Arusha - not a great introduction to Tanzania!

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Africa » Tanzania » North » Arusha
December 17th 2018
Published: January 11th 2019
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Our African adventure is under way! We left sunshine behind us in Alicante on a much delayed Transavia flight (they got the wheels off the ground 5 minutes before we would have been due any compensation!) and arrived in Amsterdam in freezing fog. There was snow on the ground and we couldn’t see over the road so we didn’t venture far beyond the NH Schipol Airport Hotel.That’s not to say we didn’t leave the hotel. We did actually cross the road to the Best Western, but like the hotel where we were staying, the restaurant was closed to cater for the multitude of passengers stranded due to the weather. We had some great schnitzel in the nearby Bastion hotel then turned in for an early night with KLM awaiting us the next morning.

A welcome McBreakfast followed a fairly smooth passage through security. Had our boarding cards scanned then it would have been faultless! We then had a pretty smooth flight all the way to Kilimanjaro International Airport where we experienced the heaviest landing ever. I swear the pilot forgot the runway was there!! We had the good fortune of a swift exit from the plane allowing us to be very close to the front of the immigration queue. The paperwork given to us on board was all that was required, plus $50 of course, and we were in Tanzania with shiny new visas (which include an horrific mugshot) in no time. A driver was waiting for us and he drove carefully on the very dark roads somehow avoiding being blinded by the procession of oncoming full-beam lights. Thankfully he also avoided the deep gullies at the side of the road.

The Rafiki Inn isn’t what you might call the height of comfort. On our arrival the generator was going full pelt as the electricity had gone off. We were concerned about how we were ever going to get to sleep but whilst we were talking to Ole from Joash Africa Wilderness Insight, it came back on. Russ and Ole had been communicating and arranging our upcoming safari for many weeks now. It was good to finally meet him.

A good night’s sleep set us up for an interesting day in Arusha. Josh, who is to be our guide, met us for a pre-safari briefing then took us into town and got us sorted out with cash and SIM cards for our phones. Then we said farewell and made our own way to the National Natural History Museum. It was a very interesting place set in an old German fortification know as a boma. Inside was a complete history of the area from prehistoric times though to German and subsequently British colonisation. In a separate building was a very extensive collection of wildlife photography which was fabulous. It’s a shame that its wonderful content does not lead to better upkeep as it looks pretty tatty to be honest.

As for the rest of the town: well, we didn’t find much to keep us occupied. The Arusha Declaration monument has fallen into a bit of disrepair and the market was nothing special really. There is no street lighting whatsoever and we were advised that it was very unsafe to go out at night without travelling by taxi. That wasn’t as easy as it sounded. The first place we tried to go to was closed and the taxi driver couldn’t find Alpha Burger . Eventually we were tucking into some delicious food but as it was time to find a taxi back, the heavens opened. Thanks to a security guard we managed to find another taxi but a few minutes into the ride he did a u-turn saying he needed petrol. He ran out about 50 metres from a petrol station. Russ had to assist in pushing the car in total darkness and driving rain! We were better prepared on our return from safari and got the hotel to arrange a taxi for us. We ate fine food at an Ethiopian restaurant, Spices & Herbs .

If you are ever in Arusha, we would advise you to spend more than we did on accommodation. The Rafiki Inn did not meet our expectations and, if you are not used to rough and ready, you’re better off spending a bit more and getting your trip off to a good start.

Additional photos below
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Which mountain?Which mountain?
Which mountain?

Probably Meru rather than Kilimanjaro.

12th January 2019

The Inn did not meet our expectations.
Boy, if we had a dollar for every time we've said that! In recent trips we've been spending more on accommodation and its amazing how much you can enjoy a trip when you are sleeping well! We have stayed in the BW across of Schipol... and made the walk to the airport across those frozen fields in the snow. Yikes, it was so cold. Eager to read more.

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