Wondering how to get to Serengeti National Park from Arusha?
There are two main options to choose from, each with its own unique twist to kickstart your safari adventure.
The moment you leave Arusha, the gateway to Tanzania’s safari wonderland, you’re diving into an incredibly raw and mesmerizing world.
Related read: 10 Things to Know About Serengeti National Park
Here is an overview:
How to Get to Serengeti National Park From Arusha
Whether you’re yearning for the scenic route filled with potential detours and discoveries or a swift flight’s efficiency and aerial views, the journey to the Serengeti is part of the great African spectacle. So pick your path and let the journey begin – the wild calls!
Travelers have two main options: road or air.
First, hit the road. The landscape transitions towards the Serengeti from Arusha’s city buzz to the wide-open plains, where Maasai villages dot the scenery with their circular bomas and brightly dressed inhabitants. I recommend soaking in this cultural tapestry—it’s truly unique.
Buckle up in a rugged 4×4 and set off on a land adventure that will take you through little towns, past Maasai villages and along awe-inspiring landscapes. This route isn’t just about getting from point A to point B. It’s a bumpy, dusty immersion into the heart of Tanzania, complete with spontaneous animal sightings – it’s a real African road trip.
The road distance from Arusha to Serengeti National Park is approximately 225 kilometers (140 miles) to the nearest gate. The distance may vary depending on the specific gate you wish to enter.
The drive from Arusha to the park takes approximately 6 hours, including stops along the way. This duration applies to gates such as Naabi, Fort Ikoma, or Ndabaka, located in the park’s eastern and northwestern parts.
The road to the Serengeti can be quite the ride—literally—in terms.
Road conditions can be poor in some areas, especially the last 75 kilometers, which is a bumpy gravel road. Travelers should be prepared for this type of terrain, which includes bumps and dust. But that’s all part of the charm.
Opting for a 4×4 safari vehicle is your best bet. These robust beasts are built to handle the rugged Tanzanian terrain and make the journey as smooth as possible.
Keeping your camera at the ready is a must; every mile traveled brings new vistas and the potential for wildlife sightings even before you hit the park boundaries.
Would you rather soar through the skies? Take a flight from Arusha and enjoy a bird’s eye view of Tanzania’s breathtaking terrain.
You’ll skip the bumps and get a quick, scenic preview of the vast savannahs you’ll soon be exploring on the ground. When you step off the plane and onto the Serengeti’s soil, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another world instantly.
Flying to Serengeti is a more convenient option for travelers who prefer to avoid the long road trip.
The flight from Arusha airport to various airstrips in Serengeti takes about 1 hour.
There are several airstrips within the Serengeti National Park where flights from Arusha, Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam can land. These airstrips provide convenient access to different parts of the park, allowing visitors to begin their safari adventure immediately upon arrival.
When considering how to get to Serengeti National Park from Arusha, travelers should weigh factors such as convenience, budget, and personal preferences. While road travel offers the opportunity to experience the landscape and scenery along the way, flying offers a faster and more comfortable option, especially for those with limited time or a preference for air travel.
Ultimately, the choice between road and air travel depends on individual preferences and travel priorities. So, always take a look at the updated information on road and flying conditions as well as the travel times from Arusha to Serengeti National Park.
Serengeti Tour Options
Arrival by Plane – 4 Days – Northern Serengeti Safari
The suggested itineraries assume you are flying into Serengeti National Park from either Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam or Arusha. These are the most common starting points for travelers visiting Tanzania and there are daily flights from these cities.
Related read: Best Time to Visit Serengeti National Park
Day 1: Arrive in Serengeti National Park
Meet and greet on arrival at Kogatende airstrip
Enjoy a game drive to your lodge/camp
Days 2-3: Explore the Western Corridor
Spend full days exploring the northern Serengeti with game drives
Visit the Mara River, famous for wildebeest and zebra crossings
Watch for the annual wildebeest migration (July – October)
Explore the Lobo area known for its resident big cats
Day 4: Depart Serengeti National Park
Begin your day with an early morning game drive
Have breakfast before being transferred to Kogatende airstrip
Please note that these itineraries can be tailored to suit your preferences, budget and time constraints. You also have the option to include activities such as hot air balloon safaris and guided walks.
Arrival by Car – 3 Days – Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater
On this tour, you will explore Tanzania’s two most popular destinations – Central Serengeti (1 night) and Ngorongoro Crater (1 night). The tour begins and ends in Arusha. With your experienced driver’s guidance, you can expect a trip of a lifetime!
Day 1 – Arusha to the Central Serengeti
Your safari begins at 8 am with a pick-up from your hotel in Arusha. Once everyone is on board, you will depart for the Serengeti National Park. The drive covers a distance of 240 km and takes approximately 6 hours.
During the full-day game drive, you will have a picnic lunch. You’ll end the day with a hearty dinner and rest comfortably in your lodge.
Day 2 – Central Serengeti to Ngorongoro Crater
After breakfast, you’ll take a morning game drive in the Serengeti National Park. Later you’ll drive to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and enjoy a picnic lunch. You’ll end the day with another delicious dinner and spend the night at your lodge.
Day 3 – Ngorongoro Crater Tour (5 hours) to Arusha
On the last day of your safari adventure, get ready for an early start! After a quick breakfast, you’ll make an early descent into the crater floor around 6:30 am. You will see plenty of wildlife during the five-hour game drive on the crater floor.
After a picnic lunch at the beautiful hippo pool area, it’s time to begin the steep climb back up to the crater exit. This is the last leg of your safari, as you’ll have about four hours before reaching Arusha. Your drop-off is at your preferred location in Arusha around 6 pm.
As you say goodbye to your team, take incredible experiences and cherished memories with you.
Here’s a Summary of the Most Important Points
The most popular mode of transportation from Arusha to Serengeti is by road.
The road from Arusha to Serengeti, especially to Naabi Hill Gate, is now fully paved. Travelers can expect a smooth ride with paved roads along the entire route.
The distance varies depending on the gate or point of entry into the Serengeti National Park. It ranges from approximately 225 km (140 miles) to 275 km (170 miles).
Allow 6 to 7 hours for most eastern entry gates such as Naabi Hill and Ndabaka Gate. For gates such as Klein’s (on the north-eastern side of the park) and Bologonya Gate (on the border of Masai Mara in Kenya & Serengeti in Tanzania), allow up to 8 hours.
These times include a few short stops along the way for fuel and toilet breaks.
Travelers should plan their travel time accordingly, considering the specific gate they intend to access and the potential duration of the road trip.
It’s a good idea to prepare for the trip with the necessary supplies and to consider the length of stops for rest and refreshments.
With these details in mind, travelers can better plan their road trip from Arusha to Serengeti, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience while exploring one of Africa’s most renowned national parks.
Here Are the Approximate Drive Times to the Various Serengeti National Park Gates From Arusha
- Arusha to Serengeti Naabi Hill Gate: 5.5 – 6 hours
- Arusha to Serengeti Handajega Gate: 5.5 – 6 hours
- Arusha to Serengeti Fort Ikoma Gate: 6 hours
- Arusha to Serengeti Klein’s Gate: 6.5 hours
- Arusha to Serengeti Bologonja Gate: 6.5 hours
- Arusha to Serengeti Ndabaka Gate: 6.5 hours
These drive times give travelers a rough estimate of how long it will take to reach the various entry points to Serengeti National Park from Arusha. It’s important for travelers to consider these travel times when planning their safari adventure and to allow for potential variations due to road conditions, traffic, and other factors along the route.
Depart Arusha: 10:00 am
Arrive Serengeti: 11:00 am
Morning return flight
Depart Serengeti: 11:00 am
Arrive Arusha: 12:00 hrs
Depart Arusha: 15:00 hrs
Arrive Serengeti: 16:00 hrs
Return afternoon flight
Depart Serengeti: 16:00 hrs
Arrive Arusha: 17:00 hrs
The main airlines operating these flights are Auric Air and Coastal Aviation. These airlines offer reliable service and have credible safety records.
Flight time from Arusha to Serengeti is approximately 1 hour. Passengers are advised to be at the airport approximately 1 hour prior to departure.
Most of these flights depart from Arusha or Kilimanjaro Airport close to Arusha. Return flights usually follow the same route, with the plane stopping at various airstrips in the Serengeti before returning to Arusha.
Travelers looking for a convenient and time-saving way to reach Serengeti National Park can consider these flights, which provide quick access to the park’s various airstrips from Arusha. It’s a good idea to check with the airlines for any updates or changes to flight schedules before planning your trip.
Whether you’re boarding a tiny plane, indulging in the scenic flight over the Rift Valley, or taking the long and dusty drive, the journey from Arusha to the Serengeti is as much a part of the experience as the destination itself.
It’s a reminder that sometimes getting there is a significant chapter in your travel story. So go ahead, let the Serengeti call to you. It’s wild, it’s authentic, and it’s waiting for you.
Before you know it, you’ll catch your first glimpse of that endless savanna heralding your arrival into the Serengeti National Park. The vastness is almost spiritual.
Trust me, watching the herds of wildebeest and zebras roaming freely against the backdrop of acacia trees and endless sky—it’s a sight you’ll carry with you long after you’ve returned home.