Travel Nairobi to Kilimanjaro

Jan 16th, 2007, 06:04 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 2
Travel Nairobi to Kilimanjaro

I've been reading posts and have learned a lot. Thanks everyone. Now I have some questions of my own.
Here's the deal. Due to a recent addition to my husband's work schedule, we have the opportunity to all (family of 4, with 2 boys, ages 11 and 12) visit Africa in February (yes, next month). (I'm not AS spur of the moment as Melissa, but close.) We got a few itineraries from a couple of companies, and everything seemed to be working out OK. It still is, but, because of some other things that have come up, we have to make some changes. It’s really not SOOO bad, because this is just adding to the time the boys and I will have in Africa.
The time is being added to the front end of our tour, and I’m wondering about a couple of things. And… I’m guessing you veterans out there will help provide the answers I need.

We have 3 “bonus” nights before a 10-night trip that includes the “standards”—2 nights each in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Stone Town, and the beach in Zanzibar, plus a night at Lake Manyara and one in Arusha. (not necessarily in that order.) My husband will be joining us via a Cape Town-Johannesburg-Nairobi flight after finishing his work obligations. The kids will be with me coming from New York (or Boston—either is an option).
Should we:
1) Fly to Nairobi, then spend the night in Nairobi, drive to Amboseli for one night, cross the border and spend 2 nights in Arusha (Serena Mountain Village?) where hubby will meet us on the second day before we head out on the rest of our safari? Do you have other ideas if we do a stop in Kenya for just 3 nights (counting the night of arrival) before we meet up with dad…? (I don’t think we want to go all the way to Maasi Mara, as it seems like the wrong time of year for really seeing any wildlife AND it’s pretty far AND we’re already going to the Serengeti, which is really the same park on the other side of a border.)
2) Fly directly to Kilimanjaro Airport and spend the extra couple of days in Tanzania?

If you’re advising for the 2nd option, these are my questions:
1) What’s the best (cheapest, safest, most expedient) way to get to Kilimanjaro? I saw there are a few flights from JFK or Newark via Amsterdam, but they are a little more expensive than to Nairobi. Also, on the return, rather than go from Zanzibar to Nairobi, we’d have to travel back to Kilimanjaro, adding both time and expense.

2) If you land in Nairobi and catch a “separate” flight to Kilimanjaro, do you have to go through all the international passport/customs stuff, including using a $50 visa just to get on another plane? Basically, what are the (local/regional) airline options to go from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro and how do you book them?? The regular US search engines (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.) come up blank on “NBO to JRO.” (maybe it needs to originate in a US city to reach some of the smaller airports?)

And, let’s assume (I know, I know) that we GET to Kilimanjaro
What would you suggest for a quick and not so exhausting trip for me and my sons? Remember we need to be back in Arusha a few days later to meet dad. AND, I think we’ll need a little time to catch up with the time zone differences and rest up to get ready for the “big” trip ahead of us. Is Tarangire close enough? I read some things (in Melissa’s itinerary!) that also seemed good, especially for my sons that were more cultural-oriented, rather than just wildlife—going to Lake Eyasi and learning about the Hadzabe bushmen, etc. The 6th grade curriculum includes a long unit on Africa, and I’d like them to have a better understanding of the great big world we live in.

So far, we’ve been pretty happy with the responses we’ve gotten. The prices seem, while a little more than we’d hoped to spend, somewhat reasonable for a last-minute trip during high season. The accommodations seem in line with what the rest of you have experienced, mostly with good reviews. A couple of places were a little farther from the “action” than we’d like—Kirawira Camp and Plantation Lodge—and we’ve expressed our concerns. They are working on this. We are definitely worried about the possibility (probability?) of changes to accommodations once we’re on the road, but that doesn’t seem too unusual, based on what I’ve read. I am crossing my fingers.

Well, thanks for your advice. I’m really looking forward to this trip—squat peeing and all. At least no paranoid, diet-obsessed, guilt-mongering companions for me!

latesafarifamily is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 08:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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JRO is a very small airport with KLM being the only carrier that flies there from Europe. With little competition, fares are usually higher than NBO. You don't have to fly back to JRO at the end. You could check the cost of an open jaw into JRO and out of DAR (the KLM flight continues on to DAR after stopping to drop off/pick up passengers at JRO). A ZNZ-DAR flight should be cheaper than ZNZ-JRO or ZNZ-NBO.

If the KLM flight is too expensive, you can fly Precision Air between NBO and JRO. As long as your luggage is through checked all the way to JRO, you do not need a transit visa for Kenya as you'll remain airside during your layover. There's an airside transit desk where you can pick up your boarding pass if necessary. If your luggage is only checked to NBO, you'll need a Kenyan transit visa ($20pp) to pass immigration, go down to baggage claim to retrieve your bags and recheck them at the departures counter. One poster reported being able to convince the transfer desk staff to retrieve their bags for them so they didn't have to go through immigration.

Precision Air is the only option that I'm aware of between NBO and JRO (Kenya Airways codeshares on these flights). You should be able to include this segment on a through ticket from the US or book through Kenya Airways. There are other options from Wilson to JRO but that would involve a taxi ride and visa.
Patty is online now  
Jan 17th, 2007, 06:30 AM
Posts: n/a
Alternative, if flying into NBO, is

Day 1 - NBO eve - o/n
Day 2 - Through a tour operator drive to Amboseli -o/n
Day 3 - Amboseli - o/n
Day 4 - Transfer to Namanga border where TNZ outfitter collects you for drive to Arusha, here to meet hubby.

Visiting Amboseli will provide the elephant experieince that is not at peak if visiting Tarangire in TNZ.

If ending on ZNZ, it's a good idea to depart for home from DAR, a short 15/min flight from ZNZ.

Emirate Air flies (via Dubai) into NBO and from DAR; British Air (via London) flies into NBO and from DAR; KLM flies (via AMS) into NBO and from DAR. Emirates, probably a bit higher by about $100. So with any of these three carriers you have the same combinations.

The Emirates flight departs DAR, the earliest, about 6pm; KLM departs about 11pm; BA, I believe has an early early morning flight (check to see if they also have a night flight).

Another alternative, would be to stay in NBO for a day of touring:

Day 1 - Arv NBO - o/n
Day 2 - Visit Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Center, Snake Farm, eat, shop, other stuff can be arranged if not exhausted yet - o/n
Day 3 - Take shuttle bus, about $20/person - quite an adventure, and the cheapest vs air - to Arusha - o/n
Day 4 - Hubby arrives.

Jan 17th, 2007, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 54
If you do end up staying in Arusha, Arusha National Park is a nice place for a day or so safari drive - very close and a nice way to start out your safari.

If you have 3 days, you could do Tarangire -- it seemed to take about 1/2 of a day to drive there, so if you were able to go after arriving, it would work out.

The only thing I'll add on the KLM flight is that it seems they routinely have a couple of bags that need to come on the next flight (I think because of weight). Ours didn't make it with our flight -- the gentlemen at the airport were not concerned, nor was our guide. Bags came the next night without any worries.
npederse is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 08:44 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 259
I hesitate to even chime in after Patty and Sandi, who are true experts whereas we don’t even leave for our first East Africa safari for another 5 weeks. So I can only tell you what we decided to do (after studying Fodors diligently), which would give you some more options. These assume that you indeed are considering flying directly to JRO and spending the extra 2 days in Tanzania.

Flight-wise, we are flying one-stop (in Amsterdam) from the US to JRO and one-stop (again in Amsterdam) back to the US from DAR. This open-jaw itinerary cost about the same as round-trip to and from JRO, was more efficient after ending our trip in Zanzibar, and avoided any Kenya connections.

As for options for your extra 2 days -- we are spending 2 days in the West Kili/Sinya area (staying at Kambi Ya Tembo, although there are other options), which is a 2-3 hour drive from the JRO/Arusha area. We are spending our first night at Kia Lodge, which is very near JRO, to avoid driving to Arusha and be closer to the West Kili area. This area is a little off the well-beaten northern circuit route and is a little different from other areas we are going. The game viewing doesn’t sound like it will be as good as other areas, but it does offer views of Mount Kilimanjaro (weather permitting), game drives in open-vehicles, and good interaction with the local Maasai. After staying here a couple of nights, you would then drive back to the Arusha area to meet your husband. If I recall correctly, Patty has been to this area and done game rides on horses, if that might appeal to you and your sons (this presumes some level of horsemanship). I think Kambi Ya Tembo will pick you up at deliver you back to the Arusha area.

Another possible option is to again spend the first night near Arusha or JRO and then spend a day (I don’t know if it warrants two days) visiting Arusha National Park. Although not on most people’s itinerary, ANP has received a lot of good reviews from Fodorites, and offers a few activities that we found enticing, such as canoeing in Small Momella Lake (offered by Green Footprint Adventures), walks with rangers, hiking or driving on Mt. Meru, and seeing colobus monkeys in the forest. There are a couple of lodges near the park, but since it is close to Arusha you could also stay at the same accommodation as other nights, thereby eliminating the need to move. Obviously you would have to have a tour operator drive you and arrange any activities in Arusha National Park, and I believe Green Footprint could make any of these arrangements for you.

Good luck, I am sure you and your family will have a wonderful time.
hguy47 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 09:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,867
The BA flight out of DAR does depart in the morning and only operates on Tu/Fr/Su.

If you end up flying into JRO and go with the Tarangire or Lake Eyasi option, I'd try and see if hubby can catch up with you rather than you going back to Arusha, particularly if you stay at Lake Eyasi which I think is a 5 hour drive back to Arusha. In the latter case, maybe you guys can meet up at Lake Manyara or Karatu instead. See the location of Kisima Ngeda on this map relative to Lake Manyara and the crater

Another option in Tanzania that hasn't been mentioned yet is the West Kilimanjaro area. Do a search for West Kilimanjaro or West Kili here and see if it might be something you're interested in. Here you have Ndarakwai Ranch, Kambi ya Tembo, and Hemingway's Camp. From here, you would drive back to Arusha before continuing with the rest of your itinerary.
Patty is online now  
Jan 17th, 2007, 09:14 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 259
I forgot to mention, our flights are on KLM, arriving at JRO around 9:00 p.m., and leaving out of DAR at 11:00 p.m. (effectively giving us almost another entire day on Zanzibar, during which we are taking the city-and-spice tour since the rest of the time we will be at the beach).
hguy47 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 09:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,867
I see hguy47 and I were recommending West Kili at the same time!

Here are my photos from our riding safari on Ndarakwai. It'll give you some idea of what the area looks like

We didn't stay at the tented camp on Ndarakwai (we fly camped) but Eben has photos on his West Kili page (Kirurumu West Kili camp is now called Hemingway's).

Half of my photos are actually from Makoa Farm which is located on the southern slope of Kilimanjaro between JRO and Moshi. They organized our riding safari for us and that's where we stayed our first and last nights. Their cottages have beautiful views of Kili! That would be another option to consider if you were interested in a farm stay
Patty is online now  
Jan 17th, 2007, 05:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 2
Thanks everyone for your advice and suggestions. We particularly like the idea of seeing elephants in Amboseli and sort of moseying our way down to Arusha. (or... maybe the West Kilimanjaro plan... too many good choices!)
All this trip planning has become a bit of an obsession, and I need to catch up on regular “life things” now. More later.
I look forward to hearing if there are other suggestions out there.
Thanks again!
latesafarifamily is offline  

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