There are several options to reach the Serengeti in Tanzania. The two most popular options are overland by (private) transfer or by plane. Another option is booking a complete safari tour. Many tour operators offer Serengeti Safari Packages that include transfers from and to Kenya’s stunning Masai Mara.
If you travel on your own, without a Serengeti tour, you have four options; by plane, a transfer (taxi), public transport, or a self-drive.
In my opinion, a private transfer or taxi is the best option to travel to Serengeti from Kilimanjaro / Arusha airport. The drive will take about 6 -7 hours, depending on where you are staying. I love this way of traveling as get to know the country better by traveling overland. By driving through various villages, you get a glimpse of how the people live, and what they sell along the streets.
It’s the best way to learn about Africa. Another reason to take a (private) transfer is that you can sit back and enjoy the scenery plus the opportunity to stop and take photos at the Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara view points. The downside of traveling overland is that the roads can be bumpy, especially the last part when you enter the long gravel road to the Maasai Mara. Be prepared for an ‘African massage’
What's on Offer?
7 seater, 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser at $230 per day Rate includes:
- Unlimited mileage
- Services of professional driver guide
- All drivers allowances; takes care of his own food and Hotels
- All entrance fees for the car and the driver
- One litre of water per person per day
Price from: $250 (Depending with the number of days)
Map from Kilimanjaro Airport to Gnu Mara river Camp
Serengeti National Park FAQ's
Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is famous for being the location of the Great Wildlife Migration, which involves two MILLION wildebeests, zebras and antelopes. It’s also an extremely large and wild game park, and home to the Big Five of Africa.
In a nutshell, Tanzanian safari costs can be split into three tiers:
- Budget Safaris – about $200 (Depend with no of Days & People)
- Mid-Range Safaris – about $500 per person.
- Luxury Safaris – $1,500 per person per day
Other important factors that will impact your safari cost are time of year, group size, accommodation, and extra activities during your travels.
But you don’t need to grab a calculator just yet. I’ve done all three safari types through Tanzania before and I’m here to give you my best insights on how much your ideal Tanzanian safari will cost – from the tour itself, down to how much you should tip your favourite porter.
YES YOU CAN!
The advantages and disadvantages of self-drive tours in Tanzania
In the overviews below I have listed the advantages and disadvantages that I could find in self-drive blogs and forums on the internet. For the sake of topicality, I made sure to only use experiences from the last four years:
Pros of self-drive safaris in Tanzania
- On self-drive camping tours (more so than on self-drive lodge tours) you are more flexible and can plan much better according to your own interests compared to guided group tours: Do I want to see more birds or more elephants? Do I want to watch the lions for 3 minutes or 3 hours? Do I want to stay in this national park one day longer or not? (Note that this is also possible on guided private camping safaris to a large extend.)
- You are not traveling with strangers as you would be on a guided safari, and you do not have to accommodate anyone. (However, on a private safari you only have to deal with the guide.)
- Self-drive trips can be more adventurous – especially when you are completely alone somewhere without any other people around (even without a guide).
- There will likely be more surprises (not only positive, but also negative).
- There is a tendency for more encounters with locals in situations where the guide would otherwise sort things out for you.
Cons of self-drive safaris in Tanzania
- Long handover times for rental cars due to briefing and sourcing of items that are on the inventory list but are not in the car. There are experiences such as:
- Rental companies having to go into town to collect required items
- Collect camping gear yourself in the rental company’s storage
- Rental cars are often very expensive, and some companies even prohibit driving into the Serengeti. Caution is also advised with flat-rate fees per kilometer, which can become very costly after exceeding the included free kilometers.
- Land Cruisers with a pop-up roof hatch are even more expensive.
- You need to plan the entire tour and route yourself.
- In some cases, there are badly signposted private campsites; a GPS is absolutely essential, and it is advisable to enter the coordinates beforehand. However, there are not always clear coordinates, which makes campsites even more difficult to find.
- Timing and scheduling are often difficult (routes take longer than planned).
- You’ll need to focus on the road at all times because of the speed bumps, the speed limits and the many police checks. Also because of the often-inconsiderate driving style of others (especially trucks and buses).
- Getting stuck in a sandy riverbed or being surprised by a tropical rain storm and getting stuck in the mud happens quite frequently and you often need assistance from someone else to get you going again. The result:
- Help has to be requested and it can take time to arrive.
- Risk of dead spots for cell phones on remote routes, which means that a call for help cannot be issued.
- Small and honest mistakes simply based on lack of knowledge or inexperience can cost more time and money (e.g. if gate times are not adhered to, or the 24-hour rule of admission tickets is misinterpreted, or you misjudge the need or forget to refuel).
- You can lose time at the gates if the payment or code selection technology does not work and you’re not sure how to sort it out and who to talk to in order to resolve the issue.
- Spots when waiting in the queue at the gate are sometimes hotly contested.
- On camping tours, you have to cook your own food.
- High prices in the supermarkets and rip-offs on the go.
- The roads can be in terrible condition, depending on region and season, and you may be rather reluctant to drive them yourself. (Eggs should therefore be stowed particularly carefully.)
- You definitely need to be extremely flexible any day and any time.
- Spotting wildlife is more often than not left to chance and likely less successful than with a guide. (That is why guides are often asked about travel suggestions.)
- Costs per person and care are more expensive than when traveling in a group. Some travelers therefore choose to skip the Ngorongoro Crater – which is a shame as it’s one of the main attractions.
- You might be hoping to save some money by driving yourself; however, more often than not this is not the case and on the contrary, in many cases a guided tour would have been cheaper or at least not more expensive.
Most travellers start their Serengeti safari adventure at either Kilimanjaro International Airport or bustling Arusha. From here you may either travel to your preferred lodge by means of a short transfer flight or by safari vehicle. It is also possible to combine the two and enjoy the best of both worlds!
We recommend four days and three nights as the minimum time to gain maximum benefit from a stay at Serengeti Bushtops. This gives you the chance to explore in all directions, from the heart of the Northern Serengeti, with each adventure balanced by time spent at leisure. The longer you stay, the more you’ll see.