October 20-22, 2014
We got off to a rocky start when our cab didn’t show up to take us to the bus at 6 AM. Huh? What? Oh well, we ended up driving to the airport and parked at the cost of $9/day. Ouch! Our flight left Denver at 10:05 AM for Charlotte, North Carolina, and the next flight from Charlotte to London left at 7:30 PM. We arrived in London at 7:20 AM (7 ½ hour flight). The next flight was to Entebbe, Uganda and left at 12:30 PM. We arrived in Africa to light rain at 11:30 PM (8 ½ hour flight). It was hot, and humid, and we were tired and happy.
Because of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and Sierra Leone we had to fill out a health questionnaire, got a ceremonial dollop of hand sanitizer, and had our temperature taken upon arrival. About 10,000 people have contracted the deadly disease this year and half have died. Only three U.S. citizens have contracted it. There is a lot of worry about a pandemic, and a lot of people asked us if we were going to cancel our vacation because of it. We are not worried as we will be far away from the outbreak area, but have taken notice of the media coverage and fear it has produced. We believe that the reason they have taken precautions at the Entebbe airport is due to incoming flights from West Africa.
Our driver took us to the Executive Airport Hotel. It matched my expectation of the reviews I had read. It was okay, for the short time we were going to be there, as long as we didn’t look too closely. It certainly doesn’t match the photos on their website! In the bathroom we could hear construction going on somewhere close by…and it was after midnight. It felt so good to finally be here and we crawled into bed by 1:15 AM. It still took a while to fall asleep. We slept in, took a walk, hung out in the courtyard (drinking a Stoney Tanagwizi ginger beer and a Krest bitter lemon – both distributed by CocaCola), and were back at the airport for our hour-long flight to Nairobi, Kenya at 3:05 PM. Our next flight to Kilimanjaro Airport was at 5:40 PM and we landed at sunset at 6:20 PM. Mount Kilimanjaro was beautiful from the plane, and it was such a good feeling to know that we had finally arrived. ~~~ Mary & Mark
Click on a photo for easier viewing.
Our guide and driver, Michael Mlolo, from Duma Explorers, picked us up. Mark had requested a very experienced guide. We are very pleased with who Stacy (the owner of Duma) assigned to take care of us. Michael is sixty years old and has a wife and four kids: Wife (Grace), son William (age 26), twin daughters, Irene & Jacqueline (age 22), and his youngest daughter is Glory (age 12). He grew up in Mwanza, a large city on the southeastern edge of Lake Victoria, but he now lives in Arusha. His English is good and we enjoy getting to know him.
He drove us to the Arusha Hotel, about an hour away from the airport. The evening is warm and there are people enjoying the evening. The roadsides are crowded with little shops and a combination of people eating, playing, and walking home from work. It is bustling with life, and I have never seen so many people carrying things on their heads before. We’ve noticed the common practice in Caribbean countries, but never to this extent. The air smells of smoke and Michael says it is people burning brush. Traffic is crazy by our standards, but we felt we were in good hands with Michael. The steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle, so my eyes have to get used to seeing everything reversed. A lot of cars and motorcycles are passing each other and squeezing in. They use the oncoming lane if the road is rough. Horns are honking and lights flashing. It’s common to see cars coming at each other, head-on, until the last possible second, and then if necessary, move onto the shoulder to avoid an accident. It’s a way of life here. People walking on the shoulder, routinely, jump out-of-the-way of traffic. It’s everyone for themselves. Cars definitely have the right-of-way here. We arrive at the Arusha Hotel and are greeted with fruit juice. This place is much nicer than the place we stayed last night. We agree to meet Michael at 9 AM and are taken to our room #204. Shower and sleep. The adventure begins.