To get all out of Your safari holidays, guided tour is a must. Our Tanzania safari in February 2004 included Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara etc. We used Ranger Safaris and were very pleased to our driver/guide (good knowledge of the area, the animals, the nature and spoke English very well + had great sense of humor).
The roads in the Serengeti are fairly rough as you'd expect. The holes and carved out main road will bash any vehicle around so best you only travel in either a truck or 4WD vehicle. Remember to take plenty of water with you in case of break down though with the number of vehicles in the area you should be saved fairly quickly.
Shuttle – ( Rainbow Shuttle)Nairobi to Arusha
As promised our drive arrived at 7:30 AM to take us to Arusha. What some said would be a 5-hour trip in actual fact took 7 hours. It was a rough trip for at least ¾ of the way over dusty bumpy dirt roads. I guess if they ever finish the construction it might be easier…but it looked like a very slow process as most was being done by hand. We were happy we brought some peanut butter sandwiches with us as the short rest stop just before the Tanzania border didn’t have much to offer. We were happy we took the 8AM shuttle as we now realize the 2PM shuttle would have been arriving well after dark. I’d much rather do the drive during the day.
Along the way we got our first glimpse of some African wildlife. We saw a troop of baboons, some zebra and some giraffe.
We had about a 30-minute wait at the Tanzania border as everyone on the bus had to get his or her picture taken and buy a visa. It was all pretty straight forward …just pay $50.00 each and you’re done. There were lots of shuttle buses there with everyone doing the same thing.
Without a doubt, if your tour is about to depart and you are in a anything less than a 4 x 4 with a roof that elevates, you need to refuse. As most tour companies only operate these types of vehicles you should have no problems. But, we saw at least a couple of regular 4 x 4's with just your standard windows. If you want to have the best opportunities for the best shots possible, you will need the roof to elevate.
The Serengeti National Park is 335 km from Arusha. We took the 10 hour drive from Arusha through the poor roads, and treacherous terrain, but most travelers arrive by air. It was hard to believe that the Serengeti actually has a landing strip, but there it was.
When you take a game drive, you pass by this stretch of land surrounded by giraffes and water buffalo and a few makeshift land markers. Our driver pointed out "airport" to us, but we hadn't really realized it was fully functional until we had to board a plane ourselves upon our departure to Zanzibar.
The airstrip has just enough space to land the crop dusters that fly in and out of there from Arusha National Airport. Air Excel and Precision Air have limited daily flights in and out of the Serengeti.
Buckle up, mate. These flights ain't for the faint-hearted!
I would never make a trip like this on my own! The local tour operators are specialists, they know where and how to find the game, they have all necessary equipment, and last but not least they know everything about safety. Serengeti is full of lions and other predators, and it wouldn't be wise to get stuck in a middle of a buffalo herd either!
There are more and less professional operators. A shame really, that I can't give you the names of the better ones. Drifters use them, but I do understand that they keep their cards tight and don't tell everbody who they are ;-) What you could do is to join one of Drifters overland tours only for this part, and benifit from Drifters's knowledge indirectly. Otherwise: do some research to find the best ones, not necessarily the cheapest ones.
This time our group was divided in two and were transported in these two fourwheelers bringing necessary equipment. We even had a cook with his portable kitchen!
If you want to see the country or go on safari I'd really recommend Tropical Trails based in Arusha.
Their guides are superb, cooks are very good and the equipment is all good standard.
We used them after booking through a UK travel firm, but I would have no hesitation in using them again but booking direct.