Law of the Jungle!

Law of the Jungle!

Tourist fees in the Serengeti and NCA (Ngorongoro Conservation Area) have doubled, and in some instances, tripled, and it’s not clear whether this is law or graft.

The law is printed on the official TANAPA fee schedule. Click here to download that schedule. The fees are basically $50 and in bold red letters at the bottom of the brochure it states, “NB: Fees valid for 24 hours only.”

There is nothing that says it is for a single entry. But many tourists are now being charged $100, and some, $150, based on the notion that the gate is a toll-booth, not a park gate, and that every time you pass you have to pay!

The vast southern grassland plains of the Serengeti are technically composed of two separate parks management authorities: the Serengeti National Park (north) and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area [NCA] (south).

Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Lake Natron, Olmoti and other old volcanoes and most of the lakes region of Ndutu is technically in the NCA. Naabi, Seronera, Moru, Gol, the western and northern corridors are technically in the Serengeti National Park.

The multiple charging occurs to tourists who are lodging in one area but traveling during the day into the adjacent area. The first example I can document of this in August… to me!

(I paid $50 for the day of August 31 at Ndutu Lodge in the NCA. Then unexpectedly I had to drive into the Serengeti to pick up guests who had been delayed. The rangers charged me $50 for simply driving to the airstrip to collect the guests. But then as we returned into the NCA, the rangers charged me a third $50 for “reentering” the NCA.)

At the time I chalked this as just one more incident of African graft. There’s nothing on the permit which could otherwise explain it, and I didn’t want to duke it out with the rangers while welcoming my newly arrived guests into the Serengeti.

Increasingly, though, it is happening to many of our safaris.

The northern border of the NCA abuts the southern border of the Serengeti and traditionally game drives have moved back and forth over this vast area, more commonly known as the southern grassland plains of the Serengeti.

Often the great herds are partially in one area and partially in the other, and moving back and forth between the two areas is the only reasonable way to undertake a game drive in the area. Now, it seems, every time the invisible line is crossed, tourists will be charged $50!

Every country has the right to charge whatever they deem fit for foreigners to use and visit their natural resources. But what if this is not what the Tanzanian government believes is being charged? Who, really, is pocketing this money?

And if it is legal, then the permit and literature like the fees schedule should say so.