A Quick Few Tanzania Notes: August 2010





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  1. #1
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    Default A Quick Few Tanzania Notes: August 2010

    A quick few Tanzania notes:

    For the full story of our travels, you’re welcome to have a look at the Blog on www.pictureafrica.org or http://africapicture.blogspot.com/. The purpose of this thread is to mention the places we stayed in Tanzania, how much we paid and how we found it. I’ll also mention the annoyances of the country to hopefully prepare future travellers a little better.

    We entered Tanzania from Malawi and the border crossing could not have been easier! We had planned to stay close to the border, but because of the early hour we decided to move on. Many placed had been recommended to us, but we eventually settled on the Iringa campsite half way to Dar Es Salaam. It cost $10 for the two of us, had hot showers and western toilets. I was pleasantly surprised after hearing horror stories of terrible facilities in Tanzania.

    This part is also covered in my notes on Zanzibar, so forgive the duplication for Dar Es Salaam… There are NO camp sites in Dar. You can stay cheaply at the YMCA or YWCA, but their rooms are reportedly in a sad state of fitly disrepair.

    We stayed at Kipopeo Beach Resort on the South Beaches of Dar. To reach this you need to take a ferry across the harbour which costs Tzs 1 000 for the vehicle and Tzs 100 per person, so less than R10 for two people in a car. Kipopeo is one of the furthest camp sites away, but only a 10 minute drive from the ferry. It was well priced ($5 pppn) for camping, had free Wifi (Slow) and decent and clean facilities. The beach itself was idyllic when we were there and constant security creates a feeling of safety in the area. Annoyingly, Overland trucks also favour the place, but it seemed that you could not escape them where ever you went. Kipopeo charges $5 per day to look after your vehicle when visiting Zanzibar. A taxi from there to the Zanzibar Ferry costs $20 regardless of number of people and a Tuk-Tuk Tzs 5000 (About $3)

    We left our car at Mikadi Beach Resort. They charge Tzs 3 000 a day to look after it. Their camping prices are the same as Kipopeo. The atmosphere seemed nicer, their restaurant seemed a little cheaper, but no Wifi and they have salt water showers which put us off a little. The Tuk-Tuk from there to the city ferry was Tzs 3 000 as well, so a good deal all round. Leave early as it can take you up to two hours to catch this ferry!

    From the city ferry to the Zanzibar ferry is a 1.2km walk. You will get pestered by a million and a half touts who will call you brother or friend and who will insist on trying to help you. My advice is to tell them you already have your ferry ticket as that seems the only way to get rid of them. We took the Flying Horse ferry. NEVER buy tickets from a place who does not display the prices as they will have long stories about port tax and charge extra for it. You should pay $20 a person for the flying horse. It leaves at 12:30 and takes two and a half hours to reach Zanzibar.

    After Zanzibar we stayed at Kipopeo one more nights and moved on to Bagamoyo, on the northern side of the city. We stayed at the Bagamoyo Beach Resort for $10. The place was really neglected and the camp sites an absolute afterthought. Facilities were next to the swimming pool and offered flush, western toilets and cold showers we did not brave. We found the town noisy, dirty and falling to pieces. Not really worth the trip to be honest.

    Our next stop was going to be Emau Forest Hill Lodge in the Usambara Mountains. What the brochure fails to tell you is that you need to pay $90 (2 people, one car) to transit through the Amani National Park. Instead we drove to the town of Lushoto and chose the Lawns Hotel to camp at. The fee was $8 per person. Hot showers, flush western loos and grassy camping area. Not really Roof Top Tent friendly, but we coped. We walked to the nearby Irente Farm and would recommend that as a better and cheaper alternative. Lawns was very noisy due to local political rallies and early morning wake up calls from the Mosque as well as the hotel’s pack of 7 dogs.

    From Lushoto we drove to Moshi, inspected Badgers camp site and Keys hotel and left abruptly. We ended up staying at Marangu Hotel for $7 for the two of us. Fantastic hot showers and flush loos. The camp site once again doesn’t cater well for roof top tents, but we managed fine. The hotel’s gardens are fantastic and the views of Kilimanjaro unbeatable. The restaurant was inexpensive with great food and the beer ice cold and also cheap. We eventually stayed 4 nights and did not regret any of it!

    We hiked the Marangu route on Kilimanjaro and made the summit at 6:31am. Nicknamed the “Coca Cola route”, it was still very hard and challenging and gave a feeling of massive achievement. We elected to stay in the park’s huts which made our fee a little cheaper. From what we know now, it seems like the Machame Route would be the most pleasant. It is one day longer, tented and a little more expensive though. We used Afrigalaxy as our tour company and paid $830 each for a five day trek.

    Masai Camp in Arusha charged $5 per person per night. We arrived on a Thursday night and had a quiet and restful experience. The weekend was a different story and the place should really be avoided on weekends. On Saturday night the party stopped after 4:30AM Sunday and the music was incredibly loud! Saying that, the new facilities by the bar were really nice and the location good. So for mid week we would recommend it. BTW, the Patisserie by the clock tower in Arusha offers cheap food and good internet access.

    Our wildlife tour started with Tarangire National Park. We stayed at Paradise Camp site. (T4A) It cost $10 per person (Wildlife areas understandably more expensive) but had fantastically clean facilities. Cold showers though and a bit of a bitch to get to. After the park we stayed at Zion Camp site, not on T4A, but at S3 41.932 E35 56.896. Also $10 per person. Clean facilities, squatting toilets, but hot showers and very close to the Tarangire gate. Caters less fro Roof Top Tents, but we found a suitable space.

    Towards Lake Manyara we selected Twiga Camp. $10 per person. Hot showers, western toilets. Busy with safari goers, but not noisy at all. They had a nice pool and bar. Once again, not really catering for RTT’s, but we found a nice spot. It was ten minutes from the National Park gate. Wild Fig, apparently the competition, allegedly is not as nice, but the same price. Twiga was a good choice for us.

    In Karatu, on the way to Ngorogoro we stayed at Kudu Camp site. It is attached to an expensive and nice looking lodge with expensive restaurant and bar. The camp site however was the normal $10 per person offering western toilets and hot showers. We could park anywhere, making it nice for RTT’s and it is 30 minutes from the Ngorogoro gate, making it an ideal stop over. It is also out of town, which made it quiet, a rare characteristic of camp sites in towns.

    After a day in the crater we stayed at Simba A. You have no choice really and the $30 per person is a total rip off! The facilities are simply inadequate for the vast number of people and the toilets (Long drop holes) were filthy and the showers cold in glacial conditions. We did not brave them either. When we were there, we shared two toilets with approximately 200 souls. The staffs were unfriendly and slightly aggressive and they too do not cater for RTT’s at all. Words of warning, if you do arrive with a RTT, make damn sure you stick to the roads and stay off the grass (Velt).

    Nyani Camp close to Seronela in Serengeti was our chosen public camp site and apparently a cut above the rest. This time there were four squatting toilets and two cold showers which we shared with around 30 other campers. Once again we were the only self drivers and not allowed in the actual camp site with our vehicle. Once again we camped in the car park for $30 per person. There are other choices in Serengeti, but we did not investigate them.

    When all was said and done, we went to the Ngorogoro and Serengeti for the wildlife, expecting worse facilities than what we actually found. Self driving is discouraged in the parks, explaining the astronomical fees, but to be honest, it was all worth it. FYI, for two people and one vehicle, we paid $110 per 24 hours in the smaller parks, $400 for 24 hours in Ngorogoro which included driving down into the crater and camping at Simba A and $200 for 24 hours in Serengeti, including camping at Nyani. The best way to do it is to enter Ngorogoro around 10am which puts you in the crater around mid day when the clouds lift. This also gives you enough time to get to the Serengeti gate before your 24 hours is up. We checked out of Ngorogoro at 10am, asked permission to hang out in the car park, and entered Serengeti at 13:00. That gave us enough time to leave the Serengeti the next day without our 24 hours expiring. Beware! Serengeti’s roads are worse than you will ever understand unless you experience them yourself. Your enemies are dust and corrugation.

    On the western side of the park we stayed at the Serengeti Stop Over Camp. The fee was $10 per person and the facilities great! Western toilets, hot showers and grass you were allowed to park on. It was quiet and friendly and almost dust free with a cheap bar and reasonable restaurant.

    Our journey took us to Mwanza and the Mwanza Yacht Club. This is the only place offering camping in the area. The cost was $3 per person and facilities was western toilets and cold showers. The camp site had nice grass. The restaurant seemed cheap and the bar ridiculously cheap! Beer was $1 and soft drinks $0.30. It may get noisy on weekends, but when we were there on a Sunday evening it was dead quiet.

    Towards Rwanda we stopped over in Biharamulo and camped at Boma Guest House. I had the feeling we had been the first guests in a long time! We camped in the courtyard which was nice, quiet and protected for $3 per vehicle. We had access to a room with hot shower and western toilet. I wouldn’t describe it as a holiday destination, but as a stop over in an area without options, it was a fantastic find! You may not recognize it on arrival, but trust the GPS and T4A.

    In Tanzania I got massively annoyed by the relentlessness of touts trying to separate you from your money. The other bigger annoyance for me was that anything to do with government had to be paid in US$ as not even the government accepted their own currency as legal tender. The only way to get US$ is to take TZS out of an ATM and walking with rolls of cash into a Bureau de Change to exchange for $. Thankfully the National Parks all now accept VISA (with pin) and MasterCard, so no need to carry a briefcase full of currency. Ngorogoro is not National Parks, so you need to pay them in cash.


  2. #2
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    Wow, I am now reconsidering my self drive trip to the serengeti, I have private campsite reservation in the Masia Mara over looking the mara river for 8 days and we were planning to do the northern area of the serengeit but so far we are having a very difficult time getting any private campsites. it seems all the private campsite are monoplized by a few key tour operators and if you do not use their services you can not get a private campsite so we may have to use the public sites. but with that thought in mind I may just change my plans and head north west to see the gorillas up in Uganda and Rawanda. We are self driving from Burundi where I currently live. any additional info you can provide would be outstanding.. thanks

    Simon

  3. #3
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    Hi,

    We have just come through the Serengeti and are heading for Rwanda tomorrow.

    You can book private or "special" campsites direct with TANAPA you just need to be persistent and also to have a good idea of where you want to be. They aren't really up for giving advice.

    Your options will depend on your time of year as yes tour operators will book up certain spots for use on mobile safaris but if you just want an alternative to Seronera public campsites there are 6 "special" ones in the Seronera area - $50pppn instead of $30pppn. We stayed at Seronera 6 which was about 10km away but the others are much closer. Obviously no facilities and you do have to keep your wits about you (we had lion very close and some curious buffalo).

    I would recommend you get hold of the Veronica Roodt Serengeti Map which shows the location of many of the special sites, read up on where the hot spots are likely to be (if you are looking to camp outside Seronera area) and work out your preferred spots. They have recently changed the names of many of the sites but TANAPA should be able to give you old and new so that you can match them to the names on the map. If you want to stay at Seronera I would go for 1 or 5 or if not 2 or 3 - they looked to be best located - but you won't go far wrong with any of them. Don't stay at Turner Springs (about 10km east of Seronera) a lovely spot but they are putting in a borehole and it is a bit of a construction site.

    Hope you make it there.

  4. #4
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    Duplicate post
    Last edited by itchyfeet; 2011/04/11 at 12:27 PM.

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