One week Tanzania | Taste of Tanzania self drive itinerary
The Northern Safari Circuit is the most visited area of Tanzania and is within easy reach from Arusha. This circuit is ideal for Tanzania first-timers who primarily come for safari, want modest driving hours a day, have limited time, or want to combine their road trip with a Kilimanjaro or Zanzibar add-on.
- Explore Tarangire, a must-see for elephant lovers. During the dry season, Tarangire National Park has the largest concentration of elephants in the world! Another striking feature of the park is the abundance of baobab trees.
- Discover plenty of wildlife spotting on your self-drive safari in the world-famous Serengeti.
- Enjoy easy game tracks in the Ngorongoro Crater, an ideal destination for first-time safari visitors, families and self-drivers.
Scroll below to see the day-to-day itinerary with realistic driving times, route directions, and travel tips for Tanzania. Need advice on accommodation? For all road trippers, we've compiled a Hotel Guide, which includes our favourite lodges and hotels in Tanzania and Zanzibar from budget to luxury.
Day-to-day itinerary | Taste of Tanzania
Day 1 of 8
Welcome to Arusha
Arusha town is a pleasant introduction to East Africa. It is a green, orderly town with several nice coffee bars and restaurants. Being considered the safari capital of Africa, it's bustling with Landcruisers, safari guides and the like, but you're a trendsetter when going on a self-drive safari!
Day 2 of 8
Destination: Tarangire National Park
Drive: 150 km | 2,5 hours
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 game viewing tracks are well signposted, and the public facilities like toilets and picnicsites are well maintained. There are even food trucks (bush baristas) nowadays. Tarangire is famous for its large herds of elephants, giant baobabs and scenic landscapes.
Day 3 of 8
Enjoy: Tarangire National Park
The amount of wildlife in Tarangire is world-class. We recommend a minimum stay of 2 nights. If time is not on your side, you can skip this day and continue to the Serengeti.
Check our Tarangire Destonation Guide for the best time to visit and tips on what to see and do.
Day 4 of 8
Destination: Serengeti - Seronera section
Drive: 260 km | approx. 6 hours.
On your way to the Serengeti, you first transit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The entrance permits for the NCA must be reserved in advance, this can't be done on arrival at the gate. Roadtrip Africa can help you with this.
From Tarangire to Loduare Gate, the entrance to the NCA, is a scenic journey on a smooth tarmac road. You'll pass Mto wa Mbu, the touristy gateway town to Lake Manyara National Park, and Karatu, the last town before entering the NCA and the Serengeti. In Karatu, you'll find several hotels in all price ranges, and it's a good place to refuel your car and stock up on supplies.
Day 7 of 8
Start: Serengeti, Seronera section
Destination: Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Drive: 140 km | approx. 3,5 hours.
Few safari destinations deliver the same experience as the Ngorongoro Crater. There are bigger and wilder parks, but if you want some of the easiest and most rewarding game viewing in East Africa, a safari in the Ngorongoro Crater will not disappoint.
The NCA permit is valid for 24 hours. If you want to keep your time inside the NCA limited to one permit, we advise you to enjoy a morning game drive in the Serengeti, enter the NCA in the afternoon, do your Crater safari the following morning, and exit the NCA within the 24-hour time frame. Consult our National Park blog for detailed information about entrance fees & how to arrange your permits.
Day 8 of 8
Start: Ngorongoro Crater
Drive: 200 km | approx. 5 hours
The Ngorongoro Crater is a 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. In half a day, you can cover most of the game-viewing tracks. Check our Ngorongoro Destination Guide for more travel tips.
Note: Don't plan a safari and/ or long travel day on the same day you must catch an (international) evening flight.
1 week Tanzania | This is what you need to know
Travel time and road conditions
We recommend 8 days / 7 car rental days for the Taste of Tanzania itinerary, spending two to three nights at each location.
Sometimes, people request to rent a car to visit the Serengeti only. Note the minimum amount of time needed to visit the Serengeti and make the long journey back and forth from Arusha worthwhile is 5 car rental days.
The main road from Arusha to the entrance gates of Tarangire and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is smooth tarmac. The game-viewing tracks within Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater are well-marked, non-technical, and provide a gentle introduction to self-driving in Tanzania.
The gravel road from Naabi Hill gate to Serengeti is a challenging road. It has a rocky surface and washboard ribbons. Drive at a limited speed.
Check our Driving in Tanzania blog for more tips and advice.
The Taste of Tanzania is possible to travel year-round.
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