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Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

Munich, Germany
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Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

Hello everyone,

It would be great if you could help me here.

I have 22 days in African soil and I'd love to visit Zanzibar for around 5 days for relaxing, and go for a 4 days - 3 night safari in Selous NP which I have heard is amazing. The thing is that I'd like to do some backpacking as well but don't know where. I am looking for a route.

So I thought about starting my trip in Lilongwe,Malawi, get to Mbeya, and from there make my way to Zanzibar, stopping at Mikumi NP, get a car and visit the park for a day....then try to get to RiverCamp in Selous for a 4 days tour...then (back) to Dar and Zanzibar.

Do you think it is worth doing such a trip? I mean, do you think I have enough time? Is it doable?

I am specially interested in the reliability of the transport options. Are there daily departures along the route Mbeya-Dar? Train or bus or car hire?

What else would you do along that route...or would you rather do something else instead?

Is it worth to go all the way to Selous NP or should I do an organized safari in another NP (Ruaha or Mikumi NPs)

My girlfriend and I have a budget of ~700 US$ p.p. for the safari. For the rest of the trip we hope to make it comparable to south east asia.

Munich, Germany
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1. Re: Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

btw...trip is in october :-)

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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2. Re: Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

Not very realistic IMO. With $700 total you are budgeting about $31 a day. Do you really think you can do this on $31 a day for eating and lodging, let alone going on a safari. You won't be able to afford the park fees and visa fee. Five day safari park fees will cost you about $250 and that doesn't get you a vehicle or guide. Budget about 3 times what you are to do this, at least.

Munich, Germany
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3. Re: Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

Hello Karl,

thank you for your reply...I guess I was not clear enough. The 700$ is not for the whole stay in Tansania, but for the 4days safari in Selous only.

I am interesting in your opinion regarding my questions written on the original post...what do you think?

cheers.

Findlay, Ohio
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4. Re: Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

There are buses which operate all day from almost everywhere in Tanzania. Buses will not operate at night. You can get a bus to Mbeya or perhaps Iringa (which is very close to Ruaha NP which has a lot of elephants and lions). If you want to stop off in Iringa you might want to put up at the MR Hotel right in the city center. There's also a Baptist Center there where you can get a room, but this is out a ways from the city center. Good place to eat is the Hasty Tasty 2. The MR hotel was not expensive, I think I paid something like about $10 to stay there, including breakfast, and it's a good hotel. They can make arrangements for Ruaha at the desk there. It's a good day trip to Ruaha and there's never many people in the park. There's a university there which you might want to explore, called Tuimaini University just on the outskirts of town. Iringa is a nice city, very pleasant.

For Mikumi NP, take the bus from Iringa to Morogoro, and ask the driver to let you off at Mikumi village. There is the Genesis Motel and the VETA (vocational education) where you can get a room, neither will be very expensive. I think the last time I stayed at the Genesis I paid about $10 and it's a good hotel. In either of these places (Genesis or Veta) you can get them to make arrangements for a safari to Mikumi, which is very close. Probably the VETA will be a bit less expensive. You will need to flag down a bus to take you on into either Morogoro or Dar. Tickets for each of these legs will be no more than $10. If you would like to explore some universities on this route, just before you get to Morogoro you will pass Sokoine University of Agriculture, they have a good project there which might be of interest. It's called Hero Rat project, and they train rats to sniff out land mines and take these rats to other African war torn countries where they laid a lot of land mines to rid them of these things. They always have welcomed visitors. You can find Hero Rats on Google. You could ask the bus driver to leave you off at Sokoine University.

In Dar you might want to stay in the Libya Street/Morogoro Road area of the city. There are several lodging options in this area, and some decent restaurants. The Safari Inn, Jambo Inn, and Econolodge are decent places to stay, cost will be no more than $20 - $30 including breakfast. To get to Zsanzibar go to the ferry docks and buy your ferry ticket from the ticket windows (not from the touts), ferries operate starting about 7am and operate about every hour until about 4pm. I would suggest the Azam ferry which always appeared safer to me than some of the others.

Unless you are at the right cities at the right time forget the train, it only operates several times a week and it's slow. You can take the Tazara train from Dar to Selous, make arrangements for someone to pick you up though otherwise you might be somewhere with no place to go to get to the park. Look on the right side of this web page for the list of Top questions about Tz, the next to last question is about the Tazara train and how to get a ticket.

Can you do this in the time you have allocated for this (22 days), yes that's plenty of time to get all this in. Is it worthwhile, sure, but that's the way I travel about the bush there and I always find it interesting.

Munich, Germany
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5. Re: Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

Awesome tipps Karl. Thanks!

Would you say that it isOctober alternative to stay in southern Tansania and do the safaris there instead of going to serengueti?... I am afraid that I might be missing a 'must see'.

Where would you say you get the best game seeingI in october? Selous, Ruaha, mikumi, serengueti...?

I'm interested in the animals, not that much in the lodges

Edited: 26 July 2013, 18:31
Findlay, Ohio
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6. Re: Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

In October, the absolute best game viewing is in the Tarangire in the Northern Circuit. Tarangire is about 2 hours from Arusha, they will be filled with elephants, zebra, buffalo, antelope, giraffe, etc. and all the predators of course. There is a mini migration into that park during the dry season as they have water all the time there.

You can get to this park by traveling from Iringa (after Mbeya) to Dodoma, then from Dodoma you can get to Arusha up the Arusha/Dodoma road, you will go right past Tarangire NP. That road from Mbeya to Iringa/Dodoma/Arusha is called the Great Northern Road and they have been working to make it a hard surfaced road It may be completed. If not completed past Dodoma then take the route through Singida, that will be hard surfaced all the way.

Munich, Germany
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7. Re: Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

Hi Karl,

alright...then I might reconsider Selous and go to Tarangire instead. Why go all the way up to Arusha for that? Is in it possible to get into the park from Babati?

Do you know any accomodation/Lodge that offers tour to the park.

I was really excited with RiverCamp Safari Lodge in Selous, the offer 3 days accomodation in tents for ca. 600 $. Do you know any budget lodges close to or in Tarangire?

Thanks!

Findlay, Ohio
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8. Re: Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

You can't get in at Babati, you will need to continue North for 75+ km to get to the main gate. I don't know what the rates are but try Tarangire Safari Lodge.

On the way up from Dodoma you might want to stop off at either Kondoa or Kola and arrange to visit the ancient rock paintings. Babati has a nice lake where you can do some canoeing. I go to Kondoa as I am a board member for a secondary school in nearby Mombo. A good hotel in Kondoa is the New Planet,Hotel, about $10. They can make arrangements for the rock paintings. The same person who does the rock paintings might also be able to do Tarengire on budget accommodations.

You could also do a stopover in Dodoma, which is the country capital. They have some universities which might be of interest, one is new building up to 40,000 students. Dodoma is interesting if you like to get close to the people.

9. Re: Backpacking the Mbeya-Dar route

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