The wild south east

The wild south east

This roadtrip starts and ends in Dar es Salaam and covers the far less visited parks of south east Tanzania. Ideal for those that want to get of the tourist trail for friendly prices. Go on world class safari in Ruaha, often cited as Tanzania’s best-kept game viewing secret and Selous Game Reserve, thrice as large as the Serengeti. Experience local village life by spending the night in two typical highland villages, and go birding and primate trekking in the Udzungwa Mountains.

Scroll down below to see the detailed day-to- day route with lot's of insider travel tips. The price includes car rental with mid-range accomodation. The selected lodges are hand picked by us and the places we like to stay when we are roadtripping; 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
Destination:
Iringa
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.  

Accommodation Iringa:
Budget: Neema Guesthouse

 

 

 

Day 5 of 12

Start: Iringa
Destination:
Ruaha NP
Drive: 100 km | 2,5 hours

The park entrance of Ruaha lies 100 km west of Iringa along a fair dirt road. Enjoy an afternoon game drive in the park. 

Accommodation in Ruaha: 
Mid-range: Tandala Tented Camp

 

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

Start: Ruaha
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
Destination:
Morogoro
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

Start: Morogoro
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 adventure in Tanzania?

Travel time and road conditions

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 fair dirt road that takes about 2,5 hours and requires a 4x4. As for Selous, you will enter the park from the west coming from Morogoro. Its 140 km on a dirt road. Exploring Selous requires a Landcruiser because of river floodings and deep sandy tracks. 

Want to limited your budget? Go with a RAV4 and skip Selous.   

Go to Travel time and road conditions

Best time to visit the south east of Tanzania?

Selous is a highly seasonal game-viewing destination and it tends to be hotter than any other park in Tanzania due to its low altitude. The optimum time to visit is during dry season from June to September. Game viewing is as good over 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 birdlife is at its finest. Roads become very challenging and many camps close during April and May. 

Ruaha is best visited between July and November. 

Go to Best time to visit the south east of Tanzania?

Prices

Rest of year

Price is per person, in US Dollars. 

Price includes 12 nights accommodation on the basis of Bed & Breakfast, except for Selous and Ruaha (Full Board), 11 day car rental, Selous quote, delivery & drop off fee Dar es Salaam.  

Do you want to explore the south east with a RAV4? Then we exclude Selous. The trip includes 10 nights accommodation with meal plan as above,  9 day RAV4 rental, delivery & drop off fee Dar es Salaam.  

Do you want to explore the south east with the company of a driver-guide?  Add US$ 440 |$ 360  

  RAV4 Landcruiser
  2 persons  4 persons  2 persons  4 persons 
Mid range $ 1,700 $ 1,340 $ 2,130 $ 1,560

Low season | March - May 

Price is per person, in US Dollars. 

Price includes 12 nights accommodation on the basis of Bed & Breakfast, except for Selous and Ruaha (Full Board), 11 day car rental, Selous quote, delivery & drop off fee Dar es Salaam.   

Do you want to explore the south east with a RAV4? Then we exclude Selous. The trip includes 10 nights accommodation with meal plan as above,  9 day RAV4 rental, delivery & drop off fee Dar es Salaam.  

Do you want to explore the south east with the company of a driver-guide?  Add US$ 440 |$ 360

  RAV4 Landcruiser
  2 persons  4 persons  2 persons  4 persons 
Mid range $ 1,600 $ 1,290 $ 2,010 $ 1,510

Create & Book

Book the Wild South East as a fully accommodated road trip in mid-range accommodation. Or just hire a car and use this suggested route for inspiration only.

Book your roadtrip

Included

  • Mobile phone with local SIM
  • Roadmap and Bradt Travel Guide
  • Comprehensive car insurance
  • Airport transfers
  • Bed & Breakfast

Optional

  • Electrical fridge
  • Driver-Guide