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Self drive Tanzania Northern Circuit


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I had been to Tanzania 3 times before; 2 times the northern circuit, and 1 time Selous + Ruaha. All 3 times were private safari in luxurious tented camps. I fell absolutely in love with Tanzania and safari in particular and wanted to share this with my girlfriend, who hadn't been to Africa before.

This being the 4th trip I started to look into a self drive. It seemed to be regular to do in SA and Namibia, but not so in Tanzania.

But as I didn't know for sure if my girlfriend would enjoy the whole 'safari routine' and she likes a bit of variation in her trip I thought it would be best to do a self drive. Especially as I liked to do something different as well, and self driving seemed quite adventurous.


So I booked a trip with Safari Drive and we both absolutely loved it! Especially since there are not many self drivers in Tanzania, I'd like to share an in depth trip report and hope it can be of some use to anyone :)


I didn't have time yet to sort out all my pictures, but some can be viewed here:
and the night time pictures:

Some of the highlights:
- Getting scared by an elephant 'sneaking up' on us at our campsite, that was only 3 meters away
- Heaving our car break down and getting it repaired
- Have 5 nights on different spots in Moru Kopjes, even 2 nights right ON a kopje!
- See a big herd of the migration running in from our campsite
- Be right in the MIDDLE of the migration and see tiny wildebeest and even one being born
- Getting 'lost' in the serengeti and driving over 30kilometers off road to get back to Moru
- Geting scared into our tent at 20:15 as some buffelo get very close and keep staring right back at us, no matter what we do
- Enjoy the lovely night sky (astronomy is my hobby)
- Running into Jean DuPlesis (from Wayo Africa) who was filming for his next series and getting invited into his lovely camp.

We booked the selfdrive with Safari Drive and I can only say they have been great! In preparing our trip as well as the support 'on the ground' of Liz and her mechanic. They were very helpful to say the least and every little problem was sorted out in good fashion.


Our itinerary was:
2-Feb - Fly from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro, overnight at River Trees Lodge
3-Feb - Pick up the car and get instructions, relax or perhaps already do some shopping. Overnight at River Trees Lodge
4-Feb - Drive to Tarangire. Most likely spent the morning shopping and stocking the car and have lunch at Tarangire Safari Lodge, then game driving to our private camp spot; Mibuyu Mingi Special Campsite
5-Feb - Full day game driving in Tarangire, overnight at Mibuyu Mingi Special Campsite
6-Feb - Morning gamedrive in Tarangire, then drive to Ngorogoro crater. Relax or walk in the afternoon. Overnight at Ngorongoro Crater Simba Public Campsite
7-Feb - Game drive on the crater floor. Overnight at Ngorongoro Crater Simba Public Campsite
8-Feb - Drive to Nainokanoka village, go on a walking safari near Empakai crater. Fly camp
9-Feb - Walking safari Empakai Crater. Fly camp
10-Feb - Drive to Serengeti Moru Kopjes. Overnight at private campsite, Moru 4 Campsite Serengeti National Park
11-Feb - Game driving in Serengeti. Overnight at Moru 4 Campsite Serengeti National Park
12-Feb - Game driving and drive to Simiyu. Overnight at Simiyu Special Campsite.
13-Feb - Game driving. Overnight at Simiyu Special Campsite
14-Feb - Game driving. Overnight at Simiyu Special Campsite
15-Feb - Game drive. Drive to Karatu. Overnight at Gibbs Farm.
16-Feb - Return vehicle and fly back home.


Some comments on the itinerary:

River Trees Lodge (I think it's officially named River Trees country inn) was absolutely lovely. I'm very glad that we booked 2 nights here so we had a day to relax a bit as well. If we would have had more than 14 days than I would even have booked a 3rd night here so we would have been able to do an activity as well. (walking/canoeing or Arusha NP..)


Mibuyu Mingi Special Campsite is nicely remote, but also a bit far from the river. This should be taken into consideration, as you have to drive quite a bit to and from your camp. Also, this seems to be considered as a campsite where 2 parties can stay and the rangers/park management book this site accordingly. Although they are right that it is a big campsite, I would rather really be on my own. (that's what you pay for isn't it?)


Empaakai; you don't need 2 nights at Empaakai; the walk takes around 5 or 6 hours, and you have to 'find' another walk or arrange something different. Apparently they also do some walks there where you walk from one camp to the other (or site and they setup the camp there), which probably would have liked better.


All Moru campsites are great. We didn't stay at Moru 4, but 1 night on 3, one night on the ranger site, 2 nights on a kopje and 1 night at Moru 6.

Simiyu is a very remote campsite and we didn't see much game around there. We were lucky to be allowed to stay around Moru by the rangers.


Gibbs Farm is very nice obviously and it was a bit of a 'waste' that we couldn't spent a day there. (we arrived late and departed early). Again; If we had more than 14 days available we would probably have spent another night either here, or at River trees


I will start the day to day report of the trip, but it might take a few days for me to complete it smiley.gif

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Prior to departure

Safari Drive was a big help in arranging and preparing the trip. I have sent them quite a few questions and always got a good response. One minor thing was that I sometimes didn't know who to contact and had to forward message to info@.. when I didn't get a reply. But when I did so I always got a reply from someone quickly.

We were sent our itinerary and all the information and lovely maps of the parks prior to departure.



Feb 2 - Flight Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro, stay at River Trees

- I just love the fact that the plane 'parks' right in front of arrival hall and you just walk to there.

- We got visa on arrival, which worked out just fine without to long a wait.


We flew with KLM from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro, arrival 23:50 local time. I had decided to get a visum on arrival and that worked out just fine. They handed out the application forms for the visa in the plane as well as the migration form to fill out. We were out of the plane quite quickly and the wait for the visa was not long at all. They actually had opened up all the immigration booths so everything went quite quickly. (last time I arrived there they only opened up 2 so it took much longer). We even still had to wait for our luggage to appear on the belt, so it was definitely a good choice to get the visa on arrival.

Once we picked up our luggage we went outside and were met by 30 or 40 drivers all with printed out papers with names. Glancing them all over our eyes stopped at the nicest of them all; a driver standing in safari uniform with a wooden pannel with our names written on it. So far so good!

He let us to his mini-bus and gave us a wet towel to freshen up. It's such a small gesture yet so much pleasure!

It took around 30 minutes to drive us to the lodge, which is situated near Usa River. There we were welcomed by an english (I think) lady who was there just for our late arrival. Again some wet towels to freshen up and some juice while we were explained how things worked around there and to fill in some paperwork. We we're told that breakfast was available till 9:30, and that she would let people know we came in late so we could have breakfast as late as possible. We were then taken to our cottage, which was absolutely lovely. It was huge and quite private, and we could hear the river rushing right underneath.

I always think it's kinda nice to arrive in the dark; it gives a special feeling and experience, and only when you wake up the next day you'll know exactly where you are and how it looks ;)


Feb 3 - Pick up our car, relax at River Trees

- We get briefed on our car by the lovely Liz and Mike

- We relax and enjoy the Blue Monkeys playing in the tree in front of our cottage


After a lovely night of sleep we woke up early enough to be able to have breakfast at 9. When we got to the breakfast buffet, we quickly decided that we wanted to sit outside (I can't believe the people that want to sit 'inside'/under the roof while being in africa!) instead of under the roofed area.

All people were very helpful and seemed to know we had arrived late.

After a lovely breakfast we walked a bit around the area of River Trees, which is really really nice. We had arranged for a pickup of 11 o'clock to take us to our car. We were met at River Trees by Mike, who would take us to his house where his wife is taking care of the Safari Drive business. It was a short but lovely drive to an estate nearby. There we were met by Liz, who would be taking care of everything and explained all the things we could think of in great detail. After the briefing we are shown around the car, which is packed with everything we could imagine to be needing when out there on safari. We are shown how to setup the roofed tent (very VERY easy!) and at around 3 o 'clock we head back to River Trees.



I had planned to go to Arusha on this day, especially to go to an ATM so we wouldn't have to bother the next day prior to our departure. However, Liz ensured us there would be 3 different ATMs in the Shoprite area so we could just get our cash the next day before shopping. This was really great as we had no desire to get into a busy city, but just wanted to relax a bit more at the really lovely River Trees!.

While driving back we saw our first game already on the estate, but my girlfriend was busy driving and more or less only had an interest in the car at that point haha!

But I did have her stop and we looked at some Wildebeest, Eland en Grant Gazelle's.

Back at the lodge we have some late lunch and relax at the terras of our cottage. We got a private show from a group of Blue Monkeys that entertained us for over an hour in the tree right behind our cottage. Sitting there with our bino's watching the babies and little ones play was wonderful.

Later that night we have a very nice buffet diner under the stars and we go to bed to have a good rest before heading of to Tarangire the next day!


Feb 4 - The adventure starts; drive to Tarangire, stay at Mibuyu Special Campsite

- Shop at Shoprite

- Spotting a leopard


One thing you need to think of when panning your trip is the times you enter/leave the different parks. Entry fees are payed per 24 hours, so you need to keep that in mind. Because we would have a long drive from Empaakai to our camp in the serengeti later in our trip, we calculated from that and decided it would be wise to not enter the NCAA to early and therefor the same for Tarangire.

So we decided to do some shopping first and head off to tarangire where we would arrive at around 13:30.

We woke up at 7am and had a relaxed breakfast and we departed at 9.00. We knew Arusha would be very busy around this hour, but we had no rush so we just tried to stay calm and relax no matter what :) It took us an hour to reach Shoprite.

Arriving at Shoprite we first used the ATM to get us some cash for the groceries and the Diesel we would need later on. We already had taken dollars with us so we didn't need much.

We already had a basic 'starter kit' with canned food etc. so we basically needed frozen meet and fresh vegetables and some wine/beer/soda. And water... .lot's of water!

I calculated we would need around 3liters per person per day, but didn't want to take that much with us in regards to space in the car. (we would be able to buy water in Karatu as well)

After an hour of shopping we left for Tarangire at around 11 o'clock. The adventure was really starting now!

We arrived at Tarangire at 13:30 and did the paperwork and payed the park fees (Mastercard).

We then drove slowly to Tarangire Safari Lodge to have a nice lunch and rest there. It was very hot but since it was the first safai for my girlfriend we did a gamedrive anyway and stopped for everything we saw; Giraffes, warthogs, a group of baboons with a little one and of course the first group of elephants. We arrived at Safari Lodge at 15:00 and had a nice lunch and enjoyed the marvelous view.

I must say It was not as green as I had expected. I guess last time I was earlier in the season and that makes a noticable difference.

We had a nice rest, enjoyed the view and headed out at 16:30 to slowly drive towards our campsite.

After crossing the river we noticed 3 cars standing still and we pulled over to see what they were looking at; a leopard lying in a tree! Such luck! After a while he even stood up and jumped down from the tree and soon disappeared in the thickets. I couldn't believe our luck, especially for my girlfriend; first day of her first safari and already spotted a leopard! (it took me 3 safari's to spot my first leopard ;) )

Then we drive towards our campsite. We ignore the signpost and follow our map and GPS that both suggest that the other route is a better road. Soon it gets very quiet with cars (we only see 1) and also with animals. Seems like this area has little game, even though we can see the signs of elephants everywhere (dung and broken trees). The last bit to our campsite the road is really REALLY bad and we have to drive at walking pace to get over the rocks and bumps and finally hit an open area. There is no sign that it this is the campsite, but the road stops here and there are a few places where there was a campfire so this should be the place. Still a bit nervous we park the car and get out to set up everything. It feels a bit weird; you never are allowed to get out of your vehicle, but here you do it anyway and even in the dark.

My girlfriend is a bit nervous and wants to keep the light that is on the side of the car on. It's a big light and it attrackts many insects. The sky gets clear and I am taking some pictures of the sky and the Large Magellanic Cloud, which I see for the first time of my live. We hear hyena's in the distance, but they are clearly far away.

Because we had a very late lunch we don't really feel hungry so we are just snacking some crackers and raw carrots and stuff instead of cooking diner.

We then pack up everything before going to bed. Can't leave anything outside because of hyena's and baboons obviously. Also because we want to be able to leave quickly the next morning.




Feb. 5 - Full day gamedriving in Tarangir - stay another night at Mibuyu SC

We set our alarm at 5:45, but when we wake up it is still very dark so we snooze a bit. And some more. And some more... eventually we get up at 7. A bit later than I would have liked, but I also want this trip to be relaxed so it's ok. We get up, cook some water for tea/coffee and pack everything up. As it is the first time this takes some time (we would get some routine in later on and do it faster).

We depart our campsite at 8:30. We drive to the river and decide to go for the 'small loop' close to the river. It takes a while to reach the river and we spot a lot of elephants. Obviously the park is known for it's many elephants, but Im still impressed by the number of herds we see. And almost every heard has a very tiny young one amongst them. They are just so cute!

We also see many many white storks walking around eating insects. Also many warthogs again. A few impala but not as much as I remembered there to be.



At around 13:30 we go to the picknick site and we set out to cook our lunch. Some chicken curry with raw vegetables. I had to 'fight off' the vervet monkeys that were very much interested in our food as well, and they managed to get an onion. Not sure if they will like that lol..

At 15:30 we head off again and drive on the right side of the river and we want to go via Tarangire Hill. Very soon it is very quiet with cars again, it's so nice to be out there on your own! At one point the road seems to stop and there is a track that probably a handful of cars made into the bush. We decide to follow that track which is a bit exciting. After a while we end up at the road again so everything is ok. These are the exciting things of driving on your own I guess :)

Along the way we are bugged by many many tsetse flies. They seem to like me very much and sting me a lot. At one point we decide to close the windows and kill all the flies that are in the car. Luckily we have airco so we can drive around with closed windows. The route and scenery around Tarangire Hill is really beautiful! We see more white storks, elephants and girafs as well as some Hartebeest and even a klipspringer. At 17:30 we arrive at our campsite again, and notice that there is another car with 'self-drivers' on our spot! After checking up with them it seems they have a reservation as well and since there is no ranger station nearby we decide the campsite is big enough for the 2 of us and we put our car a bit further behind some bushes and still have some privacy. (Later we would learn that the rangers seem to think the campsite is big enough for 2 people camping there 'privately' so it was no error. Something to keep in mind in the future as I definitely think it is less nice having 'others' there)

We are a bit hesitant to go outside because of the tsetse flies, but a bit of insect repellant candles seem to help a bit and we quickly start a fire and burn some elephant dung that drives of the flies as well. After sunset they are gone anyway so it's all not that bad. We brought a 'shower' (which is a black bag with 25 liters of water and a hose ;)) and we take a nice shower. The water is quite warm from the sun and and it's nice to refresh ourselves.

This evening we decide to keep the big light off and enjoy the fire and we put some potatoes in the fire for 'diner' . Again we pack-up everything and head of to bed.


Feb. 6. Gamedrive Tarangire and head of for Ngorongoro crater rim. - Stay at Simba A public campsite

- park at the riverside for 1,5 hours and see 3 groups of elephant come for a drink.

- loosing water and getting a bit anxious if everything is alright with the car...

- my camera breaks down

- we have a hyena playing round our car at night


We already got some routine and the packing up and leaving is already quicker than yesterday. We are heading out at 7 o'clock so we are out just when the sun comes up. The light is just beautiful and quite quickly we see a group of elephant coming our way and crossing the road. We decide to go to the river and follow the right side circuit this time. Quite early there is a place where you can park very close to the river and we decide to heave our morning cup of coffee and tea there and just wait for animals to come to the river. There is only one other car there so again it's nice to be out there 'on your own'. The waiting pays off; in 1,5 hours there are 3 groups of elephant that come to the river to have a drink. 1 group at a time as if they were following a schedule. It was marvelous to see these animals so relaxed and the little ones amongst them. 1 was even still so young that it didn't figure out how to use it's trunk yet and it got on it's knees to drink from the river with it's mouth directly. So cute!


After a while we continue on our way and cross the river and drive via the picknick site back to the entrance. Taking some detours into the 'small serengeti' and there we spot the first zebra in the distance. These are one of the favourites of my girlfriend so this was very nice! But I ensured her we would be seeing lot's of them in the Serengeti :)

At around 12:30 we arrive at the gate and we depart to go to Ngorongoro.

When we stop at the viewpoint over Lake Manyara we notice that we are leaking water under our car. We open the hood and the water inside the cooling canister is boiling. However, the gauge is indicating that the engine is not overheated so everything seems fine. We decide to head on to see if the problem is temporary. We tank for fuel in Karatu and see that we are still loosing some water. We more or less 'forget' to restock on some supplies because of the stress for the car. We head on to towards the gate where we decide to phone Liz (of Safari Drive) to see if we should go into the NCAA or stay out and get it fixed. After some discussions with the mechanic and a lot of help of some friendly guides and others we decide we should be fine and head on.

At the gate there is some confusion about 40$ we need to pay extra. We already payed our NCAA fees and we have the smartcard so this is a bit confusing. In the end it seems to be that we should be the 40$ for the 2 days of walking we are going to do near Empakaai. Again we call Liz and she ensures us that we can pay the fees and we get it refunded later on.

Luckily all the stories about not being able to use cash seem false and we pay the $40 in cash. (there even is a special 'cash only' desk at the entrance...)

When we reach the view point at the crater rim we notice a LOT of water underneath the car again. We stop and take a look under the hood again when another guide and guest approach us. The guest seems to know the car quite well and feels the water and ensures us this is normal and it is just water from the airconditioning. Slightly relieved we head on, but we are still a bit worried since the power of the engine is not consistent as well at times.

We arrive at Simba A Public campsite which seems very nice. It is very big so you still have a bit of privacy. And even facilities!

We talk to some nice people that are there as well. I prepare some lunch for the next day when we head into the crater, and I cook diner. (Pasta) We met another Dutch couple that is self driving for 3 months all over africa and they have some drinks with us that night. I start photographing the night sky again but my camera is failing and seems broken. Luckily I have the old model as backup so I can still continue photographing, but unfortunately the Nikon D70s is not suitable for night sky pictures.

After a very nice evening we get to bed a bit later then we wanted to, as we want to be at the crater floor as early as possible! In the middle of the night we wake up as there is a hyena close to our car. It obviously has grabbed something and it's playing with it. We can hear the sounds and see it's silhouette like a dog shaking it's head with something in it's mouth. Meanwhile making the 'laughing' noise they make when being excited. This was really funny and marvelous to witness!


Feb 7. Troubles with the car and go down to the crater floor, stay another night at Simba A

- We have trouble with the car but it is solved

- We enjoy the crater floor, and it is NOT busy at all!?

- We got scared by an elephant that 'sneaked' up on us at our campsite.


We are getting better and faster at getting up and leaving every day. We head off at around 7 to the tourist office to pick up a guide. There is no one at the office but there are a few people lingering around. One is willing to help us and phones up someone that could guide us. I'm not sure if this is all officially as it should be, but we are getting a friendly guy that helps us out a lot so it's all fine by me ;)

When we head off towards the entrance of the crater we have a real problem with the car: the motor is overheating. We notice that all the cooling water is gone, we refill and after 2 kilometers the same thing: all the water is gone. We decide to head back slowly towards the village that is close to the tourist info office. There is a 'good mechanic' there that should be able to help us out. They are taking a look at the car and we call our mechanic. The mechanic is talking to the mechanics that are working on our car and that seems to go alright. Long story short: the cap of the cooling tank is broken and we need a new one. Luckily we are able to 'rent' one of another car that is standing still that day anyway. It's a lot of money (70.0000 shilling) but Liz tells us to take the deal, we will be refunded. Meanwhile our mechanic will make sure there is a new cap coming our way. So 4 hours later we are still able to go down to the crater floor. The car is still having a bit of a problem with the 'power not being consistent' but according to our guide this is most likely due to bad fuel.

I'm quite disappointed since I booked 2 nights at the crater rim especially to be able to be at the crater floor as early as possible. But of course I'm also glad that we are even able to go.

Somehow it is not busy at all in the crater, which is a surprise to me.

Obviously we see lot's of game. And lot's of zebra, quite many with small ones as well. We even see the first baby wildebeest! This is good news as we anticipated to see many in the serengeti as well.

When we are at the lunch spot we are alone!! this is just really weird. Of course we are 'late', but being alone at the lunchspot is something I did not expect. But it's very nice of course!

After our lunch we see our first lions and many hyena's.



Unfortunately the ascent road is closed and we need to use the road at the other side of the crater. It's quite a ride back around the crater rim. Luckily our guide is driving very well and this gives us some confidence in our car again. No more problems!

When we arrive back at the village where they helped us it turns out they had the mechanic go to Karatu and get a new cap for us. So now everything is solved and we our good to go!

Since it has been raining all the tents at Simba A are setup on 'higher ground' and we are able to park and camp in the same spot as yesterday which is now even more remote and private.

We eat some leftovers of yesterday and when I'm doing the dishes I hear a noise. I turn on my 'headlight' and there is a big elephant standing just 3 meters away!! Wow, we didn't hear or see him coming! This scares especially my girlfriend who is really afraid and wants to turn on the light. A bit distracted by hear fear I'm not thinking clearly and let hear turn on the light of the car. This scares the elephant and he's walking away. I was a bit dissapointed that we scared him off while he was completely relaxed, but of course I understand my girlfriend for whom it's the first time to encounter an elephant this close.

Later on I see many eyes walking around and looking at us. I think these are Genet, but can't be sure as I only saw eyes moving around.

The sky is perfectly clear (again) and this is just amazing. Without any (real) light pollution it's amazing how clear you can see the milky way, the Large Magellanic Cloud and all kinds of objects in there.

Tonight I also call our guide for the next 2 days to check what the plan is. It seems a bit confusing as he is asking us what our itinerary says and what we want to do, while we were under the impression he would have a plan. I decide that we would have the discussion the next day since we have to pick him up close by anyway.

We go to bed at 22:00 and it's cold!



Feb 8, Drive to Empaakai, walk at Olmoti, stay at Empaakai Special Campsite

We wake up at sunrise and witness it from our tent. Beautiful!

We get up, pack our things and refill our water tank. At 8 o'clock we pick up our guide Francis, who is a Masai and speaks perfect English. We pick him up at the turn-of towards Endulin, which is only 5minutes from Simba A.

With Francis we discuss what we want to do. Apparently it's unusual to have 2 nights at Empaakai, since you can only do a walk down to the crater floor and all around the lake and that takes only 1 day. We decide that we do a walk at Olmoti, since we are passing there and it seems to be beautiful as well. Francis is a bit conceirned that we don't have enough to fill our time, but we are actually looking forward to some relaxing time so we're fine with arriving early in camp.

Francis is a bit unclear about picking up a ranger and he would remain unclear about that: he keeps saying that we need to pick one up, but without one is fine as well since the local people are allowed to do walks as well (?) and so we are fine with him and local friends there.

We're fine with that, and after meeting a drunk and inadequate ranger near Olmoti I think we are better of with Francis and whatever he seems to be arranging ;)

We stop at Nainokanoka village and do a walk of a few hours up Olmoti. it is really beautiful. A few masai that are around there join us when we sit down to enjoy the view.

We then cary on to Empaakai. The drive from Olmoti to Empaakai is absolutely wonderful. It reminds me of the Piyaya region, soft green hills with some wildlife scattered around as well as small masai villages. (Boma's)

It's nice that we have Francis with us who is talking about his life as a masai a bit and explains us a lot of things.

When we arrive at our campsite the other's are not there yet to setup the camp. We wait a bit till they arrive and while they are setting up the mobile camp, I go for a walk around the crater rim a bit. It is very hot however and a hard walk with steep ascents. We decide to go back quite quickly and relax a bit at the camp.

It's very nice to be taken care of and not having to cook yourself and do the dishes etc! We enjoy a lovely diner. Strangely enough they only seem to have brought beer with them, so we are lucky we have our own supplies with us and are able to enjoy some wine with diner ;)

That night would be a very cold night, even more cold than on the ngoronngoro crater rim I would say.



Edited by nikao
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Game Warden

One trip report where I can say, "I've stayed there..." (Simba A).

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Very interesting, Nikao. I remember you planning this trip and trying to get a sense of what was involved. Wonderful that it all came through so well for you!


I saw ele and buffalo dung on top of one those kopjes in Moru once - lucky you didn't get any night time visitors there :D


That hiking picture is beautiful.

Edited by Sangeeta
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thanks nkao for share your trip. beautiful sky pics!

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Very interesting, Nikao. I remember you planning this trip and trying to get a sense of what was involved. Wonderful that it all came through so well for you!


I saw ele and buffalo dung on top of one those kopjes in Moru once - lucky you didn't get any night time visitors there :D


That hiking picture is beautiful.

well.... we actually did get visited by buffalo on the kopjes where we camped. One was grazing very relaxed but very close to us (2 or 3 meters away), while the other one was just staring at us from 5 meters away. Wouldn't stop staring, no matter the noise we made or the light we shined in it's eyes. We decided to pack things up and go to bed early, as we didn't feel safe with a buffalo doing a staring contest with us. Especially knowing that buffalo can be quite agressive if they are annoyed...

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  • 1 month later...
Canadian Robin

I am curious about your stay at Moru. You mention that you spent two nights "on a kopje." It sounds wonderful - the view would be amazing. I assume you were not on an actual special campsite? How did you find this spot on top of a kopje? How did you arrange to camp there? Did you go the ranger station, or did you happen to meet the rangers on the road?


I was shocked to read that you had to share your campsite in Tarangire - I had no idea that this was a possibility. CR

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If astronomy is your hobby, you have even more to enjoy out in the wild than the flora and fauna. Beautiful sky shot. I'm wondering how you stayed on the kopje too.


Has the safari bug bitten your girlfriend after this trip?

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Great start. I really look forward to seeing how you got on .... And you've brought Canadian Robin back with you. I too am waiting for the kopjes story - but save it so we keep reading !!

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I have really enjoyed this so far. Something I would have loved to do when I was younger, sadly though, without the money or courage.

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what an adventure!

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Thx for the replies.. I'll continu my trip report right away! .. the questions regarding Simiyu and staying on top of the kopje will be addressed in the trip report, but I can say that we were very lucky to have some very nice rangers who were willing to help us out :)

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Feb 9, Walk around the lake of the Empaakai crater, stay another night at Empaakai special campsite

We wake up at 7:15 and see the sunrise from our tent. After a nice breakfast we depart at 9 o' clock for a walk in the crater. We are doing the walk with our guide Francis and some other massai who apparently lives nearby and is there instead of a ranger. It all feels fine and good to our liking, especially since we don't see anyone else this day. It really is a remote but beautiful area! The crater wall is quite steep and it's a really nice walk down to the crater floor. It's a walk of approximately 25km around the lake. It's beautiful although there is not a lot of wildlife. Apart from the beautiful flamingo's and some really nice butterflies we don't see any animals. But the walk is amazing and I can recommend it to everyone! Keep in mind that it can be quite challenging as it is quite a long walk and it can become hot in the sun at the crater floor. At around 14:30 we are back in camp and we are treated with a very nice lunch; pasta! We are very hungry so enjoy this very much. The rest of the day we spend reading a bit and just relaxing. Quite nice to have the chance to relax a bit. 
Just before dinner time we spot the guys preparing a bucket shower...incredible how much you enjoy a simple hot shower after a few days!!

We enjoy another nice diner and go to bed fairly early as we have a long drive ahead of us.

10 feb, a long drive past the Ngorogoro crater to the Moru Kopjes in the Serengeti

We wake up at 6 and are ready for departure at 7. I found it a bit hard to estimate the total time it would take to get to the gate at Nabii Hill and on to Moru. Our GPS navigation was indicating only 7,5 hours but we were told that it would take much longer. Since we carefully planned entry at the Ngorongoro gate at 16 o'clock 4 days earlier, we would have till 16 to reach nabi hill.


The drive back from Empaakai to the Ngorogoro crater is beautiful, especially the part between Empaakai and the Olmoti crater. Beautiful green hills with quite some wildlife. Back down from the Empaakai crater we encounter a bushbuck standing in the middle of the road staring back at us. 2 minutes later another one… and a bit later a third one, with a baby! Wow! they are usually so shy and now we spot 3 and a baby. So lucky!

After a while we spot a somewhat strange animal; it looks like a jackal but much bigger, almost like a wolf. Could it be that it's a mixture of a massai dog and a jackal?

We drive on and refuel at the petrol station at the Ngorongoro crater rim. I'm looking forward to the next part of the trip, since we will be entering 'new' area's from now on :)

I love the view you get over the plains towards the Serengeti once you are passed the Ngorongoro crater and are descending towards the plains. We spot a lot of giraffes who seem to be always present at this spot.

The road is getting worse and worse and we think of trying to avoid it by driving via Oldupai Gorge. I remember there is a road to cross the gorge and you can follow that road for quite some time so you avoid the terrible 'main road'. When we arrive at Oldupai Gorge we see a sign that you need to hire a guide to continue. Somewhat disappointed we turn back towards the main road, and I don't spot the road down in the gorge. Doh! (on our way back we would take that road :) )

Driving on the road gets worse and at times we are driving only 30km/h. If we drive any faster the cars starts drifting and seems out of control. However, most other cars seem to be passing us with quite high speeds. I still don't understand it, but I felt like we were missing something or our car was broken lol. We really couldn't go any faster so just tried to keep going as safe as possible. We were early enough so we weren't in a hurry.

When we just entered the Serengeti we encounter a big herd of wildebeest and some zebra; the first part of the migration!

We arrive at the gate around 14:30. We do some shopping at the little shop at the gate (we need more water and coke ;) ) and continue on towards Moru Kopjes.

When we get close to the Moru area we encounter 2 female lions who are clearly on the hunt. We stop for a while, but when they disappear we decide to head on. We want to make sure we will have time to make any necessary arrangements in case our campsite is already taken. And rightfully so; we drive towards Moru 4 and we can see from a distance that this campsite is taken. And not just by some self driver, there is a whole camp set up with the big safari tents! Clearly they wouldn't go anywhere. A bit disappointed, but also a bit disgusted we drive on. I can't help but feel a bit sorry for the people staying there. It's a beautiful spot, but not suited to put more than 1 tent there. Let alone 10 or 15! So crowded, no privacy. Awful!

Luckily there is a ranger post in the area so we drive there to ask them where we would need to stay. The rangers are very friendly and after some radio communication we are told to stay at Moru 3. They ensure us we can spent 2 nights there, which is fine since we need to go to Simiyu for 3 nights after 2 nights of Moru. We drive to Moru 3 and set up camp there. It's a beautiful campsite, underneath a huge Kopje and a view over the plains. I really have the feeling that THIS is the best part of the trip. This environment is what I love about Tanzania. It's amazing!

We built a nice fire and enjoy the rest of the evening. My girlfriend wants to have 'real breakfast' with this great view at least once, so we decide to do this the next morning.

11 feb, discovering the lion family

We have an early breakfast at the camp and enjoy the view. At around 8:30 we are packed and head out for a game drive. It seems like we are the only people in the area! I'm a bit surprised since we discovered the tented camp at Moru 4 earlier, and see a similar camp set up at Moru 5. But we hardly see anyone else. We drive to some other kopjes in the area and all of a sudden I see a big white belly and a paw; lions! When we approach the kopje they are on we count 3 females, 2 males and 5 little ones! And the best thing of it all is the fact that we are alone! Before this trip I prepared myself for the fact that it would be most likely that I would be spotting other cars, rather then animals. But here we were, alone with the lions.


We enjoy them for the rest of the morning and then head back to our campsite to have lunch.

When we arrive at our campsite we see other people setting up 2 tents. Doh! They have a reservation for the campsite, so we need to head out and find a new spot again. We hesitate for a while and consider just picking a spot on our own. We have lunch at the Moru 3 and then decide to check out Moru 6 (which seemed very nice) and if it is free we just stay there. When we get there however we see a small dome tent so we head back to the ranger post. There they recognize us and apology for the inconvenience and are going to find us yet another spot. One of the rangers tells us to follow him and we drive on to a 'private' road and he leads us to a very nice spot. It is the campsite where the rangers (sometimes) are staying. He asks us if it is good enough, and we love it! Again we have a clear view over the plains, it is lovely! We then drive on to the spot where we saw the lions to see if they are still there. And they are! A bit more active and especially the little ones are walking around, playing a bit and still drinking with their mother(s). This time we do see some other cars, so word apparently has gone out ;)



We then head back to our 'Moru Special' special campsite (as we called it) and set up our camp. I grab my bin's and start to look around if I can spot something. Then all of a sudden I see something… could it be true?! Yes! At the horizon a huge amount of animals are running in our direction. In a straight line. This is the migration coming in!! I watch the first of them come to a halt only a few 100 meters from us and the line with Wildebeests just keeps coming in. I am able to watch them for 45 minutes, before it really gets to dark to see anything. But what an excitement! The migration is here, and came to us!

When it is dark we can hear the noise of thousands of wildebeest and the alarm calls of the zebra. So exciting! When we try to sleep that night we hear so much noise; zebra's, wildebeests, lions and hyena's. Amazing!

What will we see when we wake up? Will we be surrounded by the migration?

Edited by nikao
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Very interestiing Nikao.Maybe wolf like animal was side striped jackal. Much bigger than blackbacked and golden jackals. Big ears with wolflike face and distinctive white stripe along flank. Lions at Moru Kopjes great.

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Thank you Simba, that is indeed what we saw :) I hadn't realized that the side striped jackal is much bigger than the other jackals!

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Very exciting , what do you see, will I go there myself? I would so love to see the real migration. P

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More please :D


Glad the wolf was identified. Great pics of the lions.

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Waiting for the next instalment, please continue. Pen

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