Three nights accommodation (bed & breakfast) KES 6000 ($53), four-day food & entertainment KES 5,700 ($50), Park and crater fees KES 800 ($7), fuel KES 10,000 ($90), a chauffeured & guided tour KES 12,500 ($100). Total KES 35,000 ($300) for a wonderland tour of Ngorongoro Conservation Area. That was it. How?
Lush Garden and Business Hotel, Arusha
I covered a total of 921Kms in this four-day road trip to Ngorongoro Crater. I self-drove from Nairobi to Arusha on the 1stday (282kms) and then from Arusha to Karatu village near Ngorongoro on the 2nd day (143kms). For the 3rd day, I hired a chauffeured open roof vehicle for a day-long tour of the crater & back to Karatu in the late evening (91kms). Drove back to Nairobi on the 4th day covering 405kms. My first blog on Ngorongoro tells the story of what I saw in and around this magical wonderland crater, see link to earlier blogs below.
On my way to Karatu on day 1, I spotted this Delonix regia tree resplendent in full blossom at Makutano town, 76Kms from Arusha. This flame tree is considered to be amongst the top ten most pretty trees in the world, and I can see why. It’s pods make a rattling noise which gives some people undue reason to call them ‘woman’s tongue’. Unfair of course to women!
Other than the Delonix, don’t expect fancy choices at Makutano. For me it was however a welcome stop-over for lunch, bathroom and a cold drink. I enjoyed goat meat & Ugali (pounded maize meal) at the Florida Bar and Restaurant – nothing in common with its (in)famous namesake in Nairobi. The Kenyan ‘Mututho law’ controlling day time sale of alcohol was definitely not applicable. Most truckers were imbibing their cold Castle Milk Stout or Kilimanjaro beers. Interestingly the beers were costing about KES 90 each, so much cheaper than similar ones in Kenya. Any guesses why?
Accommodation, food & entertainment
As with all my road trips I spent as little as I could get away with, comfortably, by avoiding star-rated hotels. I choose modest, clean ‘bed & breakfast’ sort of places. So in Arusha I made a beeline to Lush Garden and Business Hotel which charged me KES 3000 ($26), never mind the festive season.
By my standards, the Lush is a boutique hotel with comfortable bed, buffet breakfast and friendly staff. It’s nestled away from busy Arusha streets, yet a walk away from the town centre. They provide a kettle and supplies in your room to make your own coffee or tea as you please. I would recommend it even to those on a honey moon.
For the second and third nights I stayed at the Giraffe Executive Inn at Karatu village. This is a tolerable place to consider if you don’t have time or can’t be bothered to scout around. OR in the event that you intend to hang out elsewhere most of the night only to catch a nap in the wee hours. So parting with KES 3000 for both nights (USD 13/night) was just about reasonable! Though I have to say to honeymooners – beware.
Most hotels and entertainment joints at Karatu village are very modest. However while driving around trying to figure out where to find a good meal, I was pleasantly surprised to find The Golden Sparrow ‘carnival’ Hotel. Good choice of tasty dishes. I enjoyed chicken, peas and bananas. I didn’t venture into their club house which was teeming with activity. Instead I decided to stay at their outside eatery and bar where they played Congolese and popular local Bongo music. It is always advisable to look around and never take a place for its face value.
Could you go on KES 10,000 (USD 100)?
As you may have deduced from the first paragraph, transport & of course being tour guided ended up being my biggest expense making up 64% of total costs. Usually the bigger chunk of my shoe string budget goes to accommodation, food and entertainment. However this time being the festive season I did indeed pamper myself a wee bit by taking the guided tour.
Some friends of mine have promised to do this trip with a budget of KES 10,000 (about $100) per person! They would skip the hired tour vehicle & guide and drive a Probox. No. Don’t laugh. One doesn’t need good ground clearance, a four-wheel vehicle or a guide for this trip – so it’s entirely possible. I am made to understand their handsome car covers 17Kms with one litre of petrol! Incredible!
The four friends intend to cost share on fuel (KES 1250 each), stay at The Giraffe for 2 nights (KES 3000 each) and dine and wine with KES 6000 each for three days. Dear friends please do share your story sometime soon.
Mama Flo’s next blogs
I cannot conclude my blogs on Ngorongoro without giving you a taste of the near perfect experience I enjoyed on Tanzanian roads. If you are in need of speed this is the place for you. And it’s all legal. Coming soon.
I will thereafter share a story about how I got lost in the Aberdare forest in Central Kenya. Do subscribe so as not to miss out on these stories.
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