Driving times between destinations in Tanzania?
May 5, 2009 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Driving times between destinations in Tanzania?

I'm trying to figure out how many hours it takes to drive between the following destinations in Tanzania:

Moshi to Arusha
Arusha to Lake Manyara
Arusha to Ngorogoro Crater
Ngorogoro Crater to Lake Manyara
Ngorogoro Crater to Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park to Arusha

Any help would be much appreciated.
posted by cookie googleman to Travel & Transportation around Tanzania (7 answers total)
I don't know the answer to the question but it will depend on the type of vehicle and the season. A private vehicle in the dry season will obviously be much faster than a minibus in the rainy season. Can you clarify?
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:46 PM on May 5, 2009

I was in Tanzania about six months ago to climb Kilimanjaro and do a couple of safari drives. I did not have a stopwatch for any of the drives between parks, but my recollection was roughly:

Moshi to Arusha - 2 hours (mid morning, light to no traffic. Tarmac road the entire way)

Arusha to Lake Manyara - a little less than 3 hours (early morning, some traffic while stopped in Arusha to get supplies, mostly tarmac)

Arush to Ngorogoro - don't know. We drove straight from Manyara to the Ngorogoro

Lake Manyara to Karatu (village near Ngorongoro where we overnighted) - 1.5 hours. (mid-afternoon, no traffic, mostly Tarmac)

Karatu to Ngorongoro - half an hour to the gate, at least another half to hour from the gate to the floor of the crater itself. The entire drive into the crater is on a dirt road and very steep both getting in and getting out. I wouldn't recommend driving it yourself unless you're very comfortable with driving a 4x4.

From Ngorongoro, we went straight to Tarangire and skipped the Serengeti as it was far enough in the dry season that most animals had migrated towards Tarangire.
posted by bl1nk at 1:51 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

oh, and to clarify as per Chrishartley's point -- we were in a Land Rover driven by a guide.
posted by bl1nk at 1:52 PM on May 5, 2009

b|1nk's times look spot on (with, of course, chance for great variability should you encounter a herd of elephants are have to circumvent a bus wreck). Are you intending to drive yourself? Between cities that might not be a problem, but I would say that driving, particularly within Arusha, is best left to people used to driving in it.

Good Luck!
posted by nameless.k at 2:31 PM on May 5, 2009

I was in Tanzania last August and I think bl1nk's driving time approximations and descriptions are pretty accurate. You should keep in mind that this is africa - you may be held up by a herd of elephants, or, if you're me, by the President (of Tanzania)'s convoy :) I counted 22 cars in that entourage!

If you can, leave the driving to someone else, really. I took buses quite a bit throughout Kenya and Tanzania and found that they were fine, even fun sometimes, and yes, crowded other times, provided you do a little research on reputable companies.

Have fun!
posted by jacquilinala at 3:51 PM on May 5, 2009

I have done that circuit TWICE! So I am a super expert ;-)

Are you trying to figure out the order of parks to visit, based on minimising driving time? Well, here's the thing: you can't get into some of those parks on your own (ie you must go with a registered guide, usually via a safari company), so you're probably best served by discussing your desired destinations with your safari company.

But, to answer your question, kind of:
Moshi to Arusha - about three hours
Arusha to Lake Manyara - about 2.5 to three hours
Arusha to Ngorogoro Crater - about four hours (usually you'll go to manyara or the crater first, and then go from one to the other)
Ngorogoro Crater to Lake Manyara - about two hours (keep in mind that you're often going through contiguous park land - there may be stuff to see before you get to the crater)
Ngorogoro Crater to Serengeti National Park - technically, these are basically contiguous, and its a tough question to really answer because the serengeti is so huge. You could drive through the serengeti for three or fours hours before getting to your goal
Serengeti National Park to Arusha - depends where you exit the park, but - about 4 hours, possibly 5

You didn't ask this, but: I did a 4 day ngorongoro/serengeti safari, and then a year later, a manyara/ngorongoro/serengati safari. To be honest, i felt a little 'meh' on manyara (but: you get a bit jaded when you're on year two of living in africa, so take that with a grain of salt), so if you are trying to maximise animal viewing while minimizing travel time, that's the park i'd cut.
posted by Kololo at 9:42 PM on May 5, 2009

to backup Kololo's point - I was only in Africa for two weeks but I also found Lake Manyara to be a little underwheliming in retrospect. It was a fine first day for safari driving, especially since we'd just finished a Kilimanjaro trek the day before and still needed to recuperate, but it wasn't a peer to the Ngorongoro Crater or Tarangire. The wildlife seemed a little sparse and the park road never got particularly close to the lake in question, which seemed unfortunate given that it seemed to be positively teeming with flamingoes at the time.

I have been told that Lake Manyara can be splendid birdwatching territory, but I am not a birder, so did not appreciate this aspect of the park.
posted by bl1nk at 9:14 AM on May 6, 2009

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