We were ready.
We had chosen our outfitter for safari and the Kili climb, made our own plans for beach and diving on Zanzibar, prepared at the local Rye YMCA and geared up at the REI store in Yonkers (1).
There are no direct flights to Tanzania from the US market, although we were told Air Tanzania has plans for a direct flight (timing unknown and the national airline has a total of seven aircraft). We flew KLM from NYC JFK > Amsterdam > Kilimanjaro Airport. Kilimanjaro Airport is preferable to flying into Dar es Salaam as you can drive to Arusha and Moshi where most of your safari and Kili operators use as departure points. Flying to Dar would have required a third internal flight.
We left JFK at 6:30pm on Tuesday, June 17th and with the flights, transit in Amsterdam and time change, had a scheduled landing at Kilimanjaro Airport at 7:55pm the next day, Wednesday, June 18th.
We wound up landing abound 9pm local and after paying (cash, and you need exact change) for our visas, gathering our bags, clearing customs and changing dollars for Tanzanian Shillings (you want some local currency, it is almost a completely cash economy), we were greeting by Oscar and Joyce from Top Climbers, our outfitter for both safari and the Kili climb.
We piled into the van and headed to Arusha, about a 90 minute drive, to find the Masailand Safari & Lodge, our first night accommodation. Well, there are no street signs, much less detour signs. Once we arrived in Arusha, with the main road to the hotel blocked, we drove around in darkness for about an hour before finding our lodge. It was all good, and by midnight we were in our room and had the chance to shower up before enjoying a good night’s sleep.
Tips and comments:
- (1) If you are the manager of REI in Yonkers, NY and saw a massive sales spike in May & June, you are welcome :)-
- Top Climbers was excellent and I’ll write about each of our terrific guides, and always happy to make an introduction.
- Masailand Safari & Lodge was not a great hotel (nice pool & view, rooms substandard and food inedible).
NEXT: Tengeru Market