The wild South East
This roadtrip begins and ends in Dar es Salaam and takes you to the less visited national parks of south east Tanzania. Ideal for those that want to get off the tourist trail at friendly prices. Go on world class safaris in Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve, experience local village life in traditional Tanzanian highland villages, and go birding and chimp trekking in the Udzungwa Mountains.
Scroll down to see the day-to-day route itinerary for this trip, with tips on places to stay so you can book your own accommodation. 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 12
Welcome to: Dar es Salaam
Arrival in Dar es Salaam, the biggest city Tanzania. The historic city centre is truly Swahili; busy, lively, traditional and conservative. Its surrounded by upmarket penninsula's with shopping malls, restaurants, beaches and marina's , where most expatriates live.
You will stay at the Northern Peninsula, at Slipway Hotel.
Day 2 of 12
Start: Dar es Salaam
Destination: Mikumi National Park
Drive: 300 km | 5 hours.
The Tanzam Highway connects Dar es Salaam, on the east coast, with Mbeya, bordering Zambia 900 km further on the west. Your first stop flanking the Tanzam Highway is Mikumi National Park. It is a smooth journey.
Accommodation in Mikumi:
Mid-range: Mikumi Adventure Lodge, Tan-Swis Lodge
Day 3 of 12
Enjoy: Mikumi National Park
Enjoy a day of games drives in Mikumi National Park. Mikumi protects a classic African savannah landscape with large herds of zebra, wildebeest, impala and buffalo, and lion, giraffe, elephant. The centre of action tends to be around the Mkata River floodplain north west of the main road. It can be explored over 5-6 hours by following a 60 m loop of game viewing roads that start at the main entrance gate towards the Dam in the north.
Day 4 of 12
Start: Mikumi National Park
Drive: 193 km | 3 hours
Drive to Iringa, at 1,500 altitude on a steep escarpment. Iringa is an important regional town and also sees quite some volunteers and NGO workers. It is the principal town of the Hehe people, said to provide most resistance to German colonisation of the Tanzanian tribes. The central market is nice to wander around and a good place to buy rugs and baskets.
Budget: Neema Guesthouse
Day 6 of 12
Enjoy: Ruaha NP
Enjoy a day of game drives. Ruaha National Park is often cited as Tanzania’s best-kept game viewing secret, as indeed the sheer volume and variety of wildlife on show can be truly spectacular. Ruaha is also famous for its striking topography with rocky outcrops, baobab, mountains and seasonal rivers running through the park.
Its large ecosystem covers about 40,000 km2 and is home to one of Tanzania’s largest elephant and hippo populations, as well as the kudu, a species of antelope not seen in other Tanzanian parks. There are 580 bird species sighted in the park, with large populations of black-collared lovebird and ashy starlings, fish eagle and falcons, and plenty of water birds like herons, storks and the red-billed hornbill.
Day 7 of 12
Destination: Udzungwa mountains
Drive: 350 km | 5,5 hours.
We return to the east coast, towards Mikumi, to now explore the other side of the Tanzam Highway, the hiker friendly Udzungwa mountains. It is vastly different from Mikumi National Park. It has a wide elevation variation, rising from 250m to 2500m, and protects an unbroken cover of closed canopy forest from lowland to montane forest. More than 25% of the plant species recorded here are endemic, and many species of reptile and primate are endemic to this area too, under which the Udzungwa red colobus, Sanje crested Mangabey and dwarf galago.
Accomodation in Udzungwa Mountains:
Mid-range: Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp also known as Honda Honda
Day 8 of 12
Destination: Udzungwa mountains
There are several, excellent hiking trails in the park ranging from a few hours to multiple day hikes with camping inside the park. Going with a guide is obligatory. You need to be quite fit, as the hikes are steep and it is very humid and hot. Luckily there are streams and waterfalls along the way for a refreshing swim.
Day 9 of 12
Start: Udzungwa mountains
Drive: 2,5 hours | 154 km
Drive to Morogoro town, an orderly town at the base of the Uluguru Mountains. Wander around town or do an afternoon hike up to the little visited Uluguru Mountains.
Accomodation in Morogoro:
Budget: Simbamwenni Lodge
Have dinner at the New Acropole Hotel, set in a former sisal estate manager's house built in the 1940s. It has a quirky and very atmospheric restaurant serving good food.
Day 10 of 12
Destination: Selous Game Reserve
Drive: 5 hours | 140 km
Drive to Selous Game Reserve. Its 140 km on a fair dirt road. Entering from Morogoro, you will focus on the eastern Mtemere Gate and the eastern lakes circuit. So look for lodges and camps in this area.
Accomodation in Selous:
Mid-range: Selous River Camp. Outside of Mtemere gate, there is a string of riverside lodges catering to the more budget consciousness travelers.
Day 11 of 12
Enjoy: Selous Game Reserve
The main focal point of game drives for roadtrippers staying at the camps to the east, is a network of rough roads to five lakes fed by the Rifiji river. Frequently seen on any game drive are impala, waterbuck, wildebeest, bushbuck, buffalo and zebra. As well as giraffe, lion - typically darker in colour than anywhere else in Tanzania, and hyena. Not to be missed is a boat trip along the Rufiji River, particularly in the afternoon, when the light is just magical.
Day 12 of 12
Start: Selous Game Reserve
Destination: Dar es Salaam
Drive: 5 hours | 190 km
We say good-by to the wild interior and make our way back to Dar es Salaam. What a change of scenery. A nice place to end your roadtrip and unwind for a day or two, is at Kipepeo Beach Resort. It has a lovely beach ( see picture) and is a lively hang-out place. If you need to catch your plane in the morning, don't stay here. Better to stay closer to the airport, at Slipway Hotel at the northern peninsula.
What to expect on this self-drive safari adventure in Tanzania
Travel time and road conditions in south east Tanzania
13 days / 11 car rental days is the minimum to follow this route.
The Tanzam Highway - the inland road from Dar es Salaam to Iringa - is asphalted and in good condition. The park entrance of Ruaha lies 100 km west of Iringa along a dirt road that takes about 2.5 hours to drive and requires a 4x4 vehicle. As for Selous Game Reserve, you will enter the park from the west coming from Morogoro. It's 140 km on a dirt road. Exploring Selous Game Reserve requires a Landcruiser due to river flooding and deep sandy tracks.
Limited budget? Go with a RAV4 and skip Selous.
Best time to visit the south east of Tanzania?
Selous Game Reserve is a highly seasonal safari destination and it tends to be hotter than any other park in Tanzania due to its low altitude. The optimum time to visit Selous is during dry season (June to September). Game viewing is as good through October and early November, but it becomes extremely hot. Wildlife spotting is a bit less reliable from November to February, but the scenery is lovely and green, and birdwatching is at its finest. Roads become very challenging and many camps close during April and May.
Ruaha is best visited between July and November.
Rest of year
Price per vehicle, in Euros.
Price includes 11 days Landcruiser rental, airport pick up, Selous Game Reserve quote, delivery & drop off in Dar es Salaam.
Want to explore the South East with a RAV4? Then we exclude Selous Game Reserve. The trip includes 9 day RAV4 rental and delivery & drop off in Dar es Salaam.
Want to explore the South East with the company of a driver-guide? Add €385, or €315 for the shortened version when going with a RAV4.
|Per car||€ 2050||€ 1140|
Low season | March - May
Price per vehicle, in euro's.
Price includes 11 day Landcruiser rental, airport pick up, Selous quote, delivery & drop off in Dar es Salaam.
Do you want to explore the South East with a RAV4? Then we exclude Selous. The trip includes 9 day RAV4 rental and delivery & drop off fee Dar es Salaam
Do you want to explore the south east with the company of a driver-guide? Add € 385, or € 315 for the shortened version when going with a RAV4.
|Per car||€ 1670||€ 1025|
Create & Book
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- Mobile phone with local SIM
- Roadmap and Bradt Travel Guide
- Comprehensive car insurance
- Airport transfers
- Electrical fridge