent information on the route to take and places to stay. (The journey is important to us, so would like to see the nice things en-route as well)

    All I have so far, is;
    Elephant Sands - Botswana
    Livingstone - Zambia (Victoria Falls)
    South Kafue ??

    Then from here onwards it is a mix and not match route, as all the places seem to be a very far drive - which we want to avoid.

    It will be very much appreciated if there is someone that has done the route, that can give some input, and maybe some campsite names as well?

    Thanks

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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Quote Originally Posted by mjfourie View Post
    I am in the planning process for a self-drive trip to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. We will be camping.

    I am however struggling to get some decent information on the route to take and places to stay. (The journey is important to us, so would like to see the nice things en-route as well)

    All I have so far, is;
    Elephant Sands - Botswana
    Livingstone - Zambia (Victoria Falls)
    South Kafue ??

    Then from here onwards it is a mix and not match route, as all the places seem to be a very far drive - which we want to avoid.

    It will be very much appreciated if there is someone that has done the route, that can give some input, and maybe some campsite names as well?

    Thanks
    Hi!

    I would exit Zambia at Chipata and then (I am biassed here !) travel through Malawi's karonga border , then mbeya etc...work your way towards the north of Tanzania.

    Plenty amazing places to see, distances are manageable .

    Cheers

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Please give us a time frame, ie how long you want to spend travelling all together, plus a rough route. There are literally hundreds of possibilities en route to northern Tanzania.
    Tony Weaver

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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    It is a wonderful trip you are planning, but, as Tony says, we need to know the length of time you have available to do this route. There are many, many threads on this forum where I, and others, have commented on possible routes to the Serengeti from the south, timings of a visit to the Serengeti, and practicalities etc about the Serengeti (and the Ngorongoro Crater).

    Once you have read some of these threads, do come back with more specific questions. I will only comment on routes through Zambia and Tanzania.

    As Tony says, there are lots of routes from South Africa to northern Tanzania and it depends on what you want to see.

    The classic route is up through Zambia on the Great North Road. From Lusaka the places to stay or camp up the Great North Road are:

    Fringilla Farm just north of Lusaka
    Forest Inn near Mkushi
    Mutinondo Wilderness
    Kapishya Hot Springs
    King’s Highway, Kalungu

    Then in Tanzania:
    Utengule Coffee Lodge, near Mbeya, Tanzania
    Old Farmhouse Kizolanza, near Iringa
    A hotel in Dodoma (no camping in Dodoma) - New Dodoma Hotel recommended
    Tarangire National Park or Lake Manyara National Park
    or a campsite above Lake Manyara
    or Maserani Snake Park, near Arusha

    You can also access the Serengeti NP from the west and through the Western Corridor, but let me know if that is what you want to do. The route there has a few more variables.

    There is a lot more to Tanzania than just the Serengeti.

    I will leave that for now for you to read, digest and work out your logistics.

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    We have about 4 weeks that we have available. This includes the drive back home.

    Most of the time we want to spend in Tanzania. Say about 2 weeks, then a week and a half in Zambia. We have seen most of Botswana, so we will not spend a lot of time there.

    Thanks Wazungu Wawili. I have seen some of the threads that you have posted on, and it does help, especially the ones about the Serengeti itself and the campsites there is. Lots of detailed information.

    I have seen on the map a few national parks in Tanzania, and would surely try to visit some of them. Lake Manyara will also be on our list.

    We love wildlife, and would surely want to visit as much of the national parks in Zambia as we can - Making the parks our stop overs en-route to Tanzania and the Serengeti.
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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Quote Originally Posted by mjfourie View Post
    We have about 4 weeks that we have available. This includes the drive back home.

    Most of the time we want to spend in Tanzania. Say about 2 weeks, then a week and a half in Zambia.
    Good luck! I'm sorry to be a bit of a dampener on your enthusiasm, but that is going to be a very unpleasant trip. Even with very hard driving, you will battle to get to the Serengeti in a week, and another week back again, bearing in mind that driving at night is an absolute no-no.
    I would seriously reconsider your options, and do a costing on what it will cost to drive there and back (including wear and tear on your vehicle), and what the same trip would cost as a fly-in safari.
    Tony Weaver

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

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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    Good luck! I'm sorry to be a bit of a dampener on your enthusiasm, but that is going to be a very unpleasant trip. Even with very hard driving, you will battle to get to the Serengeti in a week, and another week back again, bearing in mind that driving at night is an absolute no-no.
    I would seriously reconsider your options, and do a costing on what it will cost to drive there and back (including wear and tear on your vehicle), and what the same trip would cost as a fly-in safari.
    I have wondered about that. . but the thing is that a trip is just so much better in your own vehicle. And if we don't make it to where we planned to go, then we turn around and explore other places. (Spend more time in Zambia). This is just to get a guideline, and some advise. It is more about the journey on such a long trip.

    But I will get some pricing on flights and vehicle rentals, and weigh it up.

    Thanks
    (And we will definitely not drive at night - Made that mistake a few weeks back in Botswana - Most stressed drive I ever had)
    Last edited by mjfourie; 2019/05/09 at 03:49 PM.
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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Quote Originally Posted by mjfourie View Post
    I have wondered about that. . but the thing is that a trip is just so much better in your own vehicle. And if we don't make it to where we planned to go, then we turn around and explore other places. (Spend more time in Zambia). This is just to get a guideline, and some advise. It is more about the journey on such a long trip.
    And that's why I would advise against trying to get to the Serengeti in a short time - you'll kill the pleasure of the journey. You could easily spend the entire month in Zambia alone, it is a wonderful country (just bear in mind that you must plan your trip outside of the rainy season, so June to December are the best months, many of the best areas are simply inaccessible in the rains). The beauty of Zambia is that, barring a few very popular spots like some of the camps bordering South Luangwa, you can meander through without making any bookings.
    Tony Weaver

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    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.

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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Quote Originally Posted by mjfourie View Post
    I am in the planning process for a self-drive trip to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. We will be camping.

    I am however struggling to get some decent information on the route to take and places to stay. (The journey is important to us, so would like to see the nice things en-route as well)

    All I have so far, is;
    Elephant Sands - Botswana
    Livingstone - Zambia (Victoria Falls)
    South Kafue ??

    Then from here onwards it is a mix and not match route, as all the places seem to be a very far drive - which we want to avoid.

    It will be very much appreciated if there is someone that has done the route, that can give some input, and maybe some campsite names as well?

    Thanks
    all places are very far drives. You only have 4 weeks Serengeti is out never mind the rest of Tanzania. If you can’t increase this to about 2 months which in it’s own is still not really enough time as WW says there is so much more than the Serengeti. Maybe you should then consider doing only Zambia. Post a thread on the Zambia section and you will get good advice.
    Last edited by TRON; 2019/05/09 at 04:06 PM.

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  15. #10
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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Quote Originally Posted by mjfourie View Post
    We have about 4 weeks that we have available. This includes the drive back home.

    Most of the time we want to spend in Tanzania. Say about 2 weeks, then a week and a half in Zambia. We have seen most of Botswana, so we will not spend a lot of time there.

    Thanks Wazungu Wawili. I have seen some of the threads that you have posted on, and it does help, especially the ones about the Serengeti itself and the campsites there is. Lots of detailed information.

    I have seen on the map a few national parks in Tanzania, and would surely try to visit some of them. Lake Manyara will also be on our list.

    We love wildlife, and would surely want to visit as much of the national parks in Zambia as we can - Making the parks our stop overs en-route to Tanzania and the Serengeti.
    Very sorry to be another dampener on your enthusiasm, but it is NOT realistic to get to the Serengeti and back in four weeks.

    For example, last year, we battered down the main roads driving from Nairobi to Ruacana on the Namibia Angola border. It took us 14 days hard driving with only one rest day. As we know Tanzania very well, and have visited Zambia before, we didn’t stop to see anything. Most days we drove on average 8-10 hours every day (some days shorter, some longer, but all dependant on where we were going to overnight). It took us 10 days from Nairobi to Livingstone alone. And Nairobi is a short day’s drive from Karatu which is the town nearest the “main” route in eastwards through the Ngorongoro to the Serengeti.

    We do not hang about and drive a Puma engine Land Rover Defender which can fairly whizz down a good road. The average speed possible through most of Tanzania and Zambia is about 60-80 kms an hour. Every tiny village in Tanzania has a 50 kph speed limit and myriads of police just waiting to take a photo of a vehicle speeding up just before the end of a 50 kph zone. They stop you at the next police checkpoint. It took us four and a half days alone from Nairobi to the Tanzania-Zambia border (although with pushing it very hard and having one 11-12 hour day, it might be possible in three days from Mbeya to Arusha/Karatu.

    A fly-in safari to the Serengeti will certainly be more cost effective and less stressful than driving all that way to just turn straight round.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2019/05/09 at 06:09 PM.

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  17. #11
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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    We did the trip from Pretoria to Karatu in 8 days last year. And back the same time. 10 to 13 hours per day. Possible but with limited fun on the road

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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Hi there,

    Sorry for delayed response - haven't been on the site for a while. In case you are still weighing things up I am adding my 2 cents worth.

    4 weeks Serengeti and back? Bonkers indeed, but we did the same trip (Joburg to Serengeti / Lake Victoria) in 2016 / 2017 and I loved every minute.
    Yes, its probably cheaper to fly in terms of getting there (but once you add in an operator or car hire up there then no. Its not cheaper overall. We did the math).

    But I sense for you its not about that is it? You want to drive there. I so get it. Nothing beats that feeling of pulling out of the garage at home and knowing it all lies before you and you are in control. The drive up to TZ was a life highlight for us and it's a trip I often think about. Yes there were some long days, but we paused to take in the Kasanka bats in Zambia and got a taste of Ruaha on the way up too. Our trip report is posted somewhere in the Tanzania forum. A couple of pages back now.

    Obviously more time is better. But for most people 4 weeks is about the limit if you have jobs / businesses to get back to.

    I say go for it!

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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    I disagree with everybody saying that a month is not enough. We did it in 30 days and it was absolutely amazing. One of my best holidays ever. Yes it is a lot of driving but such a lot of nice things to see on the road. The trip is part of the holiday. In my view I will without a doubt go for it. We went up through Zim, Tete Corridor, Malawi, and Tanzania and back via Zambia and Botswana. Please feel free to PM me should you want more info

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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Just did Cape Town to uganda and back in 6 weeks including 3 nights in the Serengeti and Ruwenzori hike. Totally doable with an off-road trailer nogal Only word of warning is the great north road from Mpika to Tunduma is a nightmare! Worst road we have travelled in the whole of Africa! Better to go to Kasama then cross at Zombe border.

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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    P.S. Taita Falcon Lodge campsites in livingstone, called Peregrine are great if you like privacy. I am under the impression that there is no longer camping at elephant sands. Nata lodge was not bad at all. Very well run and lovely staff. Khama rhino reserve was also really lovely and Goo Moremi Gorge campsites were fantastic.

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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Quote Originally Posted by Grabbing Life View Post
    Just did Cape Town to uganda and back in 6 weeks including 3 nights in the Serengeti and Ruwenzori hike. Totally doable with an off-road trailer nogal Only word of warning is the great north road from Mpika to Tunduma is a nightmare! Worst road we have travelled in the whole of Africa! Better to go to Kasama then cross at Zombe border.
    It would be very helpful, Grabbing Life, if you could post a short trip report on the forum.

    Wow! Six weeks to Uganda and back again, including a Ruwenzori trek! Did you do the 7/10 day trek and did you summit Margherita peak on Mt Stanley?

  25. #17
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    Default Re: Self-Drive South Africa to Serengeti

    Of course, the Rwenzoris are in Uganda....

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