Stopover in London
LondonLanded in London on time and moved a bunch of heavy stuff from the backpacks to one pack to leave with the storage locker area. Didn't want to spend a lot of money storing the bags in the locker and didn't mind carrying lighter bags. By the time, I left the bag in the locker area to leave for the shuttle to catch the bus to Croydon, where my friend lives, it's 1pm. Confused about which shuttle to take because all of them looked like regular metro buses. I was told that there's no need to buy ticket to go where we needed to go and we needed to take the regular metros to our stop to get another bus. This is completely different from what we do to the tourists at USA by asking them to pay for luggage carts at the airport and nothing free once you land in USA ;-) Don't understand how we are inconsiderate to the person landing at the international terminal expecting them to have US dollars to pay for the luggage carts where these are free in most of the airports (even in the developing countries) ;-(
Nairobi ArrivalThe immigration at the Nairobi airport was pretty quick and efficient. Since we already arranged for cab pickup from Comfort Hotel, there's no hassle in getting to the hotel on time for good night sleep. The only thing that I was worried about was that the luggage not making on time knowing of the British Airlines track record. But luckily, we had our luggage waiting and checked in to the hotel before 11 pm.
Comfort Inn Hotel - Nairobi
The room was clean and spacious. Since the hotel was in the center of the city, there's a lot of road noise early in the morning. Anyway, we had to get ready by 730 AM to catch our shuttle, the road noise helped us get out of the bed quickly to enjoy the breakfast at the hotel more relaxingly. Packed a few bottles of water and juice for the shuttle ride.
The Rainbow shuttle driver came over to the hotel to get us around 730 AM and the 18 seat shuttle van (not really a bus) was just 2 minutes away from the hotel. The driver told us that the shuttle van is operated by Basecamp Tanzania too. All of our luggage were secured on the top of the van and we were able to get comfortable seats at the front of the van. Having our luggage on the top of the van covered with tarp was good and realized that there is no reason carry the bag around the immigration counters ;-) It looks like most of the shuttles leave from that area and a bunch of vendors selling some souvenirs. The vendors were not harassing anyone and they were pretty easy to deal with. I wish that I bought a few Kenyan stuff there but didn't want to change my dollar bills.
Nairobi to ArushaThe road from Nairobi to Arusha was really good and no issues of pot holes or construction or any bad section. While deciding how much money to take for the trip, I completely forgot about the money that I needed to take for the Kenyan and Tanzanian visa. Luckily, the dollars that I had with me for tips to the guide/porters helped to cover the cost of the visa after some trouble with the agent at the entry at Tanzania.
The USA citizens can only get multiple entry visas and they cost $100 per person. The immigration agent at Tanzania entry point was asking for new dollar bills that were printed after year 2006 to issue the visa. But all I had was older bills and they don't accept either travelers checks or Tanzanian Shillings. After discussing among themselves for a few minutes, he accepted the money and delivered the visa. The overall immigration and crossing border was smooth and took less than 15 minutes. We were looking for the view of Kilimanjaro but there's was no sight of it because of the clouds but we could see Mt. Meru. The overall trip from Nairobi to Arusha took about 5 hours and we had to wait in the bus stop for some other car to drop us in the hotel. After an hour, we were dropped in the Ilboru Safari Lodge for our stay before the climb.
Arusha to Home Plan
Why Shuttle To Nairobi
Plan for Dar
Departure From Arusha
Lake Manyara to Arusha
Options To Reach Dar
- Arrange a charter flight (cost is $5000)
- Buy new tickets from Precision Air to get to Dar (cost is $218/person)
- Book a private taxi to go to Dar (cost is $500).
Cash is KingI was ready to buy the tickets in the Precision Air but they were not ready to accept either credit card or travelers checks, and only accepting cash. To make things worse, the only ATM machine in the Kilimanjaro airport was not working and the money changer in the airport was ready to pay only 75% of the dollar value for my travelers checks. Even if I en-cashed all my travelers checks, I wouldn't have enough cash to pay for my ticket. I was ready to kick somebody's butt at that point, it's 4 pm and there's no sign of the FastJet person.
Unorganized and Slow FastJet
Brief Stay in Dar
Overnight in Dar Es Salaam
Partha has been living Dar Es Salaam for more 15 years and whatever I heard from him, the life in Dar Es Salaam is as safe as any other big city, as long as you use your common sense, you will be fine. Partha woke up early to make South Indian breakfast for us (Pongal with coffee) and after enjoying the breakfast we left for the airport around 630 am. Checking in the British Airlines flight was pretty smooth, the security at the airport was decent and there's an additional tax of $100 if you had bought your ticket after certain date, which we didn't have to pay.