Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Ins and Outs of travel to Ndutu


Sunset in Ndutu
Where in the world is Ndutu? - click on this link to find out where.

The first in what will be a series of posts with travel advice which I hope that my readers will find a font of information that will help to make travel to the world’s destinations just a little easier and more comfortable. 

Why go to Ndutu at all?
Ndutu is probably the most southern tip of the Great Wildebeest Migration and it is where the Wildebeest will come to calve every year. It also lies between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.  I can wax lyrical for many a day on the magic of the Serengeti and how it should really be on everyone’s bucket list. It is truly one of Africa’s remaining wildernesses where animals roam completely free. There are no fences to hem the animals in and they are left free to be the wild animals of Africa as they should be.

To get to Ndutu
By air you would have to fly via Nairobi, then transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport. You can either transfer to Arusha Airport and fly into the Serengeti or you can do a road trip via the Ngorongoro Crater and onto Ndutu. Currently there are 5 flights per day from Nairobi to Kili (as it is referred to). 

From Nairobi Kenya Airlines and Precision Air (Tanzanian airline) fly 5 flights daily.
From Europe there are only 2 direct flights - Condor fly from Frankfurt and KLM fly from Amsterdam.
Other airlines that fly into Kili are RwandaAir from Kigali, ZanAir from Zanzibar, Ethipian Airlines from Nairobi and Addis Abbaba, Air kenta Express from Nairobi and Mombasa and Air Burundi from Bujumburra.

You can fly from Arusha to Seronera in the Serengeti on a daily basis. www.flyezee.com can offer a selection of flights at different times of the day.
The volcanic dust creates the most amazing photos at sunset.
The Weight Factor
Although the international airlines have generous baggage allowances of 20 - 23kgs plus hand luggage this is not the case with the smaller charter flights.  Travelling Light is the watchword for chartered flights in Africa. Baggage allowances drop to 15kg per person and sometimes could even include your carry on bags weight. Double check these allowances when making bookings.

Alternatively:
A road trip from Arusha heading out towards the Serengeti a veritable smorgasbord of destinations are on offer.

There are many operators in Arusha who will take you in their 4 x 4 Safari vehicles. They will organise your stay for you according to your budget.

Places along the way:
Tarangire Park, known for its elephant population.
Lake Manyara, known for its tree climbing lions, elephants and baboons. Also in this area are the Colubus Monkeys.
Ngorongoro Crater - very commercialised but still well worth a visit to see.
Ndutu - Lions, cheetah, wildebeest calving, zebra and many other plains animals and birdlife
Serengeti - Anything from lions to hyena to leopards cheetah and other plains animals.

On my trip I went with an operator Maasai Wanderings www.maasaiwanderings.com 

Where to stay
There are no permanent Lodges or camps in the Ndutu area. Special permits are granted to operators to have mobile camps along the riverbed. This ensures that the area remains as pristine as possible for the animals to enjoy. I went with a Tour Operator Maasai Wanderings who are based in Arusha. They have a mobile camp and the experience of bucket showers and buffalo grazing next to your tent at night is one for the books. www.maasaiwanderings.com. There are several other operators in the area and a quick search on www.tripadvisor.com gives one a load of choices.

When to travel
The most popular time to travel to Ndutu would be around February as it is then that the Wildebeest are calving and they tend to do so at Ndutu each year. However, it is extremely hot in February so a certain amount of discomfort will be experienced. 
The wildebeest on the move creating clouds of dust.
The Dust
It is also very dusty in the area as a fine volcanic dust has settled over the whole river bed and as such camera equipment needs to have good covers to keep the dust out. Do not consider taking one camera body and interchanging lenses. Sensors will suffer. Get lenses onto cameras before entering the area and keep them firmly on the camera until your next destination. Consider taking along a light cotton scarf that you can wrap around your face to keep the dust off you.

The Sun
is brutal in February. Sunblock, hats, sunglasses, long sleeved shirts and even pants are highly recommended. Lots of face creams for your skin after you have bathed.

Keeping Clean
You are more than likely to be in a camp where you will have a bucket shower. Water is in short supply in the area and the water is not potable. So the tap water provided can wash clothes and your body but drinking water comes from bottles.

Your clothes quickly turn a better shade of brown and collars and cuffs will be dirty after just one day. It is therefore advisable to take along khaki gear that can be washed and hung out to dry but you will have to use your shower water to do this as there are no laundry facilities. Innovation is the name of the game.

Armed with this knowledge you should be able to book yourself a trip to Tanzania’s most remote wildernesses. Don’t be put off by any of the discomforts described here, they are well worth the sacrifices you will have to make to experience what is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring destinations.


If you would like to travel to Tanzania in a small, personal group with some photography/inspiration in mind, send me an email to christine@christinelamberth.co.za and you could travel with me on my next trip.