Bush to Beach

Bush to Beach

This one-way roadtrip includes the best Tanzania has to offer: safari, mountains and the beach. Start in Arusha and go on a self drive safari in the world's most famous game parks, including the Serengeti.  Explore the less visited western and northern Usambara Mountains before you reach the Indian Ocean and follow its beautiful, untouched coastline south to Dar es Salaam. Go Scuba Diving at the Maziwe Marine Reserve. Considered one of the best diving destinations along the Eastern African Coast,for those who want to combine wildlife with plenty of outdoor activities and beach celebration, or get off the tourist trail. 

Scroll down to see the day-to-day route itinerary for this trip with tips on places to stay if you are booking your accommodation in Tanzania yourself. These are the lodges we like to stay in when we are roadtripping ourselves; small-scale, good price-quality ratio and owner-managed when possible.

Check the day to day itinerary

Day 1 of 17

Welcome to: Arusha

Arusha town is a pleasant introduction to East Africa. It is a green, orderly town with nice coffee shops and restaurants. Considered the safari capital of Africa, it's bustling with Landcruisers, safari guides and the likes, but you're a trendsetter when going on a self-drive safari! 

Suggested Accommodation:
Mid-range: Karama Lodge
Deluxe: River Trees Inn

Day 2 of 17

Start: Arusha
Tarangire National Park
Drive: 150 km | 2,5 hours

Hit the road towards Tarangire National Park. From Arusha, it's an easy 2 hour journey on a smooth asphalt road, so you can still bite some dust for your first afternoon self-drive safari in Tarangire. The park its famous for its big herds of elephants and baobabs. Animal concentration peaks between July till the start of the rains in November, early December. Travelling in the first half of the year? Skip Tarangire and shorten your road trip with one day or extend it with a day in another park. 

Accommodation in Tarangire:
Mid-range: Whistling Thorn (see picture)
Deluxe: Maramboi  



Day 3 of 17

Start: Tarangire National Park
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Drive: 130 km | 3 hours  

Enjoy an early morning game drive in Tarangire. After breakfast, you travel to Karatu - the base from which to visit the Ngorongoro Crater. Enroute you pass Mto wa Mbu, a lively, tropical village. It is said to be the only place in Tanzania where representatives of 120 Tanzanian tribes live in harmony together.

Accomodation in Ngorongoro Conversation area: 
Mid-range: Bougainvillea Safari Lodge, Karatu
Deluxe: Ngorongoro Farm House, situated on a large coffee farm about halfway between Karatu and the Ngorongoro Crater.


Day 4 of 17

Enjoy: Ngorongoro Crater or surrounding areas

The Ngorongoro Crater is an Unesco World Heritage Site. The crater is the world's largest intact caldera and is the only place in the world where you have a very high chance of seeing the 'Big 5' in one day. Read more about how to organise your crater safari here

For those that find going down the Crater a too expensive affair, or just want a more off-the-beaten track experience, good to know that the highlands of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area contain more extinct volcanoes and calderas, such as Empakaai crater and Oldovai Gorge. Trekking the crater highlands is great fun. Your Bradt Travel Guide is a good source of information. 





Day 5 of 17

Start: Ngorongoro Crater
Serengeti NP
Drive: 40 km | 1 to 3 hours

Time to visit the Grand Dame, Serengeti National Park. The park is massive, so make sure to read our practical blog about where and when to go, how to arrange for your permits and more.    

This stunning picture of a frantic kill by cheetah's was taken by a Roadtripper in the Serengeti. 

A Landcruiser is required if you want to visit the Serengeti. Driving times to Serengeti are as follows:

  • Loduare Gate (Ngorongoro Conservation Area entrance) to Ngorongoro Crater Road: 1.5 hours.
  • Ngorongoro Crater Road to Naabi Hill Gate (Serengeti): 2.5 hours.
  • Naabi Hill Gate to Seronera: 1 hour.

Accommodation suggestions:
Mid-range: Serengeti View Mobile Camp
Deluxe: Wayo Green Mobile Camp 


Day 6 of 17

Enjoy: Serengeti NP

Enjoy a day of game drives. Early morning and late afternoon drives are the best. Its great fun to drive yourself, but if you find it hard to spot the predators, you can always decide there and than to pick up a ranger at the gate. Again, the Bradt Travel Guide is a great source of information about the different sections of the park. 

This beautiful picture of cute lion cubs was taken by a Roadtripper. 



Day 7 of 17

Start: Serengeti NP
Foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro
Drive: 350 km | 6 hours.

Time to say goodbye to the safari parks. Before we continue to the Switzerland of Tanzania, we first drive to the foothills of the Kilimanjaro, a great base from which to undertake outdoor activities such as mountain biking (offered by Rivertrees Inn) and canoeing at Lake Duluti ( offered by Wayo). Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru are fantastic for walking and hiking. Moshi town is nice to visit and offers cultural coffee tours. Or, just enjoy some chilling at the pool of your lodge. Both lodges mentioned below have particularly nice ones. Hence, this is easily a place to linger around a bit longer if you have the time.  

Accomodation in USA river / Mt Meru: 
Mid-range:Mount View Lodge
Deluxe: Rivertrees  Country Inn





Day 8 of 17

Start: Mnt Meru
Lushoto - Western Usambara's
Drive: 250 km | 6 hours

It’s a scenic 6 hour drive from USA River to Lushoto, the principal town of the Western Usambaras. Roads are in good condition, with hardly any traffic, but be alert for the many speed bumps. You will pass through extensive sisal plantations with the Pare Mountains towering on the left. From Mombo, the road starts climbing to Lushoto. The area is less visited by the classic safari tourist, and offers many affordable places to stay. 

Accomodation in the Western Usambara's: 
Mid-range: Swiss Farm Cottage 

Day 9 of 17

Enjoy: Western Usambara's

Lushoto resembles a Swiss Alpine village, yet set in an African context. The town peaked during colonial times, and many of the buildings on the main street date back to the early 20th century when Lushoto, then known as Wilhelmstal, provided weekend relief for German settlers farming the dry, dusty Maasai Steppes below.

The area is fantastic for (multiple) day hikes and biking, passing through villages, colourful markets, farmland and some scenic lookout points. Some farms, mostly still run by Germans and Swiss, cater to day visitors and provide delicious, homegrown food. Let us know if you want to stretch your legs, and we bring you in contact with Abu ( picture), our local guide. 

Day 10 of 17

Start: Western Usambara's
Northern Usambara's
Drive: 3 hours | 65 km. 

If you think the Western Usambara's were beautiful - eat your hart out. The Northern Usambara's are even more scenic, where the high escarpment offers breathtaking views over the Mkomazi Plains deep down (1.3 km!) below. Be prepared for some off road driving - windy roads, steep cliffs and no other traffic. This is roadtripping at its best. 

Accomodation in Northern Usambara's: 
Mid-range: Mambo Viewpoint Ecolodge

Day 11 of 17

Enjoy: Northern Usambara's

The Dutch owners of Mambo Viewpoint Eco Lodge are a great source of information on culture, birding, hiking and biking possibilities in the region. They have developed a number of itineraries, which can be undertaken on your own with a GPS or with a guide. The grassroots organization Friends of the Usumbaras and the Bradt Travel Guide that comes with the Roadtrip car also provide detailed information about the region.

Day 12 of 17

Start: Northern Usambara's
Drive: 6 hours | 245 km

Exciting day ahead – we are going to the Indian Ocean! From African Alpine villages to Swahili coastal towns, what a change. The road from Lushoto to the tiny village of Pongwe is tarred and in good condition. From there, you turn off the main road onto a minor gravel road, that is dusty and rocky, so drive carefully.

Accomodation in Pangani:
Mid-range: Peponi Holiday Resort
Mid-range / deluxe: Emanyani Beach Lodge

Day 13 of 17

Destination: Pangani

Time some for relaxing after constantly being on the move - it is vacation after all. You can choose to spend two nights north of Pangani and two at the south at Ushongo, or just utterly relaxed at one place.

Pangani used to be an important trading port during the slave days, noticeable from a number of crumbling colonial buildings, and it has a profound traditional Swahili culture. To date, the area receives few tourists and is mainly known among the East African expatriate community. But this is bound to change in the future. So this is the time to visit this paradise; friendly people, no hawkers, no resorts, but intimate family run lodges and campsites. 


Day 14 of 17

Enjoy: Pangani 

Wondering what you could do beyond sipping cocktails? 

  • Go Scuba Diving or snorkelling at the Maziwe Marine Reserve. Considered one of the best diving destinations along the Eastern African Coast
  • Dhow cruise
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Windsurfing, kite surfing and kayaking
  • See the turtles hatching
  • Sunset cruise up the Pangani River
  • Community run walking tours in historical Pangani town 
  • Safari to Sadaani National Park


Day 15 of 17

Start: Pangani
Drive: 300 km | 5,5 hours

Today you’ll drive to Bagamoyo, your next destination on the Swahili coast. During the second half of the 19th century, Bagamoyo was one of the most important settlements on the East African coast. The town was the terminus for the slave trade caravan connecting Zanzibar all the way to Lake Tanganyika ( Burundi). After the long and dangerous journey, reaching Bagamoyo felt like coming home for the traders. Legendary explorers like Livingstone, Speke, Burton and Stanley started and ended several of their journeys in this historic town.

Today it remains a truly traditional town, interesting to absorb Swahili culture. If you arrive in the afternoon, one night will be enough. If you enjoy traditional culture, spend two nights. 

Accomodation Bagamoyo
Mid-range:  Traveller's Lodge 


Day 16 of 17

Start: Bagamoyo
Dar es Salaam
Drive: 60 km |  2 hours 

The best way to explore and appreciate Bagamoyo’s rich history is through a guided city tour by foot and bajaj (tuk-tuk). The tourist office can arrange reliable guides to show you all the historic sights. Bagamoyo is a small town and the tour will not last more than an hour or two. 

The beaches in Bagamoyo are lively and a great spot to enjoy the Swahili coastal culture, but not a place for sunbathing in your bikini. The mix of fish auctions, football, children, fishermen, hawkers and tourist are a lusty sight, and the busy Dow traffic in the port and along the shores still gives you a pretty good feel of what was going on back in the day. 

After lunch, continue to you last stop - Dar es Salaam. 

Accomodation Dar es Salaam: 
Mid-range: Hotel Slipway


Day 17 of 17

Enjoy: Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam – it’s a real 'you love it or you hate it' place. It is Tanzania’s largest city and fundamentally a Swahili city. If it were only for that reason, we believe you should visit the city, as one could argue - if you have not visited a country’s largest city, then you have not visited the country at all...

Meet our Roadtip Tanzania driver to hand-over the car and enjoy a day exploring the city. The centre is historic, traditional and truly Swahili and is surrounded by up-market peninsula's with shopping malls,  upmarket restaurants and beaches. It's easiest to take a taxi from Slipway Hotel to the airport the next day. Make sure you leave in sufficient time  to not miss you flight - as the traffic in Dar can be horrendous.  

What to expect on your Bush to Beach adventure in Tanzania

Travel time and road conditions

18 days / 15 car rental days is the minimum to follow this route.

Its 8-9 hours drive from Arusha to Pangani at the coast. And around 6 hours from Pangani to Dar es Salaam along the coastal road and Bagamoyo.

All the primary roads connecting Arusha to Ngorongoro in the west, Moshi / Kilimanjaro in the east and Lushoto in the far east are asphalt. You can expect a lot of speed bumps and the occasional pothole. Only the coastal road in Tanzania is in a poor state. Usually, the last stretch to your lodge or park entrance will require some driving on gravel or dirt roads. Inside the national parks, it's off-road driving on dirt roads. Off-road driving is not technical in the parks of the Northern Circuit - the Serengeti being the exception. Therefore, a Landcruiser is required for the Serengeti. Consult our on the road section for more tips.

Limited budget? Go with a RAV4 and skip the Serengeti.  

Go to Travel time and road conditions

When is the best time to travel to Tanzania?

The hottest and most humid part of Tanzania is the coast. If you're someone who can't stand heat, be sure to avoid the coast around Jan-Feb. The coolest months are from May to July, when it gets cold in the evenings at higher altitudes (Ngorongoro, Arusha, Usambaras).

Most of the rain falls between November and May, with the short rains in November and December, and the long rains from March to May. April and May are not a good time to visit the coast. 

Peak tourist season in Tanzania is Christmas till February, then July and August. 

If you want to time your visit to the Serengeti with the migration, read our blog. Tarangire also has a seasonal wildlife pattern. Animal concentration peaks between July and November. From the end of November to May, much of the game leaves the park. See our Tarangire blog for more information. 

Go to When is the best time to travel to Tanzania?


Rest of year

Price per vehicle, in Euros.

Price includes 15 day Landcruiser rental, airport pick up, Ngorongoro quote and one-way drop off fee at Dar es Salaam. 

Want to do Bush to Beach with a RAV4? Then the Serengeti is excluded. The price includes 13 days RAV4 rental, airport pick up, Ngorongoro quote and one-way drop off fee.

Want to do Bush to Beach with the company of a driver-guide? Add €525 to your total trip amount, or €455 for the shortened version when travelling with a RAV4.  

  Landcruiser  RAV4 
Per car  € 2299 € 1199


Low season | March-May 

Price per vehicle, in Euros.

Price includes 15 day Landcruiser rental, airport pick up, Ngorongoro quote and one-way drop off fee at Dar es Salaam. 

Want to do Bush to Beach with a RAV4? Then the Serengeti is excluded. The price includes 13 days RAV4 rental, airport pick up, Ngorongoro quote and one-way drop off fee.

Want to do Bush to Beach with the company of a driver-guide? Add €525 to your total trip amount, or €455 for the shortened version when travelling with a RAV4.  

  Landcruiser  RAV4 
Per car  € 1799 € 1060


Create & Book

From safari in the Serengeti to the Swahili Coast - make this road trip yours. Hire a 4x4 rental car in Tanzania and Drive Your Own Adventure.

Reserve your roadtrip car


  • Airport transfers
  • Comprehensive car insurance
  • Roadmap and Bradt Travel Guide


  • Electrical fridge
  • Driver-Guide
  • Camping gear