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Trip Report Fabulous Feb. 2016 Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya Trip

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We've been back almost a month, and I wanted finally to report on this wonderful trip.

Four of us (two couples from west coast US, ages 57-61) had a great trip to Tanzania and Rwanda in February (with a stop in Nairobi for one couple), Feb 5-Feb 23. For two of us, this was our third safari, having been to Tanzania in dry season previously. This February trip may have been even better, although there were some variations.

Rather than give a detailed day by day report, I’ll summarize the three locations. First, getting there:

From West Coast, getting to East Africa is a pain. And there aren’t a lot of options, nor are many of them convenient. For example, from SFO, the KLM flight to AMS doesn’t connect same day to the JRO flight, and the BA flight to LHR misses the NBO flight. I decided we were not going to connect east coast US in winter. We also (a) wanted to be in business class and (b) wanted to use miles. Now, it did seem easier to find award tickets in the February period than the summer period, and as is typical, easier to fly mid week than weekends. I didn’t have enough Delta (or Alaska) miles to use KLM in both directions (and there were never business tickets to JRO), so we ended up doing the following routing:

Outbound OAK-SEA-LHR-NBO on British in business class (well, coach on AL to SEA), using AA miles, 75k pp (plus “taxes” at about $700 pp).

Return, we booked our flights using Delta miles and got KGL-AMS-SFO all in business at 80k pp plus minor taxes. Then KLM changed the schedule—instead of KGL-AMS, it became KGL-EBB-AMS. Well, at least they kept us in business class.

First stop, Nairobi.

DH and I spent three nights in Nairobi before heading to Tanzania to meet up with our friends in Arusha to get over jet lag (11 hour time difference). We partly did this because it was possible to get business class award tickets to NBO, but also, seemed a place to get over jet lag with a bit more to do than Arusha.

Got our visas on line (“e-visa”), but still had to stand in a line behind some that seemed to be paying for their visas at the time. The arrivals hall is still the converted parking garage since the fire at the airport. ADS had a vehicle take us from the plane to immigration, so we got through faster than most from our flight. From landing to hotel was about an hour and a quarter, I think, maybe a bit longer.

We did the standard tourist circuit with a guide, including the Sheldrick Orphanage. We stayed at Palacina, which doesn’t get much write up here, but we really liked it. Small hotel, around 20 rooms. Wasn’t as far from the airport for our 9 p.m. arrival as some other hotels (about 30 minutes, I think), the room was huge (two bathrooms, plus a living room, dining area and two balconies) and quite comfortable for our time adjustment. Note, no elevator, and we were on the top floor. Also had dinner at the Thai restaurant, Soi, in Dusit2 hotel, which we thought was pretty good, and a change from standard “international” hotel/lodge cuisine. The hotel’s driver took us there and back, no charge (note, Uber was just starting up in Nairobi).

All in all, very good hotel. I’d recommend it.

To be continued..

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