By ABDULWAKIL SAIBOKO, 16th July 2010 ON a Tuesday morning in Arusha town, a team of eleven journalists from Kenya and Tanzania in an East Africa Maternal Caravan woke up early to travel to Mwanza through Ngorongoro and the Serengeti national parks. A three-hour drive through a tarmac road took the team to the Ngorongoros first gate to the park. I was one of the team and the journey, and barring a mishap, the journey, would have taken but a short time. But a rude awakening awaited us on the way. A security guard there told the drivers of the vehicles carrying the journalists: This place is out of bound for you guys. You better find an alternative route because you will not be allowed to cross. There were two Toyota Landcruiser, Kenyan registered vehicles, driven by Kenyan drivers. The drivers failed to understand what they were told by the askaris and decided to call a Tanzanian journalist to talk to the authorities on their behalf, thinking that because of their poor Kiswahili, they had failed to explain well the objective of their journey to the security men on their mission. When I approached him, the security man told me that we would have passed smoothly by any other car but not in a Kenyan registered business vehicle because such vehicles had been banned long ago from passing there. But when we insisted that we were not on a tour mission, the man allowed us to proceed to the main gate where we would meet his superiors. He however, added that our chances to be allowed to pass through the two national parks were not there. On reaching the main gate, we were received with suspicious looks by the officers. But after we had explained our mission, the head officer was rather sympathetic towards us and said: I might help you though it is against our regulations here, but I am worried that you may get stuck at Serengeti. They wont allow you to cross. The officer who did not like to mention his name, decided to phone his counterpart at Serengeti where they said , Come sun come rain they would not allow a Kenyan registered business vehicle to cruise through the park and we should find an alternative. I would have helped but it wont make sense because you will definitely get stuck at Serengeti. They were the ones who were the first to impose a ban. We followed last month. It is because of an incident which happened in the past involving Kenyan vehicles, he said. Without mentioning the incident, the officer said the farthest a Kenyan business vehicle could go was the parks main gates. From there they can enter but must use a Tanzanian registered for a tour drive. We had even made a successful attempt to contact the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources officials in Dar es Salaam for assistance but in vain. In fact the officer said that the regulation had become effective in Ngorongoro and Serengeti but that it was just the beginning as the regulation was going to be imposed at all other entry points to national parks. It was already 10.00 am when we started thinking of taking an alternative route. There were two options; going through Kenya or Singida. Going through Kenya would mean that some team members would have to remain behind in Arusha because they did not have their passports with them. Taking the Singida route was therefore the better option. We were told that there was a road to Karatu through Monduli in Manyara region and then to Singida. We set out on the journey.But none of the team members knew the route or how long it was. The journey begun at 10.30 am in Karatu from a petroleum station where a vendor showed us the way heading to Monduli. Because of our lack of knowledge about the route, we had to stop at every junction to ask whether we were on a right direction. None of the people we met told us anything about the distance. All they said was that we could reach Mwanza today. When we reached Monduli, the cars colour had almost changed whitishbrown from dust. Some group members showed symptoms of flu. At the junction of Babati and Idomu we met some Maasai elders. We asked them if it was true that we would reach Mwanza that same day. They told us that the chances were 50/50 and it would be late in the night. If you hasten and reach Idomu early you may sleep in Singida or Ngeza but if you can move throughout the night you may reach Mwanza late in the night, said one of them called Mzee Ankwai. It was already 3pm and that was almost five hours down the rough road. The mystery about the possibility of covering the journey in one day had left us with no thought nor feeling for food. We did not know that we still had another four hours of cruising to reach Singida where we would catch once again a tarmac. We had already given up the possibilities of reaching Mwanza that day and we had reached a consensus that we would spend the night anywhere after sunset. By the time we caught sight of Singida town, it was 6.15pm. The thought of not traveling at night in the dark relieved us and we stopped a while for a group photo for a souvenir. When we entered the tarmac road, the sky had turned reddish in sun set. We told our drivers that we would spend the night in Nzega town of Tabora Region. We reached Nzega at around 8pm in the night, to many of us including drivers, it was their first time to cruse in a rough road for such long hours. This day will go down in my history as one on which I travelled the longest distance on a rough road, said one of the drivers. Indeed Tanzania is such a huge country. Had we gone through Ngorongoro and Serengeti by this time we would be in Mwanza already ., said Jorge Njoroge of ABANTU for Development in Kenya. He had made a survey trip through the two national parks earlier in February, this year. As we went to bed, the question of what Kenyans had done and made them banned from passing through Tanzanian game reserves, lingered in our minds. But when we reached Mwanza the next day, a government official unraveled the riddle to us. He said that Kenyan guides who travelled through Tanzanias national parks charged tourists some money, saying such tourist attraction as Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti were in Kenya. The government learned that much of its tourism revenue was getting lost in the hands of Kenyans through such deception. We also want those dollars from the tourists bwana , said the Mwanza Regional Medical Officer, Dr Meshack Massi. Daily News | Travelling in Kenyan car through Serengeti MY TAKE: I love this noble idea! This is how we need to treat a mean and selfish person that does business with you but end up claiming even what he doesn't own! Wonderful idea; at last they end up spending fuel and guess what a lesson plus flue and a bed and dinner for night ! :A S tongue: Recognition comes by hooks or crooks by day or night? rain or drought !!!! Love it love it; the GOT should keep on searching for a strategic investor to rescue ATCL so that even damn ticket dollars that end in Kenya Airways should find a way into our pockets!