Second part of our 'trip of a lifetime' to Egypt and Tanzania.
27 Feb ' not an auspicious start, but we have hope
Flew from Cairo to Nairobi on a flight not to be recommended. Just as you get to sleep, you have to wake up for a landing in Khartoum, wait 45 mins and then take off again. But the really frustrating part of it all was the number of 'Good Mornings' from the flight deck.
The result is you land in Nairobi at about 6.45am not having had any sleep, and knowing that a room is not likely to be ready.
We obtained a visa easily - US$20 each for a transit visa which would allow us to go into Tanzania and return to Kenya, so long as we don't leave the airport the second time. We had been quoted AUD$195 each at home for a multiple entry visa which our TA thought we would need.
Had arranged with the Fairview Hotel for one of their taxi drivers to pick us up (US$19) and we found him quickly. Outside was another sort of traffic madness. One and a quarter hours to the hotel with about 1 hour of it in bumper to bumper traffic to achieve only 2 1/2 kms.
Talked to our driver about the possibility of visiting the Elephant Orphanage and he said it was easily arranged. Our room wasn't ready so we had brekky in the calm and serene atmosphere of the Fairview. With only about 15mins to spare, we scrubbed up a bit, changed some dollars at reception for the entrance fee and set off with Jimmy again.
Some more snail pace traffic for a bit, passing a very large slum area like we had seen on TV ' all tin roofs in a row, narrow dusty walkways between and covering a substantial area. There were also newer estates being built close by. The road into the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was a taste of things to come, we were sure. Potholed and very dusty.
We arrived in time to see the babies come out ' the youngest being 4 months ' and we were immediately captivated, all thoughts of tiredness gone. They drink milk, play in the mud ' particularly 'stacks on', run around occasionally knocking the soccer ball, escape into the crowd for a bit of excitement and generally provide wonderful photographic and entertaining pleasure. The juniors come out next ' slightly older but too boisterous to be put with the babies. It's not to be missed!
Had a nap in the afternoon before dinner in the atrium, which had quite a romantic atmosphere. The Fairview has a sort of 'private club' feel but without the stuffiness or exclusiveness. My husband keeps expecting to see 'Lionel' from 'As time goes by'.
We found the staff incredibly friendly. The difference between the hospitality of Egypt and Kenya could be described as 'I am serving you - appreciate it' compared to 'How can I be of service?'
Organised our private car transfer for 9am the next morning. (We did this partly due to my concerns about flying in a small plane and partly to see some countryside)
Little did we know'
28 Feb ' of all places to be left stranded!
There was a mass protest planned for this day, but had been called off. Instead some dignitaries were flying in so the road to the airport was blocked, creating more chaos elsewhere. A separate driver picked us up and took us the back way to meet our transfer.
This turned out to be a mini van which we promptly rejected, having been assured by email that this would not be the case. To ease matters and make some headway, we settled on staying in the same car but with a new driver for whom we had to wait, meaning that we did not get underway until 10am. There was initially about half an hour of constant traffic on both sides of the road, and because it is being duplicated, there was a lot of dust. Some parts of the road were extremely rocky and bumpy, and the vehicles were mostly large trucks. Things started to improve as we turned off the Mombasa Rd onto the Namanga Rd.
But only briefly - for it was here that we became involved in a four vehicle collision! A learner driver had tried to avoid a donkey and cart and the car behind him braked heavily and hit and we did the same. From then on there was lots of standing around in the middle of the road in the sun for nearly two hours. In fact our driver left us on numerous occasions to chat to the others, without any reassurances to us.
At 11.30am the first two drivers settled their differences, but the one in front of us suggested that our driver had caused the whole thing and was not going anywhere until the police arrived. At 12.15pm they duly arrived, having been summoned by a local on a pushbike who was paid by our driver to get them.
By this stage the number of onlookers had grown and there were about 10 guys standing about 2 metres in front of us. I felt a little uneasy, given the situation in Kenya at the time, but not worryingly so. I did, however, ask the driver to lock the car as all our belongings were in plain sight. At 12.30pm we left after our driver had been charged with careless driving!
The road was not too bad from then on, but certainly there were potholes to be avoided. I even asked that the driver not exceed 100kph ' the cheek of me! (He obviously had no sense of 'clients' in the back and being responsible for our safety)
We travelled through Masai land. This was very real living ' locals tending goats, donkeys and cows. Kids cross the highway like it's not there. Villages in the bush were the typical circular buildings and we passed through small towns stretched out on either side of the road. The clothing is wonderfully colourful.
By 2.45pm we were sitting at the border. The sun was fierce while we walked from one side of the road to the other to complete forms. The road to Tanzania was rougher, but regular on the surface, and with fewer potholes. The shock absorbers had a real workout.
We were delighted to see Kilimanjaro on the way. Arrived at Kibo Palace Hotel in Arusha at 4.30pm, and despite the dramas of the drive, we were glad we did it, but once is enough!
Our representative from Good Earth Safaris and Tours met us at 6pm. We are thrilled to learn that we have Raphael as a guide as we had read nothing but good things about him. (And justifiably so we later learned)
29 Feb ' and now for the safari ' O/N Lake Manyara
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It's hard NOT to love Africa! (except for some bits)
Second part of our 'trip of a lifetime' to Egypt and Tanzania.