The route to the Serengeti: Moshi & Arusha

Moshi and Arusha

30 July-1 August 2018

We set off from Beach Crab at 6 am in order to be in time to catch the early ferry across the Pangani River. Mercifully the road leaving Ushongo Beach had dried up a bit, and we made good time to Pangani, through villages with children heading out to school, neat and clean despite the red mud and earth.


The ferry at Pangani

We keep commenting that the Tanzanian people generally all seem to be busy, industrious, either with little stalls, growing things, making things. One beggar so far, here in Arusha. The majority of people are really poor, but so far I have not seen anyone who is undernourished. It must be said that e have avoided bigger towns and cities on this trip, so we may only be seeing one side of the story.

The drive from Tanga area to Moshi was on an excellent tar road. The road skirts the base of the Usumbara Mountains, which form part of the Eastern Arc. High mountains draped in tropical forests, but from the valley, through which the road passes, the rain is clearly less, and the vegetation is dry bush, then Karoo like, then a bit like the Eastern Cape. We loved the drive, although it was long.

Crocheting keeps me busy on the long drives
Usambara Mountains

Moshi is the jump start town for those climbing Kilimanjaro. We liked the town – busy CBD, but with beautiful leafy suburbs. It has a lovely atmosphere. Sally Grierson and Carel Verhoef of Great Migration Camps Safaris kindly gave us a bed for the night in their house in Moshi – wonderful to sleep in a bed, fresh linen, and to unwind after the long drive. Richard and I popped in to town to put some more Dollars into the TANAPA card as Emma will be with us tomorrow, stocked up at a local grocery store and lady selling fresh fruit and veg on the side of the road for our last few days of camping in Ngorongoro and Serengeti, before joining up with GMC in the north of the Serengeti.

We were completely exhausted and opted to eat out, so supper was at a pizzeria cum Indian/Chinese food/grill – was very pleasant, then we hit the sack.

Richard and I left Moshi shortly after 8 am as the road to Arusha is very slow. Many buses, trucks and cars and safari vehicles. After 2 and a bit hours, we got into Arusha.


We had a bit of time so we decided to sort out and pay for the Ngorongora Crater visit. The practice is to pay the exact amount at a bank in Arusha, an eye-watering USD 550 odd for 24 hours for 3 of us, camping. Then with the deposit slip in hand, trot over to the NCCA office and use the deposit slip to get a Ngorongoro Card, like a smart card, that is swiped at the entrance of the park. We decided to just check if I had calculated the fees correctly – it is rather difficult to find the latest fees on the website, and the fees were the same as last year, so thought it best to check, as no refund is possible once you have the card! We popped in to the Tanzania Tourist Board Office, and guess what! They have done away with the system recently and one now pays using a VISA credit card! Thank goodness we didn’t deposit all those Dollars. Not sure what one does if one doesn’t have a VISA card, I did not ask if they accept Mastercard as well now, as I was so stunned. Now we just have to hope that this will work tomorrow!

Off we headed out to Arusha Airport through the mass of humanity, markets and activity, that is Arusha. Fascinating town/city – massive agriculture here, also garden nurseries everywhere – literally along the roads too, carpentry, iron mongers, it’s all happening here.

Arusha Airport is for small aircraft, so the runway is tar, but everything else is on gravel and dust :). The arrivals hall, for arriving passengers only, was a room with a few chairs, apparently you go back outside to fetch your bags off a trolley, then are let our through a gate to us waiting in the parking area. Emma’s plane arrive 30 minutes early, so we had disappeared to find somewhere to go to the loo and grab a coffee, so we missed her emerging from the organized chaos, but as we came out of the coffee shoplet, there she was!! Happy parents, relieved Emma!

Tired but safely in Arusha after flying CT to Addis Abbaba, Adis to Dar Es Salaam, Dar to Arusha – 20 hours!
Arusha Airport
Emma’s photo of her plane in Dar Es Salaam

Back to Arusha to our accommodation for the night – Outpost Lodge – peace and quiet in the craziness of Arusha. We are relaxing here this afternoon and evening, Emma is shattered after almost no sleep (she waited 6 hours at Dar Es Salaam Airport in the wee hours of this morning for her connecting flight to Arusha), Richard got delivery of a device and software to fix our Sigma lens, which gave up the ghost in Zambia – been frustrating not being able to take photos, especially of birds to make it easier for me to ID them J. Anyway, it seems what Emma brought has fixed the lens, so we will see tomorrow!

I am not sure when next I will be able to upload to the blog – hopefully we will have some 3G in the Serengeti. We will be in the Serengeti till 8 August, then we head southwest via Lake Tangyanika into Zambia, into Caprivi, to Swakopmund and home.